Field Trip: Norco's $3,149 Torrent HT S1 - A Ground Hugging Hardtail

Apr 8, 2020
by Mike Kazimer  


PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

Norco Torrent HT S1



Words by Mike Kazimer, photography by Anthony Smith



The Norco Torrent is a hardcore 29” hardtail aimed at riders who aren't going to let a lack of rear suspension prevent them from diving into some seriously rowdy terrain.

Other than the short, 425mm chainstays, the Torrent's geometry numbers are actually very similar to the Sight, Norco's full-suspension all-mountain machine. There's a slack 64-degree head angle, a 480mm reach on the size large, and a 76-degree seat angle.

Not surprisingly, this isn't the bike to choose if you're trying to build up the lightest hardtail possible – the steel frame and the sturdy parts selection put it on the scales at 33.7 pounds. Component highlights include a 150mm RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork, SRAM Code R brakes, GX drivetrain, and 2.5” Maxxis Assegai EXO+ tires.

Norco Torrent Details

• Travel: 150mm fork
• Chromoly frame
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head Angle: 64° (geometry)
• Seat Tube Angle: 76°
• Reach: 480mm (L)
• Chainstay length: 425mm
• Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL
• Weight: 33.7 lb / 15.3 kg
• Price: $2,999 USD
www.norco.com

The appearance of the stem was the one small nitpick we had about the spec, but the fact that that it was even mentioned is a testament to how solid the build kit is - there's really not anything that would need to be changed right off the bat.

We brought in the S1 version of the Torrent in order to see how its parts compared to what you get on full suspension bikes at a similar price point. At the time, it was priced at $2,999, just sneaking into our sub-$3,000 category. After testing was completed, that price changed, and the Torrent S1 is now $3,149. There is an S2 version available, which retails for $2,349.




Norco Torrent S1 review
Norco Torrent S1 review

Climbing

What's it like to climb on a not-that-light, long and slack hardtail? Well, it all depends on where and how you're riding. On smoother fire roads it'll spin out the miles without much fuss, with a comfortable climbing position that's reminiscent of a modern enduro bike. It's a slightly different story if that dirt road happens to have sections that look like a bomb went off, full of jutting babyhead rocks – in that case, things can get a bit jarring. There's no denying that this an efficient bike, but that extra feedback from the lack of rear suspension is noticeable, and can take more out of you on a long day.

On more technical climbs the Torrent's length and slack head angle gave it more subdued handling than the Kona Honzo, the other hardtail we had on hand, but I was still able to get through several sections that have forced my to put a foot down numerous times in the past. There's plenty of stability – the Torrent is the opposite of twitchy – which means there's extra time to set up, pick a line, and then pedal right on through.

The longer front end combined with the shorter chainstays can feel a little unbalanced at first; in Levy's words, “it almost felt like it was pivoting on that short rear end, swinging over like a big cruise ship,” but overall it didn't feel like it was any more difficult to navigate it around tighter turns and up chunky steps than it was on the full suspension bikes.

Norco Torrent S1 review

Norco Torrent S1 review
Norco Torrent S1 review

Descending

With excellent geometry, a great fork, and powerful brakes, the Torrent possesses all of the ingredients required for a good time on the descents. Sure, there's no rear suspension, but that excuse only goes so far – with the right technique the Torrent is capable of tackling just about any trail. When things get spicy it is nice to have that 150mm of travel up front – more than once, I wrangled my way out of an extra-sporty section by shifting my weight towards the front wheel and basically riding the fork until the chaos subsided.

Is it possible to have a ground-hugging hardtail? The Torrent sure presents a strong case. It'll get off the ground when necessary, but it really wants to stay planted and carve its way down the trail. It's a big and solid bike, and for riders that are looking for a hardtail that can handle technical trails, including laps in the bike park, this one fits the bill.

That RockShox Lyrik fork and the Code brakes were the standout components on the Torrent, and they delivered the best performances out of all of the bikes we had in for testing.

Timed Testing


Our timed lap for the trail bikes was around 11 minutes long and split into three distinct sectors. First, a smooth, twisty singletrack climb topped out along a technical traverse that tested the bike's slow-speed handling and traction. After that, we dropped into a fast descent that began with rough, suspension-testing corners before some fast berms, flat corners, and a few fun-sized jumps. Nothing too rowdy, but representative of the terrain these trails bikes were intended to see.

Don't forget that timing is just one of many ways to judge a bike, and fast doesn't always mean it's the best for everyone.


Mike Kazimer: "I had my slowest overall time on the Torrent. My climbing time was 6th out of 8, and my slowest downhill time was aboard the Torrent."

Mike Levy: "I had my sixth fastest loop time out of the 8 bikes, but I actually had my fastest climbing time on this thing."

Is it worth forgoing rear suspension to get better components? That's a harder question to answer. Personally, I don't think the Torrent would be my only bike, but it could certainly fill that role for riders that want the simplicity of a hardtail frame with geometry that's not going to hold them back on the descents.


Norco Torrent S1 review


Pros

+ Geometry is well suited to steep terrain
+ Solid, read-for-anything feel
+ Excellent build kit

Cons

- On the heavier side, especially for a hardtail
- Subdued handling isn't for everyone
- Umm, there's no rear suspension? Kidding. Maybe.




The 2020 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible by support from: Smith, 7mesh, and Over The Edge Sedona.




