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Eurobike 2016: Ridley launch Noah SL Disc and Fenix SL Disc for 2017

Belgian brand also launches the super-light Helium SLX and aluminium Helium SLA

Ridley Bikes have launched four new models for 2017, with the Belgian firm introducing disc brake versions of the Noah SL aero road bike and Fenix SL endurance machine, as well as the super-light, carbon fibre Helium SLX and its more affordable, aluminium sibling, the Helium SLA.

In launching both the Noah SL Disc and Fenix SL Disc, Ridley have covered two key bases: the Noah SL takes its place in the fast-evolving, disc-equipped aero race bike market, while the Fenix SL Disc is an addition to the more ‘traditional’ disc endurance scene.

First up, let’s take a look at the Noah – the bike which will be ridden by the Lotto-Soudal team if – or, rather, when – the UCI once again approves disc brakes for use in the pro peloton.

The Ridley Noah SL Disc is one of a growing number of disc-equipped aero road bikes

In fact, Ridley have considered the Noah SL’s place in the peloton by switching the front wheel thru-axle release to the left-hand side of the bike, so it is easier for mechanics to change the axle when addressing the Noah from the front.

The Noah SL Disc has reportedly been in development for 18 months and Ridley say they went through 15 iterations of the frame before arriving at this final design, focusing specifically on the fork and rear triangle to cope with the extra load created by disc brakes and thru-axles (12mm front and rear thru-axles for both the Noah SL Disc and Fenix SL Disc).

Ridley have adopted Shimano’s flat mount system, while the hydraulic hoses are routed through the Noah SL Disc’s fork and frame to keep everything clean and aerodynamic – key to a bike designed to cut through the wind.

Otherwise, the frame retains some of the key aero features first developed for the rim brake version of the bike, including the in-moulded F-Surface Plus, which seeks to let air travel smoothly over strategic areas of the frame, instead of detaching and creating drag. However, Ridley did have to adapt the F-Split fork, which now has one ‘split’ per leg, instead of two, though Toon Wils, Ridley’s chief engineer, says the addition of disc brakes did not see a dramatic change in aerodynamic efficiency. Braking power, on the other hand, is increased by approximately 15 per cent with 160mm disc rotors when compared to the rim brake bike, according to Ridley.

The Noah SL Disc we spotted at Eurobike was decked out in Lotto-Soudal colours and prototype disc brakes from Campagnolo (sponsor of the Lotto-Soudal team), but will most likely be available in the UK in Shimano Ultegra and Shimano Ultegra Di2 builds, or possibly just as a frameset – all that is to be confirmed. As is pricing, though availability is slated for late 2016.

The Ridley Fenix SL Disc endurance bike is a more ‘traditional’ take on road discs

Ridley Fenix SL Disc enters the fray

While the Noah is Ridley’s aero road bike, the Fenix is the Belgian’s endurance bike, partly developed for use by Lotto-Soudal at the Classics. Again, it shares many of the characteristics of the rim brake Fenix SL, but Ridley have been able to drop the seatstays, which now meet the seattube much lower, thanks to the absence of a traditional brake bridge, and this is said to improve comfort.

There’s also room for wider tyres – 30mm on the Fenix SL Disc compared to a recommended maximum of 28mm on the regular Fenix SL – and, like the Noah SL Disc, there are thru-axles at the front and rear. Once again, Ridley say the use of disc brakes offers a 15 per cent boost in stopping power. Expect to see the Fenix SL Disc in shops from February 2017 and while specs are to be confirmed, the machine we saw in Germany was equipped with SRAM’s new Red eTap groupset with hydraulic disc brakes.

The Helium remains rim brake-only but the frame has now revamped, with the latest SLX iteration said to be 15 per cent stiffer than the SL

Ridley Helium SLX breaks cover

As for the Helium SLX, that’s the successor to the Helium SL, the lightweight frame used by Lotto-Soudal’s climbers and part of the Ridley range since 2013. The SL is already a super-light frame (that’s where the SL suffix comes from, if you hadn’t guessed) and claimed weight for the Helium SLX actually remains the same at a claimed 750g – the key, however, is that Ridley say the frame is 15 per cent stiffer.

While undoubtedly one of the lightest frames out there, it was the Helium SL’s potent combination of low weight, ride quality and handling which made it such an excellent frame, and Ridley didn’t want to disrupt that by focusing solely on low weight when developing the SLX. Stiffness-to-weight became the goal, without affecting the Helium’s ride.

Aesthetically, the SLX looks very similar to the SL, but Ridley have been to work on the frame’s carbon layup in order to improve that stiffness-to-weight ratio. The fork has also been slimmed down and is straighter than its predecessor.

Ridley have fine-tuned the SLX’s carbon layup to improve the stiffness-to-weight ratio of the frame

Affordable alloy – the Ridley Helium SLA

Finally, what about the Ridley Helium SLA? That’s an aluminium addition to the lightweight Helium range. Aluminium has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years and Ridley are the latest in a long line of bike manufacturers to introduce a competitively-priced alloy frame which can match many carbon frame for weight. It’s certainly not as light as the high-end Helium SLX at a claimed 1,200g, but it’s on par with many low-to-mid range carbon frames.

The SLA is made from 6000-series aluminium, with double pass welding on the headtube and seattube for additional strength on the frame’s key high-stress areas. “We are using extremely thin-walled tubing and this can make joining these tubes a challenge,” said Wils. “Double pass welding creates an exceptionally strong weld without the potential of burning through the tube.”

Otherwise, the SLA shares some of the same features found on the SLX, including the 27.2mm seatpost and super-skinny seatstays to help soak up road vibrations.

Pricing and availability for the Helium SLX and Helium SLA is to be confirmed.

Website: Ridley Bikes

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