I prefer bikes with a small’ish rider compartment that I can move around under me. I could theoretically ride either a large or medium frame but, for reasons of personal preference, chose a medium LT 6.1. Rambling and personal musings aside, I’ve always loved the way Norco’s handle and the LT 6.1 is no exception. By the numbers, the LT 6.1 has decent BB clearance (353mm/13.9″), a short-ish length theoretical top tube (569mm/22.4″) which I combine with a 70mm stem. In short, the LT 6.1 inspires confidence when descending.
In tight, technical singletrack the LT 6.1 is outstanding. I’d go so far as to say telepathically responsive .
In the air, the LT 6.1 is also really good. I didn’t sail it off anything really large (biggest drops on this was about 6 feet to transition) but I think that’s fair for a bike that doesn’t have pretensions to be a big air machine. For what it’s worth, neither the Lyrik nor Monarch bottomed out on the 6 footer and the frame didn’t make alarming creaking sounds on landing; I don’t think I’ve explored the outer limits of the LT 6.1′s downhill performance.
In the steeps the LT 6.1 is confidence inspiring. I attribute that partially to the Lyrik (Rock Shox’s come a long way) and partially to the stiffness of the frame. The LT 6.1 feels precise & tracks straight and true when descending. You don’t get the feeling that the rear end will wander under braking or that the bike will be overwhelmed by the force of the descent.
Tyler Wilkes – North Vancouver
Lee Lau – North Vancouver
Here are some other random comments about the LT 6.1 and its components as they relate to downhill performance:
- The LT 6.1 has adjustable 137-158 mm / 5.3 “-6.2″ rear wheel travel and I used both settings for the review. Leave it on the longer travel setting (its the hole in the rocker closer to the seat – tube). It’s a lot more plush and the longer travel feels much better. Why would you have bought a 6″ travel bike and not used all the travel?
- There’s a lot of literature about the Rock Shox Lyrik. It didn’t used to be the most reliable fork out there (seal would blow, two-step adjustable travel would fail) but a plush, stiff performer when it worked. Rock Shox seems to have solved this problem as the Lyrik has been problem free for three months of hard riding. There’s not as much written about the Monarch rear shock. Suffice it to say that it works, it’s plush, easy to tune, has adjustments that actually do something and is wonderfully well-matched with the Lyrik up front.
- It’s good to see 70mm stems being spec’ed for downhill-oriented all-mountain bikes. In the Vancouver area, you see shops with boxes and boxes of 90mm and longer stems so if you really want a longer stem it won’t be hard to arrange a trade.
- I was initially a bit nervous about the lightweight, light-duty Mavic XM 317 rims but they’ve held true. A heavier rider might want to replace these with some wider, slightly more robust rims if there’s an issue. Paired with the stock Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.2 tires they are fine. When I put my preferred Kenda Nevegal 2.35s on, the tread pattern is a bit compressed because of the Mavic XM 317′s narrowness. Which segues nicely to my next point ….
- I do not trust those Schwalbe’s in the wet; they are predictable in that they break loose on wet roots alarmingly easily. They are fine in the dry and I would imagine they roll better than Nevegals. In the dry is when I’ll put the stock tread back on the bike.
- Every all-mountain bike should have an adjustable seatpost. I’m now a convert. However, this is my second bike with a Joplin and there’s still room for improvement. The Crank Bros seatpost is the Joplin 3 (the purportedly improved Joplin 4 wasn’t realized when OE spec was finalized). The Joplin 3 has a single allen bolt head will that will move around if you smack it hard with your butt. Additionally, the seatpost won’t rise all the way up to its maximum when triggered – a problem familiar to many frustrated Joplin owners. It’s too bad such an expensive item performs so poorly
- I’ve now run 2.5 DH tires on the LT 6.1 without issue – there is plenty of rear chainstay clearance.
- The Rock Shox front and rear suspension combination is impressive. Adjustments that actually make a difference when you use them, reliable, easy to setup, and balanced – ie both the front and rear ends of the bike feel the same in terms of the way the suspension reacts to hits.
- I came into this test as a Hammerschmidt skeptic despite my avowed willingness to keep an open mind and have come away a convert. No chain slap, no derailed chains! It’s frighteningly easy to change front ring gears under almost any circumstance or under sloppy load. Let’s not forget the clearance you now have because you don’t have the middle ring to snag into logs and debris. My only worry is that this will make me lazy when I go back to a non-Hammerschmidt bike and I’ll be breaking middle rings.
Lee Lau – Whistler
Tyler Wilkes – North Vancouver