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My New Best Bike: The Alchemy Eros

Photograph courtesy of Alchemy Bicycle Company

Photograph courtesy of Alchemy Bicycle Company

It has been two months since I laid my hands on this Alchemy Eros.  Since then this bicycle has carried me a little over 1,400km / 870 mi.  That is not an extensive amount of time or a huge distance.  But enough for me to like this bike.  I like it a lot.  So much so that I was comfortable selling the two Alchemys that came before this one.

Alchemy has what they call a Baseline DNA Chart.  Alchemy has rated each of their current lineup of bicycles on three dimensions:  ride comfort, drivetrain stiffness, and steering precision.

Chart courtesy of Alchemy Bicycle Company

Chart courtesy of Alchemy Bicycle Company

This chart nicely summarises what I like so much about my Eros as compared to the bikes that came before.

My first Alchemy was this mostly steel frame.

Alchemy ISKY 1 1

It has Columbus Muscle carbon seat stays, and an Easton EC90 SLX carbon fork.  This was my first road bike, built for me in January 2010.  Alchemy’s builder then, James Flatman, spent a number of hours talking to me about the kind of riding I did, and what I wanted to do with the bike in the future.  At the top of my list was comfort.  I was just starting to ride longer distances.  The BP MS150 was still an aspiration.  I had yet to ride an imperial century.  I wanted a compliant bicycle to get me through those longer rides to come.

If that steel bicycle were on the Baseline DNA Chart, I would think it would score 2 (compliant) for ride comfort and drivetrain stiffness, and 3 (moderate) for steering precision.  It is certainly not a bicycle that translates every last watt the rider puts through the drivetrain into forward motion.  It does have some get up and go, but it is designed for comfort.  It is a lovely bicycle for long rides.

In January 2011 I was talking to James again.  I had been bitten by the cycling bug.  It was time to upgrade.

I had covered 3,000km / 1,864mi on the steel bike.  I still wanted comfort, but also wanted a bicycle with better power transfer.  James’ answer was this bike, with a titanium front triangle, a Columbus Muscle carbon rear triangle, and an Edge carbon front fork.

Alchemy ISKY 2 1

In Baseline DNA terms, I would score this bike 2 (compliant) for ride comfort, and 3 (moderate) for drivetrain stiffness and 3 steering precision.  This bicycle is as comfortable as the steel one.  Blindfolded, I’m not sure if I could tell the difference in the ride quality between the two.  But this frame certainly flexes less than the steel one.

Come mid-2015, and I had conjured up an excuse to upgrade again.  Alchemy had moved to Denver, and had expanded their lineup of offerings.  These offerings were also becoming much more sophisticated as the Alchemy design team developed their craft.

Ryan Cannizzaro is a founder of Alchemy Bicycle Company, and I have known him since his Austin, Texas days.  He and I exchanged emails and chatted over Skype about what I was looking for in a new bike.  I wanted a stiffer, better handling bike, and still in a metal frame.  Given the characteristics of the two Alchemys I already owned, Ryan suggested the Eros.    He felt that the Aiolos would be too similar to the titanium bike I already had.

Ryan’s recommendation was spot on.  As you can see from the DNA Baseline Chart, the Eros has greater drivetrain stiffness and steering precision than my previous bikes.  In fact, identical to the Alchemy Helios and Alchemy Aithon.  So I have carbon characteristics in a fully titanium bike, apart from the Enve carbon fork.

This bike frame has no discernible flex, at least at my decidedly non Cavendish-like power output.  The Eros is rock-solid at speed.  I have descended on it at 80kph / 50mph.  No sign of shimmy or a wobble.   It certainly has a sharper response to steering input.  This improved handling does come at the cost of ride comfort though.  I do find myself steering around rough patches of road much more than I did on my other bikes.  Or lifting off the saddle if I have to ride through the rough stuff.

The additional road vibration is a small price to pay for the increased performance.  I will miss Alchemy 1 and Alchemy 2, but I wouldn’t trade my Eros for them.

For more on the Alchemy Eros, Road Bike Action magazine has a review in their October 2015 issue.