Argon 18 Krypton XRoad Di2 review£3,300.00

Canadian chassis gets toughened up for off-road raids

BikeRadar score4/5

We’re big fans of the Krypton, so when Argon 18’s UK distributors unveiled the bike after a ‘multi-terrain’ makeover, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it.

While tyre clearances have been increased to 32mm and disc brakes added to create the Krypton XRoad, the chassis has been built using the same principles as its road counterpart. Argon 18 designs its frames for stiffness through the drivetrain, down tube and head tube, while everything above them is intended to offer flex for comfort.

A Di2 electronic Ultegra groupset takes care of shifting and a compact crankset keeps gears easy to spin on all terrains
A Di2 electronic Ultegra groupset takes care of shifting and a compact crankset keeps gears easy to spin on all terrains

The XRoad also uses Argon 18’s ‘3D System’ of threaded head-tube-diameter spacers, which allow you to raise the bars without compromising front-end stiffness. Rather than relying on collars on the steerer tube, you pick one of the 3D System’s spacers (0, 15 and 25mm) and screw it directly into the head tube. Instead of simply plugging the gap between the headset and stem, this effectively lengthens the head tube while retaining most of its rigidity.

At the roadie end of the 'adventure' spectrum

The XRoad is road bike-fast on the tarmac and brilliant over gravel and dirt

On the road, the plump 28mm rubber, helped by the smooth Fulcrum R5 wheels and the slick operation of the Ultegra Di2 groupset, let you cover ground quickly. But the XRoad really comes into its own on damaged surfaces where it does a fantastic job of isolating you from jolts and bumps.

The expanding ‘adventure-road’ genre seems to be splitting into two camps: on one side you have road-biased gravel bikes, such as GT’s Grade and Specialized’s Diverge; on the other, are the more-hardcore off-road designs, such as the Cannondale Slate and Open U.P.

The Argon 18 falls into the former camp – it can take 32mm tyres, but the clearances will be tight. On 28s, it’s road bike-fast on the tarmac and brilliant over gravel and dirt. Should you hit anything muddier, however, the Conti 4 Season tyres quickly reach their limit – but they’re not designed for that sort of terrain so it’s hardly surprising and totally forgivable.

Road speed comes easily to the Krypton XRoad, despite its off-road adaptations
Road speed comes easily to the Krypton XRoad, despite its off-road adaptations

The XRoad handles just how we like bikes to. The front end is planted with steering that’s direct and sharp. On the climbs, it’s responsive and when you head downhill the assured handling translates into a very willing need for speed.

Overall, the XRoad isn’t quite an all-out adventure machine, though it handles excursions into the rough stuff well. Think of it more as a bike for lanes and back roads: it eats up the rough and poorly maintained surfaces without compromising speed, comfort or handling.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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