NAHBS 2013: Argonaut Shows Kevlar-Reinforced Prototype SL Road Bike Frame

Argonaut Bikes prototype kevlar reinforced SL road bike frameWith his original road bike still fairly fresh, Argonaut founder Ben Farver is already working on an superlight version.

The SL version has a higher mix of hi-mod carbon fiber with a base layer of Kevlar. Farver said the goal is to drop about 80g from the from the frame without affecting the ride feel.

To do this, the first layer wrapped over the mold is Kevlar, which adds a bit of damping since hi-mod carbon is stiffer. It also offers improved impact protection since hi mod is more brittle.

The result is that they can build an SL frame to feel just like a regular frame, except lighter.

It’s mainly the top and down tubes that get the increased percentage of hi mod fibers. They’ll be test riding it through the summer with a possible release in Fall. It’ll likely carry about a $500 premium. Hit that ‘more’ link for detail shots inside the frame…

Argonaut Bikes prototype kevlar reinforced SL road bike frame

The Kevlar is the yellow part.

Argonaut Bikes prototype kevlar reinforced SL road bike frame

Argonaut Bikes prototype kevlar reinforced SL road bike frame

Those little silver bits are rivet ends that fell through the frame during normal construction. No, they wouldn’t end up in your frame.

Want to see how Argonaut’s custom monocoque frames are made? Check out our exclusive inside look at their production process.

Comments

djconnel - 02/25/13 - 8:55am

Nice looking bike! Two comments: 1. The standard geometry starts off with a 142 mm head tube for 52 cm effective top tube. That’s fairly long, but then they do provide custom. 2. 80 grams lighter than what? I recognize mass on custom geometry frames is always variable, and there’s a history for these to be underestimated (for example, by Guru for their original Photon), but tell us a ballpark.

Miklos - 02/25/13 - 1:07pm

I have to say that I’m feeling as if the “hand-built” in NAHBS will soon become a meaningless artifact. I’m not slamming Argonaut’s product, but if you’ve seen the videos of how they build the frames, there are machines and presses that are more or less indistinguishable from those used in “mass-production.” Go to their video at http://argonautcycles.com/about_argonaut.php and skip to 1:52 to see what I’m talking about.

Yes, there are hands involved in their process, but there are hands involved in just about every production bike out there. Can NAHBS fairly exclude Ridley from showing up next year? Specialized? If you’ve seen videos of how they build their bikes, their process isn’t that different just the scale. Is there a point where scale excludes a manufacturer?

Is the difference that they’re not made in China? What if Chinese entrepreneurs want to show their carbon frames that they’re making in a small factory? Medium factory? Large Factory.

I don’t know the answers and I’m not sure I have a definition that works, but I do think it’s something worth discussing.

Ajax - 02/25/13 - 1:51pm

The show owner has stated that he is not going to allow any Chinese companies into the show.

compositepro - 02/25/13 - 2:47pm

“Miklos – 02/25/13 – 1:07pm
I have to say that I’m feeling as if the “hand-built” in NAHBS will soon become a meaningless artifact. I’m not slamming Argonaut’s product, but if you’ve seen the videos of how they build the frames, there are machines and presses that are more or less indistinguishable from those used in “mass-production.” Go to their video at http://argonautcycles.com/about_argonaut.php and skip to 1:52 to see what I’m talking about.”

I think you will find as you up your game in composites you use more advanced production regardless these guys obviously upped their game if your charging 5k for a frame old school just isnt quite there, plus carbon is becoming more mainstream to the little guy that never worked with it before ,and the knowledge of what and how you can do is getting out there

Im more puzzled by what putting the ballistic protection on the inside achieves but hey they said its work in progress

mzungu - 02/25/13 - 3:09pm

It’s clever bit of marketing….but if you actually wants impact protection, you put the Kevlar outside, not inside.

Matt - 02/25/13 - 4:03pm

@Miklos – Good post and certainly stirs thinking.

gopherlaugh - 02/25/13 - 5:43pm

Call one of the big guys and ask for a carbon road bike that matches your fit perfectly and then throw on top of that you want a crit type bike and make the chainstays stiff as he!! but you want vibration dampening and a special place to put the battery for your electronic shifting..etc…

guess what…you have custom small builder of carbon bikes. Doesn’t matter if they use “the same type of machines” as that is missing the point. Guess what…japan builders are using ARC for steel frames at their robot factory….same tool but that again doesn’t matter; its the degree of specialized tuning and building that matters and it looks like argonaut provides this…

greg - 02/25/13 - 11:12pm

i think the big difference is if you can call the company and you talk to one of maybe three people that work there and those same three people are the ones that will be making YOUR bike. IF is on a slightly larger scale, but you get my drift. sure, the dude has a bigass machine to do some stuff, cnc, autoclave, whatever, but personal, individual work as opposed to one of ten people laying up seatstays and ten other people laying up chainstays and some other people doing downtubes now and top tubes after lunch…

alex - 02/26/13 - 12:23am

@greg
I don’t understand why one individual constructing a bicycle is necessarily better than the hypothetical ten or twenty. Having multiple employees is not only more efficient, but because they can focus on specific aspects of the project instead of being overwhelmed by the project as a whole, you’re more likely to get an optimal product.
Chris King has around 100 employees now and people seem to be completely satisfied with their products.
American manufacturing is what’s important about these companies. Custom geometry is another plus, but much more than that and you’re just trying to romanticize a process equivalent to making ski poles drive shafts.
And you might call Argonaut and talk to one or two people, but I assure you this project is being sourced to a wide variety of people.

chad - 02/26/13 - 9:49pm

some of you seem to be missing the point. while argonaut may not be wielding a brazing torch, they can tailor the bike to your needs, just like any other custom builder. I would even say they can make a bike more “custom” then traditional bike “welders”. They are physically making the tubes of their bicycles, not just selecting tube set manufactured by other companies (ie Columbus, deda, true temper, ect). by being able to select the number of plies, fiber orientation, placement, modulus, resin, mold shape, argonaut can truly make a bike from the ground up, tuned with any desirable trait you can want. i for one am very impressed with their capabilities.

1Pro - 02/27/13 - 4:23pm

chad, thats cool and all but too much monkey business with “custom lamination” can get one into trouble with unpredictable and inconsistent product. unless he builds every concept for test first, then he just be building on theory. point being if he strays from more than a couple variants, it will get noisy.

he should just own that product and build what he likes to ride!

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