Argon 18’s Krypton range was historically its classic race bike. Over the years it has introduced variants for more endurance-biased riding, and even a larger tyre clearance semi-gravel version. It has always offered an adaptable design thanks to the 3D headset/head tube arrangement, in which screw-in spacers allowed you to raise the stack height without compromising front-end stiffness.
- The Argon 18 Krypton CS is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
The new CS uses its new system, 3D Plus, which combines the head tube extensions into the frame and has been optimised for aerodynamics. This creates a cleaner, smoother-looking frameset and gives you an advantage against the wind.
Argon’s sizing is a little different to most. My Medium test bike came up more like a classic 56cm, the Large is closer to a 58cm and the XL more like a 60cm bike.
Stack height, with the 0mm 3D Plus piece, is 570mm, which makes it more of a race-bike height, but you can add 15 or 30mm to that with the included adaptors. The 400mm reach is nicely long for an endurance bike, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Krypton used competitively.
The frame’s fancy features don’t end with the clever head tube system. Complementing the front end is a stout, angular oversized fork housing a flat-mount disc fitting and a 12mm DT Swiss thru-axle, even though the wheels come from Fulcrum.
The fork’s crown offers generous tyre clearances, Argon claims 32mm, but I’d bet on being able to squeeze something larger in. I also appreciate that Argon has chosen to fit hidden mudguard eyes, front and rear, making the CS a true all-year-rounder.
The internal cable routing is neat too, with a central port in the triangulated down tube with options for either mechanical cables or electronic wiring. Another neat addition is the inclusion of top tube bosses for a triathlon-style bento box. It makes plenty of sense for those epic endurance events where fuelling is vital.
The 72-degree head tube angle is pretty standard stuff, but it’s combined with a longer fork to make the steering smooth and stable. The big volume tyres, frameset and great handling are excellent at minimising road noise, vibrations, lumps and bumps. It’s a luxurious endurance bike that I’d hold in the same high regard as Trek’s Domane, Cannondale’s Synapse and Specialized’s Roubaix for its sublime smoothness.
I love the way the CS climbs too. For a bike that feels so supple and smooth over the rough it feels equally taut and stiff when you’re climbing. Argon 18 has made the most of the new Ultegra 8020’s increased gear capacity and fitted a wide 11-30 cassette, so even when you're tired at the bottom of a long climb, you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ve got gearing low enough to keep the pedals spinning.
The few negatives around the CS are mainly down to Argon having to hit a price point. The chassis is brilliant, it oozes quality with the matt/gloss red finish and wonderful attention to detail, but it’s fitted with some pretty basic Fulcrum wheels, which are stiff enough but do add weight.
The wheels come with standard Shimano disc rotors rather than the new 8020 IceTec versions. They provide enough stopping power, but are more prone to noise than the higher-grade units.
The CS weighs 8.84kg, which is a bit higher than I’d have guessed after riding the bike for a fair few hours — it certainly doesn’t ride heavy, if anything, it feels light and lithe.
The Krypton CS was released without any fanfares and I haven’t seen any particularly over-the-top advertising claims. So, post-testing I came away with the impression of a bike that hits the benchmarks that I look for in an endurance bike: great details, innovative ideas and good looks. It’s also a real blast to ride too.