PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
Words by Mike Kazimer, photography by Tom Richards
The Shore is back! The Shore disappeared from Norco's lineup a decade ago, but it's returned for another round of freeride glory. This new version has 27.5” wheels, an aluminum frame, and 180mm of travel. There's also a park version that has 190mm of travel with a dual crown, 200mm fork for riders that don't have any plans of pedaling uphill.
The new Shore uses a Horst Link suspension design, but Norco also went with a high main pivot placement and an idler pulley. That allowed them to have a rearward axle path with minimal kickback, while still maintaining pedaling efficiency. It's designed specifically to be used with a coil shock – you could technically fit an air shock, but Norco say that the spring and damper won't allow the suspension to react the way its designed to.
• Travel: 180mm rear / 180mm front
• Wheel size: 27.5
• Head angle: 63°
• Seat tube angle: 77.7°
• Reach: 480mm (lrg)
• Chainstay length: 445mm
• Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL
• Weight: 37.4 lb / 17 kg
• Price: $5,199 USD
You're not going to find any carbon here – the frame and build kits were designed with durability in mind. There's internal cable routing through the top tube, bolts for a tube or tool on the underside of that top tube, and room for a water bottle. Other welcome details include a threaded bottom bracket, and clearance for up to a 2.6” tire. There's also plenty of room to run a longer travel dropper posts – the post on the size large I tested had 200mm of drop.
The Shore was built for the descents, and that's reflected by the slack 63-degree head angle. The size large has a 480mm reach, and 445mm chainstays. Chainstay length varies by size, going up by 5mm. Out of all the bikes in this long travel category, the Shore wins the longest wheelbase award, checking in at 1286mm. All those numbers might look like they were lifted from a DH bike, but Norco didn't forget that this was a freeride bike, and that means pedaling up to the top of the hill sometimes. To help with that, they gave it a nice and steep 77.7-degree seat tube angle.
The bike pictured here is the Shore A1, which retails for $5,199 USD. The Shore A2 goes for $3,199, and the frame kit is $2,099. That park version I mentioned earlier is $3,999.
What do you get for $5,199? Well, for suspension there's a 180mm Fox 38 Factory fork, a Factory DHX2 coil shock. The drivetrain is SRAM GX Eagle, and SRAM's Code RSC brakes handle stopping duties. Wheels are e*thirteen LG1 aluminum rims laced to DT Swiss 350 hubs, and those get a Maxxis Assegai / DHR II tire combo, in a Double Down casing. To keep things consistent, I ended up swapping those for the EXO+ control tires (Double Down tires were in short supply), but it is cool to see this bike come with extra-tough tires. Other nice bits are a Deity aluminum bar, and DMR Deathgrips.
Total weight with the control tires? 37.4 pounds. Yes, it's sort of a tank. But remember, Norco said it's designed for rides without stopwatches or finish lines in sight. Climbing
Anyone that says weight doesn't matter should try grinding up a logging road for a couple thousand vertical feet on this thing, then talk to me at the top. No matter how you slice it, 37 pounds is on the heavy side of things. I mean, there are aluminum DH bikes out there that weigh less...
There's no getting around that number on the scale, but the good news is that the geometry and suspension design do what they can to take the sting out of climbing. There's no compression lever on the shock to firm things up for climbing, and there really isn't a need for one – even if you stand and mash the pedals there isn't a crazy amount of bob. That steep seat tube angle helps too – it's a nice and upright climbing position. That long wheelbase does help on chunky climbs, and as long as you can maintain momentum the Shore will keep clawing its way upward.
Still, at the end of the day, this is the most DH oriented bike in this group, and it shows. It takes more effort to muscle it around, and it didn't exactly inspire me to search out hard climbs. The results of the efficiency test that Mike Levy performed reflected that as well; the Shore ended up at the very back of the pack.Descending
Hang on tight, because the Shore has a serious need for speed. It's big, slack and supportive – let gravity take over and this thing will go. It does a great job smoothing out rough terrain and big hits, but it's a different feel than I expected – I kind off thought it'd be this ultra-plush, super sensitive thing, but instead it sits a little higher in its travel. I ended up running the compression almost all the way open, and I'd be curious to possibly try an even lighter tune. Still, for this bike's purpose I think it works well.
I was also surprised how well it'll pump through rough terrain – let off the brakes, stop pedaling, and you can keep steamrolling ahead. The same goes for jumping – once you push into the travel that ramp up lets you load and then pop off the lip of a jump.
Overall, its manners are definitely on the DH bike side of things. It feels big and fast, but there were a few times when I lost my focus and felt like I was getting dragged along. It's a bike that definitely rewards an aggressive rider.
On paper, the Propain Spindrift and the Shore have several similarities. They both have 180mm of travel, steep seat angles, and reach numbers within 5mm of each other. However, out on the trail it's a different story. The big-wheeled Spindrift is a much more maneuverable, easygoing machine, despite the fact that it has bigger wheels. The Spindrift feels closer to an over-grown all-mountain rig, where the Shore possess more DH bike-like characteristics.
As far as components go, that 180mm Fox 38 fork is a standout, and it's partially responsible for the aura of invincibility this thing exudes. I did have an issue with the idler – I was pedaling on a tight, rolling section of trail, and somehow the chain came off and went behind the pulley wheel. It only happened once, and I spent time on much rougher terrain, so hopefully it was a strange coincidence. I also managed to dent the rear rim somewhere along the line; out of all the parts on the bike I'd say the e*thirteen rims will probably need to be replaced first, especially if you live in an area with lots of rocks.
Overall, new Shore is for the modern freerider, someone who doesn't care at all about weight, and is focused on the send. Do you have a secret trail out in the woods with sketchy steep lines and big hucks? This could be the ticket. It's a purpose built freeride machine, one that’s best suited to aggressive riders, and it's not the bike to go with if you want something for big pedaling missions.