There's a new green machine on the loose - introducing the all-new 2013 Norco Range Killer B160.
Now that you're properly pumped, welcome to the official 2013 Norco launch. The company has an incredible 176 bike models, 52 of which are off road.
Would you have guessed that the boys were ripping a big-wheeled bike that hard in the intro movie? The new Range Killer B160 highlights the 2013 lineup, and it's a pure 650B affair.
Norco says it's all plusses for 650B - from relatively short chainstays (427mm on a medium), to an improved tire contact patch, better inertia, impact angle and more. Add a rearward axle path into the equation and you've got one fast rolling ride.
The Range has a 66.5-degree head angle, but the increased "trail" factor makes it ride like a slacker bike. This is why most 650B and 29-inch wheeled bikes have relatively steeper head angles.
Consistent with the Aurum, Norco's premier DH bike, the new Range uses "Gravity Tune," which is a unique way of sizing frames. Unlike most bikes, the front and rear end grow proportionally with each size. This is said to give the bike a similar feel across the entire size range. They do this by using a slightly modified front triangle for each size.
The bike's 160mm of rear travel is actuated by a one-piece Holloform link, and has a progressive leverage curve.
Also new for 2013 is 360 lock hardware, located in the two main pivots, which should improve bearing life and wear big time.
Removable ISCG05 tabs allow you to run it how you want it. A stout inner guard protects the stock 2X setup.
Check out the pivot area on the chainstay. Rather than welding the tabs on, they are cut from the tube, which makes for a stronger, lighter interface.
Norco went with the Syntace X12 system on the rear end, which couples a 142x12mm rear axle with a unique derailleur hanger. There's a spare hanger bolt located on the frame near the BB area if it's ever needed.
Because the left and right stays see different forces, Norco made them asymmetrical to meet the needs of each side.
To add to the package, the brake-side dropout is a stout one-piece design that incorporates the brake post-mounts, axle slot, and chainstay pivot.
On the drive-side, the stays have been bowed out a bit for improved chain clearance.
To keep the rear end as short as possible, the Range uses a direct-mount front derailleur, which gives a little extra room for wheel clearance.
Even the welds have been given some attention. "Smooth" double pass welding is said to make for a stronger bond, plus it looks good.
Goodbye zip ties. A custom cable holder keeps the front end nice and clean.
The clever little seatpost clamp features a movable cable guide, allowing you to dial in dropper routing just right.
Component wise, the high-end Range Killer B-1 features some of the best available, including SRAM's new Type 2 derailleur. Two other build options exist that use the same frame with more affordable parts.
Also new for 2013 is the Norco Sight Killer B140, a 650B equipped bike with slightly less travel and steeper angles than the Range. It uses much of the same frame technology.
We spent a short afternoon riding the Sight on some of Vancouver's mellower trails. Our take? It climbed exceptionally well, had noticeably better traction than a 26-inch bike in turns and over the loose stuff, appeared to get up and over roots a little easier, and the suspension was dialed. Coming off several days on a downhill bike, we found the Sight to be a bit twitchy, but we'd need more time on it to really get our bearings.
It's always interesting to hear what the pros have to say. Ben Reid, Dirt-Norco team rider and shredder of all things two-wheeled, joined us for the ride. It was his first go on the new wheel size, so we asked him for his thoughts.
Bryn Atkinson started the day skeptical and left impressed about the Range in many ways.
While 29ers suffer in turns and in the air, the new mid-sized option feels very similar to 26-inch wheels. You can still throw them around a fair amount.
That's a wrap from the Norco launch. Time for a post ride brew. Cruise over to www.norco.com if you're craving more details.