BIKE TEST / ALCHEMY ARKTOS
of the travel the bike firms slightly to provide support and keep
from “wallowing.” Then, at the end of the stroke, it opens up
slightly to allow the rider to use the full 6 inches of travel.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Our Arktos came with a hodgepodge of components, including
high-end Enve wheels and cockpit, a Shimano XT drivetrain and
brakes, and a Reverb dropper post. All the components worked
flawlessly during our testing and allowed us to focus on evaluating
the all-new suspension platform rather than worrying about
components letting us down.
The bike also came with a very sweet Praxis crankset,
presumably because Praxis is located in Boulder and employees
from both companies probably run into one another on the trails
quite often. The aluminum crank is clean looking, lightweight and
stiff. It’s not a commonly spec’d part, but it probably should be.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Setting sag: Alchemy built this bike with a new and
sophisticated suspension design, but it’s still very easy to set up.
The fork and shock both use an air spring with only one pressure
adjustment. We set the bike to a matched 30-percent sag front
and rear, and then set the compression and rebound adjustments
to the middle of their ranges and hit the trails.
Moving out: The Arktos fits very true to size, with a lengthy top
tube, short stem and plenty of standover. The bike has a snappy
feel, loves to manual down the trail and isn’t afraid to come off
the ground at any time. Even before we left the parking lot we felt
compelled to toss the bike around a little bit, knowing that the
on-the-trail performance would bring more fun.
Climbing: The lightweight construction helps this bike float
uphill as well as any other respectable enduro bike. As a bonus,
the Sine suspension delivers on the promise of small-bump
compliance, which gives the bike improved traction on technical,
short-burst climbs. The rear shock valving is very firm, so when
the shock is set to the firm setting, the bike is almost locked out.
This setting only works for pavement and the longest of fire-road
climbs. For everything else, plan to use the middle or open modes
to reap the benefits of the supple, traction-grabbing suspension.
Cornering: The bike sports relatively short chainstays and a
long front end, which has quickly become the standard for enduro
bikes. As a result, the Arktos handles corners as you’d expect,
and that’s a good thing. The bike is predictable in choppy corners
thanks to the active suspension design, and the dialed geometry
handles the rest of the equation.
Descending: The Sine suspension delivers on the promise
of a slight pedaling platform followed by a plush and controlled
mid-stroke. When the bike is pointed down technical terrain, the
suspension is very active, moving through its travel effectively to
track the terrain. The slight pedaling platform means this bike is
not as plush off the top of the suspension as some other designs,
but the mid-stroke works so well you’ll hardly notice. The bike also
works to dig deep in the stroke, which makes it feel as if you’re
truly using every millimeter of travel.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
Our first ride on the Arktos was on the original-development
prototype. It was the first suspension bike Alchemy had made. It
had some teething problems, including a suspension bearing that
came loose, rattling from the internal cables and some cable rub
that wore through the paint. Thankfully, Alchemy listened to the
prototype feedback and made the necessary adjustments. This