Review: Alchemy Arktos 29 ST

Oct 21, 2019
by Richard Cunningham  



Ride the Arktos 29 ST and you'll understand the short-travel trail bike trend. Alchemy makes bikes in Colorado, where those who can endure long fire-road climbs at high altitude are rewarded by fast paced singletrack descents that run for miles without interruption.

Derived from their successful carbon-framed 29-inch wheel enduro racing platform, the Arktos 29 ST (short travel) enters the world with 120-millimeter of rear suspension, powered by a Fox DPX2 shock that is paired with a 140-millimeter Fox 36 fork. Five builds are offered, beginning with our SRAM GX Eagle-based review bike at $5,200 USD, to a Shimano XTR version that costs $9,500.
Arktos 29 ST Details

• Wheel size: 29"
• Travel: 120mm rear / 140mm front
• Carbon frame
• 66.1-degree head angle
• Reach: 421 to 485mm (447 size med)
• 436mm chainstay length
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Price: $5,199 USD
• Weight: 30.4 lb/13.8 kg (size M, actual)
Alchemy Bikes

Big wheels, armed with 30-millimeter wide rims and full-sized Maxxis Minion rubber mitigate the chassis' minimized wheel travel, but the Arktos ST's secret weapon is its "Sine" suspension kinematics. Designed by David Earle, the short-link system transitions smoothly from an initial falling rate to a progressive curve, then finishes with a falling rate at the end-stroke. Conventional wisdom may suggest otherwise, but Earl crafted the "sine-wave" suspension curve to utilize every millimeter of the Arktos shock's stroke. Apparently, it works quite well.

bigquotesMinimalist trail bikes like the Arktos 29 reap the benefits of big wheels and gravity-tuned geometry, while their limited wheel travel provides more consistent handling.RC






Construction and Features

Alchemy is best known for making its carbon and titanium frames in the USA. Sales have outpaced their production capacity, however, so the Colorado bike makers have reached out to Asia to produce the Arktos 29. Construction throughout the sturdy carbon front section and its rear suspension is well executed, and the frame's conservative profile is easy on the eyes.

Top tube clearance is good for a 29er, and the seat tube configuration offers plenty of room for long-stroke dropper posts. Threaded bottom bracket cups and ISCG bosses are a plus, as is the thick plastic down tube protector which frames the under-tube bottle mounts. Closer inspection reveals plenty of room for full-size tires (2.4-inch rubber is standard fare) and generous sound and abrasion protection is applied to the right-side seat and chain stays.

Alchemy's decision to build the 29-inch-wheel Arktos with the wider 157-millimeter Boost Plus axle width was a good call. Wider spaced hub flanges offer stronger support for big wheels and the format creates a better chain line for 12-speed drivetrains as well. Those wary of being locked into a "new" standard have nothing to worry about, because Boost Plus is cross-compatible with conventional DH hubs.

Sine suspension displaces the water bottle below the down tube.
The 157mm rear axle width is the same as a DH hub,
Wrap-around tube junctions reinforce the head tube area.

Those who keep their bikes for a while will appreciate that Alchemy stocks spare parts and offers a comprehensive assembly manual. Alchemy covers the chassis with a lifetime warranty and the maker also offers a crash replacement policy for above-and-beyond events to help get original owners back on their wheels.

Perfect scores are rarely meted, and Alchemy missed a couple of marks when they penned the Arktos 29. Bottle suckers will be disappointed to discover that the Arktos 29's mid-tube shock mount leaves no room for in-frame hydration. Dirty spigots are an unappealing reality of conventionally placed bottles, but after fording a few puddles and cleaving some cow pies, you're going to think twice before pressing your lips to the Arktos' low-mounted bottle. Another questionable feature was the way the rear brake hose and derailleur housing were routed below the swingarm. I had to use a couple of zip-ties to ensure that the tire did not buzz them.


Geometry & Sizing

Arktos 29 ST frames are made in small, medium, large, and X-large sizes, with ample, but not record setting reaches that range from 421 millimeters in the size small to 487 in the XL size. Our medium review bike's 447-millimeter reach was on the roomy side of perfect for me, and according to Alchemy's sizing chart I fall in the center of their suggested range for that size.

You'll find no surprises in the Arktos 29's geometry chart. Every number supports its role as an aggressive, fast pedaling trail bike, intended to flourish under a capable rider. Alchemy begins with a short, 44-millimeter fork offset, which pairs well with the bike's 66.1-degree head tube angle to make the steering feel consistent across a broad speed range.

Modest, but still modern, the 75.5-degree seat tube angle is not so rider-forward that super-short
Alchemy Arktos 29 SL Geometry
chainstays are required to maintain climbing traction. Moderately compact, 436-millimeter chainstays ensure that Arctos has plenty of grip, along with ample mud clearance for tires up to 2.5 inches. First glance at the Arktos' 336-millimeter bottom bracket height suggests that it shouldn't be too low, especially for a short travel bike, but that turned out to be a concern. All told, however, the Arktos 29's numbers are rock solid.



Suspension Design

Our most affordable version of the Arktos 29 ST is outfitted with pro-level Fox suspension: a 140-millimeter-stroke Factory Float 36 Grip 2 fork, backed by an EVOL DPX2 reservoir shock (Kashima, of course). No questioning Alchemy's commitment.

Squeezing performance from every bit of the Arktos ST's 120-millimeter rear wheel travel fell onto the shoulders of suspension guru David Earl, who used the bike to showcase his latest suspension design; "Sine" suspension refers to its characteristic sine-wave leverage graph. Left unchecked, short-link four-bar linkages all exhibit similar rate reversals at the extremes of their range. Most designers capture one snippet of the rate curve that best suits their needs.

Earle, however, spent most of his career figuring out ways to moderate those rate changes and then use them to an advantage. His trick is hidden behind the forward part of the swingarm, where the lower pivot location articulates on a third lever that creates a cam action as the suspension compresses. Yeti's Switch Infinity system creates a similar effect.

Sine's novel rate curve begins with a falling rate, which is often used to provide pedaling firmness without hindering the suspension's ability to get moving quickly in response to an impact. Near the sag point, the rate curve reverses into a classic
rising rate. Earle says this gives cornering support and traction throughout the most used portion of the suspension range. Drawing close to full travel, the leverage reverses to a falling rate - a tweak, Earle maintains, that is used to overcome the air-spring's pronounced end-stroke ramp-up and encourage the shock to use all of its stroke for larger hits.


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Key to the Arktos' Sine suspension is a hidden link used to moderate abrupt rate changes typical of short-lever four-bar designs.

Those of us who have endured the plethora of "revolutionary" suspension systems that marked the past decade have learned that technology is only impressive when it performs as promised. Sine suspension comes from a reputable source, and while it may seem complicated, it looks (and is) quite simple. You won't have to explain it to bystanders each time you pause to check your Strava.

Sine suspension graph
Alchemy graphic


Components

Budget strapped riders seeking to buy an elite level trail bike from a boutique builder will find it hard to beat the $5,200 Arktos 29. No arguing its Fox Factory suspension, and the same goes for its SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, time proven DT Swiss M 1700 Spline wheels, and Maxxis Minion WT rubber. Alchemy breaks rank with SRAM to spec Shimano XT brakes. I would prefer SRAM Codes at this price point for their better modulation, but I'd choose XT over Guides any day of the week. Overall, this bike's cockpit and component selection looks and feels like a professional's workspace.

Specifications
Release Date 2019
Price $5199
Travel 120mm R, 140mm F
Rear Shock Fox DPX2 Factory Kashima
Fork Fox 36 Factory Kashima, 140mm, Grip 2
Headset Cane Creek
Cassette SRAM GX 10 x 50t
Crankarms SRAM Eagle GX 175mm 32t
Chainguide Praxis top guide
Bottom Bracket SRAM threaded
Pedals NA
Rear Derailleur SRAM Eagle GX
Chain SRAM Eagle GX
Front Derailleur NA
Shifter Pods SRAM Eagle GX
Handlebar Race Face Aeffect 35×780x20mm
Stem Race Face Aeffect 50mm
Grips Ergon GA 20
Brakes Shimano XT,180/180mm rotors
Wheelset DT Swiss M 1700 SPLINE 29 (Rear - 157 mm Boost Plus)
Hubs DT Swiss
Spokes DT Swiss
Rim DT Swiss aluminum, 30mm IW.
Tires Maxxis Minion DHF WT EXO 2.5" / DHR WT EXO 2.4"
Seat WTB Volt Race
Seatpost X-Fusion Manic 150mm




bigquotesOverall, this bike's cockpit and component selection looks and feels like a professional's workspace.






