2023 Alchemy Argos Au SRAM XX1 AXS Bike

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Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on complete bike purchases (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
REVIEW: Alchemy Argos Au Titanium Hardtail
Alchemy’s lightest titanium framed hardtail features an XC-orientated build that offers a responsive and engaging ride on flowing, moderate terrain with excellent power transfer and efficiency grinding uphill.
Vital Review
AlchemyArgosReviewA 0

Hardtail mountain bikes come in several flavors, from mile-crushing cross-country bikes to long and slack "hardcore hardtails." The most common frame materials are aluminum, carbon fiber, and steel. Aluminum frames are inexpensive and provide a great strength-to-weight ratio. When executed properly, aluminum frames offer excellent ride characteristics. Carbon fiber frames are light, stiff, and an industry favorite. Steel is the most exotic of the three materials and offers a damp, comfortable ride that can be easily manipulated to achieve desired ride characteristics. Steel is one of the usual suspects when it comes to aggressive hardtails from core brands. Indeed, as the mustached fellow at your local bike shop might tell you, "steel is real."

Titanium is a unicorn of a material that effectively blends the best characteristics of carbon fiber and steel. Titanium frames can offer the stiffness, rigidity, and power transfer that carbon fiber provides while delivering the damping and comfort of a steel frame. The proverbial elephant in the room is that titanium frames are also very expensive to produce. Not only is the raw material spendy, but it is also far more challenging to work with compared to steel or aluminum. As a result, titanium frames are exponentially more expensive than aluminum or steel frames and significantly more expensive than carbon fiber frames. 

We recently had the opportunity to put a couple of hundred miles on the Alchemy Argos Au hardtail. The Argos Au is Alchemy's trail-ready hardtail that seeks to deliver an agile ride with sharp handling while also remaining stable and confident on more challenging terrain thanks to progressive geometry. It is important to note that Argos comes in two different variants. The regular Argos comes with a 140mm fork and more aggressive tires. The Argos Au (tested) uses a lighter titanium tube set and runs an XC-oriented build kit with a 130mm fork, fast tires, and carbon XC wheels. We were thrilled to log time on this feathery bicycle, and lucky for us, titanium was fresh on our minds following our review of the Sage Titanium Flow Motion hardtail this past fall.


  • USA-sourced titanium frame
  • 29-inch wheels
  • 130mm (5.1-inches) fork travel
  • 65-degree head angle 
  • 75.5-degree seat tube angle
  • 12x148 Boost rear hub spacing
  • Custom geometry available
  • Custom paint available
  • Internal cable routing
  • Accommodates tires up to 2.6 inches wide
  • Sizes: S-XL
  • Measured weight (size large, no pedals): 24.0 lbs (10.88 kg)
  • MSRP: $8,999 USD - XX1 AXS build kit



  • Excellent blend of stiffness and compliance
  • Incredible climbing abilities
  • Crisp handling
  • Super fun on the mellow, flowing terrain
  • Can get overwhelmed in choppy terrain
  • e*thirteen Optimous tires offer poor braking in damp or loose conditions
  • Only expensive build kits are available 

Argos Au Overview

Alchemy designed the Argos and Argos Au for the "trail rider that remembers how fun hardtails were," and places value on weight (or lack thereof) and agility, and appreciates the progressive geometry found on longer travel bikes. The geometry, weight, and componentry make the Au's intended application crystal clear. This bike is a light trail or aggressive XC weapon. Some folks might even call it a down-country bike. The mountain bike industry has many blurry lines between bike categories. Many bikes straddle two categories making them quite hard to pin down. Certain trail bikes can have an enduro-y personality. Some enduro bikes are surprisingly good do-it-all, all-mountain bikes. The Argos Au has no such personality crisis. Instead, it is very clear about what it is: a short-travel, zippy hardtail that can log big miles and fly up the nastiest of climbs. 


As previously noted, the Au uses lighter tubing than the regular Argos model. Alchemy says all of their titanium is sourced from the US of A, and the Au frame sheds weight by tinkering with wall thickness. The tubing is not butted, and Alchemy tunes the ride quality by adjusting tube diameter and shaping/squashing the tubes to alter the ride characteristics. Yes, it sounds like black magic.


The aspect of the frame design most likely to jump out is the "s-curves" on the seat and chain stays. According to Alchemy, bending the tubing naturally brings more compliance than straight tubing. The idea is to build compliance into the upper half of the frame and stiffness into the lower portion of the frame. For example, the s-curved seat stays are paired with the smaller diameter top tube to provide comfort, while the beefier downtube and less-curved/larger chainstays create snappiness and pep.


