One of the great facts about bicycle design is that there are at least two or three intriguing alternatives for every established way of doing things ... and suspension is certainly one of those established "things." In the past couple of years alone, we've seen leaf shocks, looped wheels and parallelogram seat posts offered up as replacements to the standard shock absorber. UK-based COFA Engineering recently showcased its own unique take on bicycle suspension, known as the NOAH system.
NOAH stands for Normally Operated Articulated Hybrid suspension system, and it was publicly displayed for the first time earlier this month at the Bespoked UK Handmade Bicycle Show in London.
It's a full-suspension system, but instead of incorporating the usual rear shock and front suspension fork, it utilizes two midships-mounted rear shocks. A linkage consisting of two A-arms runs from the telescopic fork to one of those shocks, allowing it to soak up the hits taken by the front wheel. You can see it demonstrated in the video below.
So, what's the point? According to COFA, there are several.
First of all, because the fork legs are supported closer to the wheel, they flex less. Additionally, the fork is lighter, as it doesn't contain any springs, dampers or other shock-absorbing hardware. The weight is instead moved toward the middle of the bike, thus reducing unsprung weight and improving the handling.
It's similar in principle to the single-arm telelever system, used in bikes such as the Scurra Hard Enduro. COFA, however, wanted to boost the amount of travel possible with that setup, while also improving the steering.
"The rear pivot point of the top A-arm is adjustable, allowing the path of the lower yoke to be altered for different riding conditions," COFA's Robyn Taylor explained to us. "For example – the steering angle when not compressed can be set steeper than usual, resulting in a quick-steering bike on the flat. However, when the forks compress the steering angle can be relaxed, aiding handling over rough terrain."
Additionally, the rear suspension layout allows for the use of a Nuvinci N360 continuously-variable hub transmission, eliminating the need for a rear derailleur – although slightly increasing the unsprung weight in the back.
In its current form, the NOAH concept bike has a whopping 230 mm of front travel, although it also tips the scales at 40 lb (18 kg). For that reason, its designers are looking into the use of lighter building materials for subsequent versions.
"The end goal is to produce a limited number," said Taylor. "We had a good response at the London show, but we do accept it's not to everyone's taste!".