Ridley Noah Disc Essential long-term review – Road Bikes – Bikes

The Ridley Noah Essential is framed as a more affordable version of the brand’s Noah Fast aero road bike.

The Noah was originally developed as a sprinter’s bike for the likes of Caleb Ewan. Ridley says it has developed into more of an all-rounder over time, something that has become a road bike trend.

This Noah Disc Essential is part of Ridley’s Essential Series, launched in February 2022. Ridley says the bikes in the series retain the same characteristics as the brand’s pro-worthy road bikes in terms of stiffness and ride quality, but use a more cost-effective carbon fibre.

As a result of this different carbon fibre, Ridley says the frameset of the Noah Disc Essential is 100g heavier than the top-of-the-range Noah Fast – so not a great deal of difference, then.

The bike has the same aerodynamic features as the top-tier version, and as result, it looks pretty similar, minus the different paintwork.

It has the same geometry, too, which balances the bike’s racing history with its all-rounder potential.

The bike is available in sizes XXS to XL, with Ridley offering the same frame across genders, recommending riders opt for a bike fitting or custom build rather than a women’s-specific road bike.

The Noah I have costs £4,729/€5,195 and has many of the features you would expect of a road bike at this price. These include a SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset, Forza carbon wheels and a one-piece bar and stem.

The Ridley Noah Essential should, on paper, ride like the top Ridley Noah Fast but with a marginally increased weight, which arguably isn’t the most important thing for an aero road bike, anyway.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential update three

A new set of wheels

The Fulcrum Speed 42 wheels are the latest update to my long-term test bike.
Stan Portus / Our Media

There has been one significant change to my Ridley Noah Disc Essential since my last update: a new set of wheels.

The wheels were an obvious upgrade. With a depth of 38mm and claimed weight of 1,535g, the stock Forza Levanto DB didn’t really seem to match the go-fast intentions of this bike.

Something a bit deeper and a bit lighter seemed an appropriate fit, bringing the Ridley’s overall weight and aero potential more in line with some of the other best road bikes around the same price point.

Fulcrum’s new Speed 42 wheels struck me as a good fit thanks to their depth, claimed aerodynamic advantages and lower weight.

While the Fulcrum Speed 42 wheels aren’t drastically deeper than the Levanto wheels at – as the name suggests – 42mm, they have an internal rim width that’s wider by 4mm at 23mm.

Fulcrum Speed 42 wheels internal rim width.

The wheels have an internal rim width of 23mm.
Stan Portus / Our Media

The wider internal rim width should improve handling and comfort, thanks to a larger contact patch between the tyre and whatever pot-holed British road I take on.

I’m yet to get them on the scale, but the claimed weight of the Fulcrum Speed 42 wheels is 1,410g, which is 125g less than the Levanto DB wheels. That’s not a huge difference, but I’ll take it.

Elsewhere, the hubs are said to create less aero drag than the hubs used on the Fulcrum’s previous carbon road bike wheels. This is thanks to flanges that are 40 per cent smaller and a central body that has reduced in size by 10 per cent.

Fulcrum Speed 42 wheels hub showing Ceramic bearing graphic that reads

The hubs have ceramic bearings.
Stan Portus / Our Media

Unfortunately, but maybe unsurprisingly, Fulcrum hasn’t provided any information on what this reduction in drag amounts to out on the road.

Inside the hubs, there are ceramic bearings. Fulcrum says these provide “unparalleled levels of smoothness”.

From wide internal rim widths to the choice of bearings, the Fulcrum Speed 42s promise much of what is said to offer the best performance – and has become most desired – in modern road bike wheels.

So, how do they ride?

Fulcrum Speed 42 front wheel on Ridley Noah Disc Essential.

The wheels feel as if they glide along at pace.
Stan Portus / Our Media

What do all these tech features, which you are reminded of thanks to laser etching on the rims, amount to?

I’m yet to reach a final verdict, but my initial impression of these wheels is that they offer a smooth and encouraging ride, which should be expected given the £1,999/$2,692/€2,265 price tag.