Photos: Anthony Smith
Additional footage: Lear Miller



237 Comments

  • 110 5
 Pinkibike: Reviews $10k carbon super bike
Commenters: These dentist bikes are too expensive, it's insane!!!
Pinkbike: Reviews $2-3k value bikes
Commenters: These components are crap and the bike is too expensive!!!
  • 24 2
 Pinkbike: Reviews too many SC bikes
Commenters: I suppose you get a lot of reviews when you pay for lots of ads
Pinkbike: Reviews Giants Stance 2
Commenters: QR axle!? EWWW! Me: hmmm $1800 Commencal Meta HT AM Essential or this, hmmmmm
  • 2 0
 @tgent Hahaha u nailed it!
  • 33 3
 $3k isn't a value proposition for a hard tail...
  • 4 0
 @Poulsbojohnny: exactly... a 3k HT would not be considered an entry level bike like a 3k FS would. It's not a very good comparison. Though I do agree that a lot of the comments complain about pricing, and I am definitely a proponent of that.
  • 10 0
 @Poulsbojohnny: no doubt


A time traveler coming from the 90s arrives in 2020 and gets hit with the crap news that we have a global pandemic and we are selling steel hardtails for $3k+...he's going back to the 90s.
  • 8 0
 @preach: of course he is going back...music, movies and clothes, everything was better in the 90ies!
  • 2 0
 Dude literally my life.
  • 1 0
 @Supergirl56: The Meta HT Race seems like the better value bike. Its only 200 more than the Essential but comes with a much better fork and drivetrain. The colour is nicer on the Essential, though.
  • 106 7
 3 grand for a steel frame mass produced hardtail?? This shall go as expected.
  • 46 1
 Maybe if it were a Chromag...
  • 30 0
 Yeah but it got an NX crank
  • 19 7
 What does rear suspension add to the price? One grand maybe? So if we're seeing four grand full suspension bikes, there sure can be three grand hardtails too. Obviously there are even more expensive full suspension bikes out there, hence there is a place for more expensive hardtails too.
  • 5 2
 And don't forget, it's 4 grand in Canada!
  • 17 2
 @stumphumper92: Yup. A very similar spec Chromag Rootdown (foreign-made frame, GX build but without the NX crank, same fork, etc) is a similar $3100 USD, but doesn't include a dropper. However, given these two companies are Canadian, the Chromag is a way better deal north of the border where the same Chromag is $3590 but the Norco is $4200 (both CAD). Even if you add $350 from Chromag for a Reverb (though why would you when oneup or PNW make better droppers for way less cash?), it's a few hundred bucks cheaper.
  • 23 21
 You could pick up a YT capra or a Canyon torque for that price
  • 35 4
 @mnorris122: ibis ripmo af with dvo suspension for $4019....LOL hardtails
  • 10 3
 You can get a custom steel Marino frame for under $300. Is this norco going to be any better? I'm pretty confident, even buying at MSRP, you could build up a comparable bike for less.

You can also (or could before the 'Rona) get a custom ti hard tail from the Far East for about a grand shipped to the USA. My custom Ti has a belt-break in the seat stay, sliding chainstays, and internal routing and weighs a little over 4 pounds. I think it would be 3/4 pounds lighter if I didn't put those features in.
  • 10 0
 @vinay: Slash 8 stickers at $3500 (you'll usually pay a little less), weighs less and has 150mm squish (and the same rear shock as their high-end builds). When price is this close, it's only hardtail fanbois who'll plunk down this kind of money.
  • 28 7
 It`s much too expensive for a vulgar double-butted Chromoly 4130 frame, and that weight... hum...
A triple-butted Columbus, Tange or Reynolds could have justified that price... depending on the range of tubes of course.
Except the fork, the components are barely correct, these tyres are a mistake, and that cockpit is so sad...

For that price or even less, you can build a much sexier hardtail with better components and a true personnality.

PS: steel hardtails are a british speciality. The Brits can`t cook and don`t make wine BUT they do some fvcking great steel machines. God save british steel crafters Smile
  • 11 2
 So..."ground hugging" ...until you hit bumps.
I think thats a road bike.
  • 5 1
 @big-red: The Torrent has the Lyrik Ultimate compared to the Chormag's Lyrik Select only that's why it 4G's. I would still take a Chromag though. Want with a straight top tube.
  • 2 1
 @stumphumper92: you must love the crotch grabbing bear brand.
  • 7 2
 @big-red: Or another Canadian Co. Check RSD Bikes MiddleChild $2799 usd or $3249 cad. SLX 12spd and 4 piston brakes, Pike Select, Race Face cockpit, KS Dropper, Sun wheels with Maxxis tires
  • 6 0
 @DaFreerider44: I would rather have a steel handrail.
  • 2 0
 @mnorris122: Everything is 4 grand here. ☹️
  • 9 0
 Prices are what they are now, and in that context, I guess this and the Kona they reviewed in the last round are in the more "affordable" range. I'm OK with that, prices being what they are.

But that same amount of money does not buy the level of componentry it once did. In 2002, I bought a Specialized Stumpjumper M4 Comp hardtail. It had an XTR rear derailleur and a Fox float fork for around $1500. Adjusted for inflation, that's probably $2200. It weighed about 24 pounds. It's hard to do a direct apples-to-apples comparison -- maybe today's NX is better than 2002's XTR, and it still had V-brakes -- but for the time, it had a better spec overall than either this or the Kona. Put an XTR derailleur on either of the newer frames and a Fox 32, it these would coast much, much more.

In the end, bikes are just getting more expensive. It sucks, but what are you going to do?
  • 1 0
 @gabdumlao: Good eye. I thought they'd put either the Ultimate of the Select + on there (both get the new Charger 2.1 damper while the select sticks with the original Charger damper). I don't think most riders would care about the high- and low-speed compression control in the ultimate, but if you're dropping that kind of coin, you probably would be happier knowing you're at least getting the current generation damper in the + over the same damper in my 2016 Pike.
I guess one option would be to go with the NX-level Chromag since the build is still almost the same as the GX, then put a Charger 2.1 damper in the Yari, but that damper still costs $450 CAD on it's own. Eeesh.
  • 4 0
 @hamncheez: I did just that. I bought a Marino custom hardtail frame with very similar geo to the torrent (a bit less aggressive as I live nowhere near a bike park or anything over the top) and specced it out with a factory fork, slx drivetrain and brakes, and some Stan's wheels with hope hubs. It came out to about $2200 (USD) total, which is still ridiculous when you look at something like the Vitus in this field test, but I absolutely love the bike. Custom paint, custom text on the tubes, custom geo, with just the spec I wanted- couldn't be happier with mine.
  • 4 0
 @gabdumlao: Torrent has threaded BB, Chromag uses a press fit, hands down the torrent wins.
  • 3 3
 @bookem13: press fit > threaded.
  • 4 0
 @TheR: I'm not sure how you arrive at "more affordable" for this bike? It's actually quite hard to find a more expensive mid-level hardtail.
Keep in mind that the frame on the Torrent is extremely primitive and made from the cheapest steel tubing. Not comparable at all with high-end frames from Cotic, Chromag or similar.
  • 3 0
 @Dlakusta: I’ve got a seized threaded bottom bracket that says differently. You can prove me wrong by getting it out for me.
  • 2 0
 @softsteel: give me a Stanton for that kinda dough, baby (here's looking at you Switch9er)
  • 2 0
 @Ttimer: I used “affordable” in quotes because the term is subjective, and it’s the premise of these field trip reviews. I’m not trying to justify the price. You go ahead and decide if it’s affordable or not.

