160mm travel alloy Range platform was universally loved by testers during the 2013 season, and especially by us here at Pinkbike, with the 650B-wheeled bike receiving praise for both its excellent suspension and handling. With that in mind, it was pretty clear what Norco had to do for 2014... carbon. And they've done exactly that, with three carbon fiber models sitting above two less expensive alloy bikes in the Range lineup. At the top sits the $7,345 USD Range LE pictured here, a bike that Norco wants to own the category - check out its Cane Creek DBair CS shock and RockShox Pike RCT3 fork, both of which are the current kings of the suspension world. The heart of the bike, though, is its brand new carbon fiber frame that Norco told us is 3/4 of a pound lighter than the current alloy version, and, we'd have to say, one hell of a looker. The sleek lines come from Norco going with no external cable routing options, with every line running through the frame by way of clever split cable entry grommets that clamp down slightly on the housing to hold it from shifting or rattling. This includes the entry point for the bike's Reverb Stealth seatpost, and even the rear shift housing is hidden within the drive side chain stay.
Our single gripe with last year's Range was its problematic '360 Lock' pivot hardware that, ironically, made some interesting noises after it loosened off repeatedly. Norco says that they've sorted this issue out, as well as the old bike's derailleur hanger that would come in contact with the derailleur's knuckle and prevent it from rotating far enough rearward for the wheel to drop out easily once the axle has been removed. They have also altered the bike's head angle slightly, slackening it out by 0.5° to 66° after getting some feedback from their Enduro World Series team. One thing that they haven't changed is the bike's pivot locations, with it retaining the exact same great suspension performance as last year's bike.
The entire Range lineup consists of five models, starting with the $2,385 USD Range 2 Alloy. Want some carbon? The buy-in price is $3,630 USD for the Range 2 Carbon. There is also a carbon frame only option that can be had either with or without a molded-in front derailleur mount depending if you are planning to build the bike up with a single or multi-ring crankset. www.norco.com
had us thinking that we were looking at a standard floor pump, but then we took note of the relatively small barrel and the "Shock Digital Drive" moniker on its wooden handle. Yes, this is a floor pump designed to fill up high-pressure shocks, most certainly a tool that would make more sense in a shop or demo fleet van than the average rider's garage. It sure is cool, though, and we just had to show the $110 USD pump off.
What makes it ideally suited to shocks? Besides the low-volume barrel that moves less air but makes higher pressures easier to reach, it is the pump's two-stage chuck that sets it apart. The nickel plated head is actually two pieces that thread into each other, and you simply back out the inboard section a few turns to disengage the pin before you unscrew the chuck from the valve, thereby preventing any release of air from the shock. There is also a two-stage bleed button that allows you to make micro pressure adjustments or let more air out by depressing it all of the way. And as its name suggests, it features a digital gauge that gives a much more exact pressure reading than a standard needle gauge. www.lezyne.com
still unnamed, 150mm travel all-mountain bike is finally nearing production, and it's probably the one 650B-wheeled bike that we are most looking forward to spending a few months aboard for testing. That's because the man behind a lot of the design is Eric Carter, a BMX and mountain bike legend who is likely still faster down a hill than a lot of fresh, young pros. The design remains largely unchanged from when we first showed the
bike while at Sea Otter earlier this year, although there have been some slight tubing alterations in the rear end in the shape of thicker walled, taller chain stays. It still features burly looking captive pivots at the drop out and rocker arm, and a thru-axle rear end ties both sides together. Removable ISCG-05 tabs allow a chain guide to be fitted, or a direct mount front derailleur can be bolted to a small stub that protrudes from the spar surrounding the shock.
Hyper Prototype Details
• Rear wheel travel: 150mm
• Wheel size: 650B
• Uses a single pivot, four-bar suspension design with a reversed ''moto-link''
• Progressively linear suspension rate (2.6 - 2.1)
• low and centralized suspension mass
• Removable, splined ISCG-05 adapter setup
• 13.2'' bottom bracket height (may change on production bike)
• 66.5 ° head angle
• Availability: TBA
• MSRP: $1,699 USD
As we talked about at Sea Otter, Hyper had a few major goals when designing the 150mm travel bike, with a low center of gravity, great reliability, and a low leverage ratio all on the list. To that end, the bike makes use of a single pivot swingarm and a set of rocker arms that activate the top end of low-slung shock. This is combined with a moto-style linkage that is partly hidden underneath the bottom bracket shell, with the shock attached to the diminutive lower linkage at the bottom end. How does it all function? The chain stays move up as the rear tire hits a bump, pulling upwards on the lower linkage while at the same time compressing the shock with the rocker arms, effectively compressing the shock from both ends. Carter told us that the bike's lower linkage is essentially a reversed version of what is used on a dirt bike, and that the system allows them to swap in different length link pieces to alter the leverage rate for development purposes. We had assumed that it employed bushings at each pivot given how compact the layout is, but the bike uses sealed bearings at every pivot location, as well as an extra level of sealing in the shape of added O-rings at each pivot.
|Hyper has been a Wal-Mart brand for some time now, and will continue to be. The success at Wal-Mart has allowed this high-end line for Hyper to even be a consideration. Hyper's stance and goal is to get more people riding bikes; not everyone can afford a super expensive bike or even needs one for what they are utilizing the bike for. A kid using a bike at college for transportation doesn't need a $6000 bike. - Eric Carter, brand manager|