It’s not uncommon to hear people say, “Well, I don’t ride that much, so I probably don’t really need a great bike.” We say bullsh*t to that! A good bike is what makes you a better rider. Fact. But what happens when your new bike is so damn hot that it scares you, like the Norco Range C9.2 that we just had on test?
Over the past few months we’ve seen Norco really turn up the heat to revise their mountain bikes. Alongside overhauling the Sight, the Range has also received the treatment, now dropping with 27.5″ or 29″ wheels. We’ve had the € 5,499 Norco C9.2 on test, landing in the office with 150 mm of rear travel and 160 mm up front courtesy of a high-end RockShox suspension setup with a Super Deluxe rear shock and a Lyrik RC fork. Another spec highlight includes the superb SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, but the rest of the componentry veers more towards functionality than eye-watering greatness. While we got stoked over the MAXXIS Minion DHF 2.5″ tires over the course of our testing, we felt a bit disillusioned with certain other elements, such as play and inconsistency from the Race Face Turbine dropper post (although with its 150 mm of adjustment there was real promise). Additionally, the SRAM Guide RS brakes only have 180 mm rotors, so they were missing substantial power and reliability on long descents. Moverover, the angle of engagement on the Race Face freehub body was just too big, affecting its performance on technical climbs and seeing us grind to a halt.
The Norco Range C 9.2 in detail
Fork RockShox Lyrik RC 160 mm
Rear shock Rockshox Super Deluxe RC3 150 mm
Drivetrain SRAM XO1 Eagle
Brakes SRAM Guide RS
Handlebar Race Face Atlas 800 mm
Stem Race Face Aeffect 35 mm
Seatpost Race Face Turbine Dropper
Tires Maxxis DHF WT / Maxxis DHR II WT
Hubs SRAM MTH
Rims Race Face AR 30
The geometry of the Norco Range C 9.2
With the redesign of the Range, Norco have focused on balance, prompting them to not only alter the frame reach with each size, but also employ their size-specific Gravity Tune at the rear. This sees a 5 mm extension of the chainstays as you rise up through the frame sizes. The size L of the Range C9.2 therefore has a 461 mm reach and 435 mm chainstays. Team this with its slack 65.5° head angle, the bottom bracket drop of 33 mm, and the responsive rear end, and you’ve got yourself what promises to be an envy-inducing bike.
|Seat tube||435 mm||470 mm||510 mm|
|Top tube||607 mm||637 mm||667 mm|
|Head tube||90 mm||94 mm||104 mm|
|Head angle||65.5 °||65.5 °||65.5 °|
|Seat angle||74.5 °||74.1 °||73.7 °|
|Chainstays||430 mm||435 mm||440 mm|
|BB height||340 mm||340 mm||340 mm|
|Wheelbase||1187 mm||1217 mm||1249 mm|
|Reach||437 mm||461 mm||483 mm|
|Stack||614 mm||618 mm||627 mm|
The Norco Range C 9.2 on the trail
Even though the Norco Range C9.2 is an outspoken downhill ripper, you’ve still got to expect a certain performance on the climbs. So how did it go? Well, it starts promisingly, with a comfortable and pretty central riding position thanks to the steep 74.1° seat angle. The suspension works efficiently without breaking away, and there’s some good acceleration on tap if you’ve got it in your legs that day – it tips the scales at 14.4 kg, so expect leisurely climbs. Getting up and over technical drops isn’t everyday fare, but you do need to keep a keen eye on your cranks to avoid catching them on any ledges.
The real reason for our widened eyes and sweaty palms came from this bike’s stellar descending, seeing the Norco take on high-speed descents as if on rails. It’s only when you’re almost too late for the corners that you realise just how rapidly you’re cutting across the ground. Given the not-so-sublime SRAM Guide brakes, you’ll certainly hear your heart thudding in your chest on techy terrain. Bigger rotors are one way to partially solve the issue. Despite being incredibly smooth and predictable, the best thing about the Range C9.2 is that it doesn’t get boring. Those short chainstays reward aggressive riding, demanding an experienced hands-on approach to keep pressure over the front wheel and generate sufficient grip. On steep descents a longer head tube would be an asset, or you could switch the bars for ones with more rise, thereby raising the front without impacting the reach, adding confidence and control on steep gradients. The suspension is outstanding, responsive and efficient in every situation. Working in harmony with the fork, the rear shock consistently left our testers in disbelief that it only had 150 mm of travel. The wide MAXXIS tires were able to deliver great grip and some welcome damping over bumpy trails.
The revised Norco Range C9.2 is one way to get quicker on descents without having to put in countless hours of training. A sure-fire stellar handler, the Range can take on the gnarliest trails with confidence. It’s not really a bike for entry-level riders, but it’s one you could easily grow into once you’ve honed your technique. If you already have the skills, the Norco Range C9.2 will take you to the next level, then beyond.
– A high-speed demon!
– Super-stable handling
– Great value for money
– Needs experience
– Inadequate brakes
– Faulty seatpost
For more info head to: norco.com
Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer