True versatility is sometimes hard to find, but when you do find it, you can do no wrong. Such is the case with the new Argon 18 Krypton XRoad. It is truly a versatile, all-road fun machine that delivers a nimble, refined ride quality — no matter the conditions.
2015 Argon 18 Krypton XRoad Features:
- Argon 18 5007 HM carbon frame with Kr36X specific monocoque carbon fork
- 3D Headtube enables the proper fit without a loss in stiffness
- Horizontal Dual System for a refined ride
- Up to 32mm tire clearance (I rode 33’s)
- BB86 bottom bracket
- 27.2mm seatpost (included)
- Includes accomodations for Di2 drivetrain
- Frame Weight: 1150 grams (medium)
- Fork Weight: 550 grams (uncut)
- Complete Bike Weight: 16.7 lbs (17.4 lbs with pedals and cages)
- Price: $1999 (frame only)
The Versatile Argon 18 Krypton XRoad
When Argon 18 released their new Krypton XRoad, it immediately caught my eye. The promise of no-compromise on-road performance combined with the ability to run 32mm cross tires for gravel, dirt or an occasional cyclocross race sounded pretty good on paper and looked great in person. Adding discs on top of that really rounds out the versatility of the package and sets the stage for the next evolution of road bikes.
The Krypton XRoad was kitted out with a full SRAM Force 22 HydroR kit, Zipp Firecrest 202 disc wheels and a Zipp cockpit. As tested, the XRoad was well under 17 lbs. and is now the lightest disc-brake road bike I’ve ridden. The XRoad is a bit of a departure for Argon 18, who focuses on saving watts via aerodynamics or optimized carbon layups. But, deep down, I’ve got a feeling that this bike is one that the engineers have been dying to build because of its sheer versatility while remaining true to Argon 18’s heritage.
The monocoque frame is laid up with 5007 HM Nano-tech carbon fiber and adheres to Argon 18’s Horizontal Dual System — their jargon for lateral stiffness and vertical compliance. With this construction, this frame isn’t the lightest in the stable, but all things considered, it is certainly respectable and is specifically built to endure a fair bit of abuse as well as take the additional forces that disc brakes put on a frameset.
Something of note on the build is Argon’s proprietary 3D Headtube, which turns a very aggressive frame into a more reasonable one without sacrificing front-end stiffness or departing from a full-tilt race look. Since I need a more upright position, I appreciated the tall 25mm cap and was able to find just the right cockpit layout for long-term comfort. When assembling your XRoad, be sure you or your mechanic refers to the assembly guide — it’s certainly helpful.
On the pavement, the XRoad exhibits nothing short of fantastic manners. This bike feels well-planted while having a significant dose of “go juice” when pushed hard. Racking up the miles has been rewarding as I’ve come to appreciate the attention to detail that’s readily apparent.
The massive down tube and bottom bracket junction makes a statement in person and delivers in practice. Extended climbs are efficient and standing efforts feel as if you’re one with the road. As tested, this bike truly delivers a refined ride quality that reduces road chatter without ever feeling numb to the road. While the compliance is slightly bested by the likes of the Scott Solace, this frame is no slouch and delivers (in my opinion) a perfect balance of comfort and stiffness — all without any gimmicks.
After back-to-back ride comparisons between caliper brakes and disc brakes, it doesn’t take long to become a believer. Shedding speed has never felt so effortless and I’ve really loved the feel of the Force 22 HydroR levers and brakes. SRAM has moved forward in a big way and their brakes are arguably the best in the industry. I will note that this frame is built for 140mm rotors, but can take up to 160mm rotors with the proper adapters. Since SRAM doesn’t recommend anything smaller than 160mm for serious road riding, it is a little disappointing to have to deal with adapters instead of it naturally accepting 160mm rotors. Of course, much of that debate will be laid to rest once the UCI settles on a standard — I hope.
Since the XRoad uses standard axles, I was a bit worried that stiffness might be lacking for a disc-equipped bike. As it turns out, I’ve found both the fork and rear triangle to be amazingly laterally stiff. Not once during standing efforts did I cause the disc rotor to rub — not once.
The frame design uses a dropped seatstay to deliver a smoother ride without sacrificing pedaling efficiency. This design has been made famous by BMC, but works wonders here as road chatter is dissipated. I’ve found the XRoad to be a fantastic alpine climber and capable descender at speed. It tracks well at high and low speeds and maintains a comfortable level of maneuverability without ever feeling twitchy.
With the XRoad, you get one of the most well-rounded road bikes on the market. The coolest thing is this kick-butt road bike turns into a wicked-fun gravel/dirt bike without too much effort. Luckily, I have a set of Bontrager Affinity Elite Disc TLR wheels set up with Bontrager CX3 33mm cyclocross tires. While not as light as the Zipp 202’s, these wheels were set up tubeless and really were the perfect match for gravel, road and impromptu adventures. In gravel mode, this bike tips the scales at 18.6 lbs., as shown.
In gravel mode, the tire clearance is solid with my 33mm tires being exactly as big as you’d want to go. Clearance is fine for dry conditions, but muddy conditions may not fare so well, so keep that in mind if you intend to use the XRoad on a soggy cyclocross course or two.
Hands-down the greatest attribute of the XRoad is its versatility. I absolutely love how predictable and nimble it is on road, but I revel in the joy of being able to take any dirt road I can find. For example, I’ve been eyeing a few nearby dirt roads that I’ve scoped out with Google Maps and making it a point to explore them. After each dirt-seeking mission, I’ve come away with a huge grin on my face as the XRoad has taken me into places that most road bikes can’t go.
- Just the right balance between road feel and comfort
- This bike loves airtime — great for manualing or hopping potholes
- Capable of tackling any road
- Feels zippy at all speeds
- Climbs exceptionally well
- Fork is laterally stiff — no flex or disc rub when sprinting
- Disc brakes are awesomer than you can even imagine
- Cable routing rubs my knees on standing climbs
- Reduced heel clearance
- Post mounts should accept 160mm rotors naturally
The Bottom Line: Argon 18 Krypton XRoad
If your dream ride consists of pavement, gravel and occasional singletrack, the Krypton XRoad will deliver in spades. With a gorgeous frame that delivers a high-quality ride, Argon 18 has built a fun machine with the XRoad.
Buy Now: Available at WrenchScience.com
The Agron 18 Krypton XRoad offers a unique blend of on-road performance with near-cyclocross versatility. On the road, this bike is a gas and it loves getting dirty too -- just not too dirty. This is a beautiful bike that's suited to someone who rides equal parts road and gravel.