Alchemy's New Short-Travel 29er - Sea Otter 2019

Apr 10, 2019
by Mike Levy  
Alchemy


Alchemy has added another member to the Arktos family, with the 29ST being, you guessed it, a short-travel version of their Arktos 29 platform. The Colorado brand says that the 120mm-travel 29ST is designed to be ''Shorter, quicker and more playful than its elder,'' and that it's intended to run a 140mm-travel fork.

You can still get a US-made frame from Alchemy (the Arktos Custom and their road frames are manufactured in-house) but it's not going to be the 29ST as it's born in Asia. That's also why a frame and Fox Float DPX2 shock will sell for $2,999 USD when they're available in three weeks time, which is much less than what it'd cost if they were made in Colorado.

Interestingly, they are planning to eventually offer a custom paint program where the Asian-made frames will be done up to the customer's desires at Alchemy's HQ. One past custom job saw them paint to match a well-heeled owner's Singer-fied Porsche 911; as you can imagine, this won't be an inexpensive option.

Arktos 29ST Details

• Intended use: trail / all-mountain
• Rear wheel travel: 120mm
• Fork travel: 140mm
• Wheel size: 29''
• Tire clearance: 2.5''
• 157mm hub spacing
• Frame MSRP: $2,999 USD
• Bike MSRP: starting at $4,899 USD
• More info: www.alchemybicycles.com


Alchemy
By changing the links and running a shorter-stroke shock, the 29ST gets 120mm of travel versus the standard bike's 140mm.


If you're thinking that the Arktos 29ST looks a helluva lot like the Arktos 29, it's because they share the same front and rear triangles. Think of the ST as a variant of the standard Arktos 29 rather than a completely new bike. What is new, though, are the 29ST's aluminum links and its shorter-stroke shock that delete 20mm of suspension travel compared to its older brother.

Alchemy calls it Sine Suspension, and just like on the other Arktos models, the 29ST is said to have a suspension curve that's regressive up to the sag point to combat the inherent seal friction of air shocks and to help with traction. From there, it's progressive until you get to the last 15-percent of the stroke where it turns regressive again to play nice with said air shocks. As you might guess, this makes the bike a no-go for you coil lovers.

Remember how the 29ST has 20mm less rear-wheel travel than the standard version? The normal 29 gets a 160mm-travel fork, but Alchemy puts a 140mm on the front of the 29ST, and the result is geometry that's pretty dang similar.
Alchemy
They're both nearly hidden, but Sine Suspension is a dual-link design.

The 29ST sits closer to the ground (41mm of drop VS 34mm) and is also a touch steeper (66.1 head angle VS 65.5), but the reach and seat tube lengths are essentially identical across the board. At 5' 10''-ish, I'd be on a large with a 454mm front and a long-for-2019 483mm seat tube. The extra-large sees another 31mm up front.


Alchemy ARK Ti
The ARK Ti is a burly hardtail with a $3,499 USD price tag. For the frame.

Alchemy
Alchemy
It's funny how the riders who drool over titanium hardtails the most usually also have a carbon bike or three in their garage.


And now for something completely different. Alchemy has been doing titanium for ages, but the ARK Ti is an all-new model that's meant to be a rough-and-tumble hardtail, and run either 29'' or 27.5-plus wheels. The US-made frame goes for $3,499 USD and completes start at $7,199 USD.

The bike's geometry is designed around a 120mm or 130mm-travel fork, with the former delivering a 68-degree head angle and 74.5-degree seat angle. It has all the things you'd expect to see on a fancy carbon frame, including 148mm hub spacing, internal dropper routing, and the fact that you'll never get a front derailleur to work on it. The bottom bracket is threaded, too.

Weight? It probably weighs some. Angles? I bet it has those, too... I can't say that I'd spend a ton of time riding it (or any?), but that doesn't change the fact that I want one.


