The 9 Coolest Products From PressCamp Road

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Feedback Sports' Ominum Trainer all packed and ready go to. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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Beeline had one of their mobile bike shop on hand to help setting up the bikes, such as installing pedals for me because I forgot to bring a 8mm hex wrench, I blame that on my mini-tool. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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FSA's SLK crankset with their new super compact chainring aiming for the adventure/gravel crowd. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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DMT's slick RS1 featuring a single BOA dial to tighten/loosen the skeleton skin top. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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Kenda's Flintridge Pro gravel tire, now available in 35c and 40c Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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SCICON AeroComfort Road 3.0 TSA bike travel bag, the choice of ProTour teams when they have to ship their bikes to races. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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What really makes SCICON AeroComfort Road 3.0 bag so unique is its wheeled caddy which secures your bike in the bag without the need of removing the handlebar and seatpost. All you need is to take the wheels off, mount the bike on the caddy and put the bag over it. Yay for being able to keep your dialed bike fit intact. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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Variety of pedal stack for your Speedplay Syzr pedals. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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... As well as customizable axle lengths. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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This must be the first time where I had a presention done in the dark. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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The Joder riding shirt from Colorado's Panache Cyclewear Photo:Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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Panache's Joder riding shirt features a full zipper, but perhaps the biggest standout are its two lower front pockets for small items such as gels, bars, phone, etc. Photo:Stephen Lam/ element.ly

For the first time ever, the annual spring PressCamp was all about road and by that I mean any bikes that come with a drop handlebar.

Here are the 9 coolest products I saw from the two days of back-to-back meetings.

Ridley Helium SLX

Prized for its comfort and the lack of grams, the Helium has long been a proven staple in Ridley’s line up and has had its share of refinement over the years. The newest iteration, the Helium SLX, is its lightest yet and continues to live up to this featherweight chemical element. With a new blend of Ridley’s 60T carbon and a new lay up schedule, Ridley was about to bring the frame down to 750g for a medium size while increasing its stiffness about 15% more than the previous model.

As for tire clearances, Ridley recommends a max 25mm for tires and 28mm for rim widths. In other words, most of the new wide aero wheels on the market will play nicely with the Helium SLX. Cable routings are now fully internal for both mechanical and electronic shifting groups for a cleaner appearance.

The sub-300 gram fork now features a full monocoque straight blade design and that’s counting its stainless steel inserts at the dropout for better alignment and protection. I briefly test rode the $5,800 version with full Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 mechanicals and the initial review was quite positive. The bike begs to be climbed, moves so eagerly with every pedal stroke and steers precisely around twisty descents. The geometry gravitates towards the aggressive racing stance as it was made for the ProTours, but I found the Helium to be comfortable, not squishy. Stay tuned for a long-term review soon.

Raleigh Stuntman ($2,499)

Inspired by the character Colt Seavers (by actor Lee Majors) in the 1981 television series The Fall Guythe Stuntman is tailor-made for those who spend their days in the office planning their next bike camping epic. The gorgeously-painted frame is made out of double-butted Reynolds 631 steel for comfort and durability, but with modernized specs such as a 142×12 rear axle, a tapered headtube, and plenty of tire clearance (more on that later). In fact, the frame feels so solid we reckon it’ll be pretty difficult to break in half unless you decide to enter Redbull Rampage with one.

We think the components choice is pretty well fitting for what the bike is intended for as well: A no-nonsense full SRAM Rival 1X11 drivetrain with a 40T front ring for propulsion along with matching hydraulic discs to slow things down when called for. And when the road (or groad) gets a bit more gnarly, you could use the mechanical dropper post with 65-80mm of travel from a bar mounted remote on Raleigh’s own branded drop-bar with 16 degree flare in its drops. Interestingly enough, the Stuntman went with a full aluminum fork for better strength which also keeps the price low. Did I mention there are mounts for racks and fenders? So yes, all this bike missing is the stuntman himself.

The wheel build is an interesting proposition too: 50C (!) Clement X’PLOR MSO Tubeless rubbers mounted to sealed Novatec hubs laced to 28mm wide Weinmann U28TL tubeless rims with 32 14/15g butted stainless spokes, brass nipples. It’s nowhere as exotic as say, a pair of Zipp 454 NSWs, but again, you don’t go off-road on your 4-Runner with HRE P201s with Pirelli P Zeros, do you?

