The first day of Outdoor Demo presented a tough challenge – what to ride on such a picture perfect day? We ended up taking out two Argon 18 Nitrogen Pros, and needless to say, it was a good choice.
We first met the Nitrogen back at Interbike 2014, and we’d been hoping to spend some time with it ever since. We were happy to jump at the chance. Even before we got the bikes out on the road, we noticed how light they were (claimed 830g)—keeping in mind that the bikes we tested were equipped with Vision Metron 55s, as well as full water bottles on board. Even so, the bikes still felt feather-light.
Once we got going, we quickly noticed something else—this bike is stiff. It transferred every bump, dip, and vibration to our bodies. While stiff and responsive is good, this bike definitely encourages you to get up out of the saddle quite often just to relieve some of the road vibrations as you hit rough spots. The stiffness also led to a bit of twitchiness at times, especially during rougher descents. Of course, we understand these are demo bikes that have been ridden hard. So we don’t hold that against it.
Now with all that said, we don’t think we’d be totally enthusiastic about taking the Nitrogen Pro out on the cobbles, but Argon 18 tells us that that’s exactly what Team BORA did. We’ll leave that to the pros. We much preferred attacking some of the (smoother) descents and climbs that Boulder City had to offer.
We weren’t sure how much we’d like the aero handlebar system (Argon 18’s carbon monocoque AHB5000), which claims to generate a 30% increase in aerodynamics over standard round handlebars. Fortunately, we were pleasantly surprised. It was plenty comfortable, and the aero shape still allowed us to sit up and grip the tops if we wanted to have a quick conversation with our riding partner. Of course we weren’t doing any kind of major adjustments on a demo bike, but this system also offers a good amount of adjustability for the rider.
The braking performance was very comparable to what we’d experience with a tri bike, which was less than we’d hoped from a road bike. But again, these are demo bikes out all day in a very dusty environment. We’re not expecting perfection. The braking was good, just not excellent. We’d be curious to see how the braking performance changed in a non-demo bike (and with proper cleaning).
All in all, this bike is fast, nimble, and just plain fun. Both of our editors were caught smiling quite a bit as they zipped around corners and plunged down a few descents. And at the end of the day, that’s exactly what we were looking for from our first experiences with the Nitrogen Pro.