Alchemy recommends that riders begin with the rear suspension set at the ubiquitous, 30-percent sag. I was reluctant to follow their advice because I'd be sacrificing a significant portion of the Arktos' 120 millimeters of positive rear-wheel travel. My concerns, however, were unjustified. I would soon learn that the Arktos' Sine suspension kinematics create more than enough mid-stroke support to maximize the effectiveness of its remaining 84 millimeters of compression.

Armed with that knowledge, I set the Fox 36 fork a little stiffer than my norm to strike a balance. Starting with 20-percent sag, I settled on five clicks out on the high-speed rebound and eight clicks out on the low-speed. Compression settings ended up at eight out on the high-speed and ten clicks out on the low-speed dial. Shock settings were eight clicks out on the low speed rebound and three clicks out on the high speed compression. I used the middle position of the DPX2 shock's low-speed compression lever for pedaling paved climbs and left it open for everything else.


bigquotesClimbing and pedalling efficiency is multiplied by the Arktos' ability to maintain momentum over terrain that defeats old-school stiffer-is-better suspension designs.

Climbing and acceleration: Given Colorado's abundant opportunities for extended climbs and the bike's short-travel mission statement, I anticipated the Arktos 29 would feel energetic under power at the expense of some small-bump harshness. Not so. Alchemy's take on an efficient climber is to trade some of the perceived efficiency that comes from a busload of anti-squat and an overly firm feel at the pedals for better square-edge and small-bump suspension performance. Climbing and pedalling efficiency is multiplied by the Arktos' ability to maintain momentum over terrain that defeats old-school stiffer-is-better suspension designs. I didn't always feel like I was covering more ground, but I was faster everywhere pedaling was involved.

Fun factor: "Playful" is commonly used to describe the essence of short-travel trail bikes. Cornering, jumping, making shapes - any move that requires intuition and timing seems easier - and there's a reason for that. Minimize the suspension travel and you also minimize the variables that come with big travel bikes, like unplanned weight transfer and steering angles that are all over the map, depending upon which end of the bike is extended or compressed. Minimalist trail bikes like the Arktos 29 reap the benefits of big wheels and gravity-tuned geometry, while their limited wheel travel provides more consistent handling. Geometry is rock stable through the turns and there's less squish to push through when you need to load up the bike for a jump.

Bottom line is the Arktos 29 ST, with its planted suspension and balanced numbers, feels like an intuitive extension of its pilot - a joy to ride anywhere it's fast, technical and twisty.



Technical riding: Rear-wheel drifts are in vogue, and there's much confidence in the notion that your bike's tail end will break free well before the front tire loses grip. Ask the Arktos and it will comply, but left to its own desires, it will tenaciously hold its line through the turns, and when it does break traction, both wheels will drift about the same. You won't look as stylish, but you'll carry more speed and you'll have an easier time setting up for the next bend.

Point the Arktos 29 toward danger and it probably won't get you in trouble - even when you run out of suspension. Fox's 140-millimeter 36 fork never ceases to impress, and the Arktos' Sine rear suspension follows suit with a level of grip and control that defies the reality of its puny rear-wheel travel. Both O-rings and the Stan's sealant bleeding from the Maxxis EXO tire casings indicated that I was asking for more suspension than Alchemy provided, but the Arktos remained composed in spite of it all.

Invinceable? Yes, you can brake late, leap over rock gardens, take the bold lines down rock faces and carve inside lines around cobbled corners - but push past the Arktos' suspension and your limitations will soon depend upon your skillset. Alchemy makes a more capable enduro version of this machine for the rest of us.



Suspension action: Alchemy's claims about its Sine suspension were justified by the Arktos 29's performance. Sine's reversing leverage rates may or may not have played a commanding role in this equation, given the small range of motion that those elements have to impose their will upon the Fox DPX 2 damper, but there can be no doubt that the Arktos 29 pedals well, remains composed in its mid-stroke and provides an uncanny degree of smoothness over a wide range of speed and trail conditions. I'll attribute some of that composure to the Fox 36 fork, which matches the beauty of Sine's mid-stroke performance, but provides much more of it.

How does it compare? Santa Cruz Tallboy vs. Alchemy Arktos 29 ST

Santa Cruz Tallboy 2019
Santa Cruz Tallboy

Alchemy Arktos 29 ST

PB reviewed the new Santa Cruz Tallboy this year, which is available in a comparably priced version (Tallboy Carbon C-S $4999 USD), also with a similar spec. Santa Cruz designed the 2020 Tallboy to fulfill the same aggressive, short-travel 29er trail bike role with 120 millimeters of rear-wheel travel, paired to a slightly shorter,130-millimeter fork. Both received positive reviews in the suspension department, earning accolades for rear suspension that exceeded their numerical expectations. Alchemy gets the win for better components, with a Fox Factory level 36 fork up front and a Factory DPX2 reservoir shock (SC offers a 34 Float Performance fork and a Performance DPS shock). Both bikes share the same drivetrains - SRAM GX Eagle - while the Tallboy gets SRAM's G2 RSC brakes, and the Aktos has Shimano XT stoppers.

Arktos 29 ST and 2020 Tallboys both feature innovative suspension systems, well made carbon frames, and their numbers are close: Tallboys have a more desirable, 76.6° seat tube angle vs the Arktos' 75.5° while their head tube angles are too close to worry about (65.5° vs 66.1°). Reaches are also comparable, with the medium Tallboy at 448mm and the Arctos at 447mm. Santa Cruz gets the big win for the sacred water bottle placement, made possible by its more compact suspension design, but the Arktos's climb switch is readily accessible on the fly, while you'd have a tough time finding the Tallboy's.

Technical Report

Sine Suspension: Vanguard suspension designers start praising straight leverage rates and coil shocks again, then David Earle pops out a reversing sine-wave tailored specifically for air-sprung dampers. Hard to argue with success. Sine suspension works great and forms the centerpiece of the Arktos 29 ST's delightful trail manners.

Watch that bottom bracket: Not so low on paper, but the Arktos' 336mm (13.2") bottom bracket height produced more than a few rodeos. I never went down following a massive crank or pedal strike, but wow! I'd probably boost its fork travel to 150mm to jack the bottom bracket up a little if I were to keep it for an extended ride, or at the very least install some 170mm cranks.

Braking: Shimano must have altered its pad compounds because the last few XT brakes needed a lot of heat before they started gripping like their predecessors. It took three rides before they really woke up, then it was game on.

Aluminum wheels: I've been a fan of good quality carbon wheels, but I often rode this bike beyond the limits of its suspension, which shifted much of the conversation between earth and rider to the wheels. Wide, DT Swiss 1700 Spline wheels, shod with Maxxis Minion EXO WT tires sucked it all up with minimal complaints. I'm a fan.

Fox suspension Alchemy invested heavily in the Arktos 29's suspension components, which is exactly where it did the most good. Short travel trail bikes put a lot of stress on those parts. Alchemy spec'ed the good stuff so you'll never have to worry about a future upgrade.


Maxxis 2.4 Minion DHR WT EXO




Is there an Arktos 29 ST in your future?

Big bikes require big trails. Enjoying a long-travel super-slack enduro sled restricts your riding to trail centers with dedicated one-way fall-line tracks packed with features. Here's an alternative: buy a more modestly sprung trail bike like the Arktos 29, and enjoy the best of both worlds: ride hundreds of miles of readily available blue-line trails, and when your enduro bros finally agree on a weekend destination, you can shred blacks. Your Strava times may suffer, but I doubt you'll care.


