This article is part of the Mtbr’s Enduro Compare-O. See all the stories in this special section here–http://reviews.mtbr.com/category/enduro-compare-o-2014
Given their Canadian North Shore roots, it’s no surprise Norco has a strong pedigree in the downhill and freeride categories. But the British Columbia-based company is more than a one-trick pony, as reflected in their team efforts that span the cycling spectrum from trials superstar Ryan Leech, to dirt jump specialist Andrew Taylor, and even the H&R Block road cycling team, not to mention downhill diva Jill Kitner. A bike nearly all their team riders can appreciate is the Norco Range which falls squarely in the middle of their MTB offerings.
Back in 2010, Mtbr attended the launch of the original Range and got to ride it on the epic trails of Seymour and Fromme with the gang from Norco, who can all seriously send it. Even then, the advantages of the Norco-tuned FSR suspension design were obvious, especially on the fast, steep and technical trails of the Shore.
Fast forward to 2014 and the Range is now the heart-and-soul of Norco’s all-mountain line. With its 27.5-inch wheels and a re-tuned version of their ART (Advanced Ride Technology) suspension, Norco looks to have kept up with the Jonses very well in terms of geometry, wheel size, and technology.
The $3,150 aluminum Range Alloy 7.1 in our test is one of five 160mm-travel Range models that includes the step-down Range Alloy 7.2 ($2140), and three carbon versions ranging in price from $3,630 to $7,345.
In last year’s Mtbr All-Mountain Bike Round Up, the Range’s little brother—the 140mm-travel Sight—came out as a top pick for its versatility, all-around capability and snappy handling. We’re itching to see if Range 7.1 fares as well.
Norco’s Holloform linkarm is a super rigid, one-piece linkage that provides lateral support to the seat stays and stiffens the rear triangle, keeping the bike tracking straight and true through any terrain. It also prevents torsional forces from effecting the rear shock, reducing stiction and increasing shock life.
In order to match the burly 160mm of rear travel, Norco smartly spec’d the Fox 34 Float Evolution.
At this price-point, Norco couldn’t afford to include a dropper post, but accommodates adding your own with a trick built-in cable guide on the seat post clamp.
Although the 2×10 drivetrain contains a mix of SRAM, RaceFace and Shimano components, the rear derailleur and shifters are Shimano SLX.
Unlike many of the bikes in the Enduro Compare-O, the Range’s cables are mostly an externally routed affair, though they do run rear derailleur cable through the chainstay. While perhaps not as clean looking, it should make the Range an easy bike to wrench on.
At nearly 32 pounds sans pedals, the alloy Range may be a bit heavy for Enduro racing. The pricier Range Carbon models are probably a better call for competition, though it will cost you—alloy frames generally save you money, but not weight.
2014 Norco Range Alloy 7.1 Key Specs
- Weight: 31.76 lbs.(size medium)
- Wheel size: 27.5 inches
- Frame Material: hydroformed alloy
- Travel/Suspension: Rear,160mm/Fox Evolution Float CTD Shock; Front 160mm front/ Fox 34 Float Evolution 27.5
- Drivetrain: Shimano SLX shifters and rear derailleur, SRAM front derailleur, RaceFace 2×10 Crankset and rings (36t,22t), Shimano HG-62 cassette
- Brakes: Shimano Deore, 180mm front, 160mm rear
- Seatpost: Norco Lite 2014 alloy double bolt seatpost 30.9 mm
- Wheelset/Tires: Sun Inferno 27.5 Trail/AM rim with Shimano Deore center lock hubs/ Schwalbe Hans Damph 2.35
- Bars/Stem: RaceFace Evolve 750mm bar/ RaceFace Ride stem
- Bottom Bracket Type: RaceFace BB
- Head Tube Angle: 66.5 degrees
- Seat Tube Angle: 69.0 degrees (actual), 73.2 degrees (effective)
- Chainstay Length: 427mm
- Bottom Bracket Height: 344mm
- Bike MRSP: $3150
For more information visit www.norco.com .
Read our Bottom Line Evaluation of the Norco Range Alloy 7.1 here.
This story is part of Mtbr’s 2014 Enduro Compare-O. Check out our intro story here for all the ground rules and goings ons.