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