By Chris Meehan | Apr 22, 2014
Industry: Consumer & Lifestyle
Alchemy Bicycle Co. moved from Austin to a much larger space in Denver enabling the handmade, high-end bicycle maker to bring more of its processes in-house as it ramps up production.
But the region’s cycling reputation sealed the deal.
“We specifically picked Denver because of the cycling scene,” says owner and founder Ryan Cannizzaro. “I lived out here. I went to school at CU and I always knew that the cycling scene in Denver was just as big as Boulder but really doesn’t get the recognition. All of the sporting companies and everything that tends to take place in the cycling industry is in Boulder. I knew the cycling scene out here is just fantastic and having Colorado as your back yard really makes it easy to recruit the talent,” he adds.
That said, Cannizzaro also moved eight families to Colorado from Texas, Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire, to weld and weave its bikes into existence from carbon fiber and titanium, making them pieces of mobile art in the process.
Expansion was a goal in the move. Alchemy’s manufacturing facility in Austin was 4,000 square feet. “At that time we weren’t making any of our tubes in house and we needed to start making our own carbon fiber tubes in house,” Cannizzaro explains.
“All our carbon fiber bikes start out of a 100 pound role of carbon fiber,” Cannizzaro says. “We cut bits out of that hundred pound role and that turns into somebody’s bike.” Each role of carbon fiber makes between 30 and 35 bikes, he says. Unlike other carbon fiber bike manufacturers the tubes are married together with carbon fiber rather than glued into brackets. “So there are no male or female ends that we’re just gluing together and that allows us to really customize not only the geometry but more importantly the ride quality of each bike,” he explains.
Their new space in Denver is 12,000 square feet. “It’s a little bigger than we were planning on,” Cannizzaro says. “We moved here because Primal Wear is also in the building. We’re right off the Cherry Creek Bike path. Our front door literally is right across the street.”
Primal Wear’s founder Dave Edwards suggested the location and together, they’re hoping to create a sort of cycling hub, where people can stop in for some coffee during a ride on the bike path and maybe in the future, a beer. “Hopefully we can really develop it,” he says.
Alchemy is known for its custom bikes but the company is working to expand its production line of bikes, according to Cannizzaro. “We have some of the most talented bike builders in the industry…and they’re all craftsmen,” he says. “So custom bikes and doing one-off things is really what we like to do. However, we know that’s not for everybody, so we have a stock line with stock colors that we are working on.”
Still, the company produces about 10 bikes a week, Cannizzaro says. “Right now our lead time on a stock bike is about 30 days.” That’s shorter than the eight to 10 weeks it takes to build a bike to a customer’s specifications. The plan is to increase manufacturing of the stock bikes significantly. “Our goal is to get those stock bikes to a point that people can order and they ship within a day or two.”
Challenges: “People are almost intimidated by the bikes,” Cannizzaro says, referring to the amount of customization Alchemy offers. He wants to see the company grow from making 500 bikes a year to about 3,000 and attracting more recreational riders.
Opportunities: “Getting our bikes on retail shop floors,” Cannizzaro says. Alchemy will tour the U.S. bringing its demo bikes to shops across the country this summer and reassure retailers that they can replace inventory quickly.
Needs: “Going forward it’s going to be about us making the right moves, finding the right capital and to be able to get the word out there. Those are challenges I think every young small company faces,” Cannizzaro explains.
Socializing with Alchemy: