Alchemy is a small boutique brand from Golden, Colorado, and it’s their mission to deliver not only top bikes, but also individual, comprehensive customer service. The Arktos 150 X01 in this test is the most potent full-suspension bike in their portfolio.
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: North America’s Finest – 7 models in review
Alchemy was founded in 2008 in Golden, Colorado, and now consists of a small team of 9 people. The American brand has a wide range of bikes in their portfolio, from road bikes to gravel rigs and mountain bikes. The frames are made either of carbon or titanium, and most bikes are built locally in Colorado – but not the Arktos, which is manufactured in Asia. Every Alchemy bike comes with a 30-day ride guarantee, meaning that you can return the bike within a month of purchase if you don’t like the bike, without having to justify your decision – although you have to pay a $400 handling fee. Alchemy are a direct to consumer brand and ship their bikes worldwide, directly from their HQ in Golden. Shipping is free within the USA, while Canadian customers have to pay an additional $ 300. Alchemy don’t offer shipping to locations outside of North America at the moment.
While the Arktos might be the only full-suspension mountain bike in Alchemy’s portfolio, it’s effectively three bikes in one – it’s available in three variants with either 125 mm, 140 mm or 150 mm of travel, built around the same frame. Our Arktos 150 retails at $ 7,499 and is the most potent model, combining 170/150 mm of travel and tipping the scales at just 14.9 kg in size L. When purchasing the bike from Alchemy’s website, you can add a few very useful accessories, like a travel conversion kit consisting of an additional fork and shock, a 27.5″ rear wheel for a mullet conversion, and a complete RideWrap protection kit for the whole bike. Custom paint finishes are also an option, if you like to have something unique.
The Alchemy Arktos 150 X01 in detail
The Alchemy Arktos 150 relies on an elegant design language with straight lines and a slim swingarm. At first glance, it could be mistaken for a Yeti, because the two bikes share a similar shock layout and swingarm design. That said, the Arktos’ rear suspension is basically a twin link platform, which employs two links to connect the main frame triangle to a rigid swingarm. The lower link is very short, and moves first up and then back down as the bike progresses through its travel. As a result, the shock rate is regressive at first, then progressive, and then regressive again. Since the shock rate resembles a sine curve, Alchemy call this design SINE Suspension.
The cables of the Arktos 150 are routed internally and disappear into the frame on the side of the head tube. The down tube comes standard with a small plastic protector and two mounting points for bottles and tool straps. While this might not be the ideal place to fit a second mounting point, it’s better than not having one. The chainstay protector is rather thin but covers a large are of the chainstay, preventing paint chips and chain slap.
The spec of the Alchemy Arktos 150 X01
The Alchemy Arktos is available in four spec variants, which differ only in the brakes and drivetrains. All models rely on FOX Factory suspension, consisting of a 38 mm fork and matching FLOAT X2 shock, which both offer countless adjustment options and deliver a tremendous performance on the trail. Fox also supply the Transfer dropper post, which, at 175 mm, offers too little travel for an enduro bike in size L, even though the long, straight seat tube should allow you to push even long-travel droppers all the way into the frame. On our test bike, SRAM CODE RSC brakes with a 200 mm rotor at the front and 180 mm disc at the rear do stopping duties. That said, the rear rotor is too small for such a potent bike, overheating far too quickly on long, technical trails – we recommend upgrading to a bigger rear rotor! SRAM also supply the drivetrain, which consists of a bling X01 rear derailleur/shifter combo and a cheaper GX cassette and chain. That said, the GX components are only slightly heavier, and still deliver a top performance on the trail. For the cockpit, Alchemy rely on Californian moto specialist TAG Metals, who supply both the stem and the carbon handlebars. The markings on the stem and handlebars make it easy to adjust the cockpit – very practical! The Industry Nine Enduro S Hydra wheels come in the wider Superboost standard, which is supposed to ensure better stability but also makes it harder to source spares. MAXXIS take care of the tires, combining an ASSEGAI at the front and Minion DHR II at the rear, though these are both in the paper-thin EXO casing and harder dual rubber compound. The thin casing is far too flimsy for a potent enduro bike, so we recommend upgrading to more robust tires with a tougher casing like MAXXIS’ Doubledown. While you’re at it, you could upgrade the front tire to a softer MaxxGrip rubber compound for more traction. A nice detail of the Arktos is the chain guide, which is branded with the company’s logo.
With its versatile frame platform, the Alchemy Arktos can be converted into a short travel or mullet bike.
