Belgian cycling is about cobbles, rain, suffering and some of the hardest riders in the peloton. Ridley is Belgium’s most established brand and produces bikes that thrive on harsh conditions and hard riding. Providing bikes for the Lotto Belisol team, their sprinter, André Greipel, was one of the few men to challenge Mark Cavendish last year and, if he finds their bikes fast and stiff enough, you certainly will.
For a large frame and aero bike, the fact that the build weighs in at 600g over the UCI limit is impressive. A bit of weight trimming here and there, lighter climbing wheels and a smaller frame and it’d be right on the mark. Most manufacturers are managing this now, so to gain an advantage Ridley have chucked the aero kitchen sink at the Noah Fast.
There are three main aero innovations on the frame. The first is the F-Surface treatment paint job. By using textured coatings on key areas of frame tubes, airflow is controlled better, reducing drag by 4.1%. Next are the F-Splitfork and similarly split seatstays. These reduce drag by 8.2% by drawing turbulent air away from the spokes.
Finally, the fully integrated F-Brakes cut off another 4.3% of drag and drop the overall weight by about 300g compared to standard callipers. Don’t think that braking performance will be compromised, though, as these mini V-brakes tend to have more stopping power.
The wheels are from Ridley’s in- house 4ZA brand and are a decent set of 50mm carbon clinchers. Weight isn’t bad at 1,700g but we’d like to see some lighter branded rockets, such as Zipp 404s, atthis price point. The groupsetis pro level, combining a Rotor 3D+ chainset – regular circular chainrings rather than elliptical – with Shimano Dura Ace. For contact areas, again Ridley go to 4ZA, but it’s decent kit, especially the integrated carbon stem and bars.
You can’t help but feel a bit apprehensive rolling off for thefirst time on a bike costing the best part of 10 grand but, within a few hundred metres, all nerves vanish and you’re looking to push this thoroughbred to its limits. It takes stiffness to a whole new level and even brutal high-torque sprinting in 53/12 seemingly doesn’t cause a millimetre of flex. Every watt of effort finds its way onto the road and you can’t help but attack every rise and hammer out of every bend.
Throw it hard into bends and it rails through with 100% accuracy, solidily and without any skittishness. Put the power down as you exit and you’re flung out of the corner. On straight roads, the Noah’s aero features kick in and, down on the drops, it has that sense of straight-line speed normally found on time-trial bikes.
The whole bike feels as though it’s slicing through the air and, although super stiff, the ride is far from harsh. On a 2km fast, flat test section, for the same heart rate, our tester consistently posted average speeds 2-3kph faster than on his own road bike and not far off speeds set on his TT bike.
Shifting is immaculate, and even intentionally bad shifts under high loads are quick and clean. On hills the Noah continues to delight, and although maybe lacking the zip of a climbing bike, it’s still startlingly quick, especially on steep ramps requiring a muscular approach.
Heading down, again the Noah rewards no-compromise riding. The brakes are amazingly powerful and you’re best adopting a late and hard approach, more akin to riding a mountain bike. Scrub your speed aggressively on the limit of locking up, push hard through your outside pedal, nail the apex, sprint out and you’ll be grinning from ear to ear.
Contact : www.ridley-bikes.com