2017 Norco Range C9.2 review

150mm 29er from Norco competes in this exciting category

29er
Norco 2017 Range C9.2

The Range is always ready for more.

Lowdown: 2017 Norco Range C9.2

When rides focus on ripping descents through technical terrain and using the cranks to get back to the top, put the 2017 Norco Range on your short list. Its forgiving nature allows for maximum fun without needing to consider what lies ahead, preferring to keep its speed up and flow.

Stat Box: 2017 Model Spec
Frame: 2017 Norco Range Carbon C9.2 Cassette: SRAM Eagle X01 10-50T
Fork: RockShox Lyric 160mm Chain: SRAM X01 Eagle
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe RC3 Bottom bracket: SRAM Pressfit BB92
Wheels: Race Face AR 30 Bars: Race Face Atlas 800mm
Hubs: SRAM MTH 746 Boost Stem: Race Face Affect R 40mm
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5/DHRII 2.4 Seatpost: Race Face Turbine 150mm
Brakes: SRAM Guide RS Saddle: SDG Duster RL
Rotors: 180mm Headtube angle: 65.5 degrees
Shifters: SRAM Eagle XO1 Chainstay length: 430/435/440 M/L/XL
Front Derailleur: N/A Seat tube angle: 74.5/74.1/73.7 M/L/XL
Rear Derailleur: SRAM Eagle XO1 Weight: 31.1 pounds (size large, w/tubes)
Cable routing: Internal/External Price: $5799
Crankset: SRAM Eagle 10-50 Rating: 4 Flamin' Chili Peppers 4 Chilis-out-of-5

Pluses
Minuses
  • Great rear shock performance
  • Chainring is too large
  • Confidence inspiring ride
  • Saddle uncomfortable
  • Eats up chunky terrain
  • Alloy wheels on high end build
  • Minimal pedal strikes
  • Sub-par braking
  • Perfect tires (DHF/DHR II)

Review: 2017 Norco Range C9.2

When you enjoy long rides highlighted by screaming downhill through mixed terrain, look at the 2017 Norco Range 29. Climbs went smoothly, punchy terrain became easier, and descents were fast and carefree.

The Mtbr First Ride Review describes the different build options and can be found here.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2

2017 Norco Range C9.2.

Since receiving the bike, Mtbr had the opportunity to shred for a couple of months. Most rides were grinding climbs to downhill trails, with some mixed terrain singletrack pedals thrown in for good measure. For context, the test rider was 6 feet tall and weighed 205 pounds. The size large frame fit quite well.

Climbing

If you’re like me, a climb is something you want to get over with. That said, whether pedaling or pushing, we’re choosing to do the climb because it opens up vast amounts of terrain that sees relatively little use (and is a whole lot better than sweating in a gym). That style of riding seems to be exactly why the Norco Range exists: exploring terrain, pedaling to the top and rowdy fun on the way down.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Wheelie

The Range is wheelie a fun bike.

The Range pedaled uphill well, having an upright riding position to reduce fatigue on long grinds. Some heel contact occurred with the seat stay, but that is a common occurrence between large feet and frames with boost rear hubs.

The RockShox Super Deluxe shock has a three position lever to select between open, trail and locked out modes. When the firm setting was selected, pedal bob was virtually eliminated yet the bike became fairly unresponsive to terrain, so square edges tended to bounce me off the saddle. The middle setting remedied the bucking, yet the additional bob felt like it sapped energy. I’m sure quite a bit of that is due to pedaling technique, being a bit of a masher. Overall preference was the firm setting for mostly smooth sections, just riding actively on occasional rough bits and using the middle setting for continuous bumpy and mixed-terrain pedaling. Fortunately, the switch is easily accessible.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Turning

Headed round the bend.

Technical Pedaling

When riding through rolling terrain, planning ahead is always smart but not mandatory. The 29er wheels ride high and reduce impact angles, helping the rider maintain momentum, going over rather than into the holes. When momentum faltered, it was easy to do a track-stand, pause, and continue. Even on no-speed rock drops, just pull back on the bars and squish, then continue on. Drama did not happen.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Descending Chunk

Rolling over the bumpy stuff.

The bottom bracket is high enough that pedal strike simply did not happen, to the point of preparing for them when mistiming a stroke, yet contact did not occur. On trail sections through rock slides, where a line definitely exists yet is littered with holes, this is the bike I’d choose and have frequently missed since returning it.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Descending Chunk

Cruising right through.