Pros

+ Good pedaling, confidence inspiring carbon chassis
+ Pro bike components and performance for an attainable price

Cons

- Low bottom bracket could be an issue
- You'll need a hydration pack for serious rides



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesDownsizing your daily driver? Anyone searching for a lighter, trustworthy, ready-for-anything trail bike should add the Arktos 29 ST to their short lists. Alchemy anticipated the trend and got it right the first time. RC







235 Comments

  • 120 7
 The comparison to SC Tallboy is the most useless piece of review I have ever read ... Only info from geometry chart and specs. I think PB was afraid to really compare those, which means one of them is clearly better.
  • 22 1
 Yup, we can all read spec sheets but how does it compare when riding??? Who cares about 1° difference in STA ...
  • 47 7
 Hey RC - your reviews are normally instructive & not prescriptive but this one seems like it was written by a junior.

"...You won't have to explain it to bystanders each time you pause to check your Strava..."

Really?

Most of it reads like advertorial.

Return to your old style...
  • 53 0
 “You'll find no surprises in the Arktos 29's geometry chart.”

2005 Cube bikes called, they want their seat tube lengths back.

Jesus, say goodbye to a dropper over 125mm
  • 32 1
 @Richt2000:
Not only that, but what the heck is going on with the reach on the size L frame? Only 7mm longer than the medium, them it jumps 30mm from L to XL. The medium has ok geometry and the xl intolerable, but at 454mm reach for the L coupled with that 483mm seat tube - just... no thanks.

It also has a similar leverage curve to the one santa Cruz's previous vpp had, that they are very proud to have fixed with the lower link vpp.
  • 21 2
 "All told, however, the Arktos 29's numbers are rock solid."

Other than a bottom bracket height that, "produced more than a few rodeos," and the strangest reach increments I have ever seen.

But do tell me more about the Sine Wave Suspension which happens the inherent shape of multiple other layouts and notably what both Specialized and Santa Cruz are tuning out of their suspensions.
  • 23 2
 This company used to take pride on the, Made in the USA deal. Now, they can't even find a place for the water bottle. Useless review of a bike that is clearly put together on a hurry just to say, we got this new trend covered
  • 9 0
 @RoboDuck: Not speaking to the merits or drawbacks of either, but the older SC bikes had a big softball pitch of an arcing, drooping curve. It does not look like the Arctos sine curve.
  • 5 1
 @KennyWatson: the reach numbers are thrown off because it has an absurdly tall head tube. It has the tallest stack height of any bike I've seen in the last decade.
  • 9 8
 Since SC butters PB's bread, you figure out which one is actually better.
  • 5 0
 @toast2266: I disagree. The stack height increases from M-L-XL by about 14mm per size, which is actually reasonable. If the stack height increased disproportionately from M to L, I could see it. But m to L has the same jump in stack as l to xl, but one has a 7mm increase in reach, the other 30mm. Bizarre.
  • 5 0
 @KennyWatson:
We don't know if it looks like an old vpp leverage curve, as there is no numbers to show the scale, so we don't know how it is cropped or zoomed.

And, this kinematics is really close to the "rockrider neuf" or yeti's "switch", so as it's quite hard to obtain any significant leverage evolution from it, i'd assume this is actually a nearly flat curve.
  • 9 4
 @faul: The curve is exaggerated to dramatize the effect. Most suspension graphics are, because the rate changes on a 1:1 scale are very subtle.
  • 4 0
 @faul: yeah, like RC said, the graph that alchemy shows is heavily exaggerated. While the curve has some little sine shaped wiggles in it, it's effectively completely flat.
  • 2 0
 @VonFalkenhausen: this actually mimics the original VPP patent, not the "updated" version that SC and Intense implemented
  • 11 0
 @RichardCunningham: obvioulsy it's exagegerated. But there is nothing here to show how much.
Is that a 1% change in leverage? 5% ? 25%? we don't know, and that's the first thing to look at when interpreting these curves.
[conspiracy theory]But maybe the scale is hidden for a reason, like a superflat curve sold as "progressive"[/conspiracy theory]
  • 1 0
 @salespunk: I thought it just expired. Do you have source on the "new" one?
  • 3 0
 @faul: While I don't take this chart to be 100% accurate, you can at least get a rough idea of the curve on the regular Arktos here: linkagedesign.blogspot.com/search/label/Alchemy%20Bicycles

I doubt the Arktos ST is going to be substantially different.
  • 6 0
 When I saw the Arktos vs Tallboy I literally yelled out loud at my studio. Then I read it and felt cheated.
  • 1 0
 @salespunk: I should have been more clear, I was referring to the previous to current generation SC bikes, from a few years ago.
  • 2 0
 @RichardCunningham: looks A LOT like the curve of an SB6. Not sure it’s needed to demonstrate how new it is. Wasn’t it used on previous Alchemy bikes too? Execution might be slightly different but the leverage curve remains the same shape.
  • 13 3
 @hifiandmtb: Mountain Bike Fiction at its finest: "Minimalist trail bikes ... reap the benefits of big wheels and gravity-tuned geometry, while their limited wheel travel provides more consistent handling."

Right, sure, shorter travel bikes have consistent handling while an additional 20 mm of travel makes any bike a wild bronco ... oh, but wait, there is more: this one is not only consistent but also "invincible"!!!!! ... ... but wait! there is more: "Short travel trail bikes put a lot of stress on those (suspension) parts", right while long travel bikes do not. Or another one (the best one probably): "big bikes require big trails".

A gold mine of fiction!!!!
  • 3 0
 @hamncheez: you are correct on the VPP patent. I was referring to the original Outland patent which included an S shape axle path with corresponding regressive/progressive leverage ratios.
  • 5 0
 I had the same thought... It literally said nothing comparing how they ride. Absolutely useless.
  • 6 0
 @salespunk: In regards to the suspension design, it has little in common with VPP. It uses a rotating lower link as opposed to VPP's short link. As RC stated it's much closer to Yeti's switch infinity. Also the leverage curve is drastically different than the top-link mounted shock (old) design. VPP, speaking in generic terms because all of them are slightly different, had a regressive rate in the initial travel, linear rate mid-travel, then fell off with a progressive end stroke. Overall it was a progressive design with the leverage rate ending much lower than when it started. Sine suspension is regressive, progressive, regressive, which is honestly almost the opposite of what most companies are designing to these days. I don't buy the argument that the end stroke is regressive to counteract air shock's progressiveness. This is only a good design if you have never bottomed out an air shock, which is precisely no one.

Also when thinking/comparing the sine suspension to VPP note that what's published here is the Shock Rate on the Y-axis, and most leverage curves and the "softball pitch arc" of VPP that @VonFalkenhausen is referring to is leverage ratio, which is basically the inverse of shock rate. To compare directly, you would have to "flip" the Sine Suspension curve and it would show a rising, falling, rising leverage ratio. Compared to VPPs rising flat, falling.
  • 1 0
 @KennyWatson: From M to L the increase is more in stack height than reach. I agree with KennyWatson that the L and XL bikes have a really noteworthy and in my opinion excessive stack height. A 29" bike doesn't need a tall headtube, on the opposite!
  • 4 0
 @hifiandmtb: This IS his old style... I thought I was reading MBA from 2008.
  • 1 1
 @duzzi: completely agree, The bikes weight isn’t listed, which likely means to me there is no real weight saving over a longer travel bike. A 120mm bike is good for slowing you down and limiting your capability. Give me more travel and more comfort on an all day ride, and more capability when the trail turns rough, These short travel bikes are a throwback of odd nostalgia,
  • 55 1
 "Compelling argument that Less is More"
Less water bottle mounts is More pinkbike hate ?
  • 45 4
 Super Boost you say? Add this to the list of bikes I will never buy.
  • 11 2
 Amen. Also this statement is ludicrous: "Those wary of being locked into a "new" standard have nothing to worry about, because Boost Plus is cross-compatible with conventional DH hubs."
  • 8 1
 I stopped reading the article as soon as I saw 157mm rear axle. I had a Switchblade with the wider rear axle and finding wheels for it was unnecessarily difficult. Here's an example... Currently, when I search for "157mm" in the PinkBike buy/sell area, there are only 8 results in the wheels category. Searching for "148mm" returns 53 results. When searching for "boost" there are 595 results.
  • 3 2
 "Alchemy's decision to build the 29-inch-wheel Arktos with the wider 157-millimeter Boost Plus axle width was a good call."

