After a bit of a hiatus, Noble Bikes used Sea Otter 2018 to re-launch the brand with gravel, cross, and even a full suspension mountain bike. That mountain bike was one of the bigger parts of the story as it included a new “standard” called Flat Mount 180. Co-developed with Mark Landsaat, UCC, Magura, Tektro, TRP, and Promax brakes, Flat Mount 180 is technically a new standard, but it’s one that doesn’t really use any new parts. SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard

SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard

For the brake companies involved, creating a brake for FM180 is as simple as attaching a flat mount road caliper to a mountain bike lever. This works since their MTB and road brake systems use the same ratios for how much fluid is pushed from the lever. And since this is for the rear brake in XC/trail applications, a two piston caliper with a 180mm rotor should be plenty powerful.

SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard

Why do it in the first place? Mark points out a number of reasons. First, the standard is easier to manufacture since the threads are in the caliper rather than the frame. Because of that, if you some how manage to damage the threads, you’re only replacing a rear caliper rather than the whole swingarm or frame. Since the caliper is lower profile without any adapters, the calipers can be tucked into the rear triangle even with 180mm rotors. While the original design is for 180mm rotors, Mark also has drawing for FM160 which is essentially the exact same thing but with the caliper positioned for 160mm rotors.

FM180 is an open standard that Mark has made free for anyone to use, and technical drawings and dimensions can be found at flatmount180.org. Currently, only the four brake companies mentioned are officially on board, but Mark mentioned that while SRAM and Shimano brakes would work, neither company currently endorses their use for FM180.

SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard

SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard

SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard

FM180 made its debut on the new Nobel TX329 mountain bike. If the design looks familiar (like maybe the Raleigh Skarn), that’s because it is – Mark used to be the Director of Product Development for Raleigh bikes and was responsible for the Skarn’s design. Now, the TX329 has a very similar suspension system with 120mm of travel and 29″ wheels. Noble will also offer the frame design with 27.5″ wheels and 130mm of travel, both bikes with a 6000 series aluminum frame other than the carbon seat stay. One thing Mark has always believed in is a low leverage ratio on the rear suspension which is why the frames have a longer stroke for the shorter travel.

SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard

Built with internal routing, Noble bikes have a clever port on the downtube which help aim the cables as they exit the frame. Mark says he plans to upload the printing files for these pieces to Shapeways.com so that if you ever lose or break one, you can simply use a 3D printer to create another one.

Available mid to late 2018, the Noble TX327 will be sold for an impressively low $3,749 complete in either 27.5 or 29″ wheels.

SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard

On the dropbar side, Noble will have two new gravel bikes with the top end filled out with the GX5 carbon. The GX5 includes 700c x 40mm tires and a SRAM Force 1 drivetrain, carbon fork, and flat mount 160 brakes for $2,999.

SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard

SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard

SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard

The GX3 is mostly the same except in aluminum rather than carbon. It still features internal cable routing with the downtube port, a PF86 thread together bottom bracket, and 12mm thru axles front and rear. This time it features a SRAM Rival 1x drivetrain for $1,999. Both bikes have what Mark refers to as Forward Geometry which features longer top tubes paired with shorter stems for improved handling.

SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard SOC18: Noble Bikes re-launch along with new Flat Mount 180 brake standard

Then there’s the CX3 which is the cyclocross equivalent of the GX3. Built around 700c x 33mm tires, the CX3 is geared towards CX racing and includes a SRAM Rival 1 drivetrain for $1,999.

For complete spec and geometry numbers, check out the bikes at noble-bikes.com.

41 COMMENTS

  1. Screw flat mounts and stuff. It’s a half-baked solution, created so the road luddites would accept disc brakes. We have more than enough changing standards in the MTB industry as of today.

    • I’d argue it was to improve packaging on a bike where aerodynamics are key, space constraints greater and weight more critical rather than for road luddite acceptance. I say this as one that would be seen as a “road luddite” or “mtb progressive” depending on the bike I am on at a given time.

    • Hi Luiggi, what’s half-baked about Flat Mount?

      This is an option that does not require new parts. The calipers already exist and they work with existing levers.

      Clearly I believe there are advantages to this system, much better clearance than Post Mount, Rotor to caliper alignment relies on the holes in the caliper being accurate, not the holes in the frame. This gives brake manufacturers better control over rotor to caliper alignment.

      The frame tolerances for Flat Mount are much more forgiving than frame tolerances for Post Mount, meaning it’s easier to manufacture for bike brands.

