My Argonaut Cycles 2.0 Road with SRAM Red 22

I’ve learned a lot in the past two years and so has Ben at Argonaut Cycles. He looks at his made in the USA, fully custom carbon road bikes as a project that’s ever-evolving. With each frame, he learns more not only about his customers, but his own process. My Argonaut was perfection in my eyes and while I loved it, some things about it made it less than ideal for my lifestyle and by that I mean, I travel. A lot. At the time, Ben didn’t offer a traditional seat post, only an ISP…


My Argonaut Cycles 2.0 Road with SRAM Red 22

An integrated seat post looks awesome and it drastically effects the way a frame handles but most importantly, to me anyway, is how a frame travels. There aren’t a lot of easy ways to ship a bike with a massive seat mast…

I noticed something in the time I owned my Argonaut. I was never home to ride it! And I couldn’t get a case large enough to fit it. So after some liquid courage, I emailed Argonaut and asked if there was any way to convert the ISP to a traditional seat post, even though I knew what Ben’s answer would be.

You see, with an Argonaut, if you change one thing, it ripples through the layup, not to mention the shape of the top tube and seat tube would have to change considerably. Luckily, Ben was already working on some other new things with these frames and it happened to coincide with my email, so we worked out a fair price for an “upgrade” – in exchange, I’d get to ride a current model, offer Ben continued PR&D and give the bike some worldwide exposure.

My Argonaut Cycles 2.0 Road with SRAM Red 22

Granted, this bike would be much more than a carbon copy of my last. With a new layup and traditional seat post, the seat tube cluster and top tube would be considerably stiffer, while the rest of the bike’s handling would remain mostly the same.

I dropped a great deal of weight since the first iteration. Now I’m around 180lbs, down from 220lbs. My flexibility has increased, as well as my fitness. My ideal ride is still very similar, I can just climb a lot faster now and spend more time in the saddle, whereas before, I climbed almost exclusively out of the saddle. In short: a lot has changed!

My Argonaut Cycles 2.0 Road with SRAM Red 22

Aesthetics play a big role in most people’s lives and this round, I opted for a more subtle paint job. Matt clear with one gloss logo on the downtube and turquoise accents. Ben’s painter (Eric at Colorworks) then murdered out my ENVE bars and topped my ENVE seat post with turquoise.

My Argonaut Cycles 2.0 Road with SRAM Red 22

The frame isn’t the only thing that evolved. For this version, I went with SRAM’s new (to me) Red 22 group with a standard 53/39 crank but kept the trusty 11-28 cassette. I also opted for a more robust 32h 3x wheelset, but remained loyal to the Chris King components and swapped out the H+Son rims for Hed’s C2 Belgium rims. Not that I had any issues with the last wheelset, the hubs were simply 10-speed.

I gave Ben a deposit and 6-8 weeks later, the frame was complete. All of this coincided with the Mavic 125ans project, so he shipped my frame to Golden Saddle Cyclery, where Olympic-medal mechanic Thomas Wood, aka “Woody” assembled it and I had a bike to ride in Los Angeles while I stayed there.

The weight difference? Argo 1.0 was 15lbs (6.8kg) flat, Argo 2.0 is 16lbs (7.25kg) flat. Not bad. Especially since this is far from a “weight weenie” build – those Challenge Roubaix 27mm 300tpi tires are so worth it before you ask!

My Argonaut Cycles 2.0 Road with SRAM Red 22

Look, the last Argonaut was a dream frame and it may seem like a finicky thing to want to replace it, but with the amount of time I travel, this bike fits me both in form and function. It’s still the best-riding bike I’ve ever thrown a leg around and this new frame has evolved in a way that I still can’t begin to describe.

My Argonaut Cycles 2.0 Road with SRAM Red 22

All I can say is if you want the most-tailored, no-nonsense, made in the USA, custom, carbon frame there’s only one place to go: Argonaut Cycles.

  • Tyler Morin

    Wow! What a great looking bike! So envious of all your sweet rides!

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I’ve got a lot of talented frame builder friends and $0 in my savings hah

  • Patrick Murphy

    I’ll miss the purple, but I’m stoked you’ll be able to ride this exquisite machine all over the world now.

  • Tyler Johnson

    This is money. Need Tracko to get you a turquoise ramblin for it :)

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Ha!

      • mywynne

        I might have a spare roll in turquoise, actually…

  • andy kappler

    This is pure badass! I want to ride this when you come to PDX.

  • Dobry

    Nice bike. This is a really interesting post, I got to learn about a prominent indy builder, learn about carbon bike fab, and got food for thought about what to contemplate when thinking about what kind of bike to get . . . all while enjoying purdy pikchers.

    If you’re ever reaching for article ideas, I’d love to see a post about packing something like this for travel – what case, how to make assembly and disassembly easy, flying with a bike, etc.

  • rmdub

    Hot damn, I need an Argo in my life.

  • jamon

    fucking rich

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Rick with talented friends and selling camera equipment to buy bikes!

  • Agleck7

    Many awesome bikes isn’t a problem of course, but where does your Bishop fit in (since this is the best riding bike)? Do you prefer one or the other for certain types of rides, or just apples to oranges and cool to have rad options?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      The Bishop fits exactly the same but is actually a lot stiffer (and only 17lbs). It just kinda depends on what I want to ride… If it’s windy, or we’re doing a lot of dirt, I’d rather be on the Bishop.

