Saturday, July 7, 2012

My new Argon 18 E-118

At the beginning of the year I was really wanting to replace my aging Fuji Aloha 1.0 (now approximately 5 years old) with something new...especially considering I'm best at TT's and was losing time to those with nicer bikes. I know it's all about the engine but at the same time, in TT's if you have extra drag from wind resistance it costs you time.

With my crash at Kings Valley earlier in the year I had to come to the realization that getting a new TT bike wasn't going to happen since I had to replace my Tsunami. Then, my wife went to me because I was looking at purchasing a new stem...and was looking at the TT bikes in the shop and she told me to buy one. Well...I'm not one to argue with my wife so we went to a few stores and checked out a couple bikes.

I was originally looking at two bikes: The BMC TM01 and the Felt DA3. I talked with salesmen from both shops and told them a must have was changing the cranks from stock length to 170mm since I knew what worked for me. Other than that, it was a matter of finding the right size and going from there.

The shop with the Felt ticked me off...I was looking at a $5000 bike and told them my one need and he went off on how he had to check to see if it was a viable option because he had to maintain his "Margins" and needed to check with their rep to see what type of crank it had and if they could do it! Seriously??? One, you don't know what type of crank is on it? You can't just look that up in your books? Margins? It's a $5k bike, you have a lot of room for movement there.

So I moved from there knowing they didn't have my size in stock anyway and went to look at the bike I was really interested in...The BMC. At the shop they were more than willing to change out cranks for me and we had a deal ready to go, credit card pulled out...then...Oh, BMC is out of stock (nation wide) in the M/L size and all they had on the floor and shop was a small.

While I was at the shop I was looking at the Argon 18 bikes and liked them a lot. At the time I was most interested in the E-116 since it was closer to my price range. We left the shop without a bike, but I touched base with the salesman later in the week to see what the price for the E-116 would be with a different set of bars. He wrote me back with a price, but they didn't have one built up in my size...but had one there that needed to be built up.

Upon follow up...the salesman said, they couldn't get it built during the week (I e-mailed him on a Monday) because of tune-ups, fittings and other stuff. I let him know that was fine, but was a bit dumbfounded as I was sitting there ready to buy a $4k+ bike and he's wanting me to sit around and wait for them to build it up.

Well...the week passed and no communication from the salesman...During the wait period I started doing research and found an online shop that had the E-118 with full SRAM Red components for $5375 and just couldn't pass it up. So with no communication from either shop...I ordered the bike and they had it built up and to me within a week. The only problem I had with the build were these: The built it up with the bars in the upright position (so I had to reverse them) and they didn't shorten the aero extensions which had to be 2+ feet long. I had to literally cut 1 foot off of each bar to get them within acceptable reach.

So, I decided to not ride the night it came in and get to work on the bike so it would be fit correctly and ready to ride. After four hours, I had finally got all the kinks worked out and it was built up. I did end up switching saddles to my main brand of Selle San Marco Glamour Aspide (though I could see switching to a Specialized Toupe down the road).

I was able to take it out on Thursday for it's first spin. Initial impressions is that it's a much faster bike than my old Fuji. The fit is a little different as it's a little shorter than my old bike, but that's actually a good thing.

With my fit I have the bars lower than my Fuji, but the saddle in the same forward position. With the bars lower, I brought them back toward me so my elbows are closer to my knees which gives me more of a 90 degree angle between my body and upper arm and at my elbow, where as before they were stretched out a little more. It also allowed me to narrow my elbow width a little more which I wanted to do, but couldn't on my old bike.

The end result is more of a pro look...but more importantly a nice flat back, that still has a very good hip angle that allows me to produce a lot of power while in the aero bars.

The bike it's self absorbs chip seal roads well, but is a little harsh over sharper impacts. The handling is quick while in the drops, but is more stable in the aero bars. The braking is better than expected given all I've heard about TT bikes and their brakes. Even the rear brake has good lever feel, modulation and power. 

I did have to raise the saddle by nearly 1" from these pictures to get proper leg extension. So my saddle to bar drop is closer to 14cm now, which is much more than on my old Fuji.

On it's first ride, without trying I set two Strava KOM's on flat segments around here (averaging around 27 mph on the flats with no aero gear, but a 4-5 mph tailwind)...and I wasn't pushing it since it was a recovery ride. As I said...the bike is fast :)

I'm looking forward to getting some more miles on it and racing it at the State ITT Championships this year...hopefully I can improve on my 54:08 time of last year.


  1. Mr Wookie, sir..I currently ride a Wilier Izoard all setup as essentially a TT configuration, fwd seatpost, aerobars etc finger is posied over an order for an E118 but I just cant it really worth the extra cash over a 'properly' dialled in road bike?? thanks for any help..

  2. Sorry to get back to your question so late, but I didn't see it until today.

    As per your question ... it really revolves around what you want to do. If you are concentrating on TT's or Tri's, it's well worth the money to invest in a dedicated TT/Tri bike.

    The benefits:

    1. Ability to get into a better, more aerodynamic position than on a road bike since TT/Tri bikes are designed for a forward and lower position than a road bike. This also allows them to handle better with more weight on the front wheel.

    2. The aerodynamics of the bike are better than on a road bike, even aero road bikes. So if you are trying to save every second ... aerodynamic frames/components help and can take that extra 20 - 40 seconds over 40K you are looking for over your road bike.

    However ... if you are just looking for another bike, you could still go with a TT/Tri bike ... I just wouldn't suggest spending the money on a bike like the E-118.

    As for the Argon 18 E-118 it's self ... I have Zero complaints about the bike. It's very adjustable, especially the bars, handles well, isn't too efected by cross winds, has a great ride for longer distances as well as shorter TT's and is well built. If you are looking for a "Super Bike" I'd recommend it ... as long as it fits.

    The Argon 18 E-118 falls in the middle of the short/high - long/low set up with TT/Tri bikes. It's not super tall, but it's not super long either ... which technically allows more versatility with fitting, but depending on your fit needs it may or may not be the best bike for you.

    Get fitted first, then if the measurements work and you focus on TT's or Tri's ... then go for it :)

  3. hi just wondering how adjustable the front end is... ie stem height and length... I know with a lot of these new gen tt bikes they are pretty much fixed but heard that the argon 118 has a lot more adjustablility... is that the case?


  4. The stem can be put in either 60 or 95 mm lengths with an internal adjuster. The stem can not be adjusted up or down, the stack is adjusted on the extensions.

    The height of the extensions have 4cm of vertical adjustment and both the arm pads and extensions move up/down together.

    There are two different extensions available, one has a bigger S-Bend than the others, but some other brand Ski-Bends should work as well. They also have some outward extension adjustment as well ... the stock ones are super long and need adjustments.

    The pads have 6cm of fore/aft adjustment and 10cm of out/in adjustment. You can also flip the bars for a higher position if needed, but then your brake hoods are much higher also.

    Overall ... it's very adjustable. I would like to see a bit more flexibility with the stem length that would allow more than 2 positions, but other than that I can't complain much.