The freewheel ratchet system offers a 10-degree engagement angle, providing a quick increase in pace. When you do reach speed, the wheels feel as if they’re gliding along.

The quick acceleration and smoothness of the wheels have baited me to try pushing the pace, sprinting around Regent’s Park, the weekday training ground of many London cyclists.

Fulcrum Speed 42 wheels close up on Ridley Noah Disc Essential.

The rim is etched with an explanation of the wheels’ features.
Stan Portus / Our Media

Doing this, I’ve been impressed by how assured the wheels feel, with no noticeable flex.

Heading downhill, the wheels track well and I’ve felt confident throwing them into bends.

The downside to all this is I’ve found the wheels to be a bit uncompromising at times. Their stiff and responsive nature has proved less appealing on rougher roads, especially when I’ve been out for a longer ride, feel fatigued and frankly what to get home.

The Ridley Noah may also play a part in this. After all, this isn’t an endurance bike. Its origin story is being created as a sprinter’s bike for Caleb Ewan, and while it has since evolved into an ‘all-rounder’, the Noah Disc Essential still feels like a pretty uncompromising race bike.

Moving forward, I’m going to see what effect running these wheels with a lower tyre pressure will have, which I’ll likely report on in a full review.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential long-termer update two

Ridley Noah Disc Essential photographed at an angle.

Your experience of a bike so often depends on where you ride it.
Stan Portus / Our Media

Since my previous long-termer update, my time has been mostly taken up with moving from Bristol back to London, where I used to live pre-pandemic.

Between packing and unpacking boxes, re-finding my bearings and dealing with an incredibly busy start to the year here at BikeRadar, little has changed with my long-termer.

But I have spent more time getting used to – and thinking about – the Noah and its componentry, as well as how your experience of a bike so often depends on where you ride it.

Goodbye Bristol, hello London

Ridley Noah Disc Essential leaning againt dry stone wall on Mendips.

The Mendips can feel miniature and often bleak.
Stan Portus / Our Media

My final ride in Bristol on the Noah was a loop up and over the limestone hills of the Mendips just south of the city.

I’ve ridden in the Mendips countless times over the last few years, growing ever more familiar with the rolling ‘foothills’, steep inclines and often bleak, bucolic landscape.

There’s something about the Mendips which feels almost miniature. The climbs and roads are like scaled-down versions of those in nearby south Wales. Cheddar Gorge is picturesque if not toy-townish, with its gift shops, cafes and hubbub of cars and climbers scaling the valley like the backdrop to a model railway. Even the military shooting range feels twee.

This, however, doesn’t mean I haven’t felt like I’ve died a thousand deaths ascending and descending this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, on golden summer evenings and horrid winter mornings with riding companions too fit for their own good.

Riding in this landscape was part of the inspiration behind getting the Ridley Noah Disc Essential as a long-termer. I wanted something that would prove fast to get out and return to the hills with the spriteliness to carry me over them. But, if I’m honest, the Noah has proved more fun to ride now I am in London.

While many cyclists may think of riding in and around the UK’s capital as a total waste of time – it can take a good 40 minutes’ riding before you’re anyway remotely rural – I love it.

1 in 8 road sign on winter road.

Short, sharp climbs warrant signs in Essex.
Stan Portus / Our Media

There’s nothing quite like learning how one area links to another and having a city that can feel overwhelmingly big turn into a traversable playground. Weaving through traffic and bombing through busy streets goes, I think, some way to explain why crit racing is popular here.

Trading an expanse of fields for cluttered roads may seem unattractive, but often I feel at odds with my surroundings in the countryside. In and around the Mendips, and particularly during election seasons where placards would be out on display, sometimes I’d feel like it wasn’t really a place I’d feel at home should my average speed drop to nought.

This may strike you as an odd thought, but if riding a bike is a means to discover the world around you, surely not all those discoveries will inspire wanderlust.

The Noah has proved more fun in my new home because of its racing heritage. The short wheelbase, snappy handling and fast acceleration have made flying through traffic and cycling around Regent’s Park (a London cycling hot-spot) heaps of fun.

