Spotted: Sam Blenkinsop's Norco 29er DH Bike and RockShox Boxxer Prototypes

Feb 25, 2018 at 5:21
by Paul Aston  
Spotted - Sam Blenkinsop s prototype 29 wheeled norco dh rig and 29 BlackBox Rockshox boxer fork


Norco hasn't released any more official details about the high-pivot downhill machine that Sam Blenkinsop has been riding for over a year now, despite Mike Levy covering their development story last February and the original spy shots being seen in October 2016. However, our eagle-eyed, wonder down-under, Cam Mackenzie, spotted Blenki riding this big-wheeled version at the New Zealand National Champs in Wanaka this weekend.

Cam couldn't extract much information from a tight-lipped Blenki, except he is riding an XL sized frame that is 15mm longer in the reach than the 27.5" prototype.


Spotted - Sam Blenkinsop s prototype 29 wheeled norco dh rig and 29 BlackBox Rockshox boxer fork

Spotted - Sam Blenkinsop s prototype 29 wheeled norco dh rig and 29 BlackBox Rockshox boxer fork
The current Boxxer has been around since 2015 and is certainly due an update, could this be a new production downhill fork from RockShox? The arch is definitely shaped differently to the current fork and appears to have a huge amount of offset at the front axle.

Spotted - Sam Blenkinsop s prototype 29 wheeled norco dh rig and 29 BlackBox Rockshox boxer fork
The high-pivot bike appears to have a fitted rubber chain slap guard on the seat stay, but Sam has an extra neoprene guard to keep things quiet.

Spotted - Sam Blenkinsop s prototype 29 wheeled norco dh rig and 29 BlackBox Rockshox boxer fork

Spotted - Sam Blenkinsop s prototype 29 wheeled norco dh rig and 29 BlackBox Rockshox boxer fork
The raw finished crowns suggest they are still in the prototype stages, it is likely that riders are still experimenting with different offsets for the big wheels...

Spotted - Sam Blenkinsop s prototype 29 wheeled norco dh rig and 29 BlackBox Rockshox boxer fork
...or maybe not, judging by the laser etched logos on the top crown. The compression adjuster on top of the right-hand stanchion looks similar to the prototype Lyrik spotted at the Andes-Pacifico a few weeks ago.

Spotted - Sam Blenkinsop s prototype 29 wheeled norco dh rig and 29 BlackBox Rockshox boxer fork
Is Blenki running an XL frame that is 15mm bigger than the 27.5" version, and has a reach-adjust headset set at most forward position?

Unfortunately, big wheels don't automatically win medals as Blenki finished 11th at the race where Eddy Masters took the win. But, Sam did finish first in the seeding run, nearly two seconds in front of Ed, maybe he used up all his luck two weeks ago when he won the Oceania Champs in Dunedin. We're awaiting Cam Mackenzie's full race report for the lowdown on the weekend.


139 Comments

  • 88 8
 27.5" is not dead.

Someone here stand up near that big boy ? I think blenki is minimum 1.90 meter tall !