FSA WE hybrid-wireless drivetrain ($TBA)

Over the years, new companies with new drivetrain ideas have popped up, getting some flare about how disruptive their products will be, and eventually flame out in one way or another… Let’s face it, the barrier to enter the drivetrain business is not only risky, requiring a lot more than money and engineering, but it’s also been dominated by the big three (Shimano, SRAM, Campagnolo). That said, if there’s a company that could challenge the big three, FSA might just be it. You see, FSA has been cumulating their manufacturing know how for about 25 years making headsets, handlebars, cranksets, stems, wheels… essentially everything except a drivetrain group. Yet after years of development rumors and the occasional spy pics, they felt they finally have something to offer: The WE hybrid-electronic groupset.

But what the heck is a hybrid-wireless system anyway? Like is it wired AND wireless at the same time? The short answer, as confusing as it might be, is yes. The shifters are wireless utilizing  ANT+ to securely communicate with the derailleurs while the derailleurs are wired to be powered from the battery within the seatpost. This is a solution where FSA engineers felt was more reliable and longer-lasting (claimed 4,000 to 6,000km per charge). We’ll take their word for the time being before our long-term test but the samples they had at PressCamp looked very close to the production model with very clean lines and completely functional for rides. The shifters felt comfortable in my hands and the FSA will be offering carbon lever blades in two different lengths (6mm difference) for better ergonomics. What’s more, a companion app will be available for users to further customize their system for things such as shift speed and button function.

Now, the shifting operation is of course, different than what’s already out there. The WE utilizes a rocker switch with different textures to differentiate up and down shift.

It works as advertised, being able to do both single and multiple shifts when called for. The switch will take a bit of time to get used to since the buttons are relatively close to each other, but that could be matter of getting used to a system like the first time you use a Mac. We’ll see whether the WE will be as popular as Di2, eTAP, or EPS, but the competition just heated up a bit more.

ABUS YADD-I Urban Helmet ($79.99-89.99)

Originally beginning as an aero-helmet concept, the YADD-I is part of ABUS’ introduction to the US helmet market. Yes, ABUS is probably better known for their badass locks in the states but the German company has been producing helmets since 1992. At first glance the YADD-I might look like a modernized skater helmet, but beneath the shell are air channels (ABUS named it Forced Air Cooling Technology) to suck cold air in to keep your head cool. There’s even a detachable soft visor that works just like your favorite cycling cap. Instead of using a teethed or geared retention system, ABUS uses a simple but brilliant Soft Tune System where it simply uses an elastic band to automatically adjust to the user’s head. Nine colors will be available starting this April, and that’s not counting the special edition with the flag of the City Chicago on top. Nothing against Chicago but I’d be very happy if ABUS released one with the California Bear on top.

Kenda Valkyrie ($69.95)

Admittably, Kenda is better known for their line of mountain bike tires, but the Taiwanese tire maker’s newest top road offering, the Valkyrie, aims to change that as a result of three years of development at their new R&D center in Cleveland, Ohio (Fun fact: Kenda is an official sponsor of the Cleveland Cavaliers). With the Valkryie, Kenda claims a low rolling resistance and an increased wet/dry with the use of their third generation R3C rubber compound while the new KA armor takes care of puncture protection in lieu of the more common but heavier kevlar belt. At a claimed 178g for 23c, 182g for 25c, 235g for 28c and 265g for 30c, the Valkyrie sure reads like a high-performance racing tire. The 700x23c and 25c are available now, with the 28c and 30c available around later this spring. If you’re a tubular guy, the Valkyrie has you covered too, offering 22c and 24c wrapped on a 300tpi casing, (which will cost a bit more than the clincher version). The tubeless version is also in development.

Giordana Custom Program

If you’ve been on a local race team for a while, I am sure you know something about ordering, actually, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, picking the right apparel maker for your next team kit. Fit parties, back and forth, and I won’t even go into the actual design of the jersey. There’s a reason that very position on my team is appropriately named the kit bitch.

