ALCHEMY ARKTOS 150 REVIEW
LOTS OF OPTIONS, LOTS OF FUN
Review by Alex Sardella | Photos by Vinnie Zacha Herthel
Alchemy Bikes calls Denver, CO, home base, with the mountainous playground that is the Rockies as their testing ground to help design and produce high end bicycles for dirt, gravel, and road. Looking at their mountain bike line up, Alchemy has gone with the ‘one bike to rule them all’ philosophy, offering the Arktos full suspension mountain bike which comes in three different travel options from the same general frame – 120mm, 135mm, and 150mm. The Arktos comes with 29” wheels as standard but is offered in a mixed wheel option for the rear, there’s a flip chip to switch up the geometry, and an additional conversion kit to switch out the suspension and modify the travel with the same base frame – pretty versatile. We’ve been spending the Northern California winter getting time on the Arktos and have been impressed by Alchemy’s enduro offering, read on the for the low-down on this hard charging bike ready to rail and plow down your favorite downhill track.
• 150mm Sine Suspension
• HTA 63.25 °
• STA 76 °
• Reach 475mm (Size Large)
• 29” wheels (Mx Available)
Price Tested: $7,999
Being a small, hand crafted, and Direct-to-Consumer bike brand, Alchemy prides themselves in quality manufacturing, customer service, and competitively priced build options. Regardless of the travel option selected, the Arktos is produced with their premium carbon fiber frame. The Arktos 150 comes with 29” wheels, but the rear can be interchanged with a 27.5” for those into mullet mashing. As the name suggests, there is 150mm of rear travel that’s delivered by Alchemy’s Sine suspension platform. This is paired with a stout 170mm up front to take on big hits and bike park plowing. All build options for the 150 Arktos feature full Fox Factory level kit: a 38 Grip2 fork and Float X2 suspension package and a Transfer dropper post, all sporting full Kashima coatings to please the crowds.
The bike has a conversion kit available, where Alchemy offers an additional fork and shock option with a shock linkage swap. The kit would lessen the travel to 135mm Rear / 150mm Front, which would change the bikes intentions considerably. If you are someone who does a few bike trips every year, this could be a cool option given the nature of different terrain across the country and the ability to swap out the travel using the exact same frame.
Looking at the X01 build we have on hand, the SRAM Eagle drivetrain with the 10-52t Cassette allows for an easy gear to spin your way up the hill. Code RSC brakes combined with beefy 203mm front and 180mm rear rotors make for stable and dependable braking when the trail points down. The cockpit includes TAG Metals carbon bars at 800mm wide with a 20mm rise, paired with a TAG Metals Aluminum stem at 45mm long. Looking at the wheels, the Arktos is equipped with the reliable Industry Nine Enduro S Alloy Rims, and class leading Hydra hubs. Maxxis rubber gives the grip on the ground, with an Assegai 2.5 in the front, and DHR 2.4 in the rear to round out this enduro steed. All of this together brings the bike to about 33 lbs on a size Large, with a retail price of $7,999. I hate to say something at 8 grand is affordable, but that’s a real competitive price point when looking at industry standards for the level of build at hand.
Alchemy has kept the options rather simple when it comes to the Arktos. They offer three subdued colorways, three builds, and three sizes for the 150 – the same for the 135mm and 120mm. The builds available are SRAM GX, Shimano XT, and SRAM X01 Eagle with prices from $6,999 to $7,999. The Arktos is available in sizes Medium through to XL to fit riders from 5’5” to 6’5”, and the good news is Alchemy has bikes ready to ship in various size/build/color options! If you are in the market for a new rig this Spring, an Arktos could very well be in your future given the stock availability and incredibly versatile options.
Now let’s talk numbers. The size Large Arktos is in-line with everything we have come to expect from big burly bikes. A downhill-ready 63.25 head tube angle does the job in keeping the front planted in steep terrain and confident at speed, and a 26mm bottom bracket drop gives you an “in the bike” feeling. The reach of 475mm and 628mm stack is on par for the cockpit, combined with a seat tube angle of 76° that is comfortable when climbing up your favorite fire road. The chainstays are 437mm throughout the size range, giving our large test rig a 1250mm wheelbase.
Two notable features for the internet trolls include internally routed cables, and room for TWO water bottles, although one facing out on the lower down tube. The rear hub utilizes the SuperBoost+ 157mm standard to increase spoke bracing angles and tire clearance. There’s a flip chip on the rear end of the shock to tweak the geometry and allow for the MX wheel setup.
Dave Earle, the founder of Alchemy’s Sine Suspension, has a stout history in bicycle kinematics. With history in helping both Santa Cruz’s VPP and Yeti’s Switch Infinity, he has some high profile and proven suspension design on his resume. The Dual Short Link is the heart of the Sine suspension. As the bike moves through its travel, the leverage rate resembles a Sine wave. Not familiar with a sine wave chart? Think of what an elevation chart would look like after a few enduro laps climbing and descending, same idea for a sine wave. Kind of ironic isn’t it? At the start of the travel and into the initial sag, the suspension regresses to give small bump compliance. Moving through the middle of the stroke the suspension moves into a progressive rate which translates to a lively and stable ride for the most used portion of the travel. As you enter the final 15-20% of the travel, the suspension becomes regressive again to allow full use of the rear wheel travel and counter ramp up in the air shock. This design is to fit air shocks only and won’t be applicable for those looking to run a coil, sorry bro. Let’s dive in to how that translates on the dirt.
