Bike Check: Sam Blenkinsop's Norco DH Prototype

Sep 2, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  


The Norco Factory Team has been testing a new downhill bike this season, and we finally get to take a look.

It looks a whole lot like the new Range, doesn't it? Well, this downhill bike, which as far as we know is unnamed, uses the same carbon frame parts as the recently revealed Range, but uses a different shock link and dropouts to change the geometry, allowing riders to run a full-travel dual crown fork while keeping the bottom bracket height where it needs to be, making it an entirely different bike that's ready to take on World Cup downhill courses.

Sam Blenkinsop has had a big year. He snuck into the top 20 at Les Gets and Crankworx Innsbruck, raced some EWS, and spent some time at home in New Zealand for the birth of his son. Congrats, Sam! Now, he's back over in Europe for some more downhill racing.

Let's take a look at his downhill rig.

2018 Whister Crankworx
Sam Blenkinsop // Norco Factory Team
Age: 32
Hometown: Christchurch, New Zealand
Height: 185 cm / 6'1"
Weight: Est. 80 kg / 176 lbs
Instagram: @samblenkinsop

Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike

Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
Details
Frame: Norco DH Prototype
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Coil, 600 lb spring
Fork: RockShox Boxxer Ultimate, 167 psi with 5 spacers
Wheels: 29" DT Swiss EX511
Tires: Maxxis Assegai F/R 24 psi / 26 psi
Inserts: CushCore Pro F/R
Drivetrain: SRAM XO 7-speed
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
Cockpit: Deity Blacklabel bars at 790 mm, Deity direct-mount stem
Size: L

Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
Like the Range, this DH bike uses a high virtual pivot design with an idler pulley to keep things in check.

Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
Blenki's runs alloy bars adorned with Deity Knuckleduster grips and SRAM Code RSC brakes.

Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
RockShox red to keep things smooth. They've lowered his fork pressure by 3 psi for Lenzerheide compared with Val di Sole to try to manage the chatter on this track. Rebound is fast front and rear, and compression will be dialed in over the next several practice laps as the course changes.

Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
Assegai treads and CushCore Pro inserts front and rear.

Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
The lower link rotates around the bottom bracket and drives the shock from below.

Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
The dropouts also help distinguish the DH bike from the Range. As for rotors, he's running 220 mm on the front wheel and 200 mm on the rear with organic brake pads.

Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
Mallet pedals and a Deity saddle with an old-school angle round it out.

Sam Blenkinsop s Norco DH Bike
Send it, Blenki!



155 Comments

  • 112 6
 DH bike with water bottle mount? What time to be alive.
  • 10 1
 Its like they are reading my thoughts
  • 43 29
 usefull as tits on a snake
  • 43 1
 It's almost as if they explain in the first few sentences that it used the same frame as the range...
  • 2 0
 @TheBrosCloset: it's like a range only different.
  • 34 0
 @nojzilla: Riding temp this past summer was over 30*C most days. I wish my DH bike had space for a bottle. Wearing a pack on those days sucks.
  • 5 48
flag nojzilla (Sep 2, 2021 at 23:09) (Below Threshold)
 @jonjonj0nnyjon: a bottle that's definatly gonna bounce off the cage in chunder an rock gardens, a pack? on a DH bike? enduhhro fair enough but DH?
Tits on a Snake
  • 58 1
 @nojzilla: maybe you should try a cage and bottle that isn't from 40 years ago
  • 9 1
 Water bottle mount, plus it obviously takes a dropper. Add a bigger cassette and get ready for SuperEnduro.
  • 31 1
 @nojzilla: if my snake had tits, life would be much more simple
  • 3 0
 @nojzilla: Useful if you want to mount some data recording.
  • 4 29
flag nojzilla (Sep 3, 2021 at 0:05) (Below Threshold)
 I'll conceed when I see a WC rider using a water bottle in a race run....................
  • 3 6
 @jonjonj0nnyjon: maybe try leaving a bottle at the gondola station?
  • 8 2
 @nojzilla: How do you think Adam got tempted away from Eve? "How do you like them apples?"
  • 8 0
 @nojzilla: how about a privateer having one for practise, so he can get more laps in without having to ride back to his van all the way down the cheap end of the pits
  • 3 11
flag nojzilla (Sep 3, 2021 at 1:22) (Below Threshold)
 @AyJayDoubleyou: in a race run.......
but yeah if it keeps you happy, yeah that to
  • 2 0
 @AyJayDoubleyou: endhuro indheed
  • 5 1
 Finally. Been saying it for years... Go bike parking whole day how annoying it is...
  • 3 0
 2 friking bolds... Took so many years ...
  • 1 0
 hijacking to ask: whats the best water bottle holder? just picked up a sight that came sans water bottle holder, want to mount water bottle. help. first bike ive ever had that can hold one, im curious what its like to stay hydrated while riding.
  • 1 1
 @makripper: no it's literally the same frame with a different linkage and dropouts to lengthen the rear end they're using as a prototype for leverage curves and geo mule which is why it has a bottle cage. And they explain this at the start of the article.
  • 1 0
 @TheBrosCloset: yeah that's what I said. It's like the range only different.
  • 1 0
 @anchoricex: I use Lezyne holders. Purists will say King cage. Specialized SWAT cage or Syncros. Or FidLock if you don't always want the cage on the frame.

