Review: Norco Range Killer B-Three 650b/27.5 All Mountain Bike

27.5 Enduro Pro Reviews
Geometry

From the numbers the Norco Range Killer B Three is downhill biased with a slack head angle, low BB (13.5 inches), middle of the pack wheelbase and chain stay length yet with a climbing friendly seat tube angle. It’s offered in five sizes from XS to XL. See the Norco website for geometry for the other models. Some comparables to other bikes that I picked purely at random are offered below for amusement.

Uphill Performance

The Range Killer B Three is a schizophrenic climber; at the same time in one package being both an excellent yet lethargic uphiller. Norco says that the new pivot locations in the A.R.T. system allow for additional chain growth and a more rearward axle path. When climbing that translates into a rear end that digs in on these techy climbs especially when you are spinning high revs uphill.

Norco says that A.R.T. should also result in less pedal bob when climbing but I certainly didn’t feel that to be the case as the rear shock actuates in climbs particularly in granny gear. The good news is that capable technical climbers can use that bob to time pedal strokes to scramble up astoundingly technical terrain. I liken this to a truck-like low 4×4 feeling where you can use the Range’s characteristic of transferring an enormous amount of traction to the rear wheel to crawl uphill.

The Range doesn’t do as well in middle ring or gradual climbs being ponderous at best. The weight of the bike and particularly of the wheelset doesn’t lend itself to acceleration or to snappy quickness in climbs. To alleviate this demerit, I used the rear shock’s lockout feature to plod up fire roads.

Downhill Performance

Downhill is in the Range’s DNA and this is where the bike shines. I setup the Range with 30 percent sag which proved to be optimal for descending. Insanely confident is the way to describe how you can descend with this bike. It’s a combination of fantastic suspension (yes I’m an X-Fusion fork fan boy), smart aggressive tire choices, and descending geometry.

Slow technical steeps in particular is where the bike shines. Under those conditions the Range is super stable and one can descend with perfect control with the only minor downside being the on-off nature of the Avid brakes. I managed to chuck the bike off small and medium drops to transitions and to flat. The Range absorbed it all comfortably.

Under high-speed conditions with multiple hits I had some minor quibbles. The A.R.T. suspension works particularly well in absorbing bumps/hits even while braking. The burly frame is stiff, tracking well without the vague feeling one sometimes gets when there is excessive flex. The limit seems to be the X-Fusion rear shock which has a tendency to pack up and spike under multiple hard hits and of course, the Avid brakes which can be an adventure in inconsistency.

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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  • Izzy says:

    “If you’re outside this range you’ll need to change the stock spring”
    Huh? You mean add/remove air???
    Where’s Francis’ video as mentioned on the last page?
    How does the Sight Killer-B’s climbing performance compare to the Range’s? Particularly the way the suspension behaves?

  • LeeL says:

    Sloppy on my part – Francis’s video is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1EnL5wf2MOM

    Actually check out the X-Fusion site via the link and the other link in the story re the mod. There’s a coil spring and an air spring. You actually have to change the stock coil spring. IMO if you’re going through that trouble spring the extra 300 and get the HLR damper which gets you HSC and LSC

    Sight Killer B pedals better with substantially less bob particularly in the small ring

  • Maple says:

    Lee,

    How’s it compare with the RM Altitude? Like you I’m more of climber, which would you prefer on a trail like Pipeline (Fromme), or Cardiac (Bby), or Salamander (Seymour), or Franks (Burke)… as a wide assortment of trails?

  • Oscar says:

    Which trail on Fromme is that jump on? (If it’s not a secret) Looks like fun!

    • Paul Snyder says:

      Oscar – all the trails in this video are on Seymour. None of them are secret. They are listed (not in order of appearance) under the video on Vimeo.

  • LeeL says:

    Maple – the Altitude is more comparable to the Sight. The Ranges quality of suspension is more plush and better for absorption of small hits and/or multiple hits than the Altitude/Sight but IMO the Altitude and Sight are better climbing bikes

  • Angel says:

    What size bike are you riding on these video ?

  • Lee Lau says:

    Angel – I’m on a size Medium

  • M@ says:

    Do you feel that the M was the best fit at 5’11? I’ve always landed in the middle of sizing charts at 5’8″. Curious if the small would be a better fit or throw a 40/50 stem on a M. Ordered my 2014

    • Lee Lau says:

      M@ – I thought the Med was a good fit for me but I tend to prefer smaller sizes. You’ve got a tough problem – I tend to think that you might be a S but that’s a guess

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