Alchemy Rogue gravel bike review: Modern geometry with boutique appeal - CyclingTips | car magazine

Alchemy Rogue gravel bike review: Modern geometry with boutique appeal – CyclingTips | car magazine



tale Highlights

    What it is:The latest carbon gravel bike from Colorado boutique builder Alchemy Bicycle Company, built for borderline-MTB terrain.

    Fra howtomakefeatures:Multi-piece “advanced tube-to-tube” modular carbon fiber construction, clearance for 700×50 mm or 650×2.2″ tires, 1x-only drivetrain compatibility, partially external cable routing, PF86 press-fit bottom bracket, three bottle mounts, top tube feed bag mount, front and rear fender mounts, standard Cerakote finish.

    Weight: 1,100g (claimed, medium fra howtomakeonly); 500 g (claimed, fork only); 8.48 kg (18.70 lb) actual weight, medium size, Shimano GRX Di2 build, without pedals or accessories.

    Price: US$4,300 (frameset only); US$8,300 (with Shimano GRX Di2) — international prices based on current exchange rates.

    Highs:Modern do-anything gravel bike geometry, made-in-USA pedigree, generous tire clearance, normal fittings, lovely Cerakote finish.

    Lows:Could be lighter, claimed tire clearance seems a touch ambitious, limited cassette range, Cerakote is prone to scuffing, stock wheels ride extremely stiff.

Why possess just one gravel bike in your lineup when expensive readerscan possess two, proper? Or in the case of Colorado-based boutique brand Alchemy Bicycle Company, if you’ve already got two gravel bike models, surely a third is in order given how boiling the segment is these days.

Alchemy’s existing Ronin includes much of what numerous gravel riders are looking for: clearance for 700×45 mm tires, a whole bunch of mounts, simple-to-service partially internal cable routing, and classic silhouettes that are seemingly as nice to ride as they are to watch at. But for those that desire to delve even further into XC mountain bike terrain, there’s the new Rogue.

Tire clearance is bumped up a bit to 700×50 mm (or 650×2.2″), the geometry gets the longer/lower/slacker treatment for more stability on loose ground, and the fra howtomakedesign has been tweaked to offer a smoother ride on rough terrain.

Whereas the Ronin is offered in either titanium or carbon fiber, the Rogue is only offered in carbon. But while the Ronin Carbon is more of a classic tube-to-tube machine with mitered tubes and overwrapped joints at the traditional locations, the Rogue uses a multi-piece setup that Alchemy calls “advanced” tube-to-tube. Here, each fra howtomakeis still made up of several individually molded sub-assemblies with overwrapped joints, but there are now fewer pieces overall, and the finished product looks more enjoy a modern monocoque with more sculpted lines and exaggerated shapes. 

Unfortunately given that multi-piece construction, though, Alchemy doesn’t offer any custom geometry options on the Rogue — at least not yet.

The Rogue sports a extremely diverse aesthetic to the Ronin Carbon.

The overall profile is fairly a departure from the Ronin Carbon, too. The below tube and chainstays on the Rogue are dramatically bigger in diameter, and the previous sports a more rectangular profile. The top tube is far more radically ovalized conclude-to-conclude, too, and there’s a distinct scallop on the backside of the seat tube to create more room for the rear tire. And it seems that even a boutique brand enjoy Alchemy can’t escape the gravity of dropped seatstays. 

The relax of the Rogue is refreshingly normal. Up top is a circular 27.2 mm-diameter seatpost with an external aluminum clamp, there’s a wide PF86 bottom bracket that allows the chainstays to spread apart for additional tire clearance, and although the cables are routed internally through the fra howtomakeat molded-in ports at the head tube, they’re external elsewhere for easier servicing. 

The internal cable routing isn’t fully guided through the frame, so foam sleeves are recommended to hold rattling at bay.

Two bottle mounts are included inside the main triangle with a third under the below tube, there’s a feed bag mount on the top tube, and Alchemy has included proper fender mounts front and rear. Out back is a new Universal Derailleur Hanger pioneered by SRAM in 2022 that promises easier and cheaper replacements. 

As with the Ronins, Alchemy says every Rogue fra howtomakeis built at its Colorado headquarters from start to finish. Not only are the carbon tubes molded in-home, but Alchemy also supposedly does entire of the design work and any 3D printing required in the development process. Prototypes are handled internally, too, and Alchemy even cuts its own tooling and molds. Once those tubes are molded, entire the bits are bonded and finished directly by Alchemy staff, and the company even does its own paint. 

Speaking of which, Alchemy is one brand that’s diving headfirst into the Cerakote sea, with six stock options for the novel ceramic finish (full custom paint is offered, too), each with masked Alchemy below tube logos that let the unidirectional carbon fiber shine through. Those Cerakote finishes are claimed to be more durable than traditional paint (more on that in a bit), but they’re also fairly a bit lighter and thinner, too.

