“Argon 18 is a Canadian bicycle manufacturer founded in 1989 by retired cyclist, Gervais Rioux in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The name is derived from the element Argon, which is number 18 on the periodic table of elements. In June 2017, Argon 18 became the official supplier to Canada’s national road, track and para-cycling cycling teams, through the 2020 Olympic Games.” Source, Wikipedia. The company also supplies bikes to the Astana World Tour Team.
The Dark Matter is Argon 18’s first foray into the gravel bike market. In 2017, they did test the waters a little with their Krypton endurance bike, which was a departure from the company’s tradition of aggressive geometry road bikes.
The Dark Matter features shorter chainstays than the earlier mentioned Krypton bike (sorry, no geometry figures available at this time), but not so short that tyre clearance is compromised.
A 700c x 45mm tyre will fit between these chainstays and beneath the fork, but no reference is made to the bike’s ability to handle 650b wheels.
However, if you notice the drop down drive side chainstay, that feature lends itself well to big tyre clearance, including 650b, possibly somewhere in the area of 2.1″ wide.
Argon 18 spec the Dark Matter with SRAM’s excellent Force 1 x 11 single chainring / 1x groupset.
The front end of the Dark Matter features the company’s “3D Plus” headset cap system, that can raise the stem 0mm, 15mm or 30mm.
The “3D Plus” system is similar to the headset system employed by Parlee with their Chebacco gravel bike. Regardless, this systems lends itself to a very clean looking front end.
Cables are internalized through this removable port cover.
Above, another view of the Dark Matter’s “3D Plus” headset cap system.
Curved fork legs buck the trend of many modern gravel bikes, but this aeons old design is designed to flex and absorb vibrations.
Above, the front brake housing is routed neatly through the inside of the fork. The fork does include well-hidden fender mounts.
Flat-mount front SRAM Force hydraulic brake caliper, paired with a 160mm rotor.
Once again, flat-mount disc brake caliper on the rear, and 160mm rotor. Note the Argon 18 logo on the rear 142 x 12mm thru-bolt.
Above, the dropped drive-side chainstay can be seen and the added detail of an Argon 18 logo’d frame protector behind the SRAM Force crankset.
A 42 tooth front single chainring paired to a 42 tooth big cog on the rear cassette provides a one to one gear ratio, perfect for scaling some seriously steep hills. The Dark Matter also supports a front derailleur / double chainring drivetrain, and the downtube protector pictured above (hidden behind the crankset) provides a mounting point for another bottle cage, and can be removed to expose a cable port for easy access to route cables, servicing, etc.
Pictured above is the neat removable front derailleur mount. It mounts to the frame using the seat tube water bottle cage bolts, but still allows a bottle cage to be mounted to the frame.
SRAM’s Force 11 clutch rear derailleur is well proven in challenging conditions.
The down low seat stays add a racy look to the rear of the bike, which play well with the bike’s short chainstays. Those features suggest the bike is targeted more towards gravel racing, but the Dark Matter would likely do well toting around an extra bottle cage and frame bag or two.
Pricing and availability are unknown at this time, and Argon 18 do not list the Dark Matter on their website at the time of writing. Expect that to change in the near future.
According to representatives of Argon 18 on-site, the Dark Matter frame in size Medium weighs approximately 1,300 grams with paint but sans accessories, whilst the fork weighs approximately 470 grams.
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