Norco Aurum HSP C2 650b first ride review£4,250.00

Is its performance as high as its pivot?

Designed as a pure-bred downhill race machine, the Aurum HSP was tested and developed by the Norco factory team on the Downhill World Cup circuit.

It uses a high single pivot (HSP) with linkage-actuated shock, making it a very different beast from previous four-bar Aurums. But does that result in better performance on the track?

Norco Aurum HSP C2 650b frame

The 200mm-travel Aurum HSP is only available with a full-carbon frame, which has some smart design features. To keep stiffness and ride feel the same across all four sizes, Norco uses ‘size scaled tubing’ — larger frames aren’t just longer, but also get bigger-diameter tubes with a slightly different carbon lay-up.

The rear centre (effective chainstay length) increases by 10mm with each jump up in frame size too, from 400mm (XS/S) to 430mm (L/XL), to keep weight distribution as similar as possible.

You can fine-tune the front centre (distance from the bottom bracket to the front wheel axle) and the reach to suit you, using the provided adjustable headset cups (0, +4mm, +8mm).

That high pivot gives the bike a rearward axle path, to help maintain speed in the rough. There’s a chain idler to minimise the pedal kickback that’s common with this type of design and ensures the suspension remains as active as possible.

Norco Aurum HSP C2 650b kit

The high pivot helps the back wheel suck up everything it hits
The high pivot helps the back wheel suck up everything it hits

This is the cheaper of the two 650b-wheeled Aurum HSPs (there are two 29ers too). While there’s nothing on the spec list that’ll blow your socks off, it will all stand up to a good thrashing.

The C2 is decked out in SRAM parts, from the GX DH drivetrain and Code R brakes to the RockShox BoXXer RC fork and Super Deluxe coil shock.

Race Face provides the cockpit, and the bike rolls on WTB rims shod with Maxxis Minion tyres that do their best to keep you glued to the ground.

Norco Aurum HSP C2 650b ride impressions

The Aurum HSP is a bump-swallowing machine. That rearward axle path helps it absorb anything the back wheel comes into contact with and, paired with the Super Deluxe coil shock, means it provides a supple and ground-hugging ride down the hill.

The fork has to work hard to match the plushness of the rear end though, which is something I found the RC version of the BoXXer struggled to do. It’s the most basic model in the range, which uses RockShox’s simpler ‘Charger’ damper. I’d recommend upgrading to the more sophisticated ‘Charger 2’ cartridge. The rest of the components all worked well.

This bike is happiest when charging full tilt into trouble
This bike is happiest when charging full tilt into trouble

While the Norco’s geometry provides a stable ride, it does so without hindering its agility. I was impressed by how well planted my L/XL bike felt, while remaining manoeuvrable enough to keep the ride engaging. Even though the back end stayed stuck to the ground, it was easy to change direction.

I never noticed the rearward axle path disrupting my balance or riding position. One thing that is obvious is the chain drag of the idler, which makes pedalling more of a chore, though this is a price worth paying for the Aurum HSP’s bump-eating ability.

This bike is happiest when charging full tilt into trouble, and you need a big hill to get the most out of it.

Norco Aurum HSP C2 650b early verdict

A bump-swallowing beast that thrives on high speed and rough terrain, once you’ve got it going.

Norco Aurum HSP C2 650b specifications

This rig is built for charging headlong down the hill, but with manners and control
This rig is built for charging headlong down the hill, but with manners and control

  • Sizes (*tested): XS/S, S/M, M/L, L/XL*
  • Frame: Carbon fibre with aluminium linkage, 200mm (7.9in) travel
  • Fork: RockShox BoXXer RC, 200mm (7.9in) travel
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Coil RC
  • Cranks: Truvativ Descendant
  • Mech: SRAM GX DH, 7spd
  • Shifters: SRAM GX DH, 7spd
  • Wheelset: WTB ST i29 TCS 2.0 rims on Novatec (f) and SRAM MTH 746 (r) hubs
  • Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF DH EXO TR 27.5x2.5in (f) and Minion DHR II 3C DH TR 27.5x2.4in (r)
  • Brakes: SRAM Code R, 200mm rotors
  • Bar: Race Face Atlas, 820mm
  • Stem: Race Face Chester DM 35, 50mm
  • Seatpost: Norco rigid
  • Saddle: SDG Fly RL
  • Weight: 16.66kg (36.7lb), L/XL size without pedals

Norco Aurum HSP C2 650b geometry

  • Head tube angle: 62.5 degrees
  • Seat tube angle: 71.82 degrees
  • Reach: 46.5cm / 18.31in
  • Stack: 61.2cm / 24.09in
  • Seat tube: 44.5cm / 17.52in
  • Top tube: 66.65cm / 26.24in
  • Head tube length: 12.25cm / 4.82in
  • Chainstay: 43cm / 16.93in
  • Wheelbase: 1,270mm / 50in

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