Quebec’s Argon 18 has been a big player in the triathlon market for a while, but over the last couple of years the company seems to really be pulling out all the stops with a steady stream of impressive new releases. Last year we got to ride the company’s E-118 Tri+ Disc, a bike that offered an excellent balance of aerodynamics, light weight, and agile handling. This year comes the new E-119 Tri+ Disc, which takes a lot of those same features to a new level.
Remember the days when we used to say that disc-braked bikes weren’t as fast when it came to aerodynamics? Those days appear to be long gone, as engineers continue to develop ways to make bikes cut through the air that much quicker even with the brake rotors that have to be attached to the bike. Argon 18 has continued that trend – the new E-119 Tri+ Disc tests 10 watts faster than the old E-119, in part because the brake calipers are integrated into the frame. But that’s just the beginning when it comes to aerodynamics and performance on this bike.
We all know that aero is everything when it comes to a fast triathlon bike split, and that starts with your set up in the cockpit. The new E-119 Tri+ Disc features Argon 18’s collaboration with Mat Steinmetz from 51 Speedshop. The result is lots of versatility and adjustability, which means you can dial in a really comfortable, aerodynamic position. The 51-Speedshop extensions are really comfortable and, as with another Steinmetz collaboration – Cervelo’s P5X – the basebar can be flipped so you can achieve an even more aggressive position. The end result is a streamlined, comfortable, set up without a cable in sight to catch the wind.
Integration is a key component to the all the latest super bikes, and the E-119 Tri+ Disc adds some interesting new twists on that front. The bento box on the top tube is considerably larger than that found on the old E-119 (405 vs 288 ml) and there’s lots of ways to integrate your hydration in the cockpit, behind the saddle or on the downtube. The integrated toolkit is nothing short of masterful – it’s found just above the toolkit behind a trap door in a sleek, zippered pouch with elastic placeholders for tools, tubes and quick fills.
The flagship version of the E-119 Tri+ Disc comes equipped with SRAM’s top of the line Red eTap AXS components, which provides rock-solid performance. For the price you’d hope you’d get a power meter, and you do, in the form of Rotor’s Aero Inspider.
Heading into the review I thought I was going to lose my mind with the Rotor’s 48/35 chainrings, but was pleasantly surprised with all the gear options I had thanks to Argon 18’s pairing of those rings with a 10-28 cassette – this is definitely a winning combination, for sure. While our review model came with Enve 65 wheels, the production version of the bike comes with Enve SES 7.8 wheels that will offer up even more speed.
In terms of bike handling and climbing performance, the E-119 Tri+ Disc is every bit as impressive as the E-118 we reviewed last year, which says a lot. It was easy to see why road racers would be drawn to that bike for time trials thanks to the nimble cornering, excellent power transfer and responsive feel. You get very much the same feel on this latest version of the E-119, which is also comfortable for long stretches down in the aero position, too. Argon 18 has done a great job here with the geometry to give you the best of both worlds, making this an excellent choice for virtually any triathlon. Hills, technical corners, long stretches into the wind – this bike will suit you well no matter what the course throws at you. As with the E-118, too, this is a bike that just feels lighter than other tri bikes, making it an able climbing machine, too.
Argon 18 has pulled out all the stops with its flagship E-119 Tri+ Disc, and it’s really hard to find anything not to like about this bike. This all-rounder will do you well no matter what type of triathlon you’re getting ready to go fast at.
This review originally appeared in the July issue of Triathlon Magazine Canada.