Just in: Ridley Noah Fast

One of the fastest bikes in the peloton arrives in the roadcc offices

by David Arthur   February 26, 2013  

Aero road bikes have been all the rage in recent years and this is Ridley's take on it, the Noah Fast. And fast it most definitely looks. And we should mention it's the choice of Lotto-Belisol's fast men, including of course top sprinter André Greipel, now we've got one to play with too.

Aerodynamics is one of the hott topics in racing bicycle design right now. For the last few years, and starting with Cervelo everyone's been taking designs and technology and above all tube shapes derived for time trial bikes and and applying them, suitably tweaked to road bikes creating a new category of bike, the ‘aero road bike’. 

The Noah Fast frame has four key themes; aero shaped tubes, integrated brakes, slotted forks and stays, and F-Surface. We’ll start with F-Surface because we can’t think of any other road frame that has this - Ridley have been using it on their Dean time trial bike for a couple of years now. Applied to the leading edges of the head tube, seat tube and seat mast, is a 5mm-wide raised strip that is designed to delay flow separation and keep the air attached for as long as possible. 

In aerodynamic fields it’s called a turbulator. When air passes over the frame, the layer of air closest to the surface is the boundary layer. Near the leading edge of the tube this boundary layer will be laminar, but in its journey across the tube the air becomes turbulent and will eventually separate from the surface. This separation point causes drag, because of the lower pressure behind this point. These strips move the separation point further along the tube profile closer to the trailing edge, by forcing the boundary layer to be turbulent (rather than smooth laminar) which has the effect of delaying the point of separation. It’s used successfully on aeroplanes, How it will work on a bicycle remains to be seen, aeroplanes do go a lot faster than bicycles even fast ones on a flying lap. Certainly the theory is sound and Ridley believe in it enough to have persisted with the system. We're guessing this is going to be another one of those aggregated marginal gains that you don't actually notice - either way, we're looking forward to finding out. I'm fairly confident that whatever else it does it isn't going to make me slower.

We’re seeing integrated brakes a lot more these days, the idea is a simple one, to move the brakes out of the airflow. Ridley have actually designed the mini V-brakes as part of the carbon structure of the forks and seat stays. There’s no pivot, instead they rely on flex in the carbon fibre to allow enough movement for the pads to contact the rims. They can be easily adjusted, with small springs to adjust the centering. The Fast was the first production road bike we know of to take a system that has been used on a number of time trial bikes - Storck (and Ridley) being early adopters.

The other key aerodynamic feature is what they’ve dubbed F-Splitfork technology, and which amounts to slots in the fork and seat stays. This is a technology component manufacturer Oval Concepts developed a few years ago in their Jetstream fork, and which they licensed to Ridley for use in their Noah. The theory behind the slots is to reduce drag (7% compared to a regular fork) as the slots minimise air interacting with the spokes and wheels. I had an interesting chat with Paul Lew (of Reynolds fame) who told me that a lot of drag on a bicycle caused by airflow between the wheels and frame.

Elsewhere, the frame features a tapered steerer tube (1 1/8- to 1 1/2-inch) and it’s been designed with stiffness in mind as much as aerodynamics. The integrated seatmast has a single bolt clamp on the top which offers a large amount of fore-aft adjustment. The clamp itself offers a small degree of height adjustment, but as with all seatmasts, you want to measure five times and cut once.

Cables in the carbon frame are all routed internally. The rear brake passes through the top tube, and the gear cables run along the downtube. A plastic cable guide grommet on the belly of the bottom routes the cables to each derailleur, as well as making it easier to thread the cables inside the frame. But as I found out when I had to fit new gear cables to the test bike when it arrived, it’s far from an easy process. It’s doable, just extremely fiddly. The internal cable routing is designed to work with both mechanical and electronic groupsets, with the fitting of specific stops at the entry points in the frame.

To make it easy to swap between models, the Noah Fast shares the same geometry as the Helium SL. Our medium 56 cm test bike has a 56cm effective top tube with a 50 cm seat tube. The head tube is 17.5 cm which places it a little higher than some race bikes. Head and seat angle are identical at 73 degrees. The wheelbase is 99 cm. Stack and reach are 57.5 and 39 cm respectively.

Ridley sell seven builds, starting with a Shimano Ultegra model up to a Lotto-Belisol team replica with Campagnolo Record EPS (though the team ride Super Record). Our model is fitted with Shimano Dura-Ace 10-speed mechanical with a Rotor 3D cranks.

Ridley’s in-house compentry brand 4ZA supply all the finishing kit and wheels. The one-piece integrated stem and handlebar is a further aerodynamic boost but does limit the possibility of changing stem length, so you would need to change it at the point of purchase.

The wheels are Cirrus Pro AC58, a full carbon clincher rim with a 58mm depth and 1.7kg weight. Hubs have sealed cartridge bearings and there’s 20 double butted spokes in the front wheel and 24 in the rear wheel. Tyres are Cirrus Pro 23mm. All that gives a complete weight 7.38 kg (16.27 lbs) on the roadcc scales of truth.

