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Ridley Noah Disc Essential long-term review

Stan hopes to rediscover his pace with the Ridley Noah Disc Essential and experience the joys of a modern, carbon road bike

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
Ridley Noah Disc Essential hero.
Pros: Good descender; stable handling; generous gear range; responsive; clean, up-to-date looks
Cons: Shallower wheels than you may expect; 25mm tyres feel like a conservative choice; not the most compliant; occasional disc brake rubbing
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The Ridley Noah Essential is framed as a more affordable version of the brand’s Noah Fast aero road bike used by Team Lotto-Soudal.

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The Noah was originally developed as a sprinter’s bike for the likes of Caleb Ewan. Ridley says it has developed into more of an all-rounder over time, something that has become a road bike trend.

This Noah Disc Essential bike is part of Ridley’s Essential Series, launched in February 2022. Ridley says the bikes in the series retain the same characteristics as the brand’s pro-worthy road bikes in terms of stiffness and ride quality, but use a more cost-effective carbon fibre.

As a result of this different carbon fibre, Ridley says the frameset of the Noah Disc Essential is 100g heavier than the top-of-the-range Noah Fast – so not a great deal of difference, then.

The bike has the same aerodynamic features as the top-tier version, and as result, it looks pretty similar, minus the different paintwork.

It has the same geometry, too, which balances the bike’s racing history with its all-rounder potential.

The bike is available in sizes XXS to XL, with Ridley offering the same frame across genders, recommending riders opt for a bike fitting or custom build rather than a women’s-specific road bike.

The Noah I have costs £4,729 / €5,195 and has many of the features you would expect of a road bike at this price. These include a SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset, Forza carbon wheels and a one-piece bar and stem.

The Ridley Noah Essential should, on paper, ride like the top Ridley Noah Fast but with a marginally increased weight, which arguably isn’t the most important thing for an aero road bike, anyway.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential specification and details

The tubes feature Ridley’s ‘F-Surface Plus’ grooves.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

The Ridley Noah Disc Essential’s carbon fibre is made by Japanese manufacturer Toray.

Ridley has used 24T and 30T carbon for this Essential version of the bike. This requires more layers than the 50T and 60T carbon used on the Elite version to achieve the stiffness Ridley desires, which leads to the increase in weight.

As already noted, the Noah Disc Essential has many of the same aerodynamic features as the more expensive Noah Fast.

Ridley has used its proprietary F-Steerer steerer tube. The tube’s D-shape enables Ridley to run all hoses internally, through the one-piece aero handlebar and into the frame. The brand says this provides an aero advantage as well as looking sleek.

All hoses run internally through the one-piece handlebar and stem.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

There is a D-shaped seatpost, which is said to increase comfort and improve the bike’s aerodynamic efficiency compared to a round one.

Compared to the Ridley Helium climbing bike, with its oval-shaped tubing, the Noah has truncated aerofoil shapes. Ridley says the bike’s carbon tubes are optimised to balance aerodynamic efficiency and low weight.

For further aerodynamic gains, the tubes have Ridley’s ‘F-Surface Plus’, which consists of grooves running along front-facing parts of the bike.

Elsewhere, there are ‘F-Wings’ at the bottom of the fork. These are said to streamline turbulent air around the front wheel’s hub and are similar to the design Pinarello adopted on the Dogma F.

The bike has a chunky bottom bracket area and oval seatstays, which Ridley says helps with power transfer.

The seatstays are oval to provide vertical flex.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

To unlock the ‘all-rounder’ epithet, it isn’t all aerodynamics and power transfer. Ridley says the seatstays use oval tubes to provide vertical flex to minimise vibrations coming through the bike.

While the bike is available with a variety of different bike parts, this version is built with a SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset. The groupset has 48/35t chainrings and a 10-36-tooth cassette.

The bike has carbon wheels from Ridley’s in-house brand Forza wrapped in 25mm Vittoria Corsa G2.0 tyres.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential full specification

  • Sizes (*tested): XXS, XS, S, M*, L, XL
  • Weight: 8.41kg
  • Frameset: Ridley Noah Disc Essential
  • Shifters: SRAM Rival eTap AXS
  • Derailleurs: SRAM Rival eTap AXS
  • Cranks: SRAM Rival, 48/35t
  • Wheelset: Forza Levanto DB carbon, 38mm deep
  • Tyres: Vittoria Corsa G2.0, 700x25mm
  • Brakes: SRAM Rival hydraulic disc
  • Cockpit: Noah Fast Aero one-piece carbon handlebar and stem
  • Seatpost: Ridley D-shaped carbon
  • Saddle: Selle Italia XR