Nope. Nope. Nope.
  • 2 0
 @ryknown: Random aside: Does anyone know to how to get PB's search to look for an exact phrase like "super boost" rather than just returning every bike with regular boost and a super deluxe shock. Usually putting a phrase in quotes works for that, but it doesn't seem to make a difference on PB.
  • 1 0
 @tgent: Totally agree. I have moved onto the current new standards now, after a 142 27.5 enduro bike, but I buy the best parts for my bikes. How is an existing DH hub going to help me, when I have spent £500 on a new Chris King 148mm rear hub. I will be sticking with the bike I have for the next 4-5 years.
  • 22 0
 Good choice to spec the frame with high level suspension. It's much better to do that than to spec low level suspension and a little bit better gears or a carbon bar. Everyone should do it - it's the best policy for an upgrade-when-it-breaks kind of guy.
  • 1 0
 All you have to do is pay more $$$, $200 over a traditionally viewed as expensive boutique brand Santa Cruz for Kashima...
  • 7 3
 @tgent: Santa Cruz is the biggest rip out there, $8G’s for a bike with house brand components and mid-tier suspension. They are anything but boutique, 3rd biggest bike company in the world. No boutique brand can afford Development/molds for a new version of a frame every to keep up with that latest in geometry fashion.
  • 4 1
 @McNubbin: Agreed 100%. I've been saying the same thing for a year. $7K+, and still no Fox Kashima coating? Such BS! And they're so popular where I live too. WTF?
  • 3 0
 @mybaben: while I don’t disagree they are expensive, the frames are very, very well made. And strong. A cut above most other frames.
  • 4 1
 @jaame: In China.
  • 4 0
 @hifiandmtb: out of plastic
  • 2 2
 @McNubbin: Lol that's a wrong statement. What house brand components does a Santa Cruz come with? The bar. That's it, unless you count the reserve wheels, which are an upgrade option, and widely considered to be a great wheelset well worth the money. They definitely are not the 3rd biggest bike company in the world. Let's name some bike brands that are bigger than Santa Cruz, or even Pon Holdings: Specialized, Giant, Trek, Cannondale, GT to name a few. I don't know what you're trying to say about no boutique brand being able to afford development/molds for a new version of frame, but SC releases new frame designs with a new mold every 3 years generally.

If you want to complain about them not coming with Kashima, go for it, it's true. I'd save $200 and avoid the gold bits.
  • 2 0
 @tgent: kashima has had its day. It’s so 2015. I prefer the PE but the high spec ones.
  • 1 0
 @jaame: Same. I think Kashima looks cool, but I don't buy for a second that it has less friction than the black coating, and if I had the choice, no way in hell I'd pay extra for it.
  • 1 0
 @tgent: I think it spoils the look of a lot of bikes, because all colours don’t match the gold. Also, it’s a bit too “look at me” kind of over the top like gold teeth
  • 1 0
 @jaame: I would happily trade the Kashima uppers on my new Fox 34 for the black version, it does ruin the look of my otherwise all black bike. And I am entirely over Kashima, I have another fork that is about 3 years old and the Kashima is peeling badly from the tops of the stanchions.
  • 28 10
 "...that super-short chainstays are required to maintain climbing traction."

Longer stays are better for climbing traction. Look at hill climb motos.
The one stand out trait of my 575 with it's 450mm stays is traction on tech climbs.
RC, you should know better.
  • 24 7
 Motos for hill climbs need longer stays to keep the power down without looping out, mountain bikes don’t have that issue.

Short stays shift a larger percentage of the rider’s weight over rear tire. This comes with other trade-offs but there’s no question it increases traction.
  • 8 8
 A few years back I would have agreed, that longer stays are better for climbing. But seat angles have become so extreme, that we need to compensate with shorter stays, to keep a little bit of pressure on the back wheel.
  • 4 2
 @mrosie: Increases traction and a lighter front wheel floats over chunk on climbs and is very easy to reposition if you get off line. Give me short CS. Smile
  • 3 0
 @mrosie: "Motos for hill climbs need longer stays to keep the power down without looping out, mountain bikes don’t have that issue."

You don't loop out? You need to lift more Bro! LOL JK
  • 7 0
 @vikb: Since when has a light front wheel become better for control when climbing? And which bike out there has a super planted front wheel on steep climbs, where you don't have to slide your body forward on the seat? Do you people believe all the marketing hype that you read?
  • 67 13
 @ReformedRoadie: I actually do know better. The geometry I am describing here is for 1/2 horsepower bicycles, designed to scratch their way up moderately steep gradients using tires designed as a compromise between low rolling resistance and adequate traction. I was a pretty good hill climber during my moto days, and I used to build mountain bikes, so I probably understand the different design parameters.

For mountain bikes shorter stays are necessary to maintain climbing traction as seat tube angles grow steeper. I think that's pretty straightforward.
  • 9 0
 It is very height and weight dependent.
I'm pretty tall at 6'4" and pretty heavy at 240(sometimes a bit more) longish chainstays are a necessity to climb up steep grades, otherwise it is just a constant attempt to keep the front wheel on the ground.
  • 14 1
 @RichardCunningham: 1/2 horsepower? These ponies in my lycra can sustain 2/4ths horsepower, baby!
  • 1 0
 @RichardCunningham: That became obvious when I tried a friend's AlpineStars Cro-mega back in the day... those elevated and super short chainstays kept climbing/gripping way longer than my regular bike...
  • 3 2
 @RichardCunningham: You are serious aren't you?
I said the same thing, but I was trolling.
And I see you only got upvotes, so apparently everyone agrees you need short stays for climbing.
I am so confused now.
  • 12 0
 @RichardCunningham: Are you saying that short chainstays are the new long chainstays (which were previously the new short chain stays)?
  • 4 0
 @RichardCunningham: Rather than short or long chainstays, isn't it where you fall between the wheelbase that matters? Isn't the return of slightly longer chainstays due to the lengthening of front ends and the steep seat tube angles and slightly longer chainstays balance rider position?
  • 2 1
 @RichardCunningham: that being said, the perfect opportunity for checking is mentioned in the article. The new Tallboy has adjustable CS length. Maybe do a comparison, both subjective and objective to see if there is a difference going up...it's only 1 cm, but at least it eliminates all the variables between two different bikes.

The move towards steeper ST angles does allow shorter CSs, since the key is the rider weight relative to the axle and contact patch. Also consider that ST is moot once you stand up.
  • 6 0
 In my experience with climbing, it is always a struggle to keep the front wheel down. Longer stays help with that.
  • 1 0
 Oh the story is about moderately steep gradients, on tires with pretty low grip. I guess shorter stays could help to keep traction there.
  • 4 1
 @IntoTheEverflow: I have trouble with traction on moderate climbs, said no one ever.
  • 4 0
 @MarcusBrody: Yes, balance is the key, but also power. Human power is minimal, so small slips of the tire make a difference. At some point, tall riders are going to need longer chainstays for the same gradients. E-bikes carry more weight lower, climb steeper slopes and have more torque available. Longer stays also work better in that case. On average, as you get to 76 degrees and beyond (with modern anti-squat percentages), weight shifts forward and shorter stays work better. As @refornedroadie mentions, a future comparison would be worthwhile.
  • 1 0
 @RichardCunningham: Thanks for the reply! I am in the XL range for almost all bikes, so my worry about balancing out the front end vs. getting enough weight on the rear in most cases makes sense.
  • 1 0
 @MarcusBrody: if you think about it, in the end we're all f*cked
  • 20 1
 Any time i see RC as the author I immediately know it’s going to be a fluff piece. Glad he didn’t disappoint again. Please leave him off bike reviews.
  • 2 2
 Did he even ride the bike? Doesn’t look like him in the photos?
  • 13 0
 @RichardCunningham - this puzzles me a bit: "Downsizing your daily driver? Anyone searching for a lighter, trustworthy, ready-for-anything trail bike should add the Arktos 29 ST to their short lists. Alchemy anticipated the trend and got it right the first time."