This Range frame with some stealth tools would be a WBP beast. I'm doing toss ups between Range and G1 currently.
  • 1 0
 @TheBrosCloset: It would be funny if the different dropouts were just from other sizes of Ranges. Surprised the shock stroke or total length wasn't increased?
  • 2 0
 @gonecoastal: it also states it's a different linkage, so stroke increase is likely. They've been using this frame for over a year for the DH team
  • 1 0
 @anchoricex: I've always had frames that are a bit tight, so I've been using specialized Zee cages. I've never lost a bottle while riding, including Morzine & enduro racing. Managed to knock one bottle out on a lift and didn't notice one falling out and lost it when I dropped the bike on the "exit" side exhausted after a race stage.
  • 42 0
 The highlight of my downhill career will forever be the day Sam asked whether he could use my pump in Morzine.
  • 2 0
 lol
  • 2 0
 for me it was Eddie Masters needing a multi tool at queenstown bike park
  • 1 0
 I made the queue to get an autograph from peaty...on my garbage bag...he tried to refuse...poor him...he took it as the legend he is and went for it haha
  • 3 0
 Me and a buddy took Kyle Straight and Robbie Bourdon on a ride in Hood River in 1999. Good memories.
  • 7 0
 @donpinpon29: I also have a name for my ball sack, but I ain't telling ya.
  • 12 1
 Does that lower get crunched on the rocks and such?
  • 15 3
 Yup
  • 4 0
 Don't lend it to your friends.
  • 11 1
 It's harder to hit than you think. As soon as the bike is weighted (i.e. sag) the link is back and out of the way.
  • 2 0
 it's probably about level with the bash guard when under sag. Still could be a bit low though.
  • 10 1
 And when you unweight to get over an obstacle it is fully in the way
  • 25 1
 Uhhh… The angle of the dangle is inversely proportional to the heat of the meat. Uh huh huh huh.
  • 2 1
 No. Because sag
  • 2 0
 @RoboDuck: It's definitely not completely out of the way. I've tagged mine a few times in 3 weeks of riding one, but it's not a dealbreaker.
  • 2 0
 @Vlad-Putin: wow, you're pretty smart, Beavis!
  • 2 0
 I mean yes it probably does get crunched, but that's what the bash guards are for, right?
  • 3 0
 It’s happened on technical climbs but hasn’t on descents yet for me
  • 6 0
 This bike shows how gnarly enduro bikes have became over the years, and how small the differences are in many cases between enduro and DH. I really like the idea that many enduro bikes can be turn into a downhill/bike park rig!
  • 6 0
 I guess there's a limit to the force that can go through the frame, and that's the rider's hands and feet. I imagine an EWS pro and WC DH rider can probably take about the same hits. The actual impact energy may be bigger on DH, but the longer travel probably means similar forces through the frame. So, if the head tube can take potential impacts from the crowns and the seat tube doesn't collect the rear tyre at full compression, then cool - enduro/DH/park bike conversions are on
  • 2 0
 @mountainsofsussex: Years ago on Discovery Channel Specialized and Bearcloth were testing/designing a Demo frame to survive Rampage. Talked about G forces the frame could handle.
Anyway; it's almost as if DH and EWS racers are the same.
  • 5 0
 What’s with racers running organic pads? Admittedly all my experience is with shimano brakes, but I’ve always found sintered metal to be far superior..? Better bite, better in the wet, better on long descents with sustained braking?
Longer lasting too, although obviously that doesn’t matter for a WC bike
  • 7 0
 600 lbs spring?! 167 psi?! 5 tokens?!
