Evans Cycles are pleased to announce to addition of Norco Bikes to our UK-exclusive brand portfolio for model year 2012. I recently had the pleasure of attending their 2012 launch in North Vancouver to set eyes on the new product and meet the people behind the brand. 

Founded back in 1964 by Bert Lewis as ‘Northern Cycle Industries Ltd’, and never straying from their spiritual home of British Columbia, Canada; the local terrain playing a crucial underlying role in the company’s product design, development and ethos: 

“There aren’t too many places in the world where on your doorstep you can freeride down world-class trails, do a 200-km road ride, take a cruiser along the sea wall, or get dropped by a float plane into remote areas for an All Mountain epic. Being based in the Pacific Northwest, our backyard is both our playground and testing facility.” 

In 2011 Norco introduced their A.R.T (Advanced ride Technology), which is an FSR based platform on their Fazer XC bike, Range all-mountain model and the Shinobi 29er trail bike. The A.R.T technology has now been applied to nearly all mountain bike models; this includes the new Sight – a 140mm trail bike designed for UK trails by a UK designer – and Revolver which is set to be the most fun 100mm 29er you’ve ever ridden. 

 

The main benefits of Norco’s A.R.T suspension platform are… 

1 – increased pedal efficiency via allowing for a 20% increase in chain growth which creates ‘anti-squat’ forces meaning an ultra-efficient power transfer and excellent climbing abilities. 

2 – improved leverage ratio curve, which in plain English ultimately means a easier suspension tuning and a bottomless feel to the travel. 

3 – improved square edge bump compliance through allowing the rear wheel to travel rearwards as it travels up (and out of the way of obstacles). 

4 – Improved braking performance via a rearward axle path that allows the suspension to remain incredibly active under braking 

Here’s a quick bit on the technology before we have a look at the key new models. The most exciting thing on the Full Suspension range is the one piece forging used throughout the models. The bottom bracket section, ISCG tabs, lower pivot mount and main pivot clevis are all forged from once piece of aluminium – there’s no CNC machining here – this creates a stronger bottom bracket unit and also retains the beneficial properties of aluminium. This really isn’t the cheapest way to make a bike frame, but it shows how dedicated to performance Norco is. To further support this commitment to performance, Norco have used the Syntace 142×12 bolt-thru system on nearly every rear end on the FS line up. 

One piece, forged BB/main pivot/lower shock mount with integrated ISCG05 tabs combined with a Syntace 142x12mm rear end are found on the Shinobi, Revolver, Aurum DH (157x12mm), Sight and Range 2012 models for optimised strength/stiffness to weight.

 

The developments have not been limited to the FS range; the advances in both technology and aesthetics have been applied across all models. There is a stronger and more cohesive brand image on all lines. From the road perspective, their Aluminium Valence models benefit from A.R.C (Applied Road Compliance) seat stays, a design that decreases the vibration from road to rider that can be found on their highest end carbon models, the dedication to giving you the best technology at all price points is one of the most admirable qualities of the designers behind the brand. The hybrid range has been refined and developed to ensure the same level of quality is applied to all models. 

The more more upright riding position combined with the in-design comfort features make the Valence models ideal for those riders looking for an introduction into the world of drop bar road bikes.

 

The Sight is the new 140mm platform that is set to contend with the big boys in this arena. It replaces the old Fluid range, everything has changed, nothing remains the same and this bike is everything you would want for the UK. With a short and stiff backend that maintains massive mud clearance, a reasonably low BB height and slack headtube this bike will allow you to charge descents, but the incredible rear platform will allow you to ride this bike all day and not apply the pro-pedal or question why you didn’t take the hardtail… The small bump sensitivity and rear wheel path is spot on, it feels so supple and really smoothes out every bit of trail chatter. If you were to take the above and leave it there, you would have one of the best trail bikes on the market, but then Norco and Evans manage to deliver you some incredibly well dressed bikes at prices that make you look twice (more will follow on this). Definitely give this bike a ride. 