I'm currently riding a Process 111. That bike came out in what, 2014? And since then, there's been the Smuggler, the Following, etc. The idea of a bike with short to moderate travel (somewhere between 110 and 130-ish mm rear), with a wee bit of a reverse-mullet fork travel number, and aggressive geometry/burly spec might be a trend, but it's one that started over half a decade ago. Arktos may have gotten it right the first time - but that's the first time they tried it, rather than the first time it was done. And far from anticipating anything, they did so with the benefit of observing that half decade's worth of competitors' entries into this by now well-established segment.

I'm going to suggest that perhaps we're at the point where short-ish travel bikes with aggressive geometry and burly parts spec don't have to be reviewed as a "new" thing, or anything that has to be explained to people (was it Levy or Kazimer who started their review of such a bike the other week with something along the lines of "what is this thing?). These bikes have been around for a while, they're a well-established market segment, and they really don't need to be justified against longer travel bikes with similar geometry.
  • 10 0
 This review is pretty rough. I got almost nothing out of it that you can't get from the spec sheet, especially the comparison to the tallboy, there is literally no info comparing the ride. Especially the bit about climbing, this just makes no sense:

"I anticipated the Arktos 29 would feel energetic under power at the expense of some small-bump harshness. Not so. Alchemy's take on an efficient climber is to trade some of the perceived efficiency that comes from a busload of anti-squat and an overly firm feel at the pedals for better square-edge and small-bump suspension performance. Climbing and pedalling efficiency is multiplied by the Arktos' ability to maintain momentum over terrain that defeats old-school stiffer-is-better suspension designs. I didn't always feel like I was covering more ground, but I was faster everywhere pedaling was involved."

So it is not an efficient and firm climbing platform, that is able to move over bumps, but climbing and pedaling efficiency is multiplied by it's ability to maintain momentum over terrain, and you were faster when pedaling was involved... This sounds like marketing, and is at odds with what other PB reviewers and myself feel when reviewing bikes that pedal efficiently. Also the entire section about Sine Suspension is purely marketing, with a conclusion that seems based more on what they told you than how it actually rides.
  • 2 1
 Sounds like the Tallboy kicks its ass in all respects and the reviewer didn't have much else to say.
  • 1 0
 @bikekrieg: But it doesn't say that anywhere, and most of this review is waaaay positive.
  • 2 0
 @bikekrieg: it could be the opposite. I find the Arktos to be very efficient and fast as shit. I have now ridden the TB4. I would keep the Arktos if given a chance for a straight swap.
  • 11 1
 "Overall, this bike's cockpit and component selection looks and feels like a professional's workspace."
Office ?
Workshop ?
Zoo ?
Bedroom ?
I do like it though.
  • 14 6
 Overweight, overpriced bike that's inferior to other bikes, so Pinkbike tries hard to go around the fact.
Why do you need 2.5" tires and Fox 37 on a 120mm bike? If you need those heavy duty components, you're better off with a bigger bike.

And what about that Sine wave suspension? Constantly changing spring rate for the sake of being different and not because it makes sense.

SC Tallboy, Giant Trance and similar bikes get the point of short travel agressive bikes. Keep the tires manageable, Fox 34, alternatively Pike and light, durable wheels (Giant's TRX1 are phenomenal for the price and ratchet upgrade is inexpensive).
For instance, Giant's Trance Pro 1 costs 1/3rd of the price, weighs 1.5kgs less and has virtually the same components, but better wheels (and slightly lower end fork). You could have 3 different great bikes for the price of this and all of those with bottle mounts!
  • 5 0
 Giant´s Trance 29 carbon PRO 1 has the same price as this Alchemy...:

www.giant-bicycles.com/us/trance-advanced-pro-29-1-2020
  • 5 2
 @Bigbangus: I like big tires on small bikes because I like going fast down steep, loose hills and don't want the suspension to make it a point and shoot experience. I wanna actually ride the the trail, not have my 160mm endurbro bike do it for me.

Also the Trance 29 comes with Minions front and rear too, but in 2.3...I'd much prefer the wider ones.
  • 7 0
 The Giant cost the same. Guide T brakes? Fox 34 vs 36, performance vs factory. Only thing the Giant has is carbon rims but at the same time generic hubs.

If the Alchemy had the same brakes and suspension it would sell for $4,800 or so.
  • 5 1
 @mnorris122: Anyone who says the bike does it for them is full of it. If the bike is “doing” the riding for you, you’re not riding hard enough.
  • 1 0
 Sine suspension is garbage, and is just a linear leverage ratio wrapped in marketing BS. I don't mind short travel bikes specced with burly components though, I destroy XC and even Trail level components.
  • 15 5
 Front brake pad looks to be hitting only half the disc band... could explain the lack of bite !...
  • 1 1
 You're sure? To me it appears that the pistons (or well, the bulge underneath where I'd expect the pistons) are nicely over the brake track. These bits extending outside the brake track are cooling fins. Still attached to the brake pads, but there is no grippy material underneath. They are supposed to extend like that.
  • 14 1
 The fact that "it took 3 rides before they really woke up" makes me think RC had a little too much of that Cali sticky-icky and forgot to bed them in Facepalm
  • 3 3
 @vinay: Look at the disc. The pads are obviously not using the whole disc´s braking surface.
  • 3 2
 @Davichin: mmmmmmm I dunno about that, it all looks good to me.
  • 3 1
 @mnorris122: I would say that, in this pic, there are at least a couple of mm not used, as if the brake pads were too far from the axis (maybe they used washers too thick or whatever?): www.pinkbike.com/photo/17868680
  • 2 7
flag Bigbangus (Oct 21, 2019 at 3:32) (Below Threshold)
 No way. It would be immediately obvious. Also this would mill down half the pad and likely crack the piston. Try again.
  • 1 1
 Personally I recall Shimano pads being relatively narrow (only have had 2004 Shimano Saint, other than that it was/is all Magura) so I can't quite tell if too little brake track got rubbed or not. Of course there is a bit near the spokes that seems untouched but then again most brands try to stay clear of the spokes anyway as rubbing that introduces vibrations not appreciated by suspension and rider.

So yeah, with all tolerances and deviations involved, that's what they want to stay clear of. With IS disc brake mounts, typically there was too much material on the brake mounts and in most cases it needed to be faced by the mechanic. Maybe with postmount because deviation in axial alignment is now taken care of by the slots in the caliper, there is less need to double check the accuracy of the PM brake mounts on the fork. They err on the side of being too long as being too short causes more issues. And then maybe these brake mounts were just a mm or two too long. Not sure if there are special tools to machine these down. Personally I'd rather grind the fork end of the brake adapter down a mm than mess with the fork lowers. Also because this end doesn't have a thread. He could try that though if he does at this stage, I'd suggest he'd pop some fresh pads in too.
  • 1 0
 Shimanos do that and I don’t know why
  • 9 2
 "Low bottom bracket could be an issue" SC Tallboy is 1mm lower at 335mm (13.186")

Why are "Trail" bikes coming with such low BB heights these days? Makes them such a pain in the azz to do any type of technical climbing or get any pedal strokes in on chunky terrain.

