Category Archives: carbon
2015 NAHBS: Alchemy Oros Carbon 29’r Hardtail
2015 NAHBS: Alchemy Carbon 29'r Hardtail

For Alchemy Bicycles developing a new frame takes time. With a busy production schedule, an in-house paint department and juggling the day to day operations, there isn’t much time for R&D. So you can imagine how long this bike has been in the works. As their first carbon MTB frame, the Oros translates to mountain in Greek. Naming it was easy, developing it was not. The Denver based brand had to completely rethink construction.

Because Alchemy is using a unique tube-to-tube technique, they’re able to visualize the frame as a whole, while engineering and developing each section of the frame individually. The stays are shaped and continue to flow with the top tube, ending in a beefy head tube. While I can’t go into to much detail about their technology, I am eager to take it for a spin. Moves like this aren’t easy for small frame builders, but it’s evident this bike has a promising future ahead of it.

Fit with Shimano’s Di2 XTR, Fox suspension, ENVE carbon and Maxxis tires, this bike is a trail ready machine. While I don’t have a scale, the Oros feels well balanced and yeah, pretty damn light. The geometry is still in the prototyping phase, so we’ll omit those details. Once the Oros is ready for production, I’ll post updates. For now, see it in person at NAHBS, booth 501.

Mar 7, 2015 3 comments
Long Term Review: SRAM Roam 60 29r Wheels

I’m pretty adamant in believing that out of any bike you own, your MTB deserves carbon wheels more than the rest. Now, my point that I’m trying to make – without getting too far off-topic – is out of all your bikes, your MTB gets abused the most and is required to do the most. With road and even cross wheels, you’re rarely taking big hits off-axis and you’re certainly not charging rock gardens. Regardless of tire size, a MTB benefits from a carbon wheel, both in durability and performance. Just ride a set and you’ll see what I mean.

That said, I’ve never been convinced that a set of proprietary wheels is a worth while investment, when compared to a set of hand laced wheels. The problem is, those hand-built wheels get expensive when you’re talking carbon fiber rims, laced to a DT, King, White Industries or the like hubset.

If you do decide to pull the trigger on a set of carbon hoops, there are so many options out there. Do you want XC race-light or “trail” wheels? Well, SRAM made it easy with the Roam 60. They’re nearing the weight of an XC wheelset (1650 grams for a 29r) with the durability of a legit trail wheel. I tend to over compensate my inability to connect what I see myself doing in my head, to what actually happens on the bike, with products that are engineered for even gnarlier undertakings. In short: I like riding beefy products on my XC rig, because it’s not just a XC rig.


Nov 19, 2014 19 comments
Eurobike 2013: Argonaut Cycles Road
Eurobike 2013: Argonaut Cycles Road

It’s been a long two years for Ben from Argonaut Cycles but if he’s learned anything along the way it’s this: hard work and dedication pay off. In a lot of ways, the Argonaut Cycles road bike embodies the height of carbon fiber manufacturing. While this bike in particular might look like others that have been on the site, countless, minute changes have gone into making it unique. The design process and the final product are always improving.

Manufacturing in the USA allows Ben to tweak the layup process and continuously offer his clients the best carbon fiber road frame. Ben’s a good friend and personally, I’m very partial to Argonaut, so I took this bike out of the Eurobike tradeshow to photograph it. See more in the Gallery!

Aug 30, 2013 13 comments
James’ Ibis Hakkalügi Disc Cross
Beautiful Bicycle: James' Ibis Hakkalügi Disc Cross

James Adamson from Adventure Refugee has a long-time relationship with Ibis Cycles, so when the time came to prep for the Mission Workshop trip to China, he contacted them about a bike. Their Hakkalügi Disc Cross made the most sense for this tour.

Shown here, completely stock with cross tires or as it appeared in my post photos with Fyxation tires. The Hakkalügi retails with an Ultegra kit for $3699. Unfortunately, these are the last photos this bike will ever have taken of it because China Airlines crushed it in transport. Bummer! Check out more in the Gallery.

