Noah Force 22 Complete Road Bike - 2016
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Function over form.
The aggressively aerodynamic profile of Ridley's Noah Force 22 Complete Road Bike may not appeal to everyone. After all, there are certain cyclists who eschew "aero" designs in favor of traditional tubing and standard geometries. We know, because that's how many of us feel. We're also racers, though, and we recognize the value of designs that start from a consideration of function instead of one of form. When we're off the front, unpacking the ol' suitcase of courage and gasping to maintain a gap, our inner racer is less worried about celebrating the classic heritage of cycling and more concerned about getting every possible advantage from our equipment.
Having made that claim, we're compelled to acknowledge that there is, obviously, a great deal of cycling heritage involved here, particularly that of the Belgian variety. Belgium is one of the most celebrated nationalities in cycling, with heroes like Merckx, Boonen, and Nys regularly featuring at or near the pinnacle of GOAT lists for their respective disciplines. (Or just hands-down GOAT for Merckx.) This version of the Noah celebrates that heritage with a subtle Belgian tricolor color scheme, so it blends the heritage that first made us fall in love with cycling with the contemporary technological advances that keep reinvigorating that romance.
Ultimately, that contemporary tech is actually what a race bike is about, though, and the "form-follows-function" design ethos informing the Noah's tube shaping and geometry demonstrates that Ridley—and the professionals at Lotto-Soudal who depend on the Belgian manufacturer—feels the same. Beneath that celebratory paint job, the Noah has the same flat, wide, NACA-inspired tube shapes as the more expensive Noah SL and Noah FAST models chosen by the likes of master sprinter Greipel and perennial fan-favorite Hansen when they want a little extra speed between them and the road.
The Noah does focus almost exclusively on pure speed, so take note that this isn't a pleasure cruiser or a fondo machine. The robust, tapered head tube is built for precise tracking whether you're diving through the final corner to stay on the wheel in front of you or winding up in the final 200m to come around that wheel. The head tube is paired with an equally robust drive spine, and if the front end doesn't convince you that this is a pure power bike, then the oversized bottom bracket juncture and stubby chainstays will. The bike can climb well enough, but it's main purpose is mashing.
The standard Noah doesn’t have the same FAST technology as the more expensive models and it replaces the SL's 60/40/30-ton carbon blend with a slightly heavier 30/24-ton blend; however, the basic aerodynamic platform is the same and the different lay-up results in a paltry 140 claimed grams of weight gain. It's basically the same cake, just without sprinkles on the Flemish frosting, but it does have some race-worthy embellishment in the form of SRAM's Force 22 drivetrain.
Force 22 doesn't have the tradeshow sheen of more expensive mechanical and electronic drivetrains. And we're fine with that. Because—like with the frame—the drivetrain's job is, ultimately, to work, and few drivetrains in the industry work as reliably well as Force. It does carry a few extra grams compared to Red, but so do the top Japanese and Italian groups. If this were Ridley's featherweight Helium, that might be a deal-breaker, but since the slightly heavier Noah is meant for rouleurs and sprinters, the few added grams aren't as noticeable.
- A race bike that combines Belgian heritage with modern technology
- High-modulus carbon shaped into aerodynamic tubing
- Geometry built for long days off the front of the pack
- Built-up bottom bracket juncture for hard spring efforts
- Force 22 proves mechanical drivetrains still belong at races
- Colorway pays homage to the rich cycling heritage of Belgium, Ridley's home country
- Item #RID004I