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Our test loop in Valle D’Aosta took us through a tunnel, dimly lit by a string of solar-powered lights.

Arc8 Bicycles is a Swiss-based bike brand run by two stoked shredders, Serafin Pazdera and Jonas Mueller, who have been friends since they were seven years old. Before splitting up to follow separate educational and career paths, they worked together as bike messengers in their hometown in Switzerland. Last year they brought the polished prototypes for their new brand to Eurobike, and business has been steadily increasing since. Their aim is to only design bikes that they want to ride, under the ethos of “making custom affordable.”

Pazdera lives in Basel, Switzerland, with his partner and three kids. He recently quit his other jobs as a software engineer and web designer to focus 100% on Arc8. Mueller resides in Taiwan, where he has worked as a frame and component engineer for companies like BMC, Santa Cruz, and DT Swiss for over six years now.

The duo are currently touring Western Europe to give the media a taste of what’s to come, and I was fortunate enough to meet up with them in Valle D’Aosta, near the Swiss border. They brought their latest Evolve XC hardtail, Essential trail bike, and Extra enduro models, and I spent the day on the long-travel sled. Below are some details about the two trail bikes, and a brief summation of my first ride aboard the stealth stunner.

Extra enduro bike

This 160mm bike weighs in under 13kg/ 28.7lbs (pedals off), with a top shelf XTR build and Arc8 alloy wheels.

The Extra bears all of the hallmarks of a contemporary enduro race bike, with some standout details that are worth mentioning. First, the size medium frame I rode has a limousine-length reach of 465mm, coupled with a smart chainstay measurement of 430mm across the size range. This party-in-the-back-room, stability-up-front design was immediately noticeable on the tight and steep terrain we rode in Valle D’Aosta. On the roughly 1,000 meter climb, the stretched front-to-center had me thinking that the bike would be hard to whip around on the descent, but those chainstays don’t lie — they make this long bike whippable.

The Extra’s 64° head tube angle and 76° seat tube complimented one another on our long pedal up to the trailhead, despite the fact that the steep rip back down is what the bike is clearly designed for. I found it easy to meter how much weight I placed on the front tire, which was helpful on some of the rocky segments Aosta is known for.

We climbed a few technical rock staircases on the way back to the pizzeria, and the upright seat tube angle helped to keep the front wheel from wandering when I needed to steer it away from the cliff edge we were riding along. I was surprised that I could balance the bike up grunty climbs given its minimal chainstay length, and the long reach may have helped to coax my weight forward on the saddle.

  • 29″ wheels with clearance for 2.6″ tires
  • 160mm of rear travel, designed around a 160-170mm fork
  • 2300g frame weight for a size medium
  • Carbon fiber front and rear
  • External BB
  • All internal cable routing via the headset cap
  • Horst-link (four bar) rear suspension
  • Coil compatible
  • Water bottle ready
  • Reach sizes: Small 440mm, Medium 465mm, Large 490mm
  • Chainstay Length: 430mm
  • BB Drop: 30mm
  • Colors: Red, café, turquoise, and black, in matte or gloss finish
  • Price: We will update the Extra frame price as soon as it is available

All of the internal cable routing exits through the headtube and is collected by a set of holes in the headset cover. This makes for a clean looking cockpit, and cable routing that takes less than a minute to execute. Arc8 is also making stems and other components that will eventually be sold separately.

Both full suspension frames have a brief segment of external routing above the external BB, leaving them with a polished aesthetic. Mueller says that having the swingarm sit inside the front triangle, rather than around it, makes for a very stiff connection. The frames use large Enduromax bearings throughout, in sizes that are easily sourced at your local bike shop.

My only complaint about the Extra is that the tires my new Swiss friends had mounted up were holding the bike back significantly. I’m not sure what the traction on the Onza Ibex is designed for, but it is clearly not for hard-charging descents. I pushed the bike deep into a corner to get a good feel for the suspension, washed the front tire, and put a few scratches in the glossy paint when the bike and I made it back to earth. Pazdera and Mueller took note and will be swapping the tires for future tests.

Lastly, the bike feels strikingly light. It’s easy to get it in the air over rough sections of track, and across stream ruts in winter-weathered trails. The Extra tips the scale less than a lot of shorter travel bikes, and lighter builds are certainly possible. I would cut weight in a few different places and add it all back in traction.

Essential trail bike

While I was playing on the Extra, Pazdera and Mueller were both pedaling their trail bike, aptly named the Essential. The frame squishes 120mm at the rear axle, while up front, riders can choose between a 120mm fork for XC and marathon efforts or mount a 140mm fork for a classic trail ride.

Both frames leave space for 2.6″ tread.

  • €1823 for frameset
  • 29er wheels with clearance for 2.6″ tires
  • 120mm of rear travel, designed around a 120-140mm fork
  • 1900g frame weight for a size medium
  • Carbon fiber front and rear
  • External BB
  • All internal cable routing via integrated guide tubes
  • Horst-link (four bar) rear suspension
  • Air shock specific
  • Water bottle ready
  • Reach sizes: Small 415mm, Medium 445mm, Large 475mm
  • Chainstay Length: 430mm
  • BB Drop: 35mm
  • Seatpost: 30.9mm
  • Colors: Red, café, turquoise, and black, in matte or gloss finish

The Essential frame uses fixed tubes to guide the internal routing, making cable maintenance a quick job.

The Essential uses the same Horst-link suspension design as its taller sibling, with a less progressive end stroke that will play well with air shocks. If you’re after a coil option, go for the Extra.

Spelunking with Serafin.

Arc8 Essential frames can be purchased directly from their web store, shipping with a headset, rear skewer, and seat post collar. Clients can choose their preferred shock model while ordering a frame, and more complete build kits will be available in the future.

Extra frames are expected to start shipping this fall.

Stay tuned for a long term review of the Extra this fall.

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