But Giordana is here to streamline that process and is opening up their line of speciality apparel for customization. Your team can now order custom water-shedding G-Shield jerseys/bibs for wet days and the lightweight Sahara jerseys/bibs for hot summer days, while having access to their customized Giordana elite FR-C line of clothing if you are so inclined. The order minimum is 10 and the program includes Giordana’s own in house designer to help with the design, from a finished template to ideas still on napkins, Giordana will be able to help and all garments will be made in the same factory in Italy as the rest of the Giordana’s offerings with an average 6-8 week turnaround from start to finish.

HIA Velo/Allied Cycle Works ALFA ($2,700 frame/fork)

Perhaps the most exciting news from PressCamp and for a good reason. Think about this for a second: For $2,700, you get a sub-800 gram frame (56cm) in six sizes plus two head tube heights per size to choose from, plus lifetime warranty and factory repair service. Sounds good right? The frame is made entirely in the U.S. (Little Rock, Arkansas, to be exact) starting from the pre-preg itself. Speaking of their composites, the ALFA includes the exclusive use of Innegra fiber within its layout to have better impact resistance and helps keep the frame together shall the frame fail for safety, and just so it won’t snap into a million pieces when you stupidly crash at your next criterium in category forever 4.

For a complete bike, HIA is planning to offer a complete build starting at $4,000 with full Ultegra mechanical. 4k is a decent amount of money for a bike but a very competitive price if you’re already looking at custom U.S. made bikes.

No small details were overlooked, as evident by the metal badge here in the downtube that doubled as an access port if you choose to run a mechanical groupset by simply swapping it.

Also, if you think the paint job on the ALFA is bitchin’, that’s because it is in fact gorgeous. The in-house paint department, formerly known as SoCal’s Cyclart, definitely knows a thing or two when it comes to paint. HIA is hoping to introduce new paint finishes every week because 1: They can, and 2: Showing up to a group ride on a bike with the same bike same paint job as someone else is just not fresh.

Infinity Bike Seat ($170-$295)

I was skeptical when I first saw the seats from Infinity. If there’s a museum of awkward looking saddles, the Infinity is probably going to be there. Afterall, where is my bottom supposed to go? So I gave the Infinity a shot during the presentation and surprise surprise, nothing catastrophic happened contrary to conventional wisdom. The saddle is finicky to test and to review upon, much less in a short demonstration. But the Infinity saddle felt different than other split saddles that I’ve tried. Perhaps it’s the next big thing after the latest clipped nose saddle rage?

But seriously, though, don’t judge a seat by its (lack of) cover.

Cipollini MCM custom ($3,872 frameset)

Almost a 180 degree difference from the Alfa aforementioned above, the Cipollini MCM is the Italian racer-turned-maker’s first made-to-order fame. For $3,872, you’ll get a slippery-looking carbon aero bike with custom geometry and custom finishes on a frame loaded with all the latest standards such as a tapered headtube, a BB86 bottom bracket, and mechanical/electronic shifting compatibilities. What’s more, the MCM will accommodate sizes from 44cm all the way to 63cm with tire clearance for 28C tires across the board.

While we’re on the MCM, it’s also worth mentioning the MCM2 that I feel is even more compelling. The MCM2 is currently still in the development phase and wasn’t shown at PressCamp, but it is in essence a MCM with an integrated electric motor. The current prototype is said to be around 10kg/22lbs but we should have more info on the bike soon. Hate eBikes all you want but I think the MCM2 is one of the hottest eBikes I’ve seen this year and it actually looks like a normal bike.

Don’t even think about bringing the MCM2 to your local races, though, that’s just wrong.


Bikes, Bags, and Shades, the Latest and Greatest From Summer PressCamp

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Midweek editor's ride led by all-around good guy Eric Porter. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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The behind of scene of every bike beauty shot. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Product demonstration area at White Lighting. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Koroyd engineering cores in various shapes and forms. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Gerard Vroomen of OPEN showing his ONE+ superlight hardtail (with plenty of room for 3" tires) Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Would love to see more company doing subtle paint details like OPEN. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Custom Pinarello logo on this Mavic spoke. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Filed under "cool stuff you cannot have" aka dual-sided Stages powermeter made for the US Olympic track pursuit team. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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The gravel crew in the afternoon. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Start 'em young! Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Love them Alpinestar gloves. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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For 2017 GT is also bringing back that Performer BMX you wanted back in 1986. You know you want one. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

PressCamp in Park City is still one of my favorite events of the year. The laidback atmosphere, killer rides, that ride party at Eric Porter’s House, the daily doses of epic breakfast bacon, and of course plenty of fun new gear to talk about. Here are a few of the highlights from the week-long meetings. We will have more individual highlights/reviews in the pipeline.