110 Comments

  • + 106
 Its funny how I can not like a bike but then I see "Ti" and I all of a sudden like it.
  • + 66
 I know. I get mad at myself for that.
  • + 6
 The standover on that HT looks like it would play real well with the nether regions...
  • + 5
 It really does look like a pile of poo
  • + 49
 @enduroNZ: most of the cost goes into the time machine needed to retrieve its 2001 geo.
  • + 2
 Alchemy trying to be the new Voodoo? For some unimaginable reason...
  • + 2
 @BenPea: kinda reminds me of my 1999 Schwinn Homegrown - www.pinkbike.com/photo/17074725
  • + 0
 Please help me understand why i would want to spend 3500$ for a frame deigned by “x” and built by “?”. The brake mount is not pretty btw. For less money you can get a custom Moots or a Steve Potts.

The steep seat angle with the straight post... i understand this is the marketing direction of what is “sellable”, but really... people are going to damadge their knees if they pedal for long time with the knee in front of the pedal axel. This is abc of bike fitting. Not debatable.
The color and graphics can’t shake the roadie vibe, the hardtail looks something out of a road bike catalog to me.
I like the full-sus, but then again american roadie color scheme.
But big thumbs up for making a carbon frame in the usa. Even if it was just a marketing thing.
  • + 2
 @RedRedRe: one thing to consider, climbing steep technical trails on a fs it's not riding flats and moderate hills on a ht, add the grade, plus sag and the kinked seat tubes most 29ers have and your knee is well behind the pedal axle, there is a reason steep sa work on steep terrain, it's a knee saver actually as you don't peddle like on a sea cycle
  • + 4
 @RedRedRe: Super debatable if you don't live in Florida and actually have to climb stuff. Climbing is when you ride uphill.
  • + 2
 You had me at Singer-fied 911. If I only had the cash @mikelevy:
  • + 3
 @RedRedRe:
I have to debate the knee injury point.

The only mechanism that seems to be available to damage the knee due to a forward position is that somehow gravity will damage your knee. If you are out of shape or taking it real easy on flat terrain the biggest annoyance I have found with forward seating positions is that a ton of weight is on your hands.
  • + 2
 @RedRedRe: The idea of the steeper seat tube angle is that you essentially have KOPS at an incline. Many parts of the country, like CO, you tend to be either climbing, where the steeper seat tube angle puts you at knee over pedal spindle without having to sit on the very tip of the seat, or you're descending and you have the seat dropped out of the way anyway. If you mountain bike in Iowa or Nebraska, then a 73 deg seat angle that has you at KOPS on flat ground will be more appropriate for you.
  • + 0
 These are xc bike, i assume people may ride them for at least a couple of hours and over 4 miles?
Who are the bigger climbers? Roadies. Go to Italy and see some real climbs, in the states our road are not near as long and steep. Road bikes have 73-ish seat angle and seatback post. Start going for long rides (60+ miles) with decent elevation (8000 ft) then you tell me if you can climb with a steep seatube. Can not even put the power down properly, let alone damaging your knees. Steep seatube on a 160+ ok... but on smaller bikes is just a marketing thing.
  • + 2
 @RedRedRe:
KOPS is a totally arbitrary thing and has no scientific basis that backs it up. It is just a pretty good saddle fore/aft position starting point for a road bike set up. If you are in bad shape or carry a lot of weight in your upper body, you should slide the saddle back, if you are in amazing shape and have low upper body mass you will likely want to slide the saddle forward.

This relationship goes completely out the window once you are on a mountain bike in a lot of places with real climbing. Yes a 60 mile day with 8000 ft of climbing is a lot(spent a month in the Alps road racing as a teenager) but is totally different than scrabbling up a technical trail where you climb 2000 ft in just a few miles.

