Sprinters, you’ll love this bike because it’s unapologetically stiff. Everyone else, remember what we said about stiffness? The Noah sacrifices just about all compliance in the pursuit of straight-line speed, and that’s okay if you consider this bike a tool for racing rather than an everyday companion.
It’s a jarring ride but also an explosive one. A monstrous bottom bracket and short 405-millimeter chain stays give you the tools to sprint like André Greipel. (Well, not the legs. You’ll have to earn those yourself.) The only sacrifice to stiffness we could find was in the Fulcrum Racing 4 wheels, and even that wasn’t too much of a sacrifice. These are excellent training wheels, but when you head out onto the race course, carbon wheels with a deep rim profile, like Zipp 404s, are probably a better choice for aerodynamics and stiffness, at a small weight penalty.
The F-Split fork has slits in the side, which Ridley says helps alleviate turbulence created by the front wheel. This should, in theory, help the bike resist aerodynamic drag; we didn’t send the Noah to the wind tunnel so we can’t confirm whether it works or not. All we can say is we didn’t notice any gains or disadvantages to the design.
While the ride is harsh, we were surprised by how well the Noah climbs, helped, no doubt, by its hill-friendly gearing and short chain stays. It’ll never be a pure climber — it’s too heavy and not quite lively enough for that — but you won’t be dogging it up the climbs on the group ride either.
The Noah SL 40 has plenty of aero touches, including the lowered seat stays, aero seatpost, and airfoil-shaped seat tube. The longish head tube (175mm, size M) means the Noah handles like an aero bike, too, with a bit of sluggishness at low speeds but plenty of confidence at high speeds. Descending through tight corners required a bit of muscling, but in long, sweeping curves, the Noah carves a beautiful line. Crit-worthy? Maybe, but it probably wouldn’t be our first choice. Long pulls off the front of the peloton? The Noah’s up for it all day.
With a Shimano Ultegra group and tough Fulcrum wheels, the build is quite good for the price range. 4ZA handlebars and stem are good places to upgrade if you want something lighter, though the 4ZA Cirrus Pro CR/Ti saddle was surprisingly comfortable for our test riders with narrow sit-bones.
Component Highlights: Shimano Ultegra drivetrain with 52/36 crankset and Shimano 105 11-28 cassette; Shimano Ultegra brakes; Fulcrum Racing 4 wheels