Norco's New DH Bike – Lourdes World Cup DH 2017

Apr 28, 2017 at 15:33
by Mike Levy  
Prototype Norco


While a lot of the tech talk at the first World Cup downhill race of 2017 has centered on 29'' wheels, there's also plenty of other new bits and bikes to check out, including the best look yet at Norco's new downhill race rig that Sam Blenkinsop and the rest of the team will be racing aboard this weekend. I spent the day at Norco's HQ back in February to get the lowdown on the yet to be named bike's development, but the engineers behind the fresh design were reluctant to spill the beans and tell me much in the way of actual details and facts.

Norco is still shy about sharing any particulars like travel, geometry, and availability, but Pinkbike photographer Ross Bell did shoot some pretty photos of the new, 27.5'' wheeled bike for us to look at. The prototype at the Lourdes World Cup appears to be more polished than the all-black versions that we spotted previously, although that might be down to the sharp looking, glossy red paint job of the team bike.


Prototype Norco


There's no word on suspension travel, but the prototype's single pivot, linkage-activated design features an extremely high main pivot that sits well above the chainring, and an integrated pulley and guide setup routes the chain up and around the main pivot in order to deal with the chain growth, pedal kickback, and anti-squat associated with such a design.

The layout might look similar to Commencal's DH bike, but it only takes a second to see that the linkage on the Norco works in a very different way to what's found on the Supreme DH V4.2. When questioned about the apparent similarities, Norco explained that their design features some unconventional suspension characteristics. ''The kinematics are so different in a way, and the forces that they generate are really high,'' they said of the design.


Prototype Norco
Prototype Norco

Prototype Norco
Prototype Norco

Prototype Norco



MENTIONS: @norcobicycles




181 Comments

  • + 112
 I don't know if I like how it looks or not. But it looks interesting, that's for sure.
  • - 242
flag viatch (Apr 28, 2017 at 16:52) (Below Threshold)
 the looks are mehh. its a ripoff between the evil bikes and commencal. its dissapointing to see this is the best they can come up with.
  • + 76
 @viatch: @viatch: Completely different. EVIL use's a very low main pivot and drives from an already compressed link. Commencal uses a design with a counter-actuating lower link. Norco went even further on Commencal's design. Not a ripoff at all, infact an innovation in my eyes.
  • + 18
 I can dig it (and love Balfa's)....I think the fender throws off the eye a bit but really it's the seat mast. At the very least, the top should be faced to be perpendicular to the seatpost.
  • + 53
 It DOES NOT look like a session. I'm down with that.
  • + 7
 @loopie: I loved bb7's loops. I really wish we could see the other side of this bike, and it'd be nice to see the suspension in action before any real insight could be realized.
  • + 25
 @obee1:
I waited 19 years to upgrade my BB7 and it looks like I've found my next bike!
  • + 6
 The seat position is funny
  • + 8
 Allot of peopke are saying that it looks like the Commencal bike. Yes the swingarm and pivot locationlook alike, but the likage is more similar to the Scott Gambler. The commencal bike compresses the shock forward while Norco's design compresses the shock rearward. It's a cool looking designand ineresting that some of the parts cannot be made of aluminum as a prototype, they have to build it straight out of carbon fiber. It will be interesting to see how this trend goes with all of the big bike manufacturers
  • + 4
 @allix2456: the balfa and the iron horse Sunday were bikes ahead of their time. I'd be proud to have those frames adorn my cave.
  • + 2
 Won’t matter how it looks if it wins races. Maybe a little.
  • + 2
 @knnmcgraw: It looks to me like the Ancillotti Scarab setup, but with the main pivot moved halfway up the seatpost.
...and that can only be a good thing
  • + 2
 potential new stead to my darkcycles scarab. Been waiting for a carbon high pivot idler, the commencal was nice but heavy almost same as my 4130 so didn't change.
  • + 3
 @allix2456: Are you sure you're not gonna hold for a couple more years till they introduce a 20mm boost (front and rear) 29er version of this bike?
  • - 17
flag dadebrown (Apr 29, 2017 at 3:27) (Below Threshold)
 @viatch: I fully agree. Why you've been neg propped just shows how bloody ignorant the gen public is. Well said viatch. At the end of the day, its just another linkage-driven single-pivot... Get over it pb readers.
  • + 2
 @jollyXroger: nope I was hoping theres a low and high bb setting so I can run my 26" as ride a small as short arms and legs, the 20mm boost front makes sense and its an old marzocchi standard that we all would be using except fox n sram made their own as marzocchi patented it but fox now own it. As for rear boost its not needed with the likes of hope dh and reverse efs hubs with a short freehub that only takes 7 cogs.
  • + 3
 @allix2456: The Canfield Jedi already took care of that, plus the Jedi is solid and reliable.
  • + 2
 @dylandoe: the jedi isn't single pivot or carbon, it still is a great design with the virtual high pivot and idler. The Brooklyn racelink was maybe first with single high pivot idler and linkage driven shock.
  • + 3
 Wish I'd kept my jedi Frown
  • + 3
 @dadebrown: Over half the bikes out there are just linkage driven single pivots.

