Norco Restarts Factory DH Race Team for 2023

Nov 28, 2022 at 10:06
by Mike Kazimer  
Gracey Hemstreet coming in hot taking both the win and the overall for the Junior Women.

Last month, Norco announced that they were pausing their DH and XC race teams for the 2023 season in order to 'navigate the industry's pandemic recovery.' Now, after the appointment of a new CEO, the DH team has been reinstated, and will be focusing on the UCI World Cup series for 2023.

bigquotesIt’s impossible to quantify the inspiration and pride Norco has felt in supporting these talented athletes for the past 30 years, and pausing the team didn’t reflect that commitment. These riders play a huge role in the development and testing of our bikes and technology, and they are the embodiment of what drives us. Sean Sullivan, Live to Play CEO

Team Members
• Gracey Hemstreet - 2022 World Cup Junior Women Overall Champion
• Lucas Cruz– Following his best-ever Elite season
• A yet-to-be-named Elite DH veteran

bigquotesAt the end of 2021, we decided to prioritize DH, so the XC team was informed before 2022 even started that they’d need to find a new home by the end of the year. This wasn’t a decision we took lightly, but building a DH team around some of the best riders in the sport lets us continue our legacy of fostering talent, while developing, testing and proving technologies that benefit every rider on the trail.Kevin Haviland, team manager

The full roster, team sponsor list, and race schedule will be announced at a later date.


106 Comments

  • 111 0
 norco pulling a reverse uno
  • 43 0
 Tom Brady
  • 3 1
 Next year's pinkbike team??????
  • 4 1
 The realised april fools is on april 1st
  • 15 0
 Norco got a hit of Narcan and resuscitated the whole team.
  • 5 0
 @suspended-flesh: Blenki missed the dose it seems. Bummer for him.
  • 2 0
 Snip-snap, snip-snap!
  • 90 2
 "A yet-to-be-named Elite DH Veteran".
Thanks for the offer, guys. Much appreciated.
But I'll stick with Paypal Credit Racing Team for another season....
  • 6 1
 Yeah thought I’d take another year as a self run/sponsored too, mainly picking my own races and drinking water suits me fine… thanks for the offer tho Norco
  • 59 2
 As a Canadian who's eyeing out spending a whole lot on a new bike in the near future, buying a Canadian make is pretty important to me. When Divinci, Norco, Rocky Mountain, Forbidden, etc are all making pretty great bikes, brand culture - chiefly what they give back to the biking community - is a big consideration for where my money will go.
  • 25 68
flag cwatt (Nov 28, 2022 at 12:33) (Below Threshold)
 I agree. Thus, I will challenge your support for a downhill team. A simple question; how relevant is downhill? Downhill bikes are singularly focused and do not reflect how the majority of people ride bikes (i.e., trail/aggressive trail). Moreover, how much trickle-down technology can we expect when a downhill race can be won without a chain as it enables the rear suspension to be more active, where as the majority of riders pedal their bikes.

I’m old enough to remember when Jay Hoots visited Blue Mountain Resort in Ontario and the attention that drew. Personally, I would much rather see brand ambassadors than a downhill team and support a company who actively supports the mountain biking community through trail construction and maintenance.
  • 31 10
 All made in Taiwan
  • 43 2
 @fungal-ashtray: It's nice being Taiwanese and knowing nearly every bike from YT to Yeti will support the homeland.
  • 36 0
 @cwatt: DH is like half of the riding I do, and its the raddest shit ever. Love watching DH racing and so glad it exists. Its the cutting edge of MTB. Obviously brand ambassadors and sponsoring local events is sick too, but to me DH is eminently relevant.
  • 24 0
 @cwatt: Basically all the suspension components your bike uses is trickle down tech from DH.
  • 18 2
 @cwatt: how relative is F1 racing to the cars we drive everyday?
  • 20 0
 @fungal-ashtray: Try again... Devinci's DH model is made in QC.
  • 1 1
 Double post. Sorry.
  • 5 1
 @cwatt: well current enduro bikes are pretty similar to recent years dh bikes so very relevant. Just as f1 is to reg cars. Trickle down.
  • 22 0
 @cwatt: then what would be consider a professional rider? An instagram pro? I would rather see high level riding then another influencer making meaningless content. Enough of that nowadays
  • 23 0
 @ClarkHoward: I would actually go out of my way NOT to purchase from a company that strictly supported social media tools. Racing pushed everything forward and racers work their asses off and should be supported.
  • 7 0
 @fungal-ashtray: Not Devinci alloy bikes. Made in Canada
  • 8 8
 @cwatt:

Dude you suck
  • 12 10
 @cwatt: @cwatt: I didn't downvote you b/c Im not in the downvote army of Chinese comment scrubbers - but: you're just wrong in lots of fundamental ways. Racing is high speed, high color, active & fast and a huge # of viewers (and most newbie mtb riders) don't know a DH from an XC bike. Most DH riders don't pedal their bikes that much -and fully zero XC riders can lose a chain and win or even come close.

Most viewers just see bikes flying, action, fans, color, speed, brands, times, they feel the tension - and then they wanna drink redbull (tho maybe next year they wanna drink Discovery-juice?). So when they see Trek, Specialized, YT, whatever brands - they just see bikes & brands & ripped men & women riders, and its wild & exciting - and they buy those bikes & brands. That doesn't happen with just filming trail rides.

This has all been discussed countless times on countless podcasts & online or mag articles: the DH tech does in fact trickle down from DH, but also other tech trickles up. None of this is exclusive either...supporting community & trails doesn't mean DH & XC (or enduro) need to be nuked or vice versa. I'm bummed Norco misspent their money on whatever they did but - they did I guess - but I'll bet the CEO / COO didn't take a pay cut! Doesn't mean they can't or shouldn't stil support a DH team. Ultimately this all comes down to how they spent or misspent their money & obviously someone effe'd up reeeeeeeallly good or they would be flush with cash.

I nuked all ideas of a Norco rig of any type after their announcement (being fully in the market for a DH bike and then a smaller play / fun / fast bike for everything under). When I heard Norco was blasting their DH and XC teams, they simply dropped off my list of options b/c if they can't support racing, why should I buy their products while some product-haired douche goes yachting with Elon Musk in the Med? f*ck that.