The Argos Au is available in sizes small through X-large. Our 6'2" (188cm) tester rode a large frame that sported a 65-degree head tube angle (130mm fork), 647mm effective top tube, 478mm reach, and 435mm chainstays. These numbers produce a 1225mm wheelbase. It is important to note that these frames are built to order, and you can customize the geometry to fit your needs.


The frame features a 75.5-degree seat tube angle. This figure may sound slack for riders used to analyzing geometry charts on modern full-suspension rigs. But remember, on a full-suspension bike, the seat tube angle slackens as the bike sags into its travel. On a hardtail, the seat tube angle steepens as the fork sags, and the bike's rear end remains static. All of this goes to say that the seat tube angle is plenty steep, and when perched upon the Argos Au, riders are put in an excellent climbing position. 


Our 6'2" tester tends to straddle the line between large and extra-large frames, and the reach and top tube of the large Argos Au were a touch short but, overall, felt fine. If this were our bicycle, we would have opted for a slightly longer stem and a handlebar with 30mm (or so) of rise. Our test bike also arrived with the fork's steerer tube cut fairly short, limiting our ability to raise the handlebars as much as we would have liked. Another 20mm of spacers under the stem could have taken some pressure off our hands in seated climbing situations. 

Build Kits

Titanium bikes are expensive, no questions asked. Not only is the raw material expensive, but titanium is difficult to work with and is far more time-consuming than welding steel or aluminum. Ti requires an oxygen-free weld, and frame builders pump gas through the tubes during production to achieve a perfect weld. 


Enough beating around the bush; the Argos Au frame sells for a lofty $5,199, while the regular Argos frame retails for $4,499. However, the build kits are very solid for the money. Our top-of-the-line Argos Au XX1 AXS sells for $8,999 and features a SRAM XX1 AXS drivetrain, e*thirteen XCX carbon cranks, FOX 34 Factory fork, e*thirteen XCX Race carbon wheels, SRAM Code RSC brakes, and a Reverb AXS dropper. The Argos Au is also available in a Shimano XTR build that runs a mechanical drivetrain, XTR brakes, and a FOX Transfer dropper post. It retains the e*thirteen XCX wheelset and carries a price tag of $8,499. While the Argos Au is only available in these two premium build kits, the regular Argos is available in several builds. The entry-level GX build retails for $5,549 and features a FOX 34 Factory fork, GX Eagle drivetrain, and an Industry Nine carbon wheelset. 

On The Trail

Our test bike arrived on our doorstep in Central Washington in the darkest days of December. The first portion of our testing period involved some travel to evade the snow. We rode the high-desert trails of Ephrata, WA, in blistering cold temperatures, all in the name of providing the best review possible. As the calendar flipped into March, we had more options available and were able to ride this titanium beauty on some low-elevation trails in the Wenatchee area. The timing of the test period certainly presented some challenges. These "challenges" included plenty of rides with temperatures in the 20-30-degree range. That said, it forced us to spend more time riding mellow, foothill terrain instead of burlier, higher-elevation trails. The foothills are swoopy, fast, and flowy, which turned out to be a perfect testing ground for the Argos Au. We still found more challenging terrain to identify the bike's limits, but most of the trails we rode were right in this bike's (wagon)wheelhouse.



Setting up the Argos Au was harder than it should have been. While the lack of a rear shock simplifies the process, we were quickly smacked with a crippling chain line issue. On our first ride as we realized the chain ring was too far outboard, causing tremendous stress on the chain in the lowest three gears. Analyzing the e*thirteen XCX Race cranks, we realized the chain ring spacers were installed in the wrong sequence. After relocating a 3mm spacer, the chain line issue was fixed as the chainring moved inboard. Luckily, we had the correct e*thirteen tool to remove the chainring and rearrange the spacers. That said, customers could be frustrated if their high-end bicycle showed up like this. 


Our test bike came fitted with 2.4-inch e*thirteen Optimus tires front and rear in their trail casing, weighing in at a feathery and fast 811 grams. Tire pressure is critical to achieving ideal ride characteristics for a hardtail. Too high creates a harsh ride. Too low, you open the door to pinch flats and sloppy handling. The XC-focused nature of the tires did have us worrying since an 1100-gram tire gives you a larger margin for error compared to an 800-gram tire. Choosing the correct tire pressure was a bit of a moving target. We started with 25 psi in the front tire and 26 psi in the rear. On trails without significant rocks, we dropped pressures to 24 psi front and 25 psi rear. The slightly lower pressure increased comfort and traction. On chunkier rides, we bumped the rear up to 27 psi to protect the tires and rims, but the ride quality started to suffer at these pressures.