So for him, 29'' is ridable like Danny Hart in 26'' ! Just use the size you need.... Wink
  • 10 5
 Blenki is 6" I think so its like 183cm, i would say its more about legs lenght
  • 102 12
 @bok-CZ: 6 inches is 15cm. Wonder how you know he's 15cm.
  • 46 6
 @chyu: aaah ok 6´ or 6 feet you grammar nazi
  • 10 39
flag promdi (Feb 25, 2018 at 9:07) (Below Threshold)
 I'm 5'4, riding a 2017 Trek Fuel EX 29(with another set of 275+) and liking it, oh wait only 1 ride so far...
  • 6 0
 @bok-CZ: blenki is 6' 2"
  • 1 5
flag cwatt (Feb 25, 2018 at 9:56) (Below Threshold)
 I’ve been saying this for two years now.... :S
  • 2 0
 @chyu: statistics...
  • 11 1
 @bok-CZ: Actually, bigger/longer bike is more needed when you have shorter legs and longer upper part, especially arms (bigger ape index)
  • 5 0
 @pakleni: I am also 183cm I have ape index like 10cm, Iam fine on longer bikes, but not on bigger wheels as I lack some space under my ass then on 29" Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @pakleni: I'm 187cm, small legs, APE of -2, and ride on medium bikes (or a large Entourage with 35mm stem, and I feel it a little too long). I think you've got a point.
  • 1 0
 188 with an ape of +8, i have been waiting 25 year for mountain bikes to finally fit me. 29 x 3 minions are the cats ass.
  • 1 0
 Everyone sizing up now that Danny Hart has revealed his true height of 5’12.
  • 1 1
 @harrybrottman: quiet please, he keeps the public info he is 5.10 to better represent the shoe sponsor
  • 1 0
 @bok-CZ: Hey, just like me >>
  • 1 0
 @bok-CZ: Then you're not talking about general trail riding, but some kind of the more technical gravity riding.
  • 73 5
 Maybe we are just finally coming to the terms with how small DH bikes have typically been.
  • 10 1
 Mabey the best worded statement I have read on Pinkbike.
  • 17 2
 @krumpdancer101: I did always wonder why my trials motorbike was longer, slacker, with a longer chainstay and higher front end than my downhill bike way back in 2006 – considering one was designed for going very fast downhill and the other for going very slowly around tight corners and up things...
  • 8 1
 And how different DH is to road cycling.
  • 1 0
 @paulaston: But it isn't just about how fast you're going. When riding trials, you're placing your vehicle (bike or moto) under steep angles. And especially considering the boost the motor can give you, it could easily pull you upside down.
  • 17 24
flag douglasbruce (Feb 25, 2018 at 13:56) (Below Threshold)
 @BenPea: DH is Rad, DHers are cool!! Road Biking Sucks, Road cyclist suck balls. As for Lance Armstrong teammates case, they suck ball.
  • 2 0
 @krumpdancer101: For sure the wordiest
  • 1 0
 @krypto8: In terms of how the bike's geometry needs to be I meant.
Off the bike, I cast no aspersions on the character of road rats (although they do tend to be psychologically interesting) and I've ridden a DH bike 3 times in 4 decades, 2 of those being on a street.
  • 1 0
 I think krumpdancer may have overegged the pudding somewhat, though.
  • 4 0
 @krypto8: Road cyclist steal your girl mate?
  • 2 0
 Exactly I was watching downhill from 99 the other day and it looked like gorillas on kids Walmart bikes.
  • 1 0
 188 with an ape of +8, i have been waiting 25 year for mountain bikes to finally fit me. 29 x 3 minions are the cats ass.
  • 1 0
 @paulaston: totally agree. I bought an XL demo last year and have it set up with a 30mm rise bar so it now feels pretty close to my early 2000s trials bike. It improved my confidence so much as it was such a natural riding position.
  • 2 0
 @RoverDover: Finally society is dealing with the important issues.
  • 1 0
 "Maybe we are just finally coming to the terms with how FUN DH bikes have typically been."

fify
  • 1 1
 true, riding on 2012 L-sized Demo still feels like on bmx
  • 63 15
 The best part is he can now wear a dress if he wants without having to hike it up. I'm pretty excited to see how the sport will progress now that riders don't have to ride sidesaddle.
  • 27 4
 I hope RockShox names the 29” fork, “the Brawler.”
  • 7 3
 Or the Slapper
  • 8 6
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: or the snapper
  • 12 0
 Or Aaron
  • 47 0
 or kevin
  • 6 0
 @RedBurn: 100% would buy.
  • 20 1
 The best thing about DH 29ers is how butthurt all the full face park rats get over them.
  • 14 0
 62'' for life
  • 2 0
 @galliwasp: thanks for that !!!
  • 1 0
 Yes, 29" isn't that big a size. A bigger wheel could certainly be rideable, and it would be fun, and very fast for sure. But when or if that ever happens, many will certainly cling to their small 29"wheels for whatever extra maneuverability, robustness, lightness etc. they provide.
  • 8 0
 I think he had a high speed crash in his race run. I saw a instagram of him going hammer and tongs and then he hit something (couldn't see) and went OTB. He is looking good for this years races. Go BLENKI!!
  • 4 0
 he slid off the wooden bridge right at the bottom. he looked on for the W.
  • 2 0
 @bthomson84: cheers for the info. What a bugga for Blenki.
  • 1 0
 @GruntaNZ: The race report on Vital says he clipped a pedal. Sounded like he was flying.
  • 4 0
 There are a lot of comments how 29ers DH bikes are more for tall people and how disadvantaged they have been throughout the years on small bikes...

