It’s been a while since I had a serious stab at riding a mountain bike. They were the staple bicycle of my youth, with hardcore hard tails and XC bikes being my way of life for near ten years. After a bit of a bicycle dry spell my cycling moved onto road bikes and thats where I’ve been since my late twenties. That was until I was recently approached by Reid Bikes, they offered me one of their new range of 29ers to try out in return for some honest feedback. Game on I thought.
A little about Reid bicycles first then. Originally an Australian brand, trading since 2008, home territory success lead to international expansion with their design and marketing office opening the UK, luckily for me, right here in sunny Bournemouth. They design and produce a multitude of bikes from kids balance bikes to 29 plus full suspension rigs, and all at great price points. They are just branching into the more performance end of the market with the new 29er range being part of that.
The bike I’ve had the pleasure of time with is their mid range Argon 29er. I’ve ridden it for approximately two months and got to know it pretty well. It’s been used on social XC rides with mates, solo single track missions, and I’ve even raced a couple of duathlons on it. Its been great, and I’ll expand why I think that. But first lets look at the build.
The bike is built around Reids new custom alloy frame. Its smart looking and is specced as well as anything else I have seen at the same pice point. The frame has double butted hydroformed tubing, smooth welds, internal cable routing, internal tapered headset, threaded BB(yes the norm for alloy frames but I’ll tell you theres loads of press fit BB carbon frame owners that are now crying out for these!), and direct mount disc callipers. Makes for a pretty light, solid, and hassle free base. Reid use this same frame in the rest of their 29er hardtails, the Neon and the Xenon with componentry being the only difference. Saying that all three are finished with Reids own brand bars, stem, grips, seat post, saddle, and seat clamp. Black is the colour here, but don’t think that means cheap and nasty looking in house components. They are all perfectly functional. Pointing out a few of things here, 1. The Saddle is well shaped with good padding and sat on a decent quality 27.2mm seat post (smaller diameter 27.2mm posts give greater deflection meaning greater comfort). 2. The grips fitted are lock on, a nice little touch that goes amiss on most bikes at this price point. These make for a solid feel and won’t slip. 3. The bars are 700mm wide, combined with a 70mm stem and a 69 degree head angle make for a very easily controlled ride. I make a big thing of this because contact points on a bike make all the difference, the above make the Argon feel a lot more expensive than it is. The rest of the bikes kit performs just as well. The fork is a Suntour 100mm air fork with alloy steerer (significantly lighter than steel), lockout, rebound dampening and a bolt through axle (more solid steering feel). Entry level forks have come on so much in ten years! these are features that were only found on most top level forks. They allow your to tune the fork pretty well to your individual needs. Air spring to tune for your weight or preferred preload, dampening to the conditions (temperature or surface conditions), and lockout for when suspension is not needed (ie tarmac or on climbs). Wheels are a solid choice of Alex double wall disc rims on sealed hubs shod with clincher WTB non line 2.25 tyres. Last few parts to finish then, brakes and groupset. Brakes are hydraulic courtesy of Shimano (MT200 models) and whilst not the strongest stoppers they had plenty of modulation meaning no unexpected lock ups, they bedded in nicely over the time I had the bike with no squealing. Lastly Shimano coming good with an Alivio 2×9 drivetrain matched to a Suntour chainset. The Alivio shares a lot of the looks of its higher priced kin and functions as accurately and reliably as you would expect. The Suntour chainset shifts well enough, and fits on a classic square taper bottom bracket.
So why did I enjoy the Argon so much? Firstly because I hadn’t ridden a mountain bike in anger in years and it allowed me to do it straight out of the box without even thinking. The ride was solid and the handling confidence inspiring. The front end tracked really well thanks to the decent fork and bolt through axle, that combined with the tyres giving good grip on most surfaces and rolled really fast. The only surface they struggled a little on was looser gravel, but I could have helped that with lower tyre pressures. During the duathlons the Argon was pushed all the way, with no let up for shifts and lots of heavy braking. The Shimano gear was faultless. All I had to do was fit my SPD pedals and the bike was ready to race. Perfect. The only areas I felt I would be a worthwhile upgrade would be bottom bracket and chainset, something with an increased axle size and external bearings would really stiffen up the power transfer from the pedals. The second reason I had a great time with the Argon was the value for money. The performance of the bike for the price point (between £600 to £700) was very good, I couldn’t believe how good bikes are getting at this price point. There’s no excuse for people to have poorly made, unreliable bikes when there are bikes like the Argon around.
The Argon is a great entry level bike that will enable you to ride a lot harder than you think. The bang for the buck is huge, and I didn’t want to give it back! it’s the perfect bike for cyclists on a budget to either enter the world of mountain biking or to add another discipline to their hobby. Anyway, you can find out more about the Argon and the rest of Reids bikes by heading to their website www.Reidbikes.com.
Thanks to Reid for the lend of the bike, and for the use of the above images. To get your hands one in the UK you can order through Reids uk distributor CYCLEBIKE.IE, or check out http://www.reidbikes.com/dealers/find-a-retailer/ to see who can supply in your country.