Norco are introducing four new mountain bikes for the coming season, all of which feature a refined version of Specialized's FSR suspension platform – which the Canadian company license for use in North America – called Advanced Ride Technology (ART).
The new system, which moves the chainstay pivot further forward and lower, is said to provide more chain growth, which should cause the suspension to firm up under pedalling input, and a more rearward axle path – 30 percent more than the previous design, according to Norco – which should mean better performance over square-edged hits.
We brought you preliminary details of the 160mm-travel Range all-mountain bike, 120mm Shinobi 29er and 100mm Phaser cross-country racer back in July but now have prices and spec information. We've also got the lowdown on the new 150mm Vixa women's trail bike.
Lightweight trail bikes are the hot item right now and the Range is Norco’s latest entry to the category. In its flagship SE configuration with a Fox 36 RLC fork, SRAM X0 group and CrankBrothers Iodine wheels, it tips the scales at just 26.3lb (11.9kg).
The Range SE sports all of the current industry trends, including a tapered head tube, Syntace 142mmx12mm rear through-axle and post mount rear brake. Anodised bearing caps protect the frame’s pivots, while an integrated grip on the one-piece rocker link improves comfort when carrying the bike – something that's commonplace on Norco’s home turf in Coquitlam, British Columbia.
The rocker link on the Range SE has an ergonomic grip for hike-a-bikes, while cartridge bearings and alloy covers grace the frame's pivots
The top-end Range SE costs US$7,195 but the frame will also be offered with three more-economical component packages, with the entry-level bike coming in at around $2,000. The base model will come with standard 135mm quick-release rear dropouts.
The 29er movement is alive and well north of the US border, especially in the notoriously gnarly terrain of the Pacific Northwest, where the larger wheels provide extra grip on slippery rocks and roots.
The Canadians do seem to favour slightly more travel than their American counterparts, though, and Norco’s new Shinobi is one big big-wheeled bike. Welded from 6061 alloy, it sports 120mm of ART controlled rear wheel travel mated to RockShox’s new 140mm-travel Reba 29er fork.
Like the Range, the Shinobi sports a 142mmx12mm rear through-axle and tapered head tube. Just one model will be available in 2011, with a price of $2,860.
While it’s touted by Norco as a World Cup racer, you’re unlikely to see an alloy full-suspension bike in top-level cross-country competition – they’re just too heavy when compared to the carbon competition.
The 23lb (claimed) weight of the Phaser, built with a Shimano XT group, is more than adequate for the average weekend warrior, however, and that rider is sure to appreciate the proven and robust properties of alloy over ultralight carbon.
Norco's triple-butted 7075 alloy cross-country racer
Instead of a rocker link, the Phaser’s 100mm of ART suspension features a swing link to keep weight to a minimum. Norco use Norglide composite bearings instead of sealed cartridge bearings to save additional grams. The triple-butted 7075 frame features a straight 1-1/8in head tube and sports RockShox’s SID RLT fork.
Cartridge bearings and alloy covers grace the frame's pivots
In keeping with the bike’s race purpose, Norco include Stan’s NoTubes.com ZTR Alpine rims to keep acceleration snappy and offer quick, reliable tubeless conversion. The top 2011 Phaser model costs $3,575.
The women’s equivalent to the Range SE, Vixa is updated for 2011 with the ART suspension design, a tapered head tube, post mount brakes, alloy bearing covers and 142mmx12mm rear end.
The bike has a lower standover height and bottom bracket than the Range, as well as a shorter top tube and chainstays, which all better serve a women’s stature, says Dustan Sept, Norco’s marketing manager. Vixa comes in one model with a RockShox Monarch shock and Lyrik fork for $2,860.
The Vixa is lower and shorter than the men's equivalent, the Range SE