I wonder if they are so disadvantaged on smaller bikes, how come the tall people win so many races?
  • 11 4
 How many DH bikes is norco working on??
  • 94 2
 All of them.
  • 2 0
 Also having raced the 27.5 version of this bike at WC, they have to release it as a production version within a year as per UCI rules don't they?
  • 1 0
 @SonofBovril: are those the rules? If so then what about all the custom one-off bikes raced at Pietermaritzburg?
  • 6 0
 Blenki lookin fast this year. His skills, smooth bike, no gloves...gonna be up there on the podium for sure!
  • 2 0
 Just like the old days.
  • 1 0
 @panaphonic: One podium. Schladming 2008. On a Yeti. Am I wrong? Love the kid, and hoping he finds some speed this year.
  • 4 0
 @herzalot: He has one WIN, which was Schladming. He has a solid handful of podiums, including a few at Ft Bill, although he hasn't had the best luck recently
  • 5 0
 @herzalot: Sam won the World Cup event in Schladming in 2008, and secured a second-place finish at the same venue the following year, but his best World Cup season so far was actually in 2010. That year, riding for Team Lapierre International, he finished fourth overall thanks to a series of consistent results including a third placed finish in the final round at Windham.
Read more at dirtmountainbike.com/people/sam-blenkinsop#q42WT3d8ywFL4QUa.99
  • 8 2
 How much lower do top tubes need to go?
  • 10 2
 looks so moto tho...pretty sick lookin if you ask me.
  • 19 0
 Just below the bottom bracket would be ok.
  • 4 0
 We're going to need a bigger lower.
  • 3 0
 We could probably mount a water bottle on that top tube.
  • 3 0
 Yeah! those pesky low top tubes...I hate them.
  • 2 0
 Definitely will not fit a bottle...
  • 4 0
 Due to shitty availability of wide DH / beefy enduro tyres for 29ers that's the first thing I look for... dirty dan and magic mary huh....
  • 3 0
 29er Maxxis DH is here too.
  • 5 1
 I like how Pinkbike is the most credible news source, yet the photos look like they're done by a 7 year old creeping on some guy.
  • 1 0
 SRAM had all of their international riders at Windrock for the last 2 weeks testing and the Commencal & Nukeproof teams on Friday were all running Boxxers with generic red lowers.