Ridley Noah Essential geometry

SizeXXSXSSMLXL
Seat tube angle (degrees)74.57473.57372.572.5
Head tube angle (degrees)71.5727373.573.574
Chainstay (mm)405405405405408408
Bottom bracket drop (mm)686866666363
Seat tube (mm)430455480505530555
Top tube (mm)512526545565587603
Head tube (mm)95117140164194218
Wheelbase (mm)9699759779871,0071,017
Stack (mm)493516541565591616
Reach (mm)375378385393401409

Ridley’s bike sizes run large, so while I would normally ride a large (or 58cm) frame, my Noah Disc Essential is a medium.

The top tube on the medium frame is 565mm and the head tube is 165mm. These measurements are a tad longer than other medium frames and practically the same as the M/L Giant Propel Advanced SL 0, for instance.

The sloping top tube leaves plenty of seatpost exposed, which should aid comfort.

The head tube angle is 73 degrees and the seat tube angle is 73.5 degrees. This is slacker than some aero road bikes and should point towards the bike’s ‘all-round’ potential.

Having said this, the chainstays are short at 405mm and the wheelbase is 987mm. So this bike should retain a snappy ride feel in homage to its sprinting roots.

Why did I choose this bike?

Stan Portus riding the Ridley Noah Disc Essential.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

I have ridden the same aluminium Cannondale CAAD12 Disc since I bought it in 2018.

In the last four years, a lot has changed with the best road bikes. My CAAD12’s exposed cables, two-piece cockpit, mechanical groupset, high seatstays and long top tube are outdated.

I chose the Ridley Noah Essential because it has many of the modern features my CAAD12 does not and to which I’ve had limited exposure.

I’ve ridden electronic groupsets but never lived with them, and the same can be said about carbon-framed road bikes.

I know integrated handlebar and stem setups pose problems for maintenance, but is this really that much of a concern?

I’ve used electronic groupsets, but never on a bike I’ve had long-term.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

There is the matter of many road bikes being prohibitively expensive. When the Ridley Noah Essential launched, I was immediately intrigued by it being framed as a more affordable version of a top-level race bike.

The price tag is still a lot more than what I paid for my CAAD12, but prices have risen sharply across the cycling industry (and wider economy) in recent years, so it’s hard to make direct comparisons to past prices these days.

Will the integrated bar and stem prove too much of a maintenance nuisance?
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

Finally, I like riding fast. My (neglected) club’s Tuesday fast rides on open roads where we’d often cover 70km at over 35kph were the highlight of my riding week, before the pandemic. Getting Covid, my resulting lack of fitness and general life got in the way of such behaviour.

Can the Ridley Noah Essential inspire me to find that form – and make up for the fitness I may lack – in the future? I hope so.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential initial setup

Setting the saddle height was one of the few things that needed to be done.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

BikeRadar’s workshop manager Will Poole set up the Ridley Noah Essential for me, and it was a simple affair.

I had to set the saddle height, and add pedals and bottle cages, but that was pretty much all I did.

I’ve left the handlebar at its original height with a stack of spacers beneath it, although I may play around with this in the future.

Ridley is a Belgian brand and one quirk of the bike’s setup for a British rider like me is the brake levers are set up Euro-style, with the left hand operating the front brake.

This has taken some getting used to and I’ll probably switch the brakes around in the future to avoid any muscle-memory confusion when I switch between the Noah and my other bikes.

Despite the setup of my bike, Ridley says any Noah bikes sold to riders in the UK will have brakes set up with UK brakes.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential ride impressions

One of Stan’s first rides on the Ridley was in the Peak District.
Stan Portus / Our Media

The Ridley Noah Disc Essential felt stable, smooth and responsive as soon as I started riding it.

One of the first serious blocks of riding I did on the bike was in the Peak District, where I was staying with old friends.

This might seem like an odd place to take an aero bike with a sprinting pedigree, considering the National Park’s horrendously steep climbs, but the trip provided a good insight into the Noah’s best features and shortcomings – as well as my own.

This bike is, as you may have guessed, fast. Heading down long descents, such as the winding road from the top of Snake Pass into the village of Glossop, the bike felt incredibly quick and stable.

It flowed around the bends with ease and I barely touched the brakes. When I did want to slow my speed, I was grateful for their bite and on or off feel.

