We lent out some bikes to a few guys around the company over the summer for a long termer review. From road to mountain, recreation to race, our ride squad put the bikes through their paces and after a few months have got off the saddle to write up their experiences.
Hi I’m Fraser and currently manage the Edinburgh Branch of Evans Cycles. I’ve been ‘Biking’ for want of a better description for close to twenty years now, BMX and then Mountain Bikes (albeit with some overlap). Living in Scotland’s capital puts me in the prime location for a bit of off road fun, the Tweed Valley is a relatively short distance away and I regularly ride at Innerleithen. It’s a great place to ride and features some great trails both ‘natural’ and machine made.
It’s not often (read never) that I’ve been offered an extended use of a brand new bike to review. So when I was offered the chance to demo/abuse a Norco Shinobi 2 how could I refuse! The bike is one of a new breed of longer travel 29er trail bikes suited to more ‘aggressive’ ‘All mountain’ riding and as such comes with a 140mm Reba fork up front and 120mm rear travel via a Fox CTD rear shock.
Now my initial impressions on opening the box and building the bike were not good! I was very apprehensive about the overall size of the bike. I’m 5’9’’ with a short torso so I was nervous about the reach; with the stock stem it was a little too much. A quick swap for a 50mm one and all was well. While I was at it I popped on a Rockshox Reverb post too. It’s a popular item to pick up with this style of bike and I really don’t want to ride without one now, if you haven’t got a dropper post then you’re missing out. I also swapped out the Conti tyres for some Schwalbe Hans Dampfs, these are much more aggressive tyre and more suited to the terrain in which I was riding.
Now I’ve had a couple of 29er HTs in the past but I’ve always been apprehensive about 29er Full suspension bikes due to the long wheelbase and high bottom brackets. The Norco Shinobi looked to my eyes a bit of an odd beast, especially in the smaller size. However, I’ve found it to be a capable well balanced trail bike. It didn’t become overly difficult to handle in the ‘technical’ terrain around Innerleithen where I most often ride. In fact it’s quite a capable machine. The 140mm Revelations up front coupled with the 120mm rear travel (Courtesy of a FOX CTD unit) made a fun platform.
In fairness if you’re looking for a fun 140/160mm bike and are a similar height to myself I would recommend looking at the 650b Norco bikes. The Norco Sight (140mm) or its larger cousin, the Norco Range (160mm) are both awesome mountain bikes – I should know as I’ve bought a Range and thoroughly abused it around Scotland and France. Remember kids there’s no such thing as a “Quiver killer”!
I’m a strong believer in K.I.S.S. and no I don’t mean Gene Simmon but the adage “keep it simple, stupid!” This follows with riding kit too, my main essential is footwear! Ropey knees and a BMX background mean its flats for me (not pumps?) and I ride only in Five Tens, accept no substitute no matter what variety you choose they are simply the best shoes for riding in! Personally I have a pair of old 510 ‘Freeriders’, soon to be usurped by the newest iteration. Secondary essential, well it has to be socks and moving into winter it has to be Sealskins. They’re a real advantage in the cold, wet, dark months and it would quite unpleasant not to use them! I’d recommend at least mid-length socks that way I avoid Tics and won’t become cycling’s answer to G.G Allin (which could prove messy).
I would say that with helmets, clothing and pads it all comes down to fit. I won’t advocate my exact choices but suffice to say I would certainly recommend Endura for clothing and Specialized for helmets. I’ve always found both brands to be very durable in comparison to the competition.
As I mentioned earlier I spend most of my riding time down at Innerleithen, I think it has some of the best trails in the country and the town itself has a lovely friendly atmosphere (plus a good pub!). The main trails can be easily accessed by all and the ‘unofficial’ trails can be found quite easily to. For the sake of politics I’m not going to post these trails on this blog entry but suffice to say a quick chat with any local riders and I’m sure they’ll oblige you with details!
Alternatively pop into the Edinburgh store, I hear the manager there loves chocolate biscuits.