2013 Norco Range and Sight 650b Bikes

27.5 All Mountain Trail Enduro

The Norco Range Ride Report:

On Day 2, I was assigned the 160mm Norco Range as we ventured out for my first North Shore experience.  My bike had a stubby stem and wide 780 mm bars, again with the trusty Rockshox Reverb dropping post.  This particular bike had Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires and I was a little apprehensive that it didn’t have the Hans Dampfs.

We went to the Fromme trails of the North Shore and I foolishly joined the A group as they climbed up to the Executioner trail. Ryan Leech and Jay Hoots led the charge up the hill and I then realized that the crew of 20 was whittled down to a select group of downhill journalists, Norco employees and pro riders.  And there I was, Mr. XC rider on his first North Shore experience.

It is worth noting that the bike climbed like a champ. We started with a steep road and followed up with a long gradual fire road and the 28.5 lb Range climbed with ease. The 40mm stem was a bit short and the 160 mm fork high but I pushed that Talas fork down to 120mm and all was well. The rear hardly bobbed as the rearward travel of the suspension was held static by my consistent pedal input.

So the Executioner trail started with a sequence of drop after drop on roots. I rode down braking, bouncing, braking, bouncing and the Norco guy behind me said, “Just relax and let the bike go. Nothing on this trail can stop that bike.”  That was the confidence boost that I needed and I learned to let the bike go through the gnarliest terrain I’ve ridden to date.  What was daunting was not the steep pitches with roots. But rather, it was a series of sections in series, usually with some technical twists and turns in between them. Control was necessary and maneuverability in tight spaces was required.  The Norco Range 650b was the  right tool for this job. It seemed to have just the right amount of travel and tire diameter to tackle all these obstacles.  The bike rolled over all these obstacles and it was still easy to maneuver around all the trees.  When the trail opened up a little bit, the bike carved through the corners confidently.  The rear of the bike was extremely stiff laterally and it held a line with ease.

I rode everything the trail had to offer and got down to the bottom safely.  The Norco Range demonstrated some of the true potential of this new wheel size.   I can’t wait to do a long term test on these bikes.  Would I go for the Sight or the Range? Well the Range has more flair and style but I would probably start with the 140 mm Sight for the trails of Norcal. It felt like it has 150mm of travel and it seemed ready for all I could throw at it.  The Sight is probably the ideal  ‘one’ bike stable while the 160 mm Range can complement a 29er hardtail second bike.

It’s just a first impression but I can see why the folks at Norco are so excited about their new bikes.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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Wordpress Comments:

  • madsedan says:

    Sexy, love the Sight killer B

  • Michael Jordan says:

    I’ve been riding a fantastic Jamis 650b for all of 2012 and it’s great to see more new bikes to choose from. The stoke of the testers is great to hear. 650b is a great platform and it lives up to the hype in my experience. The Norco bikes look extremely well thought out and well equipped. Can’t wait for my first demo ride.

  • Michael9218 says:

    I’ve been riding with a 650b on the front of my Ellsworth Truth for a couple years now in a B6 configuration (650b front and 26 rear). I really like the 650b wheel size. It really is just right. I’m encouraged to see more bike manufacturers embracing the size. I’d like to see more development on asymmetrical wheel sizes. You get front wheel rollover with rear wheel acceleration.

  • gurthang says:

    Regardless of the wheel size, the important point here is trying to tune the length of all the parts of the frame to the different rider sizes.

  • RoDe says:

    I was never hooked on this 29″ wheel size. 650B I think is the way to go for me.

  • JeffO says:

    I recently went from a Scott 26 al to a Moto Ti 29er. At 6′/195lb., it works well for me and much more enjoyable than was the Scott 26er. It may not be a good comparison given the Ti 29er is 12 lbs. lighter than the Scott 26.

    I think the 650B is probably way more suitable for anyone 5’8″ and below to be sure. And for the bike industry, this is a huge boom for the growing audience but even mire so formthe millions of enthusiasts; who are comfortable where they are on the 26er rides they have and likely wouldn’t be a new customer for many years. Probably 50%of them if not more will purchase a 650B years before they otherwise would have bought a new ride.

  • Izzy says:

    I’d looove to see a Sight 650B vs. Altitude 7X0 shootout ;-)

  • Pepe Lepau says:

    What really bothers me is the abuse of the manufactures in terms of pricing. Now that riders interest on 650b’s is booming, the prices on new 27.5 bikes are ridiculous. Even Jamis with a low end components is charging well above $2000 for their bikes.
    Same happened with 29ers, they were very exclusive and now you can even get them on Walmart.

  • Paul says:

    We need a back to back comparison from someone who can throw down on a 180mm+ FR bike, dirt jumper, has ridden a 29er downhill bike (like a Lenz or WFO), and can compare the wagon wheels to the tweener.

    I’m glad to read reviewers from folks of a different perspective, but it seems like those who have been riding the 650B wheels are usually XC riders, not downhill guys. If I’m a downhill guy looking for a new AM/Enduro rig, I want to hear if downsizing from 29 to 650 will be worth it.

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