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Exclusive: Norco Prototype Project Update

14:42 7th December 2010 by Billy Thackray
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You may have seen the photos last week showing a new delivery to the Dirt Norco Team HQ, and after lots of speculation about its design, aesthetics and future plans, we are pleased to bring you some words from the designer and a closer look.

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Throughout 2010, the Dirt Norco team (Ben Reid, Dan Stanbridge & Alastair Beckett) have been working with Norco providing feedback directly to the designers who have been set the task of creating the most competitive Norco downhill bike yet. The bikes in these photos are from the very first small batch of prototypes.
This development project may lead to a new production model, but certainly not before 2012 or 2013.

Make no mistake about it, the designers (PJ and Owen) want this bike to be a real show stopper. PJ Hunton has been overseeing the project and leasing with the suppliers whilst Owen has been working on the modeling and engineering of the design. Owen Pemberton, a former British Industrial designer and aerospace engineer for Rolls-Royce is a recent addition to the Norco design team, here is what he has to say about the project.

“From the outset this project had one goal; to create a top class downhill race machine, a bike capable of handling the harshest terrain the world cup circuit can serve up without breaking a sweat. Building on the success of our 2011 ART* equipped bikes such as the Range and the Shinobi, the bike employs our ART philosophy optimized to suit a downhill race application. Suspension kinematics were tailored to give a perfect balance of small bump compliance, square edge performance and pedaling efficiency. The result of which is 205mm of beautifully controlled ART suspension travel.

From initial discussions with Ben Reid and Dan Stanbridge, it was clear they wanted this bike to retain many of the handling characteristics that make the 2011 Team DH such a blast to ride. With this in mind there are a few geometry tweaks that make the bike a little more aggressive but it certainly retains the character of the current bike. Particular attention has been paid to the weight distribution throughout the bike. The bike exhibits a low, centralised CoG and every effort has been made to keep unsprung mass to a minimum.

*A.R.T. Advanced Ride Technology”

Proto4

Norco’s Holloform Linkarm technology, along with proprietary stainless steel hardware at all pivot points, combine to give the bike unrivalled lateral stiffness.

Proto8

Proto10

The Syntace X12 axle system further increases lateral stiffness allowing the bike to track straight and true through serious terrain.

Proto2

A common sight on all new Norco’s; the integrated post mount.

Proto3

The integrated seat post clamp not only looks pretty cool but it allows the seat tube to be fully supported.

Proto9

The integrated fork bumpstops guarantee there will never be any fork stanchion/frame contact.

As mentioned earlier, this bike is currently in the early prototype stages and will not be ready to make production before 2012 or 2013. The new 2011 Team DH has however been the inspiration for this project and has recently been launched. The 2011 Team DH as raced by Ben Reid and Dan Stanbridge in 2010 has already been proven as a lightweight and competitive bike on the world cup circuit.


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  1. elbry

    good starting point, i mean the treks a fast bike, so the same type of design should do well?

  2. Christo

    why do people not understand that company’s are not copying other companies. I mean to a certain extent they are, but the linkage isnt the same as a trek, giant etc, its only the positioning of the shock that is similar among these bikes. It must be down to the reason of a combination of lowered weight and the ability to get the right progression from the linkage

  3. Furaxrider

    Does the Mondraker mechanic know how to measure?? I don’t believe for a second that the Summom has a 14 3/4″ chainstay length!

  4. billy

    “Does the Mondraker mechanic know how to measure?? I don’t believe for a second that the Summom has a 14 3/4″ chainstay length!”

    Yes…we know..that was a typo! Anyway…back to the Norco…

  5. Marc

    Looks siick. I’d ride that in a heartbeat. Thanks the the additional info.

  6. ss

    can’t you guys stretch to a 10 speed?

  7. ddmonkey

    I think that looks really good, a very nice bit of design. I’d be proud to have one!

  8. Big-G

    Yeah really nice design and looks really pretty, i like some of the design features tho like the fork bump stops, intergrated post mounts etc but what really interests me is the use of the new syntace x12 system, could this be the new standard across all dh/all mountain bikes. Makes sense 2 me.

  9. Leon

    Fair play to norco man ,looks like they have hit the jack pot there , let’s just hope the prices stay competative

  10. booboy

    cool – first normal four bar i have seen in a while – sort of how the demo should look if they didnt have that crazy triangulated chainstay (could be talking mince here).

  11. oliTT

    nice bike for sure. shame they cant get it into production earlier. that vid was interesting, how light is that trek?!! and how long is the mondraker..

  12. MIke John

    Bike looks amazing…I wish they would do something about the zit on the down tube=)

  13. DNS

    dammit mikejohn, now I can’t look at the bike without thinking “zit”…

  14. Rodney

    Best looking DH bike Norco have ever come up with. How’s the weigh in vid? Every team come to the party except Specialized. Wankers.

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