Canadian brand Argon 18 is looking to take on Cervélo with the launch of four new TT bikes across two new platforms – the UCI-legal E117 Tri and the totally illegal E119 Tri – the latter of which is claimed to be faster than a P5 in real-world conditions.
Both bikes have been designed to offer practicality as well as speed and come in regular and ‘plus’ versions, which come with a bevy of accessories to store ride essentials, nutrition and hydration.
The E119 isn’t a development of Argon 18’s range-topping E118 Next TT bike. Rather, the brand’s engineers created a whole new platform from scratch in a bid to beat the genre-leading bike of that other Canadian company – the Cervélo P5.
Argon 18 used CFD to design the new frame, making a conscious decision to forego some 0-degree speed in exchange for better performance than the P5 at real-world five to 20-degree angles. Argon 18 is measuring its aero performance in terms of CDA (and will publish its wind tunnel data in this format). By this standard, the E119 Tri is 14.89 percent more aerodynamic than the E118 Next, which is, and will continue to be, ridden by the Bora-Argon 18 professional team.
The frame features deep tubing, lowered seat stays and a clean, integrated front end. Argon 18 says frame weight is 1,200g, 300g lighter than the E118 Next, which was launched at Eurobike last year – impressive for a superbike with a lot of frame on show.
Practical elements include a simple centre-pull brake at the front, which is covered by a fairing that doubles up as a cable guide to keep the caliper true. Cabling for this routes down the bayonet head tube section. It’s lighter than a Dura-Ace caliper too.
This simple centre-pull brake is lighter than a Dura-Ace caliper
The rear brake has been moved to above the dropped seatstays and sits in a completely horizontal position for minimum drag. In order to accommodate this positioning, Argon 18 engineers have come up with a clever rotating cam wedge that actuates the caliper.
Cabling routes through the bar, down the head and down tubes then up into the seat tube, where it’s clamped to the cam wedge. There’s a brake cover here too, which maintains the aero lines of the frame and one underneath the seatstays to protect from road spray.
Both brakes are designed to accommodate 28mm rims and rubber, making life much easier for both wheel removal and compatibility. Simple grub screws on the sides allow adjustment through holes in the fairing, so there’s no need to remove them while tweaking your setup.
Argon 18 also wanted to address the needs of long-distance athletes. Rather than see all their hard work ruined by aero-sapping aftermarket storage solutions, Argon 18’s engineers have designed their own.
The Tailwind is a rear-mounted system that features space for up to three bottle cages. It attaches securely via a rod that slots into the oversized hollow carbon section upon which the Ritchey mounting clamp is fitted.
The tailwind is a modular storage system that can actually make you faster
In its native setup, two bottles are nestled into the sides of a large plastic storage container. It might look like a lot of junk in the trunk, but Argon 18 says that using it helps fill the area of low pressure that pools behind a rider, giving a tiny 0.8 per cent aero advantage, but also allowing storage of most of your essentials.
The Cookie Jar is a simple plastic food container that bolts to the top tube, giving easy access to nutrition via a rubber-lipped lid. The Tri+ also comes with Torhans’ AeroZ between the arms aero system, giving riders the option of whether or not to implement a reservoir here – unlike the Scott Plasma 5 or the new Canyon Speedmax prototype.
Spec and prices may vary worldwide, but in North America, the E119 Tri+ starts at $6,500 for the frameset, though you’d have to be a bit crazy not to spend an extra $100 to have it built up with Ultegra Di2 ($6,600). The top-end model comes with Dura-Ace Di2 and Vision Metron Disc / Trispoke wheel combo for a cool $13,000.
The ‘regular’ E119 Tri uses a slightly different carbon layup, conceding a bit of weight and featuring a seatpost with a slimmer mount. Argon 18 says it’ll be possible to buy the Cookie Jar and Tailwind separately if riders want to upgrade at a later date.
The frameset is $4,700 and runs up to $10,400 for the top DA Di2 spec. The Ultegra Di2 version is $8000.
Argon 18 are also launching the E117 Tri+, which is a really practical option for those who want a regular stem setup – albeit with the benefit of Argon 18’s press-in Aero 3D head tube extenders, which are designed to alter stack height without losing stiffness.
The bike uses exactly the same fork as the company’s Nitrogen Pro aero road bike, a svelte 340g number with integrated TRP brake on the trailing edge. That ultra low weight is combined with a 1,300g frame making the E117 Tri+ a great choice for riders who need a tri bike that can climb well too. The rear brake is also from TRP, positioned at the top of the seatstays just like the Nitrogen.
Argon 18 says it’s almost as quick as the E118 Next and is a lot easier to live with – thanks to a less integrated cockpit – and also comes with the Cookie Jar, Tailwind and Torhans additions, which are perfect for those training for longer distances and easy to remove for any UCI-sanctioned racing you might want to do.
The E117 Tri+ frameset costs $3,200 or $4,400 with Ultegra Di2. Top spec wheels and DA Di2 will set you back $8,700.
The E117 Tri – which comes without the accessories – starts at $2,100 for the frameset or is $3,000 / $3,400 with Shimano 105 or Ultegra mechanical respectively.
Argon 18’s aero developments also continue apace with the Nitrogen aero road range, which now features a top-end Pro version complete with aero drop bars as well as a standard model that’s come down in price, making it a serious contender in the aero road category.