This one is a high pivot linkage driven single pivot, which makes it a bit different. Definitely not unique.

What does it much more unique is that the suspension design is such, that there are huge forces in the linkage. Which is, you know, really smart when you have to make things durable, cheap and light. Best thing you can make in fact! (/sarcasm)

(but it really is quite unique in that regard though, no sarcasm there.)

EDIT: at least packaging a 29er swingarm into this design, with it being a high pivot, will be dead simple. Just tuck it in all the way to the BB, it will swing outwards away from the BB, seat tube and the seat. Job done.
  • + 2
 @obee1: and Iron horse sunday rear suspension is almost identical to the one on the Balfa 2 Step.
  • + 2
 @GillesDisorder: Yup. It really is too bad Balfa didn't make it. Sadz
  • + 2
 **make it as a company
  • + 1
 @GillesDisorder: no it was not even close. Where the Sunday actually had pivots. The balfa was just bolted plates that looked like pivots. It was a single pivot. The Sunday was a version of vpp
  • + 2
 @jflb: Read again closely, I'm not talking about the BB7. My comment was about the Balfa 2 Step. A VPP like pivot geometry way before Santa Cruz or DW came up with it.

FYI: www.balfa.wooyek.pl/balfa-2step-hd-dh.html
  • + 2
 @GillesDisorder:karpiel had a similar design too, in 99 or so?
  • + 1
 @game: yes, they are similar in their configuration as well (unified rear triangle on two linkages) I didn't remember about Karpiel. I mostly remember Karpiel for their twin shocked Armagedon
Btw, I know that all these designs are different at some levels : shock mounting position, wheel axle path, leverage ratio and curve... Also, on a patent standpoint it's quite easy to differentiate each one, which DW must have done for a few as we see his name everywhere nowadays .
  • + 52
 Wow that looks RAD!!!! Wink The color is RAD, geometry is RAD, everything about that bike says RAD!!!
  • - 12
flag J-Fletch (Apr 28, 2017 at 16:01) (Below Threshold)
 Oh yeah! Just imagine it with a gleaming Fox fork upfront with Fox's signature flaming--not gay--orange coil...btw, it's interesting to see Blenkinsop running a coil. If I'm not mistaken, he ran an X2 all of last season and at Crankworx this year.
  • + 6
 @J-Fletch: uh...it looks sick as is