      And the point that Zach raised in the article. the threads are in the caliper and no longer in the frame. If you damage the threads during installation or maintenance, you destroy a relatively low cost caliper instead of a high cost frame/swingarm.

      In addition to this, the caliper now mounts directly to a strong part of the frame, rather than hanging way out there. The stronger the connection between frame and caliper the less chance there is of resonance induced brake squeal.

      The last one is purely personal opinion, but I believe this simply looks really really good.

      • To a mechanic, flat mount is often just a more cumbersome version of post mount. In the front it appears to just be a tweak on posts and typically requires an adapter anyway. In the rear you introduce a layer of complexity that involves stocking about seven or so new bolts from each manufacturer they want to carry plus the associated adapters. Since flat mount doesn’t have a solution for suspension forks that means all of this is on top of all the adapters and stuff that shops already have to stock for post mount, which I’d like to remind you is a system that has worked pretty flawlessly since it’s inception. So… what are we gaining again?

        • Hi FFM,

          Yes you are correct, several different screws are required for Flat Mount. My argument for this is that the screws are universally compatible with all Flat Mount brakes. So if you stock the lengths required they will work with all Flat Mount brakes on the market. Not a very big investment to keep a few M5 screws in inventory.

          Adapters on the other hand are proprietary to a specific brake and much more expensive to keep in inventory. The whole point of FM160 and FM180 is that you eliminate proprietary adapters and just need to worry about a few M5 screws. I see that as way less complicated.

          My guess is that you already have the screws in inventory since FM160 and FM180 is using exactly the same screw lengths as the standard FM140.

          • Check the manual, the bolts are not universal. Not only does every manufacturer recommend that you use their bolts and adapters with their calipers, and you’re a bit of a hack if you don’t, but put a Shimano flat mount bolt next to a SRAM flat mount bolt and if they don’t look different to you then you shouldn’t be working on bikes. I’m not saying it’s impossible to stock an extra handful of bolts, I’m saying its unnecessary when the existing system is very good.

            • Well yes, each manufacturer has the bolts manufactured to their own preferences.

              However, when it comes to fit and function they are not different. They all follow the same head clearance tolerances.

              when developing FM160/FM180 I was the neutral party between Magura/Tektro/TRP/Promax. we settled on head clearance tolerances that worked for all brands.

              These dimensions were checked for SRAM and Shimano as well and I can assure you they follow the same head clearance tolerances and are compatible with FM160/FM180.

              Check out the pdf drawings for FM160 and FM180 on https://flatmount180.org/download-2/

              You will see there is only one set of head clearance tolerances that works for all brands.

              • It’s the safety pin on Shimano’s bolts that I’m referring to. It’s great to know that there’s cooperation between brands on this sort of thing and I commend you for getting everyone together on it. I won’t argue that the flat mount standard has been well-executed but that doesn’t change my opinion that it’s an unnecessary update and the benefits over post mount don’t outweigh the drawbacks of implementation.

      • Flat mount adds about 8 minutes to a bike build on average for several reasons. Flat mounts are rarely ever as well aligned as post mount. On the rear, the close bolt spacing amplifies any imperfections leading to a higher likelihood of rubbing, and much greater finesse required if manual setting is necessary. That the caliper mounting is not tangential to the brake rotor further complicates setup.
        Up front, setup relies heavily on one bolt and not the other. Having this disparity between distances between each bolt and the caliper also requires greater finesse during manual setting. Finally, flat mount calipers frequently have much less free hose/housing which can put sideways load on a caliper during setup, decreasing the likelihood of correct centering. But yes, it looks neat on road bikes…

        • Hi Char,

          Like you I have struggled with setting up disc brakes and getting them rub free. I would ask you to consider this. Flat mount was originally intended as a direct to frame mounting solution in combination with a 140mm rotor. Quickly people wanted the increased stopping power of a 160mm rotor. This was solved by adding an adapter. Adding the adapter introduces tolerance stack and it also moves the caliper away from the point where the adjustments are made because the screws are now offset.

          If you have the opportunity, try this experiment. Take a flat mount road bike with 140mm rotors and try to adjust that, and take a flat mount road bike with 160mm rotors and try to adjust that. I believe you will find that the 140 version without the adapter is easier to set up and get rub free than the 160 version with the adapter.

          With FM160 and FM180 you get back to the original intention of having a direct to frame connection without the use of an adapter. Based on my anecdotal experience with the prototypes I find that they are no more difficult to set up than Post Mount bikes, but you may find otherwise.