Descending Performance

The Argos Au performed exceptionally well within its intended application. When riding mellow to moderate terrain, the bike delivered an incredibly responsive and engaging ride. Carving down flow trails and carrying insane speed on rolling terrain was an absolute blast. The blend of moderately aggressive geometry and a reasonable wheelbase created an agile and lively ride. Trails that could be deemed boring on an enduro bike had us grinning ear-to-ear as we sliced and diced our way down the trail. 

Responsive and quick were two words that immediately jumped out during our first lap on the Au. The 1225mm wheelbase combined with the stiff and responsive frame allowed the bike to change directions quickly and make the most out of any rider input. We did several laps on a flow trail packed with berms of all shapes and sizes. On the Argos Au, all we had to do was dip a shoulder, and the bike would react quickly, whipping around corners. Even hours into a long ride, the bike didn't demand much energy to deliver a fun, crisp, and engaging ride. The Argos Au also made the most of rider energy, and pumping the through rollers was rewarded with extra speed. Tossing in a few pedal strokes between berms resulted in excellent power transfer, and hopping over obstacles or getting the bike airborne required minimal effort. The frame design is stiff and responsive in all of the right places. Zipping down fast and flowy foothill trails was truly the Argos' happy place. The slack front end exuded confidence at speed and never felt remotely clunky or awkward at low speeds. The bike was sure-footed and planted, which promoted going faster and faster (within reason).


We were impressed by the frame's compliance when charging through braking bumps and choppier sections of the trail. It has a damp, comfortable feel yet retains all the stiffness required to provide the snappy ride we loved. On rapid-fire, small chatter, the frame delivered a reasonably muted and calm feel. We are discussing a hardtail here, so expectations were kept within reason compared to our usual full-suspension rig. But the Argos Au effectively deadened an impressive amount of trail feedback over small to medium impacts on mellow to moderate terrain. On bigger impacts, like casing a jump or landing a harsh drop, the bike began to resist our abuse. Burlier rock gardens are not the Argos Au's cup of tea, but it doesn't pretend to thrive in such scenarios. Soft knees and arms will go a long way in managing such situations and lessening the force transferred to your body. Tire pressure is also critical, and dropping the rear down to 25 psi from 27 psi provided better damping but required a smoother approach. 

When pushed beyond its comfort zone, the Argos Au did get overwhelmed rather quickly. Despite the generous 65-degree head tube angle, this bike is not built for skidding down chutes. The 130mm FOX 34 isn't the weapon of choice for fighting your way down rough trails, and the e*thirteen Optimus tires' biggest weakness was braking bite. The geometry might suggest this bike is up for some rowdiness, but it is best in small doses. A few component tweaks, such as more aggressive rubber, could go a long way in boosting confidence in dicey situations. The problem is burlier tires start to steer you away from the fast and light-footed attitude that makes the Argos Au so fun.


Our tester has ridden about 20 steel, aluminum, or carbon hardtails in the past six years, and the Argos Au scores near the top of the heap regarding comfort and compliance. Steel has been the material of choice for many boutique hardtail brands, particularly aggressive hardtails. The main benefit of a steel frame is the damp and comfortable ride. So how does a titanium frame compare to steel? After riding several steel hardtails and two titanium bikes in the past several months, comfort levels are close between the two materials. Titanium has a distinct advantage in terms of stiffness, power transfer, and responsiveness, but the two materials are close in terms of pure compliance. 

Climbing Performance

The Argos Au was an extremely impressive climber. We weren't necessarily shocked that a 24-pound bike with fast tires would breeze up climbs, but there is more to the story. The titanium showed its true colors when grinding uphill, and whether we were seated or standing, it offered superb power transfer that maximized every watt at the pedals. Every time we stood up and slammed on the pedals, it felt like that energy was being transferred directly into forward momentum with maximum efficiency. If steel and titanium share similar levels of comfort and compliance, frame stiffness and power transfer are where titanium stands superior. Steel can feel sluggish or dead under a 200-pound rider, particularly near the bottom bracket. With titanium, there is no sense of wasted energy or unwanted frame flex, just excellent power transfer.