Mid to high 13 inch BB heights would make these much more rounded bikes and easier to ride in technical terrain without having to resort to 165mm cranks.
  • 11 0
 I am one of those guys that had to resort to 165mm cranks, it turns out there was no downside and I can't really tell the difference other than less crank strikes. Low is good other than the obvious issue of ground clearance, but 165 cranks have been one of those compromises that doesn't feel like one for me. Now most of my buddies are running them too.
  • 1 0
 @VonFalkenhausen: ditto. 165 mm on a higher BB pedals right through rock gardens like nothing. I did notice I prefer flats over clips now though. 165 clipped in felt a little weird unless I slide the saddle back. I don't know...
  • 3 0
 @Beez177: 165mm cranks move the path of your knees rearward as you go through the pedal stroke so you're on exactly the right track moving your saddle rearward when going to a shorter crank.
  • 4 0
 Short travel bikes have much less sag, so the dynamic BB is much closer to the same. Look at the BB drops on hard tails; the effective BB height is sometimes below 300mm on them.
  • 3 0
 @VonFalkenhausen: Interesting. Do you like how the bike feels standing climbing? I have a road bike and a cross bike with 5mm difference in crank length. When I go from the longer to the shorter and and am climbing while standing, I feel the smaller circle of the smaller crank and don't like it. The best way I can describe it is like this: When I walk up stairs and want to go faster, I start naturally skipping steps. With the shorter crank, I feel a hint of that feeling of wanting to take a bigger step but feeling very slightly yet noticeably confined by the pedal circle. Have you ever felt that? For that reason, I would be reluctant to try shorter cranks on my trail bike. I feel no negative difference with seated pedaling. I'm 5'11".
  • 1 0
 @toadlywilde: No, I haven't had a problem with that. I'm 6', average proportions. I don't do a lot of standing climbing, but I have 165mm cranks on all my bikes now including the one I am out of the saddle the most on and I seem to have adapted fine because I never think about it while riding. I was worried about it at first after having been on 175mm for decades, but it was a really easy change. I made a big bike change at the same time and I think that helped make the change transparent.
  • 1 0
 I'll take the low BB for stability in the corners over the occasional need to ratchet the cranks over chunky terrain. Most of my riding has technical climbing to get up to it... and I keep my bike in the lowww setting. I also prefer the leverage of 175mm cranks.
  • 2 0
 @bikekrieg: I was on the ultra-low BB train for a while too, but then I read this:

www.spanner.org.uk/2018/09/are-29ers-and-low-bottom-brackets-faster-part-ii

I think it applies to short travel bikes too. The higher the BB, the higher the main pivot is as well, but without changing the AS and kickback, meaning the best of both worlds when straight-lining over chunk.
  • 3 0
 @hamncheez: I don't care about straight lining over chunk... I'm not racing. I want to carve corners like a Jedi.
  • 1 0
 @bikekrieg: point taken
  • 13 6
 Nice bike, I’m not sure I fully understand the whole idea of short travel aggressive trail bikes. I’d spend most of the time wishing it had more travel. Nice bike though
  • 18 1
 The slacked out geo probably keeps it pretty composed. I have a megatower and for most local stuff it is way too much bike. I demo’d a tallboy today and it was way more fun on the local terrain as it popped more and was faster. If your normal ride isn’t “black diamond” level terrain, the short travel bike could be more fun.
  • 7 2
 Agree with @Austink.

The key word is "trail", ie undulating terrain. These short travel rippers are tonnes of fun going up, down and all around and can handle the rough stuff with a poppy and playful nature.

Beats pushing a heavy, long travel rig around all day where you get limited opportunity to really make use of its capabilities.
  • 3 0
 Definitely depends on what your "go to" trails are like, but I rode a myriad of 160 travel bikes for years, rode a modern 130 a few years ago and sold my other bikes. The newer, shorter travel bikes can handle a lot of rowdy and are more fun to pedal. I will say I stick with 27.5, and the bike you pick can alter these sentiments(my older Transition Scout is my favorite bike...new version sucks in comparison)
  • 5 0
 I agree... I bought a Slash because I was limited to one bike... It works ok on my local trails and is great when I get to the bike parks.. But, most of the time a bike like this Arktos or a Tallboy would be a bike of choice for my local trails.. But, I'm still having fun either way...
  • 4 9
flag McNubbin (Oct 21, 2019 at 11:52) (Below Threshold)
 @Ktron: Wow, you just used every marketing buzz word to describe this, very original. But to answer your question, these long-travel rigs you reference aren’t heavy, weigh the same as these new short travel “rippers”, are just as efficient, and won’t leave me wishing for more travel when I really start pushing the bike.
  • 5 1
 @McNubbin: that simply isn’t true. The tallboy I demo’d was like 5 pounds lighter than my megatower (both x01 reserve) and was noticeably a better pedaling bike. I don’t know how you can fool yourself into thinking that a big bruiser bike that is made to maximize downhill performance is going to be on par with a dedicated trail bike when it comes to riding the more mellow trails most of incur around our local areas.
  • 2 0
 @Austink: I did the same. I don't do parks often anymore and my old SXtrail was overkill. Tried a couple enduros ans ended up with a Spark. Just way faster, more nimble and more fun for the trails I frequent. These "short travel" trail bikes are what I've always wanted.
  • 2 6
flag SlodownU (Oct 21, 2019 at 17:52) (Below Threshold)
 @Austink: So, Pinkbike's, gone from gravity rippin, Enduro-bro edits, 160mm bikes to "I like to ride mellow trails, so I need a mellow bike". What bunch of wusses.
  • 1 0
 @Austink: I’m calling bullshit. What does a Tallboy frame weight compared to a Megatower? There wouldn’t be 1/2 a pound in it. Apples for apples. Maybe lighten your megatower because it must be a ridiculously heavy build to be pounds heavier than a tallboy.. @mcnubbin is right - most of these short travel bikes are no lighter and simply more limiting.
  • 1 0
 @EarIysport: just go look at posted weights on their site. 31 vs 27 lbs. Then consider I run cushcore front and back on my mega. It isn’t about just frame weight but how it is kitted out. I could make my mega a little lighter but that comes at the expense of it not being able to perform as well in its intended environment. I need it burly for racing, but it is overkill for everyday local riding. A short travel bike isn’t going to be ridden the same way and can be built up lighter.
  • 6 1
 Unless you carry multiple water bottles, most don't, you are going to need a hydration pack for any serious rides. Most of my rides one water bottle is nowhere near enough.
  • 4 0
 True. I like to put an electrolyte powder in a bottle and hydration pack for water. Works well for a big day out and helps gets some weight off the back.
  • 2 0
 Serious rides are different for everyone of course. Most of my rides are under two hours and I usually don't completely empty my 1.5l bladder of my pack. Someone who prefers bottles could use that on such a short ride. Most people don't have time for very long rides during the week and the trails near home many not necessarily require a long travel bike. So yeah, I can see this also being a great bike for those quick pre- or afterwork rides. But I digress. I think a short explosive ride can still be serious.
  • 1 4
 No. MSR sells a compact water filter that works great. I’ve done many 4-5 hr rides in OR, CA, WA, and BC. I actually stay more hydrated since I’m drinking from a bottomless water bottle rather than a camelbak.
  • 1 0
 Alchemy could have put a bottle mount above the shock with a side by side adapter. I have this on my trail bike and it works awesomely.
  • 2 0
 If it’s a serious ride, you’re going to want a spare tube and some tools, anyway.
  • 2 0
 And an extra layer.
  • 1 1
 @skelldify: Again, a "serious ride" apparently means different things to different people. For me, a serious ride implies I have a plan to work on something. Which then often turns out sessioning a section. Corners, difficult section of a climb, sprints/intervals, jumps and logs, trackstands and rollbacks even. In fact it is these serious rides where I would session a section that I'd put my bag down in one spot (unless want to keep it on for the integrated back protection). The bag could contain slalom cones, a drink bottle, tools, camera with tripod... You're not keeping it on all the time but strapping it and unstrapping it from the bike makes even less sense.

Not so serious ride would be going out without much of a plan and just what comes my way.

Either way, how much you're going to carry on a ride depends on the weather (and how it can change during the ride), the length of the ride, how thirsty and hungry you can be, what other stuff you like/need to carry for specific goals you have on your ride (bike and garden tools, camera...) and probably much more. But on how serious it is, that all depends on what every individual rider defines as serious for themselves. But it can then probably be more specifically described by what I mentioned above.
  • 4 0
 For me, the geometry chart is a surprise. Looks like they had a nice span for S, M and L but decided they really wanted 4 sizes so they went for a new M and the called the M a L and the L a XL. Weird.
  • 1 1
 I bet they resuse molds for the front triangle across different bike models, and so they didn't have the flexibility to space the sizing more evenly.
  • 4 1
 "75.5-degree seat tube angle is not so rider-forward that super-short Alchemy Arktos 29 SL Geometry chainstays are required to maintain climbing traction". Come on, this is not an issue if the frame length is not balanced to the chain stay. Often, a longer chainstay will actually make bikes better climbers as too much weight on the backwheel makes the front way too light, resulting in wheelies where you actually want to be steering.

