Alchemy Arktos 29 First Ride Impressions
After the first two EWS rounds Joe came back to the shop with his fresh Alchemy. Which, of course, means I stole it from him for a couple days. So here are my Alchemy Arktos 29 First Ride Impressions…
The Important Non-Trail Issues, ie First, First Impressions
Colors: Working with Cody Kelley we’ve had a ton of the Arktos 29’s in the shop since their launch. Still to this day, I’m not sure which color I would choose. Both the gray / red as well as the vanilla / brown / orange color combos look great. And like an adult designed them… Both colorways offer a variety of build options that would look good without dating your build.
Lines: The Arktos 29 balances hard edge lines with softer radius tubes. The low mount of the rear triangle creates a long, low look to the chassis. This is a bike that looks elegant. And fast. And that’s important.
(Bikes should pass the eye test… Just watch PinkBike or Vital for the “new” brands that simply do not pass the eye test hahaha…)
The Trail Notes
I took the Alchemy out on a couple quick loops to get an idea of what it’s about. Nothing particularly daring, but a little of this a little of that so to speak. Cody has proven the “daring” portion of the bike test as far as I’m concerned… Nothing I can add there haha.
This note comes with a pair of disclaimers. First, I’m not a great climber. Second, as I said I jacked Joe’s bike for this test and he runs Double Down tires.
Climbing with momentum wasn’t too bad. When I lost momentum I wanted to cry. HOWEVER, this is a rotational weight thing with the tires – not the bike. In fact I was somewhat surprised on how well the bike did climb with momentum even with the full EWS race rubber.
Since I know I can’t “out-climb” most bikes I look for how a bike transfers power accelerating on the downhill for a baseline. The Arktos 29 was a blast coming out of corners. I was able to confidently jump back on the power without the bike wandering all over. You feel rewarded for the energy output unlike “sluggish” suspension systems.
I’m watching on Monday for more manual tips from Cody… The bike begs to come out of corners on just it’s back wheel when you’re pedaling hard.
The Arktos is a fun bike downhill.
Since the Sine suspension was designed by the same team as the Switch Infinity on my personal Yeti SB130 I expected it to behave well. And it did.
The Arktos was confident building speed, nimble in the corners, and felt well balanced front and rear. I never felt like I had to force my way outside of a standard riding position to keep the front end working in tandem with the rear.
With the Arktos 29 I felt pretty comfortable even on a first ride coming into corners a bit hot and letting the bike work through the lines. Again, with a similar philosophy to the SB130 I felt this would be the case.
The bike is lively when you pump the trails or corners. I love this aspect to the bike. This personality trait gives you a pilot feeling versus maybe feeling like a passenger on a more “smash-mouth” bike. Pick the line, set up, use your body english and let the bike connect a handful of fast corners. Such a blast.
An area that challenged the bike, or me, or me and the bike: trying to let the bike just monster truck over terrain. I like to see a bike’s personality if you just kind of put it in the wrong place and let it smash through things. Not to say the Arktos 29 suffered in the terrain – but some rider input will help a lot to keep it doing what you want. Really it’s a non-issue to me as I like more responsive bikes. It goes back to the pilot feeling. But its also a personal deal. If you’re looking for more of a “thumper” the Arktos could be setup with a Fox Float X2. Working with a quality resource will help you define what type of bike and setup compliments your particular riding.
The Question of Measurements
Long, Low and Slack. I almost can hear it in my sleep these days!
Well lets look at the Alchemy Arktos 29’s geometry compared to the SB130 (since it’s my personal bike I’m most familiar with it).
Slack: check. 65.5 degree with the 160mm fork on the Arktos.
Low: yup. The Arktos’ bottom bracket sits slightly taller than the SB130 but definitely in the modern range.
Long: No and Yes. Cop out answer? No, let me finish.
Some riders seem to live and die by millimeter measurements. Not saying that’s 100% wrong – but it’s not how I do it.
So the reach on the Arktos 29 size Large is 452mm compared to 480mm with the SB130. And the Arktos’ stack is 644mm compared to 624.8mm on the Yeti. Yet the bikes ride pretty similar. How?
First let’s look at stack. The modern bikes work so much better with increased trail on the forks, etc that you can ride with your hands taller. In fact I ride 15 to 20mm of stem spacer stack and a 40mm rise bar. The taller Arktos’ would still need need to come up a bit ideally for me. Let’s call stack a wash.
So reach. How can 28mm be so close? Partly because 28mm is 1.1″. Let’s look a little deeper.
Comparing the Arktos 29 and Yeti SB130 Geometry
On my SB130 I ride a 40mm stem pretty comfortably. I feel comfortable setting up, like not even a second thought, up to 55mm. So now I’m talking about 18mm or .71″ with a 50mm stem and 13mm (.5″) with a 55.
Mountain bike riding is a dynamic sport. You’re going to wiggle around. I’m sure I can feel .5″ but I also look for how a bike feels overall downhill.
Is the bike comfortable at speed? Nimble? Balanced front and rear?
The Arktos checked all these boxes – but it’s a bit shorter than the 130? Well it’s got a shorter wheelbase too. A 19.2mm shorter wheelbase than the Yeti. That helps the bike change direction while balancing front and rear.
Rider sizing is also different. On my L SB130 I ride a 40mm stem. At 6’1″. The XL Yeti is essentially out of the question for me. With the Arktos 29 I’m closer to the top of the Large size scale. There are conditions that might lead me to riding the X-Large as well.
Who upsizes? Racers. Riders looking for max speed, etc. Are you on the bubble? Our expert staff will help you dial in.
Alchemy Arktos 29 First Ride
The Arktos is definitely on the short list for review for trail / adventure / enduro 29s.
It’s going to seem like an over-simplified conclusion but the Arktos is comfortable between the Yeti SB130 and Yeti SB150. It is a bit more nimble than the Transition Sentinel which is at home in bigger terrain. It shares a similar trail space with the Ibis Ripmo but accomplishes this in a very different way.
Have questions? These are complex systems, you should… Chat with our expert team to help you define which bike, spec and setup are right to compliment your riding style. Our team is experienced on the best bikes in category and will help you determine where your skills and aspirations are leading you on your bike purchase.
Want to check out some options?
Enjoy some images of BikeCo Pro Rider Cody Kelley’s latest Alchemy Arktos 29. Then click through the Alchemy Arktos 29 Custom Builder to spec your perfect bike.