Can you put a price on craftsmanship? The folks at Alchemy Bikes, a crew of fabricators, mechanics and riders that has been constructing premium two-wheeled products since 2008, would answer "hell yeah." The direct-to-consumer brand is dedicated to creating and delivering the perfect bike for you — so much so that if you are not thrilled within 30 days, they’ll take it back and issue a full refund.
Which is pretty awesome. But it’s worth noting, that kind of TLC does not come cheap. Prices for the boutique brand’s array of road, gravel, mountain and e-bikes start near $5,000, and they can shoot up much higher, depending how interested you are in, say, a custom paint job or a SRAM Red eTap AXS groupset.
My primary interest, however, was checking out Alchemy’s rowdy new gravel bike, the Rogue. Designed for more aggressive riding than its older brother, the Ronin, this ride promises to keep rolling just about anywhere, from dirt to loose gravel to moderate single-track. So I took it for a spin in upstate New York, hitting the trails around Lake Minnewaska on the Shawangunk Ridge. Here are my thoughts after graveling the Gunks.
What's Great About the Alchemy Rogue
The Rogue Is (Not Surprisingly) Quite Light
The brand takes a ton of pride in its Alchemy Factory Carbon Fiber frames, which are handmade in Colorado. Fabricators spend days constructing tube-to-tube layups that blend strength, toughness and lateral stiffness into a featherweight package. In the case of the Rogue, that frame is the foundation for a bike that weighs under 19 pounds (size medium) before you add pedals and accessories.
I didn’t appreciate how light that is until I was standing in my buddy Giuseppe’s New Paltz garage with the bike hanging upside down on a couple of hooks above my head. I was able to reach up with my right hand, lift it off the hooks and casually bring it around to the ground — my left hand free the whole time to make “rock on” devil horn gestures.
Of course, I really appreciated it when we hit the trails, me on the Rogue and Giuseppe on what crusty off-road vets will tell you modern gravel bikes are nothing more than — an old-school mountain bike from the ’90s. Now, I bike a lot more than G does, but he’s younger and also this Sicilian freak of nature who climbs and splitboards and inhales unreal amounts of food without ever jeopardizing his wiry frame and boundless energy.
Suffice it to say, if we switched bikes, I'd probably be getting scraped off the carriage road. But as it was, I hardly broke a sweat, even as we tackled technical terrain and some tough climbs to Gertrude's Nose, where the best views of the grandeur around us could be had. I have no doubt that a huge factor was the hummingbird beneath me, which left me so unburdened I could spin to win without ever worrying whether I’d reach the summit.
The Rogue Feels, in a Word, Frictionless
It only takes a few minutes of pedaling to confirm that the people who built this bike actually ride. It comes through not in one individual part but in how all of the components interact — with a crisp smoothness that makes every action almost effortless.
The bike I was riding featured Shimano’s GRX Di2 groupset, which despite being the least expensive option is still pretty impressive. The 1x drivetrain and electronic shifting enable easy movement through 11 gears — with a range that’s plenty expansive enough for speedy racing and steep climbing.
Alchemy introduced some tweaks to make the Rogue more of an off-roader than the Ronin, including a slacker head tube angle, wide tire clearance (up to 700x50c) and chatter-absorbing geometry. Which sounds like meaningless marketing copy until you watch a couple of mountain bikers bounce through a mini rock garden, then proceed to do so yourself on a suspension-less drop bar bike and still have feeling in your forearms when you roll out of it.
The big takeaway here is, you don’t even really need to understand every little detail that went into this bike to enjoy the hell out of it. I certainly don’t — and did.
The Rogue's Quirky Understated Style Cannot Be Denied
I would be remiss not to mention that part of what you’re paying for with Alchemy is a pretty distinctive vibe. It’s not overly flashy: the logo is in e.e. cummings-esque lower-case letters, and the Cerakote paint job, while colorful, has a matte quality that also doesn’t scream “look at me".
And yet, after spending time with this bike, experiencing how well-crafted and responsive it is, I would place it squarely in the “if you know, you know” category. So much so that while participating in a gravel race recently – on a different bike – I spotted an Alchemy at the finish line and instantly thought “well that guy doesn’t fuck around.”
That’s gotta count for something.
What’s Not So Great About the Alchemy Rogue
It's really not cheap
The headline of this story is no lie. The same weekend I test-rode the Rogue, I was ripping around on a Honda Rebel 1100. And while the base price of that bike is a bit higher ($9,399), the mid-sized version goes for $6,399. That's right, you can lock down a 400-pound motorcycle with a 471cc engine delivering 46 horsepower and 29.9 lb.-ft torque for roughly $1,600 less than a pedal bike delivering approximately one human-power — human not included.
Obviously we are talking about two totally different things. Perhaps a better comparison is the Specialized Crux Expert we recently reviewed, which features a 1x12 drivetrain, electronic shifting, a weight of less than 18 pounds... and a price of $6,200. In other words, even compared to some other high-performance gravel bikes, the Rogue is pretty pricey.
How about a dropper post?
Like nearly every gravel bike I have tested, the Rogue is dropper-post compatible but it's not a stock feature. The only one I've tried with a built-in dropper is Evil's bonkers Chamois Hagar, which kinda makes sense from a mountain bike brand. I love a good dropper post so much, I wish every bike had one — and considering that a few months back, Matej Mohoric won a road race in Italy while rocking one, perhaps that day will come.
Until then, it would just be nice to see more droppers built into fancy gravel bikes — where they can really come in handy on technical descents — especially when you're forking over eight grand.
The Verdict on the Alchemy Rogue
Two things can be true, and they follow. One, I absolutely loved ripping around on this bike, and Giuseppe, who got to babysit it for a time upstate, was totally blown away. It's just so beautifully designed and constructed, we both would have loved to ride that blood-orange unicorn off into the sunset and never look back — rather than box it up and send it back to Colorado. But two, if I were to seriously consider buying one myself, I would first have to seriously consider going into a different line of work.
Point being, this bike isn't for everyone. So if you conclude it is for you, you sure as hell better have loads of disposable income — or be an irredeemable gravelhead who lives in a shack next to a trail where you can log blissful off-road miles every single day. In such a scenario, trust me, your decision will be richly rewarded.