Norco is famous for building indestructible big-drop bikes, but it also makes some lighter-weight trailsters such as the Faze. Top technical handling shows the Canadians can’t help making even their marathon bikes mayhem ready, though.
Ride: confident and capable when things get big
With a usefully broad bar and smooth initial stroke of the Fox shock, the Faze gives you confidence from the first pedal stroke.
Fork travel adjust means you can set it up as speed-steady or singletrack quick-witted as you like, but we generally left it long to complement its capable character.
The smooth shock and relatively compact dimensions of our medium sample made it easy to lift up or lob into rolling trail sections. Add plenty of ground clearance under the pedals and you’ve got the most technically adept bike here.
It just loves to be pushed hard and to prove its lateral stiffness and vertical smoothness, rewarding a dynamic ‘3D’ riding style.
The extra control and smoothness of the Fox shock is obvious from the start, and even with a noticeable rising rate it’s easy to set up sweetly for small to mid-sized lumps.
The longer stroke shock and proper licensed FSR linkage suck up bigger hits and land smoother than the other bikes here, giving the Faze a real edge when gravity kicks in.
You’ll have to get bigger, grippier tyres to really exploit this talent, though – the skinny Scorpions aren’t the most adhesive in the wet.
Fatter tyres will add more weight to the already heavy tare tab, though, and while the Faze pedals okay it’s a slog on long climbs compared with the lighter bikes here.
Frame: light but sturdy
With all the warped and curved tubes around at the moment, the basically round tubes of the Faze are refreshing. They’re triple butted on the inside, though, and top-of-the-range bikes build up seriously light.
Norco’s inherently sturdy mindset is shown by the chunky rear stays, big cantilevered dropout sections and double-sided cleft joints at the seatstay/linkage junction.
Practically speaking, the linkage gets two top mount positions for 89 or 114mm travel from the long-stroke Fox shock.
The seat post slot is forward-facing to stop spray getting in, and there’s plenty of room for bigger tyres.
Equipment: Shimano & Ritchey to keep; fork suggests upgrade
A big part of the bike’s weight comes from the basic, coil-sprung RockShox Tora U Turn. It’s smoother than the air Toras and the U Turn length-adjustment is handy, but it would be the first thing we’d upgrade, after the tyres.
The Shimano stop-and-go kit bits are all keepers, though, and the Ritchey rims took a hammering without a whimper or a wobble.
The rest of the Ritchey kit was fine, too, and it’s nice to have a saddle made with lots of pedaling not puddings in mind.
Summary: a new fave
The Faze was a totally new bike to us, but it immediately became a firm favourite for pushing our limits on more challenging trails.
The confident, light Fox-shocked chassis is gagging to be upgraded with new tyres and a lighter fork, though.
|Name||Faze 3 (08)|
|Bottom Bracket Height (in)||13.3|
|Rear Shock||Float R|
|Rear Tyre Size||26x2.0|
|Front Tyre Size||26x2.0|
|Available Sizes||L M S XL XS|
|Top Tube (in)||23|
|Seat Tube (in)||17|
|Rims||Girder XC Pro|
|Rear Hub||M475 Disc|
|Bottom Bracket||Hollowtech II|
|Front Hub||M475 Disc|
|Brakes||M485 Hydraulic Disc|