Norco Shinobi 2011 Review

29er Pro Reviews Video


The Shinobi’s frame has many of the refinements that Norco now seems to have incorporated as part of its standard process. In general, its a well-finished, well thought out frame with clean welds, nice paint & flowing lines. Here are some highlights of the Shinobi frame:

  • Sizes are S/M/L/XL (16.5, 18, 19.5, 21)
  • Tapered headtube
  • Aluminium frame with hydroformed downtube
  • ISCG 05 chain guide tabs (good for Hammerschmidt or a chain guide)
  • Dropper post cable routing
  • 142×12 Syntace rear dropout/rear axle
  • One-piece link-arm
  • Enough room for a conventional water bottle mount
  • Clearance for a 2.4 rear tire

It’s a truism that any 29er frame that will ride well can’t just be a standard 26″ wheeled frame that’s tweaked; the big wheels must be an integral part of the design process. With this in mind, the one-piece link-arm was designed specifically to fit the big wheels. A kink in the downtube gives you standover in the right place. Headtubes are shorter to offset the taller 29er forks. A lower bottom bracket height is also employed (compare Shinobi’s 13.2″ to the Range [14"] or Fluid [13.8"] ) to compensate for the bigger wheels that puts the rider higher.

Usually a steep head angle is also used to combat the slackness and slowness of steering characteristic of big wheels but when compared to other 29ers of similar purpose, the Shinobi’s head tube angle is relatively slack. Other measurements are fairly standard (with the caveat that there simply aren’t that many all-mountain type 29ers who is to say what is standard?). Here are some geometry numbers from a grab-bag of other relatively long-travel 29ers for comparison. I also tossed in Santa Cruz’s Tallboy which has been ridden to resoundingly effective fashion in very technical terrain by some very discerning riders



Norco Shinobi (18) Rocky Mountain Altitude 29er (18) Banshee Prime proto (M) Santa CruzTallboy (M) Santa CruzTallboy (L)
HA 68.5* 70.5 67.5-68.5 70 70
STA 74 76 74 73 73
TTT 610 595 587 585 609
HT 100 100 120 100 100
BBH 335 336 340-352 325 325
WB 1149 1140 1155 1082 1135
RC 450 452 448 444 444



Norco Shinobi (18) Rocky Mountain Altitude 29er (18) Banshee Prime proto (M) Santa CruzTallboy (M) Santa CruzTallboy (L)
TTT 24 595 587 23 24
HT 3.9 3.9 4.7 3.9 3.9
BBH 13.2 13.25 13.4-13.85 12.8 12.8
WB 45.2 44.9 45.5 42.6 44.7
RC 17.7 17.8 17.65 17.5 17.5

* Norco website’s 69.5 head tube angle number is measured with a 120mm front fork.


This shot of the rear linkage shows the Syntace X-12 142x12mm axle system and a one piece forged dropout incorporating the axle mounts, suspension pivot and disc caliper in one unit


Beefed up forged, one-piece rear linkage is intended to improve strength & rear-end stiffness while saving weight

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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