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Disc brakes have been creeping into the mainstream road scene for a while now, seen first among the more endurance- and gravel-oriented machines and now finally transitioning to race-ready, aerodynamic speed demons. Ridley's 2017 Noah SL Disc Ultegra Complete Road Bike pairs the speed-focused design qualities that earned its rim-brake counterpart accolades across the industry with Shimano's powerful hydraulic disc brake capabilities. Capped off with Shimano's legendary Ultegra mechanical drivetrain, this bike says goodbye to sacrificing overheated rims and sub-par braking in a trade for wind-cheating speed, effectively saying hello to the best of both worlds.
Although this Noah has been slightly tweaked and reinforced to handle the force dynamics of disc brakes, its oversized tubes still earn the SL suffix—which we assume denotes the industry superlative Super Light—through Ridley's inclusion of a mix of 60, 40, and 30-ton high-modulus carbon fiber. Both the Noah Fast and Noah top out at 50-ton, and the SL's inclusion of 60-ton means it can use less material at key points while maintaining the same efficiency, which in turn lowers weight. As with the rim brake model, the SL's different carbon moduli are placed in different areas of the frame based on desired properties of stiffness, weight, durability, and road-noise damping.
This targeted blend of materials is a common practice across the industry, though few manufacturers go to the extreme of using 60t carbon. The SL also features a tapered head tube for sharp tracking and efficient power transfer, and the PF30 bottom bracket, internal cable routing, and future-proof electronic group compatibility that are all but expected in frames of this level. Unlike other frames, though, Ridley incorporates its Future Aero Speed Technology (FAST) F-Surface design, which involves fluted channels running the lengths of forward-facing tubes to trip air into a manageable layer of turbulence. That tripped layer detaches later and more cleanly, reducing the frame's wake and overall wind drag.
The Noah SL's high-modulus carbon fiber fork looks distinctly different than other forks on the market, with an open channel running down the middle of each leg. This FAST F-Split Fork channel design is revolutionary in its ability to guide incoming air away from the spokes to reduce turbulence and drag, which keeps the airstream around the wheel smooth and fast. By pairing this fork with the FAST F-Surface design, Ridley claims that the Noah SL enjoys a 3-5% reduction in drag over frames without FAST design. This means more speed with less effort, all thanks to a little bit of surface air routing.
- A light, aerodynamic road machine with disc brake capability
- High-end carbon fiber construction reduces weight
- FAST F-Surface and F-Split Fork improve aerodynamics
- Hydraulic disc brakes offer responsive modulation
- Oversized bottom bracket shell efficiently transfers power
- Internal cable routing provides clean lines
- Shimano's Ultegra drivetrain delivers crisp, consistent shifts
- Recommended maximum rider weight of 209.5lb (95kg)
- Item #RID005L
- Q & A
Go fast, stop fast!
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
The Noah has always been a speed machine, especially the SL. Like any great performance vehicle, better brakes will only make it faster! The extra-reliable, always predictable disc brakes coupled with the Noah SL's ability to get up to speed quickly immediately add more security and a level of confidence that usually takes a fair amount of riding to dial in. Late-braking ability is improved, as is the ability to modulate braking while in the corners....usually a technique used sparingly due to rim brakes' tendency to be a bit more abrupt under cornering load.
The extra layup required for the brake calipers in the fork and rear triangle and resulting rigidity is a plus in both the handling and acceleration departments, but surprisingly not a detriment in the ride quality. Speaking of which, with the new SL the Noah has evolved from a race-only weapon to a legitimate all-day, all-arounder.
Like with most Ridleys, sizing is less straightforward than other brands. Let me know if I can help you get sized correctly.
Great bike overall!