Noah SL Road Bike Frameset - 2016
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With both a low weight and an aerodynamically obsessed design, the 2016 Ridley Noah SL Road Bike Frameset is something of an anomaly in the bike industry — a frame that's virtually compromise-free. Built to shepherd the Lotto Soudal team through everything from one-day Ardennes Classics to long, grueling grand tours, the Noah SL is built with oversized tubing and FAST technology to transfer power into forward speed.
This Noah's oversized-tubes still earn the SL suffix — which we assume denotes the industry standard 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 50t, and the SL's inclusion of 60t means it can use less material at key points of power transfer while maintaining the same efficiency. Less material equals less weight, and the Noah SL is born. As with the original Noah model, the SL's different carbon moduli are used 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 the industry standard of a tapered head tube for sharp tracking and efficient power transfer. The PF30 bottom bracket, internal cable routing, and electronic group compatibility are also 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 notably 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.