Cannondale

The vaulted SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod will be available this fall with disc brakes. While the bike looks almost identical to the caliper brake version sans the brakes, the frame is brand new given that you just can’t slap a brake caliper mount to the frame mold and call it a day. The geometry is the same but the disc frame will have a different layup to accommodate different loads generated by disc brakes.

photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod disc with Ultegra Di2. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Even then, the weight penalty is minimal. Otherwise, the most noticeable differences are the utilization of the Flat Mount standard for the brake calipers, improved tire clearance up to 28C tires (the bike we were shown had 25C Schwalbe one tubeless clincher mounted to the Cannondale Hollogram carbon clinchers with a 19mm inner diameter), and the 12×100 thru-axle for the fork. What’s interesting, though, is that Cannondale kept the traditional 135×9 quick release for the rear wheel. The model we were shown, a SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod Carbon Disc with Ultegra, will retail for $6,200 and I expect more disc models at different price points will be available as well.

3T

Better known for their cockpit components such as stem, handlebar and seaports, the storied Italian component maker 3T carried a truck full of their new Exploro gravel road bikes and they did not disappoint. In fact, they were so good they would have easily won the best of camp if there was one.

3T Exlploro. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
3T Exlploro. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

The loaner I rode was mounted with 2.1×27.5 WTB Nano mountain bike knobbies (and it’s compatible with 700c for road and cross) and it blew me away in terms of how playful the bike was over the rocky dry terrain at Park City. Oh, and it’s an aero gravel bike designed with bottles, fat tires and mud in mind that 3T went as far as 3D printed mud for testing.

THM Calavicula SE crankset. Bling. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
THM Calavicula SE crankset. Bling. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
3T. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Now, at $4,200 for the top of the line LTD frameset, the Exploro will definitely take up a good amount of your hard-earned moola but it’s one hell of a super gravel bike if you can only have one to do it all.

Fabric

It’s only been a short time since Fabric came to the US market and they have yet to disappoint with their ingenuity. New for 2017 are their lineup lights. In particular, the $39 R30 rear light.

New Illumination offerings from Fabric. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
New Illumination offerings from Fabric. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Thirty lumens LED strip capable of running in 4 different modes off a USB rechargeable lithium battery rated for 8-9 hours depending on running mode, all housed inside a IPX5 water resistant outer case. Beneath the hood, Fabric added an accelerometer so the light will automatically glow brighter when the user brakes to slow down, just like the taillights on a car.

Ryders Eyewear

I must admit I am not familiar with Canadian sunglasses maker
Ryders Eyewear despite seeing their products at different places over the years. Sales of sports sunglasses is one tough competitive market but Ryders seems to have a lot of good technology neatly integrated across the board from their entry level model all the way to the no holds barred models.

(L-R) Aero, Seventh and Incline by Ryders Eyewear. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
(L-R) Aero, Seventh and Incline by Ryders Eyewear. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

A few details that caught my attention: Grilamid TR90 materials on all their non-metal frames that is super flexible. We tried to pull apart a frame without success, yet it was able to retain its shape after our post-presentation abuse. Second, integrated anti-fog in the back of the lens and hydrophobic coating in front to shed water. No more aftermarket mods!

Blue

Typically better known in the time-trial/triathlon scene but at PressCamp, however, Blue showed up with a slew of new additions to their 2017 line up and the Prosecco EX Carbon gravel bike is possibly one of the best value bikes from PressCamp. For $2,699, you’ll get a full carbon frame, hydraulic brakes AND Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic grouppo. Also cool is the slippery looking Leigh carbon track bike, race ready straight out of the box.

Blue Prosecco EX carbon Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Blue Prosecco EX carbon Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Blue Lehigh track bike. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Blue Lehigh track bike. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

GT

GT Pantera: Seems like brands are putting more focus on introductory/middle tier models this year at PressCamp and for that reason, GT reintroduced the Pantera back into their 2017 mountain bike lineup. Only this time with a sturdy new aluminum t6 frame, a competitive spec and most importantly 27.5+ wheels for comfort, maneuverability, and fun factor for the price ($1620 for the top of the line Expert model). It’s a very playful bike and I think it’ll be a hit next year.

