Long and low – it’s not for everyone but for top tour professionals as well as pro and top end age group triathletes – it’s the only way to fly. And while the Argon 18 E119 is Argon’s top end tri bike –for some, slammed on it wasn’t slammed enough. And unfortunately, it isn’t UCI legal. So, when Argon 18 athletes were looking for the next “low” thing – Argon 18 knew it had to deliver. And the E-118 Tri+ is what they brought.
The Argon 18 E-118 Tri+
The E-118 Tri+ was developed with two challenges in mind. Triathletes wanted to get lower and the Astana Pro team needed to shave every second possible off their TT times. That means added stiffness for power, more agility for the corners, better stopping power, a lighter frame, and better aerodynamics.
Starting with the more aggressive position. With a new geometry to achieve a significantly lower front profile, Argon 18s updated ONEness system offers a bar/stem system with armrest stack 2cm lower and grip position 4cm lower than the E-118Next. This allows athletes to achieve a low, aggressive position, and for smaller riders to find their perfect fit.
“I immediately felt the speed and smoothness. It’s surprisingly smooth, actually,” says pro triathlete Heather Jackson. “The fit we were able to get because of the lower front profile was perfect for me. I’ve already had quite a few athletes ask me about it, who are smaller in stature like me.”
The E-118 frame weighs in at 250g less than the previous E-118 Next at 1200g (medium). Additionally, the frame is capable of wheels up to 28C.
“We’re seeing the advantage of that handling in the more technical triathlon courses, especially at the standard and 70.3 distance,” says Martin Faubert, VP Product at Argon 18. “The accuracy of disc brakes and the added stiffness of the thru-axle gives confidence in tight turns and fast descents.” More confident cornering is also achieved through the lower position available on the base bar, with a 1.5cm increase in the saddle to handlebar drop over the E-118Next.
The cockpit features new improved arm rest cups (though those looking for more open cups can order them still from their retailers.
While still UCI legal – the E-118 has mounting locations for all the standard triathlete needs including top tube, dual position bottle mounts, a standard Ritchey saddle clamp, and horizontal bottle mounts on the cockpit. We also have to call out the slick Di2 junction box integration.
Argon 18’s sister company is Notio who has developed and released a real time CdA measurement device (more on that another time). The advantage of the close relationship is that the Notio was vital in the development of the E-118. Argon 18 shared two sets of test results. The first was in a velodrome with athletes holding stable at 45Km/h, riding 10 laps. (2 lap to accelerate to 45km/h). 3 runs with E-118 NEXT (former bike – rim brakes) and then 3 runs with E-118 Tri+ (new bike – disc brakes). Both models were set up the same way (tire model and technology, wheel profile – 3 spokes front, disc rear). Notio was also used to validate that the rider position wasn’t interfering with the results.
With gains of 8 to 10 watts (at 50km/h), it became clear that our new disc-equipped TT bike was faster than the previous generation bike with rim brakes. Argon 18 calculated that at that speed it represents a time gain of 25s on a 40km distance.
The second test was riding on a 8.55Km hilly loop. 2 runs with E-118 NEXT (former bike – rim brakes) and 2 runs with E-118 tri+ (new bike – disc brakes). To be sure the E-118 performed in real, race-day conditions, Argon 18 tested it on the road using Notio.
Gorka Izagirre was 17seconds faster on a 8.55km loop with the same power output. Argon 18 believes the gain could be even more significant with the addition of technical turns, since a rider can brake later with a disc brake equipped bike.
The E-118 will be available at launch in a single build or as a frameset. The Frameset icludes frame, fork, headset, ONEness Integrated cockpit and seatpost and will retail for $5,199.
The build will be Ultegra Di2 with HED Jet Plus Black 6 & 9 wheels. Also included is a ISM PN 3.1 saddle. This will retail for $8,499.
Long and low isn’t for everyone. Neither is the necessity of UCI legalality. But there is a group that requires either one or both of those. And the E-118 is clearly built for them. While the E-118 can win at the long course – this is clearly a short course technical beast built to win prologues, Olympics, and anything that rewards technical ability.
Being this is labeled as Tri+ we would have liked to see some frame specific storage and hydration options. Proper hydration and storage setup can mean saving seconds. With the work that went into this bike we feel there could be a proper bento box or down tube bottle that matches the specific shapes of the bike.
At $8,499 for the build we think Argon 18 hit the mark on price. While you don’t get the above-mentioned storage options you do get the HED Jet Plus Black 6 & 9 wheels which makes the bike pretty much race ready at purchase. And while in the future we imagine that many will be bringing wheels from their last bike to the next. At the moment many are swapping from rim braking to disc so they need new wheels for their new steeds.
At the end of the day – bikes like the E-118 are measured most but podium wins. Whether at UCI TT’s or Iron distance racing – the more we see the lead riders on E-118s we will know the true success. But between the provided aero data from real world testing, the noticeable decrease in frame weight, and the new positions available due to the enhanced geometry it does feel like Argon 18 built something special with this bike. Make sure to also check out the E-117 Tri Disc that was released today as well and stay tuned to AeroGeeks.com for more launched from Kona.