Friday, June 30, 2006 11.00pm
British Columbia-based Norco Bikes make burly machines that can take the bullying abuse that Canadian riders dish out. With young up-and- coming riders just as eager to thrash the trails, Norco ran one of their popular A-Line rigs through the hot wash and came up with this incredible little thrash bike for youths and smaller riders.
The B-Line JR frame (named after the B-Line run at Whistler Bikepark) is made from 6061 aluminium and is a scaled down version of the popular A-Line. A Horst Link-activated linkage out back offers 140mm (5.5in) of travel, although it feels more like 180mm (7in) of supple yet torsionally stiff action. Apart from having 24in wheels instead of 26, the bike looks just like its big brother and is every bit as tough.
For just under a grand you get a great little rig that's perfect for upgrading in the long term. As standard, it comes with kit like a Shimano Deore groupset, Hayes Sole hydraulic disc brakes, a Titec bar and stem combo and decent flat pedals. Up front a Marzocchi Drop Off fork provides 130mm (5in) of travel and the rear shock is a Fox Vanilla R unit. There's also a pair of proper little ripper wheels - Sun Singletrack rims, Shimano Deore hubs and Maxxis Swamp Thing tyres.
Although the B-Line is a tad heavy, especially considering its potential customer base, it's remarkably manoeuvrable. One of our test riders, local whizz kid Dan, had no problem throwing the bike around and getting his whips and X-ups dialled.
Because the geometry resembles the longer travel A-Line, smaller riders could ride the B-Line like a big travel downhill bike - the suspension is so well controlled that it makes the bike feel like a more capable machine than its 140mm of travel would suggest.
Again, like the A-Line, this rig pedals well and gets on with the job of moving the rider over bumpy terrain as fast as possible. And, of course, it likes the big stuff - throw it off drops, hit dirt jumps or rag it downhill and it'll scoff the lot - like the adrenaline-seeking rider who's bound to be riding it...
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