I have a hard time imagining what the mechanism would be that could injure a person's knee by sitting forward of KOPS. I know from experience that my arms be annoyed with me if I go slow in the flat road transition to the trails from my house but that is the biggest consequence I have noticed. If you live in a flat place I would not recommend a super steep seat tube angle.
  • + 0
 @Chris97a: I only speak for what I experienced in person or from observing people close to me. If you ever been to the alps and rode 100 miles with 8000 ft climbing, you did the flattest rides around there. More like 100 miles and 16000ft. However believe what you like... a: some trend invented by marketing people or b: 100s years of experience and refinement of millions of people that rode bikes. I not going to explain pelvic rotation, i am just saying knee in front of the pedal and you dont go anywhere other than an hospital in few years.
  • + 1
 And by the way i dont even know what kops stands for. Only have direct experience. Not reading stuff online.
  • + 3
 @RedRedRe:
KOPS stands for knee over pedal spindle and it has been a popular way to set up road bikes for a long time because it is easy to understand and market. Just because everyone has been copying everyone for ever doesn't make it science. On a road bike everyone lands somewhere near that as it makes sense for a lot of other reasons mostly involving weight distribution and balancing how much weight is on each contact point.

There is no reason to worry about knee damage due to riding a mountain bike with a steep seat angle. Perhaps if you are doing bigger days in the Alps than the Tour de France does you would have to really dial in your position. That makes sense.

On a mountain bike you are moving around all the time, in and out of the saddle and doing actual quick elevation gain that you do not see in a road bike. A common loop around here is 2000 ft climbing in 2 miles, my mtb commute to work use to involve 1300 ft in about about 1.5 miles.
  • + 1
 @RedRedRe: road bikes don't sag, don't have kinked tubes, and virtual vs actual seat tube angle that changes the higher the seat post, what you don't understand? Film your self on a climb on your fs and see how far back from the bb you end up being. Ffs
  • + 26
 I find it hard to understand how bad Alchemy are. The geometry of their bikes is several years out of date. Multiple wheel sizes on the same frame was a bad idea 5 years ago, the prices are insane and there are literally 10 better options for half the money. 'Rough and tumble hardtail' with a 68 degree head angle. Me and my BTR want you to fuck off. This really is peak dentist, and they're not even trying to hide it.
  • + 21
 The Arktos 29ST is $3000 for a frameset. Made in Asia. The Arktos 29 is $3000 for a frameset. Made in USA. Correct me if I'm wrong.
  • + 5
 I'm pretty sure only the "custom" configurations are made in the US, and those are like $4.5k.
  • + 13
 and @GuerrillaGravity is doing it a couple of miles away for less money with more innovative tech.
  • + 4
 @adrennan: this - and not for nothing I’d much rather have the GG
  • + 3
 @adrennan: Right!? I know I am waiting for the call that GG is getting started on the frame I pre-ordered!
  • + 22
 Paint? On a Ti frame? tsk tsk.
  • + 8
 Agreed. Sure the feel of Ti is what your really after, but there's no denying the look. Why make a Ti frame look like a department store Alu bike...??? (those graphics are just NO)
  • + 14
 "but it's not going to be the 29ST as it's born in Asia. That's also why a frame and Fox Float DPX2 shock will sell for $2,999 USD when they're available in three weeks time, which is much less than what it'd cost if they were made in Colorado. "

