2012 Norco Product Launch
Whistler, British Columbia
18-20 July 2011
Demo Rides in the Whistler Valley
The trails in the Whistler Valley area exist because of a dedicated community of builders and the advocacy work of the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association – commonly referred to as WORCA (www.worca.com). Founded in 1989 to protect bike access to some awesome high-altitude locations, WORCA is now guided by a board of directors who represent over 1500 members. In addition to working to increase trail access to bikers at a political and administrative level, WORCA hosts weekly twoonie rides – the entry fee for these members-only races is $2 – with the support of local businesses and, together with the Whistler Bike Park, also co-produces the wildly popular Phat/Phast Wednesday series. WORCA’s great work within Whistler serves as a model for similar organizations around the world, and it shows the positive effects that cycling can have on a community and its citizens.
Note: The following accounts are short-term impressions of each of the brand new models in Norco’s 2012 lineup. As such, they shouldn’t be mistaken for long-term reviews or absolute statements of a particular bike’s capabilities. For that, we’ll be putting a couple of these bikes through their paces over the long term and publishing full reviews later in the year.
First Ride Impressions : The 2012 Norco Revolver
The Revolver was generating a good deal of buzz amongst the assembled members of the mountain bike press so I showed up early and grabbed a large-sized Revolver 1 for a test ride (495mm / 19.5” seat tube). Immediately after hopping onto the bike, I could tell that it fit my 6’ frame really well; I wasn’t stretched out so much that I felt descending would be a challenge but I wasn’t cramped either, so I knew climbing wouldn’t be much of an issue. After setting up the front and rear suspension for my weight and riding preferences and slapping on a set of flat pedals, a mid-sized group loaded up a couple of vehicles and headed north to the trailhead of Kill Me, Thrill Me, a classic Whistler cross country track.
Kill Me, Thrill Me is a technical grunt of a trail that features plenty of punchy climbs that are filled with rocks and weathered roots and some fun descents down grippy rock slabs and loose singletrack. Our group started out at a decent pace and spread out fairly quickly as riders coped with varying levels of fitness and the technical terrain as best they could. For me, the first thing I noticed about the Revolver was how easy it made climbing through the rough sections of trail. The tires hooked up and rolled straight over the countless nasty roots in a way that made me feel like I was cheating. The ART-equipped rear end stayed glued to the ground and the suspension didn’t wallow in the middle of its travel or rob me of too much energy from bobbing around under load. Being unfamiliar with the trail, I ended up shifting back and forth between the granny ring and the middle ring with more frequency than I would had I known what was coming around the next corner or dip in the trail, but the Revolver did well in both gearing scenarios. I’m pretty sensitive to pedal feedback in full-suspension rigs but I never really noticed it during climbing, despite a number of out-of-the-saddle mash sessions through rocky chunder.
There are a number of relatively steep rock slabs near the middle of KMTM that make for some super fun and, at times, technical descending. I was pleased with the way the Revolver rolled through these sections despite the terrain being a little beyond the trail / xc specification of the bike; regardless, the rear suspension worked well and I never slammed through the travel or felt any of the harshness that accompanies a heavy bottoming out.
Norco Factory rider Jay Hoots and Norco PR Marketing Manager Pete Stace-Smith sessioned one of the steepest sections of rock on their Ranges while everybody else regrouped and, eventually, we continued on down the next section of the trail. The Revolver cruised along the tight singletrack that followed and it had no problems slicing through a loose, sandy stretch of trail with no really “I’m going to die” moments. At this point, I swapped bikes with another rider and finished the trail on the Norco Sight, thus ending my brief first ride on the Revolver.
Overall, I was impressed by Norco’s newest 29er. As someone who isn’t totally sold on the 29er “revolution”, I was surprised at how well the Revolver climbed, devouring terrain that would pose problems for many riders on 26” wheeled bikes. The bike didn’t wallow in the mid-stroke of its travel and exhibited no significant degrees of pedal feedback. It cornered well and I found it was pretty difficult to break the bike loose in turns or on steep pitches.
While the 100mm RockShox Sid that is spec’d on the Revolver seems capable of handling some trail riding of moderate difficulty, I’d probably opt for a slightly longer fork to slack out the bike – something like a 120mm RockShox Reba would do the trick – and provide a little more cush up front, as I ran out of travel on the Sid pretty regularly. Also, as a larger rider, I’d have preferred a slightly larger diameter front rotor than the 160mm disc that comes as standard equipment on the Revolver. The Kenda Slant Six tires were a bit of a handful too, and I’d prefer something that was a little more substantial and better in chundery rock.