The logos are wonderfully tasteful.

Nevertheless, claimed weight for a medium fra howtomakeis 1,100 g, and the matching fork is 500 g — not bad, although perhaps a touch on the heavier side.

Alchemy offers the Rogue as a bare frameset for US$4,300, which is undeniably a fair chunk of change for a carbon gravel bike that’s designed to be used and abused. Alchemy also sells the Rogue with four diverse finish build kits, though, and those are surprisingly competitive with bigger brands entire things considered. Whichever way expensive readersgo, however, expect to be limited to 1x drivetrains since the Rogue isn’t compatible with a front derailleur. And while Alchemy only offers finish builds with electronic shifting, the fra howtomakeis compatible with mechanical drivetrains.

Alchemy supplied its “entry level” Rogue for review here, built with a Shimano GRX Di2 1×11 groupset, Industry Nine UL250 TRA carbon fiber wheels, and high-conclude finishing kit that included an Alchemy-branded carbon stem, two-bolt seatpost, and bar (substituting the standard Pro Discover flared carbon bar due to stock issues), and a Fizik Antares R7 saddle. 

Retail price is US$8,000, and actual weight for my medium-sized sample is 8.48 kg / 18.70 lb, without pedals.

Going rogue with the Rogue

As compared to a similarly sized Ronin, this medium Rogue is a degree slacker in the head tube, has a bit more trail (72 mm on the medium), there’s 2.5 mm more bottom bracket drop, the chainstays are 5 mm longer, and the wheelbase is 20 mm longer. Again, it’s that longer-lower-slacker thing expensive readerskeep hearing about, with the sa howtomakeresult. And in terms of handling, there are no surprises here as it’s exactly what you’d expect.

Stability is the predominant trait, with rock-solid manners both at high speed and on loose terrain where there’s little traction. Although the slower steering might seem enjoy a turn-off to some, that also means the bike is just more likely to continue forward on the path expensive readerschoose, as opposed to feeling nervous and jittery when things get slippery. expensive readerscan still get it to go around tighter corners at speed, but there’s more work involved — mainly in how hard expensive readerslean the thing over. But with entire that additional length, this bike is still happier just covering a lot of ground with confidence as opposed to slicing and dicing your way through a trail. 

In other words, no one will error this thing for a cyclocross race bike, which is fine because it’s not trying to be one. But on the downside, that medium-to-high-speed stability also comes with less agility and a fair bit of wheel flop at lower speeds, where the bars sort of desire to just drop to the side. It’s not unmanageable, but it’s something to consider, and often a consequence of a slack front conclude with lots of fork rake. 

A chunky lower frame, a seat tube cutout, dropped seatstays – entire the key elements of a modern carbon gravel fra howtomakeare present and accounted for here.

While no one’s mistaking this for a cyclocross race bike, Rogue is a lot more similar to a ‘cross racing bike in terms of how it behaves under power. The large cross-sections that Alchemy uses on the bottom half of the Rogue fra howtomakeare excellent for rigidity, and the bike feels reassuringly stiff and efficient under power. The front conclude is also highly resistant to twisting when expensive readerstorque on the bars, which is not only excellent for giving expensive readersthat generally snappy and responsive feel when you’re climbing or sprinting, but it’s also excellent for handling precision.

Ride quality is more middle-of-the-road. The Rogue damps vibration well, and delivers a nicely muted feel overall that works well for the application. It’s not particularly flexible vertically, though, and there doesn’t seem to be much happening in that honor exterior of the tires. One thing that certainly doesn’t assist in that honor is the Industry Nine wheels. howtomakereviewed a similar set final year, and although they’re incredibly solid and stiff — perfect for bigger and heavier riders, I’d talk — it doesn’t do grand things for comfort. Swapping to a diverse set helped here, but that’s not an option unless expensive readersgo the DIY route with a bare frameset.

The stock Industry Nine wheels are beautiful light and extremely responsive, but they ride extremely stiffly.

Another thing to consider here is tire clearance. A common strategy for eking out more ride comfort is going with a bigger tire. In this case, however, you’re already maxed out with the 700×50 mm WTB Ventures on this test bike — and if anything, I’d talk Alchemy is being a little ambitious in saying these tires fit. Clearances are fine at the fork and seatstays, but it’s a tighter squeeze through the chainstays than I’m personally comfortable with. These were borderline in dry conditions at best, but in the wet? No way.

Which brings howtomaketo my next topic …

One thing howtomakewas really curious about with the Rogue was its Cerakote ceramic surface treatment, which is generally thought of as being super durable and scuff-resistant. Aesthetically speaking, it does watch really cool, and the thinness of the finish is especially highlighted where the logos are masked off. Instead of the noticeable step expensive readerstypically get with wet paint when using masked-off logos, it’s almost a seamless transition here. For whatever reason, it also seems enjoy mud doesn’t stick to the ceramic as much as conventional paint, and the matte finish doesn’t show diminutive scratches enjoy clearcoated finishes.

