As one of the larger bike manufacturers, Norco continues to improve and add to it's ever growing line-up of bikes. Throughout the years, they have made leaps and bounds, improving and introducing new ideas to the mountain bike industry. One thing that hasn't changed is their outstanding commitment and drive, to deliver top quality bikes to happy customers. When I was approached with the opportunity to ride the Six, I didn't even stop for a second to think twice about it. It had been some time since I had saddled up on a Norco, but I was eager to find out what the research and development team had been up to in their lab-the North Shore mountains.
Pics and riding video inside:Well, it wasn't long before a Norco box with a shiny new bike inside arrived at my door. Not even fully assembled, the bike was begging to be ridden, and in no time at all, I was doing just that.
Frame And Specs:
All three of the Norco Six models feature the same frame design and tube set. For 2008, the tube set was totally redesigned, and features some eye catching hydro-formed curves. The Six One comes in a Pearl White finish, and features a "houndstooth" pattern on the top tube. Although it isn't a flashy paint job, it goes well with the bike, and the graphics flow well with the curves of the tubes. The gold accents add a nice touch, and give it the "blinged out" look that people seem to be going for these days.
Fully redesigned tubes
With the new design, Norco was not only able to achieve a lower stand over height, but the center of gravity was also lowered, creating a more stable bike, both in the air and on the ground. Since the bike is aimed at serving the "light freeride/all mtn" type of rider, Norco did their best to keep the weight down, but at the same time deliver a durable and strong frame that will stand up to abuse. By utilizing hydro formed tubes, the overall frame weight was reduced, while still creating a stiff and strong frame. As with most Norco full suspensions, the Six uses FSR technology, which allows for 6.3"(160mm) of rear end travel. Although the travel is not adjustable, the one piece linkage is kept super stiff using 12mm axles in the pivots.
Further on down the seat stays, you will find something that previous Norco owners may not be familiar with. Included in the changes for 2008, was the introduction of the Maxle system. So what exactly is it you ask? Well, it is basically a cross between a quick release system, and a thru-axle system, which results in a stiffer rear end. Another advantage to the system is the fact that it still remains tool free like a regular quick release. The chain stay yoke was also redesigned for '08, improving tire clearance over the 2007 model. This is a big plus for the 'wet coast' riders, where mud can usually be found on most trails any given day. This can sometimes be a big problem with bikes featuring shock placement similar to the Six. I did enjoy a few wet rides, and was impressed by the lack of mud that got flung onto the shock.
Large pivots keep it stiff
The Six One comes with a Marzocchi 66 ATA fork, which is air sprung, features adjustable travel(140-180mm), and has 38mm stanchions to keep your front end going where you want it. The 66 uses Marzocchi's ATA technology which simulates a coil spring compression curve using a dual rate air spring. There are two Schrader valves on the 66, by adding air to the one on the top of the fork you are able to tune the positive and negative air chambers. Adding air to the lower Schrader valve allows you to control the progression curve and bottom out. The 66 ATA is also equipped with Marzocchi's RC3 technology, and by adjusting the rebound knob, users are able to control the extension and positive sensitive compression. High and low speed compression are automatically tuned using the lower knob, which basically just changes the range of compression. With all of this technology it is possible to tune the fork for any rider on any terrain.
Heavy duty without the added weight
The rear suspension is handled by a DHX 5.0 air, which features control over the bottom out resistance, 2 position Pro-Pedal lever, air spring pressure adjustments, adjustable tuning range, and rebound adjustment. The DHX 5.0 is jam packed with adjustments, while maintaining a user friendly approach, as all that is needed to tune it is a shock pump. For 2008, the Pro-Pedal adjustment was redesigned, and is now controlled using a 2 position lever. The 2 positions allow for either light or full on settings, and can be changed on the fly thanks to the well placed lever. This feature comes in handy when switching between climbs and descents, as it helps control overall traction and pedaling efficiency.
Lots of room under the seat mast to do adjustments
The braking is kept under control using Hayes Stroker Trail brakes, with an 8" rotor in the front, and a 7" rotor in the rear. The brakes are also painted white to match the frame, giving it a really clean look. Aside from a Shimano front changer, SRAM parts take care of the shifting, with an X-9 rear changer and pod shifters. Continuing with the "blinged out" theme, the Alex FD-28 rims are finished with chrome, and laced to WTB hubs. The Six easily finds traction on the gnarliest terrain thanks to a set of Kenda Nevegal tires.
Nicely matched calipers
Derek talks tech about the Norco SIX 1:
Frame and Size
Norco Six One(Pearl White) •161mm of travel •Small Frame
Fox DHX Air 5.0 •165 psi in the main •155 psi in the boost •Bottom Out on Full •Rebound 5 clicks in
2008 Marzocchi 66 ATA •20 mm Tool less removal •140-180mm Travel •Rebound and Air Preload adjustments
Hayes Stroker Trail, 8" Front Rotor, 7" Rear(Pearl White)
Alex FD-28, Double Wall(Chrome), WTB 20mm Hub w/Sealed Bearings
Alex FD-28, Double Wall(Chrome),WTB 135mm x 12mm MAXLE
Kenda Nevegal, 2.35, Stick-e Rubber w/Kevlar Bead
Norco Shore, Short Profile(LV Vutton White Leather w/ Gold Chromoly Rails)
Syncros Derived, 30.9mm
•Blackspire Stinger Lower Roller Chainguide, Handlebar Bell
How Did It Ride?
