Exclusive: Norco Prototype Project Update

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.

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”

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

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

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

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

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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