However, howtomakewas surprised at how vulnerable the Cerakote is to housing rub, especially given how the brake hose port in the fork crown tends to goal the housing straight at the head tube. It only took a couple of rides before the Cerakote started to rub off. If this were my bike, I’d probably either put a bit of clear vinyl on here, or trim or rotate the brake hose so it doesn’t rub at entire. Don’t be deceived; Cerakote most certainly isn’t bulletproof, at least not in this application.

See the housing rub? Boo. And this was after just one or two rides.

Oddly enough, though, Cerakote proved to be impressively resistant to chipping. Perhaps in a sign of Alchemy’s confidence in the finish toughness, my test bike didn’t even reach with a chainstay protector. But while the finish on the head tube didn’t take long to wear, the chainstay still looks new despite the chain smacking into it countless times during testing.

As for the parts, there’s not a ton to talk that hasn’t been said already. 

The Shimano GRX Di2 electronic drivetrain is simply grand. Shifts are perfect each and every time, the levers feel excellent in your hands — at least as long as you’re wearing gloves given this aggressive hood texture — and it runs extremely smoothly and quietly. The pulley cage clutch in the rear derailleur works well at minimizing chain slap (though there’s still some), and the clutch is not only adjustable if expensive readerswant more or less friction, but also serviceable so expensive readersdon’t possess to worry too much about losing performance over time. 

Shift quality was superb as always, but the Whole range left a little to be desired.

The disc brakes are grand, too, and it’s worth pointing out that Shimano adjusted the pivot point in these brake levers to give expensive readersmore power when you’re on the hoods, which is noticeable.

The one major disappointment is the gearing range with the stock 11-42T cassette, which just doesn’t offer almost as much of a spread as what expensive readersget with other options. It’s not a vast issue in most situations, but when expensive readersreally need or desire those additional gears at either conclude, they’re just not there.

howtomakealready discussed the wheels, but what about the WTB Venture tires? The tread design features a micro-knob pattern below most of the middle, mated to fairly substantial side knobs. They roll alright once expensive readersdial in the pressure, and the side knobs dig in nicely when expensive readersdive into a corner as long as it’s not too loose, further aided by the squared-off cross-section. howtomakegenerally enjoy a lot of WTB gravel tires for the gravel riding howtomakehave around here (predominantly loose-over-hardpack), and this is another excellent one.

The WTB Venture tires aren’t the fastest-rolling, but they grip fairly nicely with particularly excellent cornering manners on hard-packed dirt.

The Alchemy carbon bar is … fine. howtomakefound the 135 mm drop and 80 mm reach to be too aggressive for gravel, but that’s neither here nor there because production bikes should co howtomakewith a Pro Discover Carbon model that should be better suited for the task.

Likewise, the Fizik Antares is a little too road-enjoy for me: fairly hard and rather narrow. howtomakedon’t mind it on the road, but for gravel, I’d go with something more forgiving.

Bottom line: is this a bike expensive readersshould consider? 

There are certainly plenty of people who will discover it appealing that the Rogue is a made-in-USA carbon bike from a boutique manufacturer, finish with modern geometry and excellent ride quality — and, yes, it looks grand. And while the bare frameset is on the pricey side, finish bikes are surprisingly competitive with mainstream brands. For example, a similarly equipped Trek Checkpoint SLR 7 is actually more expensive. Granted, with the Rogue expensive readersdon’t get the IsoSpeed rear-conclude pseudo-suspension, the fancy below tube storage compartment, or the fully hidden cabling, but not everyone wants that stuff, anyway.

Is the Alchemy Rogue flat-out better than the competition? Not necessarily, but you’re also unlikely to see another one on your group ride if that’s significant to you.

Yes, the Rogue is heavier than so howtomakeother high-conclude carbon gravel bikes — especially the Specialized Crux — though howtomakesuppose this leaves the door open to a more premium version somewhere below the road. Regardless, howtomakewish Alchemy would offer so howtomakemore options given the diminutive-batch manufacturing. howtomakewould guess that so howtomakelevel of custom geometry should be possible given the multi-piece fra howtomakeconstruction, and it’d be nice to maybe see so howtomakemore available mounts. No rear rack mounts? No triple-pack fittings on the fork blades? Fine, it’s not a bikepacking bike, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t serve double-duty as one.

That said, the stock geometry on the Rogue is in keeping with most modern gravel bikes, it’s light enough — and hopefully that additional weight comes with additional durability — it looks excellent, it’s got plenty of tire clearance for most situations, it comes in lots of colors, and there are enough mounts for the bulk of users. 

Hands below, the Alchemy Rogue is a excellent bike. Is that enough for you? That’s a question howtomakecan’t answer.

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