Fast and with quality components but not the most comfortable ride
Fast ride feel
Not very compliant on rough surfaces
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The Norco’s carbon frame has sloping geometry with an overbuilt head and downtube. Although the seatstays are slim and bowed to dampen vibration, the chainstays are quite wide, supporting power delivery.
There’s an all-carbon fork with slim legs to help with vibration damping, while the shorter seat tube allows significant extension of the carbon seatpost which should also help ride comfort. Norco claims a frame weight of under 1kg, which is light for an endurance bike at this price point. The bike’s headtube is quite short, which together with the slammed stem resulted in quite a low riding position for an endurance bike.
The component spec of the Norco is unusually good. With Ultegra shifters and front and rear mechs, coupled with a 105 chainset, it’s a step up from the norm at this price.
The brakes are non-series Shimano R561, whilst the Fulcrum Racing 7 LG wheels are a quality, reasonably light budget choice with a wide-ish rim and are shod with grippy Continental Grand Sport Race 25mm tyres.
The Fizik saddle is well padded and sits atop a carbon seatpost and with a 50/34 chainset and 11-32 cassette there is plenty of gear range for fast descents and steep climbs.
The Norco feels fast for an endurance bike, with a low riding position and wheels which spin up well due to their relatively light weight and fast tyres. Although more comfortable than a full-on road racing bike its ride is still quite firm, so that you feel the miles after a longer ride. I did not find the Fizik saddle very comfortable, its raised edges on either side of the central pressure relief channel being just a bit too firm. Handling in higher speed descents, although fine on smoother roads, was a bit jittery on rough and uneven surfaces.
The quality drivetrain components and wheels make this a good value package at this price. However, the frame, although light, lacks compliance relative to the other bikes on test and this is reflected in the ride, handling and long distance comfort. This feels like a bit of a halfway house between a road racing bike and a full-on endurance machine – but this is not necessarily a bad thing if you are looking for a more engaged ride feel.
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