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Bikes of the Tour: Robbie McEwen's Davitamon-Lotto Ridley Noah, July 10, 2006

Anthony Tan gets the low-down on the winningest bike of the Tour so far, the machine that has carried its owner to two stage wins and a grip on the green jersey that looks all but impregnable.

Robbie McEwen's Davitamon-Lotto Ridley Noah

Robbie McEwen's Davitamon-Lotto Ridley Noah.
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Ridley's 4ZA Damocles full carbon monocoque fork
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The top tube
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The 'Mega Box' bottom bracket cluster.
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The seat-tube is of aero design,
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The seat-tube extends all the way
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A CNC machined double-position seat clamp
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Selle San Marco's Racing Replica saddle.
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In they came, two by two, hurrah, hurrah...

Well, not quite, but Ridley's latest Noah bikes are a rare breed at the Tour de France. Named after founder Jochim Aerts' newborn son, the Noah follows a similar vein to that of the Giant TCR Composite bikes as used by T-Mobile, which feature an integrated frame and seatpost.

The extension of the seat-tube all the way to the bottom of the saddle adds a little extra mass to the all-carbon Noah, with a claimed weight of 1.29 kilograms. However, Ridley's Luca Brischetto told Cyclingnews the added rigidity and performance advantages outweigh (no pun intended) the few extra grams, whether one's a sprinter or climber; and of course there's no seatpost, so the whole bike is lighter than the frame weight suggests.

Constructed of high-modulus T 7000 carbon-fibre, the Noah uses a carbon and Kevlar bonding structure together with Ridley's 4ZA Damocles full carbon monocoque fork, the latter featuring straight oversized blades and weighing 375 grams.

The downtube is of "switching triangular form," adds Ridley Belgium representative Anthony Kumpen, which means it's designed for extra stiffness in crucial areas, while the top tube has an oversize connection to the headtube. Again, this is for added stiffness and stability when sprinters like McEwen or Classics specialists like Peter Van Petegem are really reefing on the bars.

At the rear, the seat tube is of aero design, made wide for extra stability near the bottom bracket and optimised airflow around the rear wheel. A CNC machined double-position seat clamp (an exclusive Ridley design) has micro-spacers and a millimetre indicator for fine-tuning one's saddle height. Titanium dropouts are also CNC machined and replaceable.

"As soon as the team received it, just few days before the start of the Tour, all the riders of Davitamon-Lotto remarked how great the bikes were," Brischetto told Cyclingnews. "Even those riders that recently were not using carbon frames all the time - including Robbie - decided to switch immediately to the new Noah. The results came immediately."

No argument there - two stage wins so far and the leader of the maillot vert speaks for itself.

"As you may know," Brischetto continued, "the special carbon fibres used for the construction of Noah, stem from the development of the famous Damocles, with the frame developed in tight cooperation with the riders of the [Davitamon-Lotto] team.

"The aerodynamic integrated seat-tube/seatpost, the 'Mega Box' bottom bracket and the titanium dropouts make this frame really stiff and a true performer."

Finished with a 'two components liquid paint', the design is also stunning. "I don't think you'll find any bigger eye-candy than the Noah in the peloton right now," Ridley's US importer Lance Donnell told Cyclingnews.

And to match his maillot vert, McEwen has a specially-painted green Noah, keeping his team's dream for green in Paris alive and well.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Anthony Tan/Cyclingnews