2019 Norco Aurum HSP1 Bike

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Review - Norco Aurum HSP from Vital MTB Test Sessions

This steed is bred to work, not play, and has one thing on its mind: Going fast.

Rating: Vital Review

During the Vital MTB 27.5 DH Test Sessions, the Norco Aurum HSP went head-to-head with four other leading bikes. What follows are our thoughts specific to the Aurum HSP. Be sure to check out the main feature for an in-depth comparison video, timed testing results, and more.

Highlights

  • Available in 27.5 (tested) and 29-inch models
  • Carbon frame with size-scaled tubing
  • 200mm (7.9-inches) front and rear travel
  • High single-pivot suspension design with an idler pulley
  • Metric trunnion shock with bearings
  • 225x75mm (27.5) // 225x70mm (29) rear shock
  • Gravity Tune: Chainstay length increases proportionately to front-end length
  • Integrated frame protection throughout, including shuttle guard
  • External cable routing
  • Includes 0, 4, and 8mm reach adjust headset cups
  • Integrated seat collar
  • Press fit

During the Vital MTB 27.5 DH Test Sessions, the Norco Aurum HSP went head-to-head with four other leading bikes. What follows are our thoughts specific to the Aurum HSP. Be sure to check out the main feature for an in-depth comparison video, timed testing results, and more.

Highlights

  • Available in 27.5 (tested) and 29-inch models
  • Carbon frame with size-scaled tubing
  • 200mm (7.9-inches) front and rear travel
  • High single-pivot suspension design with an idler pulley
  • Metric trunnion shock with bearings
  • 225x75mm (27.5) // 225x70mm (29) rear shock
  • Gravity Tune: Chainstay length increases proportionately to front-end length
  • Integrated frame protection throughout, including shuttle guard
  • External cable routing
  • Includes 0, 4, and 8mm reach adjust headset cups
  • Integrated seat collar
  • Press fit bottom bracket with lower two ISCG 05 mounts
  • 12x142mm rear axle
  • Measured Weight: 35.6-pounds (16.2kg, stock tires, without pedals)
  • Size Tested: M/L with stock 0mm reach adjust cup
  • Model Tested: HSP1
  • MSRP: $7,999 USD
  • More Info: www.norco.com

Strengths

When the going gets rough and fast, the Norco Aurum HSP excels. While some of the other bikes failed to provide confidence while pinning a 24-inch-wide, rough ski-run traverse going 30mph, the Aurum calmed the nerves thanks to its high single-pivot (HSP) design. The platform has a very rearward axle path which lengthens the wheelbase when the suspension is compressed, improving stability, bump absorption, and rear wheel traction. The idler pulley isolates the chain, minimizing pedal kickback and creating an ultra-supple, smooth, confidence inspiring machine that loves to point and shoot.

Decisions have to be made, and sometimes there is no other option but to send a feature to flat instead of braking. When huck mode is engaged and the Aurum was fully compressed, it remained composed, ready, and willing to attack the next section. Smooth sailing through the rough stuff allowed us to conserve energy for the rest of the track, and the roomy cockpit provided a balanced riding position.

Norco is head-and-shoulders above the competition when it comes to their suspension setup and tuning guide. Not only did this guide teach us that we're endomorphs, but it also discusses how to dial the bike in for a wide variety of body types and terrain.

On the tech side, Norco's Gravity Tune is compelling. Their bikes are tailored to ensure ideal fore and aft weight distribution by having different chainstay lengths across the size range. This is rarely seen and is a large investment for a company to make, showing Norco’s commitment to its craft and customers. Reach adjust headset cups are included to dial things in even further.

We also dig the shuttle guard on the downtube, external routing for ease of maintenance, gloss with matte finish, dialed build kit, and integrated seat post clamp.

Weaknesses

Norco likes to compare the Aurum HSP to a trophy truck with similar ride characteristics, and we believe this is an accurate description. The coil rear shock affirms the character of the bike. This analogy also makes sense when taking this bruiser into tight, technical sections, and thinking about driving a trophy truck on an F1 road track. The bike's inability to deviate from line choice and adjust direction made for a clumsy, delayed ride when speeds slowed down. In tight, twisty berms and lippy jumps, things felt forced, slow, and sluggish.

This Aurum wasn't a bike that we could just hop on and feel one with straight away. Like any good relationship, there are compromises that need to be made, and riders will have to tailor their riding style to meet the needs of this machine.

Due to the rearward axle path, the bike rides heavier than it is and can be a handful to manual. Though the suspension analysis speaks well of this machine in terms of pedaling performance, rotating all of those chain links certainly isn’t as easy as others. Don’t skip leg day!

Suggested upgrades for a few hundred dollars: Tire inserts and slightly smaller diameter grips

Geometry

Suspension Analysis

Using the bike industry's leading linkage analysis software, André Santos was able to determine a close approximation of the Aurum HSP's kinematics for the purpose of this review. Though they don't always tell the full story, these charts provide great insight into several key factors that impact how it rides.

André's Observations:

  • The Norco Aurum HSP has a very progressive rear suspension at 80% progressivity with a lot of ramp-up effect in the final part of the travel. Therefore, this bike will offer a bottomless feeling on bigger impacts.
  • Very good pedaling efficiency with approximately 140% anti-squat on all rear cogs with a 34-tooth chainring.
  • Virtually zero chain growth and no pedal-kickback due to the idler placed almost concentrically with the main pivot.
  • Due to the high-pivot design, the Aurum HSP has a very rearward axle path with a total of 40mm of rearward horizontal travel. The initial part of the travel has a steepness angle of 65º (which matches with the front fork angle).
  • Anti-rise is quite high at near 140% due to the high main pivot, meaning that the rear suspension slightly squats with rear braking forces. This will help to reduce forward pitching of the bike during braking.
  • Overall, Norco's high-pivot linkage offers a very progressive suspension design, great pedaling efficiency with zero chain-growth, and a very rearward axle path.