My main point is 18 years ago, you could get a hardtail with superior specs for much less. And it was 6-8 pounds lighter. It’s not just your imagination—mountain biking is getting more expensive.
  • 1 0
 @fasian: I do love grabbing your mama's crotch
  • 2 0
 @stumphumper92: she is much like a Surface Ti. Very desirable and way out of your league.
  • 43 0
 You guys aren't seeing it how it is. This is actually spec'd really well for what it is. This is supposed to be a basher bike, which explain the TOP OF THE LINE Rs Lyrik, (which is where most of the high price comes from) and the SRAM Code r's. Also the x-fusion dropper is far from terrible. Plus, steel is now way more expensive than aluminum.
  • 9 0
 Yeah, the price point on the "ultimate" level stuff up here in Canadaland is about that of factory fox - stuff your never see on a bike of this price, hardtail or not.
  • 18 1
 No kidding, it literally comes with a top of the line, $1000+ fork and $300 brakes. that's almost half the cost of the bike right there...
  • 12 10
 @tgent: OEM pricing doesn't work that way. If you go by MSRP, any 5000$ complete bike consists of parts worth 9000$+.
  • 26 0
 You're not allowed to use any logic or common sense on this website man.
  • 8 3
 @Ttimer: No, it definitely does work that way. Manufacturers and distributors buy in volume and obviously pay less than you do as an end consumer so that they can also make a profit. Every company has to make a profit, that's how capitalism works, if these companies were making massive margins on any components/frames/bikes, then you should enter the market and should have no problem undercutting everyone already there.
  • 5 0
 @Ttimer: That may be true for some manufacturers, but not all. I've been seeing a lot of builds lately that don't save you any money vs starting with a frame.
  • 5 0
 @Ttimer: Also, please point me to a $5k bike with $9k worth of components. I'd like to buy one.
  • 4 2
 @tgent: That is actually what all the European mail-order bike shops do. They buy from the manufacturer at OEM pricing and sell at roughly half or 2/3 of MSRP.

@DaneL Look at something like the Radon Jab 10. Thats a 4k bike with components easily worth 7k MSRP. True, some manufacturers offer lousy value on their complete bikes (Yeti), but thats just them screwing over their customers.
  • 3 0
 @Ttimer: That's a pretty awesome build for the price. I don't see anywhere near 7k worth of components on it, though. That build is actually not much different from the Torrent. Sure, it's full suspension, but it's also consumer-direct.
  • 1 0
 @tgent: That's being done by direct to consumer brands. And they are still making a profit. Just not as huge as traditional brands...
  • 2 0
 @alexisfire: if I heard you say that in a pub, I'd buy you a pint
  • 2 3
 @alexisfire: that's an amusingly ironic comment considering this is a fkng hardtail with 160 fork. Top f the line fork on a hardtail... Common sense? The only lunatics here are people who believe that common sense exists
  • 1 0
 @alexisfire: hahaha sorry m8
  • 2 0
 @Ttimer: @Poulsbojohnny: Yes it is happening with direct to consumer, but the direct to consumer brands aren't selling $9k bikes for $5k, the margin you're referncing is way overinflated. The direct to consumer brands are making likely around the exact same profit as traditional brands, who they are cutting out is the LBS's 20% or so, and you see that directly reflected in their prices and you as the consumer save that same amount.

We're now getting into a more ethical question if LBS are worth the 20% markup for riders. My stance is absolutely and it's going to be a lot of people buying direct from consumer that are going to be screwed with maintenance when the LBS's start going under...
  • 5 0
 @Ttimer: I believe Yeti etc are offering their customers a sense of pride and accomplishment.
  • 1 0
 @PhillipJ: that is the beat comment on Yeti ever
  • 2 1
 The thing is you can’t really consider anything made by sram to be top of the line though. Their R&D department essentially doesn’t exist and most of the “technology” in their product is just marketing bullshit.
  • 1 2
 Top of the line rs lyric and sram code rs are worthless on a hardtail. You will never be going fast enough for the good suspension or brakes to matter.
  • 1 0
 @phops: Hahaha maybe YOU won't be going fast enough for the good suspension and brakes to matter. Lots of hardtail riders round' these parts go plenty fast.
  • 1 1
 @phops: Yeah, um. Sorry but you're wrong. Blake Sampson rode Megavalanche on a Nukeproof scout.
  • 1 0
 @j-t-g: @Shafferd912:

X rider being fast on y bike is never an argument for anything bike technology related. Fast bikers are fast bikers.

To clarify, im not advocating for shit parts on a hardtail, im just saying that mid grade stuff is sufficient.

Good brakes are needed when you are building up serious heat in the calipers. The only time you are building up serious heat is when you are doing extended descents at a high pace, and even then, its not a matter of losing power as much as the brakes feeling consistent, which is really a race application. These types of speeds only happen at higher ranks of racing, where its physically impossible to hold the same pace on a hardtail. The riders that you know that are fast on hardtails aren't close to reaching limits of the brake calipers unless they are running undersized rotors for their pace. I would wager money that if they were to run a 200mm rotor and use a single piston XT brake, they would still have plenty of power left at the end of their descents.

Higher end forks with their damping adjustments are also worthless. The only time you need high end damping adjustments (which is usually HSC and HSR) is when you are hitting hard impacts at speed, where you need a separate high speed tuning adjustment to make the bike behave a certain way, like track better over repeated bumps while maintaining a firm profile for pumping, or resisting bottom out on landing.

