Haibike Noon SL
So that’s road racing covered – as long as you get the nod to use discs – on to commuting. With the Clement’s still on and the stem and chainset swapped back the Noon SL proved more than up to the daily slog. The shorter, upright stem gave a nice relaxed riding position and the Noon SL threaded it’s way through London traffic easily. The Noon SL makes a fine commuter and with fittings for a rack, you could take some of the load off your back when you need to carry more than the usual packed lunch and a change of pants.
With the tarmac portion of the review ticked off, it’s time to put the Racing Ralphs back on and get dirty. Or it would have been if we weren’t experiencing an unusually hot dry spell. This made for some very fast off-road racing, which the Noon SL took in it’s stride. While it may carry a little more weight than a higher specced bike, at 10kg the Noon SL was still competitive, accelerating off the line and lifting over hurdles was no more of a chore than normal (although a lighter set of wheels would be appreciated).
As the test period continued we finally got some mud to play around in. This is where I was hoping to see the disc brakes shine. An important thing to remember when taking your first ride on a disc brake equipped bike is that the pads have to be broken in. This involves finding a long downhill stretch of road, getting up to speed, letting the brakes drag, then applying them hard. Do this 5 or 6 times and you’ll find the power coming on as you repeat the process. You could combine this with a hill rep session and kill two birds with one stone.
I’m used to hydraulic disc brakes on my MTB and initial impressions of the cable operated CX75s were that they weren’t up to what I was used to. In terms of pure braking power they felt similar to a well set up set of road calipers. The stock pads also wear incredibly fast which, as only one of the pads moves, can lead to a sudden loss of power. This happens when the fixed pad wears past the point where it should be contacting the rotor. Instead the opposing pad is pushing the rotor and nothing is pushing back, leaving you shooting past your turning at 70kph – something I don’t want to experience again!
To avoid this you have to keep a sharp eye on pad wear. Fortunately adjustment is easily done with an allen key, but it may be worth investing in some longer lasting, sintered brake pads. On a 80km off-road ride where the conditions were muddy, I adjusted the pads 3 times. Swapping out for longer lasting pads sorted that problem. Finding replacement pads wasn’t the easiest thing, but hopefully this will improve over time.
Once the mud had returned to my local ‘cross league, the disc brakes started to show their advantages. With no cantilever arms for the mud to catch on and clog, the Noon SL rode through the slop without getting bogged down, and of course braking is consistently good; there’s no mud interfering with the operation of the brakes, which is a major advantage. In the shorter veterans category, pad wear wasn’t an issue, although this is something that can vary from race to race, depending on terrain and weather conditions, but for the first race they held up.
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