My new(er) ride.Argon 18 Gallium. A revelation.
Bought it last season. I had been intending to upgrade from the beloved Bianchi for a while; my riding pals were all getting into new carbon fibre jobs and I was clearly losing the arms race.
|Which was also a birthday present from my wife. How excellent is that?|
And I figured if I'm was gonna go whole hog with titanium and make it the last bike I ever buy, I might as well get it custom made.
Fate intervened. I was just getting set to tee up a custom titanium Marinoni through my local bike shop, Hello Vélo, when it suddenly (and sadly) shut down.
While looking around for other options I happened to come across a great deal on the above Argon 18. I loved it on the test ride, and all the indications from reviews online were positive. (And, as an added bonus, the company was Canadian.) OK, carbon fibre simply is not going to last like titanium. But in the meantime it's a light, sweet ride, springy and tight on climbs, and rock solid on fast descents. (The Bianchi would get a bit rattly over 50 km/hr and made me think "road crayon", but on the Argon I'd barely notice how fast I was going.) And it had a really cool, understated paint job which shouldn't matter, but we all know it does.
The SRAM Force set-up took a little geting used to; I love the pivoting shift levers (great in the drops), and the ergonomics of the hoods are terrific. The upshift is is crisp; the "double-tap" downshift, however, is definitely a learned skill. For a long time I tended to go up two sprockets on the downshift. The Ultegras on my Bianchi are smoother and quieter, and simpler on the downshift, but moving the whole brake lever to do it now feels kinda... inelegant. Overall, between the two, I'd say it's a wash. But if I had to buy today, I'd go with the SRAM.
After riding it for a year, I recently got a new fitting by Ian Smith at Gears; slightly more aggressive position and a better fitting saddle. Huge improvement. Probably the best 100 bucks or so you can spend on your bike is to get it fit by somebody who really knows what they're doing. Suddenly the bike starts to feel like it's part of you, and that feels awesome.