There are prob'ly only 23 other riders that thought the same thing but the point is - stop paying executives top bank and letting them blow the wad, while already-poorly paid riders & mechanic jobs get slashed? Focus on racing & community / trails (etc) more. I don't know that Norco did that exactly, but they lost my dollars (then & now on) and while I'm glad they're back, and I also do agree with the core of what you're saying. But DH is fully relevant, drives mega-sales well beyond DH (and XC) bikes, and it matters a lot - people aren't tuning into racing to watch trail riders ride trail, drop chains or build trails - we need some highlights and both DH and XC provide that.
  • 4 1
 @fungal-ashtray:
Devinci makes a massive amount of bikes in Quebec.
  • 16 3
 @Mtn-Goat-13: just to play devil's advocate, but maybe they cancelled their teams because of all the crap that UCI was pulling with the switch to discovery channel. Team fees are approx 10 times higher, less races and those races will be behind a pay wall. I've no idea if this is the case but the manner UCI has managed this transition and particularly the way the athletes and teams have been treated has been pretty bad
  • 2 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: their old ceo/bean counter guy got canned allegedly so there were consequences. Bit of a weird deal all around though I have to say.
  • 3 5
 @Mtn-Goat-13: WTF. Blah blah blah . f*ck off Marbles
  • 5 0
 @slickwilly1: Racing tests a lot of tech out that does eventually end up in our cars. Aero, hybrid, ABS, traction control, adaptive suspension, drive by wire, multiple valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, etc... All racing first then to us.
  • 2 1
 These bikes are about as Canadian as every other model made overseas, unless you're buying one of the few modest Devinci's manufactured in-country.
  • 5 0
 @cwatt: spoken like a true flat lander.
Notice there’s no mention of the xc race team. Now there’s a sport that does nothing for the majority of consumers
  • 1 0
 @ClarkHoward: watch brendog jump his roof into a pool of peanut butter!
  • 3 0
 @shredddr: the old CEO got canned because he failed to run his decision to stop all race teams by the board of directors. The cancellation of the XC team was agreed upon in May. The gravity team was a one man decision.
  • 3 0
 @cwatt: DH is sick, “aggressive trail” is not
  • 8 1
 @OnTheRivet. Gotta disagree. Today’s social media “tools” like Remi and Yoann are an evolution of guys like Brett Tippie and Wade Simmons who just did video parts. Those guys have done a lot for the sport. Just because you like one doesn’t mean it can’t include the other
  • 1 0
 @slickwilly1: My 1.2L 3 cylinder turbo, low friction high efficiency.....uuuuhhhh! Active ride was kind of a 90s F1 thing too. Most of it really! My 94 Toyota Celica GT4 was a homologised rally car and it drove like one too!
Not saying the same for bikes though. Mostly the suspension you buy has been race developed and race tested. Those little compartments on enduro bikes, tyres, anything you give to a pro racer to destroy will be a better product after the fact but they would get there anyway. It would just take longer than having a few shredders push the limits for a season. But Fox and Rockshox need the racers.
  • 30 0
 “Sike!” - Norco
  • 25 23
 Psych, yours sounds like counterfeit Nike shoes.
  • 45 7
 @Bomadics: shut up nerd
  • 3 45
flag Bomadics (Nov 28, 2022 at 11:52) (Below Threshold)
 @nskerb: Oh no, I am so hurt! You are so assertive and strong and smart and just peachy, I wanna be just like you when I grow up.
  • 24 4
 @Bomadics: digging the hole deeper lol
  • 28 2
 Need someone to spin this to make the UCI look bad ASAP!
  • 1 0
 Just left a rant
  • 26 4
 These decisions are often fluid and driven by optics. The company needs to be shore that they capture the full range of revenues from all their activities. Aurum we out of luck for them to bring back the XC that would be out of sight!
  • 20 5
 How is the WC veteran not confirmed as Blenki? If not Blenki, where will he go? I really like Blenki, please be Blenki
  • 17 0
 Kenny Blenkenship?
  • 6 1
 Apparently Blenky is moving to Cube
  • 5 1
 He must of already signed with another brand/race team. Otherwise I’m sure they (Norco) would’ve said so.
  • 1 0
 @austenselk: If the spare spot on Pivot Factory doesn't land on Jacob Jewett, I think Blenki might be a good bet. He's a Kiwi and would fit in great with his mates Matt and Ed
  • 3 1
 @purplegorillaz: I think that's a great move:
Nice weather, excellent rum, music and happiness....
  • 3 0
 @ryanandrewrogers: jewett is confirmed
  • 5 0
 @mkul7r4: Guy Le Douche maybe?
  • 3 0
 @OnTheRivet: The world NEEDS Guy Le Douche on the DH scene!!! Big Grin
