Test rides – Quick Review
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xxxx – SICK BIKE – can’t say enough, lower design – shorter chainstays – super fun bike.
A-Line – heavy park bike for sure – but will last forever
Test rides – Quick Review
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Shore One – very light – nice bike can handle the hits too
Six 1 – super fun, but a bit of flex – light fr bike, can’t ask for everything
Empire 5 – Group favorite. Boyko, Dillan, other press folks here – but the TT is wicked short.
Fluid LT One – This is what an All Mtn helli drop bike should be – so awesome and fun to ride.
Weights updated – in comment section.
Spec Sheets –
(Click on Image which will open a new page – then click image to get larger version.)
A-Line – B-Line – Empire 5 – Fluid One – Fluid LT Three – Six 3 – Havoc <<more images
All the stock images for the ’09 bikes. <<more images
Ride Reports –
The ’09 XXXX(4x) caught my eye right off the bat. It was a bike I wanted to rip down Crank-It-Up with this bike as my first run at Whistler this year. I sure wasn’t disappointed. I test road the Medium frame, it only comes in S or M, which is fine, at 6’4″ I felt I definitely had more than enough room in the cockpit and wheelbase to handle high speeds and turns. The geometry of the bike felt perfect to me and the wide 710mm Sunline V1 handle bar and Sunline V1 40mm stem spread my hands out far enough to give a solid steady since of control.
After my warm up down Crank-It-Up it was time to for our group lunch (late start for the day because of Norco School). We went up to the very top of the mountain for lunch and of course were expected to ride down afterwards. I wasn’t expecting to take this bike for sure a full variety of trail conditions, but it was what I choose to ride. From the top, we road down some mellow single track, some bumps and rocks, then to an open sky slope that we bombed like our hair was on fire. The sky slope was loose and super sketchy and had water bars in it every now and then that we either had to hop over or manual through and suck up the impact with our legs. When the group got down to about where Original Sin/Freight Train start I received props for handling all that with a 4″ travel 4x bike. Really it helped that this bike is just wicked stable and assuring to ride.
We hit Freight Train and then on to some steep as all mighty heck rock rollers and this bike didn’t give one sight of slowing down. Once we got back down to Crank-It-Up I was up to speed on how this bike could really move.
As you can tell I really liked this bike, I think this is one of Norco’s best this year, at least from the six bikes I road. The changes they made came directly from rider input. They lowered the shock positioning in the frame. Shortened the chainstays, new link arms with added brace, lighter top tube, lower BB height and pretty ok components for #3225. What I didn’t like about the bike was purely in some components. Juicy 3 brakes and the pedals being my major complaint. Easy to chance out and not too costly. The Fox Float R handled very nicely as well. It was brand new, so rebound was fairly slow so the rear end felt like a hardtail with a bit of give on landings. The Fox Float R did rebound slowly but it was brand new. Oh, least I forget, the Intense Micro Knobby 2.25 tires are amazing. If you’ve not tried a pair you should.
The ’09 A-Line, Norco’s beastly thrasher bike, got some improvements for 2009. Unfortunately a diet is not one of them. I am sure wtih some component switching the bike could drop some weight, but riding it down Goats Gully was just irritating. The front hardly wanted to move. Granted, with speed the bike did mash over just about anything. 8 or 9, adjustable, inches of travel sure helps, but flicking the bike around was just not easy.
On A-Line the bike was, funny enough, great. The weight and geometry mixed with the speed and lips of A-Line is where this bike felt at home. Improvements this bike has for 2009 are; low stand over, adjustable BB height and head tube angle, lower shock position in frame, internal 1.5″ to 1 1/8th head tube that is forged (one solid piece), new forged link arms and 150x12mm through hole dropouts.
One thing is for sure, this bike will probably last longer than most riders, and will take a Bone Yard beating any day. With a $3700 MSRP the price versus quality of component choice and frame durability is very competitive. I road a Medium size while at Whistler and if you are a big boy like me 6’4″, I would suggest going for the Large frame, or at least seriously considering it. The cockpit was a hair on the smallish size, at least I thought. So, sit before you buy.
I got to ride a Shore One on the second day of the event. Unfortunately for me, but saying a lot for the bike, the folks that got a hold of them on the first day didn’t let go. I swung a leg over a large fame with a Totem Coil and it felt great.
As far as the ride went, the bike was great. Much lighter than the A-Line and much more nimble. The single crown Totem with 1.5 steerer tube is wicked solid though I wish it rebounded a bit faster, especially for Whistler speed and stutter bumps. Up, off, and landing jumps the bike was solid in the air and while landing I felt no flex or sketchy behavior from the bike. 7″ inches of front and rear travel is perfect for this bike.
