Arktos 29 GX Eagle Complete Mountain Bike
We value function on our mountain bikes above all for sure, don't get us wrong, but it never hurts to add a little bit of fashion to the mix too. That's why we're so excited about the Arktos 29 GX Eagle Complete Mountain Bike, it's a do-everything trail bike and an enduro machine for its sponsored pros Cody Kelley and Anneke Beerten. Its frame uses top grade carbon fiber and resin for its construction, along with its much-lauded Sine suspension system, and modern trail geometry to have you going fast and in control on techy trails while all aboard a classy ride. Finding a boutique brand offering full squish bikes are few and far between, and when you add carbon to the mix and your choices get even slimmer. While we can't promise you won't see another one in the wild, its way less likely to see another Arktos than some of the other brands. The Arktos is plenty efficient for days with lots of climbing and pedaling thanks to its innovative suspension platform and 29-inch wheels, and with its 140mm of rear travel and 160mm up front along with long and slack geometry, you get a forgiving frame that builds confidence on chunky terrain.
Alchemy the brand is a tight-knit group of designers, engineers, machinists, and painters. The company got its start in Austin, TX around a decade ago but the call of the Rocky Mountains proved too much and the brand relocated to Denver, CO. We first saw Alchemy bikes in the flesh at NAHBS including the Arktos 27.5 and we'll admit that its bikes are equal part functional art and state of the art technology and are built to withstand whatever you can dish out. It's consistently in the mix as award-winning bikes both in the looks and functional department, and Alchemy has quickly made a name for itself as a brand that caters to the most discerning cyclists. It utilizes construction processes and techniques on its frames that are unique and are simply unachievable in typical mass-market manufacturing.
The Arktos 29 is a full-suspension carbon frame that's handmade in the USA, an industry first, and its ride has garnered it a favorite among cycling editors and its owners. Its attention to detail, use of premium raw materials, and craftsmanship from its highly skilled artisans that lay-up and cure the carbon fiber is simply unmatched anywhere else in the industry. The frames start life as carbon pre-preg sheets that are precisely cut on a CNC plotter of up to 500 pieces for a single frame. These pieces, its specific weaving strands, and its dedicated lay-up process yield the bike's ride quality which obviously maximizes stiffness and minimizes weight. Those pieces are meticulously placed in CNC-machined molds that form the frame's individual tubes where bladders are placed within the carbon sheets and pressure is increased, molding the tubes during the baking process. After baking, the tubes are then mitered, placed in a frame jig, and tacked together with high strength epoxy. It's important to note that Alchemy frames come out of the molds so clean, it doesn't use epoxy as filler to make the frame look more cosmetically pleasing.
The frames then head to in-house Ethic Paint Works to receive its award-winning paint job. Two layers of clear coat are applied over the carbon fiber, it's hand sanded, and the top coat paint scheme is applied. A final clear coat is applied over the color showcasing the carbon’s natural fibers, allowing the all-important, high-quality construction to be on display. The versions we have here are offered in a stunning Vanilla or Grey colorway.
Quality frame construction is one thing, but it doesn't mean much if the frames don't ride well, however, after coming back from our first ride we can declare that it leaves very little to be desired. Thanks to its exclusive dual-linkage platform dubbed Sine Suspension it rides very, very well. Sine is the brainchild of bicycle suspension guru David Earle. David has over 25 years of experience in designing suspension in the cycling industry including working for many of the other mountain bike brands we carry. It gets its name from the shock rate, which resembles a sine wave as it moves through its travel. It starts off from its negative travel, i.e. through the sag point, with a regressive rate allowing for it to be plush off the top with small bump compliance while providing excellent climbing traction. Towards the middle of the stroke, it turns progressive and firms up to avoid wallowing on bigger hits and hard cornering. Deeper in its travel, at the last 15-percent of its stroke, it turns regressive again to overcome the natural progressivity of an air shock so you get all the 5.5-inches of travel you paid for and a plush, bottomless feel. Just like the frame construction, the devil is in the details, but the real magic happens when you throw a leg over the bike and hit the trails. You'll experience remarkable pedaling efficiency, thanks to its minimal chainstay growth, paired with the control of having 140mm of fully active suspension, even under braking, that gobbles up the terrain letting you ride faster and with more control.
A quick glance at its spec sheet reveals everything we like to see on frames. It has clearance for up to 2.5-inch rubber afforded by its Super Boost+ 157mm spacing that also helps stiffen up the frame's rear end, wheelset, and allows for that short 438.5mm chainstay length. Its supple and adjustable FOX DPX Performance rear shock handles travel duties offering a smooth, plush, and supportive stroke. The recommended fork length is 150-160mm with Alchemy's blessing to go all the way up to 180mm. We never hide our preference for threaded bottom bracket's as they are easier to install and ensure proper bearing alignment so the BB last longer and is less prone to creaks, pops, and moaning. It's also worth noting that the frame is designed for 1x drivetrains only and it has ISCG05 mounts.
This particular build gets you out the door at a pretty impressive price point. FOX Performance bits grace the fork and shock while Race Face's durable Aeffect lineup handles cockpit duties. An X-Fusion Manic dropper gets the Fizik Monte out of the way on the steep bits while the SRAM GX drivetrain adds value and reliable shifts over its wide range. Shimano's powerful XT binders are called into action when it's time to slow things down while the DT Swiss 1700 wheelset shod with grippy Maxxis tires get your power to the ground and tracking over a wide variety of trail conditions.
- A carbon trail and enduro 29er for the discerning cyclist
- 29in wheels carry momentum and roll-over obstacles
- The carbon frame is strong and lightweight
- Modern geometry offers agility and descending stability
- Sine suspension system is plush and offers efficient pedaling
- SRAM GX Eagle 1x12 drivetrain provides a wide range of usable gears
- FOX suspension tames the trail
- Superboost+ rear end increases tire clearance and improve wheel stiffness