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Head-to-head in our all-road group test is 2023 Argon 18 Krypton


Bright in colour and feature rich: the Argon 18 Krypton promises to stand out from the crowd with its “Race, Ride, Explore” tagline. But aren’t these mutually exclusive disciplines for an all-road bike? We put it to the test to find out how this colourful character fares against the rest of our test field.

This bike was tested as part of our 2023 all-road group test – you can find an overview of the group test and the featured bikes over here: The best all-road bike of 2023 – 10 all-road bikes in review

Argon 18 Krypton | 8.56 kg in size M | Manufacturer’s website

Argon, as you might remember from physics or chemistry class, is a noble gas with the atomic number 18 – who would have thought. Krypton falls into the same class of gases, typically used in fluorescent lamps. As such, it represents light, brightness, and radiance. Considering this, the brand and model name go together like cookies and cream. But it’s not just radiance, but also versatility that’s relevant. The Argon 18 Krypton is said to be the Canadian brand’s “most versatile bike”, setting it apart from their other bikes. Therefore, it should cater to a variety of different use cases. Can the Argon 18 Krypton outshine the competition in our group test with more than just the paint job?

Shine bright like a diamond – What is the Argon 18 Krypton capable of?

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The paintjob of the Argon 18 Krypton is very in-your-face, at least in the sparkling Frostbite Blue option. Love it or hate it, the colour undoubtedly makes it stand out from the test field. If you prefer flying under the radar, you can choose the significantly more discreet Iridescent Charcoal (black/grey). Both finishes boast equally beautiful details and workmanship. The frame has a lot going on besides the colour: a chemical formula on the down tube, the model name and the Argon 18 logo on the top tube, to name just some of the many decals. That said, the branding is in no way intrusive. The tube shapes and proportions look coherent too. The down tube is relatively wide, housing the integrated storage compartment under the bottle cage bosses, big enough to accommodate all sorts of accessories such as tools, a pump, etc. The tapered rear section of the top tube echoes the design language of the slender fork, widening towards the front. The low-slung chainstays don’t look out of place either.

However, the specced components on the Argon 18 Krypton are somewhat contradictory: you’ve got some standard bits like the round, 27.2 mm Argon 18 seat post and a classic two-piece handlebar and stem, juxtaposed with custom, in-house solutions. These include the oversized headset cap and the roomy storage compartment in the down tube. A wealth of mounting points promise easy installation of mudguards, luggage racks, a top tube bag, and third bottle cage under the down tube. The drivetrain has also been configured with versatility in mind. The 2×12 SRAM Force AXS groupset consists of a 10–33 t cassette paired with a 48/32 t crankset, offering a wide enough gear range even for loaded touring in mountainous terrain. The 140/160 mm brake rotor combination, on the other hand, is slightly undersized, and the remaining components are something you would find on a mid-range build. You get an FSA Energy stem, FSA Energy Compact handlebar, and HUNT 4 Season Disc wheelset, all made of aluminium, which seems out of place on a € 6,175 bike, especially compared to the likes of the MERIDA SCULTURA ENDURANCE 9000. The 30 mm Vittoria Rubino Pro tires aren’t exactly high-end either. While these components are robust and confidence-inspiring on an all-road bike, they don’t offer such great value for money. Nevertheless, the total weight of this mid-range build of the Argon 18 Krypton is fine, albeit 200 g above the analogue test field average, tipping the scales at 8.5 kg. The bright paint job makes the Krypton seem like a real star, but that can’t hide the less-than-premium build spec.

Convenient and rare
Bosses for a third bottle cage on the down tube are rare on all-road bikes. The Argon 18 Krypton is the exception to the rule, boasting these along with a range of additional mounting points.

Specifications

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Seatpost Argon 18 27.2 mm
Brakes Sram Force aTap AXS 160 / 140 mm
Drivetrain Sram Force aTap AXS 2x12
Stem FSA energy 100 mm
Handlebar FSA energy compact 440 mm
Wheelset HUNT Four Season Disc
Tires Vittoria Rubino Pro 700x30c

Technical Data

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Size XXS XS S M L XL
Weight 8,56 kg

Specific Features

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Storage compartment in the down tube
Mounting points for bags, mudguards, and bottle cages
Glittery blue paint with lots of cool details
Ample clearance for knobby gravel tires


Size XXS XS S M L XL
Seat tube 420 mm 450 mm 485 mm 520 mm 555 mm 590 mm
Top tube 496 mm 516 mm 537 mm 558 mm 580 mm 604 mm
Head tube 106 mm 123 mm 142 mm 164 mm 186 mm 208 mm
Head angle 70.6° 71.5° 72.3° 72.3° 72.3° 72.8°
Seat angle 75.5° 74.9° 74.3° 73.7° 73.1° 72.5°
Chainstays 415 mm 415 mm 415 mm 415 mm 415 mm 415 mm
BB Drop 80 mm 80 mm 78 mm 78 mm 78 mm 78 mm
Wheelbase 975 mm 984 mm 989 mm 1,005 mm 1,020 mm 1,033 mm
Reach 357 mm 367 mm 377 mm 386 mm 395 mm 406 mm
Stack 523 mm 543 mm 563 mm 584 mm 605 mm 628 mm

Argon 18 Krypton on the test track – Where does it truly shine?

