Gravel racing has become so popular these days that people have even started debating what is the “spirit of gravel racing”. One great way to find that answer is hop on the Argon 18 Dark Matter, which is the Canadian company’s aggressive gravel racer ready for whatever type of gravel grinding you want to do.
For us, freedom of choice has a lot to do with gravel riding, and why you might want to get a drop bar, aggressive geo bike that can handle much wider, even nobby tires. It gives you the option to mix up the trails and paved roads as much as you like on the same ride in a way that riding an XC hardtail or skinny race tires just can’t accommodate. And the Dark Matter checks all these boxes and more. Argon 18 knew they didn’t want to straddle lines here; they wanted to make a classy gravel racer that would adapt the geometry from their road racing frames and apply it to the needs of a frame suited for rougher gravel roads. So it needed to have that extra stability to help you stay in control on gravel descents, while still offering the snappy handling and the sort of rigidity that will help you accelerate when making a blistering attack. This is a bike that should never feel lumbering, like a lot of gravel bikes with mountain bike antecedents can feel. It’s supposed to feel like a great road bike that can slip onto the trails without an issue. And with a rake of 54mm on XXS/XS/S frames and 49mm on M/L/XL frames, you can expect some pretty snappy handling.
Keeping it lightweight is one of the ingredients to its racy performance, which is why they have used a monocoque carbon frame, but the durability cannot be sacrificed either since those gravel stones can go flying when you pick up the pace. It will also offer that essential amount of comfortable compliance that will help take the buzz out of hours on gravel sections. They have also taken into account that a lot of riders will be riding in tons of inclement weather, and have provided hidden integrated fender mounts on the fork and a removable seatstay fender mount bracket. That will help make the Dark Matter a great winter bike as well as gravel grinder. Without fenders it can fit tires up to 45mm and even with fenders, you can get 40mm tires on this baby.
And if you are feeling a little concerned about how aggressive the geometry can be, then take heart in the fact that the Dark Matter makes use of the updated 3D+ system developed by Argon 18 to offer greater degrees of comfort and variety as well as increased stiffness at the front end, while still merging seamlessly with the frame. It allows you to adjust the front end stack according to your needs – 0mm if you rather like a steeper drop to the bars, 15mm if you like to stay fairly low, but want to give your back a break, and 30mm if you really do like the added comfort a higher stack can offer you. But since it is all designed to work with the frame, even the highest stack setting will not compromise the rigidity or handling, in the way spacers might. Making sure you aren’t giving up seconds to your gravel competitors, the frame ahs also been designed to be as aerodynamically efficient as possible, with the fork designed in conjunction with the frame to make it flow much more smoothly through the wind.
With a removable aluminum front derailleur hanger, you can set this up to be a clean-looking and increasingly aero 1X system with room to fit up to a 46 tooth ring. Of course the frame will also work very well with 2X setups ranging between 46/30T to 52/36T. The Argon 18 Dark Matter is the type of gravel grinder that will take over your whole life: you’ll never want to ride anything else.
Frame: Monocoque carbon
Fork: Carbon disc
Rear Stay: Carbon
Fork Axle: 12mm Thru x 100mm
Headset Included: Yes, FSA 30 + 3D Plus
Bottom Bracket Type: BB86
Cable Routing: Internal, mechanical or electronic compatible
Front Derailleur: Removable aluminum front derailleur hanger
Wheel Size: 700c
Max Tire Clearance: 45mm
Brake Type: Disc, flat mount, 160mm max rotor
Seatpost Diameter: 27.2mm
Seatpost Included: Yes, Argon 18 TDS-C carbon
Seat Collar Included: Yes
Rear Axle: 12mm Thru x 142mm
Sizes: 42cm XXS | 45cm XS | 48.5cm SM | 52cm MD | 55.5cm LG | 59cm XL |
Weight: 1246g (size MD)