Alchemy Bicycle Works Update

Recently we were talking with Alchemy Bicycle Works about hubs and the results of our latest hub review. During this discussion we learned something interesting: their ORC hub is undergoing its first major re-design since its release 3.5 years ago. The new versions, expected in the next few months, will be designated the ORC-UL, and yes, it will be Shimano 11 speed compatible. At this point it’s probably a good time to point out that there is no planned retrofit to make the existing model Shimano 11 speed compatible. There will be new variation of the ELF front hub sold alongside the current ELF that will be lighter and with a more aerodynamic shape. Last but not least, a new disc brake mountain bike hubset using the same internals as the ORC-UL is being developed, but will be a bit further away.

Running Changes at Alchemy

Before getting into the new hubs there are a couple mid-year changes to address. First off, the Alchemy ELF will make a running change toward Phil Wood stainless bearings. The new bearing does not feature the Marine grade seals — striking a compromise between seal drag and bearing life. The new bearings are expected to last longer than the current version given the increased quality of manufacturing, but will maintain the same level of bearing drag. The other running change happened several months ago which was a 1mm enlargement of the flange O.D. with no change in the spoke hole diameter. This resulted in a reinforced and stronger flange.


***The ORC-UL is now in stock!

The new ORC-UL will come in 3 versions: a Campagnolo 10/11 speed version, a Shimano 11sp version and a Shimano 8/9/10 version, which will optimize flange spacing for drivetrains with up to 10 cogs. The new ORC-UL is expected to shed a significant amount of weight coming in at a very respectable 189 grams. The most notable upgrade to the ORC-UL is what Alchemy refers to as an innovative way to eliminate the unsupported portion of the axle. While they haven’t released all the details yet, we understand that this is done by extending the hub shell under the cassette body, thus moving the drive side hub shell bearing out to 11.7mm from the dropout. Standard hubs place this bearing about 42mm from the dropout at best, leaving a large portion of the axle unsupported. According to Alchemy this is what allows the hub to lose thirty grams while increasing rigidity. In addition, the new freehub bodies will be hard anodized which should reduce gouging due to cassette cogs.

Wheel Building Dimensions

The Shimano and Campagnolo 11 speed versions of the ORC-UL will share the same dimensions, so swapping Campagnolo and Shimano 11 freehub bodies won’t require any re-dishing. The Shimano 8/9/10sp version will have a shorter free hub body to decrease rear wheel dish, so any change between the 10 speed and 11 speed versions will require a wheel re-dishing.

ORC-UL Image Gallery



The current ELF will continue to be the mainstay front hub, but there will be a new model added to the lineup. This new version of the ELF is focused on aerodynamics. This hub is intended to be released after the ORC-UL and there aren’t a lot of details revealed to us just yet. The aero hub will use straight pull spokes and the projected weight is under 45 grams. It will be available in drillings of 16-24 holes.

Mountain Hubs

Shortly after releasing the three versions of the ORC-UL designs, Alchemy’s first mountain bike hubset is expected for release. The hubs are disc brake compatible and will feature the same internals as the new ORC-UL. This means a stiffer mountain bike hub with a better supported axle, at around 220 grams.


26 comments on “Alchemy Bicycle Works Update”

  1. SpinnerTim says:

    Wow, I guess it’s always a good idea to wait until after trade show season to start a bike build… and for once I did!

    Question: does the prototype’s blue hub shell mean new anodizing options will be offered, and can I get green?

  2. Alex says:

    Did you get a time estimate on when the new 189g rear hub will be available for builds?

  3. @Alex, I can’t really say but I’m hoping for two months.

  4. Pete says:

    Does this ORC-UL use an additional, thin section, bearing between the hub shell’s drive-side extension and the (presumably overlapping) freehub body?

    1. Pete,

      There is at least one bearing between the freehub and the hub shell. We believe there might two in the final version but there are still a few details Jeremy is working out before going to production. You can see the bearings inside the freehub body that sit on the hub shell here ::

  5. Istvan says:

    I’m holding out for Campagnolo/135mm/disk. Alchemy makes the finest hubs on the planet, and they need to get with this configuration. But at the rate they move I’m sure it won’t be till next year sometime.

  6. John Tylis says:

    You forgot to mention that Alchemy will not be producing any CNC machined Aluminum shells for the new hubs but will be using 3D printed ABS plastic shells instead, which apparently keeps weight, as well as any other meaningful properties (stiffness, durability, etc.) to a minimum.

  7. Alex says:


    I want these even more now. 🙁

  8. Jeremy says:

    Mr. Tylis must have a devious sense of humor. For the benefit of anyone taken in by his clever ploy, I can assure you that the new hub shell will not be made of plastic.


  9. GC3 says:

    I’m interested in either Alchemy ORF UL or Extralite SLX rear hubs built to Shimano 11 speed. Any word from Extralite when they’ll have an updated rear hub available? Which of these is going to be the least noisy?

  10. GC3,

    We’re still waiting to heard from Extralite on what their final plans for 11 speed and the SLX hub. I imagine they’re going to settle on using the Campy shell and non-drive space with a longer shimano free hub body. In this case it shouldn’t take too long to get to market.

    Both the Extralite and Alchemy hubs are pretty quiet. I don’t think this is going to be a noticeable difference one way or another.

  11. MG says:

    Any update on when these hubs look like they might make it to market? The Alchemy website is not exactly the most confidence-inspiring but I’m psyched on these hubs (the ORC-UL and new ELF).

  12. Gary says:

    Any new news about the release date??? Thanks

  13. MG, Gary,

    Can’t really say much about the availability yet. Alchemy is saying the first rear hubs will start being available in February. But when you look at the release plan of Shimano 10 then Campy and finally Shimano 11 it looks like we’re still a long way out from the Shimano 11 hub that most people are waiting for. It’s just a question of how long.

  14. TDFbound says:

    Emiliano: What do you mean by the release plan for Shimano 11? It’s readily available for order right now and the shop I work at has a few bikes kitted out with the 9000 group. The only thing holding be back from buying a group for myself is the lack of 11-speed Alchemy hubs to string up inside some Enve hoops.

  15. TDFbound, I meant the Alchemy Shimano 11 speed compatible hub not 9000 as a groupo.

  16. veloscaper says:

    Will the new ORC be available in a 16:8 hole count?

    1. veloscaper, I would be really surprised if the new ORC is available in Triplet.

  17. Alfred says:

    Have been waiting for this. I have an Enve 6 (front) clincher with an ELF hub (ordered here at FWB, made by–and signed by–Troy Watson). I’ll keep that for windy days. If/when the ORC-UL and more aerodynamic ELF arrive, I hope that the Smart Enve 8.9 in clincher is also already available. 🙂

  18. David says:


    Any further news on whether the new ELF and ORC UL are going to be ready to buy/ship in February?


    1. David,

      The ETA is still late February.

  19. Brad Goodson says:

    I have been informed by Enve that they hope to be shipping the hubs by mid- to late-March.

  20. Klarf says:


    Some news about the new rear Alchemy hub?
    I waiting this hub for my new wheels.

    Thank you!

  21. Brad Goodson says:

    Any updates?

  22. Troy M. says:

    The new ORC UL is now available. Jeremy from Alchemy was showing them off at City Velo in Denver today.

  23. I’m going to close comments on this post now. If you have anymore questions I’ll be answering questions on the new ORC-UL post.

    Cheers, Emiliano

Comments are closed.