The long-promised Ridley Noah review.
Beauteous compound shapes.
Why “to the quick”? Two reasons.
First, because it’s quick. Seriously quick. Quick as in quick handling, quick as in quick acceleration, quick as in fast. I know all of the sayings–“the bike is only as quick as the motor”, etc. This is a quick bike. It makes the rider faster.
Why else? Cutting something to the quick means that you’ve laid it wide open–you’re down to the meat, the marrow, the heart of the matter. And that’s what the Ridley does. It leaves you with no excuses–you can’t blame bad results on the bike. As a rider, you’re exposed. It will let you reach your greatest potential, and will show your failings. When you go to a ride on the Ridley, people see it and have expectations–lofty expectations–about how you’re going to ride. If you don’t bring your “A” game, it’s all your fault. The bike doesn’t share the blame.
So what are we talking about? Ridley’s 40-50 ton, high modulus carbon. Frame that is totally designed for aerodynamic performance…from the wispy design to the split fork and seat stays. And even as configured, it’s light. How light?
Really light. And that was when it was sporting the Fulcrum Race 3 alloy wheels. As you’ll see below, she’s sporting new wheels, and has lost a bit of weight.
Anyone who reads my blog knows that I’m a bit…obsessive…about my bike cleaning and maintenance. But my bikes have to earn their keep. In the past week, I’ve put 140 miles on the Ridley, checking out the new wheels. At the start of that time, it was perfectly clean. Now, not quite. But let’s be honest: this is how it looks when I ride it. I got the frame as a demo frame (58cm), and it had a few imperfections. So I cut myself some slack, and just ride and enjoy the Ridley.
A few pics:
Designed for aerodynamics? Think so?
Yeah. Pretty darn narrow.
The split (for aero) seat stays wisp into a narrow unified top stay that molds into the integrated seatpost. Also, in this pic, you can see the Dura Ace brakes.
You can see the split in the seat stays on thefastestbikeintheworld. The split is to permit airflow from the spokes to escape past the seat stays, to reduce turbulence and drag.
This particular Noah happens to be the Katusha team issue.
It’s a Ridley…
You can also see the aero strakes on the Fork (same reason as the seat stays). Vredestein was the Katusha tire sponsor. I happen to run Bontrager R3s.
Narrowed fork, from the front.
DT240 hubs on the oh-so-nice ENVE Smart 3.4 Clinchers. (30mm front depth, 40mm rear depth).
Bladed DT Aerolite spokes.
Deda Zero 1 alloy stem.
3T Ergonova Team Carbon Fiber handlebars (42cm).
Ultegra group (53/39 and 11-28), with KMC diamond like coating chain.
Enve. Enve. ENVE.
Front clearance with 700x23c tires. 25s will fit. 28s will not.
Rear clearance. Same clearance.
Seatpost cap. I run a Selle Royal Respiro saddle. Yes. And I like it. So there.
Crank Brothers Candy 3 pedals. Why? They’re reasonably light, have a good platform for pedaling stability, and perhaps most importantly, take the same cleats as the Vaytanium, the Rumblefish and the Mukluk. So all of my shoes fit all of my bikes. I have a thing with forgetting to bring shoes to rides. So I keep an old pair of shoes in my car…and that way, I always have something that will work.
As pictured, with pedals, cages and saddle…but without seat bag or GPS, she’s 16 pounds 13 ounces. Dirty.
Pardon the clutter…but here’s the confirmation shot on the weight.
Where’s it from?
North Central Cyclery, of course. The only place to go.
How does it ride? Amazing. My previous road rides included an aluminum framed-Trek and a carbon fiber Blah. The Ridley is amazingly stiff in the BB. Every scintilla of umph that you put into the pedals translates into forward progress. Climbing on the Ridley is about as fun as climbing can be. When I’m having a good day, she’ll accelerate uphill and just fly.
I should note that I’m basing my review comments on the current configuration, which includes the Enve Smart 3.4 Clincher wheel set. The wheels bring a huge benefit to the ride…I’m not sure exactly how, but they seem to quiet chatter more than the former alloy wheels did. They’re lighter. They’re far more aero. They’re more responsive–both in sprinting (again, with the stiffness of the frame, it’s just ridiculous how the bike will accelerate–how it will lunge forward), and in handling. Minor steering corrections bring no wheel deflection, just immediate directional change. Despite that, it isn’t nervous in the geometry. On super-long rides, you get tired from the ride…but the bike isn’t punishing. For me, the fit is just perfect. The bike fits like an extension of me, so being tired or uncomfortable is the product of exercise, not the product of being beat up by the bike.
It is stiff–definitely. You feel the sharp edges of potholes and road irregularities. But even with Illinois’ crappy roads, I don’t come away from rides feeling beat-up. The vast majority of rides that the Ridley sees are training rides, 25-35 mile group rides, and similar exploits. It also sees centuries and longer rides. But it isn’t a commuter. It doesn’t see fenders or panniers. It doesn’t see gravel roads. Well, at least it doesn’t see them on purpose. For how I use it, it’s perfect.
Strengths include reasonably light weight, amazing wheel set, amazing aerodynamics, sharp handling, sporty ride, and of course, great aesthetics.
What are its weaknesses? As you can see above, it’s 16 pounds, 13 ounces even with my heavy pedals and saddle, and an Ultegra build. Dropping into the 15 pound range would be easy, if that were a concern for me. (But frankly, I ride with a seat bag including a multi-tool, spare tube, CO2, etc., so I’m happy with it how it is). The Integrated Seatpost is light, aero, and fits me perfect, but limits resale value if I ever get rid of it. Ridley doesn’t have a huge following in the US, which again limits resale value. But right now, I’m not sure what I’d want different in a road bike. The fit is perfect, the performance is phenomenal. When this group gets burned up, I might go to Dura Ace or Force, but otherwise, it’s about perfect. I’m running a standard 53/39 crank and an 11-28 cassette. That gives me enough gears to climb anything in the midwest, and enough top end to keep up with the speed-demons in my group, even with my lumbering pedal strokes. I certainly wouldn’t mind an 11 speed cassette, but not because I need a wider range of gears. With the 11-28 cassette, there are some gaps between gears that would be nice to minimize. I sometimes think about changing the stem to a matching 3T carbon stem…but that’s pure aesthetics. This bike is far more bike than I need. I run out of talent far before I run out of bike.
There have been updates to the Ridley Noah since mine was made…including the integrated brakes. But the fundamentals are remarkably similar. It’s an amazing bike. Did I mention that it’s fast?
That’ll be my final point. After riding this bike for a year, I’m a believer in aerodynamics. I genuinely believe that there is a palpable difference with an aero bike…and in flat Illinois, here on the plains in the land of the constant headwinds, I’ll take all of the aero advantages I can get.
I love my Ridley. Really. It’s Ridleydiculous.