Alchemy Nine7Five First Thoughts
BikeCo.com owner Joe Binatena is rocking a mullet. We went for a pedal to go through his Alchemy Nine7Five First thoughts.
“Mullet” bikes are 29″ front and 27.5″ rear setups. If you’ve looked closely on this year’s EWS photos you’ve seen them under a wide range of riders.
Let’s take a quick look at the concept.
Business in the Front
The math of the business.
29″ wheels have a smaller angle of attack over obstacles. 29s are more likely to roll over rather than chalk and stall across an obstacle.
The added radius increases the tire to ground contact patch.
29″ wheels will “slow” a bike’s handling. This allows faster ground speeds before a bike gets nervous.
Between the roll over and the handling improvement 29″ wheels are very confident feeling.
Party in the Back
OK there’s still some basic math for a party, I mean you’d be pissed if you didn’t have enough pizza or whatever right? So ya, you’ve done party math don’t act like I’m making it up.
27.5″ wheels will be slightly easier to re-accelerate as the outer mass (rubber tire) is on less of a lever.
Smaller wheels get around corners quicker.
You can get 1.5″ lower before you hit the ass-caliper when you ride off the back of the bike.
So Mullets are New?
Nah. Mullets have been around for a while. However, a bike like the Alchemy Nine7Five is designed for the mismatched setup. It’s not a conversion bike that will constantly want for something.
Conversion Mullets tend to have issues with headtube angle, suspension mismatched dimensions, bottom bracket height, etc. This creates trail personality issues.
Running a 29″ fork on a 27.5″ bike, if at compression the wheel just plain doesn’t smash the down tube – read turns you into a lawn dart at speed, will make a bike too slack and numb in handling.
Installing a 27.5″ wheel on a 29″ bike has issues as well. It will slacken the bike which modifies steering. It will also drop the bottom bracket. Probably not ideal on the modern setups.
This is where the Alchemy Nine7Five stands apart. Alchemy has designed a special linkage as well as shock to perfect the geometry for the mismatched wheels.
Alchemy Nine7Five First Thoughts
“This thing is legit.” Joe Binatena.
OK, thanks. I’m going to need some more if we’re doing a first thoughts write up Joe.
“Well here’s the thing, like anything it doesn’t matter how good something is if it’s not for you. But this bike is going to be fun for more people than you might think.
“Alchemy got the geometry corrected for the wheels and the bike climbs well. It doesn’t wander all over. It doesn’t get strange when you’re trying to change direction under power. The wheels really act in concert with each other. A conversion 29/27.5 bike might work in the steep chutes for a talented rider. By using a specific linkage and shock Alchemy corrected the geometry and this bike is actually fun to ride on other than just the steep chutes. That’s a huge difference.
“It pedals great. This bike pedals as well as really any capable 27.5″ bike. It doesn’t pedal quite like a 29, since it’s not a 29. A lot of people will be fine with the 27.5” climbing personality once they realize what the bike has in the steeps. Plus with a 3 position lockout you can take a lot of the squish out of the bike anyhow if you’re really wanting to hammer.
“Once you get this thing into the steeps you’re done. You’re loving it. EWS courses have these insane steep chutes and then they stick a turn in them. So you’re smashing down this chute and then WHAM you have to change direction. The 29″ wheel just rolls over everything, you sit way back on the bike and rip through the turn when you hit it. This bike has made me much more confident pre-riding courses with Cody and here at home in the steeper Laguna or big mountain riding.”
OK back to the math of the business 29″ front.
In steeps that larger wheel is more likely to simply mob over rocks, ledges, whatever. It doesn’t want to stuff into holes as bad meaning you keep more momentum and confidence. The larger diameter wheel also slows the steering input which minimizes how much the bar is ripping back and forth, or, gives you better control of the front of the bike.
The longer contact patch helps make up for the weight shift rearward in the steeps. While the contact patch increase isn’t huge all of the details add up.
“This bike jumps well. It comes off the lips very wheel behaved. I’m not exactly sure what the science is on it, maybe centrifugal forces balancing, less leverage on the rear trying to push you nose down, I’m spit-balling ideas.
“I find on 29s in the steep stuff when I’m out on the shop rides or with our racers that I’m sitting down onto the 29 wheel. That’s at 6’1″ with long legs. That means there are a ton of shorter riders really struggling with that in the steeps.”
About then we dropped into a trail in Laguna with a handful of steep sections. It’s been a minute since I rode steep stuff and ya, I was finding the wheel under me a bit. I could see where the extra inch and a half would be nice if I lived in the steeps.
“So it’s not just about the rider blasting through chutes either. Imagine how many riders we could give a bit more forgiveness or confidence to with a 29″ wheel in the front. A lot of riders in the Small and Medium bike range may end up on these mullets over the next season or so as the personality is defined.”
All good points. I have worked with a lot of newer riders who frankly a 29″ bike would help eat up terrain and allow them a ton of new trail access – but at some point the larger wheel is tougher to rider in steeps when you’re smaller stature.
OK Joe, sell me a mullet. Let’s hear it.
“Nope. You’re not the guy.”
Ah, hmm. I was trying to figure out if I was wearing short socks or something (EXO socks at BikeCo these days to Joe (and Chris) hahahaha – another story for another day).
“I’d sell you an Arktos ST. Maybe the bigger Arktos but most likely the ST.
“You like the faster 29″ wheel in the flats or intermediate climbs. You ride with people who are all stronger than you uphill and you don’t want to give anything up. I could make a case that once it gets real steep the smaller wheel would help you though.” Ouch, but all true.
“How often do you actually ride steeps these days? I don’t think your ‘hashtag solo group rides’ are taking you into the gnarly stuff these days huh?” Again. Ouch. True though.
“You’re tall enough that you’re not hitting the rear wheel in most of your riding. If you get into the steeps you’ve got enough gray hair to slow it down and keep it on its wheels.” OK. Enough. Quit ‘selling’ me!
“The Nine7Five is for the guy who wants maximum performance across a range of terrain downhill. That performance is part forgiveness to keep you rolling and part quickness to get around the corner and aimed at the next section faster.
“This bike is a dream for a rider who likes how 27.5″ bikes ride in the flats. This bike is as good as a 27.5” gets in the flats and climbs. It’s much, much more sophisticated feeling climbing in technical terrain than any conversion mullet will be.
“The new Alchemy is for riders who’ve had issues with the size of a 29” rear wheel because of their height or inseam. Newer riders who can have their riding expanded with a less scary wheel rolling over rocks or whatever in their way.
“Racers looking for the fractions of a second getting around each corner.
“So, ya, not for you Nate. But it is right for a ton of people and its definitely worth being in the conversation for a lot of our client base. I’ll see you at the top of the climb.” And he and the Nine7Five were off up Mathis.
Joe’s developed a special tune for the Alchemy Nine7Five suspension to best compliment the bike’s performance for a wide range of riders.
Working with Cody Kelley on the development and tuning of the Alchemy Nine7Five gives BikeCo the advantage of having the most experience setting up the Nine7Five.
Whether you’re interested in the Alchemy Nine7Five, the Arktos ST or Arktos 29 BikeCo’s expert staff will help you dial in the best setup, spec and pricing for your dream build.
Want to build the ultimate Alchemy mountain bike? Check out our unique Custom Builders where you can spec a bike tip to tail and our team will contact you with a personalized price quote!
Thanks for reading our Alchemy Nine7Five First Thoughts – if you have questions don’t be shy to chat, call, or email. At BikeCo.com we are here to ensure each of our client’s has the ultimate experience before, during and after the sale. Work with our team for unmatched support dialing in your new bike after delivery.