  • 2 0
 @mkul7r4: right you are!
  • 2 0
 @ryanandrewrogers: Pivot have announced Jacob Jewett as their new team rider.
  • 10 0
 "It's a prank bro"
  • 9 0
 Mr. Sullivan, that was a very good deceision.
  • 8 1
 Good call @norcobicycles !!! Glad to see this and look forward to seeing Lucas and Gracey get the support they deserve in 2023
  • 5 1
 Super happy about this, especially for Gracey and Lucas, good Canadian kids. Lucas is a great example of a young elite rider who's shown flashes of really contending, particularly with a top 15 at the last world cup, but who will need a year or two of solid support to really show what he's capable of. It is a great shame, but all to common, when promising riders of this sort can't get that support, and it's worse for North Americans as it's so expensive to get to the World Cups. On that note I'm also pleased to see Jake Jewett's been picked up by Pivot Factory Racing.
  • 2 0
 That's great news. It's a bit a shame that Pinkbike Free Agent presented by SRAM and hosted by @mikelevy keeps getting scooped on this big signings by the comment section.
  • 6 1
 Dear Norco, Je t'aime. ...and I'm not even French...or a DH racer. Just a guy who likes what you do. Thanks.
  • 6 0
 Is Mark Wallace a veteran now?
  • 4 0
 Any World Champ is.....
  • 2 2
 @suspended-flesh: I think it's more a "Reece" joke than a "Wallace" joke Wink
  • 2 0
 @ybsurf: This is the next level, m8
  • 9 6
 I wonder if it was all a method of shrinking the team with minimal liability due to contract clauses that got Norco off easy if they cancelled the programs
  • 2 0
 Makes you wonder…
  • 2 0
 @shredddr: the article say the decision has been made last year. and Blenki contract was due to renewal....i think....was a good timing and then a new CEO walks in with a diffrent look on the situation....
  • 1 0
 Canadians will go to some pretty extreme lengths to avoid a confrontation...
  • 1 0
 @criscoe: new CEO walks in partly because of the prior CEOs decision to can the race team. perhaps...
I think Blenki was up, but they also ditched a bunch of XC contracts too. They also seem to have dumped their enduro team. wonder what's up with jill and lewis?
  • 4 0
 Sean Sullivan will go down as a legend. Finally a CEO that isn't a greedy pile of garbage
  • 4 0
 Roller coaster of emotion hahaha
  • 3 0
 Should have kept the XC too. I’m a DH guy but we had some series talent coming up in the XC side of things!
  • 2 0
 Gwen went to Trek... not sure where the Disera bro's went. I think Trek is just trying to sign all of the fastest females in the XC and road world... Their rosters are like the female version of Ineos these days.
  • 6 2
 They put all their budget into Finn Iles. You heard it here first folks.
  • 1 1
 So Norco makes the aurum which the DH team doesn't race but they do make the Range, albeit heavily modified to bump it to 200mm-ish which they don't really sell..... So a race team is a marketing tool, so what are they really doing here? I guess Commencal and Specialized are doing the same thing.....
  • 1 0
 The aurum is what.4 year old approx...the range platform is so good they could use it has a tool for designing the next gen Aurum I would Say...
  • 1 0
 Wait...turns out the world (and market) is not blowing up in our faces but rather returning to somewhat normal....I guess we'll go race bikes after all
  • 3 0
 Jill Kintner out to pasture?
  • 3 0
 Outside restarts pinkbike
  • 2 0
 Pick a wrongheaded commercial decision and be a dick about it
  • 1 3
 I love my Norco Fluid HT. I'm somewhat fortunate that the dark colour means that the Canadian maple leaf on the seat tube is barely visible. Hence I rarely get asked related questions about; wearing dark coloured face paint, dressing up in Indian clothing or assaulting women.
  • 1 0
 Careful they might freeze ya PayPal
  • 1 0
 i wish I graspd all of these allegations. sounds like fun.
  • 1 0
 "Yet to be named veteran elite athlete" - Bryn Atkinson. Also already on the payroll.
  • 2 0
 What a great photo.
  • 4 6
 She is going to dominate when she goes Elite. Her body position is fantastic and she charges at terrain...only other Elite woman doing that at the moment is Vali.
  • 1 0
 Glad to hear it! Stoked to see everyone kill it next year!
  • 1 0
 Blankenship? Dang I guess he is crankworksin instead.
  • 1 0
 Just kidding!
  • 1 0
 ahhh no Blenki
  • 1 0
 This is great news!!
  • 1 0
 What happened to blinky?
  • 1 0
 DH BABY \m/
  • 1 2
 Would have loved to see Gracey join Vali for the ultimate female team.
  • 5 7
 Is this due to the new CEO?
  • 22 0
 first paragraph
  • 7 0
 @pmhobson: DOH! more coffee needed.
  • 1 1
 @plustiresaintdead: Coffee makes me do that more
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