Norco’s Ryde is ideal for a budding trail specialist. You can take it straight from the shop to the dirt jumps, where you’ll really see what this bike is all about. It’ll help you improve your jumping skills – and you’ll look cool while doing it.
Ride & handling: A top performer on smooth trails, and a looker to boot
The Norco’s low seat, high-rise bars and semi-slick tyres let us boost through the trail transitions so well that we didn’t really need to pull up because the Ryde was doing all the work.
The very short stem accompanied by wide, high riser bars gives the Ryde a jump bike feeling like no other. It naturally positions you forward on the bike, making nosedive landings feel like second nature.
The super-low seat position makes leg variation tricks like no-foot cans easier, with the added bonus that the plastic pedals don’t mince your shins if you mess them up. On the downside though, they do lose all grip if you get your shoes wet.
Though the Ryde performs well on trials, beware of stretching it to make a section. One of our test riders came up seriously short through a 10-pack of trails and got their nuts stuck between the seat and tyre – so please be careful!
Obviously this bike is set up purely for smooth trails. The steep head angle and Marzocchi fork track really well through floating doubles, but on more open, looser turns like those you find on 4X tracks or in the woods, you’ll have to work that bit harder to find grip, compared with riding a bike with a slack head angle and knobbly tyres.
Frame: Strong and reassuringly stable, with some neat touches
Norco really ticked all the boxes with the Ryde. The steel frame gives extra strength and stiffness, and a steep head angle is a must for dirt jumping, as is a short head tube with a gusset for strength.
Horizontal dropouts allow you to change to a singlespeed later down the road. This is a great feature if you become a hardcore dirt jumper, because you definitely don’t need nine gears for tailwhips.
Something that really makes the Ryde stand out is the seatpost clamp. It has been neatly tucked away where the top tube meets the seat tube. When you tighten the double-sided 6mm Allen key through-bolt, it pushes a pin against the seatpost, clamping it up in the seat tube.
The rear triangle has loads of clearance for wider dirt tyres and there’s a hugely sloping top tube. A lairy yellow finish with neat blue decals gives the Ryde a true dirt jump look.
At the trails, the Ryde’s looks didn’t disappoint. Everyone was commenting on how cool it looked – some people even asked how much we wanted for it.
Equipment: This bike is ready for dirt jump action out-of-the-box
The sick colour co-ordination is the first thing that strikes you about the Ryde. The yellow frame is complemented by blue grips and a blue Marzocchi Dirt Jumper 3 fork with 100mm (3.9in) of travel, which seems to have become the standard on jump bikes.
There are also blue Norco hubs – with 15mm nutted axles rather than quick-releases – and blue semi-slick Kenda K Rad 2.3 tyres, which are always popular at jump spots. The Alien Nation rims received – and stood up to – a serious amount of abuse.
The blue Norco seat is not large, but does feature a neat clamp system that’s accessed from the top through a plastic slit. The cable-operated Hayes disc brakes provide adequate stopping power on a budget.
The drivechain is based around SRAM, which is always a benefit, especially combined with the capable Blackspire chain device, although we had to turn one of the rollers around because it kept pushing the chain off.
The Ryde comes equipped with plastic pedals, which are trendy at many a jump spot, and don’t rip up your shins and destroy your trainers like sharp metal pedals do. If you prefer metal pedals though, they’re an easy upgrade.