Ridley Noah RS £2795
18th Feb 2011 | 08:00
The Ridley Noah is a mouthwatering bike with an eye-watering price tag. Its sibling, the Noah RS, brings Ridley’s aero knowhow to a lower price point – £1,770 for the frame and fork, or £2,795 for the complete bike.
- Frame: The Noah RS is beautifully ﬁnished, with great attention to detail. The frame is stiff enough for a big, strong rider to get the power down but still comfortable (9/10)
- Handling: Push the Noah RS hard and it won’t push back. You can descend with conﬁdence and hold a tight line through corners (8/10)
- Equipment: We like the 4ZA Cirrus saddle and have no complaints about Shimano’s Ultegra shifting. the compact chainset makes this bike more sportive-friendly (8/10)
- Wheels: The 4ZA Cirrus wheels have an aero proﬁle but feel rather weighty on the climbs. the Vredestein Fortezza Se tyres perform well enough (7/10)
You can see the family resemblance between the RS and the Noah, which Ridley modestly describe as ‘the fastest bike in the world’. The geometry is the same and the RS has inherited several of the Noah’s wind-cheating tricks. You’d expect internal cable routing, and you get it. You might not expect the all-carbon fork to have slots in it.
Ridley call these R-Flow Jet Foils. Their purpose is to channel air away from the rotating spokes and create less turbulence. There are sections of R-Surface paint, too, which Ridley say reduce drag by 3.6 percent by improving laminar ﬂow, if you’re prepared to suspend your cynicism.
To keep the price down, the RS’s frame is made of lower modulus carbon ﬁbre than the Noah. The RS also loses the integrated seatmast in favour of a seatpost. It’s a narrow section aero post, so the change shouldn’t slow you down much. Since a post makes adjustment easier and means the RS is more straightforward to pack in a bike box, for some this change will be an advantage.
It certainly didn’t seem to cost us any speed out on the road. Pitted against a Cervelo S1, Felt AR3 and NeilPryde Alize on the same test route on the same day, trying to keep our heart rate within a ﬁve beats-per-minute window, the Ridley was the quickest. There were only a few seconds in it, but fastest is fastest.
Ridley Noah RS (official Ridley video)
Wind up the cadence on a ﬂat stretch of road and the Noah RS holds onto every ounce of speed and refuses to let go. That’s in spite of having a tall head tube. You’d think that would push you up into the wind, but the 4ZA handlebar has a deeper shape than average, so once you’re in the drops the riding position is still nice and low.
Not every rider will agree, but we liked the combination of a taller head tube and deeper drop bar. When climbing or cruising, it gave a more easy-going riding position which puts less strain on your lower back. Combine that with the road buzz filtering qualities of the carbon ﬁbre bar, and the Ridley is comfortable enough to suit sportives as well as racing.
That said, you do notice the Ridley’s extra weight over some of its price rivals when the road starts to climb. It weighs 7.84kg (17.3lb, without pedals), and much of that weight is in the wheels (2,607g). The Cirrus hoops are from Ridley’s in-house 4ZA brand, and have that little bit more inertia to overcome.
However the frame is stiff and responsive as well as aerodynamic, so when you get out of the saddle to get the wheels turning, little energy is wasted. The brakes and saddle are also 4ZA. We found the callipers felt rather wooden and we'd have liked more bite. The Cirrus saddle was more of a hit – we’d happily ride on it for several hours.
The drivetrain is Shimano Ultegra. It’s quality kit that does its job reliably and smoothly. Ridley have gone for a 50/34-tooth compact chainset with a 12-25 cassette on the back. That won’t suit hardcore racers but does emphasise that this bike is just as well suited to jumping from group to group in a sportive.