Admittedly, we’re milking this one a bit, what with our first look and first (real) look. Now we have our really real look complete with detail photos and specs on the 2012 Ridley Noah FB (Fast Brake) aero road bike.
Ridley’s used some of these aerodynamic features on the current Noah frame, which also gets a few updates, but the FB takes them to the next level or alters them quite materially. Most striking is the apparent lack of brakes. Rather than simply hide them, they’re actually built as part of the frame. Not built into the frame, but actually part of the structure. This let them create larger R-foils, renamed F-Foils here. They also tweaked the R-Surface, now the F-Surface.
So, what are all these F-ing things? Click through and see…
First, the brakes. They’re basically leaf-spring V-brakes. On the front, they’re on the rear of the fork. Because they’re separate, there had to be a gap between them and the fork, so Ridley shaped this space to continue the F-Foil all the way up through the crown. Ridley says the design pulls air away from the wheel’s turbulence.
In the rear, they’re part of the seatstays. On the right (click to enlarge), you can see the thin, curved section of the brake arm that serves as the “pivot” spring. The yellow piece is attached separately to keep a smooth surface. The springs are actually return springs to pull the brakes open again. To adjust the tension and left/right balance, simply stick a thin allen wrench into small holes on the bottom of them and rotate the spring. At the lever, the brakes feel really good. Smooth, easy to modulate, light – I imagine they’d be very comfortable to use over the long haul. This was a standing test, not riding, so I can’t speak on their power. Given the length of the brake arm, I imagine they have some good leverage.
The other benefit? Minimal maintenance or tuning once they’re set.
The bike’s profile is slim, with droplet-shaped tubes where they’re needed, thicker sections where stiffness is necessary. Note the Di2 battery mount behind the seat up high where it should be hidden in your thigh turbulence.
On the leading edge of the head-, down- and seat tubes Ridley placed a new F-Surface treatment. Unlike the roughened R-Surface, the new F-Surface uses gel strips in a rectangular block. Ridley says with traditional tubes, no matter how aerodynamically shaped, air hits the front of the tube and is pushed outward. It wants to hug the tube and flow smoothly around it, but it doesn’t. On a bike, this means it’s pushed outward into your legs, which aren’t very aerodynamic.
For us Yanks, those kph translate to 31mph to 43.5mph. A bit more than you and I are likely to hold for more than a fleeting moment. However, Ridley says it reduces drag by about 4% at any speed, so presumably this holds true down to at least 20mph.
What does all this aero design and integration lead to? Compared to their lightweight Helium road bike, which has standard round tubes, they measured a 14-watt reduction in power used to maintain 40kph, saving the rider about 4.66% and reducing their heartrate about 2.5%. Compared to their standard Noah aero bike, there was a 6.08 watt reduction and 2.64% BPM reduction.
And yes, Ridley has the UCI decal (RID-NOAH-RD) to certify its compliance.