      • Agleck7

        Cool, thanks.

  • Keith Gibson

    sweet ride.

  • paul cihak

    Couldn’t agree more on the tires. Those completely transformed my Paramount.

  • Lemontime

    Nipple bar ends.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      bill murray meat pie dick stem #FOAMAFIA!

  • AndyFyxo

    Do they make recumbents? What about couplers for travel?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Yes and fixie tourers.

  • http://subcontinentalcyclist.wordpress.com/ Ankush Agarwal

    That’s a beautiful looking, robust setup. Congratulations on the upgrade and yes, Argonaut is the best you can get in USA.

  • adanpinto

    Very nice bike, congrats. +1 for the tires and the classic approach in the wheelset.

  • Richard Smith

    I assume you’re still not a Di2 convert then?
    I’m really interested in how an ISP “drastically affects the way a frame handles”. It’d be cool if you could shed some light on this.
    Really surprised that your Bishop is stiffer! Do you mean better power transfer, less comfort, or both? Did you ask for a softer ride with the Argonaut?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      With an ISP, it’s one tube, from your saddle, to the BB shell. The stays and top tube die into that tube, as it extends beyond. If you want to think of it in terms of stiffness, with a steel ISP, it becomes a very stiff ride (ass hammer). With carbon, especially with layups that aren’t incredibly stiff, it gives the bike a bit of compliance, which is what I loved about my last argo. It’s tough to explain…

      So with a traditional seat post, you’re ending the seat tube, at the top tube and stays, then reinforcing that area, adding a collar clamp and inserting a post into that area, essentially strengthening that junction, making for a stiffer ride. A lot of frame “stiffness” comes from the top tube and seat tube cluster while seated.

      The Bishop is much stiffer because the tubes are all oversized and the seat tube is Columbus MAX, a robust tubeset. All these large diameter tubes die into a pressfit 30 BB.

      Both bikes are very comfortable, because one is steel and one is carbon with a layup inspired by the feel of steel. I didn’t ask Ben for a crit or racing layup.

  • Peter

    The fibers around the seattube-toptube-seatstay junction are perfection. I worked in a custom carbon fiber shop for 6 years and it pains me to see the crappy layup jobs on so many carbon bikes (and other doodads) out there. Big wrinkles, waving unifiber, bunched bi-ax weave, etc.
    The smooth uni-plies visible here are evidence of a top quality job…..no hiding it with paint.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      You should see the facilities. They’re way far removed from the traditional carbon layup shops. Space-tech…

  • h salinas

    Very, very nice, John. Really appreciate the reportage but also the insight about how your fitness and riding style have changed with your needs. I’m in the same boat in a sense, down from 230 to 170, and I owe it all to riding.

    Happy riding dude!

  • http://www.pedalroom.com/bike/fuji-track-10-2011-15436 Jaap

    I’ve been riding Veloflex Corsa 25mm tyres and they have been great on both smooth asphalt and the (real) Belgian cobblestones. Are they comparable to these Challenge tyres? Because unfortunately Veloflex doesn’t go any bigger than 25mm..

    btw, you still need an American made pedal upgrade ;)

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Made in France is ok with me… I do not like Speedplay, nothing against them, just hate their fragile cleats.

      • Thibaut Rivière

        I’ve been riding last year Tour de France switching with Look Keao Classic and Speedplay stainless Steal (i’ve been using them for 3 years fixed and freewheel with the same cleat set). The Keao Classic is the best value for money and the wheight is less important mainly due to the cleats (I personnaly fing fragile but more stable when not on the bike and easy to clean when accidentaly walked in the muddy grass). The speedplays allows clipping on both side and when you stop in the middle of the pass (10% or so) to dress-up a wind jacket and you’re exhausting, this is a real advantage. The only negative thing with the SP cleats is when you get sticky mud in it, your clipping and unclipping becomes difficult and dangerous.

  • http://www.fyxo.co/ fyxo

    You got me.

  • AKKC

    How is the HED rim compared to H+Sons TB14 or Mavic OP??

    • Andrew Suzuki

      Do you mean the H+Son Archetype?

  • http://www.shutuplegs.de/ shutuplegs.de

    Argonaut Bikes are always awesome. With the improvements you described above it really is a dreambike! I am a bit jealous ;)

  • EffOhEff

    This is super cool. Really digging the wheelset. Do you have any experience on the Belgium+?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Not yet but I really want to!

  • Rob Auchincloss

    I’d argue that the Parlee Z-Zero is the “most-tailored, no-nonsense, made in the USA, custom, carbon frame” available, but still the Argonaut is a great bike. Have you considered testing a Z-Zero?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I have ridden one and the layup process is like apples and oranges. For starters, they can’t tune the layup like an Argonaut. Carbon lugged construction is by no means the latest and greatest in carbon manufacturing, but, that’s my opinion…

      • Rob Auchincloss

        True, I get that, Ben does use a pretty advanced process that should command a lot of respect for his bikes. Carbon lugged manufacturing has been around for a while, but I feel that Parlee has certainly mastered it. Then again, we are both talking about two bikes in the very top tier of this category, its almost like choosing between a Ferrari 458 Italia and a McLaren MP4-12C, they are both different, but you can’t really go wrong. Thanks for the response.