2017 NAHBS: Alchemy Kratos with the Fox AX 40mm Suspension Fork

Designed around a 700c wheel with 427 axle-to-crown measurement, the Fox AX fork adds 40mm of travel to your cyclocross or all-road bike. As you might have guessed, AX stands for “Adventure Cross” and the Alchemy Kratos is an ideal mate for this new piece of technology. With three water bottle cage mounts, clearance for either a 700x43mm tire or a 27.5″ equivalent, bolt-on frame bag provisions, and rack mounts the Kratos is meant to take on endurance dirt races, or a weekend bug-out ride.

While I personally like this throwback to Tomac, I can see the AX fork ruffling some feathers… What do you think?

  • Thomas Alexander Peralta

    Impressed, but unsure. It’s not that I’m against new ideas – I like the idea of suspension on road bikes, and maybe even those designed strictly for pavement use. It’s more that this seems like approaching road suspension from the wrong direction. This AX is really a short-travel mountain bike fork, with all its associated weight and damping complexity, for the sake of less than two inches of travel… just as with the Lefty Oliver, I wonder whether something based on carbon leaf springs might be a better solution. Less like Lauf, though that’s a step in the right direction; more like that Canyon concept from a few years back, with rotary dampers. Any idea what the weight penalty actually is?

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/canyons-incredible-projekt-mrsc-connected-concept-road-bike/

    In any case, I’m very pleased to see the industry moving in this direction. Better that we err on the side of progressiveness, borrowing directly from mountain bikes, than err conservative with more and more undamped “vertical compliance”.

    • I’d just rather have a 27.5″ x 2.0″ tire at 25psi up front, personally. But I still think this is a cool idea, and Fox is smart for striking while the iron’s hot on the “gravel” “adventure” or whatever market.

      • marty larson

        There is that. Cause we all know a guy, probably a mountainbiker guy, who would buy into this concept whole hog. Not really necessary here in flyover country, but out where there’s actual rocks on the fire lanes? I can see benefit.

      • Danny B

        I always find the argument that a tyre and shock absorber are comparable is overly simplistic and ignorant to a fundamental aspect of suspension technologies: compression and rebound dampening.

        If tyres in themselves were in any way as capable as air or coil suspension then we would surely see more of a move away from these very expensive and relatively heavy forms of shock absorption. We would also see more of a mainstream interest in more low-tech and cost effective solutions – namely pliant steel/Ti frames, softtails, truss forks, plus tyres and carbon leaf springs and elastomers.

        I personally can’t see myself lining up to buy a AX or Oliver fork but I think the technology is interesting and for people who are racing there will some who will be able to see some tangible benefit. If it means that riders can descent faster whilst maintaining grip and control, this will likely result in them getting an advantage over their competitors and subsequently winning races.

        The best analogy I can give was the season (2014?) where XCWC rider Julian Absalon switched from only riding a hardtail to riding a dual suspension so that he could pin back Nino Schurter. He/his team realised that he would need to adopt this technology too if he wanted to keep pace.

        As long as its light enough I can’t see the problem. Truly ugly (like the Ruby before it) but as they say you’re not looking at the mantlepiece when you stoke the fire.

        What if it were an inverted RS1 style fork, surely that would be deemed more acceptable to road aesthetes?

      • Andrew Burton

        agree 100% — just fatter tires, basically no maintenance whatsoever to keep those cushy

    • breed007

      I could care less about a few extra pounds on a bike for an endurance gravel race. You’re already carrying food, tools, 100 oz of water, ect. And if it beats you up less, then maybe it’s worth it. Makes more sense to me than the latest, greatest carbon frame.

      • Kevin

        I think you’re onto something here. I think it’s a little inelegant (though cool looking) to borrow from the MTB scene, and until I rode my first gravel/fireroad/washboard dirty century, I would have scoffed at the weight. Having gone to hell and back though, I would have so gladly traded the weight for not getting so beat up early into what turned into a marathon day…

        • breed007

          It seems that a lot of these smaller events are becoming a “see who can put together the roughest course” contest. I did 15 miles of horrible horse trails on a 120 mile race/ride last May that I would have loved to have had a squish for for.

          • Cooper Mittelhauser

            Any chance that ride was Cedar Cross?

          • breed007

            What other race would it be?

  • Alex Hillis

    Seems like a great move for Fox. I can see brands that want to have a Cannondale Slate competitor, but don’t want to R&D their own fork, adopting this on some bikes. They could even just slap it onto their existing cross frame and add an extra model of [Model name] SUS-BABY!! 50/50 chance we see one at Dirty Kanza this year.

  • Patrick Murphy

    I’m also split on this. I don’t wanna be a hater, and I understand Fox’s desire to participate in this shift of riding style, but there’s little elegance to this. And that’s ok – aesthetics are subjective, to each their own, and this is cool in it’s own right. But I’d much rather see something like a svelt RS-1 adapted to keep the beautiful lines of a cross bike, at least at the crown (I know inverted isn’t really Fox’s thing though). I can’t help but feel Fox chose the shortest path to get here. Who knows, maybe this will be very normal in 5 years and I’ll own a bike just like it!

    • sturtlovinggood

      I kinda get where you’re coming from but for me it doesn’t look that bad. Looks like the stanchions and lowers are a bit narrower than an MTB fork (could be wrong about this) but, especially with the oversize downtube, the front doesn’t feel particularly off-balance. Especially since someone would otherwise run a bike like this with a wide-ass carbon fork.

