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First Impressions REVIEW

The All-New 2022 Norco Range C1

Words Ryan Walters
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Jun 23, 2021
Reading time

Buckle up sports fans - the Range lives! After months of rumours, spy shots and forum musings, one of the most hyped and awaited mountain bikes in recent memory is finally ready for the world. The all-new Norco Range has been a fairly well-kept secret at Norco HQ for the past few years - to the point where it was rumoured that the Range might actually be dropped from the lineup. But in recent months, it became clear that Norco was up to something very special. It’s obvious from first glance that the new Range is unlike anything Norco has done before. Being such a departure from the norm, Norco wanted to take the time to get things right - hence the long wait. Granted, the high pivot design isn’t new for Norco - the Aurum HSP downhill bike has been Norco’s flagship gravity machine for a few years, and the recently released Shore continued the trend towards bikes featuring rowdy intentions and rearward-arcing axle paths. After the re-release of the Shore, you could be forgiven if you bought into the rumours that the Range was being put out to pasture. A strong case could be made that Norco had their aggressive bike lineup covered with the Aurum, Shore and Sight. But as stacked as that lineup is, it leaves an obvious gap for the true enduro race crowd. While the Sight is certainly capable, it isn’t quite the race weapon that some riders are looking for. Range fans were hopeful that the spy shots hinted at something being cooked up for them, and today Norco is making sure they won’t be disappointed. The new Range arrives with a full carbon frame, 170mm travel at both ends and you can have it in any wheel size you want, as long as it’s 29er.

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Range hiding out in its natural habitat.

It seems fitting that this radical new machine marks the 10th year for Range in the Norco lineup. Introduced in 2011 (way back before enduro racing was even a thing), the very first Range featured 26” wheels, 160mm travel, and newly available (gasp!) 10-speed drivetrains. Dropper posts were still a novelty at the time, and while Norco didn’t offer them on OEM builds, they did have the foresight to include top-tube cable routing for these posts. The new Range shares little more than its name with the original. You only need to compare the wheelbase of the two bikes to see just how much things have changed over the last decade. The 2011 large-sized Range had a wheelbase of 1170mm - or about the same height as my 5-year-old daughter. Statistically speaking, you could comfortably fit her future 8-year-old self within the axles of the modern Range. That’s 1285mm for those of you not familiar with how goddam fast children grow - a difference of 115mm. This is absurd! Have you any idea how much food and clothing she is going to consume in the next three years!?

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Old school. New school.

Growth spurts aside, Norco set out with very clear intentions for the new Range; to build the fastest enduro bike possible. Making a great enduro bike requires a lot more than just super-sizing a trail bike and calling it a day. Enduro racing brings a laundry list of requirements to the bike that other disciplines don’t need to worry about as much. A true enduro race bike has the near-capability of a DH bike, but can also be pedalled uphill, sometimes for several hours in a single race. Reliability and self-sufficiency are paramount, as is the ability to carry water and tools on the bike. A typical DH race is over in minutes, whereas an enduro race has multiple stages - each a DH race unto themselves. These stages are usually separated by long climbs that need to be completed in a reasonable amount of time. Due to the extreme demands and design criteria on these bikes, it’s not uncommon for an enduro bike to weigh in at more than a DH bike. It turns out those 12-speed pie plates and mile-high dropper posts weigh quite a bit. A less obvious consideration is that of racer fatigue throughout the race. The bike needs to have the racer’s back when he or she inevitably makes small mistakes at speed, which is all the more important if stages are being raced with little or no practice beforehand. Norco made a point of addressing all these issues in the ground-up redesign of Range. Where previous versions were more well-rounded, big-travel bikes - the new bike is laser focused on speed in the roughest terrain imaginable.

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Seeking out terrain that might test the limits. Still searching…

For the small minority of folks out there in mountain bike land who haven’t been repeatedly bashed over the head with the claimed benefits of high-pivot rear suspension - it's time to pay attention. High-pivots have been around for many years, first finding their way onto mountain bikes in the 1990’s. Trail bikes of the era were still doing silly things like having front derailleurs and stuff, meaning the unique drivetrain requirements of the high-pivot were not compatible. DH bikes were the obvious first arena to try out the high-pivot arrangement. Brands like Balfa and Brooklyn Machine Works made wild machines that promised better suspension performance via a rear wheel that tracked up and back, relative to the direction of the bike. Standard suspension designs all rely on a pivot location (real or virtual) that results in the rear wheel arcing up and forward, and it’s that forward element of wheel travel that the high-pivot seeks to eliminate. While riding, bumps strike the rear wheel in a rearward direction. When the rear wheel is forced to move forward through its travel, the wheel tends to get “hung-up” on obstacles. A rearward-arcing axle path does a far better job of absorbing bumps by moving up and out of the way. A side benefit to this motion is that the rear wheel trajectory more closely follows what the front wheel is doing by way of the suspension fork. This allows the wheelbase to stay closer to ideal parameters, instead of shrinking considerably as in the case of a regular suspension bike. Better stability is maintained even when flirting with bottom-out conditions at both ends.

I remember the day I first saw high-pivot bikes in action. It was in the late 90’s, and I was doing training runs at a DH race in Bromont, Quebec. Bromont is notorious for its rock gardens, and I watched, dumbfounded as the Balfa racers screamed through the rocks with their hair on fire. Those bikes were absolutely on another level when it came to maintaining high speeds in rough terrain. I was a machinist apprentice at the time, and that experience ended up convincing me to design and build my own high-pivot DH bike. Perhaps you owned one?