Search out some pics from the week, you're bound to spot a few gems.
  • 1 0
 Regarding the forward set headset and long offset fork: Cannondale did a similar thing with their Jekyll a few years ago. The thought was a steeper head tube angle to increase steering sensitivity while retaining the downhill capability of locker bikes by simply pushing the front axle out vie the fork itself.
Whether it worked or not is another question...
  • 1 0
 longer bikes *
  • 3 0
 If that seat tube gets any bigger I'll expect to see a sail attached to it.
  • 2 1
 In the first pic with the female holding a bike beside the Norco in question, notice how much smaller in diameter the fork tubes and lowers are than her bike. Don't know why or what it means, just an observation.
  • 1 0
 Rockshox has always had stanchions thinner than 40mm, didn't they? I suppose this is Bernard Kerr's bike.
  • 8 6
 That look on his face in the first pic, I would call that sceptical at best...
  • 6 5
 i wouldnt mind shredding that BEAST! look at this beauty ...!
  • 4 0
 @RedBurn: Norco's are a thing of beauty. I've always wondered why there aren't more dealers over here.
  • 1 10
flag leviatanouroboro (Feb 25, 2018 at 13:44) (Below Threshold)
 I think that look is actually... "Goddamit, have to share this 2 seat lift with miss piggy now"
  • 1 0
 I saw that same sort of blacked out fork while working lifts at Angel Fire last summer late season, wonder if its actually a thing...
  • 2 0
 chain line looks like new commencal
  • 1 0
 whole rear end looks remarkably like a Commencal.
  • 4 2
 Ho, the same "secret" Norco prototype we've been seeing all year long
  • 2 2
 Hope guys you haven't spent all your money on a 27.5" bikes... because they're about to be outdated...
So don't buy yet and wait, perhaps the standard frenzy will calm down
  • 2 0
 I wanna see a tabletop invert with that frame!!!
  • 30 28
 27.5 is dead
  • 63 6
 Remember when Giant announced that 29er was dead a few years ago? Silly Giant.
  • 7 3
 Nah, only in the PR team wet dreams.
  • 30 5
 Maybe we should ask Aaron Gwin first.
  • 3 0
 Trying to be ahead of marketing be like
  • 3 1
 @enrico650: Don't be so sure. There may just be a Goat vs Goat duel coming.
  • 5 0
 @craigcanucks:

Yeah that’s still confusing to me. I bet they’d sell a redesigned and relaunched Trance 29er. Didn’t they have trouble keeping the chainstays short with the maestro linkage?
  • 3 2
 @craigcanucks: yep! I laughed hard then! Knew they were wrong!
  • 3 4
 @enrico650: Just wait until he's riding 29'' on his DH bike. Then you can ask him.
  • 7 2
 @enrico650: Gwin would still win now on a 26er.... !
  • 2 0
 @RedBurn: sure! And he'd also win on 29.
  • 3 1
 @enrico650: Capra 29 with Fox 40....
  • 1 1
 @enrico650: Haha, somehow I think I know what his answer will be. The geo needs to catch up first....
  • 1 1
 @enrico650: bet you see Aaron on a 29er this year at some point
  • 2 0
 Thanks god I'm riding 26" Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @XC-SCRUB: You should check today's Fontana report. He is on a new 27.5 bike.
No need to ask.
  • 1 0
 @SonofBovril: Check today's Fontana report.
  • 3 2
 29er down hill bikes really rocks %
  • 4 6
 Norco has unclear ideas. are 2 seasons that makes prototypes ... but the customer if he wants to buy a dh in the catalog has only the aurum ..... project abandoned from 2016 ....
  • 16 0
 I don't see what's so complicated about spending 2 years working on an update to an incredibly popular DH platform (the Aurum). You've been seeing prototypes of the new DH bike for a while because there's a lot of hype around it. Norco will release it when it's ready to shred and it'll be worth the wait.
  • 1 1
 @dkidd: an ex-Norco fan talks to you ... in 3 years I've had 5 ... but I'm just saying that they have been racing for 2 seasons ... and now they try it on the 29th, I say good! but sincerely the company is not serious. because when the team runs with the new bike at the latest at the end of the year of competition must be on sale as do all the other companies .... they do not have much commercial sense
  • 1 0
 Looks good, I'm probably too small at 5'9 though lol
  • 1 0
 Ewwwww dat fork offset....
  • 1 0
 Get that bike in my belly.!!
  • 1 0
 Bigger fork offset is due 200mm of travel I guess..
  • 3 1
 Sad!
  • 1 1
 This is new fork rock shox boxxer???
  • 1 1
 Should be an interesting year with more 29ers being rode. I
  • 21 24
 Are 29ers still a thing? I thought we left that sh*t in 2017
  • 38 8
 No, just you left in 2017
  • 6 16
flag cragus-t (Feb 25, 2018 at 11:53) (Below Threshold)
 @Brdjanin: I think your lycras too tight m8 XD
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