Improvements the Shore One got for ’09 are; new down tube shape, stronger and stiffer, stronger seat stays and chain stays, revised dropout. With a 150×12 Maxle rear axle and 1.5 head tube this is a solid, light weight freeride bike. It is still probably better for the shuttle days then the pedal days. It is lighter than last years model but, even with that and a double up front the lack of a full length seat tube reduces the variation of seat high and there for comfort up the hill. If I had one of these I’d just ditch the double up front, slap on an LG-1 and just suck up the pedaling when I have too. $5200 for the bike, comes with some pretty good stuff though so the price seem fair enough.
The Six One is a half step bike between the Fluid LT and the Shore. It’s like freeride light. I got to bomb one of these bikes down Freight Train to No Joke to Golden Triangle. I road a size medium, which actually could have been a bit bigger, and looking at the specs there is basically no difference between the Shore and the Six except a bit steeper head angle for the Six(66.9 degree for the Six – 66 degrees for the Shore) and a lighter frame build, though it still felt just a tad bit smaller.
The Six did ride a bit more nimble for sure. The lighter weight and smaller rear triangle made the bike a bit less stable in the air and on a high speed loose section of Golden Triangle I could feel the rear flexing a bit as it bounce off rocks. Also a bit around some berms. Definitely a light freeride bike, great option for average size folks who want to be able to pedal up and bomb down. I did take this bike of the GLC drop, which is by no means a large drop, but the Six handled the landing like a champ with very little frame flex.
For 2009 the Six One gets a new forged 1.125″ headtube, E-13 dual ring guide, new chain stay clevis and a new lighter, stronger, stiffer down tube. Price is $4450 with SRAM x.9 rear deraileur and x.9 trigger shiters, Sun Jumping Flea hubs, and Hayes Stroker Trail 8″ front 7″ rear rotors.
The Empire 5 is the new 5″ travel slope style bike with geometry design made to Ben Boyko’s custom request. I was super excited to get a run on this bike, and super sad when I did. The top tube length is wicked short. I would suggest if you are over 6ft not to get your hopes and dreams up over this bike. Both the big guys are the release who road the bike, along with myself, were basically smashed into the cockpit and felt very uncomfortable when jumping this bike. I had one run on this bike and traded back for the Shore. Just too small.
Now, for everybody else, everybody who fits, this bike seems to be perfect. A couple of the other riders at the event wouldn’t have let go of this bike for anything. They liked the geometry, the fact the bike is very light, super flickable, steep head angle for a bmx feel, and having watched people riding this bike on a variety of trail types, it might be very close to a do it all gravity bike.
The bike will be priced at $3650, and pretty reasonable price for a great frame with 135×12 rear axle, Marzocche 55ATA, TST Air, Sun hubs and rims. Somethings I would change out if you get the bike, especially if it is going to see some trail riding, would be the Juicy 3 brakes and the x.5 deraileur and shifter. Oh, the fork has a Space Invaders sticker theme, fairly well done actually.
Oh boy, this bike, is something else. At least from the small time I spent on it, which, sadly, was a small time. I saved it to last, and only got about an hour and half of an light xc ride on it, but the Fluid LT One is sure nice. Granted, it is also $6900, and it rides like it. Sitting on a large I felt right at home. The geometry on this bike is great. The components, other then the WTB Devo which is super hard and my butt wasn’t used to it, are fantastic. I9 hubs, DT-Swiss EX5.0 rims, x.0 triggers and rear deraileur, the list of gucci components goes on from there.
Like I said, I didn’t get a chance to really push this bike to the limits but I am going to see about getting a hold of one of the Fluid LT models for a longer test period. I did get to see Ryan Leech rock the Fluid LT down the Whistler trails. Besides his trails bikes, he rides the Fluid LT every where else. You might not think it, but he can ride gnarly single track dang near as well as riding an inch wide hand rail.
The Fluid LT series this year see some great improvements. New chainstay clevis, Anodized Finish, New forged link arm and clevis, New down tube for increase strength and stiffness, I9 hubs/spokes. This one I road has the ’08 seat stays that can vibrate a bit under braking. The new ’09 ones are square and a bit beefier. They aren’t supposed to vibrate under braking force but I wasn’t able to test it because they had not come in yet from overseas. This bike is fun, roomy, good downhill geometry, solid Thompson 4x Stem and 31.8 bars. This is a great helli-drop All Mountain bike.