Fox colors would only detract
  • + 2
 @J-Fletch: would be sick with a RAD damper
  • + 26
 one word : Balfa
  • + 2
 Love it.
  • + 5
 Had an Appalache once... that idler was quiet as a mouse!!
  • + 2
 @steviestokes: Danny Hart had one too... and look where he's at now!
  • + 7
 The Balfa was my rig up until 2012! www.pinkbike.com/photo/9738988 Loved that bike! Parts wore out - I upgraded them. The main linkage plate bolts loosened and ovaled out the plates- I bored out the plates and re-tapped the frame. The steel rear triangle cracked- I welded it. Then I demoed a 951...and..well, it ruined the balfa for me. So this happened www.pinkbike.com/photo/14666213 Someone did buy that Balfa though. Hope she's still being sent. Godspeed Balfy.
  • + 1
 @dionne44: that's mental! I had an appalache /balfa then moved to a 951, I think we must have got them when they released them at a similar time!
  • + 1
 balfa/appalache was a straight single pivot, not a linkage driven shock.
Brooklyn racelink as well as my darkcycle.
  • + 17
 What's cool about this design is the chainstay gets longer as you progress through the travel rather than shorter like on most bikes. I think this would be super beneficial to racers on big impacts at high speed.
  • + 4
 You can actually it happening in the Vital video posted below. Cray...
  • + 2
 Commencal V4 also has a rearward axle path. Cool to see it being applied to other bikes
  • + 1
 As did the 2stage Elite 9
  • + 4
 ....you mean just like the Canfield Jedi?
  • + 2
 That's a pretty common design in DH bikes, no? They prefer that axle path in general but it tends to result in quite a bit of AS. The idler on designs like this and the Canfield Jedi sets the AS to zero, so you get the axle path you want without the PKB.
  • + 1
 Actually there have been some comments from random people that this is not a good phenomenom, since compressing both the front and the rear almost kinda throws your CoG forward, throwing you off your balance a bit. This is supposedly most noticeable in berms. But yeah, high pivot bikes devour square edge hits.
  • + 1
 @Primoz: I've not heard that, and I don't think that it's true. Both the front and the rear travel into their suspension at the same angle, so the chassis remains level and stable. You can however play with the leverage on the Jedi by riding the back wheel heavy into a berm and letting the wheelbase grow slightly for massive stability. I would recommend giving one a try if you can get your hands on one.
  • + 1
 @dylandoe: It's not that the main triangle rotates, the issue is, supposedly, that it moves forward in the wheelbase. The rear wheel moves away (rearwards) from you, the front wheel moves towards (again, rearwards) you, which means the front-rear weight distribution changes as the suspension compresses.

That's supposedly an issue which seems plausible, there is much less variation in the front-rear weight bias as ordinary low pivot bikes move through the travel.

But like i said, it's logical (and confirmed), that high pivot bikes are monsters when going over square edge hits.
  • + 1
 @Primoz: The chainstay growth doesnt help with corners, esp exits, but the forward weight transfer does help weight the front wheel and get traction, speaking from my old days of riding a bb7.
  • + 1
 @game: I can see that, yeah. The thing i was talking about (admittedly i never rode a bike like this, this is just hearsay) that it's the forward weight transfer during cornering and even more so in the berms that is supposedly throwing you off the balance a bit.

I really do want to try a bike like that though.
  • + 1
 @Primoz: I have two seasons on a Jedi and the thing is amazing. The idea behind the rearward path is to keep the wheelbase even as the bike compresses. Also when you compress into the berm it shoots out with great exit speed. The path also helps amazingly on square edge hits and cased landings. You can kinda see it in action on this video of me casing a drop www.instagram.com/p/BSvnSFEFVV2/?taken-by=jim_mcmurchy
  • + 12
 I like it. +1 Now if they can snag a podium...
  • + 7
 To those comparing it to the Gambler: the Vital slow mo video shows this Norco and then immediately followed by the Gambler. Incredibly different suspension behaviour. Very cool to see.
  • + 2
 @bforwil: that is amazing! Definitely unconventional to see in action
  • + 9
 Nobody mentioned the Canfield Jedi Weren't they the first brand to bring that high pulley??
  • + 6
 Brooklyn Machine works? I'm sure @deeeight will tell us.
  • + 5
 @iamamodel:

