2012 Norco Aurum

26er Pro Reviews

2012 Norco Product Launch
Whistler, British Columbia
18-20 July 2011

Downhill
2012 Norco Aurum

The 2012 Norco Aurum is a purpose-built downhill bike with 200mm of front and rear wheel travel that is designed to give its riders every possible advantage on the race course, whether it’s at their local race series or on the World Cup circuit. With a lighter, stiffer, and stronger frame than any of Norco’s previous downhill rigs, and three different levels of component spec, the engineering team has created a bike that they believe is one of the fastest in the world and can help its riders achieve the gold standard that the Aurum is named after.

Core Technologies

Initially, Norco intended to make only minor changes to its existing platform but, with a stated goal of creating the fastest downhill bike in the world, the design team ended up redesigning the bike from the ground up. Throughout the design process, Norco received plenty of real-world feedback from World Cup riders Ben Reid and Dan Stanbridge, the Norco Factory Team, the R&D team, and its staff riders, and this input helped guide the development of the Aurum from conceptual drawings to the final, race-ready product that you see here.

Gravity TUNE.

Dirt Norco Team riders Ben Reid and Dan Stanbridge made significant contributions to Norco’s newly implemented Gravity TUNE system. During prototype testing Reid and Stanbridge, who have completely different body types, kept asking for specific changes to their bikes. At first, the two riders seemed to be requesting different things – different chainstay lengths, different levels of anti-squat, different weight distribution on the bike – but Norco’s engineers soon realized that the riders were actually looking for the same ride traits in their frames, even though the sizing of each bike wasn’t flexible enough to accommodate their requests.

In response, the design team came up with Gravity TUNE, which optimizes suspension kinematics and frame sizing for the average-sized rider to ensure consistent weight distribution over the wheels in each frame size. In common english, Norco came up with a way to tune the Aurum’s suspension for each frame size. They achieved this by effectively changing the chainstay length for each frame size, keeping the frame’s overall length proportional to the frame’s front-center length. By using slightly different bottom bracket forgings, the designers were able to locate the Aurum’s chainstay pivots in the optimal position for each frame size. This approach allowed Norco to provide specific suspension tunes for small, medium, and large-sized frames and ensure that each bike has the same ride characteristics, regardless of size.

Advanced Ride Technology (A.R.T.). The Aurum utilizes Norco’s well-received ART suspension system, which allows the design engineers to manipulate the way the Aurum’s rear suspension responds to terrain and pedaling inputs.

First, the Aurum has an axle path that features 250% more rearward movement and 330% less forward axle path movement (at full travel) than Norco’s previous-generation downhill bikes. These characteristics combine to improve square-edge bump compliance by preventing the rear wheel from hanging up on varied terrain. Second, the Aurum has anti-squat characteristics designed into the frame thanks to 115% more chain growth than earlier designs. Anti-squat limits the effects of ‘pedal bob’ and contributes to more efficient pedaling and increased power transfer. Third, ART realizes a 60% reduction in brake feedback, which enhances rider control under braking without having a negative influence on the rear suspension as it moves through its travel. Finally, the Aurum utilizes an improved leverage ratio curve, which is meant to provide solid small-bump compliance at the start of the travel and a bottomless feeling through the remainder of the shock’s travel, all without the dreaded mid-stroke wallow that affected earlier generations of Norco’s downhill bikes.

Syntace X12 dropouts. Norco has moved most of its performance bike lineup to Syntace’s X12 axle system, and the Aurum receives the same treatment. However, unlike the 142mm x 12mm axle used on Norco’s shorter travel rigs, the Aurum utilizes a 157mm x 12mm thru axle at the rear of the bike to improve overall wheel strength and stiffness. The extra axle width is achieved by using specially designed inserts on a 150mm hub, much like on its narrower cousin.

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