Alchemy Arktos 150
Fork FOX 38 Factory GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT X2 Factory 150 mm
Seatpost FOX Transfer 175 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE RSC 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM X01 Eagle 1x12
Stem TAG Metals T1 45 mm
Handlebar TAG Metals T1 Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Industry Nine Enduro-S Hydra 29"
Tires MAXXIS ASSEGAI DualCompound EXO/Minion DHR ll DualCompound EXO 2.5"/2.4"
Size M L XL
Weight 14.9 kg
The geometry of the Alchemy 150
The Alchemy 150 is only available in three sizes, M, to XL, but should offer a suitable size for riders between 165 cm and 195 cm. Our test bike in size L combines 475 mm reach and a rather long 445 mm seat tube, which, together with the short-travel dropper post restricts freedom of movement. Chainstay length is 437 mm across the board. A flip chip in the shock mount allows you to adjust the geometry of the bike, altering both the 76° seat tube angle and 63.75° head angle by 0.75°. If you want to reduce the travel of the Arktos using one of Alchemy’s conversion kits, the shorter fork will change the geometry, steepening up both the head and seat tube angle while at the same time stretching the reach and lowering the stack height. While the 150 model relies on a shock with 230 mm eye to eye length, both the Arktos 125 and 140 use a 210 mm version with different stroke lengths.
The Alchemy Arktos 150 X01 on the trail
As soon as you swing your leg over the saddle, the Alchemy Arktos 150 integrates you nicely between its wheels, placing you in a comfortable pedalling position without too much pressure on your hands. When climbing steep hills, the front end wants to lift off the ground, forcing you to actively weight the front wheel to keep it tracking. The rear end always remains composed and efficient, allowing you to reach the trailhead in relaxed fashion. That said, the Arktos 150 is by no means a KOM hunting machine and already gives away its strong enduro DNA uphill – the climbs are just a means to an end.
On the trail, the Alchemy Arktos 150 strikes an excellent compromise between agility and composure, generating tons of traction in the process. Put simply, it’s a great all-rounder!
When gravity takes over, the Arktos 150 impresses with intuitive handling, making you feel at ease from the get go. The rear suspension is on the firm end of the spectrum and provides excellent support, making it easy to generate speed by pumping through rollers and berms. At the same time, it offers excellent pop, proving a great companion for epic bike park sessions! On rough terrain, however, it requires an active riding style, providing tons of feedback from the ground – this isn’t a bike for those that like to straight-line through everything. While this means that you always know how much travel you’re using, during this test the suspension never blew through its travel abruptly. That said, the 170 mm fork generates slightly more traction than the rear suspension. All things considered, the Arktos gives a feeling of having more travel on tap than the 150 mm available with the suspension striking an excellent balance between composure and plushness, inspiring huge amounts of confidence in rough trail sections without feeling like an old squishy sofa and encouraging you to leave the fingers off the brakes for just a few more seconds – this is great news for the little 180 mm brake rotor on the rear ;). The progressive rear suspension provides excellent feedback, making it easy to throw the bike from one corner into the next and to commit to daring, last-minute line changes. If you’re after even more flickability, you might want to convert the Arktos to a mullet bike. Despite its firm rear suspension, the Alchemy generates huge amounts of traction, both in open corners and under braking, allowing you to stay off the brake levers for longer.
Tuning Tip: Dropper post with more travel to improve freedom of movement | More robust tires with tougher casing and softer rubber compound at the front
Our conclusions about the Alchemy Arktos 150 X01
With the Arktos 150 X01, Alchemy offer a classy bike with an elegant carbon frame, fancy spec and a fair price. The versatile frame platform allows you to convert the Arktos 150 into a short travel trail bruiser, or even a mullet bike. On the trail, the rear suspension generates tons of traction and at the same time provides plenty of support and pop, though this comes at the expense of comfort on rough trails. That said, the Arktos 150 is still an excellent all-rounder that makes you feel as if you had more travel on tap.
- Versatile frame platform
- Rear suspension generates tons of traction and grip
- Feels like more travel
- Some blemishes in the spec
- Lack of comfort in rough trail sections n
You can find out more about at alchemybikes.com
The test field
For an overview of the test head to: North America’s Finest – 7 models in review
All bikes in test: Alchemy Arktos 150 | Chromag Lowdown 158 G2-Build (Click for review) | Devinci Chainsaw GX Enduro (Click for review) | Kona Process X CR (Click for review) | Norco Sight C2 (Click for review) | Transition Carbon Patrol X0 AXS (Click for review) | We are One Arrival 170 GX AXS (Click for review)
Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of ENDURO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality mountain bike journalism. Click here to learn more.
Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Peter Walker