Tackling some of the Peaks’ steepest climbs, including Winnats Pass, left me wondering whether the bike, or I, wasn’t up to the challenge.

The wide range of gears were appreciated on steep climbs.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

At 8.41kg, this Noah is similar in weight to other bikes with SRAM Rival eTap AXS, including the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 7 Disc and Trek Émonda SL 6 eTap. But it still isn’t the lightest, and every time I saw one of my friends disappear up the road on his near-6kg climbing bike I wondered what it would be like if I were on a lighter machine.

It’s silly, but in my mind, the weight of the bike switched from a cost-effective win to a potential hindrance when I was stomping on the pedals in the midst of a glycogen debt.

The weight is due to the different carbon layup, but the fact the SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset weighs more than equivalent mechanical groupsets is also a factor. Whether the electronic groupset is worth the extra weight – and costs – over a mechanical equivalent is something I’m keen to explore over my year of testing.

The Noah’s gearing had initially felt weird to me because I’m used to a 52/36t chainring setup with an 11-28t cassette. But on these climbs, I was grateful for the SRAM Rival’s widespread cassette and small front chainrings.

The Noah and Stan seem more suited to the easier gradients of Cat and Fiddle.
Ollie Shead

I have to admit, I’d done little riding in the months leading up to this trip due to having Covid – and having it bad. So I was also wondering to what extent it was my poor form that was the issue on these climbs.

After a couple of days of riding, we headed up Cat and Fiddle and it felt as though a shred of fitness had returned. The climb is far mellower than Winnats Pass, with an average gradient of 3.2 per cent and a maximum of 8 per cent.

The Noah felt much more at home here, as did I, with the bike and I favouring rolling terrain rather than scaling rock faces.

Back in the South West of England, where it feels flat compared to the Peak District, I’ve enjoyed the Noah’s fast handling and pace. But it could be more compliant and I do need to investigate the occasional noise from the disc brakes.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential upgrades

I’ll likely switch the wheelset for something deeper.
Stan Portus / Our Media

There are a number of upgrades I want to make to my long-term test bike over the coming months.

The first is changing the saddle. Saddle choice is personal and this is likely a step many would take when buying a new bike. The Selle Italia XR saddle has been fairly comfortable, but wouldn’t be my first choice.

I would like to switch the wheels out, too. Upgrading your wheels is often one of the top ways you can improve the performance of a bike. A bike such as this feels as though it should have rims deeper than 38mm, and this could further unlock the bike’s potential.

At a claimed 1,535g, the Forza Levanto DB carbon wheels currently on the bike are relatively heavy for their depth.

Considering the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 7 is an aero bike with the same groupset as the Noah, but has deeper wheels and weighs less, I’d be keen to see if a wheel change could also help bring the overall weight down. However, getting a wheelset that has both deeper rims and a significantly lower overall weight would likely not be a cheap upgrade.

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This will likely be a task for the spring. In the meantime, I will likely switch the tyres out to a set of the best winter road bike tyres to reduce the chances of having to fix punctures in the coming months. I’ll probably opt for a 28mm tyre to add some extra comfort and grip to the bike as well.

BikeRadar’s long-term test bikes

BikeRadar’s long-term test bikes give our team the opportunity to get to grips with these machines, so we can tell you how they perform through different seasons and on ever-changing terrain, through a year of riding.

Some choose a bike from their favoured discipline and ride it hard for a year, others opt for a bike that takes them outside their comfort zone.

We also use our long-term bikes as test beds for the latest kit, chopping and changing parts to see what really makes the difference – and help you decide which upgrades are worth spending your money on.

These bikes also provide an insight into the team’s riding through the year – how they like to ride and where life on two wheels takes them, from group rides on local lanes and trails, to adventures further afield.

To see all of the BikeRadar team’s long-term test bikes – and to stay up-to-date with the latest updates – visit our long-term review hub.

Product Specifications

Product

Price EUR €5195.00GBP £4729.00
Weight 8.41kg (M)
Year 2022
Brand Ridley bikes

Features

Available sizes XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL
Brakes SRAM Rival hydraulic
Cranks SRAM Rival, 48/35t
Frame Ridley Noah Disc Essential
Front derailleur SRAM Rival eTap AXS
Handlebar Noah Fast Aero on-piece carbon handlebar and stem
Rear derailleur SRAM Rival eTap AXS
Saddle Selle Italia XR
Tyres Vittoria Corsa G2.0
Wheels Forza Levanto DB Carbon