Shameless self-promotion out of the way, I’m obviously a guy who thinks there’s a lot of merit in the high-pivot idea, and we currently seem to be in the midst of some kind of renaissance, as this novel idea is starting to work its way down from the DH ranks onto bikes of a more pedally nature. Building bikes this way is not easy, and Norco deserves a lot of credit for pushing the boundaries of frame design with the new Range.

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126 links in case you were wondering - that’s 1 full SRAM chain.

But why the funky chainline? When you move the pivot up that high, you’d better make sure you bring the drivetrain with it. Suspension bikes produce a cacophony of forces all acting in different ways to bring either a magical or miserable experience to the rider. Humans have pathetic power output, and we mountain bikers sure don’t like it when our output is being used to do anything other than propel our bikes forward. Ideally, we don’t want our pedalling effort to interact with suspension movement at all - but this is far easier said than done. A vast oversimplification of the matter tells us that we want to have our chainline act somewhere close (or directly through) the main/virtual pivot. As the force vector of your drive chain gets further away from the pivot, the more “pedal-induced-bob” you introduce into the system, and this is bad. That funky chainline aligns the chain force vector closer to the pivot, resulting in suspension that isn’t heavily influenced by what the drivetrain is doing, and this is good.

It’s easy to see that the 3 high-pivot bikes Norco currently offers are all quite unique from each other in linkage design. The Aurum HSP (High Single Pivot) is exactly what its name implies - the rear axle pivots around a high-pivot, fixed relative to the main frame. The shock is then driven by a linkage, which has no effect on the axle path. The Shore takes the high-pivot one step further by incorporating a Horst Link, bringing lower levels of anti-rise to the equation - the suspension stays more active and doesn’t get “locked down” during heavy braking events. The presence of the Horst Link means that the pivot is virtual, meaning it floats in space relative to the main frame as the suspension cycles. The new Range takes the high-pivot Horst Link idea and literally flips it on its head. The linkage side of the suspension is placed below the high pivot. This is not easy to execute, as space is generally at a premium around the BB area. But the benefits of carrying weight much lower on the frame, while allowing for a very low standover height that still accepts a big dropper post, and a big water bottle is a very big win in my book. Norco calls the Range suspension “High Virtual Pivot”. The Horst Link strut (what might normally be identified as the “chainstay”) pulls on a triangulated link that pivots around the BB, which in turn drives the shock.

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Airing into questionable terrain at race speed is what the Range was born to do.

The Range will be available in 3 full builds and a frame only option. The gucci-spec C1 version that I’ll be riding for the next little while comes dripping with top-shelf bits. Fox Factory suspension at both ends, We Are One Union carbon rims laced to Onyx Vesper hubs*, SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain and CODE RSC brakes. Other notable features include a OneUp dropper post (210mm drop on the L and XL sizes - loud applause!), Deity Skywire carbon bar and Ergon saddle. Hell, you even get proper tires on this bike! Maxxis DD 3C MaxxGrip on both ends, with an Assegai taking the helm, and a Dissector on rudder duty.

The C2 build gets you the exact same frame and shock as the C1, but replaces the Fox 38 with the still excellent Zeb Ultimate. SRAM bits step down to GX and CODE R, and you get a lot less carbon in exchange for alloy kit from e*thirteen and Deity. Dropper post is a TranzX unit, with drop height ranging from 150mm for the small frame, up to 200mm for the L and XL frames.

C3 drops the price a bit more by mixing the Zeb Charger R with a healthy dose of Shimano SLX and Deore components and Stan’s Flow D rims. It’s worth noting (and appreciating) that all builds come with the same Fox Factory DHX2 shock and Maxxis DD MaxxGrip rubber. The shock and tires are a favourite place for bike manufacturers to save money without being too obvious. Kudos to Norco for realizing that on a bike like this, the shock and tires have a HUGE effect on the ride quality, and it’s nice to see even the “entry” level model getting some respectable kit hung from it.

*(Note that some marketing material shows the Range C1 equipped with DT Swiss wheels. Supply chain issues have forced Norco to change spec to the We Are One Union wheelset - a very fair trade in this tester’s humble opinion. MSRP remains unchanged.)

New for the Range is the introduction of a rehashed version of Norco’s Ride Aligned philosophy. Norco was one of the first mainstream bike companies offering a corresponding change in rear-centre lengths with frame sizes. Today, there are more bike companies realizing that you need to change more than the reach and seat tube length for a frame to fit properly across the size range. Norco has now taken it several steps further. Ride Aligned now includes slight differences in effective seat tube angle AND head tube angle. Testing showed that these differences allowed for the optimal riding position for riders of various heights. For instance, you’ll notice that the head tube angle gets slightly steeper as you go from XL down to S frame size. Norco found that smaller riders aren’t able to get their weight as far forward as the lankier specimens, so the HTA is steepened slightly to compensate. Very interesting stuff. In addition to all the geometry variation across sizes, you’ll even find component tweaks like longer drop posts on the L and XL sizes. Norco even went to the trouble of spec’ing thin grips on the smaller sizes and thick grips for us hamfisted biggies. That is some serious attention to detail.

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Always nice to have a good dance partner.

Impressions so far.

