Canadian company Argon 18 began in 1989, and its modern Gallium frame is a stand-out model in its range due to its innovative 3D Headtube.
This intriguing design takes the concept of head tube extensions – often used by custom frame builders to negate the need for spacers – and makes it tuneable for individual riders. Argon 18 has made the 3D Headtube adjustable between three lengths per frame size, 0mm, 10mm and 20mm. So, assuming you don’t cut the steerer tube too short, you can adjust the head tube length over time.
This also serves to improve the ride quality; clamping the steerer in the head tube at the extremity just below the stem, with minimal or no spacers, reduces flex and therefore improves the frame’s steering response.
With two frame height spacers in the Gallium and 20mm of standard spacers, the front end was incredibly stiff, making it reassuringly responsive – much more so than I originally expected, and when pushed hard it never really felt out of its depth. The Argon 18 GA fork finishes the front end well and is built with the frame’s characteristics in mind, lateral stiffness and comfort.
The frame itself is made using 6600HM Nano-Tech Carbon Composite, with the design principle behind the Gallium being to build it for maximum lateral rigidity. The down tube is slightly triangulated, the top tube slightly flattened, to increase resistance to twisting forces. These, in addition to the well-built chainstays, BB and head tube only serve to increase the responsiveness of the frame. A light set of race wheels would really set this frame off.
Suprisingly, given the almost overbuilt look of the Gallium, the ride was neither harsh nor comfortable, but somewhere in the middle, with just the right amount of road feel. The curved seatstays no doubt helped to absorb road vibration, with further damping being built into the top tube.
All in all, the Gallium offers a lot of frame for the money, and when pushed hard it gives a rewarding ride, with its design lending itself perfectly to creating an incredibly stiff, responsive front end. This innovative design also allows you to get the perfect fit and to grow with the frame by either lowering or raising the height of the head tube.