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Old 03-10-2006, 10:29 PM   #1
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2006 Norco Torrent Review

One month review of 2006 Norco Torrent, size Medium
Max Nodwell


ABSTRACT
The new bike was received on February 03, 2006. In the first three weeks, 10 rides were made, under various conditions, including dry, snow, hardpack, mud and warm sunshine. The fork preload air pressure was increased from 0 to ~10PSI to reduce the diving on chutes. The rear derailleur and hanger were a weak spot, bending and causing unreliable and ghost shifting. Overall, the bike has massively boosted my confidence. It excels at higher speeds, remains stable at low, stops in short order, climbs comfortably and fits properly.

KEYWORDS
Hardtail; north shore; cross-country; the island; indexing; derailleur; hanger; gnarl.

INTRODUCTION
In August of 2005, my bike of 1.5 years (2004 Norco 4Hun) was in need of a few upgrades, namely brakes and fork. After deliberation of costs and suitability, I decided that a new bike would be more cost effective and I could upgrade the frame design to better suit my needs. My riding is largely on the north shore, with a bit of cross-country on the island and in south-eastern arizona. I only have and want one bike to meet all my requirements, accepting reasonable compromises. After reviewing the new Norco 2006 selection of bikes, I decided to purchase a Torrent, based on apparent improved geometry, quality parts spec, addtion of a granny ring and Norco reputation and experience. A deposit was made at the Cyclepath on Broadway in September, and after a few delays over the winter during which I was snowboarding anyway, the bike arrived just in time for a pleasantly sunny February.

EXPERIMENTAL APPARATUS
The first thing to note is that the parts spec shown on the Norco website (http://www.norco.com/ts/pass/templat...rent&col=black) is incorrect. Most of it was copied from the Rampage spec. However, the print catalogue from dealers shows the proper parts listing. The stock highlights include:
- Hyrdo-formed 6061 aluminum frame with 150mmX12mm rear hub spacing
- Marzocchi 66 VF2 with ETA (ETA was a pleasant surprise)
- Titec scoper seatpost with a rather stylish and comfortable stock Norco saddle
- Syncros headseat, stem and handlebar with Axiom lock-on grips
- Saint front derailleur, Sram X7 rear derailleur and 9-speed trigger shifters
- Truvativ Holzfeller cranks with Howitzer BB and DMR V8 pedals
- Avid Juicy 5 8" rotor brakes
- Kenda Nevegals on 32 spoke Sun MTX S-type rims on Axiom hubs (20mm front, 12mm rear through-hole).

Immediate adjustments to the apparatus included:
- swapped cranks for Saints due to superior construction and mounting system, and good past experience
- swapped grips for ODI lock-ons because I don't want set-screws grinding into my handlebar
- swapped telescopic post for conventional post because I don't need a scoper
- swapped valve caps with skull type caps because they are badass.

I had considered upgrading the rear derailleur to Saint right away as well, but decided to try the SRAM based on the strength of many positive reviews here and elsewhere.

ANALYTICAL METHODS
Most riding was done on the North shore during the sunny weather we had in early February. Of the 10 rides on which this review is based, 6 were night rides, 4 were daytime rides. Of the daytime rides, 2 were in Nanaimo, riding cross-country style trails. Conditions were generally dry, with the exception of the two island rides, which were damp then snowy. Each ride progressed as every ride should - ride hard, ride slow, bail, take jumps, grind up, lose nerve, gain nerve, grin manically, gush to your friends.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The ride and other general impressions:
My first ride I was not in love. Changing to a new bike is always a bit of a shock and this was no exception. After a year and a half of trying to make a dirtjumper feel plush, I was stoked to have something so sweet as the 66. However, for my part, I discovered that super-soft does not mean super-smooth. Soft is soft and you can blow through your travel pretty quick, causing your steering and stability to go to hell. With a bit of air pre-load, the fork was stiffened up and still as smooth as butta.

The frame has been significantly changed this year from the last three or four. The biggest change is the slightly smaller frame sizing (per top tube length). My medium has a 15" seat tube length (compared to the old 16.5" that has been standard for several years) for a 23.5 top tube. The short seat tube allows wicked stand-over height both at the top tube and the seat areas, while still allowing excellent seat extension (better than the old 13" 4Hun too!). I find that having that extra bit of "seat-down" improves the comfort and manoeverability, especially on a hardtail where your seat is doing a lot of up and down right near your danglies.

