Behind the Design: Subito Tech Talk

Argon 18 launched its first entry into the eBike category in early 2020, with the Subito eRoad and Subito eGravel. With an emphasis on ride quality and user-friendly operation, the Subito lineup will hit stores in Summer 2020 in Europe and North America. You can find your local dealer by clicking here.

We spoke with Argon 18’s VP Product, Martin Faubert, to learn more about what went into the design of these bikes.

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There are a lot of options now when it comes to eBike systems. Why Ebikemotion?

Yes, there are a lot of systems out there these days. But we had a few essential criteria that really affected our choice. Our priority was to provide a natural and smooth ride feel, so that the Subito is really a performance bike first, and eBike second. First of all, we wanted a motor system that doesn’t cause resistance when you reach peak speed. For many riders, and in many conditions, it’s easy to get up to the maximum assistance speed (EU-25 km/h; NA-32 km/h). Ebikemotion offers this feature – riders won’t feel any drag or friction from the system once they exceed this speed.

Second, we were looking for even weight distribution. With Ebikemotion, the motor is located in the rear hub and the battery in the downtube, so there’s no feeling of bulky, centralized weight at the bottom bracket. That makes for a much more natural feeling for the rider. Weight as a whole was a big factor for us – the Ebikemotion system is 3.5kg, meaning we’re able to offer a sub 12kg bike. Again, it’s about performance-oriented ride quality.

As for the battery, the average range is 75km without the range extender. Like all eBikes, that range will greatly vary depending on elevation gain and mode selection. The battery takes approximately 3-4 hours to reach a full charge.

What does that mean for the rider experience on the bike?

Integration and usability were the big goals here. Integration provides a clean, easy-to-use bike, both in terms of the ‘regular’ components and the Ebikemotion system. So you’ll see things like integrated battery and cable routing, an integrated PAS sensor and HMI, with the one-button system used for the control of the motor neatly integrated in the extension of the 3D+ cap. Of course, the 3D+ system is an example of integration in itself. It offers three head tube extension heights for every frame size: 0mm, 15mm and 30mm, with a proven stiffness gain of 5% at 15mm and 11% at 30mm, as compared to traditional spacers. It also allows for a larger fit window (60mm of stack adjustment compared with 30 for a traditional setup). As well, the frame integration in the 3D+ system offers an aero benefit over our traditional 3D system, smoothing the airflow over the handlebar.

There are a few other features that riders will notice, which really focus on usability: the access port to the battery is under the BB, so it’s easy to get to. The range extender, which doubles the possible range of the battery, can fit in a downtube bottle cage. Lights can be plugged directly into the battery, through a port in the top tube. And while we couldn’t use a thru-axle on the rear wheel due to the motor placement, the wheel can be removed with a regular allen key, making wheel changes easy. You’ve got a thru-axle on front, though, for added stiffness.

And of course, with an eBike you have to consider the app and the integrated experience that it can offer you. The Ebikemotion app can replace your regular riding computer, giving you all your ride data. The customer support and the backend functionality of the system is also really complete – it has a strong technological ecosystem behind it.

Geometry has a lot to do with rider experience as well. Tell us a bit about that.

Because we’re talking about an eBike, pure race geometry wasn’t the intention here. We based the Subito’s geometry off our Endurance line, the Krypton series. You’ll see the same slight bend in the fork, which induces flex and provides rider comfort. Interestingly, in just looking at the fork, you’d expect the axle to be father forward than a standard fork, which could compromise handling. But that’s not the case - the front axle is actually in exactly the same spot as it would be with a straight fork. The seat stays are slightly flared, which is another ride quality measure. This creates a really high-quality ride without any compromise to power transfer. These features are part of what we call the TCS.

Topological Compliance System (TCS) is an overarching design philosophy we bring to our all-road and gravel series. Using FEA and CFD software, the TCS approach focuses on vertical compliance and dampening of road-induced vibrations. But we match this compliance with stiffness in all the right places, to ensure maximum pedaling efficiency for optimal power transfer.

One thing we finetuned on the Subito was the rake and head tube angle, to accommodate a wider range of tire choices. The Subito eRoad and Subito eGravel are the same platform – the same frame – but different spec according to their intended use. The Subito eGravel comes specced with 650bx47c tires (in North America), while the eRoad has an all-road orientation with clearance for 700x40c.

All in all, the Subito offers great ride quality for many, many miles on the road - with the added bonus of power assistance when you want it.