Thos are monstruous spring rates for a 176 lbs rider!
  • 2 1
 Maybe it doesnt have a full size shock, hence the spring rate.
  • 6 0
 Spring rate depends on the leverage ratio, if you use a short shock to get a lot of travel the leverage ratio would be high and you would need stiffer spring...
  • 1 0
 He’s running it firm, that’s for sure
  • 3 0
 @winko: makes still no sense if you look at the fork number's. It's f*cking stiff .
  • 3 0
 Could be because they elongated the rocker arm to be able to fit a longer shock and as a consequence now have to deal with a higher leverage ratio. Or maybe Blenki just rides like a madman.
  • 3 0
 The spring weight's about what I'd expect but the fork tokens & pressure are mind-blowing.
  • 3 0
 @chakaping: He’s running RS’s new Damper and possibly new air spring so his settings are going to differ from existing Boxxer owners
  • 2 0
 @vanillarice19: i could be wrong but it looks like the dials on the boxxer damper are the current dials not the prototype blackbox ones.
  • 1 0
 @AustinNZ5: You're right. Guess he likes his suspension stiff AF!!!
  • 5 0
 Do the custom links increase the rear travel? Did the article say and I missed it?
  • 6 1
 probably 10mm at most, but if it works on a track like hardline I doubt scrubs like me will ever have an issue
  • 3 0
 @stephenzkie: I'm guessing its at least 190 if not 200. There's a decent amount of room back there for added travel.
  • 4 0
 It has a different link and a DH sized shock apparently has 210 rear or so
  • 4 0
 The numbers are suspiciously absent. Although with a custom lower link they can probably fit a slightly longer shock and run a little more rear wheel travel than on the enduro version of the Range. On the other hand, the fact that a 175 lbs dude has to run a 600 lbs spring points towards either less rear wheel travel than you would ideally find on a DH bike or a very high leverage ratio due to an elongated lower rocker link. Both are not ideal.
  • 7 1
 @BenTheSwabian: There's nothing inherently wrong with a higher leverage ratio. it's possible he wants the support of a 600lb spring in which case the higher leverage ratio would allow the bike to track well and sag to the right point with that spring instead of being massively over-sprung.
  • 3 0
 @CascadeComponents: Would you say that in your teams experience, higher leverage ratios wear out shocks faster
?
  • 3 0
 @hamncheez: Have not found that to be the case. In theory the oil would have to be changed more frequently, but in reality so many other things drive that. The difference really ends up being so small that you could say the same thing about adding volume spacers since that puts more stress on the rebound damping deeper in travel.
  • 1 0
 @CascadeComponents: does that also go for air shocks?
  • 3 0
 @hamncheez: pretty much. Again there are so many different factors that a 10% increase in air pressure isn't going to be the thing that pushes it over the edge. If it was making 200 mm of travel off a 50 mm shock I'd be worried, but it's probably a 70 or 75 and I've run 200 mm of travel off a 65 for this entire season and the shock still feels good.
  • 1 0
 @CascadeComponents: great info here, thanks.
  • 1 0
 Norco, looks like alot of thought went into this bike,, if they already have different dropouts for this dh bike conversion, this was probably already planned from the beginning and they probably just slapped a longer stroke shock in there
  • 3 0
 When is the frame available? I am planning on buying a new DH bike end this year. I had my eyes on the current model Aurum HSP.