And the unnecessarily tall seat post is getting pretty outdated by now. The people want long droppers, even on shot travel bikes.
  • 1 2
 I run a 170mm dropper on a size large on this bike. It’s really not that tall haha
  • 3 0
 Rode an Alchemy once. It sucks to hate on such a small company but it was the most "soulless" bike I've ever ridden. That's of course not giving a single quantitative measurement but I was doing a test day at a DH park with a bunch of other bikes and the Alchemy was a very boring ride, I wasn't alone in that sentiment that day either
  • 3 1
 Same, I blame sine suspension, which is just a linear design and bottoms out constantly. Also the draw for me to Alchemy was the made in the USA, which this bike isn't, so....
  • 1 0
 I've ridden the longer travel Arktos twice and after the second ride I actually felt like it was a really fun bike. I was pretty close to buying one but the lack of internal water storage was a no-go for me.
  • 5 2
 If a boutique shop can spec better components at a better price than a massive company like Santa Cruz, you know you're getting taken for a f*cking ride by Santa Cruz.

And your "BuT lIFeTiMe WaRRaNtY BrOOOO!" argument is also invalid here.
  • 3 2
 This is $200 more than the SC and basically has the same specs other than Ka$shima. If you want to pay $200 extra for Kashima, more power to you. I don't.
  • 2 2
 So your complaining about not having kashima but you consider a lifetime warranty an invalid argument? lol get your priorities straight. Also everyone says the arktos rides like shit lol so maybe that 'Boutique brand" isnt actually on the same level as the big boys.
  • 1 0
 @nismo325: I'm saying your lifetime warranty argument as to why SC is worth the premium is invalid when Alchemy also provides a lifetime warranty.
  • 2 0
 @tgent: Except that the SC has a completely different suspension - Fox 34 and a DPS compared to a Fox 36 and DPX2 with HSC/LSC.
  • 2 0
 In-addition, Alchemy customer services is one of the best I have experienced.
  • 1 0
 @skycripp: You're right that the Arktos has the next level up in suspension as far as "beefy-ness" with the 36 and DPX2, but SC intentionally speced the lighter duty components on the tallboy. Step up to the Hightower if you want to bigger stuff, but it's not significantly more expensive.
  • 3 0
 Odd that pointing at a high shock rate falling towards sag is for traction and small bump sensitivity, where on other frames a high frame/wheel rate falling towards sag (so a low shock rate rising towards sag) is pointed at as being for traction and small bump sensitivity...

And the regression at the end of the stroke is becoming unnecessary in modern large volume shocks with more linear springs. Even on a frame with just a little progression, a modern shock like a Deluxe or DPX2 is going to need at least a few volume spacers to keep from bottoming out and still maintain from off the top sensitivity.

This curve would have been the tits 10 years ago when air shocks were stiction-y and progressive AF. Actually, it's still probably nice for very light 50kg riders, but anyone up around 100 kg is going to either blow through the travel all the time, or shove in all the PSIs and get rattled on fast roots and such.
  • 2 1
 Spot on. Only one can be right, and just about every other bike manufacturer is using progressive rates in the initial travel rather than regressive rates. I'm betting on everyone else.
  • 1 0
 I am close to 95 kg, I haven't any issues bottoming, running 27% sag. The bike actually feels like it has more than 120 mm of rear...normal east coast terrain. Even bike bible tester either rate it their number 1 or 2nd choice.
  • 3 0
 "Watch that bottom bracket: Not so low on paper, but the Arktos' 336mm (13.2") bottom bracket height produced more than a few rodeos"

Probably doesn't help that the highest (frame/wheel) leverage ratio is just before sag. Slight weight shifts (heading uphill, pedaling motion, etc) are going to move the BB up and down _a lot_ right at that critical travel zone. The shock is going to see the smallest movements and would have to be over-damped everywhere else in order to get the damper forces high enough around sag to keep the BB stable and higher.

"or at the very least install some 170mm cranks." With a 336mm BB height it should already have 170mm cranks, or even 165mm! This is 2019, everyone either doesn't know/care what length cranks they have, or knows that crank length doesn't noticeably effect power output.
  • 8 0
 RC got PBiked
  • 3 1
 Bring back Vernon felton
  • 6 0
 Boy oh boy, the PB warriors woke up on the wrong side of the bed this glorious Monday. RC is taking it on the chin!!
  • 7 0
 Guilty. I think the PB faithful are getting tired of the reviews that say nothing. The contrast with the other reviewers is pretty obvious.
  • 4 1
 It's funny how the concept of "short travel" has evolved recently- 140 up front is still definitely in the realm of mid-travel. I just don't see this bike riding that much differently than a my Stumpjumper with 150/140.
  • 5 0
 Starting a review off with text taken from a press release is confusing and makes the rest of the review seem less credible.
  • 4 0
 Alchemy's claim to fame was producing bikes in the USA with a unique suspension design. Making them overseas loses some of that mystique.
  • 1 0
 They didn’t do the entire frame in the USA either if I recall. Correct me if I’m wrong.
  • 1 0
 @bubbrubb: I thought previously they did the entire frame in the USA.
  • 7 0
 Kinda funny how the intro describes them as known for producing carbon frames in colorado and in a lower section says they had to outsource to Asia. Pretty fake marketing considering @GuerrillaGravity is actually doing carbon just down the road...
  • 2 0
 @PHeller: and they outsourced the rear triangle previously but you would only know if you read the fine print
  • 5 0
 @adrennan: ahhh.

As a GG owner, I'm pretty stoked on my ENTIRE frame being made in the USA and it being affordable enough for me to own it.
  • 1 1
 @PHeller: Just the rear triangle IIRC.
  • 2 0
 Clicked because I read, "sometimes less is more" and stupidly thought they were talking about price. Then saw the build kit, left and went to yt's, canyon's, (any direct to consumer) site. what a joke.
  • 1 0
 So after years of pushing for more and more travel, we are now being sold on the concept of "Enduro Lite?" The last major paradigm that I heard regarding suspension was that we need at least 140mm of travel so that there is a wider mid-range for the dampers to work within (i.e. finer tuning/higher fidelity of the low-speed compression circuit as an example). However, this review states that shorter suspension travel provides for more consistent handling.

Don't get me wrong, I like that we are able to have so many choices--down to regional choices at that (East Coast riders may disagree a bit on the current trend toward long, low, slack), but is the lack of any cohesiveness or general fickle nature of cycling preventing more advanced suspension damper development?
  • 1 0
 Can you write worse bike comparisons. When looking at these comparisons we don't wanna know specs that anyone can easily lookup. We wanna know how the bikes ride in comparison to each other. Please look at the reviews at Enduro magazine if you wanna know how to compare bikes.
  • 9 6
 The real alchemy will be turning a pocket full of teeth into a $9500 whip. Dentists are truly magical
  • 1 0
 One could at least fit a small Fidlock bottle inside the triangle, under the top tube, with their strap mount. I've never had one come off, mounted anywhere on the bike. Done.
  • 2 0
 I own this bike and have a small Fidlock on top of the top tube backed against the seatpost.
  • 1 0
 "Shock settings were ... three clicks out on the high speed compression." Pretty sure the DPX2 Factory only low speed comp adj (and 3-pos platform [also low-speed]), not high speed comp.
  • 3 0
 That bike looks short on the reviewer, which makes sense because this bike has a really short reach even in an XL.
  • 1 0
 Looks tiny in shot where rider is standing.
  • 2 2
 I own and love a 2015 Trek ex8 29er with a bottle cage on the down tube and if I want to I can throw a hydration pack on my back too!! WHO CARES!!!! Man I'm sick to death of seeing the same damn trail bikes from different brands which look the same as all the rest!! They all share the same components and pretty much do the same job so just get on your bike and go ride????????
  • 2 0
 Pivot brings 157 "Super Boost" to the market and it's mostly met with hate...

