First ride review: 2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro

When I first met Tom from i-Ride and talked about trying a bike out, I have to be honest and say it was the De-Rosa Milanino Winter Training bike I was most keen to try. Tom also suggested the Argon 18 Gallium Pro and of course I said – thanks – that would be great too.

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro -side view

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro -side view

To be honest, Argon 18 is not a brand I know well. I’ve seen them listed on a bunch of retailers sites but to me, they didn’t have a high profile. I thought of them as being another competent but not particularly stand out low profile brand that didn’t appear to be marketing itself too hard to the road community.

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro - front 3/4 view

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro – front 3/4 view

As a result of this, I didn’t have especially high expectations of the 2014 Gallium Pro – whereas the guys at i-Ride were almost palpably excited about the bike. Certainly as it sat waiting for us to ride out – it looked very good, which is an important and good start. Josh from i-Ride kindly came out and rode with me on a local loop as I don’t really know the roads around there well (but need to fix this).

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro bottom bracket, chainstays and down tube - beefy lower half!

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro bottom bracket, chainstays and down tube – beefy lower half!

I started the on the De Rosa Milanino Winter Training bike (a blog post on that bike soon) and rode the first 10 miles on it. Josh said I should swap to the Gallium Pro for the climb over Devils Dyke as he said I’d be pleased I had.

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro - interesting ribs on the seat tube for more rigidity at the base

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro – interesting ribs on the seat tube for more rigidity at the base

I got off the De Rosa and picked up the Argon 18 and had my first positive shock – wow it was light! 6.3kgs according to my ebay scales of semi truth when we got back to i-Ride HQ (compared to 8.6kgs for the De Rosa). The frame weight for 2014 is listed as 790gms – very pleasingly light. The build of Campagnolo Super Record and Fulcrum Racing Zero are light too – as well as rather nice 🙂

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro - slender seat stays are part of the "comfort" half of the frame

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro – slender seat stays are part of the “comfort” half of the frame

The first positive shock was quickly followed by the second – wow it was comfortable! I love race bikes but I don’t like that the stiffness they bring generally means much, much less comfort, especially for a light rider like myself. Not at all evident here. The completely new Argon 18 Gallium Pro could well be the most comfortable race bike I’ve yet ridden – it was an absolute delight. I really am excited that more and more bike brands are realising that a stiff bike doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Argon 18 appear to have nailed this on my short ride.

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro - offside front 3/4 view

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro – offside front 3/4 view

Argon 18’s Horizontal Dual System is where they effectively draw a diagonal line through the frame at the top of the headset through to the rear dropouts. Everything below the line is engineered for maximum rigidity and power transfer, whereas everything above the line is engineered for maximum comfort. Argon 18 say that different parts of different tubes need to do different things and that’s how they work it. This is their secret to how they achieve the comfort and it seems to work surprisingly well.

2014 Argon 18 with a view of the headtube multi heights design that adds more stiffness with a longer headtube

2014 Argon 18 with a view of the headtube multi heights design that adds more stiffness with a longer headtube

On a short ride, this all seemed to come together beautifully – the bike responded well to effort, climbed effortlessly (as you’d expect a 6.3kg bike to do) and also handled well to go with the comfort. I have to say I was really, really impressed.

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro - headtube area plus 3T bars, stem and Fulcrum wheels

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro – headtube area plus 3T bars, stem and Fulcrum wheels

Yes, a short ride over roads you don’t know well is a bit different than lots of miles over roads you do know – but make no mistake – this is a very fine frameset and if you’re in the market for a new carbon frameset for 2014 and want to step away from a “big” brand – do put this on your list. If it surprises you half as much as it did me, I think you’ll be really impressed.

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro details around the headtube

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro details around the headtube

Honestly if I’d ridden it for another few hours I may not have been able to give it back.

Downtube into bottom bracket - chunky shapes

Downtube into bottom bracket – chunky shapes

The 2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro is available in a frameset (frame, fork, headset & seatpost) for £2,099 or in a variety of complete builds. The frame is compatible for both mechanical and Di2 builds and comes with the Argon 18’s 3 different headtube height system – giving you more fit options (and also as you have a longer headtube you increase front end stiffness). It’s a BB86 bottom bracket and available now in the one colour scheme.

Super Record compliments the standard colour scheme

Super Record compliments the standard colour scheme

The 2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro is the best and most positive surprise I’ve had on a bike for a long time. A lovely bike. If I’m lucky enough to be offered an extended test at some point, I’ll jump all over it 🙂

UCI approved and designed in Canada

UCI approved and designed in Canada

More info here: http://www.argon18bike.com/bikes/road/gallium-pro.html

Some Argon 18 videos on some of the design philosophies are below:

This first one is a good explanation of how Argon 18 achieve both high stiffness/rigidity and high comfort:

Thanks for reading

3T Stealth Team cockpit

3T Stealth Team cockpit

Prologo Zero flat saddle was also more comfy than expected

Prologo Zero flat saddle was also more comfy than expected

 

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro - first impressions were very positive indeed. A lovely bike

2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro – first impressions were very positive indeed. A lovely bike

Official photo from Argon 18 of the 2014 Gallium Pro frameset

Official photo from Argon 18 of the 2014 Gallium Pro frameset