Ridley Bikes are likely to occupy a prominent position in the hundredth Tour de France.
Their machines will be used by the Lotto Belisol squad of German sprint king, Andre Greipel, and Jurgen Van Den Broeck, fourth overall last year.
“The Gorilla” and VDB will ride very different machines, however, engineered to meet the entirely separate demands of full-gas sprinter and GC contender.
The already absurdly low weight of 750 gram for a small size of the aptly named Helium SL, a machine we tested at Lotto Belisol’s pre-season training camp in Benicassim has been reduced by more than 100 grams on certain sizes with the deployment of a special, lightweight finish.
Ridley founder, Jochim Aerts, a man who began his career making hand-built, steel frames, compared the special edition Helium SL, conceived for the hundredth Tour de France, to a photographic negative of the design, and said the bike had been reduced to its “bare essence”.
“A brand new graphic design and painting process on the Helium SL made it possible to use only about 30 grams of paint, while the paint normally weighs around 130 to 150 grams,” he explained.
“Needless to say, this a way of reducing the weight that does not influence the stiffness, stability or comfort of the bike.”
Van Den Broeck, focused on securing a place on the podium after twice finishing one place from it in the last three years – 2010 and 2012 – is likely to be grateful for any weight saving while riding the Tour’s most mountainous parcours in years.
Ridley have announced similarly impressive figures for the special edition of the Noah FAST aero bike to be ridden by Greipel and his lead-out crew in the Lotto-Belisol sprint train.
The newly-crowned German road race champion, winner of hat-trick of stages at last year’s Tour, will also ride a specially liveried machine, but unlike the Helium SL, the claimed performance advantages of his Noah FAST do not lie solely in the paintwork.
The textured F-Surface finish, a narrow, sandpaper-like strip on the headtube, seat-tube, and downtube, is claimed to deliver a 4.1 per cent performance gain, while Ridley say the F-Splitfork – one with an air channel cut in the leg to reduce drag – offers an 8.2 per cent improvement over a conventional fork. The integrated F-Brakes are claimed to deliver a 4.3 per cent advantage by eliminating the turbulence suffered by conventional calipers.
“At speeds of 40+ km/h a rider on the Noah FAST saves 20 Watts and his heartbeat is reduced by more than four per cent compared to that same rider on a normal road bike,” Aerts said.
The Noah FAST has specially constructed “tear drop” tube profiles and the now standard deployment of oversized bottom bracket, head-tube and down-tube.
Greipel, who will start the Tour among the favourites to win the green jersey, is claimed to produce 250 watts more on the Noah Fast than on any other machine he has ridden, churning out an astonishing maximum output of 2,000 watts.
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