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Downhill Bikes

Norco Aurum C7.2

Custom frame sizing and bulletproof build from Canada

Featuring the Killer B Mk11 frame the Aurum has certainly turned some heads this season in the hands of the re-vamped downhill squad featuring Sam Blenkinsop and Harry Heath, and it’s a top ten ranking for the brand from British Columbia.
It’s a bike company with a huge history, a long history going back to 1964. Along the way they’ve made some great bikes and looking back now some hideous ones too, but in recent years they really have raised the bar massively on the whole range of bikes. They are smooth lined, solid, well-proportioned and beautifully finished bikes. Certainly one of the most coveted in current guise.

Build kit options

The Aurum (Latin for ‘gold’) was introduced in 2012. It was markedly different in shape and form to the VPS design that trawled the North Shore back in the late nineties. Today it’s available in both aluminium and carbon with the former offering exactly the same angles as the more expensive carbon version. In terms of sizing however only the aluminium bike comes in extra large. What this means in relative terms is that its about as long and as low as an extra long Specialized Demo but comes up slightly short on reach so taller riders will be eagerly awaiting the Vancouver brand to hit go on the press for the larger bike.

“in recent years they really have raised the bar massively on the whole range of bikes”

The carbon bike comes in three different build kits and the top end bike – the C7.1 Enve as expected comes with carbon rims. This will be overkill for many privateers who will favour either the standard 7.1 with the same DT wheel build that even Aaron Gwin uses. Carbon wheels can be costly to replace but difficult to put a value on in terms of time gained/lost.

The 7.1 is everything a racer will need in terms of components, the aforementioned wheelset, matched with RockShox BoXXer World Cup and Cane Creek Double Barrel damper, Race Face bar and stem, Sram Guide brakes, Schwalbe Magic Mary rubber, and the full X01DH drivetrain, the gearing chosen by a huge percentage of manufacturers for 2016.

Yet it’s the C7.2 Aurum that grabbed our attention. At around fifteen hundred Canadian dollars less the bike comes with many similar parts to its yellow stablemate. This time it features Boxxer Team over a world cup and a RocksShox Vivid damper over the Cane Creek. In terms of suspension performance this doesn’t actually change things a great deal. And neither does the rest of the groupset – same robust DT Swiss 350/EX471 wheel package, Sram X01 DH groupset and Sram Guide brakes but RS rather than RSC versions. OK the Guide Ultimates are better but overall it’s a total winner.

YOU DIDN’T KNOW THIS BUT…

JJ, Norco Product Manager

Owen Pemberton (Aurum designer) used to work in Whistler at the Fanatyk Co shop and was a tech person working on the old Norco rental fleet of downhill bikes in the bike park. This was 6 or 7 years ago when we had the old VPS Models (he always had comments and issues trying to get our bikes back into the fleet). This is where we got to know him and now he is on the other side of the table designing the DH bikes that we still rent in Whistler to Fanatyk Co.

The cool thing is that one of the goals on the new DH bike was to make it easier to service for rental or privateer racers. The Fanatyk Co shop staff have commented back to us recently that the Aurum is really easy to work on (better than other DH bikes they work on). And they have had no issues with our rental fleet after a season of punishment by rental customers. I think this was maybe one of Owen’s goals to get these bikes dialled in for one of the harshest riding environments in the world and the amount of punishment a rental bike can take. This is a good testimonial to the new Aurum.

Originally the Gravity Tune we use on Aurum was designed by Owen having beers with Ben Reid and Dan Stanbridge (old Dirt/Norco team guys) and chatting about why Ben (who is short) and Dan (who is tall) were asking for the same thing when they wanted different chainstay lengths (this brought them to Gravity Tune) which offers different chainstay lengths for each size of our bike.

We have some names for the small plastic parts on the bike.  The bump stop / shuttle guard / cable guide plastic part is called the necktie, the removable fender is called the cobra, and the small part that hangs off the lower shock mount to hold the cable guide is the coat hanger.  These were just names based on the look of the parts.

“this brought them to ‘Gravity Tune’ which offers different chainstay lengths for each size of our bike”

Regarding the move to carbon – we really wanted a carbon first generation Aurum 26 frame earlier along and just behind the launch of the aluminum but this was delayed and then stopped as we were worried that the team riders really like the 650B wheels on the original test frames.  At that time if we had have moved to carbon 650b we would have been too far ahead of the availability of forks, rims and tires for 650B DH bikes.

 

 

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