Well I tried my best to ride this bike on as many different terrains as possible, and didn't find one that gave it any problems. The first ride was by far the most interesting though. The very first thing I noticed about the bike was how incredibly light it felt. Every jump I hit, I was getting more air and going farther than I ever had before on familiar trails. Not only was it easy to jump, but it was very nimble in the air, and it was very easy to correct my path on the sketchy jumps. I got the chance to ride Mount 7 in Golden B.C. on this bike, and I will admit I didn't think I was going to survive some of the obstacles. Although I found the wheelbase to be a little short for the steep descents, they were manageable at a slightly slower speed, and with more weight over the rear end. The short wheelbase made a huge difference when it came to tight corners, and with the bike being so light, it made for even easier cornering. Where some downhill bikes would have to creep through corners, the Six was able to handle them with ease.
Derek getting rad on the Norco SIX 1:
Aside from riding a lot of trails on the Six, I did manage to get a few good climbs in. Since my first ride on the Six was strictly downhill, I never thought about how it would climb until the time came. To my surprise, it was incredible. Not only does the bike feel light while grooving down a trail, the same goes when pedaling up. There is a granny gear outfitted, which is really nice to have, because you just never know when you'll come across an uphill section. While climbing, I noticed that there was never a lack of traction. The rubber was kept in contact with the ground, and the Pro-Pedal on the Fox rear shock worked flawlessly while climbing.
The suspension also played an important part in the overall ride. The air sprung suspension was incredibly responsive, and soaked up all but the worst hits, although I'm not sure any bike would have. Even through some of the roughest terrain, the bike seemed to keep gaining speed, which got a little hairy in a few instances. More than once I found myself pushing my boundaries, just to see how fast I actually could go without losing it. I can honestly say that the bike never had any problems handling the speed, and it was me that gave up first. Out of the box, the rear shock was set up a little light for my liking, so I added 10 psi to the main chamber and that did the trick.
The thing about the Six that impressed me the most was how well the bike cornered. It was such a blast! I would often find myself coming full on into tight corners only to slide through like they didn't exist. Another thing I noticed was the bike's tendency to pop out of corners. On the approach the bike sunk nicely into it's travel, giving it more than enough traction, and it seemed like the harder I hit the corners, the faster I'd be back upright and pedaling into the next one. Even though Norco recommends the Six as an all mountain/light freeride bike, it was incredibly versatile, and it rode predictably. By the end of the first ride, I was already settling in nicely to the Six, and became accustomed to the handling as if I had been riding it for the last season. There were a few times when things got out of hand, but I have to say that it was simply due to the fact I got too confident.
Although they were hard to pick out, there was a few things that are worth mentioning. It might not be a big deal to most, but the Six has an interrupted seat tube, and basically this means a full length seat post just won't work. I was able to cut the seat post so that I could have it low enough on the downhills, and up high enough while climbing, but for some who like to leave the post long, you could run into some clearance issues with the rear shock. A telescoping seat post could be used to solve this, but would most likely add a little more weight.
Also, as mentioned before, I did run into some problems while descending super steep sections. Although it was hard to get far enough over the back tire (it was just that steep!) I did manage to ride the steeps, but not as in control as I would have liked to be. Considering other riders were choosing to walk their bikes down instead of tempt fate, I wasn't the only one having some issues, and for this reason I can't say my difficulties were directly caused by the bike.
Near the end of my time spent on the Six, I also had some issues with the brakes. They felt and worked great for quite some time, but eventually I noticed that the modulation didn't feel balanced in the front and rear levers. When braking for longer periods of time, the feel of the brakes became more unpredictable, and at times was uncomfortable.
The Bottom Line
While there are a few bikes out there that compare to the Six, even fewer come close when you consider the parts that come equipped. Components such as the 66 ATA fork, and light parts such as the cranks and pedals all add up to create one mean machine. Having such nice parts, you'd expect this bike to be priced as though it had a custom build, but it all comes in at a respectable $4449 msrp. End of season sales will be coming up soon, so you can most likely pick one up for a steal of a deal. The fact that this bike is more than capable of epic all day climbs, and handles free riding in the same respect, means that riders no longer have to consider purchasing two bikes, because this one does it all!
Derek had already submitted this review and he, Jordan and I were out riding a few days later. Well I have to point out that he changed more flats that day than any rider should have too in a day. The single ply tires simply were not holding up to the terrain we were riding them on it seems. I personally feel that bikes of this genre should come with dual ply tires, but on that same note I do understand trying to keep the end weight down for the show room floor. So if you intend to buy a great bike that you'll be a little rough on, consider upgrading tires at the point of purchasing it. Here's a little video from that day.