Introducing Allied Cycle Works
Talk about the city of Little Rock, Arkansas, and it's unlikely that you'll hear anything about cycling culture or heritage. That changes thanks to the city’s newest upstart, Allied Cycle Works, a small brand looking to prove that “Made in America” is more than just an idea. We loved the concept of Allied, and more importantly, we loved the end result: carbon fiber bicycle framesets that offer high performance and even higher customizability, all made in America. In a world where most production bikes are an exercise in badge-engineering, with everything from design to manufacturing completed by overseas composite firms, Allied’s dedication to keeping everything in house is absolutely refreshing. We’ve known Tony Karklins, the founder and CEO of Allied Cycle Works, for years. So while others heard rumblings of a company trying to take generally-outsourced bicycle manufacturing back to the USA, we knew exactly what was in the works. We were lucky enough to see one of Allied’s first finished products in the flesh at the 2017 North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) here in Salt Lake City. We along with SRAM hosted a bit of a “pre-NAHBS” show at our shop, a meet-and-greet for some of the best framebuilders coming to town. We were excited for what was coming in on display, but when a Candy Red Allied Alfa waltzed it's way into the room, it was an immediate standout in an group of high achievers. After a bit of geeking out on the bike, we had to know more. A few words with Tony, and the ball was rolling. A bit about Allied Cycle Works: while Allied is taking their frame manufacturing in-house, there is a bit of confusion as to why this is advantageous. Unlike most other companies producing carbon bikes, Allied completely controls design and production. Engineers decide everything from geometry to specific carbon layups, but If they want to change a type of carbon fiber or test a unique epoxy, they can switch it up immediately, as the manufacturing facility is theirs. This shortens development cycles considerably, avoids the hidden costs associated with overseas production, and ensures consistently high quality from their frames. Placing all of their testing, manufacturing, and development in house also allows Allied to offer a lifetime warranty on every frameset they sell, as well as carbon repair services that few companies can offer. Knowing that all of this is done in the United States makes Allied’s proposition that much sweeter. The end result of their labor is bikes that are executed properly and without fault. When it comes to our mantra of providing quality bikes without compromise, Allied falls right in line with our carefully curated group of cycling brands. Just as well, Allied Cycle Works has three purpose-built carbon bikes absolutely satisfy our lust for products that stand up against the very best in terms of performance, customization and brand integrity. Allied Alfa The Allied Alfa is designed to be a race bike that can be ridden all day long. This means that it has race bike geometry, which is reflected in the frameset’s stack and reach numbers. What it doesn’t mean, however, is that the bike is designed to be only for sufferfests; with clearance for up to a 28c tire, the bike is meant to be ridden huge miles at a time. At just 875g for a 56cm frame, it is easy to build up as a lightweight, but feels stout when putting the power down. Put it up against some of our favorite road framesets on the market (either performance or comfort oriented), and it feels just as quick without sacrificing comfort over a long ride. With over 12 sizes (two headtube lengths, and six sizes in each length), and a seriously deep well of available color schemes, the Alfa stands out from the crowded monocoque peloton. Allied Alfa All Road If the Alfa is Allied’s ideal race road bike, then the Allied Alfa All Road is their Swiss Army Bike. With the growing crop of all road and gravel bikes on the market, it's difficult to stand out from the crowd. While Allied themselves stand out due to their carbon construction techniques and sheer amount of customization, the Allied Alfa All Road stands out as an all road bike that rides just like a fast road bike. It shares the same front triangle as the Alfa road bike, meaning it has the same handling characteristics and build quality that drew us to Allied in the first place. Stack and reach numbers are nearly the same between the two bikes, as is the vast size range. The big difference here is the addition of disc brakes and clearance for a 38c tire. Handling is sharp, and feels as good on road as it feels reassuring off road. Looking for a bike that is up to more than just one type of riding? The Alfa All Road should be at the top of the list. Allied Echo As a race road bike frameset with custom geometry, the Allied Echo road bike promises performance possible only from custom geometry and advanced carbon fiber technology. Allied offers the full-custom Echo road bike with a promise: a 60-day delivery time from when final geometry is decided upon. It starts with an ultralight carbon layup consisting of USA-sourced medium and high modulus carbon fiber. This allows a frame to weigh in at just 800 grams for a 56cm frame, which is one of the best cost-to-weight ratios in custom road bikes. They then use a fit sheet as well as rider preferences to determine exactly what a frameset needs for the cyclist, for a truly custom experience. At the end of the day, it's just as important to use the products we believe in as it is to profess their qualities. We were able to take out an Allied Alfa All Road (equipped with the unicorn Rotor UNO groupset; video overview HERE) and put it through its paces. To say that the All Road performed well is an understatement. As a standard road bike, it surprises in how quickly it responded to inputs; point it up an incline and it feels like a finely-tuned road bike, even with beefy 38c tires. As an all road bike, it lacks the jitteriness that generally befuddles a standard road bike on gravel or dirt, but definitely felt more agile than most other all road bikes on the market. It really does feel surprisingly composed everywhere, a testament to not just wide tires, but also to how well designed the bike is. We’re delighted about our new partnership with Allied Cycle Works, and the unique opportunity we have to showcase their bikes at Contender Bicycles. Granted, Arkansas may not have the cycling heritage of the more storied European brands, but something’s a brewing in Little Rock that is like that of few other bicycle manufacturers out there today. There’s much to be said about authenticity and devotion to doing things the right way, and Allied is among the best we’ve seen yet.