We knocked out many short, steep climbs and some long, five-mile grinds and would happily take on the nastiest hills any day on the Argos Au. It is so efficient that it could easily serve as an XC race bike for the trail rider looking to dabble in the wonderful world of spandex. In addition, the blend of comfort and exceptional efficiency would make the Argos AU a solid choice for the mountain biker who wants to engage in some rough backcountry gravel or adventure riding. The Argos Au's sharp handling delivered a precise ride on technical ascents, and changing directions to find the cleanest line up a punchy section was simple. Powering up a root-infested or ledgy problem was light work, and navigating tight switchbacks was intuitive thanks to the reasonable wheelbase. It isn't all peaches and ice cream, however. On steeper and drier sections of the trail, the fast-rolling e*thirteen rear tire lacked enough center knob bite to hook up and required a bit of finesse to avoid spinning out, especially when standing.

Build Kit

Our Argos Au test bike arrived wearing a flashy XX1 AXS build kit with all the bells and whistles that complimented the bike's light and fast attitude. However, we will argue that the $8,999 price tag is a smoking hot deal. The Argos AU is a premium bicycle from a boutique brand, and the price reflects that statement. That said, considering the Argos Au frame sells for $5,199, the additional $3,800 for this premium build kit is pretty impressive. It is difficult to call the whole package overpriced with carbon wheels, electronic drivetrain, fancy cranks, and a FOX Factory fork.


Fork Performance

The 130mm FOX 34 Factory fork delivered an admirable and largely forgettable experience. Setup was familiar and relatively simple, and we landed on approximately 105 psi in the air spring. Once we found the appropriate settings to achieve enough support, the fork worked well and required minimal attention. Towards the end of our test period, the high and low-speed compression dials stopped turning independently, and the only way to adjust low-speed compression was to turn the high-speed compression dial too. Not ideal, but luckily we had already landed on our desired settings when this happened. If we were to spend more time testing the Argos Au, we would have pulled the compression dials off to resolve the issue. 


Tire Performance

The e*thirteen Optimus tires were a sensible specification given the intended application of the Argos Au. Riders interested in a 24-pound titanium hardtail will likely want a fast set of tires to compliment the bike's aggressive cross-country/light trail feel. They induced a healthy amount of fear during the first few rides due to their XC construction, but once we found their limit and sweet spot, we were pleasantly surprised. There were a few rides where we wouldn't have minded a bit of extra bite in the slop, but overall the tires performed much better than we anticipated.


As mentioned, the 811-gram tires made light work of brutal climbs and held speed exceptionally well on descents. But the most impressive characteristic was how fast they felt on undulating and tame terrain where an aggressive tire would produce significant speed-eating drag. We also loved pushing the Argos Au through corners, and the shoulder knobs produced more grip than we expected, especially in ideal conditions. Things got a little more exciting in muddy or loose conditions, but the transition from the center tread to the shoulder knobs was smooth and predictable. 

The Achilles heel for the e*thirteen Optimus tires was the braking bite. This shouldn't come as a surprise upon a quick visual inspection of the center tread. They offered satisfactory braking performance in firm conditions but lacked control in wet or loose conditions. You likely won't mistake the Optimus for a Minion on 30mm rims at 24 psi, but they get the job done, considering their moderate tread design and light construction.

Wheel Performance

The e*thirteen XCX Race wheels were zippy, light, and, most importantly, comfortable. They tracked well, the 6 degrees of hub engagement was plenty quick for sprinting out of corners or negotiating awkward sections, and the low rotational weight was noticeable when paired with the light tires. They remained mostly true throughout testing, with only the rear wheel developing a slight wobble. As stated, the rear end of the Argos AU was compliant and comfortable. However, it was difficult to pinpoint the source of this compliance. Was the comfort a result of the carefully shaped titanium frame or the rear wheel? Perhaps both? If we had more time with this bike and access to multiple wheelsets, it would be fun to experiment with wider or stiffer wheels to see how it would affect ride quality.

Brake Performance

SRAM Code RSC brakes are our long-running favorite because they offer a dialed blend of power and modulation. They might not be the most flashy brakes on the market, but they work exceptionally well, and parts are readily available at most bike shops. If riders really want to lean into the ultralight theme of the Argos Au, other brakes would help shed weight, such as a set of Shimano XTR 2-piston brakes or SRAM Level Ultimates. 


Drivetrain Performance

The SRAM XX1 AXS groupset functioned flawlessly and required no attention throughout testing. The wireless shifter took a little getting used to as we like to play around with different hand positioning when climbing. The engagement on the AXS paddle is so light that we accidentally shifted on a few occasions while trying to rest our hands on the handlebars. This is a personal problem more than anything, and the AXS drivetrain blew our minds with its consistency and precision.


