Argon 18 is a Canadian brand and the Krypton is one of four road bikes in the range, a carbon monocoque that has been updated for 2011 with a new grade of carbon and, it’s claimed, an improved performance.
The thing that strikes you first about the Krypton is the size of the tubes; some of them are massive. The down tube, for example, which has a trapezium-shaped profile, measures 54mm across at the top end and then extends out further to reach across the complete width of the bottom bracket.
The head tube is a meaty affair too, coming in Argon 18’s 3D design that allows you to adjust the front-end height of the bike while retaining stiffness. It’s an interesting concept. Usually, you adjust handlebar height by altering the number or size of spacers between the upper bearing and the stem (or by flipping the stem over or swapping to a different one).
What the 3D system allows you to do is adjust the height of the upper bearing by fitting oversized spacers (they have a 52mm outer diameter) on top of the head tube. You can choose from three different positions. If you need more height after that, you can fit headset spacers above the bearing in the normal way. Argon 18 call the 3D system ‘a structural extension of the head tube’ in that the large diameter spacers, which are screwed into place, provide more rigidity than conventional spacers. They reckon it’s 5% stiffer than normal for a 10mm rise and 11% stiffer for 20mm.
The bottom bracket area is huge and the chainstays are incredibly deep at the front end before tapering towards the aluminium dropouts. Argon 18 reckon those chainstays have a stiffness: weight ration 36% higher than those of last year’s frame largely thanks to the carbon they now use (we’re spoiling you with the stats today). It’s called 5650 high modulus carbon fibre and they claim there’s no sacrifice in comfort for that improved performance.
Argon 18 call their frame building philosophy the Horizontal Dual System. Essentially, they divide the frame in two with a straight line from the top of the head tube to the rear dropouts. They want everything below that line – the head tube, the down tube, the bottom bracket and the chainstays – to be laterally rigid for maximum efficiency.
They want the tubes above that line – the seatstays and the top tube – to be… here it comes, folks… vertically compliant to get rid of vibration. So, the seatstays are pretty slim – well, slim compared to the other tubes – and the profile of the top tube is squashed down. Although it’s over 50mm across at the back end, it’s less than 30mm high.
The KR-36 fork that plugs in up front is a straight-legged monocoque made from the same 5650 HM carbon fibre as the frame and it spins on 1 1/4in headset bearings both top and bottom. If you go for the frameset option (£1,225.52) you get an Argon 18 ASP-1500 carbon seatpost too.
We went for a complete build though, based around a Campagnolo Centaur groupset, which is interesting in itself. We don’t get too many Campag-equipped bikes in on test compared to either Shimano or SRAM. If you don’t know, Campag’s top-level groupset is Super Record, then Record, Chorus and Athena, and then Centaur. Below that you get entry-level Veloce.
The higher-level groups are all 11-speed whereas Centaur and Veloce are 10-speed, but they all function in more-or less the same way via a lever and a thumb button on the Ergopower controls. Centaur chainsets come in both compact and standard options and with either aluminium or carbon cranks. Our bike has the compact carbon setup.
It also has Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels, a 3T aluminium cockpit and a Prologo Nago saddle. Argon 18 say the frame in a medium weighs 1,225g and the fork is 390g. We have a large size here and the complete bike comes in at 7.96kg (17.5lb).
In this build it’ll cost you £2,199. There’s also an offer on a Centaur version with alloy cranks and Fulcrum Racing 7s for £1,999. For more info get along to www.i-ride.co.uk.
We’ll be back soon with a full test report.
Mat has worked for more bike magazines than anyone else in the known universe, dating back to a time when this was all just fields. He's been road.cc technical editor for four years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. When he's not cycling around Wiltshire, he's running around it, or possibly swimming (sadly, he's one of those 'triathletes'). Mat is a youthful 42-year-old Cambridge graduate, GSOH etc.