Nicole Duke’s Alchemy Balius Cyclocross Bike
Nicole Duke’s Alchemy Balius cyclocross bike really caught our attention at the recent North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver. Duke, who joined Alchemy last fall, finished the season strong for Alchemy with a third place in the Elite Women’s U.S. National Championships. Curious to learn more about this custom-made carbon fiber creation, we tracked down Alchemy Vice President of Research and Development Matt Maczuzak. Here are some excerpts:
Technical direction from Nicole
“Being professional and being a great rider like she is, (Nicole is) very technical. She had specific requests for how the bike rides -- a very stiff, almost unrelenting front end so she can really get it around corners pointed to where she wants to be. But at the same time, this is cyclocross, and she wanted that rear triangle to have a lot of compliance, absorb a lot of road and really stick to the ground.
“We develop these tubes specifically for this bike, the layup process specifically for what she wanted out of it. The stays we hand wrapped… to get that compliance she wanted while still being laterally stiff. It’s a lot of manipulation of both chain and seat stays.”
Lessons to better understand customer needs
“It was nice to work with somebody who could tell me plainly and simply exactly what she wanted. You learn from that what people mean because you’re translating a lot. People say, ‘I don’t want it to be mushy. I don’t want it to feel wooden. I want it to be snappy.’ What’s that mean? How does that translate empirically to engineering carbon fiber?
Benefits of Zipp Firecrest rim technology
“The new Firecrest shape really is a very effective wheel for a lot of situations. (Take) the 303 Firecrest, for instance, somebody who says, ‘I’m going to do some road races but at the same time I’m going to ride some long distances.’ It really is a silver bullet in that regard.”
Note: Nicole’s Alchemy is equipped with Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels, Zipp Service Course SL bars, stem and an SLSpeed carbon seatpost, a SRAM RED – 2012 drivetrain and Avid brakes.
GALLERY OF NICOLE’S ALCHEMY ‘CROSS BIKE
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