A lot can change in 50 years... back in 1964 the Beatles recorded #1
hit 'I Want To Hold Your Hand
', the 007 film Goldfinger was released and Lucky Charms cereal entered households around the world. 1964 was also the year the Norco Bicycles was founded in Burnaby British Columbia.
Back in 1964 Norco was known as Northern Cycle Industries and in a small building outside of Vancouver British Columbia Bert Lewis started building and selling bikes. Northern Cycle Industries was created as a means of bringing quality bicycle goods to Canadians through working with international partners. As few as 10 bikes per day was the goal in the beginning but the demand quickly grew and the brand became a household name. The first bikes to come off the assembly line were not branded Norco but rather Northern Cycle Industries. In 1967 the name was shortened to Norco and the bikes have been rolling ever since.
50 years is a long time to be making bikes and over the course of 5 decades technology as moved leaps and bounds. From the beginning the goal has always been to design the bikes that the people of Norco want to ride and improve the ride experience regardless of riding style or location. Innovation and an unrelenting drive for improvement have shaped the bikes that we rode in the past and the bikes that we ride today. Looking back in time at the trends which charged the Norco brand forward it is incredible to look at the evolution of bikes. You may remember some of these bikes from back in your childhood so reader beware; nostalgia may occur.
One of the first styles of Norco bikes to really take off was the cruiser. This particular model is the 1966 Northern Cycle Industries Rail with 20" wheels, 3-speed gearing and a sissy-bar.
Once the 1970's arrived it was all about the 10 speed. This ain't no 1x10 either - we are talking about a 2x5 setup with stem mounted shifting. The frame on this 1978 Norco Avanti is lugged Tange steel which rolls on 27" polished steel rims. 10 speed bikes from this era were so influential on cycling that many people still refer to modern road bikes as 10 speeds and you will still see these bikes on the road decades later.
The 1980s saw freestyle BMX take charge. The Norco Spitfire was a point of jealousy in every neighbourhood as it was the bike which the Norco Freestyle BMX team could be seen performing on. The jealousy only got worse when the bike was featured racing around Helltrack in the movie RAD.
The 1990s saw an explosion of mountain biking. Norco's North Shore roots put bikes like the Rampage on the cutting edge with suspension adjusted geometry, powerful cantilever brakes and a Shimano XT drivetrain. If you were looking to start freeriding in 1992, the Norco Rampage was likely a bike that you were drooling over.
In the 2000s full suspension mountain bikes really took off. While rear shocks can be spotted in the Norco line back to the mid 1990's, 2001 marked the first Norco VPS Shore model. This bike stepped up the game for freeriding and took Norco onto a global stage. The iconic VPS line of bikes were first exported to Australia then numerous other countries around the world. With a Marzocchi Bomber Jr. T fork, Fox Vanilla RC rear shock, Hayes HFX disk brakes and a Sram 9.0 Gripshift drivetrain the 2001 Norco VPS Shore was the bike to huck yourself of the ladder bridges of Vancouver's North Shore.
Over the past 50 years Norco bicycles have changed a lot. In the end though, the same root principals of design exist. The beginning of all bicycle design comes down to three ideas: Listen, Innovate, Ride. The engineers, product managers and other minds behind Norco bikes come together around this statement with an innate desire to design the best bike possible and create the ultimate riding experience.
With all this history backing the Norco
brand 50 years is only the beginning. Every year bikes see another step forward and when we look back decade over decade we can truly see how these steps sum up over time. Tomorrow's bikes will be created from today's experiences and with each passing year the bikes we ride will continue to evolve in search for the ultimate ride experience.