Alchemy Arktos Review
- Internal cable routing
- Good value
- Efficient on climbs & XC
- Smooth rear travel
- Versatile performer
- Harder to find at retail
- Not as stable descending
- Rear-suspension pogo when pedaling
One of the more efficient bikes in the enduro mountain bike category, the Alchemy Arktos wins the versatility gold medal. It had a more traditional feeling ride compared to the more upright positioning on the other bikes. That translated into a more aggressive feel climbing and flat riding, but less stable and surefooted for descending. Where some of the other bikes felt inefficient and a little out of place on cross-country style trails, the Arktos never did. And while we say it didn’t feel as stable on the descents that’s relative. It still bombed everything we pointed it down, it just wasn’t quite as confidence inspiring as the others. This is the best choice in the test for a traditional style rider looking for a bigger-travel bike.
Even though the cockpit of the Alchemy Arktos is quite small, it had the most cross country feeling ride of all the rigs we tested. It was the most comfortable bike for out-of-saddle climbs and one of the more efficient on the flats. We noticed some bobbing when we really hammered, but only a little more than other bikes in this category.
The Alchemy Arktos is the only bike in the test with a solid rear triangle—the rest are bolted together. The one-piece construction adds stiffness and responsiveness to the rear end for quick direction changes, and it ensures that every watt of power goes into moving forward. As such the Arktos accelerated very quickly, which came in handy when trying to power over obstacles.
As one of the better climbers in the category, even with a 66-degree front end geometry, the front tire on the Alchemy Arktos felt more planted on climbs than the other bikes, save the Niner. That’s probably because of the slacker angle on the seat tube, which pushes the rider’s center of gravity further back on the bike, closer to the rear tire. Overall it gives it a more all-mountain climbing feel.
Competent, but not outstanding, sums up the Alchemy Arktos on the downhill. Some of the things that made this an outstanding climber took away from its high-speed descending ability. That said, the six inches of front and back suspension sucked up big hits, and the 66-degree headtube angle gave it good control in steep situations, albeit more like an all-mountain bike than what we expect from an enduro ride. The Arktos was the only bike with a nearly horizontal rear shock suspension. This is an Alchemy exclusive design called Sine Suspension. Rather than being progressive (the shock compresses slower and slower) or regressive (the shock absorbs consistently through the whole motion), the Sine mixes the two in three stages. It’s regressive in the negative or sag portion of the travel (about 30 per cent), to keep the tire glued to the ground for traction, preventing bob. It’s progressive from this neutral position through the first 30 percent of travel to absorb the smaller bumps and create a solid and playful platform for jumping and carving down the trail. Then it switches back to regressive to smooth out the big hits with the full amount of travel. Translation: it absorbs small bumps and big hits equally well, with little power lost in between.
COMPONENTS: DRIVETRAIN, SHIFTING AND BRAKES
The stand out feature on the Alchemy Arktos was the Kashima gold dropper seatpost. It looks awesome when paired with the gold on the Fox Factory forks. It also worked great too, offering super-smooth, reliable release, and is easy to adjust to whatever length is needed. The rest of the components are Shimano XT drive train and brakes, so not as high end as several of the bikes, but solid and dependable.
How We Tested It
The bikes in the enduro test were pedaled in a mix of terrain and trails in British Columbia. We tasked a small team of riders, varying from 5’5” to well over 6’0”, from all kinds of riding styles and backgrounds. They mostly rode them on the trails of the Comox Valley and Campbell River regions. These range from slow and technical cross-country to double black diamond jump lines, as well as from road climbs to tight switchbacks covering a total of around 150 miles, with countless vertical feet. Over nearly three months of testing the trail conditions varied across the spectrum from wet snow to dusty ball bearings and lots and lots of slick mud.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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