As stated earlier, I’ll be slamming around the trails on a C1 for the next little while. I already have a handful of rides on this sled. To all those folks I encountered trailside in the last couple weeks - sorry for the coy responses about what the heck kinda bike I was riding. These responses weren’t very imaginative, ranging from: “Oh, idunno” to “Well, what kind of bike do you think it is?” before making a quick getaway.

What I can tell you so far about my experience on the bike is that it feels big - unapologetically so, and not necessarily in a bad way. And even though the reach is not terribly long, the bike rides “big”. It’s a bike that exudes confidence at speed - to me, it handles a lot like a DH bike. My own daily driver is often described as “the enduro bike that wants to be a DH bike”. The Range feels like “the DH bike that wants to be an enduro bike”. This shouldn’t come as too big a surprise, as it was the Norco Factory DH team that was instrumental in the development of the Range. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt seen the photos showing Blenky and crew racing on prototype DH frames that look suspiciously like the new Range. Turns out, these prototypes are very close relatives to the Range (and to answer your burning question, when I pressed Norco on whether a new production DH frame was imminent, the short answer I got was “not anytime soon”).

Thanks to its DH pedigree, it seems the rougher and steeper the trail gets, the faster the Range wants to go. Even after just a couple rides, I found myself purposely launching into ultra sketchy lines just to see if I could unsettle the rear end. So far, I’ve been unsuccessful - the Range suspension is just so composed at all times. As good as the Factory 38 is (and trust me, it’s an incredible fork), it seems it can’t quite keep up with what the rear suspension is capable of. I’m still not quite settled on fork settings, but every ride I seem to be clicking all the knobs closer to 11.

While I’ve ridden high-pivot bikes before, it still takes a little while to get used to how the suspension kinematics affect the ride. Riding a wheelbase that doesn’t shrink drastically under compression is an odd feeling at first when you’ve not experienced it before. But the learning curve on the Range is quick, often surprising you with moments of brilliance - usually accompanied by thoughts of: “Holy shit, I can’t believe I got away with that”.

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Badass in black.

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If you’re going to spec only one shock across the line-up - this is not a bad choice.

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X01 Eagle - no batteries, no Bluetooth, no problem.

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Big stoppers for a big bike.

I will readily admit that this is not a bike for going out and doing epic XC loops, nor do I suspect that riders considering a bike like this are looking to do epic XC loops. With a weight of 37.5lbs for the large C1, it’s not exactly svelte either. I was slightly worried that the weight, geometry and suspension would make for a bike that was hard to get off the ground, but I quickly realized that the extra speed you can carry on pretty much any downhill grade means that the Range is an easy flyer, and will happily over-clear any jump in sight. And the fact that the Range carries its weight very low on the frame means that it's quite manageable, even providing some noticeable stability at speed. On mellower grades however, the weight and aggressive geometry can be a bit unwieldy at times. It can definitely climb, but it’s immediately clear that climbing is a means to an end aboard the Range. The hyper-active suspension means that climbing with the shock wide open results in a fair amount of suspension movement. I’ve found that I pretty much reach for the lockout on any sustained climb - even if it’s technical. The lockout calms the suspension quite a bit, but it still remains active enough to soak up most bumps. The lockout on the DHX2 is not very firm, and I actually wish it was a bit firmer on the Range. However, if you get comfortable and settle into a low-gear spin, the Range will gain altitude - just not very quickly. All that descending prowess has to come at a price somewhere. And remember those DoubleDown, MaxxGrip tires I was raving about? Well they might be dreamy on the descents, but they sure don’t help in the uphill slogging department. While I appreciate the DoubleDown casings, I find the MaxxGrip on the back to be a bit overkill for anyone not racing every weekend, or riding a typical Canadian February. Riding up hot asphalt with rider weight biased heavily towards the rear wheel, the MaxxGrip feels like it has patented suction cup technology. For general riding scenarios that involve at least some climbing and no racing, I’d be inclined to switch out the rear for a MaxxTerra, just to improve the rolling resistance and tire life expectancy. In a world full of OEM spec’d tires that function far below the intended purpose of the bike, only a mountain biker would complain about tires that were too high-performance. If nothing else, we mountain bikers love to complain.

My pseudo-whinge about the tires should reinforce the idea that this is a race bike, and comes equipped accordingly. And while I have no definite plans on racing it (thanks Covid), I do plan on seeing how far I can take it, and I suspect my own line of self-preservation sits somewhere well below the limits of this speed machine.

Retail pricing:

Range C1: $10,999 CAD $8,999 USD

Range C2: $8,399 CAD $6,999 USD

Range C3: $6,799 CAD $5,599 USD

Range C Frame Kit: $4,499 CAD $3,799 USD.

Stay tuned…

www.norco.com

rwalters
Ryan Walters

Age : 40

Height : 1803mm

Weight : 86kg

Ape Index : 1.03

Inseam : 787mm

Bar Width : 780mm

Preferred Reach : Pretty comfy at 487mm these days.

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Comments

thaaad
+5 Cam McRae Pete Roggeman Tim Coleman Mammal Marc Fenigstein
thaaad  - June 23, 2021, 10:10 a.m.

Fuck yeah, I may or may not have a C2 on order :)

Reply

Jotegir
+3 Pete Roggeman thaaad grambo
Lu Kz  - June 23, 2021, 12:55 p.m.

I've had a C3 on order for about two weeks before dealers even got part numbers for this thing. Looks like 2's are arriving before 3's so you're a lucky dude.