          You make a good point with regards to less free hose/housing, that can certainly contribute to more difficult installation. Check out the images in the above gallery and I believe you will agree that the caliper to frame connection can be quite smooth if done correctly and will eliminate or minimize the misalignment due to loads on the caliper.

          Thanks for pitching in.

    • “So… what are we gaining again?”

      A smaller, easier to design and manufacture braking system for the rear.

      Post mount has been far from flawless. If you own and work on motorcycles, you quickly raise the question as to why calipers are even adjustable on bicycles. MC calipers go on only one way and they’re aligned perfectly, every time.

      • When has “easier to manufacture” ever translated to anything on our end? Lord knows the bikes won’t be any less expensive to the consumer on account of it. Calipers are adjustable because they already made it easy to manufacture by adding provisions for significant variances between different combinations of frame, hub, rotor, and brakes.

  2. Replacing frame due to damage threads < replacing caliper due to damaged threads < replacing damaged threaded frame insert/plugs.

    This seems to target the middle option when the best option exists and is easily done on a mtb with less space constraints

  3. Am I behind or are they ahead? 160/160mm is fine for XC applications, and when riding more aggressively on a short-travel XC bike upgrading to 180mm on the front is plenty strong. It never occurred to me to put a 180mm rotor on the back of an endurance rig.

      • I’m with you. At 6’5” and 240 lbs, I use 203mm rotors front and rear on my XC bike. Anything less overheats on my steep local trails. FM180 takes this option away completely. No thanks to be constrained to one rotor size.

  4. I’ve been expecting flat mount to happen for mtb use. Makes sense. Lower profile against the frame, way more clearance for seat stay or strut frame members. Looks so much tidier. I’m all for it.

      • Hi typevertigo, I’m familiar with the Cannondale solution, but not 100% sure how they implemented this. I believe what they did is use an FM140 dropout and than use adapters between the frame and the caliper.

        the difference with this is that you would make the dropout dedicated for either a 160mm or 180mm rotor. This makes the overall design more compact, eliminates the need for adapters, and results in less tolerance stack up.

  5. I get that things change and minor improvements can be great down the line but for now flat mount sucks and I have yet to see a frame be “flat” Forks on the other hand have been ok, post is still better.

  6. No new parts? Are you kidding me? If I purchase a flat mount equipped frame I’ll need new calipers. Or vice versa. And for forks it just sucks. There’s nothing wrong with the traditional post mount, as JBikes points below having a threaded insert in the frame solves the possible thread striping, all without a new “standard”.

    In the edn it’s all about passing the costs to the customer, as with press fit BBs. You said it yourself, it’ll be cheaper for the manufacturer, not for the end user.

    • Hi Luiggi,

      What I meant with no new parts is that the brake parts are existing. The Flat Mount calipers use the MTB style compression ratios, this means you can pair an existing Flat Mount caliper with an existing MTB lever.

      There’s nothing inherently wrong with Post Mount and I never claimed there was. However if you look at my bike, it started out as Post Mount. If I want the Post Mount brake inside the rear triangle I have to give up roughly 22mm of heel clearance because I need to push out the Chain Stay and Seat Stay. Because of the positioning of Post Mount it just doesn’t fit in between the Chain Stay and the Seat Stay.

      The other option was to make the dropout much larger and rotate the post mount to the back and have it more traditionally hanging off the back of the bike. That’s what prompted FM180 and I ended up with a much cleaner design and way more heel clearance on a boost bike.

      Sure if you buy a new frame it would require a new caliper. But honestly how often have you been able to purchase a new frame and be able to swap all the parts from one bike to the next bike? There are always some parts that don’t fit.

      I believe this makes for a good solution and I also believe there will be other people that agree with me. Fortunately you and other consumers can vote with their wallet. You can make your purchase decisions based on what you believe is best for you. If Post Mount is the best solution for you, buy Post Mount.

  7. Mark, is that a 2-bolt ISCG-05 on the CX bike? Pretty cool and good idea. Can easily remove or adjust with out removing the crank. Brilliant!

    • Hi Maus Haus,

      Nice catch there. It is indeed a 2-bolt ISCG-05 on both the CX bike and the aluminum Gravel bike. It’s unfortunately not plug and play yet. The chain ring spacing on road cranks is different enough that existing 2-bolt guides are not just a bolt on solution.

      Currently in the process of working with some chain guide suppliers on making a bolt on solution for road spacing. We will start using this obviously once it’s ready. Not quite there yet, but working on it. Cheers.

