Reaching for the brass ring
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Our first experience with Alchemy was six years ago on the outskirts of Austin, Texas. In a beatup old steel building that looked like an auto shop where a good ol’ boy would go to get his F150 lifted, we found Alchemy making gorgeous, cutting-edge, custom carbon bikes. Some things have have changed. Alchemy has grown, moved to Denver and built a fancy showroom; and it has added new stock models and is even doing dual-suspension mountain bikes. But the important things have not changed.
From issue 77, get your copy at: pelotonshop.com
Alchemy still makes titanium and stainless steel bikes; the carbon is made in house; it offers full-custom builds as well as stock frames with custom paint; and, most importantly, the dedication to craftsmanship and performance runs deep. That was obvious from our very first ride on the Hyas, Alchemy’s stock gravel rig, as we put it through a longterm test over Pacific Northwest gravel.
The Hyas is an Alchemy stock bike described as a “do-everything-quiver-killer,” but its raison d’être is gravel. It’s aiming at the same territory as the Parlee Chebacco or the Allied All-road—bikes designed for gravel that can credibly ride road and even bang out a ‘cross race. Alchemy starts with its own, in-house-manufactured carbon tube-sets, then tacks up the frame geometry with epoxy before overwrapping joints with carbon sheets. It’s the tubes and the overwrapping schedule that really create the bike’s ride quality. The naked finish on our test Hyas beautifully shows off the expert overwrapping.
The rear triangle of the bike comes from the Aithon, Alchemy’s full-custom gravel bike. The Hyas has a low bottom bracket, 74mm, for gravel stability, and 416mm chain stays, which give it room for 38mm tires yet keep it short and lively for a gravel bike. It’s got a bit more stack and less reach than Alchemy’s carbon road offering, the Atlas, with a slightly slacker head angle, yet those dimensions are what we would call “performance gravel,” which help it earn a bit of that do-it-all designation.
A big helping of that performance comes from the bike’s weight and build: ENVE GRD fork, full Dura-Ace Di2, ENVE cockpit with ENVE SES 4.5 AR disc wheels and Maxxis Rambler 38s. At 7.7 kilograms (16.9 pounds), it’s a very light 58cm gravel rig and a more than respectable disc endurance bike. In fact, it’s almost identical to the Allied All-Road and Parlee Chebacco on the scale. A Hyas frame is $4,000; that’s a lot of money, but not off-the-charts expensive. It’s the same price as an Asian-made Specialized S-Works Diverge frameset and $500 more than a U.S.-made Allied All-Road. This build will set you back $10,500, though the $9,000 Ultegra Di2 build is a very attractive option.
It’s very clear the Hyas is all about performance gravel, especially going uphill. It has a crisp feel at the pedals in and out of the saddle while climbing, thanks to the tight rear end and its light weight. It also happens to be a real ripper descending gravel, even wet, loose and rocky stuff, which really surprised us, since its tire volume is limited to 38mm. It’s stable and planted—let go of the brakes and it flows down challenging terrain. It’s these same characteristics that also make the bike such an adept road machine. With a set of 28mm slicks, the bike drops significant weight where it matters and gives up nothing to the vast majority of pure road endurance machines and will be lighter than many.
Related: Mavic Gravel Wheel System
But the Alchemy Hyas does have its limits as both a gravel machine and a road machine. It’s tire volume, limited to 38mm, means the bike could be overwhelmed by Kanza-thick gravel.
It will also make the bike tougher to handle as a bikepacking rig and make fender clearance very tight. We’d also like to see the bike come with a 27.2 seat post, versus the 31.6 it currently uses, not to mention one that is easier to adjust. That would add quite a bit of compliance and negate some of the need for increased tire volume. As a pure road bike, it’s absolutely fondo ready, but as a race bike we’d like a bit more stiffness out of the front end and through the bottom bracket for really big efforts.
There is no question the “do-everything-quiver-killer” is the brass ring of bikes, and the Alchemy Hyas reaches closer to that ring than the vast majority of cross-over gravel bikes. It’s not an adventure bike for bikepacking or the best bike for Kanza, and it’s not a crit racer, but it’s a stunner for a hilly, West Coast gravel race or miles of Nebraska hard pack—one of the best we’ve ridden for those type of rides. On the road, it’s the perfect rig for fondos, centuries or a weekend club campaign, with a nod to performance more than endurance. And the reality is that “do-it-all” covers the vast majority of riders, so the Alchemy Hyas does indeed reach that brass ring for many of us.
alchemybicycles.com $4,000 frameset; $10,500 as built
7.7kg/16.9lbs size 58cm, as tested, w/o pedals or cages
Build: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9170, ENVE cockpit, ENVE SES 4.5 AR Wheels with Maxxis Rambler 38mm tires and Pro Turnix saddle