The fork was scary at first. Before it broke in the damping didn’t work at all so it was like riding a pogo stick down the mountain. It also made for energy sapped climbing as the bike bobbed up and down. After the third ride though, (approx. 6-7 hours) the fork began to behave itself and ended up working pretty well. It handled everything from rock drops to twisty corners and jumps without issue and was smooth to boot. It also climbed nicely without being uncomfortable with the lock-out activated. The Tora was a little on the flexy side, but it was only noticeable in rough rock gardens. The rear Rockshox Ario 2.0 has adjustable rebound and air pressure. There’s no compression damping adjustment, but despite that it worked well too. Its set-up was straight forward and it maintained its pressure for the duration of my testing it. I never noticed any air leaks over the 3 months I rode the bike. The combination of the bike geometry and shock made for surprisingly good climbing efficiency and smooth, stable descending. The Phena handled corners nicely with good traction and bump absorption over jittery, slippery sections, as well as choppy rocks and sharp hits. All in all it rode well.
Norco chose the Shimano M-575 brakes with 160mm rotors to stop the Phena. Though not the strongest on the market, they still worked well. There was slight fade, however, on longer, steeper descents (~ 20-30 minutes). For a medium length downhill, say 15 minutes, they’re fine. Anything longer than that and they slowly start to give up. The reach was sufficiently adjustable for my hands to fit comfortably, though the side-to-side placement of the levers was hindered by the shifter pods. This resulted in a compromised two finger grip that was awkward and non-optimal for descending. The cheap solution to this problem would be to cut off the shifter indicator pods. Seeing as how it wasn’t my bike, I didn’t feel like I could make my own permanent modifications. But that one change will make your life much happier.