It's like they can read my mind, and release a new model before I purchased it.
  • 3 1
 Dang I love my Norco Aurum HSP dh bike, not only the best DH bike I've ever owned but the most pedal-able, trail useable DH bike I've ever had by a fair margin. And I admit liking that it was shiny, new and cutting edge. Now its just old and busted ! Clearly it will no longer ride as well now that a newer design exists.
  • 3 0
 Does this mean Sram is going to make 165mm x01 and xx1 cranks or he’s running 170mm? I’m perfectly happy with my Descendant 165s but I am curious!
  • 8 0
 They already do...
  • 1 0
 Always has
  • 3 0
 @Sam-B: Now I am not sure why I thought they didn't. Mandela effect? Oh well lol.
  • 1 0
 I know the phrase "making it an entirely different bike that's ready to take on World Cup downhill courses" creates a lot of expectation but how many of us will tackle a WC track at the speeds of a WC rider? A great World Cup bike may not necessarily satisfy the speed and driving ability of the average rider.
  • 4 0
 Organic pads?
  • 11 9
 And in the year 2021 a factory team professional is still using zip ties to attach a mudguard to the fork
  • 19 4
 Nothing wrong with zip ties
  • 9 15
flag nojzilla (Sep 2, 2021 at 21:58) (Below Threshold)
 @zyoungson: zipties are single use plastics. Velcro, reusable
  • 33 0
 @nojzilla: The whole bike is a chunk of single use plastic..
  • 2 1
 It's actually lighter than bolt ons
  • 2 0
 @makripper: Custom graphics are a better reason than 10g.
  • 4 5
 @zyoungson: I see WAY more discarded zipties littering carparks areas of trail centres an bikeparks than I do carbon bikes.............
  • 11 1
 @nojzilla: Strange, there are none here. Maybe your people need educating on how to use a rubbish bin.
  • 7 1
 @nojzilla: that's the UK tho. Garbage everywhere. Been to a festival lately?
  • 3 9
flag nojzilla (Sep 3, 2021 at 0:08) (Below Threshold)
 @makripper: the FK has festivals got to do with zipties being single use plastic? wether they're in a bin or a bike event carpark they still single use.
You can use velcro over an over an over again, also making it cheaper
But, carry on trying to win the internet for the day...........
  • 5 1
 @nojzilla: my experiences with using velcro to hold on stuff really isnt great. Espescially when they get muddy.
  • 2 5
 @kindern: my MUD gaurd... held on with velcro has never fallen off..
I'll bet if it was neon blue or yellow, had enduhhro written onit an cost 10 times as normal MTB'ers would LOVE it
  • 5 1
 @nojzilla: Actually, zip ties aren't single use plastic as they can be reused. It's tricky, but definitely doable. It's not rocket science. It's zip ties LoL

