For many of us in the States, Norco is a name closely associated with the freeriding scene on Vancouver’s North Shore.  For those not familiar with the riding on the North Shore, click here.  Have to say, I was a extremely excited, and a little nervous, to ride such legendary trails, but more on that later.

Norco invited their top 60 dealers and a handful of journalists to beautiful Vancouver, BC for a look at their 2010 lineup of bikes, which totals nearly 130 models.  I’ve written recently about Norco’s urban and commuting bikes over on the Bicycle Times website.


For me, one of the most interesting aspects of attending a press camp is the opportunity to get to know the people behind the scenes.  I came away from Norco’s camp extremely impressed with the honesty and integrity with which Norco not only operates, but fosters throughout the company, from employees to team riders.  Not only that, but the folks at Norco are just like you and I: they’re passionate cyclists–they walk the talk. If you’re interested, check out Norco’s 46 year history, here on their website.

Norco is reporting 6% growth over the first nine months of their 2009 fiscal year, as well as projecting small growth through the 2010 model year, despite the rough economic climate of recent.  Additionally, Norco is promising to donate $1 to cycling advocacy for each adult bike sold in 2010, which they hope will exceed $100,000.

A major portion of Norco’s success, and their ability to stay on top of changing trends in the market come from the strong relationships formed with their dealer network.  This relationship building theme extend throughout the Norco philosophy, here’s a quote from their website: “We are dedicated to building rewarding, long-term relationships with our Employees, our Customers, and our Suppliers.”  A lot of companies make statements such as this, but very few seem to put their money where their mouth is, as evidenced by the fact that many of Norco’s key employees have been with the company for ~30 years.

Enough background, lets have a look at the bikes.  Our first ride took us to Vancouver’s North Shore.  Of the three distinct riding areas, we road the Mount Seymour trails which offer a lot of the classic Shore terrain: roots, rocks, elevated skinnies, and a fair number of drops.  The sheer number of man-hours invested in the construction and maintenance of these trails is nothing short of amazing.  These trails see a lot of traffic, often in less than optimal (wet) conditions, so must be built sustainably.  The miles of Roman Road and elevated trail surface certainly do their job quite nicely.


After being shuttled to the top of the mountain, we were met with a parking lot full of shinny new bikes.  For my first Shore ride, the kind folks at Norco hooked me up with a 2010 Team DH.  Now, I do really enjoy riding down hills in a XC sense, it’s arguably the area of mountain biking I’m strongest–pedaling uphill quickly certainly isn’t.  But, I manage to get on a full-blown downhill bike roughly once per year, if I’m lucky.  Nothing like being thrown directly into the North Shore on a brand spanking new DH bike.  Thankfully, I did manage to get the brakes bedded in slightly prior to hitting the trails…

For 2010 the Team DH, available in S, M, L sizes, received a few tweaks to further refine the ride.  The redesigned hydroformed top and downtubes are the biggest change for this year.  In the name of weight savings, the adjustable travel option from the previous bike was scrapped for 2010. The Team DH is a fast bike, as you might expect, based on the numbers.  Sporting 8″ of FSR licensed rear suspension travel and a 64º headtube angle, this bike really comes alive at speeds nearing Mach 1.  In the slower, more technical sections of the trail, the Team DH felt just a little bit floppy.  To be fair, the Team DH is designed as a true downhill race bike (right around 40 lbs, we’re told), so the Shore wasn’t main design focus. Overall, the Team DH turned out to be far more capable than this humble pilot, but was very intuitive, indeed.  Within a few turns, I had reprogrammed my cornering for the slacker ride and was quite comfortable for the remainder of the day.


The geometry of the DH frame is shared across the DH line with minor tweaks to materials, such as the Atomik and A-Line are made with thicker gauge tubing to hold up to repeated bike park thrashings and rental fleet use.  The Team DH will retail for $4,750, or $2,700 for the frame.

Given Norco’s proximity to the North Shore, it’s no surprise their Shore series of freeride bikes designed for the rigors of the trails for which it is named.  The Shore models are steeper and quicker handling than their DH brethren, with 66º headtubes, roughly 1″ shorter wheelbases, and single crown forks.  Though I didn’t have a chance to ride a Shore on the North Shore, I can certainly see why this bike with its 7″ of suspension travel, shorter wheelbase, and steeper headtube would suit the Shore terrain a bit better.  The 2010 Shore One with Hammerschmidt will sell for $4,589, while the Shore Three sells for $1,785


Perhaps you remember the Vixa women’s freeride bike first launched last year.  For 2010, the Vixa received just a few minor geometry tweaks based on feedback from customers, and team rider Darcy Turenne.  For 2010, the chainstays have been shortened by 5mm, while 5mm was added to the top tube length in order to maintain the same wheelbase.  As with the other women’s specific bikes in the Forma series, the Vixa’s visual appeal is feminine without going over the top.  The 2010 Vixa will sell for $2,800.


When all was said and done, I was happy to have finished with my first (and certainly not my last) North Shore experience.  I came away with a new-found respect for Shore riders, and a greater appreciation for the scene in general.  I was also supper impressed with the riding skills of the Norco folks who led our ride.  Lots of people in our industry can ride well, but these folks can really throw down: Norco’s bikes illustrate the passion behind this brand.

Check out the rest of the photos from our North Shore ride here.  Also, stay tuned for more coverage from Vancouver specifically the LT 6.1, Norco’s 160mm travel all mountain bike.

Action photos by Derek Vanderkooy, bike photos courtesy of Norco.