Along with my riding in the city, trips outside of town have also flattered the Ridley. The flat, fast roads of Essex make riding the Noah a blast – even if they also help me avoid confronting some aspects of the Noah’s performance.

As I found in the Peak District, and at times in the Mendips, this bike isn’t the greatest of climbers, despite Ridley saying it has morphed from a sprint bike into more of an all-arounder.

Is this a shortcoming? Possibly. But is it a shortcoming for me right now? No. So often, the enjoyment of what you ride depends on where you ride. It just happens my natural habitat has aligned with my bike’s.

SRAM Rival eTap AXS

SRAM Rival drivetrain close up on Ridley Noah Disc Essential.

Riding with electronic gears has been a novelty in lots of ways.
Stan Portus / Our Media

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the bike’s SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset.

I initially had some scepticism towards the groupset, with its unfamiliar gear ratios, different braking feel and the requirement to charge batteries – a novelty for a rider like me, who’s yet to make the change to electronic groupsets fully.

Some of that scepticism remains, yet it has dwindled in other areas.

I’ve grown to appreciate the shifters and shifting ergonomics. Pressing one button moves the cassette up a gear, and pressing the other moves it down a gear. Press them in tandem and the front derailleur shifts from whichever of the two chainrings it was previously in.

This feels more refined and elegant than Shimano Di2, which has two buttons on each shifter to operate either the front or rear derailleur. SRAM’s choice to use the power of electronics to eliminate the need for more buttons shows Di2’s gear shifting up to be a cable-actuating skeuomorph.

Close up of SRAM Rival brake lever on Ridley Noah Disc Essentiail

The SRAM shifting ergonomics feel refined and elegant.
Stan Portus / Our Media

I do, though, find the shifting to be on the slower side with Rival eTap AXS. It’s funny how even an extra split second, as a small drill sounds from somewhere below your legs, can be a nuisance when you really need that easier gear.

However, Liam Cahill says this is something SRAM has improved with the new Force AXS groupset, so maybe we can expect faster shifting with the next generation of Rival.

One thing I have grown used to, rather than fully embraced, is the steps between the gears. Jumping back on my Cannondale CAAD12 with its 11-28 cassette, I remembered how much I appreciate smaller integers between gears. This brings less noticeable changes in cadence and sometimes speed, even if there have been times when I’ve been incredibly grateful to have the wide-spread SRAM Rival cassette.

SRAM Rival cassette and rear derailleur on Ridley Noah Disc Essential.

The wide-spread cassette can be a blessing.
Stan Portus / Our Media

Moving back to my Ultegra-equipped CAAD12 also made me reflect on how I’d grown accustomed to the on-off feel of the Rival disc brakes. I thought the Ulterga brakes weren’t biting enough at first, but I soon re-learned the value of greater modulation in a lever pull, providing finer control over stopping.

These points aren’t really criticisms of SRAM Rival eTap AXS, they are more observations that what you ride affects how you ride.

I can see the appeal and ease of electronic shifting, and truly appreciate much about the Rival groupset. However, my time riding with it and going back to my humble, mechanical gears, has tempered my excitement about electronic groupsets displacing cables. But maybe you can challenge me on that next time I have to index my gears.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential long-term review update one

Ridley Noah Disc Essential.

Stan’s recent riding ambitions have been marred by illness.
Stan Portus / Our Media

I hoped the Ridley Noah Disc Essential would inspire me to find my pace again, and my fitness. The sleek lines, the promise of aero gains, and simply the potential of a modern, carbon road bike suggested the Ridley was just the ticket to help me achieve those ambitions.

However, since I wrote my report in mid-November 2022, a busy end of the year at BikeRadar, plenty of Christmas socialising and catching up with people meant, I’m afraid, that I did little riding before the Christmas break. And then I was hit by a double-whammy: flu and a respiratory infection.

From there, I spent much of my time off over the festive season wrapped up in bed. If trips to the kitchen were leaving me with shivers, there was no way I could venture outside, let alone ride my bike.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential photographed at angle.

Healthy habits can help establish new routines as part of your training plan.
Stan Portus / Our Media

As a result of this, my Ridley was left largely untouched until the new year when riding became possible again, although getting back into the rhythm of riding posed challenges.