Hardtails can't track fast enough over that rough stuff without either damaging the rear wheel, or getting destabilized. Even if you ride the super long/slack ones, you still have plenty of issues with rear bucking on rough terrain.

And really, most recreational riders who don't race don't even benefit from being able to adjust HSC/HSR, because those adjustments really matter when you want the chassis to be in the correct spot for the NEXT thing down the line, which is very much trail dependent. How many people that you know run different setups for each track?
  • 1 0
 200mm single piston XT brakes are a bad example because they're stronger and better than anything SRAM makes or ever has made, provided they're paired with proper rotors and pads. Mid grade stuff is always sufficient, really. I think that's true but certainly wouldn't draw a distinction between hard tails and full suspension bikes. People who don't want the ultimate can buy the cheaper torrent. Otherwise keep the excuse factory open.
  • 31 0
 I just bought a dozen 2004 Stinky Deluxe's for the price of this one hardtail, and used the leftover cash to pay an out-of-work football team to pull me up the hill like a team of sled dogs. That's over 2000mm of travel for the same price. Norco designers must be partaking in the devil's lettuce.
  • 27 0
 Can we get a pinkbike reality show where its just Kazimer and Levy living in quarantine together?
  • 24 0
 I swear some people on this site get through these entire articles only to once again point out that you could get a Canyon for cheaper. Like thanks, that's why these types of articles exist, solely for you to plug your canyon
  • 44 17
 A $3,000 steel hardtail with NX. This Pandemic's got people going crazy.
  • 56 14
 Sure. Let's just switch to a lighter, poorer ride quality aluminum frame. Next, switch to a RS 35 fork so you can have X01 eagle instead of GX (NX is just the cranks). I'm sure you're upset about the weight, so just swap those durable, grippy AF Assegais for a pair of Rekons.

That sounds like fun...
  • 9 13
flag ajmvr6 (Apr 8, 2020 at 7:23) (Below Threshold)
 @DaneL: your speaking to a guy who rides a 140mm steel hardtail, weights not the issues, the crap price/value ratio is the issue. They can spec out GX but skimp on the cranks?
  • 3 0
 @DaneL: you can get a customized Kingdom Vendetta Ti frame from 1300€ - and still have more than enough money left for decent components
  • 14 4
 Price/performance is just abysmal. This thing costs the same as a Chromag Rootdown GX build which is boutique as heck and still has the better spec.
And if its just about having a great riding inexpensive hardtail, the Commencal Meta HT takes the Torrents lunch money any day of the week.
  • 3 1
 It says GX in the article and that at least goes for the rear mech (according to the picture). So you can get the 500% gearing range if you need that. I'm not too much into those groupsets so I don't know what's different about the NX vs GX crankset. If it is merely the weight and the GX cranks are considerably more expensive, I get that as they're not after a super lightweight build the NX crankset seems like a good place to cut some costs.
  • 2 0
 @ajmvr6: I don't think the value is great, but compared to most options out there (non consumer direct), it's definitely not bad. If there's any place to skimp on a build, the cranks aren't a bad place to do it. You gain a touch of weight, but don't lose any performance. The only things less important to me are the saddle, stem, bars, and grips.

I'm on a Pole Taival which is very similar to this. Sure, I spent a bit less and got a better build overall, but I also waited 6 months to get it, took advantage of the exchange rate, and bought direct from the manufacturer.
  • 6 0
 Chromag charges $3100 for a similar build Rootdown.
  • 12 0
 @Ttimer: The Rootdown's not really boutique, Chromag itself may be a more boutique company, but the frame is mass-produced in a Taiwanese factory...that being said, a comparable build (which actually comes with a GX crank to complete the groupset) is about $600 CAD cheaper
  • 4 0
 @vinay: The only difference between a GX crank and an NX crank is material. 7000 series alloy vs; 6000 series alloy. Other than that they are the same design.
  • 2 0
 @f00bar: That Vendetta looks like a cool bike. You have to realize, though, that you can't build that frame up with the same components as the Torrent and come in at a lower pricepoint (unless you're getting discounted parts). You would also be buying direct from the manufacturer. You have to leave quite a bit of room for bike shops to make a profit.
  • 2 0
 @ajmvr6: What's the difference between NX and GX cranks other than cost? a few grams maybe?
  • 8 0
 @Ttimer: Chromag Rootdown boutique as heck? They're probably welded side by side in the same Taiwanese factory lol.
  • 3 0
 @vinay: NX: Forged 6000-series alloy arms with stamped steel chainring
GX: Upgrades to lighter 7000-series arms and stamped alloy chainring
  • 11 4
 @Xlr8n: I can tesitfy that for a scientific fact SX/NX cranks are not made of 6000 series alloy, they are made of fossilized G-4000 grade organic fecal compound exracted from Srams product manager. GX is made of G4500 fecal compound (richer in pretentious coffee) enhanced with acryllic compound found in tattoos on Srams Product managers face, then forged using his round glasses. Finally GX gets hardened using Srams Product managers mustache wax. The uniquely shitty design of all Srams alloy crank arms is an effect of denying the designer use of pencil and professional 3D modelling softwre. He's been given AutoCAD LT and corporate version of Gimp
  • 2 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Ok, so whoever values organic produce should ideally opt for the NX version.
  • 5 0
 Rub the NX logo off and write GX on it if it makes you feel better. There's no difference worth complaining about.
  • 4 1
 @rpdale: Nah, that would be a waste of effort. Just call it NXX01. People riding XX or XO1 or whatever is fancy now quit their ride, rush back home to check the internet whether or not they're still on the latest fanciest drivetrain out there. Helps with social distancing while out the trail too. That said, if the compound is as Waki kindly explained, that is going to help with social distancing either way.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: sram cranks are designed by people who are actually educated to use 3D modeling software, and not by children with a basic understanding of computers who can press ctrl+c and ctrl+v and change the lettering of the logos?
  • 1 1
 @TheSlayer99: please, cluelessness is nothing to put on display. Very poor dig at me. Get proper cranks next time.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: my bad, but on a real note, how long will I have to soak my sram cranks in the toilet before I can flush them? Asking for a friend.
  • 1 0
 @Ttimer: I love my meta HT but it's a pretty harsh ride man (compared to a good steel hardtail)... That being said you can get a meta HT frame for only $649 in Australia - not bloody bad!
  • 16 0
 Re: comparing HT geo to FS geo in second paragraph ....you can’t logically compare static HA. Hardtails steepen up a lot while riding since, you know, they don’t have any rear suspension.
  • 6 3
 Exactly, especially with a 150mm fork. At full bottom out, you'll have a 71.5* ha.
  • 7 0
 Slack head angles make the most sense on HT for this reason.
  • 3 1
 @hardtailparty: nobody is sitting when they bottom out a 160mm lyrik on a hardtail or fs. If you do you might end up in the hospital. Its irrelevant.

