Norco Faze 2 - First ride £1839.99

Designed for singletrack ripping

BikeRadar score 3/5

The Faze is Norco’s singletrack hellraiser, with a sleek design and solid build. With a slightly shorter stem to encourage a more neutral riding position, it could be a trail centre killer.

Ride & handling: Fires up hills comfortably and handles the ugliest trails ably

Hitting the first climb, it’s clear that this bike is all about clocking up the trail miles. The proportions of the frame are just right, thanks to the ample standover height and 563mm top tube length (medium size).

The unnervingly long 100mm stem throws things out of whack though. It’s perfect for grinding up long drags, but hit anything technical or stand up on the pedals, and having your weight so far forward means it becomes a balancing act of weighting the minimally treaded rear tyre to maintain traction and keeping control of the front end.

That aside, when you’re seated and spinning the cranks the bike’s minimal pedal-induced bob means it will fire up hills comfortably and, with the easy-to-activate PopLoc remote lockout for the RockShox Recon fork at hand, life is made that bit easier if things get tough. At 13.2kg (29.1lb), the Faze 2 is sprightly when you’re zipping along the singletrack, and it’s easy to manoeuvre through turns and over obstacles.

On rougher trails we found the RockShox Monarch 2.1 rear shock lacked small-bump sensitivity, even when we were running more sag than prescribed. Through the heavier compression though, it remained composed and handled some of the ugliest trails ably.

Descending at speed was do-able, but due to the long stem, 70.1-degree head angle and narrow Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyres (2.1in with minimal tread), you’ll need lightning-quick reactions. The Recon fork is happy to take the hits and does a good job of keeping the front wheel on the ground.

Frame & equipment: Sleek, stiff chassis with adjustable travel, plus trail-friendly build

The Faze 2’s mainframe, chainstays and seatstays are constructed from triple-butted M6 alloy tubing, which has been sleekly pieced together with neat welds and smooth lines to produce a clean and simple look.

Norco license Specialized’s tried-and-tested FSR suspension design. The Horst link rear end offers the choice of 100 to 120mm (3.9 to 4.7in) of travel, which is simple to adjust with the upper shock mount that’s found on the forged one-piece linkage plate.

The transmission is taken care of by Shimano Deore components and an SLX rear mech. There are no worries when it comes to stopping, thanks to Avid’s Elixir 5 brakes – they’re consistent and powerful. We’d like to see lock-on grips for this much cash though – the grips specced will slip if it rains.

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