I am already bike-fortunate as I own an Aurum HSP and a different long travel 29er from a couple years ago. I'm not sure which this will replace, or if it'll replace both. That'd be crazy, less bikes, eh?

Reply

rnayel
0
RNAYEL  - June 23, 2021, 10:29 a.m.

Ryan, is the drivetrain overly loud in the easiest gear (52T cog)? From PB, their review of the new Cannondale Jekyll which is also a high pivot design suffers from some chain line noise issues. Curious if Norco were able to address this issue.

Great first look article.

Reply

rwalters
+1 RNAYEL
Ryan Walters  - June 23, 2021, 11:17 a.m.

Thanks! I haven't noticed any excessive noise in any gears so far. I did notice that on the first ride, the transmission felt like it had more drag than I expected, but it feels like everything is wearing in and drag seems much lower now after a few rides.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - June 23, 2021, 11:25 a.m.

Uncle Dave had the same observation about the Shore that he tested last year.

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - June 23, 2021, 11:59 a.m.

I was curious about the same thing after reading the Jekyll article on the other MTB site, but saw no comment regarding the Range by the same reviewer. Hopefully it's quieter.

Reply

IslandLife
0
IslandLife  - June 23, 2021, 2:57 p.m.

I think I remember the PB article also mentioning that they thought it had a lot to do with idler being made of steel that contributed to the noise levels.

Reply

monsieurgage
+9 Pete Roggeman Ryan Walters Justin White Mammal Cr4w Marc Fenigstein Timer jaydubmah Velocipedestrian
Gage Wright  - June 23, 2021, 10:59 a.m.

The HP renaissance has me asking myself all sorts of metaphysical questions.  I am a fast rider?  I am a style and jib rider?  Do I love skinnies or do I love the idea of loving skinnies?  Who am I within the subcultures and niches of bike advertising?  Answer, I am desperately trying to manual more than 10m and pull harder than one should while trying to get air.  Speed, meh.  Skinnies, I love them for the incredible mix of absurd with function and art form.  

These super bikes look like their capabilities far exceed most riders prowess and that idea tends to lead down another philosophical thought avenue.  Is it better to be outgunned or overpowered?  The 90's seemed like simpler time where you were either outgunned or outgunned and broken.  Thoughts Trevor, Cam, Pete, or other vintage riders?

Back to the review though where I liked that you addressed how the bike handles on most if not all angles of terrain.  I do wonder however about the HP suspension platform feels on shaped jumps?  Does that same movement of "getting back and up" make manuals feel forced or soak up the lip of a jump in an odd manner?  Does it matter because that is not the point of this bike (maybe)?

Maintenance, is this an issue worth mentioning with extra idlers, bearings, longer chain and a more complicated chain route?  

Spec, man I love seeing local companies come stock on bikes.  Good on ya WR1 and Oneup.  I wish the Oneup bars came stock as well on that top end spec.  How did the Union rims hold up?  Any reason to spec a Strife on a single crown bike within the Sea to Sky corridor? Or run a Union up front and a Strife out back?  Asking for a destructive friend.

Tires, I would just buy a spare 3C Maxx Gripp Assagai in DD when I pick up the bike knowing that the dissector is not long for this world as a rear tire in Maxx Grip and be prepared to throw front to back and new on front.  Stay cool kids, recycle your tires front to back.  Yes I know that doesn't solve the Maxx Grip rear tire issue but dems the brakes.

Thanks again for the awesome review.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+10 Tremeer023 Justin White cxfahrer Tim Coleman Ryan Walters Gage Wright Lu Kz hotlapz Marc Fenigstein Sun Hester
Pete Roggeman  - June 23, 2021, 11:23 a.m.

I almost downvoted you for calling me vintage, but I'd better be realistic - and at least I'm not as aged (not as fine?) as Trevor and Cam. Your philosophical question, put into 90s perspective, can be answered thus: "should I get myself some disc brakes and one of those newfangled dual-suspension jobbies, or is my steel hardtail with v-brakes enough for me?" In other words, the toys have changed, but the questions are the same.

While these bikes may (or may not) outpace a high percentage of those riding them, I think that one of the cool things about our sport is that normal people can get ahold of the bikes ridden by those with abnormally high talent levels on the biggest stages. I don't know how many other racing disciplines can say the same - certainly not most motorsports.

Ryan hasn't had the bike that long and this is a fairly extensive 'first look' - more like a first review - but I'm sure he'll be able to comment on some of the durability/maintenance issues after some more time aboard. If anyone can find weaknesses, it'll be Ryan. Incidentally, Veronika Voracek is also testing a Range, and she'll be writing a completely separate and very different review of her time on it - look for that in the future.

Reply

Timmigrant
+3 Pete Roggeman Gage Wright Dan
Tim Coleman  - June 23, 2021, 12:02 p.m.

That's awesome that NSMB will be having two different perspectives on the new Range!

Reply

rnayel
+9 Pete Roggeman Tim Coleman Endur-Bro grambo Cooper Quinn Dan Angu58 cole128 Vik Banerjee
RNAYEL  - June 23, 2021, 2:13 p.m.

NSMB will be presenting readers with a Range of perspectives.

Reply

dan
+2 Cam McRae Tim Coleman
Dan  - June 24, 2021, 12:47 p.m.

I Shore look forward to their inSight.

Reply

monsieurgage
0
Gage Wright  - June 23, 2021, 9:16 p.m.

That's funny that the toys have changed but the debates have not.  Just like the timeless debate the steel hardtail will never die, long live the steely HT.