Their fs bikes are a degree or two steeper which accounts for sag on two wheels vs one on a hard tail. Effectively, its exactly correct.
  • 7 0
 @hardtailparty: Not necessarily. Large bumps and trail obstacles come up out of the ground and push the front wheel up and into the suspension travel. Doesn't mean the entire bike is pivoting forward and steepening that much. On a parking lot test, yes, but not in real life chunder.
  • 1 1
 Full suspensions do exactly the same thing only worse.
  • 15 3
 We need an experiment. Build up a SC Chameleon with XX1 eagle and the cheapest fork, wheels, tires, brakes, dropper, etc. that you can find. The price should come out similar to this. Post it up with the build spec and wait for all of the people here to say "OMG what an amazing deal!".
  • 3 0
 Yes. Please.
  • 1 0
 100% true.
  • 9 0
 Tires can completely change a bike’s feel, even more so on a hardtail. A lot of the characteristics they described are due to the 2.5,” 1,100 gram Assegais front and rear. I think it’s a good versatile bike. Just mount rubber to suit your riding.
  • 14 6
 Unpopular opinion: short chainstays make no sense on these aggressive hardtails. A longer rear end not only adds much needed stability to a bike with no rear suspension, but it also helps soften impacts by giving the chainstays more length and leverage to flex and by moving a larger portion of your weight over the front suspension.
  • 3 0
 I agree with this, especially for the larger frame sizes. If it's a point and shoot bike, longer chainstays are a better fit.
  • 3 1
 I 100% agree. I ended up with a Nukeproof Scout 29er for this exact reason.
  • 4 0
 On my custom Ti hardtail, I put sliding dropouts, and they range from 420mm to 430mm. I prefer it in the shorter setting, but I also have a 67 degree HTA. Short chainstays make sense if the bike is balanced with a not too slack front end. My bike has a long 480mm reach, but the short chainstays are still balanced because of the relatively steep HTA. I just don't see the point of a 64 degree HTA on a hard tail. Not only is a steeper, 67 degree HTA much more playful, jumpy, and precise, when I am trying to ride flat out the lack of rear suspension slows me down enough that the HTA isn't the limiting factor on speed. Its the hard tail.
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: Yeah, on a bike like that, shorter chainstays can be a lot of fun. But on a bike like the Torrent, I'd definitely prefer longer. I have a Kona Explosif in my quiver and the chainstays adjust from 420mm to about 440mm. I ran them at 420mm for the first year or so until I randomly decided to try it at 440mm just to see how it felt. I was immediately blow away by how much more compliant the bike felt and it really didn't lose much playfulness at all (granted it's still not a very long bike by today's standards even with the 440mm stays). Haven't looked back ever since.
  • 3 1
 I like shorter on my hardtails. Especially with the new long, low, slack bikes. I bought a frame for testing that has a 65ha and a 623tt with 435mm chainstays, sized medium. It has a wheelbase that is nearly 6" longer then my old bikes. It's a planned event to lift the front wheel over anything. I can manual my old bikes, they have 435mm CS with about a 67ha and about a 590mm tt, but this thing new bike is tougher to do. It feels like it is weight forward. The bike feels planted, but it's missing the "fun" factor. I'm picking and plowing instead of manualing and bump jumping. It would be nice to see if 430 or even 425 would change that. With the super long front ends, shorter stays would not effect climbing.
  • 9 1
 @dlxah: Maybe you just need to up your bike handling skills. I don't mean to brag, but I have been known to ride a wheelie for upwards of 10 feet, and I have a decent success rate at bunny hopping up curbs.
  • 7 0
 @hamncheez: U pro bro???
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: ride one and you might change your mind
  • 4 0
 @hamncheez: For frames like this, sliding dropouts and clearance for midfat tires would be a big help to open them up to more niche riders - as a steel hardtail is niche enough, even without the tire clearance or SS capability.
  • 4 0
 @parkourfan: ya, mine can run 29 2.8 inch tires.

@nyhc00 Nah competition is too much pressure. I gotta keep it pure and not sell out. Also IDK how people would feel when I show up to race in the U14 category.
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: I respect that
  • 1 1
 Yeah that doesn’t work as well as short stays. You need that back wheel under you to keep it stuck to the ground and to get around stuff you can’t go through without denting a wheel.
  • 1 0
 Just have a look on the On-One Hello Dave then.
458mm chainstays, 62° HTA, 150mm front... Would love trying this beast.
  • 9 2
 Dear Norco. The use of that ugly ass lead weight in house stem you put on every bike this year was not necessary. So many companies make stems in 5mm increment lengths including SPANK who your sister companies is a dealer for.
  • 7 0
 Crazy expensive for what it is (as everyone has already alluded to)...but I'd like to see more HT reviews. There are so many sweet HT frames these days and, given all the cool stuff you can do with tubing, they must ride somewhat differently.
  • 9 0
 A long travel hardtail? Say Waki's name 3 times and he'll appear