m.youtube.com/watch?v=NZdf8osGqnE
  • 2 3
 @m1dg3t: yeah I learned that years ago. How many people do you know that actually do that, especially in a cold muddy field at an MTB race/event?
  • 6 0
 @nojzilla: My keenness to reuse zip ties is almost pathological. Even better if it's one I found on the ground. But I fear my efforts may be insufficient to save the global ecosystem.
  • 5 0
 @nojzilla: You learned it yet zip ties are still single use plastic? Here's a shovel. Move another goal post. I'm not going to argue semantics with you. Or anyone for that matter. I know many people who reuse zip ties. Obviously not all of them can be, or are, reused. My guess is that the people you are describing are the same pretentious, self agrandizing a*sholes who leave their snack wrappers & energy drinks lying all over the trails.

Single use plastic means exactly that.
  • 1 9
flag nojzilla (Sep 3, 2021 at 4:56) (Below Threshold)
 @m1dg3t: or the same pretentious self agrandizing a*shole who like to argue a dead point on the internet.......
  • 1 10
flag nojzilla (Sep 3, 2021 at 4:59) (Below Threshold)
 @m1dg3t: like seriously man, how much are you gonna f*cking debate a ziptie?
  • 9 1
 @nojzilla: I don't think you know what an argument is LoL

I am not going to debate anything with you. That would be futile. Please feel free to continue making an ass of yourself Smile

PS: You're a needy little bugger. Aren't ya?
  • 2 1
 @BenPea: Every bit helps. No one benefits from apathy.
  • 1 0
 This thread is getting close to Waki levels of senselessness.
  • 1 8
flag nojzilla (Sep 3, 2021 at 7:16) (Below Threshold)
 @m1dg3t: what ever pal you're the prick that's getting bent over a dkng ziptie
  • 3 0
 @nojzilla: I reuse them at work
  • 3 0
 @zyoungson: Waki is also a discarded zip tie user (that's an actual fact). It's his most endearing quality.

The zip ties are discarded, not him. Although now I come to think of it...
  • 5 1
 @nojzilla: That's funny Big Grin From outside your bubble of self importance it's pretty self evident who's the prick getting bent over a zip tie LoL

Please, continue HaHaHa
  • 5 1
 @nojzilla: there is indeed a prick getting bent over a zip tie here, but you misspelled the handle.
  • 1 5
flag nojzilla (Sep 3, 2021 at 22:38) (Below Threshold)
 @m1dg3t: nice , I know you are but what am I response. Well done you win the internet for the day. What's that meme about winning the internet an the special Olympics....?
  • 2 0
 Put your handbags away ladies.
  • 1 3
 @nojzilla: LoL No. As usual, you couldn't be any more wrong. We can all clearly see that this exchange has well exceeded your mental capacity as evidenced by your replies.

Just so you know, I am handicapped you ignorant POS. Do you have an issue with people with disabilities?

If you were in reach I'd give you the slap your father (if he even stuck around) should have years ago. Loser.
  • 1 2
 @zyoungson: LoL I'll have you know that it is a very nice handbag though! Has a compartment to store a brick for added effect when giving someone a lumpingWink
  • 1 0
 Does this mean they’re going to implement a similar system to guerilla gravity and be able to just swap the rear triangle and shock and have a dh bike and enduro?
  • 2 0
 Maybe? Except Norco will charge a premium for it.
  • 3 0
 Would be good to see blenkie win something
  • 1 1
 @jomacba: I think you were right the first time. The wheel path follows the arc of a circle whose centre is the high pivot. All the rest is gravy and just affects shock leverage.
  • 5 0
 actually no
  • 3 0
 @BenPea: did you just disagree with yourself?
  • 11 0
 @scvkurt03: I absolutely did - I think more people should, we'd be in less doodoo.
  • 2 0
 I like the dark matter more than this facsimile. But the copy comes in sizes that fit me.
  • 2 0
 one of the most stylish riders on the circuit
  • 2 0
 Looks like a sessionder...senderssion? It's rad!!!
  • 2 0
 wtf...167psi and 5 tokens! thats quite a stiff setup...
  • 2 0
 Looks a lot like the range we saw at Hardline ...
  • 2 0
 But YOU need a 300mm travel dropper for those rowdy descents!
  • 1 0
 That top crown stanchion clamp does not look great. did they machine it for a larger diameter stanchion or something?
  • 2 0
 Sick bike!
  • 1 0
 New Gen ... there it is.. Stamp it !
  • 1 0
 ... and ya git to pose around your local trails on it. Double Trouble.
  • 1 0
 Cool paint job, good luck Sam!
  • 2 1
 ... link system similar Antidote`s Darkmatter ?
  • 1 0
 Sam can be the next goat.. A real fighter! Good luck bro.
  • 1 0
 Impossibile by definition, GOAT is a superlative term. Not goat, GOAT. An acronym.
  • 1 0
 Blenki is only 32...thought he was older
  • 1 0
 167psi a typo? surely sam doesnt like to run 0 sag?
  • 1 0
 Looks awesome and I want one Smile
  • 1 0
 Is that a floating rear disk brakes I see. ?
  • 1 1
 Getting Banshee vibes! Looks awesome.
  • 1 0
 The old Norco m29
  • 1 1
 Hopefully that have real sizes this time and better numbers
  • 1 0
 Bike weight?
  • 1 0
 31.8 bars ftw!
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