Demo rides in the Whistler Bike Park
The second day of bike demos for the media attending the 2012 Norco Product Release was scheduled to go down in Whistler Bike Park, a gravity-fed playground that gives riders access to more than 200 kilometers of trails spread over more than fifty separate trails. For the day, the team at Norco had assembled a fleet of brand-spanking new Truax and Aurum bikes and, as expected, those in attendance snapped the bikes up pretty quickly, and the late risers likely had to wait their turn to get some laps in.
First Ride Impressions : The 2012 Norco Aurum
I was able to get my hands on a medium-sized Aurum 1 and, after spending some time configuring the fork, dialing in the rear shock, and making other minor adjustments to suit my personal preferences, I strapped on some leg armor and my full-face helmet and headed over to the chairlift for a handful of runs down the trails on the lower part of the mountain. The general consensus among those attending the press camp seemed to be that the 2012 Aurum is a fine-looking bike and, judging from the number of positive comments it received in the busy lift lineup, there won’t be a whole lot of people complaining about the aesthetics of the frame design.
The Aurum has 200mm of front and rear wheel travel and modern race geometry that keeps the bike low slung and slack, which is ideal for downhill racers looking to go as fast as possible on the race course. With Norco’s ART suspension system providing very good mid-stroke support thanks to its engineered anti-squat characteristics, the bike doesn’t wallow in its travel like some of the previous generations of Norco’s downhill bikes, and this trait really allows you to haul out of corners. Similarly, the rearward axle path that is a core part of the ART design keeps the rear wheel from getting hung up on the countless braking bumps and helps it float over the exposed roots that dot the trails of the park.
It took a few runs through the trails on the lower mountain for me to become comfortable on the Aurum but, by the end of the day, I was riding well enough to really enjoy my time on the bike. I had only intended on riding a half-dozen laps on the mellower trails in the park so the fact that I ended up riding for most of the day and pulling in twice as much vert as planned says something to me about the bike’s capabilities and how much fun it was to ride.
My only real complaint about the component spec was with the Avid Elixir 9 brakes, which pumped up on me a couple of times during laps on the Garbonzo trails; since this is a common complaint with Avid’s brakes, it’s more than likely that they needed a better bleed than the one that was done at the factory.