Norco Range 1 (pre-production sample)

Lightweight do-it all ride

BikeRadar score 4/5

The Range replaces both the Fluid LT all-mountain frame and the Six in Norco’s, er, range. It’s a new design and features 160mm (6.3in) of travel, with a lightweight yet tough construction – ideal for everything from all-day trail riding to gravity-based bike parks.

We slung a leg over a pre-production version* at Norco's 2011 launch. If the final bike is as good as our prototype test bike, then the Norco Range is certainly one to watch out for.

Ride & handling: Lightweight but incredibly capable and very user-friendly

The Range's modified FSR rear end has an exceptionally active and lively feel. The early part of the stroke hugs the ground, offering plenty of grip, and the slight rearward movement of the rear wheel, although not that noticeable, does allow the bike to keep its speed well on the kind of stuttery terrain that can normally have you skipping about.

The stiffness the 142mm rear end allowed was notably impressive, especially when stuffed into tight catch berms or landing skew-whiff from a drop. The roomy front on the size large was comfy enough for this 6ft 3in rider, and the 66.5-degree head angle gave controlled handling, even at speeds that you probably shouldn’t ride this bike at.

With the combination of the very active suspension platform, good geometry and really well made frame, the Range is so capable that after an afternoon in Whistler Bike Park on ours, we had to ask ourselves if you actually need anything more – it rides that well.

Frame & equipment: New ART system improves small bump capability; quality parts spec

There are four models of Range, but UK distributors Fisher Outdoor Leisure will only be bringing in the 3, 2 and 1. All models have the same frame. Constructed from double-butted hydroformed aluminium tubing, the front triangle has a flowing curved shape – the down tube curves away from the fork crown for clearance, and down towards the bottom bracket in order to accommodate an aftermarket piggyback reservoir shock.

A full-length seat tube hints at the Range’s cross-country capability, and a roomy top tube allows a comfy riding position. At the helm is a tapered head tube to keep things stiff, while out back a modified FSR linkage offers a slight rearward path in the initial stroke and the new ART (advanced ride technology) low leverage action gives improved small-bump response.

The 142mm spaced back end accepts a regular 135mm hub through the 12mm Syntace X-12 bolt-through system. A unique dropout holder with replaceable bolts sees a spare bolt stored on the frame. It’s nice to see removable cable guides for a dropper-style seatpost too.

Our size large Range 1 frame is built around a Shimano XT transmission. Up front is a Fox 36 TALAS FIT fork and the bike rolls on a pair of DT Swiss 350 hubs with M-480 rims. Avid Elixir R brakes tame the speed and a quality WTB Silverado saddle looked great and kept our backsides ache-free.

* The spec listed here is for the production bike, so some of the parts may be different from those shown in the photos.

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