Good god, what would it cost if it were made in CO?
  • + 40
 Evidently Spot, Guerrilla Gravity, and Revel didn't get that memo.
  • + 32
 Bought my GG frame for $1700. I don’t get this line of bullshit that if you make stuff in the US it’ll be too expensive, I think it’s a bill of goods we’re sold as consumers that isn’t based in reality. I’m a machinist and the stuff we make is often cheaper than a European or Chinese equivalent and we have no shortage of customers.
  • - 12
flag rh00p (Apr 10, 2019 at 20:29) (Below Threshold)
 @Rucker10: What this country has is a shortage of manufacturing capability after decades of previous administrations sending the trades to China and Mexico. Take a cross-country trip via train and you'll see plenty of rust belt locales suitable for manufacturing. FFS just about every innovation in this sport is American made, including the sport itself. Of course liberal trolls and the occasional PB contributor will blame your $12K Yeti on trade wars.
  • + 4
 @rh00p: this is true. As a consultant for product development, the manufacturing expertise is very rare. It's not like a ton of kids are coming out of college with an ME degree. Sad
  • + 8
 @bikewriter: Spot doesn't produce their carbon frames in USA, neither does Revel. Alchemy, to my knowledge, is the only other domestic manufacturer (besides GG) of carbon full-suspension bikes.
  • + 2
 @PHeller: Ibis did this for their small frames of one bike iirc too last year
  • + 6
 @Svinyard: Oh your right. I had also heard that Trek produced some select carbon frames in the USA as well. Lets just say that Guerrilla Gravity is the only manufacturer to produce ALL of its carbon full-suspension products in the USA.
  • + 3
 @PHeller: yeah makes sense. It'll be REAL interesting to see what it looks like when GG is also doing the rear triangles too and have a couple years under their belt. If I was them, I'd try to get Dave Weagle to do a magic suspension update for them too. Local made full carbon frames and a custom Weagle suspension that was awesome...hard to go wrong with that. Im guessing Ibis is waiting to do just that as well once their expertise is dialed. We'll see
  • + 4
 @rh00p: we gotta git dem liberal trolls !
  • + 1
 @Rucker10: I would buy the GG frame if it would not be that expensive to import it. Funny how I get China made carbon frames from SC , trek or whatever for the same price here .
  • + 0
 @Svinyard: Maybe their rear triangles will stop breaking then too!
  • + 2
 @PHeller: I stand corrected. Thank you.
  • + 1
 @addatx:Whats the story on broken GG rear triangles? Haven't hear much about any failures with thier frames, be interested to know before I pull the trigger on a Trail Pistol next month.
  • + 1
 @maxyedor: they've gone thru a few iterations of their rear triangles (on the alloy models) in an effort to keep the chainstays from cracking at the chainstay bridge. Some people never had any issues with the V1 chainstays but because some did they revised them, some people had all kinds of issues with the V2 chainstays despite the revision, it seemed to be a result of riding style, bearing smoothness/condition, etc. I know some heavier riders who had never had any issues, and some lighter riders who did. GG replaced those rear ends for customers effected, no questions asked.

It should be interesting to see if the carbon models have taken those lessons learned and we now have perfect chainstays. Only one way to find out!
  • + 2
 @Svinyard: actually, a F*ton of "kids" are coming out of school with ME degrees. What they all lack is actual manufacturing experience. They can design to the moon but when you ask them how they're gonna make it, deer in the headlights
  • + 0
 @rh00p:
Be mad at Bush 2, he was really good at exporting jobs.