Which just leaves the price. This bike as pictured costs £6,400. You can buy the frame on its own for £3,899. It’s not cheap, but remember, this is cutting-edge aerodynamic stuff and there’s a huge amount of research and development that has gone into it.

There’s some serious competition in the aero road bike market, with the likes of the Specialized Venge, Scott Foil, Cervelo S5 and newly announced Giant Propel all vying for the moniker of the fastest road bike.

Aero bikes aren’t anything without claims. Here Ridley claimed a saving of 20 watts to sustain a speed of 25 mph compared to their own Helium. That may not sound like a lot, but if you’re in a solo breakaway in a road race, you’ll appreciate even the smallest performance gain. Gaining 20 watts through training isn’t the easiest or quickest thing either, so it will be interesting to see if the Noah lives up to its claims.

http://ridley-bikes.com/

14 user comments

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I'm surprised to see how heavy the carbon fibre wheels are. 1.7kg is more than a set of "entry level" metal ones. Though it may just be that it's just not something I've looked into (given the price) and that there are other advantages.

posted by bohrhead [45 posts]
26th February 2013 - 9:07

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*One of the ugliest bikes in the peoloton

Don't get why the Belisol Women's team get lovely S5's, and Greipel and his ilk are stuck on these pseudo aero, generic ugly carbon bicycle shaped objects.

Ridley makes me ill.

Sir Velo

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posted by Raleigh [1725 posts]
26th February 2013 - 10:15

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I Disagree with Raleigh.

The Ridley brand is well in advance of many top end bike manufacturers. The Cirrus Wheels are excellent and roll really well. When you buy a Ridley Bike; your buying quality!

I own a Ridley X Ride; and was extremely pleased with everything about it. I had a test ride on a Ridley Noah Fast with Ultegra Group set; it was effortless and felt extremely lightweight and responsive. I'd buy one (if only I had the money) tomorrow. Brilliant Bike.

posted by Mostyn [387 posts]
26th February 2013 - 11:27

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Raleigh wrote:
*One of the ugliest bikes in the peoloton

Don't get why the Belisol Women's team get lovely S5's, and Greipel and his ilk are stuck on these pseudo aero, generic ugly carbon bicycle shaped objects.

Ridley makes me ill.

Differebt team structure, different deals.
Everyone entitled to their opinion about high end bikes. Even if they are in disagreement with everyone else. Or to put it another way, wrong. Wink

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
26th February 2013 - 12:53

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I disagree too! One of the prettier bikes in the peloton, and nothing pseudo aero about it! It's a really fast bike! Just ask André Greipel Smile

posted by fatsjie [2 posts]
26th February 2013 - 12:54

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i like the look, apart from the polar white one which looks a bit salty.

all that effort to go aero and they stick a 3ft head tube on it? really its a race bike and should be sold as one, either that or have a parralel model with an 'aw me back' length head tube.

lets face it thebiggest aero resistance is the person pushing it. if the they are sat up its effectively like fitting a meat parachute.

venges are the same

the headtube on my race bike is 14cm and the stems as low as it will go.my training/winter/sportive bike is 16.5cm with spacers

posted by russyparkin [550 posts]
26th February 2013 - 14:32

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Raliegh, can you get us a comparison of Tyler Farrar's wins on the S5 versus Geripel's wins on the Noah Fast? I don't think the Noah Fast is holding anyone back.

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posted by pedalpowerDC [188 posts]
26th February 2013 - 15:38

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russyparkin wrote:

all that effort to go aero and they stick a 3ft head tube on it? really its a race bike and should be sold as one, either that or have a parralel model with an 'aw me back' length head tube.

Which is why the pros fit a stem like this

David Arthur's picture

posted by David Arthur [1225 posts]
26th February 2013 - 18:33

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.

Screen shot 2013-02-26 at 18.30.00.png

Sir Velo

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posted by Raleigh [1725 posts]
26th February 2013 - 19:31

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@david

aha! fair does. it does seem odd though doesnt it? i get they need to shift numbers etc and i suppose the people who can drop 3k on a frame are likely to be prone to back ache age. but a frame like this is a race frame and should be made like one.

posted by russyparkin [550 posts]
26th February 2013 - 21:43

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Raleigh wrote:
*One of the ugliest bikes in the peoloton

Don't get why the Belisol Women's team get lovely S5's, and Greipel and his ilk are stuck on these pseudo aero, generic ugly carbon bicycle shaped objects.

Ridley makes me ill.

you are joking right? The only pro-peloton bikes uglier than the S5 are Lampre's Meridas.

posted by ALIHISGREAT [109 posts]
27th February 2013 - 10:33

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+1

posted by Vinerman [33 posts]
27th February 2013 - 11:54

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the negative stem is fitted because the headtube is too long for the rider. it has nothing to do with being Pro.

the bike does not fit the rider, even he is Pro, just like AS they cannot find a Trek fits him.

custom made bike is the way.

posted by Vinerman [33 posts]
27th February 2013 - 11:58

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of course it depends on frame size, but 57.5 seems a lot of stack for a full-on race bike. The Bianchi Infinito tested today - supposedly a sportive bike - is 57.0.

posted by drmatthewhardy [224 posts]
27th February 2013 - 22:47

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