True I could never ride a factory setup motorbike but I would take a gucci bike any day.  I am also curious about happiness to bike ratio.  Another endless debate about whether the latest and greatest makes you happier than the old idiom of run what you brung.  I just wish there were some data out there in the ether that would apply something like a Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH) scale to bike expenditure/travel/geo/wheel size.  I wonder what that data would say?   

I hope Ryan and Veronika ride the bikes on some dirt jumps.  If not for the review then just for the shear heck of it.

Reply

rwalters
+1 Dan
Ryan Walters  - June 24, 2021, 5:34 a.m.

I definitely plan on some Whistler Bike Park days, maybe some other local jump lines as well.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 Dan
Pete Roggeman  - June 24, 2021, 6:52 a.m.

I believe Veronika's second or third day on it was at CGP, so she's already jumping it ;)

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+5 Timer Dan jaydubmah Ryan Walters LWK
Cam McRae  - June 24, 2021, 7:46 a.m.

Keep thinking deep thoughts Gage! 

One thing I am nostalgic for is the ease in which older bikes get up on the rear wheel. Even my Yeti SB150, which isn't monstrously long, is tough to get on the back wheel for me. There was a brief moment in the age of 26" wheels when I was starting to be able to hold a manual for a pump or two. Very brief mind you. A couple of times I might have managed 40 feet on a paved road of the perfect slope. I got so that I could choke up on my rear brake lever and feather the rotor when I got too far back and it felt magic.

These days I have a hard time making it through a puddle on some bikes, and I can't even get to the balance point on my Yeti, which also may be compounded by my long legs and short torso and arms. Getting on the back wheel feels awesome when you incorporate it into the trail, and I can't seem to get back there.

At the same time I'm riding nasty terrain faster than ever before on good days, and conquering moves and trails that weren't even on my radar a couple of years ago. Is it worth the trade off? I'm not so sure but most days it feels like it is. And I too am enjoying skinnies for the first time in a decade or more, even with the long wheelbases.

Maybe a mullet is the answer? Maybe, but I was a bit sad when the 27.5 Bronson got the business in the front. I loved the last gen. of that bike in XL 

I don't however feel like I want a bike as brutish as the Range. I think the highly-capable Sight (as one example) is more my sweet spot as this point, and I tend to like to be able to use one bike for everything. I have yet to become a dirt jumper however, although my aspirations remain despite my advancing years. 

Love this discussion!

Reply

rwalters
0
Ryan Walters  - June 26, 2021, 7:28 a.m.

I have definitely experienced the same thing. Modern bikes are not as playful as the older stuff. But the new school geometry has definitely opened up speeds and natural line choices that were straight up impossible before. So for me, it’s not about making the existing stuff easier - it’s been about unlocking new terrain. When people say the new bikes are making mountain biking too easy, they’re just not riding the right terrain. As most people on this forum well know - there is plenty of stuff out there to challenge every skill level on any bike.

Reply

just6979
+7 Gage Wright LWK DadStillRides Timer Cam McRae Velocipedestrian Greg Bly
Justin White  - June 23, 2021, 11:37 a.m.

Gage, I think you hit on something big here. In the past, when we talked "race bikes", it was either a DH sled or XC whippet. Last couple years have seen A LOT of enduro race bikes which are basically trail/AM bikes aimed for speed over plain "fun". Yes, speed is often subjectively quite fun, but as you noted, sometimes trade-offs made purely for more speed can make other objectively fun stuff, like lippy/shaped jumps and weird/absurd (but interesting) jibs or skinnies, take way more effort.

I love going fast, but I don't really need/want to go much faster than my 160mm/140mm 32lbs (with tools and water) 27.5 trail bike can do, unless I armored up more than just head and knees. I also appreciate that even though I've left speed on the table (more suspension, more wheelbase, more wheelsize, high-pivot, etc), I'm also not making the fun stuff that I'm not as good at even harder to do. I can pull a decent 10m manual, I can bunny hop or punch over all manner of windfall logs (more common lately it seems), maybe even get a little nose bonk or rear wheel slide, I can get a little whip happening on a decent jump. Would I sacrifice any of that for more potential top speed? I'm not racing for dough, so nope.

I am I bit of an advocate for being a bit overbiked (outgunned in your parlance?) but in ways make it forgiving, as opposed to untapped potential for pure speed. I don't always use 160mm of front travel, but the 15mm I usually leave on the table sure is nice when I short a gap into a rock garden. I could probably get away with lighter wheels and tires, but I haven't had to walk out of the trails with a catastrophic flat or lumpy wheel in like 7 years. I could (and have) ride the same things with 3 inches less front-center/wheel-base, but it sure is nice to not have to hang all the way off the back for every single chute.

This bike is awesome, but I personally wouldn't cross-shop it because I'm not looking to light up the time-sheets on race day, rather I'd like something that doesn't make the silly fun stuff that I'm not so good at too much harder, but won't instantly punish me for every mistake.

(Note: I kind of consider big wheels as a type of overbiking. I like my local trails because they're chunky and weird: I wouldn't ride a DH bike just to smooth them out, so why would I pick big wheels just to smooth them out?)

Reply

monsieurgage
+2 Justin White Velocipedestrian
Gage Wright  - June 23, 2021, 9:25 p.m.

I am leaning towards a similar conclusion.  Would I be happier going faster?  Well let's put it this way.  I am the most happy when the trail speed is fast but comfortable and I can command the bike to hit any lip or side hit I want.  Going mach chicken at the bikes limit is the sort of fun that you are happy to ride away from but wish you had brought the full face and neck brace for.