  • + 1
 @Serpentras: Shorelines UK had an Megatrail for 1400€ with a shock (new)...but got shit over on the german forum for posting it lol..
  • + 1
 @krashDH85: Our engineers come up with the most bug shit designs you wouldn’t believe it. Because we prototype something for them on a printer, the expectation is it’ll be a piece of cake on a 5-axis.
  • + 1
 @krashDH85: I just see a zillion desk jockey engineer/CAD deisgners...not ME's. But maybe they are and I just assume they are designers instead. But yeah, the old guy in the back that literally figures out how to take a 2d drawing and make a full blown product...thems a dying breed. Super sad, cause they are pure bred geniuses often times and the creative stuff they do to get something to work is unreal.
  • + 2
 @Rucker10: Its amazing that so many companies haven't figured out how to integrate the design side with the manf side more effectively. DFM documentation isn't going to cut it.
  • + 1
 @Svinyard: That’s exactly why more companies need to identify their high level machinists and get them into tech positions so they can have a hand in the design process.
  • + 1
 @Svinyard: Very true. I hold an engineering degree, but before I even used it, I cut my teeth learning machining from those "old timers". Learned a ton in the industry when I was in it. Special place in my heart for machining and manufacturing
  • + 1
 @NotNamed: oh man, had I known that.
  • + 15
 We live in a world where a company offers a 27.5, and then releases a 29er in the line-up as the “playful.” My head is spinning.
  • + 6
 you haven't ridden a short travel 29er recently have you...?
  • + 10
 @NWuntilirest: I'm sure , given the same treatment as "recent" St 29ers, a short travel 27.5 would be more playful in all respects
  • + 7
 The internal dropper cable routing on the Ti frame looks like an afterthought. Something the end-user would do after a beer and "aw screw it, where's my drill?" No rhyme or reason why it's drilled off-center, except that was probably the tightest angle they could get sticking a built frame back in the mill (I'll give 'em credit that they probably didn't drill it by hand)...and not profiled (oblong) to relieve the entry-angle of the cable because they couldn't chuck the complete frame in a way to mill the hole longitudinal to the axis of the tube. This is what you get with a budget, $3500 Ti frame? Don't sweat the details, Alchemy.
  • + 11
 157 times your heels will hit the rear triangle on 1 ride.
  • + 3
 While I like the 157/DH spacing, I literally had to put some frame protection on the seat stays of my devinci troy for that very reason. I never noticed that my heels were touching while riding but could see where the paint was starting to come off.
  • + 1
 @wheelza: seems that devinci have caught on to what you’re describing. I recently took delivery of a newer Troy (a red one, which is a color that wasn’t available at launch) and there is frame protection tape on the seat stays right out of the box
  • + 1
 @incubus: Nice to see that they picked up on that and did something about it
  • + 2
 @wheelza: if you never noticed , I wouldn't say it's a problem then. We put frame protection on the chainstays , but none is insinuating that the chain has no business hitting them !
  • + 3
 @wheelza: I have the same issue on my boost spaced Tracer, so it's not just a function of super boost.
  • + 3
 Went from a non-boost bike (2017 Norco Sight) straight to to a 157 bike (Knolly Fugitive LT)... skipped boost altogether. 3 months and about 12 rides in, haven't hit my heels once. It's all about careful frame design. Knolly's stays at the point where your heels pass are almost the same width as their previous models... which aren't even boost.

