The Krypton is the first step into carbon within Canadian Argon 18’s range (the alloy/carbon Radon sits below it). Just because it’s at the lower end of the range, though, doesn’t mean that Argon’s clever designers have skimped on the details.
It’s also worth remembering that the Krypton is in fact a reworking of the range-topping Gallium Pro of a few short seasons ago. For 2015 the firm has also shipped a little weight from the chassis and increased the stiffness through the drivetrain and head tube.
The Krypton really is all about its frameset. Like all its sibling rides, it's built around Argon's Horizontal Dual System (HDS), which, jargon aside, simply means dividing the frame with a diagonal line from the top of the head tube to the rear dropouts. Anything above the line is designed to flex vertically to aid and add comfort. Anything below is made for maximum stiffness, ensuring power transfer (lack of flex when pedalling) and handling (lack of twisting or bending when steering or leaning into turns).
A number of threaded spacers screw directly into the head tube
This is all common sense. But Argon has also realised that you can compromise these traits if you then have a big section of unsupported steerer tube above the head tube and under the stem – which often happens with headset spacers when trying to get the fit right for individual riders – as that will compromise all the good work you’ve done designing the frame.
So it came up with a proprietary headset/head tube design, called 3D. Instead of standard headset spacers slotted over the slimmer fork steerer tube, the 3D system has a series of threaded interlocking extensions to the actual head tube.
Extending this oversized section maintains the structure's integrity, as well as relieving potential stresses on the bearings – so a decent bonus is the extra life in these. The real advantage of the Argon, however, is that should you decide or feel the need to start riding in a lower, racier position then you’ve got more than 30mm of adjustment. On a tall traditional sportive-style frame adjustments like that would mean a new bike.
The rock-solid front end is certainly something you can feel out on the road – the ride is extremely stable and changing direction on the fly is easy. It’s not the sharpest bike at the front end, but is still plenty quick enough – despite Argon having chosen a relatively relaxed 72-degree head angle mated to a steeper 73.5-degree seat. All this makes the Krypton a very capable fast cruiser, even with the fairly short 996mm wheelbase on our medium test bike.
Twisty flowing descents are where the Krypton comes into its own. The higher the pace, the bigger the lean angle – and the Argon rewards you with inch-perfect adherence to your chosen line, which is also aided by a 5mm lower than standard bottom bracket height. It’s a well-sorted rapid handling bike that’s brimming with fun-filled potential.
Argon 18’s UK distributor i-ride took care of our build – it’s a quality affair for the money, and cheaper than the 2014 model with arguably a better spec. An omission-free Shimano 105 groupset is pretty much all we ask for in a bike at this price, and that’s exactly what's delivered.
The Krypton may be named after a gas, but it delivers rock-solid performance
Shifts across the racy 11-25 block are sharp and sweet, and up front the 50/34 compact also delivers noise-free transitions. The cockpit comes from one of i-ride's other brands, 3T, and it’s a classy combination of one of BikeRadar testers' most popular bar shapes – the curvy ovalised Ergonova – with a big-mitt friendly compact drop. It's paired with a quality Arx-Pro stem.
The Argon 18 ASP 150 carbon post is topped with another i-ride exclusive, the Prologo Kappa Evo saddle. The Kappa’s slim, angular shape doesn’t look the most inviting, but we found it cushioned and comfortable even on longer rides.
The wheels are impressive new Fulcrum 7 LG’s. They're not the lightest you’ll find on bikes at this level, but are impeccably well built, and LG's new rim shape – which significantly increases width – is a perfect companion for a classy set of tyres like the fitted Continental Ultrasport 25s. The wide, smooth, round profile the tyres take on helps them soak up road noise, enabling you to ride surfaces at speed that you’d usually back off to a crawling pace on. The Ultrasports are impressive on greasy and wet roads and in the dry are gummy and grippy enough to help you truly exploit the grip levels in the corners.
If you're looking for a traditional road machine that’s adaptable and well equipped then the Krypton is a fine choice. It’s a truly capable machine that we’d be happy to ride all year. That said, despite its high competence levels and ability to handle just about anything we threw at it, it's a bike that we never got truly passionate about. We can’t really put our finger on why – it just seemed more Audi than Ferrari, with all the dash but lacking that little bit of flash.