Australia’s top track riders were racing an all new Argon 18 Electron Pro track bike on the velodrome in Berlin a week ago for the UCI Track Cycling World Championships, with a Pursuit fork spacing narrower than we’ve ever seen on a bike. It’s actually quite hard to fathom with almost vertical fork legs and walls of the custom Zipp front wheel. And while Cycling Australia didn’t come away with any new rainbow stripes, their goals are set a little further for this summer, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
2020 Argon 18 Electron Pro aero carbon Olympic track bike
The summer Olympics are a huge driver in track bike development, and this latest iteration of Argon 18’s Electron Pro looks to up the ante with improved aerodynamics, more rider customization, and technology integration.
Interestingly, the last time we saw an update Electron Pro was four years ago with the Danish team on their path towards London 2016. While the Danes were still riding that same previous generation/ current production race bike, they managed to break the world record in the team pursuit three times during the racing in Berlin, ultimately winning the gold medal this year.
What’s new in the 2020 Electron Pro?
At first glance, the most obvious change to the new frame is a reinforced seat cluster, then maybe the slightly more robust main triangle and slightly more webbed bottom bracket, which all do apparently contribute increased bike stiffness.
But it’s really only when you look at the bike from the front that you can appreciate the ultra narrow front end in the Pursuit configuration. Of note, the new Electron Pro has not only two handlebar options, but two different fork & front wheel combinations as well.
In Pursuit mode, the bike uses a uniquely & insanely narrow front hub spacing of just 40mm wide, drastically cutting down the frontal area of the bike and making the sides of that front Zipp wheel almost parallel. The result is a claimed 30% drag reduction over the previous generation of the bike.
Argon 18 & Cycling Australia didn’t go into too much detail on the deep development partnership with Zipp, other than to say that the bike is designed around a customized set of Zipp Super-9 carbon tubular disc wheels. But it is clear that some composites magic had to occur to create a carbon front wheel that maintains adequate stiffness when the fork blades are only 40mm apart at the dropout. Presumably the wheel is at widest 30mm wide, with almost straight sides up to the tire gluing surface.
The Sprint mode front end requires more stiffness to handle more massive sprinting power output, so it gets a larger, wider set fork legs that still claims reduced drag at the front wheel, keeping conventional 100mm spacing.
Both forks also appear to feature flush-mounted axle ends, much like we see in modern thru-axles, rather than conventional externally nutted track axles.
The bikes get an extra dose of modern integration, but what is there to integrate without shifters & brakes? At the non-driveside axle on the fork, a small electronic timing chip is integrated where it won’t add unnecessary drag. And apparently another internal data logger (perhaps under the stem cap?) collects the rider’s power meter data for post-race analysis.
Cockpits are also integrated and custom molded, with the option for the one-piece Sprint dropbar & stem including molded grip shaping in the drops, or the three-piece Pursuit bar with upright extensions custom fit to each rider’s position and hands.
2020 Argon 18 Electron Pro – Pricing & availability
It being raced at the Track World Cup and bound for the Olympics, the new 2020 Electron Pro is officially available to the public as well (likely in very limited quantities).
All it will cost you is about $18,000 for a frameset with frame, fork & Zipp wheels.
c. Cycling Australia, all racing photos by Casey Gibson, bike photos by Hikari Media unless otherwise noted