An aggressively set up bike that actually handles better than you’d expect on something this low and light. (Tested with Ultegra Di2 Build and HED Jet 6/9 wheels.)
As low as you can go
Crazy low basebars per size
Weird spec’d aerobar pads
Slightly on the rough side when going slower
19 lbs., 4 oz.
Argon has already been known as a very aggressive brand, in both position and responsiveness, and the Argon 18 E-118 Tri+ takes this theme as far as you could go. Billed as a “pro-level” bike that lets your nose really get down to the wheel (and saves a few ounces in the process, even given the deep wheels), this is still not the twitchy bike we expected. Even though it seems like Argon went all-in on aggression with this bike, they actually did a good job of keeping things accessible enough for even non-pros.
Argon 18 E-118 Tri+: The Ride
The E-118 Tri+ was billed as a bike that lets you get lower than before, and in return I expected something that would twitch all over the road. And while a generous amount of aerobar spacers definitely helps, this bike actually tracked quite well—even as steep as the position was—on downhills and in crosswinds. Even in big crosswinds, the bike held well—despite the super deep 60mm/90mm wheel setup—likely because of the low position that helps present a less sail-like face to the wind. The bike also did an ok job of sucking up high-frequency chatter, but it actually excelled at smoothing out the bigger bumps at faster speeds. Again, I expected a rough, twitchy ride, but got just the opposite.
Argon 18 E-118 Tri+: The Good
Of course the ride was very good on this bike, but I also liked the build that Argon chose for this frameset. While it’s very very far from budget, you actually get a very decent amount of bang for your buck—almost on the line of Canyon’s Speedmax CF SLX 8.0 SL, which says a lot. The HED Jet 6/9 combo is a great, well-thought-out choice, and the different-sized rotors on the disc brakes make a ton of sense—just be sure you realize they’re not the same when swapping out. In fact, this would be an excellent bike for Kona, given that you can get very low if your flexibility allows, and it did a good job when standing up to power over hills and rollers. Also, expect Argon’s trademark scalpel-like cornering, even though it was quite stable in straight lines at speed.
Argon 18 E-118 Tri+: The Ok
There wasn’t a ton to dislike about this bike, aside from the chatter over small bumps, but it absolutely wasn’t enough to cause fatigue. The front end could be a puzzle to inexperienced triathletes, as by default it’s mind-bendingly low. The base bars can be flipped upside down to help a little bit and for sure the vast majority of triathletes will need quite a few spacers on the aerobars, but the point of this bike is certainly to be aggressive. We also found the aerobar pads to be oddly huge, and they required a little bit of work to get in a place where they wouldn’t be an issue when standing and climbing. Just expect to put in some work both fitting and tinkering with the front end, but once it’s set, it should work well.
Argon 18 E-118 Tri+: Conclusions
Argon 18 even “warns” customers on its website that this is a bike meant to be ridden and positioned aggressively, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that with some work, it could be used for a wider range of courses/styles than we thought. Everything about this bike shines when it’s going fast and ridden hard—the high-frequency chatter seems to fade, corners can be pushed aggressively, and the lower you get, the less spacers you’ll need to add on. That said, while this bike is a short-course dream, it could be the perfect solution for advanced-level long-course racers who really know how to ride.