There's no longer any need to zoom in on blurry spy shot photos taken with a potato
– the new Norco Range has officially launched. 2022 seems to be the year of high pivot enduro bikes, and the Range slots solidly into that category with 29” wheels, 170mm of travel, and a carbon frame. It's dual crown compatible with up to a 180mm fork, good news for anyone hoping to build up a bike park smasher.
On the topic of dual crown forks, the DH bike
that Norco's World Cup DH racers are currently riding is a prototype, one that uses the Range's carbon frame components combined with a different shock link and dropouts to create a longer travel, fully downhill-oriented version of this bike. There's no word at the moment as to when that bike might be available for public consumption.
Norco Range Details
• Wheelsize: 29"
• Travel: 170mm
• Carbon frame
• 63.25° head angle (size L)
• Chainstay length: 442.5mm (size L)
• Sizes: S-XL
• Price range: $5,599 - $8,999 Frame only: $3,799 USD.
Back to the Range. There are three complete models, the C1, C2, and C3, as well as a frame-only option. Prices start at $5,599 USD for the C3, and go up to $8,999 for the C1 version shown here. Highlights of the C1 model include a 170mm Fox 38 Factory fork, Fox Factory DHX2 coil shock, a SRAM X01 12-speed drivetrain, and a Maxxis Aggegai / Dissector tire combo, both with the thicker DoubleDown casing. It's great to see that the two lower priced models also get the same DHX2 coil shock and tires as that top of the line model.
How much does the Range weigh? Well, the size large C1 we have in for testing currently weighs 36.25 lb (16.4 kg), but that number isn't totally accurate – there was a wheel spec mixup, and DT Swiss' lightweight cross-country / trail rims ended up on a bike meant for plowing through everything. The wheelset that bikes will now be spec'd with has We Are One's Union rims laced to Onyx hubs. They're heavier, but much more appropriate for the bike's intentions. This bike will be included in an upcoming Field Test, and the final weight will be verified there.Frame Details
With the Sight comfortably holding down the all-mountain fort, Norco's designers and engineers were able to concentrate their efforts on creating a bike that was focused on speed, a bike that could easily handle the roughest tracks on the EWS circuit.
The first step was creating an aluminum mule, which ended up being called the 'SPAM bike' due to the fact that its headtube shape looked just like a can of SPAM. That bike allowed for multiple geometry and kinematic adjustments, which made it possible for Norco's designers and test riders to experiment with different configurations until they found the one that best suited their needs.
Luckily, the frame that resulted from the clunky looking mule is a whole lot better looking, with a fast, futuristic appearance. The shock sits low in the frame, and passes through a tunnel in the seat tube to connect to the aluminum link that drives it. That shock placement also leaves room for a full size water bottle inside the front triangle.
The chain is protected by an upper guide at the idler pulley, and a lower guide from MRP adds another layer of security. Rubber chainslap protection is in place at the top of the seatstay, the underside of the chainstays, and along the downtube. There's also a plastic skid plate that helps keep the lower link from being damaged by rock or root strikes. Geometry
Norco took their Ride Aligned philosophy to the next level with the Range, tweaking the numbers on every size in an attempt to deliver a similar experience no matter a rider's height. Changing chainstay length depending on frame size has become increasingly common, a trend that Norco helped start, but in this case the Range's head angle and seat tube angle are different depending on the size.
The head angle sits at 63.25-degrees on a size large, and changes by .25-degrees for each size, getting slacker for the XL size, and slightly steeper for the medium and small sizes. This alteration, in conjunction with the different chainstay lengths, allowed Norco to achieve the wheelbase numbers they were aiming for.
The swingarm does technically have replaceable dropouts, but the bike's geometry numbers are intended to remain as they are out of the box. Since each frame size has a custom tune and leverage curve, as well as different shock links, Norco doesn't want riders swapping frame parts around.Suspension Design
Norco aren't strangers to high pivot suspension designs, but they went with a little different layout for this bike. Where the Aurum used a high single pivot layout, this bike has a high virtual pivot design. It's essentially what would happen if you took a Horst Link configuration and flipped it upside down, with the shock driven from below, rather than above, and the main pivot high on the seat tube. When the rear wheel hits an obstacle it initially travels rearwards, pulling on the L-shaped lower link that rotates around the bottom bracket and drives the shock. The new configuration allowed Norco to reduce the amount of anti-rise compared to the Aurum, in order to allow the suspension to remain more active under braking.
The bike was designed to work best with a coil shock, specifically a Fox Float DXH2 or RockShox SuperDeluxe Coil. Those are the two currently recommended models – it's possible that other options, specifically ones with large air cans, won't fit due to the dimensions of the shock tunnel. ModelsRange C1 / $8,999 USDRange C2 / $6,999 USD Range C3 / $5,599 USD
As you can see in the video, my first handful of rides on the Range have left me extremely impressed. Yes, the sun has been shining and the dirt has been perfect, which can help make an initial ride feel extra-good, but so far my second, third and fourth rides on this speed demon have all been just as eye-opening. It's the effortless speed the Range delivers that's especially noteworthy - I'd be hard pressed to name a bike that I've been on recently that handles itself as well in rough terrain.
The Range absolutely erases bumps, and yet it's still easy to tell what the wheels are doing - there isn't any vagueness at all. Somehow the geometry numbers blend together to create a bike that doesn't feel too big or unwieldy (as long as gravity is on your side), which makes it easy to keep the pace high. That slack head angle pays dividends in the steeps by making it easier to stay centered and in control of the bike, rather than needing to fight to stay behind the front wheel.
Granted, it's not the lightest bike, and climbing is more of a sit-and-spin affair, but in this case the Range's downhill performance is at such a high level that I'm a little more willing to overlook that extra heft.
We're going to be doing more testing on the Range soon as part of an upcoming Field Test, where it will go head-to-head against other contenders in this category – stay tuned for those videos and reviews later this summer.