Waki Waki Waki
  • 1 1
 haha
  • 8 1
 Great review guys. Props for taking it on hangover. I think I prefer that trail on an aggressive hardtail then a full squish Enduro bike.
  • 2 0
 1. I like your channel. 2. I rode the same trails back to back on my franken Vitus Sentier Plus and NP mega 275. My lack of technique seems to favor the HT. 3. I like hardtails. But for shuttle laps, I grab the big bike.
  • 9 4
 Absolutely sick rig. Honestly trails were getting boring around here, and I got a chromag Rootdown BA, my love for riding is instantly reinvigorated. Saying this, I'd get a Chromag over a Dorco all day long.
  • 1 0
 hardtails wil do that! just watch out for your knees lol
  • 1 0
 @housem8d: oh yeah my knees. Man they did hurt for half a year after 3 days in Finale with my steel hardtail.
  • 1 0
 I'm currently riding a franken-hardtail - lightweight alu frame (1700g), 67° ha, 460mm reach in XL, 425mm chainstays, 120mm fox 34s, and Michelin am rubber... It's insanely fun, pretty fast on the downs, and a good overall mix of capabilities. A good hardtail - built to match its rider's 'style' - can be rediculously invigorating, I agree @BoneDog.
  • 4 0
 Full suspension blah blah...

Hardtails fit nicely into the second bike category if you have some spare $$$ IMHO

That said. This one wouldn't be my first choice. They should be light, simple and super fun to ride as an alternative to your everyday enduro sled.

I love the shit out of mine on tamer trails or to make stale trails fun again along with a post ride stop at the local jumps.
  • 1 0
 this
  • 4 0
 Can anyone here who works in a bike shop chime in and give everyone an idea of what bike shop margins are on bikes? I'm a bit tired of everyone acting like traditional sales manufacturer X is a rip off because direct sales manufacturer Y sells a similar bike for 20% less.

People need to realize that the traditional sales approach is a huge service to consumers that has a ton of overhead costs associated with it.
  • 4 0
 "Is it worth forgoing rear suspension to get better components?"

NO!

Forgoing rear suspension it not a choice made to fit a budget. Riding a hardtail like this is a choice, not something you end up doing just because you didn't want to spend a bit more.
  • 5 0
 A lot of people expect steel hardtails o be cheaper than aluminum, but the prices are creeping upt to almost double the cost of an alloy frame. Steel is not the cheao option.
  • 7 2
 Cheap steal can be very cheap, expensive steel can be very expensive.
  • 6 1
 Nice quality steel bikes have never been cheap. People always remember they paid £200 for a steel mtb frame but forget that it was an On One Summer Season made out of plain gauge cromo that even BMXers would look down upon and it weighed a ton. Having said that the spec choices on this thing are odd, who puts a thousand dollar fork on a hardtail? That high quality damping's really going to make a difference while the back end's skipping over roots, or not...
  • 1 1
 @Fix-the-Spade: Agreed. You gotta set the fork up hard and fast to match the back end.
  • 3 0
 @woofer2609: That bike is ~$1300 less, but a different material and specced 2-3 large levels worse in just about every way. A bike with a Rekon and SX drivetrain is very different from a bike with a Lyric Ultimate and GX drivetrain and you'd expect the price to reflect that (even if you don't think it's worth building a premium suspended steel hardtail).
  • 3 0
 @woofer2609: that bike is aluminum and has a Rekon haha
  • 3 0
 @MarcusBrody: look at the steel version then
  • 2 0
 Wrong link, sorry. Here's the Chromoly version. I'd prefer a bike with Shimano anyway.
rsdbikes.com/portfolio/middlechild-chromoly
  • 2 1
 @woofer2609: that’s a sweet bike. The spec blows the norco away. And the price is just embarrassing...for Norco.
  • 4 1
 @CircusMaximus: I think so too. I like the frame only option as well, and that Seafoam colour....drool. Chromag and RSD make some sweet hard tails. Pretty easy to build up a nice ride for less than the Norco. Either that or go with the RMB Growler and switch out a few things.
  • 4 0
 @Fix-the-Spade: When the back end is going wild, a reasonably well controlled fork and grippy front tyre is all that’s keeping you pointing in the right direction. (Speaking as someone with a 150mm Pike RCT3 on an alloy hardtail with 420mm chainstays and a 63.7 deg head angle - it really is a case of the calm being constantly pursued by the storm!)
  • 2 0
 @threehats: My hardtail has a motion control fork and I never feel like it needs more. The trick to stopping the back end getting too unruly is to go faster. Eventually you'll just float over stuff.
  • 1 0
 @Fix-the-Spade: Unfortunately I often run out of skill or bravery before that point!
  • 2 0
 @Fix-the-Spade: yeah that’s exactly how you ride a hardtail. Get all your weight over the fork put a downhill tyre on the back and go fast enough not to fall into holes and not be on something long enough to slide out.
  • 1 0
 @CircusMaximus: how does the spec blow it away? you get a Lyrik Ultimate vs Pike Select, Code Rs vs SLXs and GX 12spd vs SLX 12spd for an extra $350usd (Norco $3149, RSD $2799)
  • 2 0
 @woofer2609: don't forget that a bike is more than the sum of its components. The way a frame rides is probably the most important aspect of a hardtail (and full squish too). So, while geo and components tell part of the story, the ride feel of the frame is the most important part.
  • 4 0
 Why is the saddle slammed all the way forward on most of the bikes you test? 5 out of the 7 recent field trips.
Honest question, doesn't it idicate that you are on the wrong size bike?
  • 2 0
 Honest answer - steep seattube angles are the second coming right now, so everyone's slamming their seats forward, reach be damned.
  • 2 1
 Depends on your style and physique. Every bike I own has the saddle all the way forward. I even bought a zero offset seat post for my road bike as it puts me in a position that allows me to be more upright, and my legs seem to deliver more power. On a mountain bike, saddle forward helps to climb, and the seat isn't in your way when the dropper is down and your ass is behind the saddle.
  • 6 0
 It seems like it's the kind of bike you buy once and get many years of use out of.
  • 2 1
 You mean like every other mtn bike? Seriously, I still have my '98 Trek ZX7000. Other than outdated everything, it is still perfectly rideable. And it's made from AL.
I get that steel is somewhat more compliant, but FFS, it isn't like we weren't all riding aluminium hard tails back in the 90s.
  • 2 0
 @Poulsbojohnny: Okay, okay but people looking for a bike can't all by your 98 Trek, why are you upset?
  • 10 5
 Built up my Chromag Rootdown for 2K, almost all new parts, except for lightly used wheelset and fork. Super fun to ride.
  • 3 0
 But the wheelset and fork are usually the most expensive parts of a ht, so buying brand new would have been another 500$ or more?
  • 1 0
 @justwan-naride: thats probably about right. IT was a winter project for me and my son. We bought the frame locally brand new, and then scoured for parts (pinkbike, ebay, lbs) throughout the winter to build up the bike.
  • 4 0
 So, uh, newsflash, used parts are cheaper than new parts. That's a real breakthrough.
  • 2 0
 I love hardtails like this! But if you're going to compare the geometry to that of suspension bikes then you need to do it with both at sag, otherwise the hardtail looks slacker than it is and the full-sus looks higher than it is.

