Gravel racer Sarah Max has been helping Bend, Oregon-based Argonaut refine a new gravel bike, testing different iterations of it at top races this season. At Unbound Gravel, she rode the bike to an 11th place finish.
The latest version of the GR3 — a placeholder name subject to change by the final release — seems to be working quite well for Max. Last weekend, she rode it to the top step of the Belgian Waffle Ride Asheville podium.
With the GR3, Argonaut is hoping to offer something a little bit different from what’s currently on the market. Argonaut COO Alex Candelario calls it “a rowdy race bike that is is capable of devouring gravel.” It shares a ride quality with Argonaut’s road bike, he says, but with the ability to easily take on rough roads.
- Rob Britton’s Felt Breed Carbon with Classified PowerShift hub for Unbound Gravel
- Unbound Gravel 200 winner Sofia Gomez Villafañe’s Specialized Crux
The bike is currently on its fourth iteration, with each version featuring subtle changes to the carbon layup as Max helps the brand figure out what is needed to contest big races.
Because Argonaut creates its own frame molds and assembles the frames in house, the brand has been able to make adjustments quickly, going from tooling to rideable product in as little as 23 days. This in-house capability also means Argonaut will be able to offer this gravel bike with custom geometry, something that is hard to come by in carbon frames.
The GR3 will be Argonaut’s first true gravel bike, with tire clearance greater than 35mm. Though Candelario wouldn’t provide details on the tire clearance, noting that it could change by the final product, judging by the ample space around Max’s 700x40mm IRC Boken tires it appears to be well north of 40mm.
Another point of interest is a reversible dropout in the fork which changes the bike’s rake. Whether that makes the final production version hasn’t been decided says Candelario. Argonaut is targeting a fall release for the bike.
We got an up-close look at Max’s prototype bike before Unbound Gravel.
With the GR3 prototype gravel bike, Argonaut wants to offer something different from what is currently on the market.
Max has her bike set up with SRAM Red AXS 1x and ENVE 3.4AR wheels.
Max was running a fairly aggressive gear ratio for Unbound Gravel, which doesn’t feature any major or extended climbs, with a 10-44T cassette and a 44T chainring, giving her a low gear of 1:1.
Max uses a Wolf Tooth chainring on SRAM Red crank arms. Road pedals and shoes provide more power transfer than their off-road counterparts, but are a bold choice for any course with hike-a-bike sections or rain in the forecast.
The reversible dropout on this Argonaut fork allows Max to change the rake of her bike. Argonaut hasn’t decided if this feature will make the final model.
The GR3 does not skimp on tire clearance up front.
An ENVE AR Integrated handlebar and Argonaut stem make up the cockpit.
Argonaut is able to make a brand new bike with a custom geometry in-house in 23 days. With paint, the latest version of the GR3 prototype comes in at 850 grams, says Argonaut COO Alex Candelario, an impressively low weight for a painted gravel frame.
Max has a 100mm Argonaut stem angled at 4 degrees.
Argonaut coats the bike in Cerakote to protect it on gravel roads.
The GR3 has an interesting bottom bracket juncture. Max runs Ceramicspeed bearings in her bottom bracket.
Arundel mandible bottle cages are a nice, lightweight carbon option.
Max uses a Fabric Line Shallow saddle on an ENVE seatpost.
With a low profile center tread pattern, these 700x40mm IRC Boken tires are made for fast-rolling courses.