Argon 18 E119 Tri+ Disc review
Argon 18 is renowned for innovation and there are plenty of big claims behind its latest flagship triathlon bike. But did the E119 Tri+ Disc impress on the road?From £7,300 Skip to view deals
Six years after launching its E119 Tri+, Argon 18 has unveiled the updated version with hydraulic disc brakes.
The Canadian bike brand is keen to highlight that far from just tweaking the platform to accommodate disc brakes, this is a full-scale frameset revamp that “went back to the drawing board”. In fact, Argon 18 claims a rider can gain a 17-watt aerodynamic advantage over the previous E119 “when optimal rider position is factored in”.
One of the headline aero boasts is the disc brake integration, with callipers placed inside the seatstay and fork and all cables hidden, a world first according to Argon 18. An air duct ensures there’s airflow over the pads so braking power isn’t affected and they don’t overheat. All this tinkering has led to a mere 1-watt claimed advantage “on a flat road” putting out 300 watts (10secs over 100km), but if Argon 18 is to be believed, it’s a marginal gain nonetheless.
Argon 18 took to the wind tunnel and did extensive computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis to validate findings. It also made use of the Notio, a device that calculates aero drag coefficient in real-time, to study differences between the new E119 and the old version on the velodrome and road.
Argon 18 E119 Tri+ Disc storage and cockpit
We were particularly impressed with the flat kit storage, a hidden compartment sat just above the bottom bracket area that snakes up and inside the downtube to make efficient use of space inside the frame. The top tube bento box is now larger, with the shape extended inside the top tube.
Argon 18 hasn’t developed its own proprietary hydration system, simply including a bottle cage mount on the cockpit to add your own bottle horizontally. While it’s not the most technologically advanced solution, it’s a versatile one that will work with all your existing bottles and cages.
The cockpit is easy to adjust and disassemble with Allen keys, and Argon 18 collaborated with fitting expert Mat Steinmetz of 51 Speedshop to develop a system that is aero, yet allows the rider to hold position for longer.
This meant speccing large, comfy pads with an increased contact area that cradle the forearms and lock the rider in, and a cockpit design that allows the rider to get lower, with a 0 to +20 degree range of angles possible on the extensions. Those extensions, comfy as we found them, are standard round bars, so you can swap them out for others you might prefer.
Argon 18 E119 Tri+ Disc components and weight
Our test bike came with 65mm wheels from ENVE’s Foundation collection, Challenge Strada tyres, SRAM Force electronic shifting and a Rotor MAS crank Spider, purported to reduce more drag than standard cranksets. There’s no power meter for the £7,300 price tag, but Argon 18 offers higher spec versions with power meters, top-end wheels and different groupsets if your budget stretches even further.
Without pedals or flat kit, we weighed the bike at 9.11kg. While triathlon bikes don’t necessarily need to be super light, we’re starting to see some pros make mention of the extra weight since triathlon bikes moved to disc brakes, with Lionel Sanders opting to use the older rim brake-equipped Canyon Speedmax at the Ironman World Champs recently. At this weight the E119 is heavier than some rival triathlon bikes, something you might want to think about if targeting races with considerable elevation.
Argon 18 E119 Tri+ Disc ride impressions
On the road, it took us some time to get used to the very tucked in, narrow position we found ourselves in with the cockpit set-up. We preferred to widen the pads slightly, but the set-up of the bike as we received it would satisfy aggressive riders. We also lowered the mono riser a little to make it easier to grab the base bars. This was appropriate for training rides where we were having to come out of our aero tuck far more frequently than in a race.
When you’re up to speed, the E119 feels rapid on undulating roads and flats, if not the most comfortable and buttery smooth triathlon bike we’ve ever ridden. As it’s on the weighty side, we did feel the E119 felt a little sluggish on inclines, but when you get to the other side you’ll be rewarded by a well-handling bike for descending, with the chunky frame and long wheelbase (100.3cm on a size medium) making us feel confident downhill.
Braking wasn’t affected by integration of the callipers, although 140mm rotors front and rear meant we had a little less raw braking power than the more common 160mm front, 140mm rear combination.
Teamed with ENVE’s 65mm-deep carbon rims, our set-up was built for speed and you could go more aero still with a rear disc wheel of course. Base bar shifters were also included on our test bike, a useful feature that allowed us to find our optimal gear on descents and corners without needing to reach for the extensions.
Elsewhere, Argon 18 specced our bike with sensible choices that are ideal for triathlon, including the popular ISM PN3.1 saddle and Challenge Strada Pro handmade tyres with aesthetically-pleasing tan sidewalls. You can also run the ENVE Foundation wheels tubeless for added puncture protection.
Argon 18 E119 Tri+ Disc verdict
The E119 isn’t a bike we fell in love with straight away, but after two or three rides and making some adjustments to the front end, we really enjoyed riding it as fast as we could on flat, smooth roads.
Having said that, its extra weight compared to some rivals is a little noticeable. When another revamp is due we’d ideally like it to be lighter and come with some proprietary hydration to bring it in line with the very best triathlon superbikes out there.
Verdict: Fast, aggressive triathlon superbike with plenty of impressive innovation.
Argon 18 E119 Tri+ Disc specs
Price: From £7,300 (exact price depends on build)
Weight: 9.11kg (size medium, without pedals or flat kit)
Frame: E-119 Tri+ Disc
Fork: E-119 Tri+ Disc specific
Gears: SRAM Force eTap AXS, 48/35, 10-28
Brakes: TRP TR140-25, 140mm rotors
Wheels: ENVE Foundation Collection Carbon Tubeless Disc
Finishing kit: Argon 18 Integrated Cockpit, 51 Speedshop extensions, ISM PN3.1 saddle, Challenge Strada Pro HTLR Road Clincher 25c tyres.
Stability, clever integration and storage, versatile cockpit.
Heavy, fewer storage options than some rivals.
You want something easy to adjust and pack for travel, and don’t target hilly races.
Top image credit: Pete Photographie