New Project Build - Argon 18 Gallium Pro 2012 - Finished

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giant man
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by giant man

You won't be disappointed with this frame, Argon 18 make great quality frames. I have been riding a (then top of the range) bike for the past 7 years and it's still good. I have been thinking of getting one of these, great colourscheme too. Ride report when you get out on it please!

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KH1
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by KH1

The bike is done. Pics first then ride report later.
Weight? 7.11Kg! WTF? I added all my parts up over and over and couldn't figure it out.
Then I realized I forgot to add tyres and tubes - :doh:
I decided to buy a set of Tubeless rims instead of using the Racing 1's.
I have ordered a Zipp SL Speed seatpost - that shave off another 70g and a new set of bars......
Yes already! They look fantastic and are easily the best shaped flat top bar I have ever used. I just want to know why there isn't a standard way to measure bar width? 42 should be 42 right?
Zipp measures their bars outside to outside 3T measure center to center. While the bars actually feel really nice on the flat it seems I have lost all my leverage on the steep stuff and when out of the saddle sprinting so they have to go. If I was 10cm shorter this might not be such an issue. So anyone want to buy a set of 42cm (40cm for most other bar companies) Zipp SL Contour bars? PM me. :D
Setup has been an interesting thing too. I asked the mechanic to set it up exactly the same as the CAAD9. So you'd think centre crank to top of saddle, axle to top of steerer and tip of saddle to center bar would be pretty close right? It's not even close. Stack height is still too big. Based on the measurements I took from the CAAD9 the original stack was without the spacer on top of the steerer. But as I discovered the BB is so low in comparison that the saddle to bar drop difference is close to 30mm between the 2 bikes. This also means that the stem feels too short. So I'll be fiddling around with this for a while yet before it's finally right. I guess there's at least a few grams in stem and spacer removal. This thing might get under the 7kg mark without too much work but getting it under 6.8 without wheels is going to take some real effort. That said, it was never meant to be a featherweight, so whilst it will be nice to get it down there I'm not overly worried at this point. With only one ride I am already more than happy with where it's at as a package now and know it will be even better with the setup tweaks.
Here are some quick snaps. Enjoy :)
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I can not get over how big the bottom bracket is on this bike. It's gobsmacking and it just simply dwarfs anything I have ever owned or ridden in terms of physical proportions and stiffness.
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I had a sh!t of a time trying to mount my Garmin on that stem. At the moment I have to run my 500 because the 800 just won't fit.
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Yes I took the valve caps off :)
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Ride review to follow.
Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story......
Argon
CAAD9 6.78Kg
Supersix 6.78Kg

by Weenie


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Dov
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by Dov

Great bike but that stem is a crime
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kikkie
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by kikkie

Dov wrote:Great bike but that stem is a crime


Couldn't agree more, Zipp should be prosicuted for designing it, pure ugliness.

The bike looks like a purebred racer!

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KH1
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by KH1

I agree the stem does look a bit out of the reject bin in the photos but in real life it actually looks pretty spectacular. Weightwise it's just plain wrong. But it is rock solid and it doesn't look out of place on the bike with all the oversized proportions everywhere else.
Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story......
Argon
CAAD9 6.78Kg
Supersix 6.78Kg

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bJay
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by bJay

I don't get that 3D headtube system thing. Can those metal spacers be removed and not used? They just seem to make it a really tall head tube which makes no sense to me.

Bitchin' bike, I'm just kind of confused :noidea:

B
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Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.
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euan
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by euan

in essence yes. They screw into the headtube to raise the upper bearing to increase the stiffness up front compared to just spacers. You can then run spacers as normal above that. I actually think it is quite a neat system for providing a degree of customisable fit on a mass production bike
"Step forward the climber and all those who worship at the altar of lightness" - R. Millar

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prendrefeu
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by prendrefeu

It looks like the rear tire clearance is very, very tight back there - what width are you running in the photos? Is there any declared maximum?
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elviento
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by elviento

Idea is to spread the two bearings wider apart. Generally helps with steerer stiffness and safety. Also looks a bit better than a spacer tower though.

