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Remember the good old days (okay, it was just two years ago) when endurance bikes looked like a nursing home version of a race bike? Those aesthetic cues are thankfully gone, though the core concepts of endurance design remain. Argon 18’s Krypton GF is proof positive a new era of endurance bikes has arrived.
Don’t be alarmed, though. Like all bikes in this category, the Krypton GF still focuses on keeping you comfortable on long rides and avoids aggressive race-bike geometry. Manufacturers have found there’s a better way to get to that goal. Argon 18 does so with some tried-and-true methods like dropped seat stays and forgiving geometry. It also throws in some unique features like a raked-out fork and 3D Plus head tube system.
The head tube length can be adjusted by swapping out three different cap options. For the most aggressive position, pop in the 0-millimeter cap; for a middle position, try the 15-millimeter cap; and for the most upright position, the 30-millimeter cap does the job. Chances are you’ll figure out within a few rides which cap is right for you, and stick with it. It’s nice to have the option to change—assuming you don’t cut your steerer too short. That results in a head tube length ranging from 159 to 189 millimeters.
The Krypton certainly is long. A 1,013-millimeter wheelbase and 420-millimeter chain stays both contribute to a stable ride. That means you’ll have to give it plenty of guidance in corners, but it also means the Krypton GF feels planted and well-balanced in out-of-the-saddle sprints and high-speed burns. It also has clearance for 32-millimeter tires, which means you can cave to the temptation to take it on dirt roads or rougher pavement more often. In fact, the Krypton GF felt most comfortable and natural on our local gravel roads.
Those dirt sections proved to be an ideal testing ground for the Krypton’s compliance features. The dropped seat stays take care of vibrations in the rear, allowing the seat tube to flex fore and aft for comfort on big hits. Coupled with cushy 27-millimeter tires, the Krypton smoothed out just the right amount of road feedback. The front end is similarly quiet, thanks in large part to the unique fork shape.
About that fork: It’s designed around Argon 18’s Topological Compliance System (TCS). It features a pronounced rake that’s designed to dampen as much vibration as possible. It works well, but the tradeoff is a noticeably long 62-millimeter trail. So it should come as no surprise that the handling requires some muscling. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; if you’ve spent any time on dedicated race bikes, you know what it feels like to have every handlebar input transfer right to your front wheel. The Krypton GF purposely avoids such touchiness in favor of stability. It’s a boon at the end of long days when your energy levels drop and your skills begin to deteriorate.
The Krypton also embraces a broader trend: category blending. It features aero elements like truncated airfoil tube shapes on the fork and another foil shape on the down tube. The seat stays, too, have some airfoil shaping, though the seat tube is mostly round to accommodate the 27.2-millimeter seatpost (which is largely a compliance feature). Unfortunately, at 17.5 pounds, it also carries the bulk of both categories.
With the Ultegra Di2 build, the bike comes in at $5,500. If you’ve got several gran fondos on your itinerary, it’s well worth the investment. Otherwise, go mechanical and save $1,500 in the process.
Either way, you’re getting an endurance bike that bucks the endurance aesthetic that so vexed the category for years. The Krypton GF also offers the performance advantages of pure race bikes—like aerodynamic touches—blended with a heavy dose of compliance features and geometry that will help keep you fresh in the last few miles of your next epic day.
We hope you enjoyed this online gear selection. For the complete VeloNews Buyer’s Guide, which is only available in the magazine, subscribe to VeloNews, visit your local newsstand, or buy the single issue.