Cannondale and KHS.
  • + 1
 and my darkcycles from back then too..
  • + 4
 Haha I've already commented on a few Balfa comments....the Canfield Jedi followed where Balfa left off and evolved the design into a genius bike. The pulley is just necessary for the rearward travel path, and the bike just doesn't slow down over bumps.
  • + 2
 @dylandoe: i'm sure the jedi rides well, I'm a fairly large Norco fanboy and enjoy supporting a canadian brand that I can ride to in 20 minutes from my house. Coincidence they recreated my balfa as I nearly bought an aurum last season.
Ialsosellnorcos#
  • + 8
 I'd ride the piss out of it. Looks fine to me.
  • + 3
 This bike is SIIICK! Though it looks like someone took the rear triangle off a Commencal Supreme DH V4.2, added in Evil's DELTA suspension, and through a Norco frame on it...And JUST for those reasons I FING WANT THAT BEAST!
  • + 7
 Now there's a low standover.
  • + 5
 Interesting. Spring is heavy. 800lb? That is going to pound the bearings to dust and dampers into a leaky mess.
  • + 1
 Where do you see that?
  • + 3
 Norco's the bomb diggity. I've been riding nothing but Norco ever since my 2003 Bigfoot. I even loved them when they didn't know how the fuck to make a full suspension frame under 500lbs.
  • + 6
 Its what 2 chainz would ride . . . Ill show myself out
  • + 2
 I don't understand the obsession over strange linkage designs. Designers know what leverate rates they want / need in a design and there's a million and one crazy ways to get it. The more I look at these, the more I start to feel like complicated linkages are just advertising gimmicks. Why are they not?
  • + 3
 Patents
  • + 1
 @simooo: Hasn't Norco built DH bikes with simpler linkages before?
  • + 1
 its not that straight forward
  • + 1
 @WaterBear: maybe, but they may have been paying licences for the designs
  • + 4
 Watching the Vital MTB's slow-mo video it looks quite unusual and interesting that's for sure!
  • + 1
 I had a Kona Stab Primo in 2004 that was basically a single pivot way up high like this. when you rode it chainless it was magic. Glad to see the idler. I ride a 2015 Aurum at the park, there wasn't much room for improvement in my opinion.
  • + 3
 So 15 years later, Commencal and Norco are using the design of Nicolas Vouilloz Vprocess...
www.pinkbike.com/photo/8550320
  • + 2
 Little less unsprung masses than comm v4 I think, but why they don't use a floating brake caliper against brake jack? if the price and geos suit this bike could be interesting
  • + 1
 because most of what people talk about as brake jack is total BS
  • + 2
 @cauboi: yea, floating systems are kind of a gimmick, having some brake squat is nice, it settles the bike and helps fight weight transfer under hard braking.
  • + 4
 Procyle owns the rights of balfa patents + procycles owns Rocky Moutain= the new bb7
  • + 1
 Is it just me or does it look like that design puts an insane amount of leverage at the pivot on the down tube... Seems kind of sketchy. If you look at something like a TUES most of force gets directed in a linear path where this one seems like it would exert a ton of force down and forward before it's transferred into the shock. My guess is that those bearings are the first to go and cracked down tubes are a possibility. Thoughts?
  • + 3
 What is the point of adjustable reach when everyone always keep it in the longest setting...?
  • + 3
 Where all the pinkbike 'SINGLE PIVOT must be shit and have heaps of brake Jack' fan boys at.
  • + 0
 oh it will have gobs of brake jack, to be sure. but i don't really care what the industry is shlepping these days. smoke and mirrors, what is old is made new again.
  • + 5
 name who's baby this is
  • + 6
 Balfa & Commencal
  • + 2
 Rin Tin Tin and Ol' Yeller?
  • + 2
 Spuds McKenzie and Marmaduke.
  • + 1
 High single pivots are some of the most playful and fun bikes ever to ride... they don't feel dead like a floating pivot bike. And brake jack??? Stop riding the brakes so dam hard!!!!
  • + 0
 That is one complex piece of engineering. There's a whole lot of math going on there. My guess is it works outstandingly well otherwise they wouldn't have bothered with it. It's going to be interesting to see how this all plays out this weekend. It's as much of a race for the engineers and mechanics as it is for the riders.
  • + 3
 Still wondering when Jedi's will get more popular...
  • + 2
 I love my Jedi, and I don't understand it either.
  • + 3
 I'm waiting for the battle test, at the upcoming competitions
  • + 3
 Norco...Kickin' A$$ and Snappin' Chains!!!
  • + 1
 I like it a lot. The high pivot makes sense in terms of a preferable wheel path when the suspension is compressed. It must feel super stable. No 29er though ;P
  • + 2
 It looks like a modern art masterpiece. You'd have to like Picasso to understand it.
  • + 3
 Hold my Beer. I'll test it!!
  • + 3
 Very badass looking bike. I predict some great results aboard that steed.
  • + 3
 wtf linkage! so weird .. last norco dh is sick why change ............
  • + 2
 I hope they make it available to demo at Whistler! Smile ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))
  • + 1
 So does going from a very nice suspension design to a top end design gain you the 4 seconds bigger wheels apparently do? Think I'd be surprised if it did...
  • + 4
 Just F******n sic as!
  • + 1
 Can anyone explain what are the advantages of this kinds of linkage over the one they were using on the Aurum?
  • + 0
 I really really wish this was an Evil design. Evil needs to make a new DH bike!!! I hope they have something in the works that looks as sexy and out of the norm as this tup
  • + 1
 If you think it's sexy and such, I'd hate to see your wife...
  • + 1
 Long time Norco fan, they can build what they want I guess, it's a huge company.
  • + 12
 Next time you're in BC swing by the office. You might be surprised.
  • + 0
 @BrendanVDB: Their bikes are my favourite, everyone gives them grief, but I had a cheap Norco as a kid, and I did 10' drops with it, only the handlebars bent eventually. Sold the bike for decent money to my friend afterwards.
  • + 1
 @J-Fletch: How did you get neg propped?? PB readers can be such arrogant pussies
  • + 1
 I really like. Would look loads better in stealth raw carbon like the prototypes though.
  • + 1
 Looks like the product of an orgy between Balfa, BMW, Canfield, Commencal, and Specialized. I kinda dig it though.
  • + 3
 balfa.
  • + 2
 I would love to DEMO this....
  • - 2
 ------Commencal is better :