Descending

“Boing, boing, boing,” is the playful thought I had every time when approaching a favorite rocky descent. That is even with a 300-foot cliff a few feet to the side. The 2017 Range lets you blissfully flow through rocks and roots in an athletic upright riding position. It immediately feels good.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Flat Out

Keep it low and you will fly.

Take a little time to get used to the bike though, because it gives the rider a wake-up call when exiting turns. The centered position also mandates getting your weight low, back and really bend at the hips to get power down out of turns. On more than one occasion I started to wash out, reminding me to bend at the hips and get low, low, low. Thankfully the Range was forgiving, reminded about the mistakes and highlighted when I got it right – rocketing forward. It helped to improve technique without tossing me into the rocks.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Riding Turn

Get lower!

The riding position makes air time feel very natural. On many bikes, it feels like you’re slightly following the bike or a passenger driving a vehicle. The Range seems like your body is in the normal position you’d be in when jumping without a bike, then smoothly catches you. Full travel was used frequently, yet bottoming out was smooth and firm, exactly like it should be. Mid-stroke was supportive enough to ride actively and firmly pump. The rear shock was consistently full open when descending.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Rock Roll

All smiles rolling down the rocks.

The centered position did seem to exacerbate an issue I’ve experienced on most 29ers. When slower descents are desired on really steep terrain, it was difficult to find traction and felt like my weight was a bit forward and high. The sweet spot between traction and forward rotation was very narrow. Sure, get off the darn brakes and let it flow! That said, it’s the only time I grumbled at the bike. For really steep stuff, I’d look towards the 27.5” version of this bike.

Component Shake-out

The drivetrain performed very well, zero issues. Yes, an upper guide is included and zero chain drops were experienced. During the first few rides I was amazed at the 50t cog in back, finding myself one cog short of the granny on most climbs. However, I quickly adapted to the range and would select a 30t chainring up front since I never spun out. Also, the alloy cranks might be a tad heavier than the carbon versions, yet they are very aesthetically pleasing and durable.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Seat Stay Curves and Linkage

Range’s drivetrain and sexy curves.

The wheels stayed true, amazingly. They are the AR series, similar to the ARC wheel but uses a sleeved joint instead of welded. Regardless, they required zero truing. Their only downfall seems to be being on the heavier side. Norco did riders a favor and wrapped them with the exact tires that I’d select, Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 WT / DHR II 2.4 WT combination. The rider will need to convert over to tubeless, which is normal.

Both the fork and shock performed quite well and left little to be desired. The Maxle up front made removing the front wheel convenient, yet is a bit less stiff than tools-required alternatives. My initial concerns about cable routing along the shock stanchion proved to be a non-issue, with zero wear happening during our riding. The Race Face dropper post also performed flawlessly.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Cables Around Shock and Dropper Post

Cables securely routed next to the shock, Race Face dropper.

Summary

The Norco Range feels like it was built to withstand hard and frequent use, and proved to be exactly that. Countless laps were ridden down square edged rocky terrain with a Clydesdale driving and the Range was always ready for more.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Flowers

2017 Norco Range, a great choice for exploring.

Issues Encountered

During the test period, very few issues were encountered. On the first ride, I forgot to torque two of the cable port cover bolts and lost them, just additional items to keep an eye on during the pre-ride inspection process. Those port covers allow convenient access for routing, while securing the cables snugly. Just remember to tighten the bolts.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Cable Routing

Helpful cable port covers allow access while securely holding cables.

The only mechanical issue was with the SRAM Guide brakes, whose performance tanked after about a month of riding. Pads were not over worn, no contamination was present, but the power vanished . New pads were needed, well before expected. I’d also select a larger front rotor because there’s little reason not to.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: John Bennett

With 210 lbs of solid, descending mass, John is a good litmus test of what bikes and components will survive out there in the real world. And with a good engineering mind, John is able to make sense of it all as well. Or at least come up with fancy terms to impress the group.


Related Articles


NOTE: There are two ways to comment on our articles: Facebook or Wordpress. Facebook uses your real name and can be posted on your wall while Wordpress uses our login system. Feel free to use either one.

Facebook Comments:



Wordpress Comments:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*