By Eddie Clark
Alchemy Bicycle Company; American made custom carbon, titanium and steel frames.
(January 28, 2013) DENVER, Colo—At Alchemy Bicycle Company, building bikes that provide you with the ride of your life is not just a sales pitch, it's an overriding principle that defines their culture. It is part of the thought process behind each custom made frame, and their holistic approach to building a progressive yet thoughtful bike centric community.
James Flatman and Ryan Cannizzarro originally started building custom handmade frames in Austin, Texas many years ago, and when they got into building carbon frames, the brand started gaining traction. In 2012 Alchemy won the carbon "Bike of the Year" award at the North American Handmade Bike Show (NAHBS) for their very svelte and aero Arion carbon road frame. Over the course of many post NAHBS sessions between 2010 and 2012, Matt Simpson of Pedros and Ryan became friends and hashed out ideas for a new business model.
Their ideas were based on studying the success and failures charted by others in the bike industry. Interestingly, their number one criteria in building the company was staying true to its culture, and their over-riding motto of 'think big act small'.
In July of 2012 Matt Simpson landed in Denver, and as new president of Alchemy Bicycle Company, was making way towards putting boots on the ground. "We called it a leap of faith and moved eight families across the country to Denver", said Simpson. For many reasons, Denver was the clear choice with its great weather and large already established cycling community.
Their 9000 square foot facility in south Denver was chosen for its proximity to the Cherry Creek Bike Path and the numerous races and events held nearby as well as being neighbors with Primal Wear. The large building plays well into their cycling centric community plan by allowing them to house, in addition to their bike building production, a body balanced fit studio via True Fit Training and Shama Cycles, and a retail space adjoined by a wi-fi friendly coffee shop will compliment the site. The Pro's Closet will also be opening a Denver drop-off location in the facility as part of their own expansion, which will be mutually beneficial to both companies.
"We plan to work with Shimano and BRAC to hold meetings and seminars to make this space a cycling hub. We’ve been awarded the Bike Friendly Company in Denver for the month based on the hub that we’ve created", says Simpson.
When you walk into their production area, the first thing you see is a big United States flag hanging from the ceiling, and it serves as an indicator that this business is about being made in the USA. Everything that goes into building their bikes is sourced in-house except the Enve carbon tubes, which are also made in the USA. "We’re not going anywhere, we’re staying right here, and definitely not going overseas", says Simpson.
As for the bikes, they've hired Jeff Wager to be their master welder. In addition to being the frontman in a death metal band, Wager is a pretty hardcore guy and his welds are amazing. He’s from New York where he worked for the last 10 years as a welder for Serotta, and was one of their head Ti welders. Before the frames go out the door, painter and finisher Shane Haberland, also a former Serotta employee, uses his years of experience to ensure each frame looks as good as it rides.
Custom carbon frames are without a doubt their fastest growing market. They’ve poured a tremendous amount of knowledge and assets into their carbon frame technology, and have verified their abilities with time spent time in the wind tunnel and on the race track.
Before the custom frames are built, Vice President of R&D Matt Maczuzak renders rider specific frame dimensions into CAD drawings which are used to build frames. Each frame is specific to the client, and is also tuned to posses ride qualities desired by their client.
Matt Maczuzak says, "What drives my design process is the idea that form follows function. Everything that goes into a frame, though it might be aesthetically appealing which is something that comes afterwards, is always done with a very deliberate intent. From the shape of a tube and the location of an aesthetic layer or something like that, my goal is grounded in some kind of physical or ride quality reason associated with the bike. Every bike presents its challenge, and what I enjoy is that every bike is a challenge to design."
As attested by her Colorado State Cyclocross Championship victory and third place at the US Cyclocross Nationals, Nicole Duke has proven that their carbon frames are more than capable performers.
At Alchemy Bicycle Company, their growth is controlled, their approach is humble, their actions are thoughtful, and their goal is to provide you with the ride of your life.