Just in: Alchemy Helios
Latest handbuilt carbon fibre bike from Denver-based company arrives in the office for review
Remember the Alchemy Arion we featured on road.cc last March? The Denver, Colorado-based company have recently expanded their product line and added this brand new Helios. Like all the models in their range, they build the frames entirely in their own facility which gives them much more creative control and freedom over the carbon layup and tube profiles. The Helios costs from £3,320, with stock and custom sizes available
What helps Alchemy to stand out is the fact they are able to manufacture carbon frame in-house, they have their own CNC mould cutting machine, the results of which were first demonstrated with the Arion aero road bike. This means they obviously can offer a custom frame option, alongside stock sizes, as well as tailor the frames in a particular direction a customer wants. All frames are constructed with the tube-to-tube carbon wrapped process.
The Helios slots into the range between the round-tubed Xanthus and the aero Arion, and clearly draws inspiration from the later with aero shaped tube profiles, but not to the same degree. That means it’s lighter than the Arion but offers more of an aero gain than the Xanthus. It also sits well alongside the latest crop of top-end carbon frames from other manufacturers, most of which have swoopy tube profiles to some degree.
As such it’s a striking frame to behold. The shaped down tube flares into the press fit bottom bracket and again at the head tube. The top tube is gently flared from the head tube to the seat tube, with just a subtle drop. The seatstays are slender to produce a smooth ride and the chainstays have the most gorgeous curve throughout their length, thus ensuring maximum tyre and heel clearance.
It’s beautifully made as well, as you'd hope from a frame costing this much. The clearcoat really lets the carbon construction shine through, and the top layer is not purely for show either like many carbon frames that have a purely decorative carbon wrap. It’s a frame that draws you in for a closer look no matter what angle you’re checking it out from.
Such a bike obviously doesn’t come cheap. A frameset costs from £3,320, including an Enve 2.0 carbon tapered fork and headset. They also offer stock geometry frames with a range of sizes, if you don't want to go down the custom route. If you do go custom, you can choose from options such as a 44mm or tapered 1-1/8” to 1-¼ head tube, or a PressFit 86 or threaded bottom bracket. You can even specify disc brakes and an integrated seat mast. And because they build the frames in house, they’re able to offer custom carbon fibre layup. Another £400 will get you a custom paint job.
Clearly you could slap a 105 groupset and some nice wheels and finishing kit on the frame, and have a very nice bike. Any potential customer is likely to dig a bit deeper and throw some top-end kit at it, and this build, provided by UK distributor Mosquito Bikes, is a perfect demonstration of the sort of kit that complements the frame.
So we’ve got a Shimano Dura-Ace 11-speed groupset (with a previous generation chainset), Enve SES 3.3 carbon clincher wheels on DT Swiss 240 hubs and Continental Grand Prix 4000S 23mm tyres, matching Enve handlebars, stem, seatpost and a Fizik saddle. The Alchemy branded bar tape is a nice finishing touch. The cost of this build? Are you sitting down? It’s £8,200. It’s light though, hitting the UCI weight limit (not that that matters a jot because this bike is unlikely ever to be raced in a UCI sanctioned race) at 6.8 kg (14.99 lb).
Which clearly places the Helios in some illustrious company. If you’re fortunate to have this sort of money to spend on a bike, well you really are spoilt for choice. There’s the Colnago C60 for starters, the Scapin Etika RC, Storck Aernario, Bianchi Oltre XR2, BMC Team Machine SLR01, Parlee Z-Zero and the Factor Vis Vires.
Those are all bikes that offer the sort of top level road bike performance you'd expect from a bike costing this sort of money. While none of those bikes are common as such, the Alchemy is an exotic bike that will have even bike spotters doing a double take. And because they build their own carbon frames in-house, you have the custom option that none of the other bikes listed above offer.