Argon 18 knew they had to improve the Gallium Pro when they decided to sponsor the Astana Pro Cycling Team. With Fabio Aru as their Grand Tour leader, they had to improve this bike to give him the edge he needed when duking it out in the hardest races against the best in the world.
Had to say if the bike was the key to his improvement in 2017, but it certainly didn’t hurt. He won the Italian Road Race Championship, won a stage at the Tour de France, held the mountains jersey for three days, the yellow jersey for two days, and finished fifth overall. And that wasn’t all. Jakob Fuglsang was able to take advantage of the Gallium Pro to score an astounding final-day victory in the 2017 Criterium du Dauphine as well.
What they did to the frame was make it lighter, weighing 784 for a medium (painted, with hardware), while keeping the bike stiff and compliant. They reworked the carbon-fiber layup, building larger tube sizes for the down tube, the chain stays, the lower seat tube, and thinning the top tube, upper seat tube, and seat stays. By bulking, they increased stiffness, by thinning, they increased compliance. They call this HDS, or Horizontal Dual System. The fork was completely re-designed as well. They reshaped the blades to provide more room for tire clearance—you can fit 28mm tires in there—but they also were able to lighten the fork and keep their preferred balance of stiffness and comfort.
Balance is a term Argon 18 likes to use with most of their bikes. When it comes to stiffness and comfort, their answer is yes. When comes to stability and agility, their answer is yes as well. They feel that a good bike has to have all these qualities in equal measure because they’re all necessary to the ride.
It’s about them figuring out the material mix, the specifics of the lay-up, the particulars of the shaping in addition to the geometry. That, is dialed a well. It’s fairly traditional, which means just about anybody can fit on it.
Their one big departure is their 3D head tube system. This is a proprietary means of adjusting the head tube height without the flex and weight of stack spacers. The bike comes with 15mm and 25mm stack extenders. The upper headset race sits inside the extension, which is wider and stiffer than spacers. And the extension sits on top of the head tube. So if you’re going to have more than 10mm of stack from the top of the head tube, you might as well install one of the extensions. This means that a fairly flexible rider can get on the Gallium Pro and feel right at home. So, too, can a less flexible rider, or the unevenly portioned rider, who can install the extenders and enjoy the security and stiffness that the system provides. Argon 18 found they increase frontal rigidity by 5% and 11% compared to stack spacers.
Another thing Argon 18 is proud of is their attention to detail. They designed, built, and include their own 27.2mm round seatpost with the frame. It’s carbon-fiber, so, yes, it’s light. But that isn’t why they included it. It comes with because it is part of their compliance system, offering controlled flex. And the saddle clamp is smartly-designed to be reversible, so you can have either 15 or 25mm of setback. And the clamp works with all rails. They’ve also embedded into the chainstay a chainsuck protector plate, which will prevent the frame from getting chewed if you drop the chain and get it caught between the cranks and the frame.
The Gallium Pro comes with the 3D system, the headset (a tapered 1 1/8” to 1 ½”), the seatpost, the derailleur hanger, and all the stops and plugs you need to build the bike up with either mechanical or electronic shifting. It comes with a rubber mount to stick inside the seatpost for your internal battery. The bottom bracket standard is BB86. There’s a mount for your front derailleur, so no clamp is necessary.
The Argon 18 Gallium Pro shows how a new, small company can compete with the giants of the sport and get the best of them.