The Revolver is a new 100mm trail inspired 29er that will carry you over and down the roughest of trails without any hesitation; it inspires confidence and will bring a smile to even the biggest doubters face (this is a fact, I witnessed it). It’s not your average XC race bike; its geometry and build kit is designed for those epic all day rides which encounter every eventuality. With a short stem, wide bars, 12mm rear end, 100mm head tube this bike is on rails, it can be launched in to the most technical section of your trails with all the confidence you can muster and it will reward you with the ride of your life. 29ers just got fun. 

Don’t be fooled by the travel this not your average 100mm ‘Marathon/XC’ 29er! What translates as a perfect Marathon/XC in British Columbia makes for an awesome trail bike here the UK - Syntace 142x12mm rear end, short stem , wide 680mm bars and 15/20mm bolt-thru forks up front help give an indication of the Revolver’s more aggressive tendencies.

 

The Threshold is Norco’s answer to a World Cup quality Cyclocross platform that could double as the perfect winter commuter. With the swappable rear dropouts allowing you to run the frame geared, single speed or with belt drive it offers you the possibility to set up the bike exactly as you want, or swap between multiple setups and one frame. The below picture shows a prototype of the dropout, the final production model will be anodized black. Another subtle addition to this bike is the hidden guard mount under the brake bridge, with the most discrete dropout mounts I’ve ever seen. This bike will get you to work without the dirt stripe up your back and won’t look out of place on the start grid of Cross nationals. With a tapered headtube this bike handles like you need it to and the BB30 BB ensures that none of your power is lost on those lung busting bursts. Be prepared to see this bike at local races all season long. 

Norco add even more versatility to the CX bikes’ do-it-all mantra with an ingenious dropout system allowing the rider to swap from conventional vertical geared to horizontal for singlespeed use and even the fitting of a Gates belt drive.

 

One of NOrco's product managers' had their prototype Threshold setup in belt-drive guise.

 

Both the Sight and the Aurum were designed by Owen Pemberton – a UK engineer/designer who has a colourful riding background, a long stint on the design and engineering team at Rolls Royce and a gnarly broken back story, harness all of this and you have a man capable of designing the most incredible bikes for the UK market. 

The Sight is Norco’s all-new 140mm versatile trail bike that promises to ascend every bit as well as it descends. A nice middle ground that should prove perfect for UK trail centres.

 

The Aurum is probably the most advanced and well thought out downhill bike on the market today, with the development of gravity tune accounting for different leverages and centres of gravity from riders of varying height. All manufacturers tweak the front triangle to account for different torso lengths, but the Aurum is the first frame to change rear centre lengths and pivot placements on all sizes, allowing all riders and frame sizes to experience the same experience. It makes perfect sense, as you get taller your lever gets longer and taller, your hips for example get higher off the ground and can move further back over the BB thanks to a longer torso, arms and legs, by tweaking the pivot placement and increasing the rear centre length you can maintain the exact characteristics across all sizes. This bike charges, the system uses a tweaked version of the A.R.T system and you can feel it, never has a bike pedalled so hard but been so supple on small bumps. With minimal rearward wheel travel, you never feel like the bike is getting hung up or falters from accelerating or maintaining warp speed. Look for Ben and Dan on the Dirt team to be putting in some banger performances on the World Cup over the coming year.

More Mountain Biking Videos 

With valuable rider input from Dirt Norco team of Ben Reid, Dan Stanbridge and mechanic, Ali Beckett, the new Aurum DH promises to turn heads. With x4 different builds on offer and a Dirt Norco team replica frameset there’s something for pro racers and budding DH beginners alike.

 

To summarise, Norco are back in the UK, exclusively available in Evans and we are really stoked to be supporting them at such a pivotal and developmental time in their history. This is the year of the Norco, be prepared to have your opinions changed. We will follow up this blog post with a spec and pricing post, giving you all you need to know about the big models of the year.