2012 Norco Revolver 1 Review

29er Pro Reviews

Photos by: Dave Mackie Photography

The 2012 Norco Revolver 1 after a few months’ worth of testing in one of British Columbia’s wet and wild winters.

MTBR.com covered the Norco 2012 Product Launch in Whistler, BC last August, where we introduced all of the company’s bikes that were slated for release over the coming months. Along with all of the bikes from Norco’s existing lineup, a number of new models made an appearance at Whistler: the dedicated downhill sled that is the Aurum; the 140mm travel Sight; the 29”-wheeled, 100mm trail-ripping Revolver.

That summer week during Crankworx provided me with a brief introduction to the Revolver but, while I was impressed by the bike’s performance during a brief demo ride, it was determined that a real test needed to take place on my home turf during a wet West Coast winter, when the dry and dusty trails I rode in and around Whistler would be a long and distant memory. I picked up the Revolver 1 from Norco in early November and spent the next few months giving the bike the gears.

The Revolver is a new model for Norco in 2012, and the frame is jam-packed with all of the features that grace the company’s recent offerings. The most notable of these features is the Advanced Ride Technology (ART) tuned FSR linkage which uses optimized pivot placement to increase pedaling efficiency, improve braking performance, increase square-edge bump compliance, and create a suspension system that is easier to tune while providing travel that feels bottomless.

Norco’s Holloform link arm is forged and welded to form a solid, one piece link that resists twisting and helps produce the Revolver’s predictable ride.

The Revolver is built from a custom tubeset that is engineered to provide excellent frame stiffness in a lightweight package. Norco used a short, tapered headtube to keep the front end of the bike low and employed larger tubing at the front of the bike to deliver more precise steering control. The rear end is also designed to maximize stiffness while minimizing weight and employs a one-piece chainstay yoke, the Syntace X12 axle system, and asymmetrical seat stays to enhance the frame’s ability to handle the rigours of everyday riding. The Revolver’s one-piece Holloform linkage is designed to limit the effects of lateral forces on the bike’s suspension action.

2012 Norco Revolver Frame Features

  • 100mm of ART (Advanced Ride Technology) optimized rear wheel travel
  • Custom hydroformed tubeset
  • Holloform link arm
  • Wrap-around seat stay yoke allows for a relatively short chainstay
  • Integrated dropout design features Syntace X12 axle system, post-mount brake mount
  • Clevis-less pivots save weight and increase strength
  • Tapered head tube
  • ISCG tabs for a chain retention device
  • Spare derailleur hanger bolt on down tube

The component spec reflects the Revolver’s marathon / trail intentions, with a smattering of appropriate parts hanging from the frame. Front suspension duties are taken care of by a 100mm RockShox SID 29 while the rear end is controlled by a Fox RP23. The Revolver 1 is spec’d with the reasonably lightweight and fast-rolling Stryker Cross Country 29 wheelset, a sub-1700 gram, tubeless-ready wheelset from WTB. An FSA SLK carbon 3×10 crankset handles the drivetrain duties up front, while shifting and braking are taken care of by parts from SRAM’s X0 catalog. The X0 brakes and trigger shifters are mounted onto SRAM’s slick Matchmaker clamps, which make for an especially clean setup on the Easton EC70 handlebars.

The Revolver’s drive side rear end contains a bunch of fancy tech. Note the 142mmx12mm Syntace X12 rear axle system, the derailleur hanger that uses a shear bolt (whose replacement is tucked away on the frame’s downtube), SRAM’s reliable X0 rear derailleur, and WTB’s Stryker TCS wheelset.

2012 Norco Revolver 1 Specs

  • Rear Shock: Fox RP23 LV air shock
  • Fork: RockShox SID 29, RL dual air with remote lockout (100mm, QR15)
  • Stem: Norco 3D forged MTB stem (70mm)
  • Handlebar: Easton EC70, low rise (685mm)
  • Headset: FSA #57 E sealed (tapered internal) 1.5” to 1 1/8”
  • Crankset: FSA SLK Carbon 3×10 (44/32/22)
  • Brakes: SRAM X0, 160mm rotors (front and rear)
  • Tires: WTB Bronson 2.2” **
  • Seatpost: Norco Lite 3D forged double bolt 2014 alloy (30.9mm, 400mm)
  • Saddle: WTB Silverado Race SL
  • Grips: Norco lock on grips
  • Cassette: SRAM 11-36
  • Wheelset: WTB Stryker TCS Cross Country 29” (100x15mm front, 142x12mm rear)
  • Rear Shifter: SRAM X0 trigger (10 speed)
  • Front Shifter: SRAM X0 trigger (3 speed)
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM X0 (long cage)
  • Front Derailleur: SRAM X9 Direct Mount
  • Chain: SRAM PC1031
  • Pedals: Not Included
  • MSRP: $5375 (USD)
  • Weight (as tested): 26.75 lbs. (medium, without pedals)

** The Revolver comes stock with 2.0″ Kenda Slant Six tires, which I didn’t like much during the demo session in Whistler and I liked even less in the wet rocks and roots around Vancouver. The minimal tread design didn’t provide any meaningful traction on the local trails so they were swapped out for a pair of 2.2″ WTB Bronson tires. Everything else was kept stock during the review, although a handlebar that was at least 40mm wider than the provided 685mm Easton EC70 would have been a welcome upgrade for improved leverage and control while climbing and descending.

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  • Izzy says:

    Funny that an [almost] top tier component level from SRAM (XO) would suffer such issues on a stock bike. You would hardly — if ever — hear anything like that happen with XT or XTR. Shimano reliability is unmatched.

  • substitute says:

    I got a Revolver 3 recently and I’m strongly considering a tire change. Wet rocks and roots are just plain scary on those tires. I quess the Slant 6′s are nice on hardpack but unfortunately that kind of terrain basically does not exist around here. I think it’ll be WTB Bronsons or Continental Mountain Kings for me in the not-so distant future.

    I see the 2013 Revolvers and Shinobis have Conti X-kings on them. That’s a change for the better for sure but I’d still go for more knobby tires in rocky and rooty terrains.

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