A lightweight bike designed for climbing, but that can perform incredibly well on the flat too
It might have been because of its geometry, but when I firstly hopped on the Argon 18 Gallium Pro, I felt the Canadian bike fitted me perfectly. It has been like wearing a tailored dress and it seemed this bicycle was designed for my measures.
At the same time, it immediately felt fast and responsive, and as it was designed for climbing, I looked forward to bringing it to its natural environment.
Despite the fact the designers opted for a square-like shape to the tubes, the lines of the Gallium’s frame are really catchy. The Canadian manufacturer used two different designs for the bottom and the top of the frame: the lower one responsible of the rigidity of the bike, and the top one focused on the comfort for the rider (HDS; Horizontal Dual System). However, while the first ride on it was absolutely fantastic and fast, the comfort was not quite what I’d hoped for as the Argon 18 Gallium Pro remains a pure racing bike.
The carbon fibre used for the Gallium is Argon’s Nanotech Tubing HM7050 and the bike also features a carbon fork (Ga31) and seatpost (ASP-6550).
In terms of weight, the Gallium’s frame is the lightest one produced by Argon 18, and it’s 790 grams for the frame alone is in line with Chris Froome’s Pinarello Dogma F8 ridden at the 2016 Tour de France, or the newest graphene frames launched by UK manufacturer Dassi in July. With this lightweight specification, of course the Argon 18 is a delight for the climber, but at the same time its performances on the flat were amazing. The only colour available is the “Red Matte + Black Gloss”, but overall it is a great combination of colours.
A great plus of the Argon 18 Gallium Pro is that it features a complete Shimano Ultegra groupset, while handlebars and stem are from 3T and are a good match for the bike. The wheelset is completed with a pair of Fulcrum Racing Quattro: a good aluminum wheel for every-day use, but that makes the bike a bit heavier (the wheelset weight is 1,878 g) for what it has been designed for.
For a price tag of £3,500, however, we expected a little more, particularly from the wheelset, as the one supplied affects the general performance of the bike. To be fair, it is normal that even for this price, retailers and distributors tend to finish the bike with non high-end final components. This is to help keep the price down (otherwise it would be even more expensive), but in terms of final specification, it definitely represents a downside that influences its value for money as well.
As the wheelset is the basic training one of the Fulcrum range, the performance of the Gallium uphill was a little bit below expectations. Argon 18 describes its bike as “the ultimate climbing bike”, and with a different set of wheels it might be. Initially the bike felt comfortable, especially sat cruising in the saddle (the 3T ergonomic handlebar is one of the most comfortable I tried for when you have your hands on the bar). However, with the Fulcrum wheelset, I found it a little slow to react (especially when standing on the pedals) and a bit stiff on the front.
But when you turn its nose downhill, its superb features won’t let you down. The Argon 18 Gallium Pro is a great bike, super stable when you descend and super precise also when you’re cornering at high speed. I also rode it in a race around Leeds, and on the sharp ups and downs of Yorkshire this bike was one of the best choices I could have made that day. It was always responsive and reliable at all times.
However, even though the Argon 18 Gallium Pro is definitely a great race bike, it is not a super comfortable and soft bike when put under pressure or when you’re hitting bumps. If you’re looking for a comfortable bike for long days in the saddle, then look somewhere else; this is a pure race machine.
Seeing a full Ultegra groupset was very good, but the wheelset specification brought the overall value for money of this bike down quite a lot. You can definitely cope with the Fulcrum Racing Quattro for everyday use (particularly if you have another set of high-end wheels), but they generally don’t allow the performances the bike was designed for.
The Argon 18 Gallium Pro is a lightweight bike conceived for climbing. Even though it performs well uphills and its ergonomic handlebasr are expressly made for this purpose, the general performance of its specification are not highlighting its potential.