Great point and nope I am not racing.  I would also agree that big wheels and increased travel are both tools for the same job, smoothing the jank.

Reply

Tbone
+3 RNAYEL Pete Roggeman Ryan Walters
Trevor Hansen  - June 23, 2021, 2 p.m.

I am buying you a deluxe coconut drink for putting Pete in the Vintage category. We usually just refer to him as late and lacking beer - this makes him multi-dimensional.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+3 Tim Coleman Deniz Merdano Dave Smith
Pete Roggeman  - June 23, 2021, 2:28 p.m.

Funny, I never seem to run out of beer over here in Sechelt...

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monsieurgage
0
Gage Wright  - June 23, 2021, 9:31 p.m.

Who else lives out that way to drink your beer?

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pete@nsmb.com
+1 Gage Wright
Pete Roggeman  - June 24, 2021, 6:53 a.m.

Pipe down young 'un

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cam@nsmb.com
+1 Jerry Willows
Cam McRae  - June 24, 2021, 7:46 a.m.

You never run out when we're around either. You just drink ours.

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Gdreej
0
Graham Driedger  - June 24, 2021, 8:26 a.m.

It's true, Trevor - I even saw him walk out of the Sechelt BCL with a flat of beverages. Pete, did you move to merely avoid the beer vultures?

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Gdreej
0
Graham Driedger  - June 24, 2021, 8:26 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

Gdreej
0
Graham Driedger  - June 24, 2021, 8:26 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

monsieurgage
0
Gage Wright  - June 23, 2021, 9:29 p.m.

New UCI category beyond the masters class, it's vintage baby!  Hard to say what is more prestigious but I am humbled every time we ride together.

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rwalters
+1 Sun Hester
Ryan Walters  - June 23, 2021, 2:12 p.m.

Great questions! I'll be the first to admit that this bike is not for everyone, and even though I'm only a few rides in, I'm already asking myself: "Who is this bike for?"

I think the first obvious answer is enduro racers who have the skills (and strength) to push this bike to the levels it was intended for. Beyond that, I could see it being a good quiver-killer for someone who lives for the descents, and has regular lift access. Or someone who is just lucky enough to be surrounded by mega-gnarly trails. A bike that can climb when you need it to, but can easily spend the season in the bike park as well.

Something I didn't mention in the article is that I'm currently on the fence as to whether I believe that the benefits of high-pivot outweigh the drawbacks for a bike that has lots of pedaling in mind. DH is a different beast, and I think the case is more easily made there. Weight, drag, maintenance, etc. - these are all things I will keep a close eye on in the weeks to come.

Oh yeah, and jumping manners - I'll report on those as well! I haven't yet hit any serious "jump lines", but the jumps I have hit so far have felt very normal. But I suspect that steeper vert jumps might need a slightly different technique than my personal ride.

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pete@nsmb.com
+9 Ryan Walters Andrew Major Tim Coleman Deniz Merdano thaaad Endur-Bro AJ Barlas Lu Kz Timer
Pete Roggeman  - June 23, 2021, 2:28 p.m.

If you ever say or write quiver-killer again, that Range is getting repo'd.

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Timmigrant
+2 Deniz Merdano DadStillRides
Tim Coleman  - June 23, 2021, 3:02 p.m.

What other terms are off-limits ... asking for a friend ...

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rwalters
+9 Deniz Merdano thaaad Endur-Bro DadStillRides Sun Hester AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman Pepe Tim Coleman
Ryan Walters  - June 23, 2021, 3:12 p.m.

dampening

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cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - June 24, 2021, 12:34 p.m.

Is it good on this bike? I want lots of it.

rwalters
0
Ryan Walters  - June 25, 2021, 3:49 p.m.

Yes. It has all the dampenings.

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - June 29, 2021, 1:56 p.m.

Like nails on a chalk board.

el_jefe
+4 AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman Timer hotlapz
el_jefe  - June 23, 2021, 6:24 p.m.

game changer

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D_C_
+4 AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman hotlapz DanL
DMVancouver  - June 23, 2021, 6:38 p.m.

Climbs like a goat

Bushpilot
+2 Pete Roggeman hotlapz
Bushpilot  - June 24, 2021, 6:44 a.m.

Weapon, sled

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Ceecee
+1 Tim Coleman
Ceecee  - June 25, 2021, 10:10 a.m.

Esp when preceded by absolute, flawless, vast, or massive. But these merit excision regardless of what they modify. May except 'vast sled, bro!' as it sounds like a Polish toast

Bushpilot
0
Bushpilot  - June 24, 2021, 6:44 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

pete@nsmb.com
+1 Tim Coleman
Pete Roggeman  - June 24, 2021, 6:55 a.m.

"Put it through its paces"

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Jotegir
+2 hotlapz Tim Coleman
Lu Kz  - June 24, 2021, 7:13 a.m.

Lateral stiffness, vertical compliance

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - June 24, 2021, 7:49 a.m.

"Is no exception"

"Offering"

"Put to the test"

"Stoppers"

I'm just getting going.

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LoamtoHome
+1 Tim Coleman
Jerry Willows  - June 24, 2021, 9:14 a.m.

"feeding off each other"

cooperquinn
+1 Cam McRae
Cooper Quinn  - June 24, 2021, 12:35 p.m.