  8. Damn! I was looking at getting a Smuggler alum with similar build but this bike looks amazing and its 1k less! Take my money!! 🙂

  9. Regardless of Mark’s technical justifications, there’s little question that Noble is on the wrong side of public opinion here.

    Moving to flat mount brakes on mountain bikes reflects the bicycle industry’s indifference to legitimate customer and shop concerns in the name of hypothetical gains (and increased margins).

    Customer-hostile moves like this (and 28.99mm spindles and 157mm dropouts and Torque Cap dropouts and …) are ultimately self-defeating. It’s not like Apple with the headphone jack: bike customers have countless very similar options.

    I don’t own a bike company but if I did would hope that I’d listen to my customers and adjust course accordingly rather than trying to convince them that they’re wrong.

    • Hi D-con,

      It is very well possible that I am wrong in this. I believe if you read my comments you’ll notice that I’m not trying to convince anyone that they’re wrong. I never state there’s anything wrong with post mount, all I’m doing with my comments is explain why I believe this is a good idea. I fully accept that not everyone will agree with me on this.

      You are correct that there are a lot of changes in the bike industry, some stick some don’t. The consumer/rider determines to a very large extent what sticks and what doesn’t. If people believe it’s a good idea they’ll buy it, if they believe it’s a bad idea they will not buy it. Pretty simple.

      I believe in trying new things and will move forward with this. It’s clean, elegant, easy to make, works well and has a lot of heel clearance. We’ll see where it goes 🙂

  10. Mark is a really smart guy. I know that he has a lot of experience in the industry and is putting all of this together and open sourcing it. Shapeways as resource to print your own port? He’s a forward thinking guy who clearly really likes bikes. We need more people like that. Remember when people were laughing Kirk Pacenti out of the room for his silly 650b stuff? ha.

  11. Why didn’t they just do a 160mm standard as there are already +20mm adapters out there for 140-160mm that could be used for 160-180mm?

  12. It is a mistake to call this 180 Flat Mount a new standard. It is a new application of existing components. In this it must be commended: it did not add to the cacophony of standards already proliferating in the market, but rather extended the versatility of the specific standard it employed.

  13. Flat mount brakes, press fit BBs, 12mm front thru axles. Thanks Shimano for creating new standards when none were needed and then using your monopoly to ram it down the riders throats.

  14. Hooray, lets use smaller calipers with a smaller braking surface area than post mount. and which were never designed for more than 160mm rotors. What could possibly go wrong?

    • @davie, sooooo, the biggest brake manufacturers in the world endorse it and you seem to know something they don’t? Please enlighten us. 🙂

      • I know that flat mount was design for road/CX bikes with 140mm to maximum of 160 mm rotors. Not trail bikes with hard downhill usage intended. I know that when I put a post mount brakepad next to a flat mount pad, the pad is smaller size with less contact area with the rotor.
        There are many ways of improving heel clearance and brake jack but I don’t believe that this is the answer.

    • Hi Davie, While it is true that Shimano has a smaller caliper and smaller brake pads, this is not true for Magura, Promax and SRAM. They all use MTB style compression ratios and MTB size brake pads.

      The Magura brake on the TX329 is identical in function to the normal Magura two piston caliper, it just has Flatmount instead of Postmount

  15. The real problem here is that this flat mount brake can only attach to the Chainstay. It doesn’t work for any FSR, split pivot type suspension where the brake mounts on the SEATSTAY unless you want to bring back the brake jack days of single pivot bikes. I guess if you’re an XC racer that can’t descend their bike anyways this isn’t important to you. Thank you though Noble Bikes for not just solving a problem that isn’t there, but actually making it worse. Cheers on you!

    • Hi J,

      Can you explain why a flatmount brake cannot by mounted on a seatstay or a unified rear triangle (FSR style bikes and short link 4 bar style bikes).

      Especially in the case of short link 4 bar style bikes (Santa Cruz, Intense, Giant etc) this solution will work beautifully. The position of the caliper can indeed be on the chain stay for these style bikes and I’m not sure how this would be any different from the current post mount style brakes mounted to the unified rear end. Brakes create a moment around the rear axle when applied, this moment has a moment arm that acts on the main pivot, either real or virtual. In the case of short link 4 bar the style or position of the brake does not matter, the moment arm will be identical.

      With regards to FSR style bikes, This can for sure be mounted to FSR style bikes on the seatstay. Sure the mounting attachment is different from postmount, but I don’t see any reason as to why it would not be possible to mount a Flatmount caliper on the seatstay. What makes you say this is not possible?

What do you think?