Otherwise, you'd be looking at THIS (KH1, sorry for butchering your photo).
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wilson78
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by wilson78

Great looking bike KH1, nice to see something a little different to the masses. Have seen these knocking around at various Tri and Duathlon events in the UK ( on the retailers stands ) and always thought they looked nice but have never actually seen one on the road.
Hurry up and get the ride report up so we know if it rides like it looks like it will - i.e. solid and fast!
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2002
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by 2002

How do you like the ride?

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KH1
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by KH1

Ride Review time.

I want to be as detailed as possible because there really is a lot going on here that needs to be talked about.

I'll start with the differences between groupsets.
DA vs Red - This has been covered in so many threads but I'm not sure that it has been adequately explained. I'm going to have a go at it so please excuse me if I don't convey everything in an understandable fashion.
Firstly let me say that I honestly believe some bikes will feel different (better or worse) with a particular group compared to another. So the observations I'm making are about how Dura Ace feels on this bike compared to how Red feels on the Pinarello or Force (Which is almost identical) feels on the CAAD9.
The 7900 shifters are sublime. They have their faults and SRAM Red/Force offer a better alternative in one particular area - the upshift. But as a package they are - in my opinion - the better alternative. The ergos on the 7900 are streets ahead of the 7800 that I had on my TCR and for my hands a much more comfortable proposition than the SRAM offering. As I mentioned the downfall with Shimano is the sloppiness of the upshift. SRAM is crisp, precise and instant. Shimano has, in comparison, a huge throw to engage the next gear and this just feels old. It took me a couple of hours to finally get out of the habit of going for a downshift on the inside lever but once that was sorted I realized just how much better that sloppiness is when going back down through the gears. Where SRAM requires an upshift click followed by another downshift when the gears haven't engaged properly, Shimano just requires a bit of feathering on the brake lever to get the gears to comply. The movement of the brake levers is at first a little annoying but once you get used to this it is quickly forgotten. Descending has you on the brakes and downshifting all in the one movement as you barrel into a hairpin and have the right gear selected to blast out towards the next corner. It just seems so right once you get used to it again.
The 7900 brakes are the best - there I said it. I had 3 ascents and descents of a local climb last week (Arthurs Seat) and after a test run gave the bike it's head and flew down the road. I suspect the only thing that stopped me besting my fastest time was my pump shooting out of my jersey pocket half way down. I found myself braking later and later than ever before into each hairpin and soon had the back wheel off the ground and skipping around in complete control. I thought the difference between Red and 7800 was marginal - but the difference between 7900 and Red or Force is very noticeable. Of course there are new wheels and new brake pads on the bike but I suspect others with experience on both groups would agree - DA is the winner.
The crankset. I had forgotten how good this crankset is. It has a feel to it - it's hard to describe. It just feels solid - I don't know how else to put it. I have ridden on SRAM Red, Force, Quarq/S900, FSA SLK, KForce (Various), Gossamer, Shimano 105, Ultegra, 7800, R600/700 cranks and probably others I have forgotten about and this crankset beats them all. It's not the lightest - but it is flawless in it's operation and feel.
The derailleurs. In reality I can't really say that one is better than the other. I would call this equal because I have never had any complaint with either groupset - some people complain about the Red FD but I never had an issue with mine. The half click on the big ring vs the small ring is not really an issue to me just a design philosophy that works for both groupsets.
The last thing I wanted to mention was the sound. Relative - Silence. I never had a problem with SRAM and the noise everyone talked about. I still don't - but I do understand the difference now. The drivetrain on 7900 is whisper quiet in comparison. It makes no difference to me but it’s worth mentioning.
All the above considered - weight excluded - DA is just an outstanding groupset. And if you had asked me my thoughts the day before riding the new bike I would have said all groupsets are equal in operation and function. In my unbiased opinion (And I do believe I am unbiased when it comes to these 2 groups) Shimano is a step ahead of SRAM. Just thinking about it - imagine if Shimano built their next groupset with 1:1 ratio and SRAM weight!

Now to the ride.

