As fast as you want to go.
It's pretty hard to ignore the increasing number of disc brake equipped road bikes hitting the market recently and by now, we've seen high-profile professional racers nab some serious victories aboard disc equipped machines. Cross, endurance, and gravel bikes were all early adopters of discs where weight and aerodynamics weren't as critical as on full-tilt road racing rigs, and the improved power and modulation, in all kinds of weather, was very welcome. Those advancements in braking didn't go without notice and many professional road racers wanted the disc treatment, despite the slight weight penalty, on their race bikes. Please keep in mind that for professionals with a paycheck on the line and single digit body fat percentages, slight bike weight gains never come easy, but for the rest of us, the performance of discs, despite the half-pound on average weight gain, simply makes sense. Slow adoption among pros is also in part due to the UCI, the governing body for international bike racing, just recently giving disc brakes its full blessings for use in racing. It also has an archaic 6.8 kilos minimum weight limit which isn't too hard to hit with a lightweight frame, some top shelf-components, and the de rigueur carbon tubular wheelset. For 15 or so odd years, mechanics have added static weight to lightweight climbing bikes just to get them into compliance. Frame designers then realized they could build in aerodynamic features as a way to add some functional weight back into the framesets with tangible benefits. However, with improved materials and technology, those bikes once again tickled the weight limit, and as a way to once again add weight, in the name of functionality, back into the bikes, disc brakes emerged in the pro peloton offering racers superior braking performance. What's perhaps most impressive about these newer batches of aero framesets coming out specifically for discs is there isn't an aero penalty whatsoever over the rim brake versions, and the peace of mind that comes from completely eliminating overheated carbon braking surfaces or sub-standard braking in wet conditions gives us more confidence in exploiting the wind-cheating speed, knowing we can go fast without the fear of slowing down. If this sounds like something your road riding has been missing, have a look at the Noah SL Disc Road Bike Frameset from Ridley and take your riding to new levels.
This Noah SL is based on its rim brake brethren with the slight modifications needed to reinforce the fork and chainstay areas to handle the disc brake forces. Despite this, its oversized tubes still earn the SL suffix—which we assume denotes the industry superlative 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 50-ton, and the SL's use of 60-ton means it can use less material at key points while maintaining the same efficiency, which in turn lowers weight. As with the rim brake model, the SL's different carbon moduli are placed in different areas of the frame based on desired properties of stiffness, weight, durability, and road-noise damping.
And while a targeted blend of materials is fairly common practice across the industry, few manufacturers go to the extreme of using 60t carbon. The SL also features a tapered head tube for sharp tracking and efficient power transfer, and the PF30 bottom bracket, internal cable routing, and future-proof electronic group compatibility that are 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 distinctly 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, Ripley claims that the Noah SL enjoys a 3-5% reduction in drag over frames without the FAST design. This means more speed with less effort, all thanks to a little bit of surface air routing.
- A light, aerodynamic road machine with disc brake capability
- High-end carbon fiber construction reduces weight
- FAST F-Surface and F-Split Fork improve aerodynamics
- Disc brakes compatibility offers more power and modulation
- Oversized bottom bracket shell efficiently transfers power
- Internal cable routing provides clean lines
- Compatible with electronic or mechanical drivetrains
- Recommended maximum rider weight of 209.5lb (95kg)