Ten years ago, the Ridley Noah was one of the first aero road bikes to hit the market. Since then, the Belgian brand has evolved the original idea with the Noah FAST and Noah SL iterations, which have been raced at the Tour de France and elsewhere on the world stage. For 2016, the Ridley Noah is available for those of us who aren't racing the Tour, and at more down-to-earth prices than the FAST and SL machines.
Similarly, the 2016 Ridley Dean is a mix of trickle-down aerodynamics and real-world functionality, being offered at three price points from a Shimano Ultegra Di2 level down to Shimano 105.
"These bikes are a bit of a departure, brining tech to the the everyman," said Richard Wittenberg, Ridley's vice president of international operations. "These bikes are for the guy who is not just a cyclist, but who is a cyclist and a runner and a skier, or is saving for his kids’ college. He wants performance but doesn’t need 100%… maybe 85%."
Ridley Noah: aero frame with 'normal' brakes and fork
A small divot in the tube (just above and running parallel to the white line) smoothes air flow around the frame and makes it faster
The current Noah FAST has three primary aero differentiators: a split-leg fork, integrated brakes and proprietary tube shaping. While the special fork and brakes involve complexity and cost, the tube shaping is easy enough to pass down the line. So, for 2016 the more modest Noah bikes get what Ridley calls F-Surface + tubing that features small indentations near the leading edges that help smooth airflow around the frame and thus make the bike faster, Ridley claims.
"Here we are bringing ingredients of the Noah SL into an ordinary bike," Wittenberg said.
The Noah bikes use the same 24ton carbon as their higher-end siblings, and are all made in Belgium.
The bikes range in price from the $3,000 Noah 70, featuring Shimano 105 and Ridley's own 4ZA wheels, up to a $4,620 Noah 55 with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels. UK and AU pricing was not immediately available. In some markets there'll also be a Shimano Dura-Ace Noah 50 model.
"We are a pragmatic brand that builds the toughest bikes," Wittenberg said. "Some bike brands cater to people who want to buy a bike to hang on the wall. That’s not our customer. Our bikes are meant to be ridden."
Ridley Dean: claimed faster than a Specialized Shiv 'in the real world'
Triathlon and time trial superbikes are great – provided someone else is doing the assembly. The 2016 RIdley Dean models seek to hit the sweet spot between aero performance and easy serviceability. While the rear brake under the chainstays isn't perhaps the easiest to adjust, the front brake caliper is standard and the Profile Designs cockpit is straightforward enough for any shop to service. Ridley's pursuit of aerodynamics comes largely in the frame, using the same F-Surface + tubing that Ridley claims to be 7% faster than standard tubing.
"We are hemmed in by UCI," said Wittenberg, referring to the 3:1 length-to-width rule for frame tube diameters. "Really, the optimal ratio is 5:1."
Ridley's F-Surface + uses a shape similar to a truncated NACA airfoil, but with shallow divots near the leading edge.
"The divots at thefront create small turbulence that makes for a laminar layer of air [in other words, air moving all the same direction and at the same speed] around the tube. This makes the bike faster, but also much more stable in crosswinds," Wittenberg said. "So, while a bike like the Specialized Shiv may be faster in a clinical sense – like in a wind tunnel – and show a lower CdA, in the real world it will be slower than ours because riders are spending more energy stabilizing the bike in the wind."
One cool feature of the Dean: Ridley ships it with two sets of dropouts to keep the rear wheel as close to the seat tube as possible. The stock option is for 25mm tires; the supplied parts adjust the wheel's position for 23mm rubber.
The Ridley Noah ranges in price from $3,000 for the Shimano 105 bike with 4ZA RC31 wheels up to the $5,500 Dean 10 with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels. UK and AU pricing was not immediately available.
Two sets of dropouts are provided to snuggle the rear wheel up against the seat tube as closely as possible