Canadian brand Argon 18 have revamped their flagship Gallium Pro frame for model year 2014, dropping the claimed weight to a featherweight 790g for a size small.
That makes the Gallium Pro, which now uses a higher grade of carbon fibre, one of the lightest frames on the market and the machine we saw built up with Campagnolo Super Record and Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels at Argon 18’s UK distributor, i-ride, weighed just 6.20kg.
Needless to say, that’s super-light, and while it’s an undeniably high-end build, there are obvious weight savings to be made – if you have a deep wallet. Those Racing Zero hoops, for example, weigh a claimed 1,430g, but Fulcrum have wheels in their range which are significantly lighter, not least the new Racing Speed XLR 35 wheelset at a claimed 1,230g. Slot those in with some lighter tyres and your looking at a sub-6kg bike.
But let’s not obsess about weight. Argon 18 also claim to have boosted stiffness thanks to updated, squared-off tube profiles. The seattube, for instance, is round at the top but becomes angular and is significantly wider at its base to create an oversized junction with the BB86 bottom bracket. The huge asymmetric chainstays also go some way to creating a machine which promises plenty in the stiffness stakes.
Other changes include the introduction of a 27.2mm seatpost, which replaces the outgoing 31.6mm post – an increasingly popular move with manufacturers looking to improve comfort by using a seatpost with a smaller diameter. In fact, the seatpost found on the new Cannondale Synapse is skinnier still at 25.4mm.
The seatstays have also been slimmed down and are now pencil-thin – another common design on modern frames to boost comfort. They’ve also lost their bow shape and now rise directly from the rear dropouts to the seattube cluster, where the continuous carbon fibres then run into the toptube.
Argon 18’s 3D Headtube remains, however. Even with updated tube profiles, pencil-thin seatstays and a skinnier seatpost, it remains the Gallium Pro’s most striking feature thanks to an innovative design which effectively makes the headtube length adjustable.
The 3D Headtube uses interlocking, threaded extensions which gives the rider a choice of three headtube heights without sacrificing front-end stiffness by using a stack of spacers, according to Argon 18.
For example, a medium Gallium Pro, which has a 56cm effective toptube, has a 13.9cm headtube which can rise to 15.3cm and 16.3cm. Even 16.3cm is relatively low for the frame size, which gives an indication as to the Gallium Pro’s racing DNA.
Argon 18 call the geometry AFS – or Argon Fit System – and, besides the variable headtube height, the Gallium Pro, which is compatible with mechanical and electronic groupsets, has a lower bottom bracket than most race-ready frames at 750mm, which lowers the centre of gravity and, according to Argon 18, improves the bike’s stability.
The Argon 18 Gallium Pro will be available as a frameset only (claimed weight for the straight-bladed GA31 fork is 350g) for £2,099.99, or in a mechanical Shimano Ultegra 11-speed build with Fulcrum Racing Quattro wheels, Continental Force/Attack tyres, 3T finishing kit and a Prologo Zero saddle for £3,499.99.
We will be swinging a leg over the new Gallium Pro when it becomes available at the end of September so check back for a first ride report.
Gallium gets new carbon layup
Meanwhile, the Gallium also gets a new carbon layup for 2014 which helps Argon 18’s second-from-top frame dip under the one kilo mark. Claimed weight for a medium weight was previously 1,110g but Argon 18 have dropped that to a claimed 965g.
Layup aside, the changes are less radical than the Gallium Pro, and the Gallium keeps the same tube profiles as the previous model, and there’s still a 31.6mm seatpost.
Like the Gallium Pro, the Gallium also uses Argon 18’s adjustable 3D Headtube, and the frame has a monocoque construction with cable routings compatible with mechanical and electronic groupsets. It also shares the same AFS geometry.
The new Gallium will be available as a frameset for £1,599.99, or as a complete bike with mechanical Shimano Ultegra 11-speed, Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels (which are lighter for 2014) shod with Continental Ultra Sport tyres, 3T finishing kit and a Prologo Zero saddle for £2,949.99.