Healthy habits can help establish new routines as part of your training plan, but you also don’t want to find yourself struggling for breath, empty and cold on some remote roadside in the aftermath of illness.

I’m sure I’m not alone in struggling with returning to cycling and fulfilling those cycling resolutions. Many of the BikeRadar team were hit by illness over the Christmas period (I blame the work party) and, here in the UK, there has been a surge in flu cases.

This all meant that my first ride back was a slow, 48-minute rumble, out from my home in south Bristol, over Belmont hill and back. I’d had intentions of going further, but watching someone roll past me on a mountain bike as I crested Belmont made me realise this was too ambitious.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential.

I was left breathless at the top of Belmont.
Stan Portus / Our Media

It reminded me of when I had Covid earlier in the year. When I returned to cycling, I watched my heart rate climb ridiculously high on the slightest incline. At the time, my health was a concern, but I was more frustrated than anything – I felt ridiculously far from long adventures, audaxes and fast rides.

The following weekend, I felt more capable but still apprehensive about riding. An invite from my dad to go for a ride with him and his mates inspired me to get my kit on. A 50km ride in social company with a septuagenarian seemed like something I could do.

I may sound like a terrible son, but I peeled off after my dad got a puncture – please get some winter road bike tyres, dad – because I didn’t want to get  dangerously cold, and zoomed home. It was sunny in the way only January can be, with rain clouds rolling over the landscape and a tailwind pushing me home, urging me to pedal harder.

Wet and mud-splattered, I was cold but exhilarated. Crashing out on the sofa, I had an endorphin rush similar to what I used to feel after a five-hour epic. The rest of the day melted away in the way they do when your body is recovering from hard work. I was back with a distant feeling.

Easy riding

Stan Portus riding Ridley Noah Disc Essential.

The Ridley has made for easy riding.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

Through my wrestling with health and riding, the Ridley Noah Disc Essential has continued to impress me.

The bike’s geometry and my position on it have made for easy riding. I’ve been particularly grateful for this in recent months.

While the stretched, aggressive position of a fully-fledged aero road bike may be appealing, the slightly more relaxed setup of the Noah has meant I can jump on the bike without having to remember how to contort my body into a wind-cheating wedge.

Once I get back in the habit of riding I may play with the position, but currently, I don’t feel the need.

An annoyingly good 3D-printed saddle

Fizik Argo Adaptive saddle 3d-printed saddle.

The Fizik Argo Adaptive 3D-printed saddle is annoyingly good.
Stan Portus / Our Media

While I may not have been riding as much as I hoped in recent months, it hasn’t stopped me from making a few changes to the Ridley.

In my first report, I said how I wasn’t getting along too well with the Selle Italia saddle.

As a result, this was one of the first things I changed on the bike, switching over to a Fizik Argo Adaptive saddle.

For no particular reason beyond familiarity, I’ve ridden Fizik saddles for a number of years. Last year, I switched from a battered Fizik Antares to the Fizik Argo 00, intrigued by the trend for short-nose saddles.

I’ve opted to fit the Ridley Noah with the Fizik Argo Adaptive R3, which has the same shape as the Argo 00 but 3D-printed padding.

Fizik Argo Adaptive saddle on bike.

The saddle costs £260 / $260 / €259.
Stan Portus / Our Media

3D-printed saddles have risen in popularity over recent years, and even the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Rapid Response collection has acquired one. This collection puts objects on display far quicker than the typical acquisition and accessioning process of museums allows, in response to trends, social events and more.

According to the museum, it acquired the 3D-printed saddle because it presented a solution to the discomfort women can find with conventional saddles.

The museum says the unisex saddle “marks an important change in emphasis for high-performance design, where women, their bodies and needs were the starting point” for the product.

While I’m obviously not riding the same saddle as the one in the V&A, I have found the Fizik to be annoyingly good. The 3D-printed structure can feel odd at first, but after a short while, it just feels incredibly comfortable. The annoyance relates to the price. At £260 / $260 / €259, it’s a shame comfort comes at such a cost.