Also, 45mm BB drop on a 29er hardtail is not particularly ground-hugging - my 27.5" 150mm hardtail has a bit more BB drop and axles that sit 19mm closer to the ground, so it's almost an inch lower.
  • 3 1
 Anyone else think that geo is not always the call for hard tails? Ridden them all (Torrent, Rootdown, Middle child) and the steep seat tube puts the saddle in your ass when you get out of the saddle to stand and pedal, which you do a lot on a hardtail. 76deg seat tube is fricken 78 when in sag. I felt link in the flats I was pushing my pedals backwords. On my enduro bike....it works... hard tail.... nope. Have a Ragely now 64.5 HA and 74 seat, with a little shorter reach and dam its good. As far as price.... hard to swallow but its about the going rate, unfortunately I think most people building a higher end HT are going to do a frame up, not many are going to walk in to a shop and pick it over a full sus for the same price. Just my pointless 2 cents.
  • 3 0
 Yeah, I don’t understand this steep seat tube business on hard tails.

FS bikes sag backwards into their travel on steep climbs, so there’s an obvious benefit to the steepened post.... Hard tails don’t do that, so why design them the same?

Are bike designers just totally disregarding the fact that bicycles sometimes get pedalled across varied terrain, sometimes including flat ground? Why build a bike that’s only comfortable for crawling up fire roads, and descending on repeat?
  • 2 0
 Good looking bike but that price is glaring, especially when included in a test with a value like the Vitus. Yes, totally different bikes, but all bikes are subject to the $/fun test.
  • 4 0
 Too bad this one doesn't come in that super dope purple that the cheaper version comes in.
  • 4 3
 It weighs as much as any world cup DH rig with ZERO rear suspension and a price tag equal to a ton of killer trail bikes like a Trance that weighs under 30 pounds. If it weighed 27 pounds I would still buy any Chromag bike for the same price. Norco needs to shake their collective heads and pull them out of said asses and get with the program.
  • 1 0
 Really was planning on getting one. Norco needs to get its stock issues figured out. Wanted an optic... never available. Wanted an FS 120... never available. Wanted this... Got the Honzo ST instead... And they keep increasing their prices because they keep selling out... Not cool Norco!!!
  • 4 0
 I don't think selling out of the bike that won Bike of the Year is that surprising. I'm sure more are on the way once quarantine issues are over. Norco is a pretty small company, especially compared to the Specializeds and Giants of the world, but people often forget that because the bikes get so much press.
  • 2 0
 @dkidd: I'm not surprised I couldn't get the optic. I am surprised and disappointed i couldn't ever get the revolver frame or the torrent I wanted. I usually buy 3 norcos every year. I had to get 3 konas this year instead. And now I'm really liking kona. Just saying, that's a business problem
  • 1 0
 @alexisfire: that's a tough break for sure. I don't envy ya.
  • 1 0
 @alexisfire:

I get what you’re saying, but can we just go back to the part where you said you ‘usually buy 3 bikes every year’?

Where do you put them all?
  • 1 0
 I think the most interesting thing in these reviews is that the two heaviest bikes provided each of the testers their fastest climbing times. A light weight bike is swell and all, but having the proper geometry (and personal fit) are infinitely more important.
  • 1 0
 3k and weighs 1.6kg more than my (only $800 more new last year) rocky mountain instinct c50 (which is a lot cheaper now as its last years model) and that has 140mm travel each end and the same groupset as this with a similar priced fork (i will admit the brakes are better specced on this)....actually why the heck isnt the frame made from carbon...its supposed to be stronger than aluminum or steel so why didnt norco use some of the budget for a lighter carbon frame?.
  • 6 6
 I have a Nukeproof Scout 290, cost me $1000ish and I added a Brand-X dropper. I ride it in the rain, mud, put it away dirty and wet, lock it to bike racks for errands, and generally thrash it while my $3000+ carbon wonderbike full boinger rests in the dry, warm garage for nicer days. It's super versatile, durable, fun, and fast unless a trail has a lot of rocks/roots.

This hardtail's too expensive. Hardtails are meant to be thrashed and $3149 is an expensive thrasher.
  • 6 2
 15.3kg?????
Might as well get a decent fat bike
  • 24 1
 But then you’d be riding a fat bike. *I’m a recovering fat biker
  • 1 0
 @ryan83: thanks for sharing brother
  • 1 0
 10/10 want to ride this bike, it looks like a party! I think the only downside is that you can't set it up single speed, if I could it would be the perfect winter bike for around here.
  • 1 1
 "There's no denying that this an efficient bike, but that extra feedback from the lack of rear suspension is noticeable, and can take more out of you on a long day."