What about 'binders'. 

Asking for a friend.

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - June 29, 2021, 1:56 p.m.

I hate bros talking about how certain things lack "mid-stroke support".

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monsieurgage
+1 hotlapz
Gage Wright  - June 23, 2021, 9:32 p.m.

What happens if he says "downcountry"?

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pete@nsmb.com
+4 Ryan Walters 4Runner1 hotlapz Dave Smith
Pete Roggeman  - June 24, 2021, 6:54 a.m.

Excommunication

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just6979
0
Justin White  - June 25, 2021, 8:18 a.m.

DaveSmith
0
Dave Smith  - June 23, 2021, 8:35 p.m.

planted

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WalrusRider
+4 Ryan Walters 4Runner1 Sun Hester Angu58
WalrusRider  - June 24, 2021, 4:38 a.m.

On a downhill bike or enduro race bike I can see the benefits of a high pivot design being worth the drawbacks if one is chasing all out speed. For a trail bike I'm not convinced yet. I'm not feeling like my 6 month old standard horst link bike is inadequate at this point.

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LoamtoHome
+1 Sun Hester
Jerry Willows  - June 24, 2021, 9:19 a.m.

seems like the enduro riders like bikes that are light(ish) with all the climbing and long stages.  Last enduro race saw no high pivots near the podium and where were the mullets?  

Thinking this bike is made for very specific riders/terrain.

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andrewfif
+5 Ryan Walters Pete Roggeman jaydubmah hotlapz Dan
Andrew  - June 23, 2021, 6:28 p.m.

I have ridden the crap out of union rims for almost a year and never broken one. Live in bellingham and was in bootleg canyon for 4 months of winter. I weigh 225 and ride fast and often. Also run stupid low tire pressures because I’m a delicate flower. Short version you can’t lose with those rims. They aren’t light

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cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - June 24, 2021, 12:36 p.m.

If they can survive a year in Bootleg they can survive anything.

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just6979
0
Justin White  - June 23, 2021, 11:01 a.m.

"2011 (way back before enduro racing was even a thing)"

Umm, not quite. Yes, the EWS was not a thing then, but the race format and that specific name has been around since at least 2003: https://www.pinkbike.com/news/A-Short-History-of-Enduro-2012.html

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pete@nsmb.com
+2 Justin White Dan
Pete Roggeman  - June 23, 2021, 11:24 a.m.

You're right, of course, but perhaps Ryan was referring to Enduro's emergence as a race format to the global stage. Before 2009 or 10, there weren't too many people outside of Europe that were paying attention to it.

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rwalters
+2 Justin White 4Runner1
Ryan Walters  - June 23, 2021, 11:26 a.m.

Yeah, was meant as more of a statement of the rising popularity of enduro racing and the bikes that go along with it. The term and format have been around for eons in moto!

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just6979
+1 Ryan Walters
Justin White  - June 23, 2021, 11:44 a.m.

Ok, the specific bikes, yeah I get that.

But, moto enduro is quite different: except for the name, the formats are not really related beyond that they both often aim for the gnarliest terrain possible.

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Ripmoslow
+1 Lu Kz 4Runner1 thaaad
Ripmoslow  - June 23, 2021, 11:33 a.m.

C3 coming with  BR-MT520 brakes seems like a bit of a miss. $6800 should go farther on an important component like brakes

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karakoram
+5 Justin White Tim Coleman Mammal thaaad Pete Roggeman
Ryan  - June 23, 2021, 11:43 a.m.

While I agree for the price I'd expect "SLX" or better level brakes, the MT520 brakes act and feel pretty much the same as my 4pot XT's. No reach adjust, no finned pads, maybe a touch heavier, and a cotter pin instead of threaded bolt...but otherwise basically the same thing.

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Ripmoslow
+1 Pete Roggeman
Ripmoslow  - June 23, 2021, 12:36 p.m.

Sounds good. A bit of a sleeper brake, perhaps not a bad choice.

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Jotegir
0
Lu Kz  - June 23, 2021, 12:58 p.m.

It's a kinda tough price point to hit considering it's about the same quality of component you get on a $4850 Optic (yes, some things are a bit better!), but it goes to show you the cost that goes into this frame with all of the size-specific stuff! M520's are excellent and not worth changing. An MTX pad and a higher end rotor has them feeling close enough to saints (of which I own two sets) that I would be VERY hard pressed to change. 

I'm more disappointed in the wheel choice.

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DaveSmith
+2 Ryan Walters Dan
Dave Smith  - June 23, 2021, 1:46 p.m.

It's a bit tubby at 38lbs for a trail bike...I mean my downhill bikes back in the day ~36lbs... I wonder how far you could weight weenie this bike before you compromise on the strength to shred ratio.

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rwalters
+1 Dan
Ryan Walters  - June 23, 2021, 2:43 p.m.

Wouldn't be easy, Dave. Already heaps of carbonium on this model. You could save a bit with an SLS spring, maybe some could get away with a lighter front tire. If you didn't need all 210mm of dropper, you could save some weight there I guess.

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cam@nsmb.com
+1 Ryan Walters
Cam McRae  - June 24, 2021, 7:50 a.m.

Not to mention you are currently running 1500 gram XC wheels!

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rwalters
0
Ryan Walters  - June 23, 2021, 3:03 p.m.

Oh, and I guess a Zeb would save a bit of weight too!

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LoamtoHome
+1 Dave Smith
Jerry Willows  - June 24, 2021, 9:22 a.m.