Vital's preferred suspension settings for a 175-pound rider on stock components: 21% sag with 400 lb/in spring // Compression 4-clicks from closed

What's The Bottom Line?

The Norco Aurum HSP will thrive on World Cup-style race courses that are flat-out rough with ludicrous speeds. Looking at the aesthetics of this bike, it just screams fast. Search elsewhere if you want a bike that is fun on the whole mountain, as the Aurum HSP is a demanding daily driver that needs extra effort to ride to its full potential. It is a purebred racehorse with only one focus: going as fast as possible. For high-level racers whose focus is similar, this could be the steed for you.

Visit www.norco.com and the Vital MTB 27.5 DH Test Sessions feature for more details.

Vital MTB Rating


About The Testers

Brian Buell - Age: 31 // Years Riding: 25+ // Height: 6'1" (1.85m) // Weight: 180-pounds (81.6kg)

Brian is kind of like Uncle Rico – even though he has a titanium rod in his tibia and is continuously trying to avoid obtaining a dad bod, he delusionaly daydreams of World Cup racing glory. That thought process transfers to the trail. Whether building trail, coaching on them, or just trying to recapture the glory days between the tape, he’s always in search of the racer line. Known for "Buelling" his bikes, Brian sometimes puts a serious hurt on parts pushing them to their limits. Although the Collegiate National Championship sweater vest jersey is collecting dust somewhere, whenever it’s time to race against the clock or perform for the camera you can bet he’s fully pinned putting it all on the line for you!

Brandon Turman - Age: 32 // Years Riding: 17 // Height: 5'10" (1.78m) // Weight: 175-pounds (79.4kg)

"I like to have fun, pop off the bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when I feel in tune with a bike, and really mash on the pedals and open it up when pointed downhill." Formerly a mechanical engineer and Pro downhill racer, Brandon brings a unique perspective to the testing game as Vital MTB's resident product guy. He has on-trail familiarity with nearly every new innovation in our sport from the past several years and a really good feel for what’s what.


Test Sessions was made possible with the help of Angel Fire Bike Park, Maxxis, and LITPro. Tester gear provided by Troy Lee Designs, Fasthouse, and Five Ten.

Photos by Sean Horton // Videos by Jake VanHeel and Brandon Turman

Specifications

Product Norco Aurum HSP1 Bike
Model Year 2019
Riding Type Downhill, Freeride / Bike Park
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
XS/S (27.5"), S/M (27.5"), M/L (29"), M/L (27.5"), L/XL (29"), L/XL (27.5") View Geometry
Size XS/S (27.5") S/M (27.5") M/L (29") M/L (27.5") L/XL (29") L/XL (27.5")
Top Tube Length 570.5mm 602.5mm 637.11mm 634.5mm 665.85mm 666.5mm
Head Tube Angle 62.5° 62.5° 62.5° 62.5° 62.5° 62.5°
Head Tube Length 100mm 107.5mm 100mm 115mm 100mm 122.5mm
Seat Tube Angle 74.39° 73.5° 72.34° 72.65° 71.62° 71.82°
Seat Tube Length 400mm 415mm 431mm 430mm 446mm 445mm
Bottom Bracket Height 350mm 350mm 353mm 350mm 353mm 350mm
Chainstay Length 400mm 410mm 420mm 420mm 430mm 430mm
Wheelbase 1169mm 1203mm 1235mm 1237mm 1265mm 1270mm
Standover 744mm 757mm 775mm 768mm 787mm 780mm
Reach 405mm 425mm 441mm 445mm 461mm 465mm
Stack 592mm 599mm 617mm 606mm 617mm 612mm
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b), 29"
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details SmoothCore and ArmorLite technologies, downtube protection and full external cable routing
Rear Travel 200mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe RC, coil
Fork RockShox Boxxer World Cup, Boost 20mm x 110mm
Fork Travel 200mm
Head Tube Diameter Straight
Headset Cane Creek 40
Handlebar Deity Black Label, 15mm rise, 31.8mm diameter
Stem Deity Intake, 31.8mm clamp, direct mount
Grips Deity KnuckleDuster, lock-on, black
Brakes SRAM Code RSC, 4-piston
Brake Levers SRAM Code RSC
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters SRAM X01 DH, 7-speed
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur SRAM X01 DH, medium cage
ISCG Tabs ISCG05
Chainguide e*thirteen LG1+, alloy backplate with lower guard
Cranks SRAM X01 DH, 165mm length
Chainrings 34 tooth, X-Sync direct mount
Bottom Bracket SRAM Pressfit, 104.5mm
Pedals N/A
Chain SRAM PC-1110, 11-speed
Cassette SRAM X01 DH CS-HG795, 10-24 tooth, 7-speed
Rims DT Swiss EX 511, 30mm inner width
Hubs Front: DT Swiss 350, Boost 20mm x 110mm
Rear: DT Swiss 350 with XD driver
Spokes DT Swiss Competition, double butted stainless steel, black
Tires Schwalbe Magic Mary Downhill with Addix U-Soft
Saddle Deity Side Track
Seatpost SDG I-beam, 350mm length
Seatpost Diameter 30.9mm
Seatpost Clamp Integrated
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 12mm x 148mm
Max. Tire Size
Bottle Cage Mounts No
Colors Black/red
Warranty 3-year limited
Weight 35 lb 10.4 oz (16,170 g)
Miscellaneous M-XL frame compatible with 27.5" and 29" wheels
Advanced Ride Technology (A.R.T.) suspension
Gravity Tune size-specific rear-center lengths
Full external cable routing
Price $7,999
More Info

Norco website

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