Bike Check: Sam Blenkinsop's Norco Aurum HSP 29er - Lošinj DH World Cup 2018

Apr 19, 2018 at 15:45
by Daniel Sapp  

Sam Blenkinsop needs no introduction. Having been on the World Cup DH rotation for well over a decade, the Kiwi is one of the more well known characters at the track. For 2018 he's aboard the new Norco Aurum HSP, running 29" wheels, and apparently has no plans of sizing back down.

Although we saw prototypes of the new Aurum well over a year ago, Sam first rode the finished 29" Aurum HSP a few weeks before Rotorua this past winter. Having favored riding his Range 29" trail bike over the 27.5" ever since getting on it, he's had similar feelings with the 29" Aurum. Initially, the set up was very similar to his 27.5" bike but since, there's been a more 29" specific tune developed which Sam is said to be loving. Set up of the bike is far different than what most people would run, as to be expected. Suspension is run fairly stiff. The rear shock has a 450 lb. coil along with a custom internal tune. The Boxxer WC's air pressure is at 137 lb. with two tokens. Sam runs the rebound fast on all of his bikes to keep things snappy and the higher pressures help keep rebound and compression settings open as possible.

Sam Blenkinsop PR images for Norco
Photo: Norco
Rider Name Sam Blenkinsop // Norco Factory Racing
Age: 29
Hometown: Christchurch, New Zealand
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 190 lb.
Instagram: @samblenkinsop

Sam Blenkinsop 29er
Deity handlebars and stem.

Sam Blenkinsop 29er
The Aurum HSP's high-single pivot suspension design gives the bike a rearward axle path and helps the bike maintain speed when the suspension is engaged in rough terrain.
Aurum HSP 29" Details
Frame: Norco Aurum HSP 29"
Shock: Rockshox Super Deluxe coil, 200mm travel, 450lb spring.
Fork: Rockshox Boxxer WC
Wheels: Novatec Demon XL
Tires: Schwalbe Magic Mary with Pro-Core
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 DH
Brakes: SRAM Code
Cockpit: Deity Bar and Stem
Size: XL
More info: Norco Aurum HSP

Sam Blenkinsop 29er
Sam Blenkinsop 29er
Sam's 25mm rise bars measure 815mm wide with grips. The Aurum's front-center can be adjusted with the bike's offset headset cup. His is set 4mm forward from neutral.

Sam Blenkinsop 29er
Sam Blenkinsop 29er
Norco kept silent about the bike that we've seen for over a year but now the details are out in the open. Will the Aurum HSP's high single pivot design and 29" wheels paired with Sam Blenkinsop's abilities land a spot on the podium this weekend in Croatia?

Sam Blenkinsop 29er

Sam Blenkinsop 29er
Sam Blenkinsop 29er

Sam Blenkinsop 29er
Sam Blenkinsop 29er
Novatec's Demon XL wheelset sports 30mm wide rims. For tires, Sam is on Schwalbe's Magic Mary with their Procore set up. He's running 50psi in the Procore's and 26psi in the rear tire with 23psi up front. Although the track this weekend is very rocky, the team is quite happy with the performance they've had in testing and confident in their set up.

Sam Blenkinsop 29er
SRAM X01 DH drivetrain and HT pedals will handle putting down the power this weekend.

MENTIONS: @norcobicycles / @samblenkinsop


  • 65 6
 hate to say that but 29rs are getting sexy af
  • 65 13
 almost as sexy as 27.5, but not quite at 26 level
  • 18 1
 Sam's 29..... and he's sexy........ statement checks out
  • 49 4
 Second nicest world cup bike of 2018? In my mind

1) Unno
2) Norco
3) Intense
  • 3 1
 Are they all Cesar Rojo creations?
  • 9 5
 @gcrider: Not the Norco. Intense and Unno are.
  • 1 0
 @RoboDuck: Yup, as well as the Mondraker.
  • 2 1
 i d say 1 Norco 2 UNNO 3 Commencal
  • 23 0
 Props to Norco for creating something different instead of jumping on the same bandwagon like so many other companies. Really digging the looks if this.
  • 16 0
 come on Sam!! Win a few this year.
  • 12 0
 If Blenki's performance in Rotorua is any indication of how his season will go, he should hit the podium a couple times this year.
  • 8 3
 Those hubs are the best kept secret in wheel building. Same as Factor hubs, but with Nova etched instead of Factor. 120 Poe. Great reliability. I would wager to say i9 performance at half the price of less.
  • 4 1
 I heard something similar, but they also read about the massive issues Santa Cruz bikes had with the Novatec hubs falling apart very quickly - to the point where Santa Cruz had to swap to DT Swiss as standard to stop the constant stream of warranty claims.. I am building a wheelset now and was considering the Novatec hubs, but just didnt want to stuff around with warranty claims and not being able to ride.
  • 1 3
 @polo16: same thing happened with Kona
  • 3 1
 @polo16: Santa spec'ed with a lower tier hub, with 84T engagement. The warranty fix was to stuff the upgraded internals into the lower tier hubs as far as I am aware. If you look for Factor hub and wheelset reviews, PB has reviewed them twice in 2 set of wheels, vtlmtb, bikeradar, you name it, everyone reviews the higher end hub super positively. And you won't find any reports of failure that I am aware of.

