Welcome to Bike of the Week – our weekly in-depth look at one of the most interesting, important or innovative bikes to land at BikeRadar.
The fruits of an industry-wide push to focus bike design on geometry – and how everyone from beginner to expert riders can benefit from lower, slacker and longer figures — are now ripening, and this week’s bike, the 29in-wheeled Norco Torrent HT S2, is one of the finest examples of a geometry-first design.
What is Bike of the Week?
Every Tuesday, we’ll bring you a detailed first look at one of the latest bikes to arrive for review – from road to commuting, gravel to enduro, and anything in between.
This is our chance to introduce the bike and everything that makes it unique before hitting the road or trails.
The Torrent’s chromoly frame, hardcore geometry and no-nonsense design – externally-routed cables, no fancy frame shapes or anything that would prioritise form over function – is quite possibly the definition of a hardcore hardtail.
And while the Torrent S2 is the cheaper of the two-model range, foregoing luxuries such as RockShox’ Lyrik Ultimate RC2 fork and SRAM’s Code R brakes, it’s by no means a lame duck in the parts department. In fact, the Torrent S2 has a wealth of shred-ready parts bolted to its slim, steel frame.
Norco Torrent HT S2: £1,845
Nordo Torrent HT S1: £2,290
The £1,845 price tag represents pretty good bang for your buck. Alex Evans
More on the parts later, but first, let’s check out what makes this bike quite the shredder.
The Torrent is equipped with fantastically long reach figures that span from 420mm for the small up to a whopping 510 for the extra-large, Seb Stott-sized bike.
Elsewhere, the head tube angle sits at a confidence-inspiring 64-degree angle. The effective seat tube angle – at 76 degrees across the size range – should have even the most fashion-conscious enduro rider whetting their whistle.
And, because it’s a hardtail with no rear suspension, the seat tube angle won’t get slacker as the bike sits into its sag, which is a problem normally associated with full bounce bikes.
Despite the long reach, Norco has still specced a 50mm stem. We think they could have got away with a shorter one. Alex Evans
Wheelbases span from a lengthy 1,173mm in the size small up to whopping 1,277mm for the XL. And thanks to the clever folk over at Norco, who’ve managed to keep the top tube low and seat tube short, more people should be able to comfortably fit on the larger sized frames without constantly getting a kick up the behind from the seat and rear wheel.
Canada, eh! Alex Evans
These figures all combine, Norco claims, to make more “powerful pedalling, increased climbing traction and added grip and control when descending.”
We’ve not ridden the bike yet to debunk or confirm these claims, but experience tells us that Norco isn’t going to go too far wrong with geometry figures such as those.
And the frame’s material is also tricky to ignore, especially in a sea of hydroformed alloy bikes with fancy, curved tubes.
The Torrent’s stoically straight tubes give the bike a purposeful but rather elegant silhouette, thanks to the thinner diameters afforded by their ferrous composition.
The bike’s cables are externally routed from front to back, excluding a small port at the base of the seat tube for stealth and internally-routed droppers.
The only internally-routed cable on the Norco is for the dropper seatpost. Alex Evans
Although the £1,845 price tag isn’t horrifyingly steep, Norco has been careful with how the bike is specced, cutting some corners here and there, although the parts look functionally spot-on they’re just heavier than pricer options.
For example, the RockShox 35 Gold fork, with 150mm of travel, uses the same chassis diameter as the more expensive Lyrik fork but weighs more and has the less sophisticated Motion Control damper.
RockShox’ 35 Gold might not have the most sophisticated damper, but it still performs well. Alex Evans
Elsewhere, the bike’s decked out with SRAM’s cheapest 12-speed drivetrain, SX Eagle, compared to the pricier GX and above groupsets.
SX only has a 11-50-tooth range instead of the 10-tooth smallest cog.
The driveside chainstay is shaped to allow for improved chainring clearance. Alex Evans
Shifting is arguably less crisp, too.
There are some notable mentions, however. The X-Fusion Manic dropper has been critically acclaimed in our tests, plus TRP’s G-Spec Trail brakes feel sharp.
The Ergon GA30 lock-on grips are a nice touch, too, considering most brands spec hard-wearing in-house parts here.
The Maxxis Assegai rubber is a traction-friendly companion to a hardtail. Alex Evans
Importantly, it’s also specced with Maxxis Assegai 3C compound tyres with the EXO+ casing. Tyres have the potential to make or break how a hardtail rides, so it’s good to see Norco taking traction seriously.
Norco Torrent HT S2
Frame: Norco Torrent HT S2 double-butted Chromoly steel
Fork: RockShox 35 Gold, 150mm travel
Groupset: SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed
Brakes: TRP G-Spec Trail S
Wheels: e.Thirteen LG1 EN 29in rims on Novatec Boost hubs
Tyres: Maxxis Assegai 2.5 x 29in 3C EXO TR
Handlebar: Norco 6061 Alloy, 800mm wide
Stem: Norco 50mm
Seatpost: X-Fusion Manic dropper
Saddle: Fizik Tiaga
Weight: 15.81kg (size large without pedals)
We’re excited to get out on the bike and put Norco’s claims to the test, so stay tuned for a full review soon.