The Artkos is super fun to ride, there is no doubt about it. I’ve chosen to keep the bike in its true 29” form and not go for the MX option. Instantly I felt comfortable and poised aboard the Colorado-designed steed. Just a few adjustments to the fork and shock, and boom – ready to rally. I am pretty comfortable tinkering with Fox’s suspension line, so I got to a comfortable setup in quick time. I have been running 175 PSI in the rear, 100 PSI in the front, and that gets along nicely for me at 185 lbs. The saddle was comfy for me however I wasn’t too fond of the Ergon grips, I prefer something without the ergonomic hand fit. One or two things I would change is the alloy wheels and tire spec. I’d look to add carbon rims to shed a touch of weight, and equip a beefier casing tire in the rear to comply with the bike’s rowdy design. The 175mm Transfer dropper post is also a touch short on the XL build, I’d like to see something a bit longer there to really get the seat out of the way on the descents. Other than that, the build is spot on and at an excellent price point.
Going uphill the bike feels efficient and smooth. It’s wild how the Sine suspension moves through the initial 30% of travel for an insanely supple uphill feel without bobbing too much. The 76° seat tube angle combined with a roomy reach makes the climbing position enjoyable and easy to get into the uphill flow state. I did find myself reaching for the lockout a bit more than on other enduro bikes I have been on, but I think that is due to the slightly heavier nature of this 33-pound sled than some of the lighter crop. Although the bike is efficient, it can feel a bit sluggish and heavy if working through a technical climb, especially for a bike with 150mm in the rear. I won’t find myself setting any records on climbs with the Arktos, but it’ll get you up to the top of a trail without many complaints, then it truly shines on the way down.
The Arktos confidently sits in the enduro category, and I imagine it excels in its home turf on long, rowdy descents in the Rocky Mountain alpine – a dream to think about as I write this in the middle of winter. In the meantime, my testing has been around Northern California, and this bike felt immediately at home on the steeper, sweeter trails that are running right now. The geometry and overall trail feel of the Arktos leans closer to the dh side of the spectrum, rather than the all day, all mountain epic focus of some. It charges on the descents, and gets up to speed quickly, wanting to stay there to keep a race pace. The Sine suspension is incredibly stable but maintains a lively, jibby touch. It feels like a snappy mini downhill bike: it can hold a line through the rough stuff and carry speed after blasting a berm, but also pop a quick mid-trail double through the race line. It is in that order though: speed first, jib second. Cornering the bike, it feels strong and responsive when pushing it through a berm. It has a natural flowing feel, and the weight feels evenly distributed through a corner.
The Arktos is amongst one of the most capable 150mm bikes I have been on to date. The Colorado brand has done an excellent job fine tuning the geometry on the V2 Arktos, and the bike reflects that out on the trail.
So, who’s this bike for? It’s certainly someone who prioritizes the descents more than the ascents. Perhaps with home trails that reflect a steeper, aggressive style of riding mixed with shuttling or someone who knows there way down an enduro track. There are other bikes I would look to if I wanted a better all-rounder, maybe the Stumpy Evo which falls around the same category, but the Arktos excels and outshines that bike and many others on the gnarlier descents. A real selling point is for those who may be inclined to downsize the travel from time to time – you could grab a conversion kit and bring the bike down to 135/150 for two bikes in one, with less cost and bulk than two separate bikes. If you are looking for a highly capable, race ready or bike park mashing bike, the Arktos could be for you.
A small problem I have experienced is some loose hardware in both the main linkage platform and the bottom bracket. I understand this can happen over time, but being a brand-new bike, we shouldn’t see this problem 20 ish rides in. I have had to tighten the bottom bracket on a few occasions and the main linkage just once. Over the course of the year, I’d check these thoroughly with the combination of dust, dirt, mud, water, etc. all playing a factor here.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Arktos is amongst one of the more versatile offerings out there with multiple travel options and a mixed wheel option, all while using the same frame design. The Sine suspension platform is a worthy competitor in the world of kinematics, with quite a unique feel that plays well with air sprung shocks. If you have always been a believer in true linear progression, hopping on a Arktos could open your eyes a bit – it’s worth throwing your leg over. We’ve been thoroughly enjoying time on the Arktos, bringing this bruiser along for loose and fast descents where the bike truly shines. I’m excited to get this bike up into higher elevation this summer and really open it up on 2-4k+ descents, it’s probably an absolute dream in the high alpine. Until then, we’ll be hunting for local loamers on this highly capable ripper as the snow begins to melt.
Weight: 33 lbs
ALCHEMY ARKTOS 150 SPECIFICATIONS
Frame: Alchemy Premium Carbon; 150mm
Fork: Fox 38 29 Factory Kashima 170mm Boost 15mm Grip 2
Shock: Fox Float X2 Factory Kashima EVOL LV 3-Position Adjust 230x60mm
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC, 203F/180R Centerline rotors
Handlebar: TAG Metals T1 Carbon 35mm| 800mm| 20mm Rise
Stem: TAG Metals T1 CNC Aluminum 35mm | 45mm Length
Headset: Cane Creek 40-Series IS42/IS52
Seatpost: Fox Factory Transfer 175mm
Saddle: Selle Italia X-Base FeC Alloy
Hubs: Industry Nine Hydra 15x110mm F, 12x157mm R, 6-bolt
Rims: Industry Nine Enduro-S 30.5mm ID
Front tire: Maxxis Assegai 29×2.5 DC EXO TR, (29)
Rear tire: Maxxis Minion DHR 29×2.4 DC EXO TR
Bottom Bracket: SRAM Dub GXP Threaded
Cassette: SRAM XG 1295; 10-52T
Cranks: SRAM X01 Eagle SB+ DUB 170mm 32t
Shifter: SRAM X01 Eagle; 12s
Derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle; 12s
Loves speed, gets there quick
Stable and calm suspension platform
3 travel options in 1 frame
MX option if you’re into that
Heavier than some
Would prefer Carbon rims on the highest end spec
Loose bolts and BB
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