FIRST RIDE REPORT
Due to some COVID delays we only received this bike a few days before the embargo lifted so our test time has been rather short, however our first day out on the bike was for some laps at Mt. Bachelor. The first lap was a great break-in, and we thought the rebound was a bit fast, which leads us to a little criticism. With the somewhat soft detents in the Fox rear shock and the challenging placement of the rear shock, it was hard to tell if we were actually making any clicks with gloves on and an elevated heart rate and hard breathing. We had to make a few stops to check, and tune rebound on the first three rides as it felt like the rebound kind of snapped back at the very top of the travel. After that third run where we gave a little bit less spring pre-load and one less click of compression, we settled on a happy spot for our preferred riding style and super rocky, loose terrain. As things evolve and speeds increase, we may modify it more but for now, it was a fast set up and aside from the challenging rebound adjuster’s location, we are very happy with how it performs with minimal time spent.
Most of our riding was spent on a chairlift and downhilling with the Norco Range thus far, however we did hit a few steep climbs and were pleased with how the bike performs. With the pedal platform switch engaged the bike is stable, does not bob around and lets you know it is ready to climb. Even with the shock open, we still looked on in admiration as this 170mm enduro bike crawled up the trail. We have pedaled bikes with much less travel that pedal worse than the new Range and believe that riders who are looking to climb up just to get to their favorite descents will be more than happy.
We have still got lots of experimenting to do and believe that bar/stack height could be adjusted as there were a couple instances on flatter corners where it felt like the front end was a bit too far out front and a little hard to bring around. We never actually suffered any from it beyond some quick mental notes of “Ohh, that tire really feels like it’s out there, I hope it sticks.” That being said, it is an aggressive enduro bike with a 480mm reach and 63.25-degree head tube angle, and things like this come with the territory.
Once it came time to put this bike in the rough, it instantly had us smiling. One particular paver-hip-lip into a fadeaway landing of exposed roots and braking bumps was a particular favorite. Each run we felt the urge to compress and yank harder and harder until we were landing bottom bracket deep in the shit of it all with one bike length before a sharp right-hand berm. The bike did not even flinch! We know, its cliché, but it really felt like we were riding a DH bike that popped like a trail bike. The composure, speed and suspension feel beg you to push harder and ride faster.
THE WOLF’S FIRST IMPRESSION
Although our testing period so far has been short, there may not be any other bike in our current stable that has us itching to hit the trails quite as much. We are certainly going to be fighting over who gets to take this thing out for more test miles, and with Mt. Bachelor’s bike park opening the upper trails, we cannot wait to put down some heaters with this enduro-race-ready 29er. The new Norco Range is a very awesome bike for those in the market for an aggressive 170mm 29er. We did strike the lower link area trying to climb up tall obstacles at very slow speeds and we are not sure if that will be a once in a blue moon sort of thing, or something that becomes an issue. Obviously, it is not something a majority of riders encounter on regular rides, us included, so we’re optimistic it won’t be a big deal. Beyond that, with a little more cockpit refinement, a handlebar swap and more time, this bike will likely be one of the hottest sleds in the shop.
For more info, visit Norco.com