220mm rear travel
Adjustable rear wheel distance
You can lower more the seat
Nice progressivity

---------Norco :

No adjustable rear wheel distance
To much progressivity ( just look at the linkage)


---------Why rear wheel distance is important ?

In high pivots the rear wheel distance increases a lot so you might want to adjust that.
  • + 2
 If I've learned anything by trying to eyeball leverage rates, it's that you can't. I sat down in a huff and started calculating output torque for one of these pull-linkages and quickly found out that it wasn't worth the afternoon I'd waste doing it. All I'm saying is, it's hard to eyeball a designs leverage rate.
  • + 1
 WHEN it comes down to it, it is interesting but is it fast is the real question?
  • + 2
 Looks like a Supreme fu@&ed a Sender..
  • + 1
 How low can we go?! Wicked low stand over height= would be just perfect for my hobbit legs!
  • + 1
 Still better looking than that Polygon obscenity.
  • + 1
 Mr. Sam Blenkinsop and Mr. Joe Smith, how are you liking it?
  • + 1
 looks like a DH trials bike
  • + 1
 More like a zerode minus the gearbox
  • + 1
 remenber me the old sunn radical in 1998
  • + 1
 Looks like NOT Nicolai...
  • + 1
 Similar colour to Blenki's 2007 Turner DHR he rode in his first WC season
  • + 1
 it looks like two bikes have been photoshopped together
  • + 1
 The system seems to work very well, but the seat design is ugly ...
  • + 1
 That top tube is perfect for mid race can-cans. #hitemwiththestylepoints
  • + 2
 That looks mean tup
  • + 1
 nicest looking bike around
  • + 2
 Monster truck
  • + 2
 Looks like a Canfield
  • + 1
 I'd hate to be norco's mechanic
  • + 3
 a costco size bottle of locktite would be your best friend!
  • + 2
 Demo meets Commencal
  • + 1
 100%.... Demo + Commencal DH
  • + 2
 looks familiar...
  • + 3
 Def doesn't look like a Session.
  • + 0
 Blinky always looks fast on any bike including this one.. i don't blame the bike .. probably timing chip lag ... Go Blenky!
  • + 1
 Where's the seatpost clamp?
  • + 2
 Wedge system 2 inch down the seatmast?
  • + 1
 Holh shit just realised its a norco
  • + 1
 Ugly bike i've ever seen
  • + 1
 looks like a....bicycle
  • + 1
 what in tarnation
  • + 1
 looks like a Supreme
  • - 1
 good thing about the design is it won't be terribly hard to make it a 29er...
  • + 0
 Clearer spy shots!! I wonder why it took that long.. thanks PB!
  • + 0
 I don't know if i like it or not.
  • + 1
 I am Lourde Ya ya ya
  • + 1
 Looks like a trek
  • - 1
 Well, this linkage is ugly as hell. Looks like it's still a prototype...
  • + 2
 Well it isn't a production bike, so yes?
  • + 0
 Looks like a... Norco
  • + 0
 pools light
  • + 1
 looks light
  • - 3
 ugly
  • - 2
 Looks like a session
  • - 1
 Commencal and Scott?
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment



You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2017. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.105369
Mobile Version of Website