Norco Shinobi 2011 Review

29er Pro Reviews Video


Lee Lau’s biases

I am 160 lbs and 5′ 11″ and have had over 15 years experience riding bikes in North Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, the Chilcotins and many other areas in B.C. and Alberta. I’ve also made many bike trips to Utah, Washington, Oregon, California and Ontario (for example) so I’ve had some experience biking in a variety of terrain. My bias is towards pedalling up and unlike many people who learned to ride bikes on North Shore trails, I actually enjoy riding (and sometimes bushwhacking) uphill.

This is a test bike that will be given back to Norco at the end of the test period. I am not sponsored by Norco and have no commercial association with Norco.


Pemberton rock faces





MTBR has already canvassed the Shinobi in a previous article and video. In the size Medium (18) tested the Shinobi is a decidedly un-weight weenie 31.2 lbs. This one pound difference from the listed 30.2 weight can be attributed to the addition of a water bottle cage, pedals and replacement of the abysmal (but light) Continental Mountain King 2.2s with Kenda Nevegal 2.2′s. Stock components are not sexy as befits the Shinobi’s relatively modest price (US$2,850 / CAD$3,175 ). Highlights, and some comments, are as follows:

  • RockShox Reba 140mm, 20mm axle front fork
  • RockShox Monarch 2.2 rear shock
  • Largely Shimano SLX components, Shimano XT Shadow rear derailleur
  • Avid Elixir 5 brakes, 185mm rotors
  • Norco branded stem and flat bar
  • Shimano M552 (basically Deore) BB, cranks and cassette 3×10 with 11-36t cogs; lots of torque necessary for those wagon wheels
  • Formula hubs with WTB LaserDisc trail 29er wheelset; basic value build.

I slapped a 70mm stem on the bike and a wider bar. A word on the bar. I like wide bars on 29ers. In general I feel that wider bars improve steering; even moreso for 29ers since their larger wheels have more momentum and accordingly require a touch more steering input. I also did the standard North Shore thing and replaced the large ring with a bashguard thus going 2×10. In general, I tried to keep the changes to the bare minimum and only made changes that I felt any rider would make to personalize a ride.


Shinobi highlights (from Norco)

•29er full-suspension bike intended to be “light and efficent to climb … yet tough enough to attack the descents”
• RockShox suspension; 140mm of front travel, 120mm of rear travel
•New A.R.T. suspension design and 142mm rear axle


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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  • Nitsuj says:

    Nice use of the word conflates. For some reason I thought you were an FSR fan, didn’t you love the Pitch and the LT?

  • leel says:

    Thanks! I really enjoyed the Pitch particularly because it combined so much value in one package and also really liked the Fluid LT that I tested.

    In the Fluid LT I tested I thought the bike really needed platform when going uphill; since then I’ve come to the conclusion that year’s model of DHX Air rear shock suffered from mid-stroke wallow. Its quite possible that its been rectified since other DHX Air’s I’ve tried haven’t had that same deficiency. Bottom line though was that, imo, the Fluid LT’s implementation of FSR was very active. Good for downhills. Hard to control for uphills therefore necessitating platform shocks.

    The Pitch Pro I tested didn’t seem to need platform and would stay planted while pedalling uphill. I’d think these are good datapoints for the perhaps trite observation that the pivot location for FSR implementations is quite important.

    Fluid LT One review here for reference –

    Pitch Pro review where I guest – reviewed here –

  • leel says:

    Some more information from Norco:

    Frame weight with shock is 3300 grams (7.27lbs), no shock is 2940 grams (6.48lbs).

    The frame is available on its own and the MSRP is $2280

    Planned changes for 2012 are as follows:

    - Changed tires (Nevegals will be stock)
    - Wider bars
    - Shorter stem
    - Added an outer guard

  • justin says:

    Thanks for the follow up LeeLau. I think I missed the part about the Fluid’s active ride. Would be interesting to have bikes that were favorites a year or two back to be re-ridden and mini reviewed to see if the conclusion at the time has held up or if their performance hasn’t held up over time relative to the new crop of bikes.

    BTW, got change for $.05?

  • Pingback: MTBR’s Two Cents on the Shinobi « News « Norco Bikes

  • Lee Lau says:

    That’s a tough one Justin. It’s hard enough just reviewing a bike let alone doing that kind of compare.

  • Matt B says:

    I enjoyed reading your review. It has stoked my interest in the Shinobi.

    I am definitely looking for an FS 29er XC but with a bit of an all mountain bias. Clearly you found the bike was a capable climber. Any thoughts on gearing, – did you feel the 24 x 36 granny on a 29er was low enough for extended mountain climbs ? Do you think the bike might be a bit on the heavy side for something like the BC Bike race?

  • leel says:

    Matt – I think it would be a bit overkill for the BC Bike Race but only because I know the course and the course favours lighter bikes. Thinking about it that’s because not many races involve 7 days of that much singletrack. While the Shinobi is a pretty good climber all that weight will hurt over the long haul. Consider the Revolver instead which is Norco’s 100mm travel version

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