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Review: Argon 18 Subito E-Road

Your ebike years are already here

Argon 18 Subito E-Road Photo by: Matt Stetson

The ride I had planned was ambitious. I was getting a little tired of the short routes I was doing around my home. It was early season. My fitness was OK, but I was itching for a longer ride, which would have to be solo. I wanted to get out of the city, cruise on some country roads and return home quickly. After my ride, I still had to be a functioning dad. I couldn’t be shelled and spend the day with my legs propped up. When my form is good, an early morning tempo ride isn’t a problem. But in April, I was in no shape to ride far and fast without getting totalled.

At that time, Argon 18 sent me it’s new Subito E-Road in a seemingly prescient move. If you are familiar with Argon 18’s lineup, you can see familiar features. The E-Road has an endurance geometry that it inherits from the Krypton. The fit range on those bikes is impressive because of the 3D headset, which the company has spec’d on various models throughout the years. The 3D system uses a threaded cup that affixes head-tube spacers to the frame. The setup keeps things stiff and the look clean as you dial your fit. For me, I was able to run an ego-boosting slammed stem (which I can’t do on a road bike). The bike felt right because I was able to get into my optimum riding position.

Another feature that migrates into the Subito is Argon 18’s compliance system. The company designed a machine to rattle the heck out of its latest Krypton frame to track energy transmission through the tube. Through that testing, Argon was able to get the best carbon layup and tube shapes to mitigate vibrations. I liked the compliance system on the Krypton Pro and was happy to see it on the Subito.

The Ebikemotion X35 system’s main button, which indicates the level of assist and the battery’s power level

The big changes for the Subito is the addition of the Ebikemotion X35 system, which includes a motor at the rear wheel’s hub that can provide a maximum torque of 40 Nm. There is a battery, too. “The changes to the frame were mainly at the down tube because we had to fit a battery pack that is fairly big,” says Martin Faubert, Argon 18’s vice-president of product. “We wanted to be as discreet as possible. We always put a lot of attention into making sure things are easy to install and easy to service. We like to make riders happy, but we hope to bike mechanics happy, too.”

Ebikemotion X35 hub-drive system on the Argon 18 Subito E-Road

The Ebikemotion system seems to have become a standard for designers of drop-bar bikes who want to keep a bike’s weight down. The E-Road weighs in at 12.17 kg. While Ebikemotion is not as refined as a mid-drive system, such as Shimano Steps, it does the trick for the Subito. I like Ebikemotion’s simplicity: you pair the bike and its system with an app on your smartphone. From there you can set the three assist settings. I always, diligently, set the first engine map to 33 per cent assist, the second to 66 per cent and the third to 100 per cent. Then, 90 per cent of the time, I run the 100 per cent-assist setting because, well, fast is fun. A button/light combo on the top tube lets you toggle between settings as you ride. It also uses the colours white, green, orange and red to indicate the amount of juice in the battery. (A red light flashing rapidly means you have less than 10 per cent of the battery’s power left.) I could get roughly 80-km of full pedal assist on the flat terrain in my area out of a full charge.

Argon 18 Subito E-Road

Much of the discussion around ebikes is how they offer slower riders the ability to keep up with faster ones. But back in April, I wanted the Subito to simply help out my slower early-season self. The E-Road turned what would have been a crushing ride into the countryside and back into a pleasant Zone 2 effort. I know it was Zone 2 because I attached Garmin Vector pedals to the bike. Yes, the speed wasn’t all mine but the power I put into those pedals was. I still worked on my fitness. On a shorter ride, I went to an industrial park. (There were charging stations for electric cars in the parking lots, which is cool. But I want public charging stations for ebikes.) The motor could get me up to 32 km/h quickly and easily, but then the assistance stopped. Anything faster was all me. So, I could do some good efforts in the 35 km/h range.

The Subito E-Road showed me that an ebike could be an n+1 bike even for riders who don’t feel they are in their ebikes years, yet. They can have a role in your training and your enjoyment of cycling. If you can, you might as well get a jump on things.

Argon 18 Subito E-Road

Components Shimano Ultegra 50/34-tooth crankset, 11-30 tooth, 11-speed cassette, hydraulic disc brakes
Drive System Ebikemotion X35 hub-drive pedal assist motor with 40 Nm of torque and a 248 Wh li-ion battery
Wheels Vision Team 30 Disc with 700c x 27c Challenge Paris Roubaix Plus tires
Sizes XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL
Price $6,000
Website argon18.com
Argon 18 Subito E-Road
Argon 18 Subito E-Road