Point of interest - Chain Reaction's new Horizon wheelsets have the same 84T version, just rebranded at the heart of the wheel. Seems people get on with them okay. I think the issue even with the lower end ones have been sorted.

And they come with 2 year warranty.

They are good stuff. But I would recommend going with the more robust 120 Poe factor version.
  • 1 1
 @FLATLlNE: yeah I don't know the details - the hubs I was looking at were the xd642 - 6 pawl. I searched them online and got results like:

Also didnt help that no info about hubs on novatec website - had to look at old 2017 catalog on 3rd party website to try get proper info.
  • 2 1
 @polo16: Nova has a site dedicated to Factor. That's where you need to be. They really are not good at self promotion.

The 642 has 6 pawls but lower tooth ring. 84 Poe total.

The 601 and 602 are the ticket.
  • 1 1
 @FLATLlNE: I was looking at these last year because they sound rude, but they are twice the price of hope pro 4s... and they come with questionable reliability and questionable after sales support. I went hope in the end, despite them only having 12 POE
  • 1 0
 @jaame: issues were with the earlier versions of the lower tier model, the 642, which as far as I can tell have been fixed. The 120 Poe hubs, the 601/602, never had issues.

I don't know about the UK, but it's pretty easy to get support for them in North America. They have representation in California and Georgia.

And 2x hope?! Here, they are cheaper than Hope, with nearly 3x the engagement of a Pro 4.
  • 1 0
 @FLATLlNE: I paid $8000 Taiwanese dollars for a pair of Pro 4s. The factor hubs were going to cost me $15000. Plus they didn't have the option of 20mm front, which I prefer in my fox 36. Don't get me wrong, the factor freewheel is the best I have ever heard, but I didn't think the price was justified at the time.
  • 1 0
 @jaame: Again, I can sell, and do sell, Factor hubs for less than what you paid for your Hopes.

And Factor hubs do, and always have, come with a 20x110 axle option.

You were clearly dealing with a seller who wasn't great!
  • 1 0
 @FLATLlNE: In that case, it is a shame I never encountered you before I bought them!
  • 1 0
 I have the Novatec logo Factor on my 2016 Aurum and they are indeed sick. Engagement is amazing and they roll forever, pretty low drag given the POE.
  • 6 0
 Just gonna say it...

F#$@ ya'll haters. This bike is badass.
  • 4 2
 suspension looks over-engineered. Maybe it has a ton of advantages, but the Scott said the same about the Gambler scissor-link. And sure it is a great bike, but now Scott is back to simplicity with the new prototype. Aurum was a great clean frame. I don't think this new design will last long. Just my IMO, though, not an engineer's opinion.
  • 1 0
 I wrote the same thing yesterday in the first release about the Norco. Overall, it looks killer. This is a sweet bike. Not sure of the practicality of the suspension. I am open to the possibility that it's the greatest in the history of all suspension linkages.
  • 5 1
 In my opinion, the coolest looking DH bike since Honda were in the game. Would be so stoked to see Blenki take a win this season as well!
  • 3 0
 I suspect this type of suspension design with 29" wheels should carry momentum well through the rocks. Looking forward to some good results from the Norco team.
  • 2 1
 Looks awesome!

With that much linkage though, i'd prefer to have something with more suspension/brake isolation. I had some high pivot bikes back in the day, like a 7" bullit. Brake jack (actually brake squat) was so bad that it turned into a hardtail the moment rear brake was applied. I ended up installing an after market floating brake from brake therapy. Handling was spectacular after that.
  • 3 0
 That's a good length of chain right there
  • 1 0
 Similar build to mine! Except my fork is different, and the frame is a different year and brand. #biketwins!
  • 1 0
 I do not care who rides it or how it rides, it looks like PURE FIRE!
Pop plenty gun shots(blanks of coarse)!
  • 1 0
 That's a pretty beautiful bike! Everything looks really nicely finished off.
  • 1 0
 No chain no gain! (unless you're AG).
  • 1 0
 Dont know how tall and how heavy he is.. Unno ever bike check was better
  • 1 0
 Have a closer look under the portrait of Blenki... Everything is given there
  • 1 0
 Soooooo damn nice Drool
  • 2 1
 Looks like a Zerode
  • 2 1
 Lol 29’erz
  • 2 5
 It looks like a Chinese knock off of a baby between a Unno and an Antidote.
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