    • Jon Severson

      Keep in mind the RS-1 is a stupid expensive fork and isn’t that light in reality. It works because of it’s application. Making a cross version is unlikely

  • Peter Discoe

    I think a fork like this extends what an adventure ride could be and for those strictly gravel riding I agree that it’s probably overkill and tire/inflation choice are a better route. But, here in CO where a ride could include some gnarly 4wd roads (like heading down Buffalo Pass into Steamboat Springs or Old Flowers here in Fort Collins) in addition to pavement and gravel roads, I can see this as beneficial. I’ll be curious for Logan’s feedback when he comes back to town and gets some rides with it.

  • Peter Discoe
    • Jon Severson

      Well played and I remember that road :)

  • Peperbek

    Looking at the geometry of a lot of these bikes I noticed that they often resemble the old Norba 71/73degree geo’s of nineties mtb’s. With a sus fork that has about the same travel as a Rock Shox Mag21 it now only needs a narrow flat bar. Ok, the 27,5×2.0 wheels as a bit bigger than the 26×2,2, but I love it! Freedom of choice. I gather that on moderate xc trails like we have in Holland it would shine. Can any one make it with canti studs, by the way?

  • Barrett Hoover

    I agree that aesthetically it may not be the most pleasing, but for a rowdy gravel ride that may stray onto a bit of true trail or 4×4 road this makes a lot of sense to me. For a more traditional road/CX look it would be more easily executed with an inverted fork. Most of us could simply ride an XC hardtail with an 80 mm fork and skinny tires to the same effect. It’s definitely a niche kind of rig, but n+1 right?

  • Doug M.

    Regarding maintenance, the old rule for Fox’s MTB forks (still well heeded) requires a lowers service (oil bath and wiper seals) every 40 hours, and a full rebuild (damper and air spring rebuilds, best done by Fox) every ~125 hours. The difference in duration and frequency between MTB riding and adventure road riding means you could be sending this fork back to Fox multiple times per year. Just something to chew on. Suppose we’ll know more when they release the specs.

    • Brett

      It’s 125hr between services for 2017 Fox mountain bike forks. There hasn’t been a 40hr recommended service interval for a while. Most services I find I have to do on my forks involve a lower leg drop and some fresh Slickoleum anyway.

    • A guy who rides in my town takes meticulous care of his bikes, but he rides 30,000 miles a year. His Fox fork has 15,000 miles and it hasn’t been serviced yet.

      If you’re not overly aggressive they last forever. If you’re riding a cross bike, you’re probably not being too aggressive.

  • sturtlovinggood
    • Surely you can tell I’m being sarcastic there, right? ;-)

  • Jack Reynolds

    did you guys get a weight on this build by any chance?

    • I try to not worry about that sort of thing when shooting bikes. I will say it didn’t feel overly off-balanced or front heavy.

  • mr. apodaca APODACA

    why the heck not, i’d put that on my cx and jump it!!

  • FireUrEngine

    Interesting concept.

  • AlexH

    Could Jeff Kendall-Weed ride a nose wheelie on it?

  • Ben Azoulay

    throwback to Tomac? I say throwback to Lemond at the Paris-Roubaix in 1991

    • Jon Severson

      Bingo. Well, Lemond and I believe 3-4 other teamates used it. :)

  • 楊一帆
  • 楊一帆
    • adanpinto

      wow

    • Jon Severson

      Exactly. :)

  • Gordon M

    Slap this puppy on a Moots cross bike with YBB and then you’ve got an all-day machine!!!

  • Jon Severson

    Beautiful bike, but let’s get our history right here: this isn’t a throwback to Tomac. At all. This is a gravel/cross bike with a 40mm suspension fork on it vs a drop bar mountain bike with 26″ wheels which is what Tomac road.

    700c front suspension is a closer relative to the old Rock Shox Ruby Lemond & team mates road in Roubaix. But that’s a stretch at best still.

    Now mid 90s you did see Manitou & Marzocchi both offer forks of similat travel that fit similar size tires. Believe the Marzocchi was designed to fit the 700cx 45 Panaracer Smoke and I think the Manitou up to a 2.0. Have one of each :)

    In short, this is not a new road that Fox is going down at all. Just now it’s cool to do so again. Which isn’t a bad thing as Lauf has been proving to people.

  • REARless

    Looks like the perfect bike for the Hilly Billy Roubaix:
    https://vimeo.com/175326681

  • Julius

    Sneak peek into the future: once the industry starts advertising the
    merits of butterfly handlebars for ultra long distance gravel epics,
    this is what we will get:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e20191f6406351b145b61232c8259c5d244789420f58bfd634d5a7d4d7379488.jpg

  • Flydyl

    LOVE the trend toward fast bikes that can take a pounding. I ride my CX bike on single-track and I long for a lightweight suspension fork. I’d buy the Lauf if I could afford it. Had an absolute blast on a Cannondale Slate, though it has design flaws. Here’s hoping the fork manufacturers get into an arms race (and a price war) on light, short-travel forks.

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  • Ben Adams

    Cool fork. When can I buy one

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  • sam hopwood

    As with the Lauf fork its not for me personally, just don’t dig the look but thats just how I feel and what I value about the equipment I choose to use. At the same time I love that people are playing around with stuff. If you don’t like it, don’t run it. Simples. We are at a great time (as has been seen in surf board fashion/design) where we have a wider choice of equipment, terrain and style open to us than ever before and at the same time less and less dogmatic dictation of what we can and can’t run at competitive level by governing bodies than just about any other sport. How can you not think thats rad? Asthetically anything can be decisive but people trying new stuff is only ever a win.

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