by Wil Barrett
February 22, 2017
Coming hot off the heels of the release of the all-new Norco Sight 27.5 and 29er models, the Canadian mountain bike brand has just unveiled its new enduro-slaying machine; the Range. We reported on some of the teaser videos posted by Norco back in November, where we made some educated guesses about what was on the way from Norco. And as it turns out, our suspicions were right…
Updated for 2017, the Range possesses many similar design characteristics to the previous version, but features a ground-up redesign with a refined suspension design, reworked geometry, and the addition of a 29in wheeled option. That’s right – a long travel 29er enduro bike. Just as Specialized has done with the Enduro and Trek has done with the Slash, Norco has brought big wheels into the equation for its flagship EWS race machine. Controversial? Or the way of the future?
Either way, lets take a look at what’s new and exciting about this long travel race rig…
The 2017 Norco Range features:
- Carbon fibre full suspension enduro bike
- 29in and 27.5in wheelsize options
- Range 29 suspension: 160mm front & 150mm rear
- Range 27.5 suspension: 170mm front & 160mm rear
- Head angle: 65° (27.5in) – 65.5° (29in)
- Revised A.R.T suspension design
- Enduro MAX pivot bearings
- Metric rear shock with Trunnion mount
- Gravity Tune: Shorter rear centres on smaller frames, longer rear centres on bigger frames
- Gizmo internal cable routing system
- Stealth dropper post routing
- Integrated downtube armour
So for a start, Norco is only releasing the new Range in carbon fibre. Our guess is that alloy models will follow soon, but in the meantime carbon fibre is your only flavour for the Range. Norco uses the fantastic-plastic for both the main triangle and the seat stays, while the chain stays and rocker link remain of the metallic variety.
Frame material aside however, there are some clever details hiding with the new Range that are set to make this the most capable All Mountain bike that Norco has ever produced.
“We looked at the way Enduro bikes are being used – yes, they’re pedalled to the top, but essentially in an Enduro event they go through four or five downhill races over a weekend. This is a bike that’s going to be ridden hard, and we wanted to make it as reliable and dependable as possible. So we took everything we learned from the Aurum, which is the strongest bike we’d ever made, and employed it on the new Range Carbon.” – Owen Pemberton, Senior Design Engineer.
As is the current trend, the new Range gets the ‘longer-slacker-lower’ treatment. Not drastically so, as the previous design had the geometry pretty well dialled, but it’s longerer, slackerer, and lowerer nonetheless. The bigger change has been a 2° steeper seat tube angle, which will help to push the riders weight forward whilst in the seated pedalling position.
With the introduction of a 29er model, Norco was also keen to mimic the handling between the two wheelsize options, so the two bikes would feel similar on the trail. Reach measurements are nearly identical, though the 29er version is longer. As such, the 29er Range is spec’d with a shorter stem to make the overall reach (which Norco calls “Reach Plus”) the same between the two wheelsize options. On the note of sizing and geometry, the 29er model is only available in Medium, Large and X-Large frame sizes, whereas the 27.5in version comes in all five sizes from X-Small through to X-Large.
Also worth noting is that the rear centre lengths on the Range 27.5in and 29in models are identical – and that’s been made possible by a move to a Boost drivetrain offset to help slam the rear wheel in closer. Norco has also stipulated that the Range is not plus-compatible. If it had made the bike plus-compatible, then it wouldn’t have been possible to keep the chain stays so short.
And also-also worth mentioning, is that if you’re excited about the Range 29er and you live in the UK, then unfortunately you won’t be seeing a big wheeler for a while. The Range 27.5 will be arriving first, and if there’s sufficient demand for the 29er version, then Norco UK (that’s Evan’s Cycles), will look at importing them. If you want one, then we suggest you hit up your local Norco dealer sooner rather than later…
In terms of suspension, the Range 27.5 gets a huuuuge 170mm travel fork up front, and 160mm of travel out back. The Range 29 shrinks the travel by 10mm at either end, though still features a beefy Fox 36 or RockShox Lyrik/Yari fork depending on the model.
Like the new Optic and Sight models, the Norco Range features updated internal cable routing courtesy of the Gizmo system. A host of different port options allows for multiple configurations, and in our experience, it’s an easy-to-manage system that isn’t hard to work on when replacing gear cables and such.
More subtle changes on the new 2017 Norco Range includes a reworked A.R.T suspension design. It’s still a four-bar configuration, with a horst-link style pivot just forward of the rear dropouts. Changes to pivot locations are claimed to offer a smoother suspension feel with ever-so-slightly more progression than the old Range to provide increased bottom-out support.
The rear wheel also follows a more upwards arc through its travel, compared to the old Range that had a heavy rearward axle path. The concept was to decrease pedal feedback, so that there’s less chain-tug as the suspension compresses through its travel.
Also new is the change to Metric shock sizing, which is quickly becoming the new standard for rear shock dimensions in 2017 and beyond.
The Range rolls with sealed cartridge bearings in the upper shock mount on the rocker link, which should increase sensitivity at the rear wheel for added traction and control. The rocker link itself is a two-sided number that bolts together to create a strong and stiff structure.
Also updated is the new Boost 148x12mm rear thru-axle spacing. Norco has elected to go with a Syntace X12 axle, which screws in to the opposing dropout with a 5mm hex key and a cone-style head that purportedly increases stiffness over other thru-axle designs.
There’s plenty of mud clearance with the 2.5in Maxxis WT tyres, but Norco doesn’t want you to try and run plus tyres in the Range. That’s a deliberate design move, as the engineers didn’t want to compromise geometry and frame performance by creating a plus-compatible frame.
There’ll be multiple versions of the Range available, which are all based around the same carbon fibre frameset. All models feature new Metric-sized shocks, the same geometry, chunky forks and 1x specific drivetrains. There’ll be three spec options to choose from, with the 7.1/9.1 filling the top-end spec, the 7.2/9.2 slotting into the middle (above image), and the 7.3/9.3 being the entry-level option (pictured below).
So there you have it – the new 2017 Range range in a nutshell. Like what you see? Then why not tell us what you think in the comments section below?
And if you’re looking for more information about the Range, then head to the Norco Bikes website to have all your questions answered. Us? We’ll get back to dreaming of riding in locations like this;