Check here - www.knollybikes.com/engineering and scroll down to see an overlay schematic of their rear end widths - previous bikes vs 157 bikes
  • + 9
 “Geometry is out of date. Dentist bike”

- generic Pinkbike commenter who rides a 2008 Stumjumper
  • + 3
 Don't forget yr mom calling from time machine--she wants her virginity back. & it's a 2005 Giant in Ben Pea's case. The bootlicking nastiness is rivaled mainly by its cliché.
  • + 8
 Walmart now makes a nicer looking hardtail than Alchemy.... surely end of days is around the corner
  • + 6
 They remind me of Danner and Redwing boots. “We make some stuff in Asian for an OK price, but if you want the good shit, the US made stuff it’s gonna cost you.” Just pick one or the other for Christ sake.
  • + 11
 I think the real question is if the USA made one is significantly higher quality than the Asia made one.
  • + 16
 @cuban-b: that’s the implication of being USA made, but definitely not always true.
  • + 17
 It’s nonsense, we are counting pennies, meanwhile we eat out daily and pay $5 for a latte.

Recent economic research suggest Brock and mortar starts are declining at an increasing rate

Enjoy that foreign made product cuz some day there won’t be any other choice.

So yeah, buy local when you can: Guerilla Gravity for the win
  • + 0
 @cuban-b: I also think who you're giving your money to is a part of "the real question "
  • + 2
 @DGWW: If I can't invest locally (which I always try to do,) I don't really care who I give my money too as long as the product is what they say it is, and I have at least some idea that the folks who are making it are treated right. I guess that's often my question with things made in Asia, I hear stories about workers being essentially slaves, and the quality being substandard. I honestly don't know if that's true anymore, I've had some amount of discourse with a handful of tradesmen in China who at least anecdotally claim that they're fully vested members of a middle class, and I know the product they're making is just as good or better then what we make. I really have no problem paying for that.
  • + 1
 @Rucker10: The Chinese Communist Party is a very scary government to be giving your $$ to. By supporting Chinese companies, we are essentially supporting that government .
  • + 1
 @DGWW: by that logic, buying anything from America would be supporting... Trump?
  • + 1
 @cuban-b: If America were a corruption authoritarian dictatorship , then yes that logic would apply. But it isn't , so no it doesn't.
  • + 1
 @DGWW: coo man good talk
  • + 1
 @DGWW: I don’t give half a shit honestly. There’s probably some paranoid jackass in some forum over there saying the same crap about us. Like I said, I’ll happily invest my money locally as much as possible, but I truly don’t believe Chinese manufacturing is the boogie man it’s made out to be, at least not anymore.
  • + 1
 @Rucker10: this isn't paranoia , look up what's happening between Canada and China as a result of a us extradition request for the CFO of huawei. This is very real. The difference is , over here we can express our opinions freely in "some forum"...in China ? You disappear if those opinions are the wrong ones. You obviously don't have much knowledge of how things work in the worlds largest economy.
  • + 0
 @DGWW: coo man good talk
  • + 1
 If it has the same front and rear triangles, could you have two bikes for the price of 1.5? They should sell the links separately. Then all you have to do is pick up a smaller fork and shock and you would be off to the races.
  • + 2
 Not provisioning for a bottle cage on a 120mm bike shows a dearth of understanding of the use case for a 120mm bike.

Also if youre gonna put a dpx2 on it, just give it 130+ please...
  • + 4
 Glad I'm not alone on the water bottle front.
  • + 1
 The geometry / suspension #’s on the 29st is spot on for my type of riding.. 66 HA and 75.5 SA sounds outstanding!! This was what I was hoping yeti would replace the sb4.5 with.. this will be a proper trail bike that can still get rowdy for my tighter rocky trails.. well done alchemy!!
  • + 5
 In this thread, Guerilla Gravity doing it better and cheaper.
  • + 4
 and having more fun
  • + 5
 If given the chance, I would show that bike a good time.
  • + 4
 Playful. The new buzzword, like ... open concept.
  • + 1
 I've got a buddy riding one of those SPOT bikes and he swears by it. He swaps rides all the time and comes from a BMX background.
  • + 2
 I can understand full sussers being 1x specific but on a hardtail, that's just fascist
  • + 2
 Why would anyone buy this bike when there are so many better choices out there?
  • + 3
 Sea Otter content - let it flow!
  • + 1
 If you want HT and Ti, you HAVE to go Kingdom Vendetta...just silly and plain wrong not to...!?
  • + 1
 So it's a Yeti SB 4.5 without the infinity link.... Looks better but not new.
  • + 2
 aside from price, that ful-sus is quite good looking at least.
  • + 1
 Wow another short travel 29er. What a game changer. I don’t care if I’m down voted but bikes like this are done to death
  • + 1
 Or you could buy two Transition Smugglers.
  • + 1
 ...and no water bottle mounts.
  • + 0
 Guerrilla gravity? Never heard of them? Is it a European brand from Andorra?
  • + 0
 Why keep making them in Asia if the price is the same of that made in USA? Trump tariff?
  • + 1
 Was the original arktos a 157mm rear spacing too?
  • - 1
 157 rear end say whattttttt !!!!! Is this going to be the new hub spacing that trumps 148?
  • - 2
 "Short travel" 140mm...
  • - 3
 $3k for a rebranded Santa Cruz frame & a shock. LoL
  • + 1
 Not same suspension design, more like an Ibis.
  • + 1
 @drivereight: You get my point.
  • - 2
 New Spot 100/115 bike blows this away.
  • + 9
 The Ryve is manufactured in Taiwan, along with all of Spot's other carbon products. It costs $2999 frame only.

For that price you could get a Guerilla Gravity Revved Trail Pistol 120/130 with a DPX2 and know the frame was produced solely by American hands (and maybe some robots) in Colorado.
  • + 1
 @PHeller: Or $300 off a Spot for following their social media.
  • + 1
 @PHeller: what is your opinion of all the GG carbon bikes that you have ridden? I’d be psyched to read your review.
  • + 2
 @lccomz: I haven't ridden any of them. I did however own a Smash for about a year, and was so stoked on it I decided to buy a Revved Trail Pistol sight unseen/unridden.

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