People seem to talk regularly about 3D printing getting cheaper, but this doesn’t seem to have happened in the world of bike saddles, at least.

Specialized S-Works Turbo 2BR

Ridley Noah Disc Essential showing Specialized tan wall tyre on front wheel.

The Specialized S-Works 2BR tyres are said to be suitable for year-round use.
Stan Portus / Our Media

I’ve also switched from the Vittoria Corsa G2.0 tyres to Specialized S-Works 2BR road bike tyres.

The tyres are billed as a race tyre designed for all-season use, so they seemed well-suited to my aspirations with this bike.

Specialized claims the 2BR tyres are its “fastest, most durable performance tyre”. They are said to be 8 per cent more durable and 3 watts faster per tyre than its predecessor.

Specialized S-Works tyre close-up.

The tyres have tread on the sides but a slick central section.
Stan Portus / Our Media

I haven’t subjected the tyres to any rigorous testing yet, but I can say they have remained puncture free on obstacle-littered winter roads, while feeling more supple than some other tyres designed for winter road riding.

I’m intrigued to see how the tyres hold up and whether the claimed average lifetime of 6,000km stacks up. Although, maybe I’ll have to see things go on my road to recovery and return to regular riding.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential specification and details

Ridley Noah Disc Essential tube detailing.

The tubes feature Ridley’s ‘F-Surface Plus’ grooves.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

The Ridley Noah Disc Essential’s carbon fibre is made by Japanese manufacturer Toray.

Ridley has used 24T and 30T carbon for this Essential version of the bike. This requires more layers than the 50T and 60T carbon used on the Elite version to achieve the stiffness Ridley desires, which leads to the increase in weight.

As already noted, the Noah Disc Essential has many of the same aerodynamic features as the more expensive Noah Fast.

Ridley has used its proprietary F-Steerer steerer tube. The tube’s D-shape enables Ridley to run all hoses internally, through the one-piece aero handlebar and into the frame. The brand says this provides an aero advantage as well as looking sleek.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential one-piece handlebar.

All hoses run internally through the one-piece handlebar and stem.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

There is a D-shaped seatpost, which is said to increase comfort and improve the bike’s aerodynamic efficiency compared to a round one.

Compared to the Ridley Helium climbing bike, with its oval-shaped tubing, the Noah has truncated aerofoil shapes. Ridley says the bike’s carbon tubes are optimised to balance aerodynamic efficiency and low weight.

For further aerodynamic gains, the tubes have Ridley’s ‘F-Surface Plus’, which consists of grooves running along front-facing parts of the bike.

Elsewhere, there are ‘F-Wings’ at the bottom of the fork. These are said to streamline turbulent air around the front wheel’s hub and are similar to the design Pinarello adopted on the Dogma F.

The bike has a chunky bottom bracket area and oval seatstays, which Ridley says helps with power transfer.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential chain stays.

The seatstays are oval to provide vertical flex.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

To unlock the ‘all-rounder’ epithet, it isn’t all aerodynamics and power transfer. Ridley says the seatstays use oval tubes to provide vertical flex to minimise vibrations coming through the bike.

While the bike is available with a variety of different bike parts, this version is built with a SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset. The groupset has 48/35t chainrings and a 10-36-tooth cassette.

The bike has carbon wheels from Ridley’s in-house brand Forza wrapped in 25mm Vittoria Corsa G2.0 tyres.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential full specification

  • Sizes (*tested): XXS, XS, S, M*, L, XL
  • Weight: 8.41kg
  • Frameset: Ridley Noah Disc Essential
  • Shifters: SRAM Rival eTap AXS
  • Derailleurs: SRAM Rival eTap AXS
  • Cranks: SRAM Rival, 48/35t
  • Wheelset: Forza Levanto DB carbon, 38mm deep
  • Tyres: Vittoria Corsa G2.0, 700x25mm
  • Brakes: SRAM Rival hydraulic disc
  • Cockpit: Noah Fast Aero one-piece carbon handlebar and stem
  • Seatpost: Ridley D-shaped carbon
  • Saddle: Selle Italia XR

Ridley Noah Essential geometry

Ridley’s bike sizes run large, so while I would normally ride a large (or 58cm) frame, my Noah Disc Essential is a medium.

