Summer PressCamp 2016, Part IV

Summer PressCamp 2016, Part IV

Ridley has always been known for making race bikes for people who want to go fast, but there was a time when their engineering lagged behind their ambition. Those days are gone. They continue to overhaul bikes and improve them. Today, their line is, generally speaking, lighter, stiffer and livelier.

What got my attention at PressCamp was their new disc brake version of the Noah SL. Aero road bikes with disc brakes are essentially unicorns. That will change soon enough as other manufacturers evolve, but Ridley is showing us the future now.

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It’s a clean design that uses flat-mount brakes and through axles. We’ve had a fair amount of talk about the relative merits of through axles here of late. I’ll say that I’m a supporter of through axles for forks for fairly obvious reasons. Anything else you can do to make sure the front wheel stays in plane with the fork will make handling more precise. However, I wasn’t a big believer in through axles in the rear; that is, I wasn’t until I went to install a wheel and noticed how much easier it was with no quick release to negotiate. Putting the wheel in was faster and easier.

I got to take the Noah SL disc out for a ride on spun my way toward Guardsman Pass. I made it to the point my legs issued a cease and desist letter and then turned around. Man, that altitude. With the smooth Utah pavement and the sometimes precipitous pitches of the mountain roads I was grateful for the powerful braking. This bike should sell by the container.

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The Fenix SL continues to be not only Ridley’s most popular seller in the market, it’s also the most popular bike among the pro riders of Lotto-Soudal; this, despite the opportunity to ride the Noah and the Helium (the climber’s bike). This may speak to the heart of a Belgian rider; a particular kind of athlete most of us think of as non-nonsense and ready for whatever.

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Cannondale is set to introduce a new version of its popular SuperSix EVO, one with disc brakes. Also, the Hollowgram line of parts is being extended into wheels now with these new Hollowgram carbon fiber clinchers. While I don’t have an exact weight on this bike, it’s safe to say leave it to Cannondale to produce a disc-brake-equipped road bike that flirts with the UCI’s weight limit.

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The combination of Cannondale’s clean rear triangle and Shimano’s flat-mount brakes give the bike a very minimal appearance, unlike some bikes, that look like you’ve added a sawmill to them.

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This was my first opportunity to see the Slate up close. For all the knocks it has taken for the lefty fork and the 650B wheels, it has been well-received by those who have taken the time to ride it. And 650B is growing in popularity, as evidenced by a couple of other gravel bikes on display.

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I saw the new Ellsworth Epiphany last winter at, you guessed it, Winter PressCamp. Ellsworth, despite a great reputation among some of my friends, had never really been on my radar. With the brand’s recent relaunch, they introduced the Epiphany, a plus-size trail bike with 130mm travel in the front and 120mm travel in the rear. And then proceeded to boast about how well it pedals.

I finally got to spend an hour or so on the Epiphany. It pedals every bit as well as Tony Ellsworth claimed. Its ability was most striking on those occasions when I got out of the saddle and jammed over a small rise. I can’t wait to have a chance to do a full review of one.

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For this edition of PressCamp, Ellsworth showed off the new Rogue 60, their new enduro bike. This is a 160mm travel bike that is 1x-specific, and like all new enduro bikes, goes with 27.5-inch wheels. The main frame and seatstays are carbon fiber, while the chainstays and rocker are produced from aluminum. The bike will be available in September.

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7 comments

  1. Steve

    So still the curved or arched top tube as their current Fenix SL models? That’s the one aesthetic I couldn’t quite (personally) swallow. That third picture certainly looks more like a straight tube, a la the fenix carbon. If they’re going that route for the SL I just might consider an upgrade in the future…


    1. Author
      Padraig

      I think of a flat bar vs. a drop bar as being a kind of dividing line. There’s a definite limit to what you can do on descents with a drop bar as compared to a flat bar. That’s how I would choose.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      After a while, you run out of synonyms. Gravel isn’t a terrible word; it’s the other one that I don’t want to use.

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