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The motto of the Argon 18 Krypton is “Race, Ride, Explore”, so that’s the bar it has set for itself, and what we expect from it. The frame seems very compact on the first few kilometres, resulting in a relaxed riding position. Race? Not so much. You could potentially race the Argon 18 Krypton at an ultra-endurance event, at a push, but the riding position and handling are too sedate for racing. Ride? The compact riding position results in a superbly balanced ride, making you feel at home aboard the bike from the get-go. The steering is easy and intuitive, making the Krypton light-footed and fun to ride. The handling remains agile and dynamic through fast corners too. Nevertheless, it does so without feeling excessively nervous. Explore? Yes! The balanced handling instils you with the confidence to go off-road and makes easy work of doing so. You can venture relatively far off the beaten track, considering the ample 40 mm tire clearance and relatively good compliance.

That said, the Argon 18 Krypton feels too sluggish on the climbs to pass as a mountain goat. It doesn’t excel on fast descents either, though it always remains easy to control. The Argon 18 Krypton is capable of fast sprints on level terrain, but the relaxed riding position encourages more of a leisurely touring pace. If you’ve got bags strapped to the bag, when bikepacking, for example, you’ll be happy about the semi-integrated cable routing entering the frame via the headset. This way, the cables don’t get in the way of your bags, while allowing you to swap out the handlebar and stem without too much frustration, and it looks neat too. The hidden storage compartment in the down tube has a generously sized opening and is easy to fill, unlike that of the Trek Domane SLR 7. It will even accommodate a standard hand-pump, along with tools and a spare tube, or an energy bar.

Capable and fun, only clouded by the hefty price tag for the spec.

Helmet Specialized Prevail 3 | Jersey Maap Training Jersey | Pants Maap Training Bib 3.0
Shoes QUOC MONO II Road | Socks Maap Training Socks

Who is the Argon 18 Krypton for?

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The Argon 18 Krypton is sure to put a smile on the faces of the all-road riders amongst us who like tackling long distances and multi-day rides. As a “do-it-all” machine, it serves as a suitable platform for almost any use case. Epic rides are what the Argon 18 Krypton is destined for, even going so far as ultra-distance races. With all its mounting points, it can also perform well as a commuter. It’s only if you’ve got a hankering for speed on your all-road excursions, or you’re after good value for money, that we’d recommend looking elsewhere.

Tuning tip: Higher volume tires and a more compliant seat post for more comfort.

Riding Characteristics

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Agility

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  1. cumbersome
  2. playful

Stability

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  1. nervous
  2. confident

Handling

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  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Fun factor

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  1. boring
  2. lively

Comfort

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  1. firm
  2. comfortable

Value for money

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  1. terrible
  2. very good

Technical Data

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Argon 18
Krypton

Size: XXS XS S M L XL
Weight: 8,56 kg
Price: € 6,175

Indended Use

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Smooth tarmac
Allroad/Gravel
Everyday/Commuting

Conclusion on the Argon 18 Krypton

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Instead of “Race, Ride, Explore”, a better tagline for the Argon 18 Krypton would be “Cruise, Ride, Explore”. Due to the mediocre build spec and relaxed riding position, it performs better on leisurely rides than attempted KOMs. As a bonus, you get convenient features and a good-looking design, though at a relatively hefty price. Ultimately, the Argon 18 Krypton all-road bike serves as a good platform for long, mixed-terrain rides. It shines bright, but it isn’t very light!

icon_top

Tops

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  • versatile thanks to the consistent all-road concept
  • relaxed riding position for long days in the saddle
  • roomy and well-integrated storage compartment in the down tube
  • beautiful frame details with a bonus introduction to chemistry

icon_flop

Flops

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  • mid-range build spec for a higher-end price point


You can find out more about at argon18.com

The testfield

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This bike was tested as part of our 2023 all-road group test – you can find an overview of the group test and the featured bikes over here: The best all-road bike of 2023 – 10 all-road bikes in review

All bikes on review: Argon 18 Krypton | Merida Scultura Endurance 9000 (Click for review) | Parapera Atmos² (Click for review) | Pinarello X (Click for review) | Rondo Ratt CF (Click for review) | Rose Reveal Plus (Click for review) | Scott Solace eRide 10 (Click for review) | Specialized Roubaix Comp (Click for review) | Trek Domane SLR 7 AXS Gen 4 (Click for review) | Wilier Granturismo SLR (Click for review)


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Words: Martin Staffa Photos: Jan Richter

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