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First look: Argon 18 E-118 Tri+

Our first look at Argon 18's pro-level UCI-legal tri bike left us very impressed.

The new E-118 Tri+ offers the aerodynamics and handling that UCI riders will love in a triathlon-friendly package.

I got my first look at Argon 18’s new E-118 Tri+ in Kona last year when the Quebec-based company launched it’s new UCI-legal speedster, but didn’t get a chance to actually ride the new bike until last week. We’ll have a more extensive review of the bike both online and in our July issue of Triathlon Magazine Canada, but figured we’d tease you with some first thoughts about the new ride.

Many of those first thoughts can be encapsulated with one word: impressive. Based on my conversations with the folks from Argon 18 I had a pretty good idea that this was going to be a bike I’d enjoy riding. Even after just a couple of rides I have been pleasantly surprised at how much I like this bike.

One of the biggest goals the folks at Argon 18 had with the E-118 Tri+ was to shave off some weight. The typical line when it comes to tri and time trial bikes is that weight isn’t nearly as important as aerodynamics. While that might be true at some levels, what’s wrong with having both? A lighter bike will be much better for climbing, and why can’t that same light bike be aero?

You’ll immediately notice that lighter weight once you get on the E-118 Tri+. After years and years of riding heavier bikes, it was a joy to be on something that feels distinctly more like a road bike. This new frame is 250 g lighter than the previous generation E-118Next, which is even more impressive since the new Tri+ has disc brakes, which are usually a bit of a weight penalty. The lighter weight is especially noticeable once you start climbing. I can’t imagine a bike that would be better suited for some of the sport’s hilliest bike courses like Nice, Lanzarote or St. George.

The disc brakes provide excellent stopping power.

While the weight is just one of the factors that makes the E-118 Tri+ feel so good – as much as Argon 18 loves us triathletes, they have some heavy-duty roadies to take care of, too. Last year the Astana Pro cycling team used this bike to capture the Team Time Trial at the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain), no doubt enjoying the snappy handling that road cyclists expect from their TT machines. This is a stiff, performance-oriented frame, which results in a very responsive feel – this is a bike that really feels great hammering into corners. (I found it to be very comparable to the Cervelo P5 launched last year on that front.) Add to all that the added braking performance you get from the disc brakes and you have a bike that’s really ready to perform on technical corners and descents.

All of which might be nice, but is useless for triathletes if they can’t dial in a good position. Here’s where Argon 18 has really nailed things. I was more than pleasantly surprised at how easily I was able to set the E-118 Tri+ for the aggressive riding position I prefer. I don’t know why I was surprised, though – Argon 18 updated the cockpit for the bike to accommodate the aggressive riding position riders like myself are looking for. The lower profile on the E-118 Tri+ has a 2 cm lower stack height than the E-118Next and has a 4 cm lower grip position.

Heather Jackson enjoys the lower grip position on her Argon 18 E-118 Tri+ at the 2019 Ironman World Championship.

The sleek new cockpit really lends itself to a low, aero position that remains extremely comfortable. There’s not a cable to be seen to catch the wind and there are lots of fitting options to ensure you can dial in a great position. The bike really is a joy to ride in an aero tuck.

It’s not hard to tell that I have been very impressed with the E-118 Tri+. My guess is that isn’t going to change as I spend more time on the bike. We’ll be back with a more detailed review with more thoughts on the performance and components.