Argon 18 Nitrogen Pro review£5,500.00

A race-ready but not race-only option

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As ridden during the 2015 Tour, the Nitrogen Pro satisfies the need for a wind-cheating bike that allows Argon 18 to at least keep up with the Joneses. But does it have more to bring to the party?

All aero bases covered

Aero bikes commonly offer quite similar features, and the Argon 18 has almost every base covered but still manages to introduce some twists. There’s a slim hourglass head tube that blends into the recessed fork crown, and the front brake is tucked neatly behind the fork, with only the cable protruding.

Argon 18’s 3D system consists of structural screw-in head tube extenders that negate the need for piles of spacers, giving more rigidity and better performance. Here, the system has been adapted with Aero 3D extended sections to smooth airflow.

The Argon 18 has a unique adjustable-length head tube

Another neat positional option is the extendable stem, which has an alloy rear half, with toothed interface for the carbon forward part of the stem and integrated bar. Different length alloy sections can be added to fine-tune the length.

The down tube, seat-tube and seatstays are all exposed to the onrushing wind, but buck the Kamm tail tubing trend, having symmetrical foil profiles instead. The down tube is fatter and truncated on the leading and trailing edges, and flows into the BB86 bottom bracket and large, boxy asymmetric chainstays.

Related: Argon 18 launches Nitrogen aero road and Krypton Xroad gravel bikes

The beautifully hidden rear V-brake is situated behind the slim seatstays, which are bridgeless, thanks to being dropped for rear-triangle stiffness and extra seated comfort.

For the pros – and it shows

From the off, the Nitrogen Pro behaves like the epitome of a pro-level aero road bike. Its planted feel begins with the 24mm-wide, 40mm-deep Racing Quattro Carbon wheelset, with supple Vittoria tyres.

The v-brake is close enough to remove debris from the tyre : the v-brake is close enough to remove debris from the tyre
The v-brake is close enough to remove debris from the tyre : the v-brake is close enough to remove debris from the tyre

The V-brake is close enough to collect road debris

These Quattros combine rampant acceleration with stability and all-weather agility. Braking in the dry is very good, but in wet conditions it’s more of a challenge – often seeming to be all bark and no bite. The TRP V-brakes do act as unwitting tyre cleaners, though, their cables passing less than 5mm above the rubber and collecting debris as the wheel turns at speed.

The frame has uncompromisingly racy geometry, although the 3D head-tube allows for plenty of adaptation. We found it superbly judged for relentless driving along, with a comfortable position that felt efficient and quick.

The convertible bar and stem combo is well balanced between comfort-giving flex and all-out rigidity. Saddle choice is always subjective – Prologo’s Zero II is very supportive, and incredibly grippy thanks to its CPC covering, but we found its nose overly firm.

With grippy rubber and great balance, the argon 18 is more than happy in the corners: with grippy rubber and great balance, the argon 18 is more than happy in the corners
With grippy rubber and great balance, the argon 18 is more than happy in the corners: with grippy rubber and great balance, the argon 18 is more than happy in the corners

With grippy rubber and great balance, the Argon 18 is more than happy in the corners

Di2’s lack of cables means cleaner lines, which makes it particularly suited to aero bikes, with Ultegra representing a good balance of function, price and looks.

A compact crankset might not be ideal for high-end performance, and gearing should be a pre-purchase option, but it does allow for extended big ring mashing. We felt a definite connection when applying extra power, with the bike bounding freely forward as a result.

And with grippy rubber and great balance, the Argon 18 is more than happy in the corners, feeling stable and predictable, and while the ride is firm, it’s not ball-bustingly hard. It’s firm with a sense of purpose – which is exactly what you’d expect from a Tour machine.

Also consider:

Storck Aerfast Pro

Unfussy and purposeful, this swift German aero road package is big on comfort and personality, with zero sacrifice in performance. If you're looking for something a little different that produces epic speed, look no further. Read our full Storck Aerfast Pro review.

Scott Foil Team Issue

Ride quality, speed, and aerodynamics are all paramount on this true aero all-rounder that wants for nothing and has performance to spare. Read our full Scott Foil Team Issue review.

Mekk Primo 8.0

This surprisingly comfortable speed merchant is absolutely loaded with a top-tier spec and slim, aero, middle-of-the-road frame. Read our full Mekk Primo 8.0 review. 

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

Robin Wilmott

Tech Writer, Tech Hub, UK, Procycling Magazine
Robin began road cycling in 1988, and with mountain bikes in their infancy, mixed experimental off-road adventures with club time trials and road races. Cyclocross soon became a winter staple, and has remained his favourite form of competition. Robin has always loved the technical aspect of building and maintaining bikes, and several years working in a good bike shop only amplified that. Ten years as a Forensic Photographer followed, honing his eye for detail in pictures and words. He has shot at the biggest pro events since the '90s, and now he's here, drawing on all those experiences to figure out what makes a bike or component tick.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 178cm / 5'10"
  • Weight: 75kg / 165lb
  • Discipline: Road, cyclocross, time trials
  • Beer of Choice: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

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