I bet my Aurum HSP weighed in less

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xy9ine
+1 Dave Smith
Perry Schebel  - June 24, 2021, 1:10 p.m.

which, i guess, isn't really that surprising? comparing current ews bikes to wcdh, i bet weights are very close, if not heavier for some of the ews bikes. running pretty much the same wheels / tires. frames are similarly stout (that norco is using the range front end as a wcdh platform is telling). dropper posts, and full range drivetrains probably more than offset the added weight of a dc fork, etc... 

would be interested to see ews race rigs on the scale. i imagine fully laden (with dh tires, cushcore, tools & spares strapped on), some guys are pushing bikes near 40lbs.

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DaveSmith
+1 Dan
Dave Smith  - June 25, 2021, 9:06 a.m.

Time to find the TMX and enduro that shiny chromoly sled

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xy9ine
0
Perry Schebel  - June 25, 2021, 9:15 a.m.

with modern carbon bits, could probably get that down to 45 lbs!

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - June 29, 2021, 1:58 p.m.

My Canyon Sender weights less than my Gucci'd out Sight. Sign of the times.

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fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - June 25, 2021, 1:52 p.m.

Dave - I wish my bike was 38lb, its 40lb with 2.3 tyres and no inserts, no water and tools

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olaa
0 dorkweed thaaad
olaa  - June 24, 2021, 3:58 a.m.

It's looking really good, but value for money and weight aren't really that good IMO.

My very boutique Crossworx with fox factory suspension (38 and x2), GX drivetrain, Newmen alu hoops and nice Acros and Ergon components came in at 5770 euro (which includes sales tax) and a weight of 16.1 kg with pedals in a size XL. 

I don't really see the point of carbon frames when you can get really solid alu frames at the same (or lower) weight, and definitely lower price. 

The Cannondale jekyll also offers quite the VFM in comparison, if you want to look at carbon framed enduromachines.

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rwalters
0 Lu Kz thaaad
Ryan Walters  - June 24, 2021, 5:46 a.m.

Fully agree - you can get some very nice, very light aluminum frames these days. I think there are certain designs that need the higher strength-to-weight characteristics of carbon though. The Range would likely be considerably heavier if done in aluminum. And sometimes, it’s just not feasible to do it in alloy. The Aurum HSP is a prime example. I remember reading that the swingarm on that bike would be nearly impossible to make strong enough out of aluminum.

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Jotegir
+1 Ryan Walters mike thaaad
Lu Kz  - June 24, 2021, 7:13 a.m.

That's the same excuse they're using for the Range too - shapes are too hard to make out of alloy.

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DemonMike
0
mike  - June 26, 2021, 10:46 p.m.

Didn't they prototype and test aluminum frames?

Reply

Suns_PSD
+2 Cooper Quinn Dan
Sun Hester  - June 24, 2021, 4:54 a.m.

It seems these HP bikes are great for Enduro racing & DH but I have yet to read a complimentary pedaling review of any HP bike. Sure I try and ride 'Enduro Terrain' but I don't want to go any slower on the bits in-between pretty much ruling out these bikes for my purposes.

Always fun to read about the new stuff though.

Could see a HP being a great fit for an e-bike as well.

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the-prophet
+6 4Runner1 trailrange7 hotlapz dorkweed Dan mike
the prophet  - June 24, 2021, 8:05 a.m.

Although "Canadian Mtb Company" and "Heavy" have been a staple since 1999, interesting that Norco has been able to add "Expensive" to that descriptor :)

The COVID effect is a strange one.

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tripsforkidsvancouver
+4 trailrange7 Cam McRae dorkweed Dan mike thaaad
tripsforkidsvancouver  - June 24, 2021, 1:34 p.m.

40 pound pedal bike? Bike industry goes in waves. Standards get wider, wheels larger, rims wider, chains longer, more pulleys, beefier pivots. Next trend likely to be to revert to simplicity and lower weight and lower cost (Covid bike boom) but might take a few years....On a 2021 Sight now and can't believe how heavy it is compared to my 2015 Reign I had for 5 years (like 32 lbs for an XL?), with identical travel, that survived like 25 Fivers. Another reason it ran so long: alloy.

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rwalters
0
Ryan Walters  - June 30, 2021, 9:11 a.m.

For anyone interested in knowing a bit more about the development process of the new Range:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHt1TCFvMV4

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koacx
0
Christopher Kahler  - July 1, 2021, 8:49 a.m.

Was wondering, does the lengthening of the wheelbase make the bike feel like it's understeering, esp toward corner exit when weight tends to shift back?

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xy9ine
+1 Ryan Walters
Perry Schebel  - July 5, 2021, 11:02 a.m.

that's a sensation i noticed on my HP dh bike; somewhat counters the front to rear weight transfer, so lacks a bit of "snap" out of the exit compared to a lower pivot. can't say it was actually detrimental to cornering speed, but certainly feels less poppy / playful through the turns. 

i haven't been on a modern hp trail bike; curious to hear ruminations on the (potential) tradeoff of chunk eating vs fun factor.

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rwalters
0
Ryan Walters  - July 5, 2021, 11:53 a.m.

Yeah, I tend to agree with this. You lose some of that snappy feeling out of corners that you can get with some bikes. The Range is happiest when you pick a line, set a big, consistent arc, and follow it through the entire corner. If you're the type that likes to slam into corners and square them off, HP bikes might not be for you.....

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