The top tube on the medium frame is 565mm and the head tube is 165mm. These measurements are a tad longer than other medium frames and practically the same as the M/L Giant Propel Advanced SL 0, for instance.

The sloping top tube leaves plenty of seatpost exposed, which should aid comfort.

The head tube angle is 73 degrees and the seat tube angle is 73.5 degrees. This is slacker than some aero road bikes and should point towards the bike’s ‘all-round’ potential.

Having said this, the chainstays are short at 405mm and the wheelbase is 987mm. So this bike should retain a snappy ride feel in homage to its sprinting roots.

Why did I choose this bike?

Ridley Noah Disc Essential hero.

A lot has changed with road bikes in recent years, and the Ridley Noah Disc Essential encapsulates many of these.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

I have ridden the same aluminium Cannondale CAAD12 Disc since I bought it in 2018.

In the last four years, a lot has changed with the best road bikes. My CAAD12’s exposed cables, two-piece cockpit, mechanical groupset, high seatstays and long top tube are outdated.

I chose the Ridley Noah Essential because it has many of the modern features my CAAD12 does not and to which I’ve had limited exposure.

I’ve ridden electronic groupsets but never lived with them, and the same can be said about carbon-framed road bikes.

I know integrated handlebar and stem setups pose problems for maintenance, but is this really that much of a concern?

Ridley Noah Disc Essential SRAM Rival eTap AXS.

I’ve used electronic groupsets, but never on a bike I’ve had long-term.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

There is the matter of many road bikes being prohibitively expensive. When the Ridley Noah Essential launched, I was immediately intrigued by it being framed as a more affordable version of a top-level race bike.

The price tag is still a lot more than what I paid for my CAAD12, but prices have risen sharply across the cycling industry (and wider economy) in recent years, so it’s hard to make direct comparisons to past prices these days.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential one-piece handlebar.

Will the integrated bar and stem prove too much of a maintenance nuisance?
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

Finally, I like riding fast. My (neglected) club’s Tuesday fast rides on open roads where we’d often cover 70km at over 35kph were the highlight of my riding week, before the pandemic. Getting Covid, my resulting lack of fitness and general life got in the way of such behaviour.

Can the Ridley Noah Essential inspire me to find that form – and make up for the fitness I may lack – in the future? I hope so.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential initial setup

Ridley Noah Disc Essential Selle Italia saddle.

Setting the saddle height was one of the few things that needed to be done.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

BikeRadar’s workshop manager Will Poole set up the Ridley Noah Essential for me, and it was a simple affair.

I had to set the saddle height, and add pedals and bottle cages, but that was pretty much all I did.

I’ve left the handlebar at its original height with a stack of spacers beneath it, although I may play around with this in the future.

Ridley is a Belgian brand and one quirk of the bike’s setup for a British rider like me is the brake levers are set up Euro-style, with the left hand operating the front brake.

This has taken some getting used to and I’ll probably switch the brakes around in the future to avoid any muscle-memory confusion when I switch between the Noah and my other bikes.

Despite the setup of my bike, Ridley says any Noah bikes sold to riders in the UK will have brakes set up with UK brakes.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential ride impressions

Ridley Noah Disc Essential in Peak District.

One of Stan’s first rides on the Ridley was in the Peak District.
Stan Portus / Our Media

The Ridley Noah Disc Essential felt stable, smooth and responsive as soon as I started riding it.

One of the first serious blocks of riding I did on the bike was in the Peak District, where I was staying with old friends.

This might seem like an odd place to take an aero bike with a sprinting pedigree, considering the National Park’s horrendously steep climbs, but the trip provided a good insight into the Noah’s best features and shortcomings – as well as my own.

This bike is, as you may have guessed, fast. Heading down long descents, such as the winding road from the top of Snake Pass into the village of Glossop, the bike felt incredibly quick and stable.

It flowed around the bends with ease and I barely touched the brakes. When I did want to slow my speed, I was grateful for their bite and on or off feel.

