Bikes of the Bunch: Argonaut Custom Carbon

by Matt de Neef


Over the past few months we’ve been bringing you some great Bikes of the Bunch with help from our friends at Above Category in Sausalito, California. For today’s edition we thought we’d ask the store’s owner, Chad Nordwall, to share some info about the Argonaut he’s riding and why, of all the bikes he could be riding, he chose this one.

I own a shop so we are always looking for new products that meet our criteria. We are incredibly happy with what we have right now in steel and titanium but have been searching for the best fit in a custom carbon frame. For sure we’ve ridden some nice custom carbon bikes over the past decade but were still not 100% satisfied.

We met Ben Farver, the founder of Argonaut, a year ago and rode one of his bikes on our roads at that time. I really liked it, even though it didn’t fit very well, it left a good impression and we started talking about working together. I liked the fact that the frames looked good with a nice balance of traditional and cutting-edge aesthetic.

But I really liked the fact that the bikes are made not too far from here in Portland, Oregon. We’re surrounded by lots of local titanium, steel and aluminium frame fabricators, but there are not many who do it at this level, in carbon and in the US.

Before building I filled out a questionnaire from Argonaut about my riding style and preferences which helped a lot in setting the tone for the discussions that followed. It took about 10 weeks to get the frame, which is fairly standard for a custom bike.

It was a pretty easy decision when working out how to build up the bike. I really like Campagnolo components and was looking forward to the new 2015 mechanical group. In fact I was lucky enough to get one of the first groups, including the new Bora Ultra wheels. I also really like Fizik components and like that they make a matching cockpit. So my bar, stem, tape, post and saddle are all from Fizik, which helps keep the build clean.

The build spec is as follows:

  • Campagnolo Record 2015 Groupset with with mid-compact (36-52) crank and 11-25 cassette
  • Campagnolo Bora 50 Tubular wheelset
  • Chris King I8 headset
  • Fizik Cyrano 00 bar
  • Fizik Cyrano R1 Seatpost
  • Fizik Arione R1 seat with braided carbon rails
  • Continental Competition 25 tires
  • Speedplay Titanium pedals
  • King titanium bottle cages

I was a bit hesitant on the paint job at first. But after building it and looking at the complete bike I really like the simple fade. But paint is so hard to choose and there are just so many different ways you can go. Luckily, the frame seems to be built tough enough that if I want, in a few years I can re-spray it and have a new bike again.

The first thing I noticed when taking the Argonaut out for a spin was how smooth it was. I mean really smooth. The first couple rides I did on it were in the hills and it felt really light climbing. Even when I put the heavier clinchers on (while waiting for the glue to set on the tubulars) it felt the exact same.

Stiffness in a sprint was as good as I needed it to be. I was pretty blown away by how well it descended though. It held the line with ease and was incredibly stable — very confidence-inspiring. In the end, this is what we were looking for in a custom carbon bike. These are the traits we talked to Argonaut about and they built a bike that did it.

This is why custom is nice. I can build a super stiff sprinting machine, or a more comfortable, all-day bike, or a mix of it all.

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Disclosure statement: CyclingTips was not paid for this article. Above Category sells Argonaut’s custom carbon bikes.

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