Handmade in Denver, Colorado. HAND MADE: These guys literally manufacture custom bikes from start to finish. When you arrive at the Alchemy headquarters, you will most likely be greeted by Ryan Cannizzaro, the unassuming, consummate professional. Since their showroom also doubles as a coffee shop, you would be wise to order a double shot before taking the tour!
In the back, you will meet Cody Baker. He sells Alchemy Bicycles for a living and does a damn fine job. I’ve known Cody for some time now… first meeting at a cyclocross race in Golden. If you show up with a bottle of bourbon, you’re guaranteed a grand tour of one of the most sophisticated and elaborate operations in the bicycle industry. Below is a sneak peak into their facility… Enjoy!
Each frame starts out on the drawing board. Matt drafts up each masterpiece; specifying the tube shape, length, diameter, and material. Then crafts the perfect geometry for its future owner. The metal designs then go to Jeff, and the carbon ones go to Sam. Jeff then takes the drawing and brings it to life with a welding torch and an enormous amount of skill. You can tell by the pictures of his work space (below) – the dude is meticulous. Sam has his work cut out for him as well on the carbon side since, again, they do EVERYTHING by hand. Starting with sheets of carbon fiber that are stored in large deep freezers, he makes each tube individually by laying out each layer into their mold and then baking them to perfection. This allows them to use several different types of carbon and make the bike carry specific ride quality characteristics. Each tube is then mitered and epoxied together before wrapping each intersection with more carbon! Shane takes them to paint; hand painting the bike of your dreams, he can do it all. I’ve seen some of the loudest paint schemes and also some elegant subdued paint jobs – it’s really up to the customer.
The whole process is mind boggling and has been really fun to not only witness, start to finish, but to actually ride the bikes that these guys pour out their passion on, day in and day out. It’s incredible that they are one of the only domestic bicycle manufacturers that is actually laying up their own custom shaped tubing and CNC machining their own molds. For more of the technical details and an in depth overview of their process, check out this (article).
This cyclocross season I am fortunate enough to be riding for Alchemy. I will race on a Chiron (Titanium Disc Cross) and a Balius (Ultralight Carbon Disc Cross). They are both built to my ideal geometry with the only difference being the material and paint job. This is really exciting for several reasons. I got to work closely with the Alchemy team to watch them create two race bikes that are WAY out of my league. Being able to choose between carbon and titanium on any given day is a real treat. There will be courses that are super bumpy and rough which will cater to a titanium bike. What is sweet about the Alchemy is that it was built with larger diameter down tube and chain stays to keep the bike laterally stiff while using skinny curved seat stays and a shaped top tube to give the renowned feel of titanium. Basically, they created a bike that is plenty stiff to race, but will be comfortable to ride all day long. The carbon Balius will most likely be my “A” bike based solely on weight. Since it’s made from a super light high grade carbon fiber it will be an incredibly light machine (more details to follow on the Balius build in the next week).
My first ride on the Chiron was different from any other “new bike day”. It was superb. I built it last night and finished it up this morning. It went together so smooth – one of the easiest bike builds I’ve ever encountered. Today, I rolled out from the house for a mellow 30 miles of familiar ground. Starting out on the dirt around North Table, then through Coors Brewery, along Clear Creek to check out the tubing and farmers market, then up Chimney Gulch to where it intersects Lookout Mountain. I started riding up the pavement and met Sebastian. He was from Arizona, just visiting. As he passed me, he complimented me on the bike and we got to talking. Turns out we know lots of the same folks and ended up riding the rest of the way together. Needless to say, it was an AWESOME ride with good company.
Here’s a quick first impression: Normally, I’m used to the road vibration and harsh cracks that resonate through the frame… The washboard dirt that creates that obnoxious chatter. Not the Chiron, not at all. It may sound cliche, but this bike is smooth as butter. When I got on the rivet (sprinting as hard as I could), it responded, like a carbon bike would respond. Spry! This was honestly the most fun I’ve ever had on a cyclocross bike. Ever.
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If you are going to Interbike, be sure to come by the Feedback Sports booth and join us at Cross Vegas!
Thank you for reading,