Alchemy Bikes DARE Experience: Getting Rolling: Part 2

Alchemy Bikes Golden D.A.R.E. Experience: Getting Rolling: Part 2. – by Grannygear

It has been quite a journey getting to this point, but you may recall that I took a trip late last year to Golden, CO, to visit Alchemy Bikes at their showroom, film a video interview, and get a custom titanium gravel bike ordered for review.

Grannygear unboxing the Alchemy bike.
Unboxing the Alchemy bike.

The idea was to sample their Golden D.A.R.E. program and see how the customer experience is.

Well, the process had it’s challenges and we will talk about that in future articles, but for now, let’s look at what we have created, Alchemy and I, and get then we will get down to the ‘riding it’ part.

Remember that we chose the Ronin Ti as our starting point. Alchemy Bikes makes two models in gravel…the Ronin and the Lycos. The Ronin comes in both titanium and carbon and is a fast-focused bike for those that want that vibe in their gravel bike. The Lycos is no slouch, I don’t doubt, but is a bit lower and longer and slacker, taking a bigger tire (700×50), and is only sold in carbon.  No Ti option for the Lycos.

So I wanted the Ti as a material of choice for a gravel bike, but not with the fast-focused geometry of the Ronin. So what we did was Vulcan Mid-Meld the geo of the Lycos and the titanium of the Ronin into one frame, then we slightly massaged those numbers by decreasing reach a bit and increasing stack a bit till it was a good fit for me with minimal spacers and no flipped stem etc.

Close up of Alchemy downtube

As far as the build, this bike has the standard components for the Alchemy SRAM Force 1x build with the Mullet option of a 10-50 (or 10-52) cassette and an AXS XO rear MTB derailleur. The crank is SRAM Force with a 40T ring, 172.5 length.

The wheels are Alchemy branded carbon, their All-Road wheel, and the 40c Schwalbe Overland tires are tubeless and look good for So Cal conditions.

Alchemy custom titanium frame detail
Detail of the seat cluster on the custom Alchemy.

The seat post is another Alchemy branded piece, carbon, in a 31.6mm diameter with no offset (offset versions are available per the website), and the drop bar is an aluminum ZIPP XPLR SL bar in 46cm (my choice).

It has the full complement of braze-ons…three water bottle, rack, and fender, plus Bento box. Alchemy uses straight gauge tubing on all the Ti bikes and they feel that they can get the result they are looking for without the use of butted tubing. The tubes are just slightly manipulated here and there, ovalized as needed, and the welds are small and tidy.

It is, I must say, a very nice looking bike. The lack of any shifter cables and no warty bits taken on anywhere…it is quite handsome in a simple and clean way.

A geometry chart comparing the custom Ti Ronin to a standard Ronin, Grannygear’s Lynskey, and Lycos geometry.

For the geometry changes, I already mentioned that we mellowed the stock Ronin geometry by superimposing the Lycos geometry on it, then taking the stack up 10mm and lessening the reach by 10mm. That, with a 90mm stem and the wide bars, gets me right where I have found my Lynskey GR250 to be a very all-a-round, super functional gravel bike for long days and difficult rides.

The custom titanium Lycos from Alchemy Bikes.

I like to have my gravel bike cockpit set-up just a bit higher and just a bit closer than the same size frame in a road bike to allow for getting my weight off of the front wheel for those techy moments on trail.

We have very few moderate gravel roads here in So Cal, so a lot of our rides are basically on poorly maintained dirt service roads in the mountains. That means ruts and rocks and sand and loose descents and steep and long climbs. If that sounds like mountain bike territory, you are correct.

Close up of a SRAM Force 1X drivetrain

This bike represents a big step away from my usual setup due to the 1x and electronic drivetrains. Both of those are not what I normally ride, the norm for me being a slightly massaged SRAM Rival 22 set-up. But I am curious about the 1x when combined with the mullet 10-50 rear cassette. That decision has been the subject of a lot of lost sleep as I worked out gear inch numbers and typical use situations for the way I ride.

Up to this point I have been a 2x user, but that has it’s drawbacks as well.

I wanted to get to a 10 tooth difference in the top cassette cog and the smallest front chainring. Right now I have a 6 tooth difference (30T CR and a 36T cog). Now that seems like a crazy low gear, but we can do an hour long climb in the double digit grades on bad dirt roads here and I am not getting any younger. So since you can always shift into a HIGHER gear while climbing but you can’t shift into a lower gear that you do not have, going lower makes sense.

Close up of the rear cassette and derailleur.

Frankly, there is only one combo in 2x for gravel that ticks all the boxes for me and it is still outside what the manufacturer calls blessed. Remember when we had triple cranks and all the gears we needed and WE decided what our ‘needs’ were and not some engineer person? Yeah. I remember that too.

Will the 1x AXS mullet be the right choice? Will the larger gaps in gearing be an issue? Will the extra cost of electronic shifting be worth it? We shall see. But so far the electronic shifting is pretty awesome. 

I already swapped out the 31.6 diameter seat post for a 27.2mm ti post (using a shim) with some set-back to it (25mm) and a saddle that I know. I try to ride a bike like I get it, then if I need to figure out why it feels a certain way, I will swap in parts that I know and that takes the variables down to a minimum.

I would hate to think a bike handles poorly and have it be due to a tire spec or decide it is a stiff beast because the seat post and saddle were unyielding, etc.

So the riding begins. Will this be the bike of my dreams?

Time will tell.


Author: Grannygear

Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for in his spare time.

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