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First Look: Dirt Norco 650b Prototype DH Bike for Fort William

First Look: Dirt Norco 650b Prototype DH Bike for Fort William

Billy Thackray Billy Thackray

Dirt/Norco World Cup rider Ben Reid will be testing the Norco 650b prototype on the rocky slopes of Aonarch Mor for rd#2 of the Saracen BDS at Fort William this weekend. Horse it on fella!


We caught Baltic Ben Reid packing the Dirt Norco race truck (Thundertruck MKII aka Vampire Deluxe) and spotted he was loading up one more bike than usual for this trip.

Among Norco’s many research and development projects (which the DIRT/NORCO lads are pretty stoked to be a part of) is this 650B DH bike.

Ben thought that if ever there was a DH course suited for big wheels (you now the type…high speed rock sections, big holes, flat out rough stuff) that Fort William is it. With that in mind Reidy will be putting this prototype bike through its paces in practice for BDS rd2 this weekend at the Fort.

Will this bike be available soon? Don’t hold your breath, after checking directly with Norco we have been told that it will not be in their 2014 lineup. Still pretty cool to see it in the early testing and evaluation stages though. We’ll bring you more info on Reidy’s larger wheeled bike next week.


Wonder if we’ll see a few more 650b bikes at the first round of the 2013 World Cup at the Fort in June?

  1. Roby

    In my opinion, many top guys are already testing those new 650b wheels on their steeds but their projects are top secret. And for sure we will see many more guys using 29ers or 27,5ers during World Champs in South Africa. Everyone wanna win.
    Ben is first of them all who shows that something big is coming

  2. Bill Dengate

    Been doing testing with Bilt bikes as well here on 650b and the biggest problem is finding some 650b DH tires. We keep getting flats! They do ride great and I think in the future 650b will be the norm.

  3. Tricki

    Nice. Given my ’09 Session88 the 650B treatment – works. And it looks like a TREK 😉

  4. uhoh


  5. Mtbmarketing .CON

    In my opinion wheel sizes should be catigorized
    At all racing events dh,xc and 4x
    You can’t race pro box on a 26 inch wheel bmx!!!

    For personal riding pleasure and weekend warriors it simply up to the rider what they ride :0)

  6. Mtbmarketing+.CON

    Box = BMX, damn iPad

  7. Enduromania

    What a joke!! We really need a Shaun Palmer type back in our sport to knock some sense into everyone and to stop us from being laughed at. We are taking massive steps to put our sport back in the dark ages times when everyone dressed like ice dancers and removed peaks from helmets.

    1. Digger

      Roll on the season starting, then when nobody get’s anywhere on a slightly differently sized wheel we can put all this outrageous industry con to bed forever.

  8. ddmonkey

    I think it’s all really interesting, we are finally going to see if it really is faster or not!

  9. Dan Eastwood

    Theres going to be a 29er DH bike at Fort William this weekend believe the hype xxxxxxx

  10. Jon

    UCI needs to set a standard wheel size of 26″ and be done with it. End of story.

    1. Will+Soffe

      DH is like F1 in the 1980’s = Very few restrictions, do what you can to be as fast as possible, whether it’s 6 wheels or a turbo, just try it.

      The biggest steps backward in our sport was the mandatory peak rule and the skinsuit ban. Do whatever you can to be fast, there should be no limits.

      1. dirt dodger

        exactly ! the sport is about getting from top to bottom in the shortest time, drop the freakin wheel size snobbery – if they are quicker than a 26 inch then great, and if not i am sure they will be inside a year.

  11. Mtbmarketing+.CON

    I agree with Jon

  12. EhBC

    Whatever wheel size it seems stupid for world class racing sanctioned by UCI there isn’t a set wheel size or even different classes. (As in BMX. As @mtb.con said)

  13. Roby

    But tell me why should the industry stay at its present and why it cant step up? If 650B wheels can make you go faster I wouldnt make any restriction to stop you from stepping up your game. By the time the tracks will change a lot and make it more difficult to ride even on bigger wheels that gives you better roll over.
    In my humble opinion, let everybody choose whats the best for them and make the progression happen.

  14. Paul

    DH should be one wheel size, if they stopped people going faster by banning skin suits just because it was associated with XC and making the sport look bad then they should also ban bigger wheels that are also associated with XC (and 29 inch wheels just look silly), you may go faster as your smoothing out bumps but if your trying to smooth a track out by using a wheel then just make the tracks smoother all together. Yep didn’t think that would go down well. If the UCI listened to all the moaning a few weeks back to do with what races racers can ride and then back pedal maybe they can listen to the big wheel farce too. Greg Minnaar should get it banned like he did skin suits but then again he got a world cup in South Africa on basically a DH course with some XC thrown in for good measure. Seems like he’s the man to talk to.

    1. embrace.change

      So if they ban different wheel sizes because they “may make you go faster by smoothing out the bumps” should they also ban full suspension bikes which do the same, should they also ban tyre design because they grip too much, should they also ban different frame sizes because everyone should be “equal”, should they also ban – well, you get the picture. It is thought processes like yours that would have DH races run on single speed, fully rigid, 1 frame size, v-braked bikes of old – because then we would really see the riders skills come to the fore. Forget the debate about how big the wheels are and appreciate that, if they are simply marketing hype, they will soon be shown up and die off naturally. However, if they are seen to be an advantage, then the racers will embrace them, the consumer will have more choices and we will all still have fun riding our bikes. Watch Chris Akrigg’s latest movie “Five” – it is not about the bike, nor the wheel size, it is about the rider. Go and have fun on your bike, because that is what the pro’s are doing, whether they are riding 26, 27.5 or 29 inch wheels. Personally, I love the thought that I can order my bike frame, fork and wheels in small, medium or large now – simply because I like having choices. BTW, I only have 26″ bikes at this stage, but who knows what the future holds.

  15. Eoin

    I think it’s pretty interesting to see which wheel size will end up being the most used. Don’t think it will have a massive effect tho, at the level those guys are at, the mental side must be the most important aspect. 27.5 bikes dont look bad tbh, I can’t tell most of the time, so I dont get the “looks shit” argument. It’s unlikely 29ers will make it because of the wheel stiffness and max travel issues, so I’m not too worried about that either.

  16. Yertle the Turtle

    I’m quite happy with my 26″ bikes. But if they start becoming obselete, I’ll have to replace them. I don’t have the money to do this.

    A change in wheel size will cost us all money. But the fastets rider will still be the fastest rider.

  17. Trey

    hahahaha.. to go from Rock shox to Manitou and from Troy Lee to O’neal… what is it 2003??The Dirt Team needs all the help they can get!!

  18. Raffle ticket

    ben ried fastest at the speed trap and me only 5mph back on my 29er dh

  19. Samarius

    Lets stick with one wheel size….and whilst we’re at it, one shock length, one fork type, one type of tyre, one type of brake, grips, crank length, pedals, chain stay length, head angle, spoke type,hub type, saddle type, one frame material, one type of glove, helmet and goggles. etc etc etc etc etc…. Give me a break. Viva la reveloutión.


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