First published in Singletrack Magazine issue 99
The Range Carbon 7.1 is Norco’s top of the range (badum-tish) all mountain or enduro bike, with a component mix and price tag to match its lofty ambitions. That’s not to say I consider it expensive – if you look at the spec you’ll see the Range offers particularly good value for money, when compared to the offerings of other brands in the same category. It’s a bike intended to get you to the top of any mountain, then assist in you reaching maximum velocity on the way back down.
To achieve this Norco has built the 7.1 around a carbon, internal-routed, four-bar linkage 160mm travel chassis with aluminium chainstays to keep climbing weight low, while offering a level of strength that should shrug off anything a fast and loose descent can throw at it. Geometry is spot on with a longish 625mm front centre (Medium size) and 66//DEG// head angle, which combined with the 50mm Atlas stem keeps you positioned nicely mid-bike without feeling too stretched. The low-slung top tube gives plenty of manoeuvrability when the going gets rowdy; this isn’t a bike that’s going to disappoint when it comes to technical downhills.
It’s not often we get a bike where the urge to swap out parts doesn’t raise its head, and it’s usual to spot the compromises taken by product managers to meet a price point. That isn’t the case with the Norco Range – it comes kitted out with a suitable array of top-end kit to justify the wedge of money you’ll shell out to own it. The SRAM XX1 drivetrain is as good as it gets and it’s nice to see a 30T chainring specced up front, denoting the intended long rides this bike is intended for and allowing for a spinnable climbing gear that’s going to be appreciated towards the end of a day’s riding. Likewise the wheels are a fairly bombproof combination of DT Swiss hubs and Stan’s Flow EX rim, combined with Maxxis High Roller II Maxx Terra tyres – all tried and trusted choices that’ll cope well where this bike is intended to be used.
The 160mm travel of suspension travel is dealt with by a RockShox Pike RCT Dual Position up front and a Cane Creek Double Barrel Air out back; both worked faultlessly, as should be expected. Personally I’d happily do away with the Dual Position in favour of a fork that can be tuned; not once during the test period did I feel the need to drop the front end to help on a climb. With the fork left at full travel the Range climbed superbly, although it should be noted that some management of the Double Air shock was needed. For technical and lumpy climbs, the Double Air in open mode offered all the traction needed right up until my legs gave out, but on fire road and road sections the extra benefit when you flick the climb switch is more than appreciated – it’s that noticeable.
The Double Barrel is a particularly good addition to the Range’s abilities, in particular its ability to soak up long rocky alpine descents, but it takes a bit of investment of time to get the best from it. It’s well worth tinkering and fettling with it for the first month of riding, making use of the supplied notebook and pencil to tweak it to perfection for your particular favoured feel. Spend time getting it set up initially and it’ll reward you down the line. Aim the bike downhill when it’s tuned, and the feel of the suspension combined with the frame’s geometry seems to take everything in its stride whether you’re in rapid, wide open mode or in tight and steep alpine switchbacks. The Range is a competent descender that’ll be equally happy offering a stable ride at speed or being thrown around in turns; it sits well in its travel, ready to deal with big hits and waiting for rider input.
Over the course of the test period the Range has slowly become my go-to bike for more or less everything. Long cross-country rides in the Borders? The Range swallowed them. Hill day in the Cairngorms? The bike felt right at home. Enduro racing in the Alps? It offered confidence going into hard, technical and lengthy descents and dealt with three days of racing without a single hiccup. It’s a bike that’ll happily mule you to the top of the hill before letting loose on the way back down. It’ll take you to the limits of your riding skill safe in the knowledge that it can cope, even if you’re on the edge. It seems to deal with everything thrown at it with the same level of composure; a competent, well thought-out, capable bike that’ll help you achieve – if you’re prepared to go with it.
- Frame // Range Carbon
- Shock // Cane Creek Double Barrel Air with climb switch
- Fork // Rockshox Pike RCT Dual Position
- Hubs // DT350 hubs
- Rims // Stan’s ZTR Flow EX
- Tyres // Maxxis High Roller II 2.3in 3C Maxx Terra
- Chainset // SRAM XX1
- Front mech // n/a
- Rear mech // SRAM XX1
- Shifters // SRAM XX1
- Brakes // SRAM Guide RSC, 180mm rotors
- Stem // RaceFace Atlas 50mm stem, 35 mm clamp
- Bars // RaceFace SixC 800mm carbon bar, 35mm clamp
- Seatpost // RockShox Reverb Stealth seatpost
- Saddle // WTB Volt Race w/chromoly rails
- Size tested // M
- Sizes available // M, L, XL
- Weight // 28.5lb
- Tester // Dave.
|Product:||Range Carbon 7.1|
|From:||Evans Cycles, evanscycles.com|
|Tested:||by Dave for|