GT Pantera Expert. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Pinarello

Pinarello is now in the gravel market with the addition of the GAN GR and GRs, with the latter equipped with a elastomer rear suspension delivering 10mm of travel similar to the absorber found on their Paris-Roubaix proven K8-S machine. Both models are disc only and heavily features design cues from their top of the line F8 road frame, but with ample tire clearance and fender mounts as well as a lower price point ($2850 with Shimano 105 and $5250 with Shimano Ultegra.)

Pinarello GAN GRS gravel bike. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Pinarello GAN GRS gravel bike disc with Shimano 105. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Elastomer suspension with 10mm of travel to soak up the road chatters. photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Elastomer suspension with 10mm of travel to soak up the road chatters. photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Thule

Many associate Thule with being the brand that makes racks and accessories for your car but the Swedish company is much much more than just a one trick pony. Thule has developed products such as rugged phone cases, and luggage bags. What caught my attention was the Covert Camera Bag: a rolltop-style backpack that’s been the rage lately but the dedicated camera compartment had some of the nicest inserts I’ve seen. We will be reviewing one very soon so stay tuned for updates!

Thule Covert camera backpack Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Thule Covert camera backpack Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Nicely padded inserts for the camera compartment. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Nicely padded inserts for the camera compartment. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Smith

Smith, being the first to incorporate the novelty Koroyd material into bicycle helmets, is back with two new affordable helmets (with Koroyd, of course) called the Rover (for MTB) and Route (for road.) While the original Overtake and Forefront helmets saw a full wrap of koroyd around the helmet, it drove the price of the helmet.

(L-R) Smith Route and Rover helmets. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
(L-R) Smith Route and Rover helmets. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

For the Rover and Route, Smith was able to strategically place Koroyd panels in the areas where it would likely see impact, thus lowering the price point. I know the last few sentences were full of Koroyd. I, in fact, was treated to an interesting presentation directly from Koroyd, 45 minutes on a single material backed by data, Surprisingly, though, it was also one of the more memorable, and convicing presentations during the week that would make you want to wear nothing but Koroyd gear. It’s that good.

Ridley

Ahh, the slippery fast Noah SL, now better with disc. We tested a caliper brake version of the Noah SL a while back and had a great time with it. For the Noah SL Disc, Ridley designers went back to added thru-axle front and rear for security and stiffness. Ridley’s split aero fork remains and we expect the bike to be even more capable than its caliper brake brethren.

Ridley Noah SL Disc. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Ellsworth

Six month is a long time in the bike biz and Ellsworth is back at Summer PressCamp with a new owner and a spiffy looking Rogue Sixty enduro machine with 160mm of rear travel. The iconic ICT suspension remains but founder Tony Ellsworth incorporated a 420mm short chain-stay, mil-spec dual row bearings, slack geometry, and hex taper-axles that should translate this carbon-framed bike into one sweet tight berm riding machine.

Ellsworth Rogue Sixty in orange and black Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

The New Ridley X-Trail Is the Best of Both Worlds

The Ridley X-Trail.

We hinted at the arrival of an unnamed Ridley whip in our 10 drool-worthy items list and now it has finally arrived, name and all.

The all-new Ridley X-Trail.

The X-Trail is a Swiss-army knife of a bike that can do it all. It’s the Belgium bike maker’s answer for the growing segment of all-road riding.

My time with the then prototype X-Trail was limited to a few short rides during Bike PressCamp but the bike was impressive to say the least.

The X-Trail is a disc-only, using Shimano’s new flat mounting standard for a cleaner appearance. It will be using the Pressfit BB86 bottom bracket standard. By running PF BB86, Ridley engineers were able to allow more tire clearance while keeping the Q-factor at a minimum. As such, the X-Trail will accommodate up to 40C tires.

Ridley X-Trail

The frame is also nicely integrated with the fork similar to the Noah SL for better stiffness and aerodynamics. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

Ridley X-Trail

The front uses a 15x100 thru-axle that's a popular standard in mountain bike fork. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly.

Ridley X-Trail

The rear uses the proven 12x142 thru axle for security and stiffness. All cables are neatly routed internally and it's compatible with both mechanical and electronic shift systems. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly.

