Norco LT 6.1 2010 – Review

26er Pro Reviews

The Bike

Downhill Performance

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


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About the author: Lee Lau

Lee Lau calls North Vancouver and Whistler BC home. He's had over 15 years experience riding bikes mainly in western North America and in Europe. Unlike many people who learned to ride bikes on North Shore trails, he actually enjoys riding (and sometimes bushwhacking) uphill.


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  • DB says:

    Lee…I have seen several of your Fluid reviews in the past, most of them are pretty good. I cant help but notice though that you LOVE taking photos of yourself going over “steep” rocks and getting wwwaaaaaaaaaayyyy back over the back tire. I suspect you are really good at steeps, but your exaggerated body position gives me a chuckle…

    Keep up the good work!

  • LeeL says:

    Darn you’re right … I think I’ve been overusing that particular shot. Pretty easy to get in a rut. I have got to try another pose

  • Roger says:

    I can’t think of how the photos of you in your reviews are fundamentally different from those in any given mountain bike magazine either in print or online.

  • LeeL says:

    Roger – they’re a bit overdone in terms of leaning back. DB must have seen some of my past shots (all taken by my wife) – obviously so as I can’t take pictures of myself. The easiest photos of her to take of me are the one’s where I’m going slow creeping down rock faces (faster shots require a bit more camera work & I wasn’t happy with the shots I was getting). To make a long story short, the better shots of me in downhill mode on many bikes were the slow shots where I’m crawling down steep rock faces. It’s a bit overdone & I’ll have to think of ways to get different pictures. It’s nice to have good eye-candy for the reviews. What I’m thinking of doing is to take pictures of somebody else on the bike so I can get different angles and pictures than the rather overdone steep rock face shots.

  • Roy says:

    I can’t find the specs re: the Joplin – is it the 3 or 4? If the former have you ridden the 4 at all – supposed to be improved over the 3.

    Great review – I hate having to wait for your reviews to come out but that’s probably what makes them so good – the time you spend properly getting acquinted with the bike!

  • leel says:

    Roy – thanks for the catch. I forgot to clarify and edited my comment about the Joplin.

    I haven’t tried the Joplin 4 yet. I hope they’ve improved it because there’s a LOT of room for improvement

    “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.”

  • leel says:

    Runaway Train – Whistler May 23, 2010. New section of trail built after the S2S improvements took out some old singletrack – in keeping with Whistler’s \no net loss\ policy

    Video here – I was riding the LT 6.1 and filming
    http://vimeo.com/12054388

  • Man says:

    been riding mine for 2 months… riding is veeerrryyyy nice

    nice review i’ve been thinking the same for almost everything.
    your lucky to be 160 :P, i’m 250 so the bike components are almost already done… Bottom bracket is already givin’ up … rear hub is loose and can’t be tighten, gear train is used.. but the overall feeling is pretty nice.

    for those who buy rock shox forks … be sure to chek oil level before using … the dont put so much of it into the fork…

    hammerscmith rocks … never gonna put a front derailleur on a bike anymore

    good job lee

  • LeeL says:

    Updated comment on the stock Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires

    In the 2.2 size, its a poor braking and cornering front tire. Poor traction rear tire. Suboptimal in wet, adequate in dry but nothing special. About as disappointing a set or tires as I’ve ever had the misfortune of trying.

  • Jason says:

    Thanks for the review on the Norco LT 6.1.
    I’m thinking of buying one under half price, due to the new model arriving.

    Was hoping for a little more overview of the bike but instead has to read through pages of people whinging about whether your sponsored or not…..arr.

    would like to know if you would actually buy one or not….considering the price!

  • LeeL says:

    Jason,

    I’d take a serious look also at the LT 6.2 considering that its lighter and cheaper. You’d be missing the Hammerschmidt and the Joplin. I like the Hammerschmidt buuuut do you really, really need it? The Joplin is terrible – finnicky, a maintenance hassle and a boat-anchor. For that price and money one would hope to get an adjustable seatpost that actually reliably works

  • Jason says:

    leel,
    Thanks for your feedback. Sounds as though the norco range may not suit Australian turf. Have heard alot of negative reviews as I’ve gone deeper into studying the Norco range.
    Have you heard of the Giant Antham x3 2010, Looked at it yesterday and that seems to be a lighter, tougher and overall better bike?

  • LeeL says:

    Jason,

    They’re totally different bikes. The Anthem is a light XC bike. The LT is a long-travel bike that is intended for some light downhill/freeride and uphill pedalling use. What type of negative reviews? The Anthem is lighter but will be considerably more fragile, have worse specifications but will be cheaper no doubt.

  • Jason says:

    leel,

    Yeah did read that riders of the Anthem had to change components like brakes, cranks etc in order to ride the bike harder as the basic parts didn’t handle it.

    On a couple of US bike sites they seemed to give the Norco a hard time saying it was heavy,clumsy and not worth a cent.

    I would just like to know whether you would RIDE the LT or in fact BUY the LT 6.1 being the experienced rider!?????

    I’m just at a junction at the moment with what bike to go. I did like the Norco.

  • Lee Lau says:

    Jason,

    Like I said (sorry not to sound like I’m lecturing) they’re totally different bikes. They have pretty different frame angles. The Norco’s head tube angle is 68; the Giant is 71. Even on the websites the Norco is described as an all-mountain bike with freeride pretensions. The Anthem is a XC bike. No amount of component – swapping will change this basic premise. YOU have to define your needs (I have no idea if you ride on technical trails, or flat smooth trails with sharp up and downs, or downhill with some climbs). I have no idea what type of rider you are.

    With all due respect to other reviews and comments – if those other US bike sites (you didn’t give me a reference so I have to go on your description) say the bike is “heavy, clumsy and not worth a cent [sic}” I have to question the context of their reviews. Mainly on what trails are they being used. If its smooth fast trails then the LT is overkill and those other reviewers would be better served with a xc-type of bike

    Frankly, and I mean this with all due respect, I think you have to do a lot more reading or perhaps talk to a bike shop as you are asking about two bikes which are totally different. It’s tough to compare apples to oranges.

    I know all this is confusing but perhaps read some of the What bike to Buy threads in the forums which are very useful

  • Lee Lau says:

    Jason – sorry I forgot to answer the question

    “I would just like to know whether you would RIDE the LT or in fact BUY the LT 6.1 being the experienced rider!?????”

    YES. Absolutely.

  • Jason says:

    Leel,
    Yeah you are correct when it comes to picking the right bike. I guess I ‘m looking for a bike with a ‘jack of all trades’ use. I want a bike that I can ride on smooth flat tracks but then be able to challange the bike when going down more heavier terrain. I have spoken to bike shops and read up alot of info on the internet, they seem to tell me what I want to hear in order to sell a bike.

    I felt the Norco was a bike that maybe would ‘grow’ with my experience without having to continue upgrading every year. But also be a fun light bike that I could just simply enjoy.

  • brodiegrrl says:

    Hi Jason,

    If want to buy a norco, you might want to consider the regular Fluid, not the LT. Or the Giant Reign if you want a more all round bike.

    The Anthem is more XC, Fluid LT more DH oriented side of all mountain.

  • Jason says:

    Thanks for that. That is what I needed, a nice simple answer that tells me straight.

    I’m am thinking the Giant xc which I think will suit my needs.

  • Mike says:

    ever have issues with the rear derailer hanger bracket braking? I have gone through three, and I’m not out thrashing on my bike. I even ride in gear three up front and at least 5 or 6 in the back. What’s up with this…I hate having to walk down hill!

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