Wednesday was national sibling day. And even though it may be just an Instagram holiday, Alchemy just so happened to gift the Arktos 29 a younger brother on that day, one with similar ride characteristics but 20 millimeters less travel.
And like most younger siblings, the Arktos 29 ST (Short Travel) strives to be like its older brother—it uses the same frame, weighs about the same and operates on the same David Earle-designed Sine suspension platform. The Arktos ST uses a different shock length and pivots, and sports 120 millimeters of travel in the rear, delivered through a Fox DPX2 piggyback shock and 140 in the front, with a matching Fox 36 fork.
Its geometry is moderate, with a 66.1-degree headtube angle, 75.5-degree seat tube angle and a reach of 454 millimeters (size large). Alchemy's Joel Smith said he's sees the ST fitting into Yeti SB130/Transition Smuggler/Santa Cruz Hightower category, optimal for tighter trails and fast corners versus fast, open terrain with big hits, where the standard Arktos 29 would shine.
The key technology at play is the Sine Suspension System, which Earle developed to be regressive at the start of the travel to gain traction under pedaling forces and hug the ground, then become more progressive in the middle part of the stroke, before getting regressive again at the bottom of the travel.
"Every pedal stroke you feel on the bike, is pushing the bike forward, you get this sense that it's moving the bike forward, and that's partially the regression and partially because it's sinking in and digging into the travel. Tricky corners, up rock faces, you really notice it there. Then, when you get out on the trail you feel like you're in the meat of the travel, and then at the end, it's just bottomless," Smith says.
Alchemy has also gone through great lengths to increase frame stiffness by splining the pivots together to stop lateral movement in order to gain additional stiffness out of the swingarm, and also through its dual-triangle frame design. "I don't think there's a stiffer lateral bike on the market today," Smith says.
A bold statement, perhaps, and one we'll certainly report back on once we've spent more time on the frame—in fact, we have a tester on the longer-travel Arktos 29 now.
The new short-travel 29er and the Ark Ti titanium hardtail—which also launched on Wednesday—represent Alchemy's continued push into the mountain bike space, bringing its full offering up to four, including the original Arktos 29 and its 27.5-wheeled version. Alchemy started a decade ago as a high-end, custom-made road brand and though it remains as such—all its carbon and titanium road bikes are made at its Denver, Colorado, factory and sell to the types of wealthy buyers who order custom-painted road frames to match Porsches and fighter jets—mountain bike sales are gaining ground. Two years ago, the sales split was 90/10 in favor of road, and this year, Smith expects it be 70/30.
That increase in mountain bike sales is sure to be helped along by a commitment to supporting Cody Kelley in a full Enduro World Series race calendar this year, as well as a pricing change. This year, Alchemy was able to lower its prices to better compete with other complete bikes on the market by sourcing parts from Asia in bulk, as opposed to buying parts separately for every bike ordered (Alchemy's mountain bikes are made in Asia, save for a small selection of Arktos 27.5 frames, which are made in Denver and available to be custom painted).
"That's one of the places we didn't do a good job previously. We were considerably higher in price," Smith says. "Before GX Eagle was at $6,000, now we are basically pretty much where everybody else is from a price standpoint. There's an NX Eagle that's $4,899 and a GX Eagle bike at $5,299."
The Arktos ST will be available in about three weeks. With it, Alchemy plans to expand its custom-paint program, offering Asia-sourced ready-to-paint frames. Look for full details at alchemybicycles.com.