Apr 10, 2013 4 comments
Firefly Detail Photos by Heather McGrath

Photo by Heather McGrath

For Firefly’s latest build, they had Boston photographer Heather McGrath come in for some detail photos. I’ve been following this bike’s process over on their Tumblr and the end product is quite nice. Check out more detail photos from the Firefly titanium and carbon road at their Flickr and see the full build right here.

Mar 6, 2013 5 comments
Mad Fiber’s High Tech Wheels are Made in the USA
Mad Fiber's High Tech Wheels are Made in the USA

A wise man once said “Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades” and those words still hold true today but for those who are looking for cutting edge wheel technology to aid in their performance, the name Mad Fiber might come to mind. Now, I am the last person on the face of the Earth that wants or needs carbon wheels like this but they’re not even mine. So technically, “Don’t buy upgrades, borrow them from the rep” fits here.

Check out more below.


Jan 8, 2013 24 comments
Unveiling the Argonaut Cycles Process Part 02
Unveiling the Argonaut Cycles Process Part 02

Last week I introduced you to the process Argonaut Cycles uses in fabricating their 100% custom carbon fiber bicycle frames. Through working with ICE, or Innovative Composite Engineering, in White Salmon, Washington, Ben has developed a new process that sets Argonaut apart from other manufacturers. When we left off earlier, we had fresh parts for a frame, straight from the molds. From there, Ben takes the frame parts to Portland where he joins the tubes with a Hysol specialty aerospace epoxy and then bakes the frame to cure the adhesive.

Once the frame is cured, it’s off to the painter for a clear coat or graphics treatment. Frames can be either custom painted, or with stock logos. For my frame, Keith Anderson painted a scheme I mocked up. Once coated, Ben can either build the bike up with the parts kit a client orders through him and ship it out, or just send the frame out to his client. For me, picking the bike up and going on a ride was the best experience I could have wanted.

I am far from a carbon fiber expert, but I’ve been enthralled in this whole process. It’s hard to not be enthusiastic over this whole project but as my bike keeps racking up miles, I’m a believer. This is the first carbon frame that I’ve felt any sort of attachment to, but that’s because I’ve never had one tailored to my specific riding style. The Argonaut process made that easy.

Now, there were a ton of comments and questions in last week’s post, so if you missed Ben’s replies, I updated Part 01 here.

Nov 26, 2012 12 comments
Unveiling the Argonaut Cycles Process Part 01
Unveiling the Argonaut Cycles Process Part 01

When Ben Farver from Argonaut Cycles decided he was going to make the switch from building custom steel bikes to custom, made in the USA carbon fiber frames, he needed to find some local experts. The team at Innovative Composite Engineering, or ICE, were located just over the river in White Salmon, Washington state. Their expertise lies in everything from SUP poles to products for the aerospace industry. A few phone calls later and they began to meet to discuss a new, proprietary system for manufacturing custom carbon fiber bicycle frames.

ICE and Ben began to collaborate. They both were motivated to develop the frame using the best and most advanced molding technology, and to bring something new to the industry. They both pushed each other to do this without compromise or cutting corners, deciding on a few key points: There would be no vacuum forming, no tube to tube carbon lug bonding and no real hand finishing needed. The process would be streamlined, efficient and most importantly, customizable. While I can’t show you the juicy details, which I can assure you are juicy, I can show you snippets of the Argonaut Cycles process.

It begins with a roll of carbon, which is then cut out based on digital CAD templates on a large cutting bed. Each piece is based on the individual parts’ dimensions. From there, the carbon is inserted into aluminum molds, around a bladder where the resin layup occurs. Then, these aluminum molds are heated, allowing the resin to cure. This is repeated until all the parts are finished. When it’s all said and done, the frame is ready for assemblage.

Shot at ICE, these photos lay out the process used in manufacturing a 100% made in the USA carbon bicycle frame, like my Argonaut Cycles road.

EDIT: see a reply from Argonaut below that answers many questions everyone seems to have…


Nov 20, 2012 52 comments