Doesn't that mean it's not very efficient, if at the end of the day it took more energy out of you?
  • 2 0
 I think what he meant is that you're more beat up at the end of the day
  • 2 0
 Thanks for this! i have a '96 Torrent frame on my garage wall, surrounded by dusty old number plates. Currently riding a slacked out Trans Am. Love steel hardtails!
  • 2 1
 IDK man this still seems over priced. Looks like a great bike but a bit on the high side to be considered a value minded bike.
  • 6 4
 They literally did a poll. The readers here agreed on sub $3k and sub $2k. This bike was initially sub $3k. Anything else you need explained to you?
  • 7 7
 @piman: Yeah man. If you could answer why you need to be such a dick about it that'd be great. Seems a bit uncalled for but whatever.
  • 2 0
 @piman: I think when most people think of a value priced bike under $3k, they are thinking of full squish. Hard tails really don't fall into this category for the majority of PB readers. That isn't to say you can't spend a bunch on a hardtail, but most folks don't want that out of these reviews.
  • 2 0
 @piman: Harsh but fair.
  • 3 4
 Buy a Vitus Sentier VR hardtail for £1k on Wiggle, purchase a fancy Crmo frame of your choice, swap all the parts over and you'll still come out with a cheaper and better specc'd bike than the vast majority of steel completes out there. Crazy.
  • 5 0
 wrong
  • 2 1
 Apparently they haven't changed much... I own the 2017 Torrent 7.1 with 27,5+ wheels and a DVO Diamond and it's just so incredibly addictive to ride!
  • 3 0
 No change? Frame material, geometry, wheel size, fork travel. Plenty of change there.
  • 2 0
 @weeblewob: basically a figure of speech ????
I know that a lot has changed on paper, but the outcome remains the same ????
  • 3 0
 Great review of the bike!
  • 1 0
 Who would spend $3k on a hardtail... *Throws leg over an NS Surge*, well, off for a ride.... LOL

That is one sweet hardtail @norcobicycles
  • 1 0
 This is a 33 pound hard tail that cost over 3000$. A hard tail with this quality of a build should weigh 25 to 27 pounds. The frame must weigh 11 pounds.
  • 1 1
 All I can say is that my Aluminum Scandal has a 140mm Pike, all GX, drivetrain, SLX brakes, and cost a hell of a lot less than this........Suoer fun.....
  • 3 2
 Because it's aluminum.
  • 1 0
 Wow ! This two Direction suspension looks working well Smile 160 mm and +/-30 ? ????
  • 1 0
 Reviewers forgot one thing when setting up hardtail: tire pressure plays a much bigger role that with a FS.
  • 1 0
 Agreed! And running 2.5 exo + tires at low pressures definitely makes the argument for the magic ride feel of steel kind of pointless.
  • 3 3
 $3200 for a NX steal hardtail? Or, $500 for a Kona Honzo ST frame and build from there. Better parts, less money on final build.
  • 1 1
 Exactly the choice I made!
  • 2 0
 Why don't we just call these IMBA bikes? Too much front travel matbe?
  • 1 0
 I am interested actually in the times on the timed laps. Will we see these?
  • 1 0
 I'd actually really want to know how a Dartmoor Hornet compares, because I want to build a Hardcore Hardtail in the future.
  • 1 0
 A $3,400 (with tax) hardtail weighing in at 34 lbs. Should sell like hotcakes!
  • 1 1
 This bike is almost double the price of the Vitus when you factor in the Vitus sale and sales tax on the Norco. Why would you even consider this Norco?
  • 1 0
 Is anyone really spending this much for a hardtail? I wanna sell them some headlight fluid or aluminum magnets.
  • 1 0
 Does anyone own one of these? and have you tried putting 27.5 plus wheels and tires in it?
  • 2 0
 I have the purple one. I don't have a 27.5 plus wheel set, but it looks like you could stuff a 2.8 in there. There is a lot of mud clearance with the 2.5 Assegais that came stock.
  • 1 0
 Good review guys. Nice to see a honest hardtail review. I have a DH hardtail set up and love it!
  • 2 1
 Its such a fun bike to ride.
  • 3 2
 34lbs? and I thought my Sentinel was heavy. . .
  • 2 0
 How heavy is your Sentinel??? Mine's probably like 37lbs and 40-41 with tools/water
  • 2 0
 @CobyCobie: Haven't Weighed the ol girl, but being all coil and aluminummmms sits a little porky.
  • 3 1
 Oh lawd he comin’ #chonkchart
  • 1 0
 @sunringlerider: Haha same I'm kind of regretting weighing mine
  • 1 0
 @bertbc: oops meant to upvote that.

Yes between the size and the creak of the fork it has quite the trail presence
  • 4 3
 *Cough* RMB Growler 40 or 50 *Cough* or RSD MiddleChild...seriously.
  • 5 8
 Is this another 4130 straight gauge steel bike?

I would like to see some triple butted tubes if I had to fork over 3K for a steel rigid bike. Don't need crappy Reverb or Code brakes, just a rigid post and shimano deore. Please.

This is just going to ride like any other straight gauge 4130.... heavy and does not respond quickly, no need to read a review.
  • 2 1
 Totally. People say you have to pay a lot for steel, but I'd agree only if it is really nice steel, like Reynolds 853 or similar. I've owned a bunch of older RMB blizzards, and I noticed the difference when they went from Reynolds to Columbus. (Not as good.)
  • 1 0
 There is no way that this is straight gauge. It’s double or triple butted. Branded tubing is nice but even companies like Chromag use unbranded custom tubing for more flexibility with sizing and geo. Not because it’s cheaper.
  • 1 0
 From the Norco site: "To go along with the basic theme of the butted chromoly frame..." it's also 4130...meh
  • 1 0
 @NickBit: ...and it's cheaper. Different steels have different ride qualities.
  • 2 2
 Guerrilla Gravity Pedalhead. Needed to be mentioned.
  • 1 1
 $3k for a hardtail!! At this point I’ll wait for the EBike version!!
  • 7 9
 Hmm, this costs more than my custom geo ti frame with intend forks and hope stoppers, G-sus resurrected!
  • 6 0
 You’re a few days early
  • 6 0
 I'm highly skeptical...
  • 5 0
 How is this working out with the fork costing around 2000$ and Hope brakes 500$?
  • 5 0
 @slothez: I mean to be fair maybe Ynotgorilla is missing a drivetrain, wheels, cockpit, seat, seatpost, bb, and headset. Then I could maybe see him spending only $3k.
  • 3 0
 i would expect it to cost more, your bike sounds whack
  • 6 8
 This thing is a bit of a joke, isn't it. Like, why would you actually ever buy this? Especially at this price.
  • 1 1
 Hard tails = hard fails
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