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.
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 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.