Tackling some of the Peaks’ steepest climbs, including Winnats Pass, left me wondering whether the bike, or I, wasn’t up to the challenge.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential rear dropout, cassette and derailleur.

The wide range of gears were appreciated on steep climbs.
Kaden Gardener / Our Media

At 8.41kg, this Noah is similar in weight to other bikes with SRAM Rival eTap AXS, including the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 7 Disc and Trek Émonda SL 6 eTap. But it still isn’t the lightest, and every time I saw one of my friends disappear up the road on his near-6kg climbing bike I wondered what it would be like if I were on a lighter machine.

It’s silly, but in my mind, the weight of the bike switched from a cost-effective win to a potential hindrance when I was stomping on the pedals in the midst of a glycogen debt.

The weight is due to the different carbon layup, but the fact the SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset weighs more than equivalent mechanical groupsets is also a factor. Whether the electronic groupset is worth the extra weight – and costs – over a mechanical equivalent is something I’m keen to explore over my year of testing.

The Noah’s gearing had initially felt weird to me because I’m used to a 52/36t chainring setup with an 11-28t cassette. But on these climbs, I was grateful for the SRAM Rival’s widespread cassette and small front chainrings.

Stan Portus riding up Cat and Fiddle in the Peak District.

The Noah and Stan seem more suited to the easier gradients of Cat and Fiddle.
Ollie Shead

I have to admit, I’d done little riding in the months leading up to this trip due to having Covid – and having it bad. So I was also wondering to what extent it was my poor form that was the issue on these climbs.

After a couple of days of riding, we headed up Cat and Fiddle and it felt as though a shred of fitness had returned. The climb is far mellower than Winnats Pass, with an average gradient of 3.2 per cent and a maximum of 8 per cent.

The Noah felt much more at home here, as did I, with the bike and I favouring rolling terrain rather than scaling rock faces.

Back in the South West of England, where it feels flat compared to the Peak District, I’ve enjoyed the Noah’s fast handling and pace. But it could be more compliant and I do need to investigate the occasional noise from the disc brakes.

Ridley Noah Disc Essential upgrades

Ridley Noah Disc Essential wheel.

I’ll likely switch the wheelset for something deeper.
Stan Portus / Our Media

There are a number of upgrades I want to make to my long-term test bike over the coming months.

The first is changing the saddle. Saddle choice is personal and this is likely a step many would take when buying a new bike. The Selle Italia XR saddle has been fairly comfortable, but wouldn’t be my first choice.

I would like to switch the wheels out, too. Upgrading your wheels is often one of the top ways you can improve the performance of a bike. A bike such as this feels as though it should have rims deeper than 38mm, and this could further unlock the bike’s potential.

At a claimed 1,535g, the Forza Levanto DB carbon wheels currently on the bike are relatively heavy for their depth.

Considering the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 7 is an aero bike with the same groupset as the Noah, but has deeper wheels and weighs less, I’d be keen to see if a wheel change could also help bring the overall weight down. However, getting a wheelset that has both deeper rims and a significantly lower overall weight would likely not be a cheap upgrade.

This will likely be a task for the spring. In the meantime, I will likely switch the tyres out to a set of winter road bike tyres to reduce the chances of having to fix punctures in the coming months. I’ll probably opt for a 28mm tyre to add some extra comfort and grip to the bike as well.

BikeRadar’s long-term test bikes

BikeRadar’s long-term test bikes give our team the opportunity to get to grips with these machines, so we can tell you how they perform through different seasons and on ever-changing terrain, through a year of riding.

Some choose a bike from their favoured discipline and ride it hard for a year, others opt for a bike that takes them outside their comfort zone.

We also use our long-term bikes as test beds for the latest kit, chopping and changing parts to see what really makes the difference – and help you decide which upgrades are worth spending your money on.

These bikes also provide an insight into the team’s riding through the year – how they like to ride and where life on two wheels takes them, from group rides on local lanes and trails, to adventures further afield.

To see all of the BikeRadar team’s long-term test bikes – and to stay up-to-date with the latest updates – visit our long-term review hub.

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