It was less than a month ago that Norco launched their updated Sight
trail bike, but the Canadian company doesn't show any signs of slowing down, and they've now released the details of the revised Range, their venerable all-mountain / enduro bike.
The bike grows longer and slacker for 2017, but it's the addition of a 29” wheeled version that will undoubtedly turn some heads. The big-wheeled option has 150mm of rear travel paired with a 160mm fork up front, while the 27.5” version has 160mm of rear travel and 170mm up front. Both versions have a carbon front triangle and seat stays, and aluminum chainstays are found on all models.
Norco Range Details• Intended use: all-mountain / enduro
• Wheel size: 27.5" or 29" options available
• Rear wheel travel: 160mm (27.5"), 150mm (29")
• 65º (27.5") or 65.5º (29") head angle
• Frame material: carbon front triangle and seat stays, aluminum chainstays
• Metric shock sizing
• Boost hub spacing
• MSRP: $4249 - $7399 USD (complete bikes) / $2899 USD (frame w/ Fox Float X2),
What exactly does it mean when a bike is described as being 'enduro ready'? Well, according to Owen Pemberton, Norco's senior design engineer, the Range “can take crashes. It can take being thundered through rocks and roots. That's what this bike is designed to handle.” In order to achieve their goal of creating a reliable, dependable bike, many of the new Range's design cues were inspired or borrowed from the Aurum, Norco's downhill bike. Whether it's the head tube junction to the derailleur hanger, “We took everything we learned from the Aurum, which is the strongest bike we've ever made, and took that learning and employed it on the new Range,” says Pemberton.
Similar to what was first seen on the revised Sight, the Range now uses a trunnion mounted rear shock, with the upper link oriented in a more horizontal position. The amount of chain growth has been reduced, and the suspension curve has grown slightly more progressive, changes that are intended to improve the bike's pedaling performance and give it a more bottomless feel towards the end of its travel.
There are three models for each wheel size, with prices starting at $4,249 USD. The Range 9.2 shown above goes for $5,799, and the top of the line model is $7,399. In case you hadn't guessed, the first digit of each model number denotes the wheel size. For instance, the 9.2 has 29" wheels, while the 7.2 has 27.5" wheels. Geometry
The 27.5" Range gets a 2° steeper seat angle and a longer front center compared to the previous version, and the head tube angle has been knocked back to 65°. When designing the 29" wheeled version of the Range, Norco wanted to make its handling feel as similar to the 27.5" version as possible, so they went with a 65.5° head angle, a fork with 51mm of offset, and a 40mm stem. All of the bikes use Norco's Gravity Tune geometry, which sees the rear center measurements increase as frame sizes grow larger in order to preserve the optimum weight balance. You'll notice that there's no small sized 29er - Norco felt that too many compromises were necessary to package the bigger wheels and that much travel into a frame that would fit a smaller rider.
Norco's headquarters are located within close proximity to some of British Columbia finest trails, rugged, rocky, and often wet testpieces, and the 29" wheeled Range 9.2 is spec'd accordingly. The wheels are shod with the proven Maxxis Minion DHF / DHR tire combo, and the wide bars, short stem, and a 150mm dropper post from Race Face make it clear that this bike is ready to rumble right out of the box. Despite Old Man Winter's decision to deliver an extra helping of snow, ice, and rain this month, I've still been able to get in a handful of rides on the Range, enough time to start getting acquainted with its on-trail personality.
It wasn't until I was halfway through my first extended climb aboard the Range that I noticed I'd left the RockShox SuperDeluxe in the fully open position, a testament to the Range's improved pedaling performance. Gone is the tendency of the shock to extend and compress during out-of-the-saddle pedaling; it's been replaced by a design that feels much more efficient and composed whether you're seated or standing.
I was a little surprised to see that the Range 9.2 checked in at 32 pounds when I hung it from the scale after those initial rides – I would have guessed it was a touch lighter than that. The good news is that it didn't feel
overly heavy while climbing, and those extra grams were the last thing on my mind when it came time to descend.
The Range has what can best be described as 'sneaky speed' - it's similar to what happens when you rent or borrow a car that's smoother and more powerful than what you typically drive, and all of a sudden you look down and you're doing 100mph. That's how the Range feels, especially on steep straightaways - it has a plush, bottomless suspension feel, and it's very quiet to boot – all the ingredients necessary to encourage bombing down the trail a little faster than usual. One of my usual test tracks has a section that plunges straight down the fall line, a brake burner that typically has my hands begging for mercy by the bottom, but on the Range that wasn't the case - it sucked up everything that came its way, giving my hands and forearms a welcome reprieve.
I'll admit that there were a couple times when it felt like the bike started to get away from me on tighter sections of trail - I found myself a little further back than I meant to be, instances that served as a reminder that remaining in an aggressive, more forward position is key. Those moments could have simply been a matter of getting accustomed to a new bike – we'll see how things shake out as I spend more time on it.