The 2012 Ridley Noah FB’s brakes aren’t hidden by the frame, they’re part of the frame.
Integrated brakes have become commonplace on high-end tri bikes these days, but Ridley has taken that integration to a whole new level with the Noah FB.
Instead of tucking the calipers into the frame and fork, the calipers on the Noah FB—an acronym for fast brakes—are actually part of the frame. Not a bolted-on addition. The brakes are built with carbon leaf springs that extend from the frame tubes and hide behind their structural counterparts.
These V-brake-style calipers use C-shaped sections that function as leaf springs to create tension and keep the calipers open. The cable passes through the top of the brake arms, which are pulled together when the brakes are engaged. Ridley placed a vertical coil spring in the C-shaped segment to center the caliper laterally around the wheel’s brake track. The brake shoes bolt into a slot above this C-shaped section and can be adjusted as usual.
Instead of routing the cable housing through the frame, Ridley opted to leave the entire front brake cable exposed. The rear housing is sheltered in the toptube until poking out at the usual location a few centimeters in front of the seatpost. Todd Schmidt of Ridley USA says the housing is routed externally to preserve brake functionality, even though aerodynamic performance might suffer slightly.
Damage is the potential downside of this new level of integration. If the front brake is damaged in a crash or while traveling, the bike will need a new fork. If the rear is damaged, the frame has to be scrapped.
So what are the benefits of accepting this heightened risk of bicycle destruction? According to Ridley, the brakes save a little weight over standard calipers mounted on a standard frame, but they also tout the aerodynamic upgrade. We can’t speak to the actually drag savings over bolt-on integrated brakes or standard calipers created by these truly integrated brakes, but they certainly demand attention. To justify the risk associated with truly integrated brakes, the Noah FB needs not only to outperform a standard Noah in the wind tunnel, but it also needs to be faster than a hypothetical version of the Noah with integrated bolt-on calipers shielded by the frame.
Although we didn’t have an opportunity to ride the FB, the brakes’ feel, resistance and spring-back are all quite similar to standard V-brakes. The arms feel stiff and solid under a strong pull when in contact with the rim.
The rest of the Noah’s features transfer onto the Noah FB. It has the same aerodynamically inclined tubing, road-style geometry, seat mast and saddle clamp. The setback saddle clamp pictured is designed for road riding, and it can be swapped for the clamp that comes with Ridley’s tri bike, the Dean, to ride a steeper position.
The Noah FB will be extremely rare, especially here in the States. Currently, only 25 will be imported for the 2012 season. The cost will be $5,395, available as frameset.