Alchemy brings the same 157 hub, with the same benefits and it's described as "a good call"
  • 3 0
 450mm seattube on medium, doh.
  • 5 2
 Arktos in Greek means dwlinkless and waterbottleless right?
  • 5 2
 Seem's like a expensive Yeti knockoff
  • 1 0
 Sure is one nice looking bike! And to me, I can't ride and ugly bike so that's a pro! The lines on all the tubes flow so well I'd pay extra for it. Good job alchemy
  • 3 0
 I got absolutely nothing from this review
  • 8 9
 "Minimalist trail bikes" WTF does that mean? Trying to beat Levy in the "make a new word happen" contest?

What's minimal about this bike? Is is single speed? Hardtail? Suspension has no external adjustments, must be opened up in order to tune? Only fits 140mm rotors? Doesn't even have a rear mech hanger? Has BB30 (no cups, just bearings and clips, that's minimalist.)?
  • 12 8
 Damn, someone's fired up. Minimalist means it doesn't have a whole lot of rear travel - 120mm to be exact.
  • 15 3
 @mikekazimer: Exactly. That's usually called "short travel trail". Then it was maybe leaning towards frigging "downcountry" territory, now it supposed to be "minimalist"?

"The term minimalist often colloquially refers to anything that is spare or stripped to its essentials."

That's a rigid single speed, not a factory-level full suspension, dropper equipped, 1x12-speed having trail bike with a little less rear travel than its contemporaries.
  • 16 8
 @just6979, you can can call it whatever you'd like - there are no hard and fast rules. That's why mountain biking's fun - we're all just out goofing off in the woods on big kid's toys. No need to be super serious about every single thing.
  • 18 0
 weird hill to die on
  • 9 2
 @mikekazimer: I think what he is trying to say is rather than coin a new term, create a word, or category, or worry about 'clever writing' style, maybe do a real comparison to the Tallboy...
I just re-read those two paragraphs and he basically says nothing.
  • 4 0
 @ReformedRoadie: Agree.

Minimalist. Ha!

I'll drop into my LBS & ask to see their range of minimalist trail bikes.

And look like a goose.
  • 4 4
 @mikekazimer: Well, yeah, except we’re considering spending thousands on these “toys,” and you guys are goofing off instead of giving us useful info.
  • 2 0
 @skelldify: you know this is a free website right? they don't owe you anything
  • 2 0
 I have no complaints with my Arktos ST (XO build). Bike is so fun and capable.
  • 2 0
 Looks like solid replacement for Yeti 4.5.... I miss that bike in the Yeti's line-up, Alchemy closed that gap nicely Smile
  • 1 0
 This squares up with the new Norco Optic. Makes me wish I could take one of these in the way back machine a few decades.
  • 3 1
 is front triangles still made in china??
  • 2 0
 Sweet looking rig, but damn the dirt-flavoured water!
  • 2 0
 "Invinceable?" Nope. Close, but no. Wink
  • 1 0
 Since when 30.4 lb is lightweight?
My old aluminum Process 134 is 28 lb, has about the same numbers and cost half as much.
  • 3 1
 Looks like a Yeti!
  • 3 1
 Can't help thinking Yeti every time I look at it. Old Yeti. Nice Yeti. But someone else's design.
  • 2 0
 All just different ways to move the main pivot to get the desired kinematics.
  • 2 0
 It's like yeti's less handsome, fatter younger brother with a receding hairline.
  • 1 0
 @hifiandmtb: Haven't properly scanned all of the comments, but thought you might like to know that (I believe) Dave Earl was the original designer of the Yeti Switch system, before they went to their Infinity version (which probably skirted some patents or IP or licensing fees)

So it is actually the original design applied to a new brand
  • 1 0
 ? Maxxis Minion DHF WT EXO 2.5" / DHR WT EXO 27.4". ? 27.4???
  • 1 1
 336 bb is very low for real world riding ,so how much will the bb will be raised with additional 10 mm fork?
  • 2 0
 La Costa?
  • 2 0
 Definitely . Can’t miss that color dirt lol
  • 1 0
 @Jcmonty: It's Black Mountain... I think
  • 1 0
 It might be Black Mountain's Black Widow trail, unless I'm wrong, because it looks a whole lot like La Costa.
  • 1 0
 @ewikpark: it’s la costa for sure. Ride there a lot and know the view and particular trail location on Switchbacks
  • 1 0
 The m to L is such a small change. I wonder why?
  • 1 0
 AND SO IT GOES... CIAO BUD!
  • 1 0
 Has this guy set a KOM down Black Mountain yet?
  • 1 0
 Luca commetti on photos?? Sayyy whaaaahhhh?
  • 1 0
 Yeah, he can ride and shoot
  • 8 9
 listing the need to use a hydration pack as a con is weird. oh the times we live in.
  • 8 1
 Under down tube water bottle mounts are the worst but.
  • 1 0
 @Ktron: They are good for mounting a bicycle pump and maybe even a toolkit onto. With the trend of mounting more to your bike and carrying less on your body, there is something to say for carrying your stuff as low as possible. As for drinking bottles, don't brands like Camelbak etc have bottles where the mouth piece is covered or hidden? These may not be ideal for Tour de France style on the fly drinking but except for racers, I don't know of many who do that on a mountainbike. Usually I (and others I know) stop, chill, take a sip and then move on.
  • 12 5
 I don’t get the weird fixation on bottle mounts. I’d take a pack over a bottle every day.

At the end of the day it’s personal preference, just like sram vs Shimano brakes. Why pb finds the need to emphasize bottle mounts as a pro or con in every single review is beyond me. People who prefer a mount can take a look at the first side shot of the bike in a review and see at a glance if there’s space for one or not. Adding it to the pros/cons list just seems like unnecessary filler to me.
  • 4 1
 I don't get it either. Does this mean the next time they review hydration packs the best they can hope for is, "If you have to wear one of these pieces of shit at least this one is a little less shit than all the rest."
  • 3 0
 @Upduro: Open Strava, check the profile of anyone in USA, see what they do and you'll get it.
Many people do very short rides and they don't need to carry anything, just a bottle of water and the keys of the car.
  • 1 0
 @Antoncor: Obviously those who need to carry a lot of water or stuff would need to go with a backpack instead of mounting everything to the frame (unless they go with bikepacking type bags and mounts). However, going on short rides and not necessarily having to carry a lot of stuff doesn't imply you have to mount everything to the frame. It merely means that you have a choice. I also go on short rides but I still prefer the small Ergon BE1 pack. It only takes 1.5l of water and very little room for other stuff (like tools, keys etc). The only thing the bag houses that doesn't make sense when mounted to a frame is the level 1 back protector. For me that's the main reason to go with the bag.

@Rucker10: As with all information and opinions in particular (which a review is), always check the source before you attribute value to such info. Not putting bottle mounts in the front triangle is not a "mistake" or "failure" as the Pinkbike editors like to put it. It is just a choice, a result of a different set of priorities. Pinkbike is just too preoccupied to accept that and word their own preferences nicely. Then again it is the bit we don't need a review for. There are no bottle mounts inside the front triangle. Everyone should be able to decide for themselves how important that is for them. That said, there good reason to be vocal about our own preferences before the industry takes the Pinkbike editor preferences as general opinion and starts to raise the top tube (affecting stand over) to make room for a massive cargo bay inside the top tube.
  • 5 0
 @vinay: WELL LOOK AT THIS GUY USING THE REPLY FEATURE ALL GOOD LIKE
  • 1 0
 Horrible thing.
  • 1 1
 New bike day!!!!
  • 3 4
 Man, how dare all beautiful bikes is gonna be pregnant soon.
  • 12 0
 What?
  • 1 0
 Dude? Doing what you are talking about is illegal in many countries.
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