The Argon 18 E-112 triathlon bike tested, rated and reviewed
Argon 18 E-112 – Frame and Fork
The Argon 18 E-112 shares its frame shape with a flagship forebear and in this case it’s the 2010-2011 E-114. Rather than filling the mould with a mid-range carbon fibre blend though, Argon 18 still build the E-112 from high-modulus weave enhanced with Nano Tech filler.
While you don’t get the bayonet-style added leading-edge fork of the original E-114, Argon have done something very interesting with the front end. Short head-tubes are great if you’re flexible enough to be able to use the stem in its lowest position. A shorter distance between steering bearings inevitably means more flex in the fork and front end though and that gets worse the more spacers you stick onto the skinny fork steerer above it.
To combat this stretched neck syndrome, Argon 18 use a unique stack of ‘3D System’ spacers. These screw into the head-tube to create whatever height front-end you want with the top bearing sat right underneath the stem for maximum stiffness.
The control cables also vanish vertically behind the stem in state-of-the-art, clean, wind-flow style. While front and rear brakes are conventionally mounted (they get ‘hidden’ on the E-116).
The main tubes use a mix of angular and rounded formats to create an extended head box and a deep keel above the chainset. The large wheel-hugger fin contains an easily adjusted aero seatpost that can be reversed to give a 76- or 78-degree seat angle too.
The really distinctive pieces however are the super deep, angular rear stays, which finish in horizontal dropout slots for easy adjustment of clearance between rear tyre and frame.
Despite the big, deep rear stays and substantial main tubes, it’s only 1.5kg for the frame and the forks are a relatively svelte 505g too. The frameset is also available separately for a tempting £1,349.99.
Argon 18 E-112 – The Kit
Though you’re only getting 10-speed Shimano 105 with the Argon, our testers never noticed there was one less gear option through the Dura-Ace tip shifters. It’s a much more positive picture if you look beyond the gears too. For a start, the 105 chainset is significantly stiffer than the TriMax cranks often specced at this price point.
The smooth rolling, 30mm deep semi-aero Fulcrum wheels are the light and shod in Continental’s top quality Attack and Force front and rear tyre pairing.
The 3T Aura bars are a suitably accurate-feeling but not-harsh match to the frame and the Tektro brake levers have neat built-in adjusters. The saddle is a distinctly firm Prologo model, but it’s a good enough quality to straight swap in the shop for a softer seat in which to nuzzle (rather than nail) your nethers.
Argon 18 E-112 – The Ride
Even without a saddle swap, the Argon 18 starts proving its real worth as soon as you climb aboard.
While the ADS geometry isn’t obviously outstanding in any way, all our testers locked into it as confidently and cleanly as they clipped into their pedals. Shoulders, elbows, back, hands – everything feels in the right place straight away with only the angle of the skinny elbow pads needing eventual adjustment on longer rides for some of our testers.
Once aboard, the Argon 18 wasn’t slow (literally) in showing us why it’s worth the extra investment over the £2k mark. The combination of high quality carbon, tyres and stiff cranks meant it always had acceleration and climbing speed in hand and it opens or closes gaps with contemptuous ease.
Sustained speed is equally impressive and it can cruise comfortably on the front of pace lines that are hurting riders in its wake.
Whether it’s the 3D spacers, geometry, carbon lay-up or all three, front-end handling is feels very accurate. While there’s slightly more side-wind gusting than some other aero machines, the feedback means it still handles deep-section wheels fine when you can afford to upgrade.
While it looks ready to kick the crap out of anyone who dares to sit in the saddle, Argon’s HDS concept deliberately splits the construction lay-up and therefore character of the frame into a diagonally arranged upper (comfort) and lower (power) half.
It’s a familiar claim, but in this case it’s totally borne out by road feel. While it’s not as flowingly compliant as the the likes of the Felt B12 or Cannondale Slice 3, it glides over rough roads, holes and cracks with a surprising amount of forgiveness considering its very firm saddle.
FRAME AND FORK
Size tested M
Sizes available XS, S, M, L
Weight as tested 8.81kg
Frame 5655 Nano Tech carbon fibre
Fork E112 specific carbon monocoque
Chainset Shimano 105 5700 53/39T
Bottom bracket Shimano
Cassette Shimano 105 5700 10 speed 12-25T
Chain Shimano 105 5700
Derailleurs Shimano 105 5700
Shifters Shimano Dura Ace tip shift
Front Fulcrum Racing Quattro
Rear Fulcrum Racing Quattro
Tyres Continental Attack front, Force rear
Wheel weight Front 1.18kg, Rear 1.63kg
Stem 3TARX Pro 100mm
Bars 3T Aura Pro base bar and extensions
Headset FSA IS integrated
Saddle Prologo Nago Evo Tri40
Seatpost Argon ASP-4000 aero carbon
Brakes Shimano 105
Pros: Outstanding fit, comfort, power response and speed for the money
Cons: 105 spec is disappointing but worth the trade-off
- Price: £2,399
- Contact: argon18bike.com; i-ride.co.uk
- Weight : Tested: 8.81kg
- Frame : 5655 Nano Tech carbon fibre
- Fork : E112 specific carbon monocoque