Ridley X-Trail

Originally dubbed the X-Project, the X-Trail sports a full carbon frame build with Ridley's 30T and 24T High Modulus Carbon, as well as a 27.2 seatpost for better bump compliance. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly.

The Ridley X-Trail

The Ridley X-Trail. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly.

Ridley had test samples loaded with 27C and 40C Challenge rubbers at BPC. With each different tire width comes a slight change of the bike’s personality, narrower for more road and wider for more gnar. The 15×100 front and 12×142 rear thru-axles also stiffen the bike while making wheel changes a faster ordeal. The fork weighs in at a claimed 490 gram while a medium frame weighs competitively at about 1055 gram.

It’s as if someone threw a Helium SL, a Noah SL and a X-Knight into a blender and out came the X-Trail.

The bike feels like a road bike and cornering was very planted during the initial road test. With its bottom bracket placed in between a road bike and a cross bike, the X-Trail had the best of both worlds. Switching to the off road trails around Deer Valley was seamless and the X-Trail was eager to take up whatever challenge I pointed it towards. With the 40mm tires installed, it was reminiscent of an aggressive rigid 29er that doesn’t beat me up at the end of the ride, largely thanks to Ridley’s use of a 27.2 seatpost. The Shimano brakes were also confidence inspiring. I knew I’d be able to stop when I needed to with nothing more than a light squeeze at the lever. We also love the fender mounts for the wetter days.

They really mean it when they say it’s an all-road bike. We can’t wait to test the production version for a more thorough review.


Faster Than Fast With the Ridley Noah SL

Ridley Noah SL
Photo: Kip Malone

The day after I picked up the Ridley Noah SL, the weather forecast was truly shocking for the middle of May; mid thirties, rain and high wind. Despite this, I convinced myself to harden the fuck up, and headed out. Twenty minutes later, snow was driving horizontally and visibility was about fifty yards, the Belgian bike had summoned spring classic weather to the desert southwest. After waiting out the worst of it in a café, I headed out onto the wet windy road and started my dirty, lustful five-week love affair with the Noah SL.

Slotting in between Ridley’s Lighter Helium series and the fully aero Noah Fast option, the Noah SL incorporates a host of aero features into a bike suited for all-around racing and hard, fast riding.

It incorporates all the modern go fast aero features you would expect on a pro team ride, and Ridley takes things a step further with aero technology they claim shaves an additional 7% of wind resistance from the frame. Dubbed F-Surface, Ridley grooves the smooth surface of the downtube and seatpost to more efficiently channel air, like dimples on a golf ball. They also split the fork, directing air away from the turbulent front wheel.

Ridley Noah SL
Photo: Kip Malone

While this 7% claim is impossible to verify without a wind tunnel, a freshly shorn man in a skin suite and a gaggle of Flemish engineers, the real world riding is convincing. Compared to a non-aero bike, the Noah SL is simply faster at speed. Jumping out around a group into the wind or the first few seconds of a fast pull are noticeably less painful. Let the road tilt down even a little, and its hard not to smile. Long hard exertions in the drops are more satisfaction than suffering. This bike makes you want to go fast.

The overall ride of the SL is decidedly race. My 165 lbs creates little or no flex thanks to the chunky tubes and BB junction. Out of the saddle efforts are rewarded with a satisfying pop of acceleration, this bike loves to be hammered. Of course, this is no gravel grinder and all that stiffness comes at a price. Rough road sections are keenly felt, but surprisingly, small bumps are nicely absorbed by the Noah as long as they don’t come in rapid succession. With clearance for 25mm tires, comfort can be increased if that’s your thing. There is a slight weight penalty for all that stiff sleekness, but its still just a nudge over UCI limits.

For an aggressive bike, the handling is predicable and confident. My second date with the Ridley was a 106 mile mixed road sufferfest. There was a long dirt road mountain climb, a 40 mph descent on twisty drenched asphalt, big wind, miles and miles of fast dirt road descending and a high-speed Hail-Mary bunny-hop over a very broken cattle guard. It felt like we had known each other for years.

If you do your best work on the steeps or spend more at the chiropractor than the bike shop, this is likely not the bike for you. If you like it at the pointy end of the group and enjoy your time working in the drops, you should take a long, hard, shameless look at the Noah SL.

If you’re the kind of person who does their bike shopping online, check out the Ridley Noah SL on Competitive Cyclist.