Things That Could Be Improved

This bike performed exceptionally well within its intended application. The Argos Au was a breath of fresh air in a world of super burly bikes with aggressive components. The agile and snappy ride, paired with light and fast components, provided an incredibly fresh approach and a new appreciation for terrain that we might deem dull on a 34-pound enduro bike. That being said, there are two points of improvement we'd like to see with the Argos Au.

First, we noticed rattling near the bottom bracket and realized the rear brake hose is prone to tapping the frame where it runs externally. The noise is subtle and only rears its head in certain situations, but it is worth noting on such a high-end package. A bit of foam around the exposed hose would likely eliminate the issue. And second, we would like to see a slightly less expensive build kit for the Argos Au. The cheapest build features an XTR groupset and retails for $8,500, so there is plenty of space to add builds with mid-tier components that strike a more affordable price point. We really loved the bike and think it would be a great light trail, cross country, or adventure bike for various riders if the price were slightly lower.


What's The Bottom Line?

The Argos Au is undeniably expensive, and many fantastic steel hardtails cost a fraction of the price. As a result, it is not a bike for the masses. But if you want a premium titanium hardtail that delivers a fun, agile, and engaging ride, the Argos Au is a wonderful choice. The frame does a spectacular job of blending the efficiency and responsiveness of carbon with the damp and compliant feel of steel. The bike is fast, rewarding, and capable when ridden on mellow to moderate terrain. At only 24 pounds, it effortlessly scoots uphill, efficiently utilizing every watt of rider input. Sure, there are more aggressive hardtails on the market aimed at outright shredding, but for all-out speed on rolling or flowy terrain, the Argos Au is the perfect tool for the job.

For more information on Alchemy's Argos Au, please visit AlchemyBikes.com  

Vital MTB Rating

  • Climbing: 5
  • Descending: 3.5
  • Fun Factor: 5
  • Value: 3.0
  • Overall Impression: 4.125

About The Tester

Pat Donahue - Age: 34 // Years Riding MTB: 20 // Height: 6' 2" (1.88m) // Weight: 195-pounds (88.4kg)

Pat is a bike industry veteran with experience in a number of roles, from shop owner to "journalist." The native east coaster has spent approximately two decades riding all flavors of mountain bikes, from 48-pound downhill bikes to ultra-efficient short travel bikes. Hitting the scales at over 200 pounds with riding gear, he is interested in product durability and determining which components can take a beating. 


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Alchemy Argos Au SRAM XX1 AXS Bike
Model Year
Riding Type
Cross Country
Sizes and Geometry
Wheel Size
Frame Material
Frame Material Details
Alchemy proprietary custom-blended titanium, USA-made
Rear Travel
Rear Shock
FOX FLOAT 34 Factory, GRIP2 damper, Kashima coating
Fork Travel
Head Tube Diameter
Tapered, 1.125" top, 1.5" bottom
Enduro XD-15 Hybrid Ceramic; IS41 upper, IS52 lower
Tag Metals T1 Carbon, 20mm rise, 35mm clamp diameter
Intend Grace FR, 35mm bar clamp
ESI Racer's Edge, silicone slip-on
SRAM Code RSC, 4-piston, SRAM CenterLine 6-bolt rotors (180mm front, 160mm rear)
Brake Levers
SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS Controller, 12-speed, electronic wireless
Front Derailleur
Rear Derailleur
SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS, 12-speed, electronic wireless, Enduro Directline pulley wheels
e*thirteen XCX Race Mountain
e*thirteen XCX Race Mountain, 32 tooth
Bottom Bracket
Enduro XD-15 Hybrid Ceramic, English/BSA threaded
SRAM Eagle, 12-speed
SRAM XX1 Eagle XG-1299, 12-speed, 10-52 tooth
e*thirteen XCX Race wheelset
e*thirteen XCX Race wheelset, 15mm x 110mm (Boost) front, 12mm x 148mm (Boost) rear with XD driver
e*thirteen XCX Race wheelset
e*thirteen Optimus, Trail casing, 29" x 2.4"
WTB Volt, titanium rails
RockShox Reverb AXS dropper, electronic wireless, 150mm drop
Seatpost Diameter
Seatpost Clamp
Single bolt
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions
12mm x 148mm (Boost)
Max. Tire Size
Bottle Cage Mounts
Two inside front triangle
Raw Natural Titanium; custom paint and Cerakote colors available
Lifetime frame, 1 year paint/finish
Internal cable routing
What do you think?
Where To Buy
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on complete bike purchases (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.

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