My first impressions of the bike were a bit mixed because the bars are too narrow and the ergos are still wrong. It's messing with my head and I'm stuck until I can get new bars or I just have to replace the whole cockpit....... Arg!
Riding down the street for the first time had me thinking how smooth the bike was. The road surface is high quality so I didn't get too excited but it soon became evident that this was not just something in my mind (new bike syndrome). The first series of bumps got me pretty excited. This bike is so planted on the road. You hit a hard edged hole or rough patch and after the initial hit the bike just becomes rock solid again. I suspect this is due to the position of the bottom bracket. The bikes center of gravity is very low and this not only helps keep the bike stable over the rough stuff but also through the corners. It comes at a price though. Ground clearance is an issue. I really like to descend fast. That means I get on the gas early and drive hard through bends. The combination of stability and low BB means you bottom out pretty easily - which is obviously pretty disconcerting. I have tried to adopt a bit more body lean (a la road motorbike style) to compensate for this but it's bloody hard work to lean of your center axis and pedal at the same time.
Power delivery feels very good. I don't want to write something like 'not an ounce of power is wasted' rubbish. It just feels good. At this stage it's hard to comment on sprinting because the bars don't lend themselves to all out ripping out as much power as possible. The CAAD has a tendency to 'flex and flick' through the rear triangle - which I kind of like - it's probably not efficient but it feels like you are being slingshotted up the road with the back wheel skipping and dancing on uphill sprints. Seated it feels like you can mash on the pedals and get really good momentum. Does that mean it's better than either the Pinarello or the CAAD9? I don't know. I can say it feels every bit as fast and that stability thing I mentioned gives you the impression that you can work harder.
In terms of comfort it's as good a road bike as I have ever ridden. Sure there will be far more comfortable bikes out there. But with all the beef this bike has to make it stiff it has no right being as comfortable as it is. I pushed out a 160Km ride on Saturday and I was far more fatigued from over exertion than from the ride. In fact the new saddle is even better than the old SLR kit carbonio. It looks harder and squarer but it's got more shape around the back of the saddle and this seems to provide more comfort on the longer rides.
I mentioned steering briefly earlier and it should come as no surprise that with such a low center of gravity this bike tracks incredibly well through the corner. I don't think it changes direction as well as the FP7 did but on line it just holds so true. It also feels like you can easily tighten up your line mid corner if you need to. I found that most corners felt like I could be going faster on a descent as the bike is just so stable and precise once you are over.
I'd like to come back and update this review when I have the setup sorted out properly and I have a set of bars that I can really rip on in a sprint.
When I bought this frame - as flippant as this might seem - I was prepared to move it on immediately if it turned out to be a dud. At this point though after only 328km and 5300m I am prepared to call this as the best bike I have ridden. It has turned out to be a bit of a hidden gem. The only flaw I can find at this point is ground clearance.
Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story......
Argon
CAAD9 6.78Kg
Supersix 6.78Kg

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KH1
Posts: 1327
Joined: Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:40 am
Location: Mornington Peninsula

by KH1

prendrefeu wrote:It looks like the rear tire clearance is very, very tight back there - what width are you running in the photos? Is there any declared maximum?

Sorry missed your question.
It's all the black and the size of the BB that makes it look so tight. That's a 'standard' 700x23 conti.
Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story......
Argon
CAAD9 6.78Kg
Supersix 6.78Kg

vladt
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:48 am

by vladt

Great review KH1.

An update please?
Have you changed your bars? If so, which once did you end up getting?
Can you pls post a complete build list.

thanks
vladt

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KH1
Posts: 1327
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Location: Mornington Peninsula

by KH1

No update on the cockpit yet. Dropped the stem a bit more and it still feels okay so either it's just right or there is still a bit left in reductions to get it right. Zipp won't have bars stem or seat post available until the end of the January. That means for the time being I am stuck with what I have but I'm set on the Zipp replacements now so I have come to terms with the whole waiting thing....... very WW :)

I got to do a couple of sprints today in a bunch ride and while the bars are definitely too narrow I did get some good momentum and I am really impressed at the bikes sprinting capability. I'm really looking forward to having a crack with a set of wider bars.

I have however uncovered a flaw with the bike..... It really doesn't like rough roads, or at least my back doesn't on this bike. Single hits or a series of bumps is fine but a section or length of road that is just plain crap is really uncomfortable. There is a ride in Sydney that I do when I'm up here which takes you down and up a shitty piece of road at Bobbin Head and I don't remember being so badly beaten up by it before. So all that stiffness in the bottom end has a weakness after all.
Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story......
Argon
CAAD9 6.78Kg
Supersix 6.78Kg

by Weenie


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