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Caleb Ewan can be a formidable force when he’s in form, and he certainly showed that during the Tour Down Under by taking the opening exhibition crit and two sprint stages.
With a small stature, Ewan’s super-low position makes him an ineffective wheel to sit on. The young Australian sprinter has spent time in the wind tunnel honing this position, and it’s a similar story for the Ridley Noah Fast Disc he uses when hunting stage wins. Here we take a look at that bike.
More (aero) tricks than a magician
For 2020 the Lotto-Soudal team joined what’s seemingly the new status-quo in committing to disc brakes. With such a move, the Belgium squad offers its riders a choice between the lightweight and all-new Ridley Helium SLX Disc or the aero-focussed Noah Fast Disc. In almost all cases, team riders pick the lighter (and more comfortable) option, while the Noah Fast Disc is typically only used by the sprinters seeking wins on the day.
Released in time for the 2019 season, the Noah Fast Disc was initially intended for German sprinter Andre Greipel. However, it was Ewan that replaced Greipel as the squad’s lead sprinter and has since become the face of this bike that’s full of aero tricks.
From afar, the Noah Fast Disc offers the usual aero elements: the rear wheel is somewhat shielded by the seat tube, the seat stays are dropped, and the fork meshes almost seamless with the downtube.
A close look at the down tube, head tube, fork and seatpost also reveals Ridley’s “F-Surface Plus technology”, effectively small groves that aim to create micro-turbulence to prevent passing air from separating too early.
Working on a similar principle, the fork offers small wings behind the dropouts, the same concept that’s used on the Scott Foil Disc and Pinarello F12.
Just about every bike company with an aero bike now has some unique method for routing brake hoses and gear wires from the levers and into the frame. Ridley’s design uses a proprietary one-piece handlebar and stem that feeds the cables down the front of a flattened fork steerer tube.
Lotto-Soudal team bikes don’t use Ridley’s cockpit, and instead, manage to adapt Deda (another team sponsor) components for a similarly clean look. It’s likely the team is giving up some of the Noah Fast’s aero benefits with this component choice, but it likely also results in greater fit customisation.
All told, the Noah Fast Disc is said to be stiffer across the board when compared to the rim-brake version.
A rumour circling at the Tour Down Under was that the 1.65m-tall Ewan was awaiting a new size of Noah Fast Disc frame, likely in order to achieve a fit that better suits his super-tuck sprint position.
When I enquired with Ridley about this new size, I simply got a “no comment.” And looking at the current extra-small bike of Ewan, with its stubby exposed seat post and high handlebars (in relation to the saddle), it seems there could be some truth to the rumour. A rumour that’s only more likely to be true when you consider that Ewan rode an XXS Scott Foil just two seasons ago.
Formerly with the Orica-GreenEdge squad, Ewan’s XXS Scott Foil had a headtube height of 110 mm and a toptube length of 510 mm compared to the 117 mm and 526 mm respective measurements of his current Noah Fast Disc.
Ewan’s 67 kg build makes him particularly fast on uphill or false-flat finishes. Add in his lightning-like turn of speed and this is one sprinter who may actually care about bike weight. Ewan’s Scott Foil (with rim brakes) tipped the scales at 7.24 kg, while his Ridley Noah Fast Disc sits at a heavier (but surprisingly still-competitive for a disc-equipped aero bike) 7.62 kg.
For the start of the season, Ridley provided Phillipe Gilbert, Tim Wellens, John Degenkolb and Caleb Ewan a choice in custom painted frames. For Ewan, that custom paint is even more minimalistic than the red and black colours of the standard team bikes.
According to Ridley’s media manager Thibaut Norga, “at Ridley we’re really focusing on personalization of colors and design on the bikes. We’ve chatted with Caleb and he was doubting between something really ‘in-your-face’, or rather cool and minimalistic. He went for the minimalistic. It’s one of our most picked designs, the Pure Line Classic with Black Metallic, so put it in the sun and you’ve got an awesome sparkle in it.”
Ewan’s bike is finished off with a Campagnolo Super Record EPS Disc groupset and SRM’s matching cranks. Those cranks feature 54/39T chainrings and spin a C-Bear ceramic bottom bracket. The rear derailleur hides matching C-Bear pulley wheels, while the Campagnolo Bora One tubular wheels roll on Campagnolo’s own ceramic bearings.
– Frameset: Ridley Noah Fast Disc, extra-small.
– Brakes: Campagnolo Super Record Disc
– Shift levers: Campagnolo Ergopower Super Record EPS Disc
– Front derailleur: Campagnolo Super Record EPS
– Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Super Record EPS, C-Bear 12T pulley wheels
– Cassette: Campagnolo Super Record 12-speed, 11-29t
– Chain: Campagnolo Super Record 12-speed
– Crankset: SRM Campagnolo 12, 54/39t
– Bottom bracket: C-Bear Ceramic
– Wheelset: Campagnolo Bora One Tubular
– Tyres: Vittoria Corsa G+ tubular, 25 mm
– Thru-axles: Bolt-up alloy
– Handlebars: Deda Superzero
– Handlebar tape: Lizard Skins DSP
– Stem: Deda Superzero (140 mm)
– Saddle: Selle Italia Flight
– Seatpost: Ridley Noah Fast
– Pedals: Look Keo Blade Carbon
– Bidon cages: Tacx Diva
– Head unit: SRM PC8