The next big change is the slack (65.5 degree) head angle, a departure from previous years' 67's. A big issue I had with the 4Hun was the steep head angle, which, as the fork compresses, only gets steeper when you least want it. This causes front wheel tuck and ass-over tea-kettles. By raking out the fork, one alleviates this issue through the full length of travel (6" worth) and improves the high-speed stability at the low low cost of low speed front wheel flop. I found that after the first ride, I could keep the front wheel straight while riding slow picky sections and skinnies without too much trouble - the ETA comes in handy on steep climbs too.

Overall, the ride quality is fantastic. The front end is utterly inspiring and the rear end, for what ever reason, never feels harsh. The fit feels roomier than the old bike, allowing for greater comfort on climbs and descents. Already in the first month, I've been cleaning sections of trail that used to make me run to mommy, whether steeps, tight stuff or just general gnarl. I have also been riding faster than usual, both because this bike asks nicely before each ride and because I feel like a champ on it.

oh yeah, what about the weight? Couldn't tell ya, but it doesn't feel like a boat anchor. Beyond that, who cares?

The parts:
You may know about my troubles with the SRAM rear derailleur. To summarize, it gave me shit, bent the hanger twice, found that the mech was bent too, shifting was a pain, didn't like the conventional shift direction (I never thought I would say that), and I just got the Saint parts on last night. Sorry SRAM, when you work, you work very well, but I found you to be insufficient for the rough stuff. It is my theory that on a hardtail, the extra rough rear-end leads to more "derailleur wag" which does not require an impact to put the hanger out of straight, thus buggering your indexing. I could be wrong, but this is my experience to date after 2 years of flawless Saint operation and three weeks of troublesome SRAM.

Of course, if the derailleur hanger gets it, imaging what the rear wheel goes through. The 150mX12mm rear wheel spacing is brilliant, and I have no doubt that this will become _the_ standard for all MTB except perhaps XC racing. The wider stance allows not only for better triangulation, but primarily better spoke dishing and therefore a stonger wheel without needing 36 spokes. My wheels are still as true as new. I love my wide rear-end...

I had trouble with the freewheel on my 4Hun, also a formula/axiom no-name, but the current rear-hub sounds good and will hopefully out-perform. Front hub is smooth and the rims and tyres are mackin'.

Juicy 5's kick Hayes 9's ass. 'nuff said.

The seatpost could use a bit more layback to help comfort on long climbs, but that's just my preference.

The service:
I got my bike from Bob's excellent crew at Cyclepath on Broadway. Big shout out to Joel, Paul, Sterling and Steve for all their help and pandering to my new bike owner fanaticism and picky bike rider anality. They were all very happy to take my money and hold my hand through the delays and then THEY ACTUALLY CALLED ME when the bike came in! Then the craziest thing - turns out the retail price had dropped a few hundred bucks between my order and the delivery and Bob was only too happy to refund the difference, no hassle. Yes, this is a plug.

The costs:
Retails for $2199. Upgrades are more. Don't ask.

CONCLUSIONS
This bike is the bomb and Norco deserves mad respect for putting a lot of thought into a shore hardtail that isn't trying to do double duty as a dirt-jumper/street machine as well.
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Old 03-10-2006, 10:51 PM   #2
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Nice write up.
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Old 03-10-2006, 10:57 PM   #3
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Great review.
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Old 03-10-2006, 11:27 PM   #4
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Good to hear, nice review.
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Old 03-11-2006, 03:17 AM   #5
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Where do you ride on the Island?

Haha, I like the format of your post; all scientific paper and such.
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Old 03-11-2006, 06:26 AM   #6
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I must say that I was quite surprised to find out that the bike weighs 37lbs!!
that's only a few pounds shy of my bullit with boxxer...I don't think that I could handle that kind of weight punishment on a hardtail, I thought it would be more in the range of 35lbs or so?
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Old 03-11-2006, 06:45 AM   #7
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Old 03-11-2006, 08:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trail worker
I must say that I was quite surprised to find out that the bike weighs 37lbs!!
that's only a few pounds shy of my bullit with boxxer...I don't think that I could handle that kind of weight punishment on a hardtail, I thought it would be more in the range of 35lbs or so?
jesus christ.
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Old 03-11-2006, 08:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by No Transitory
jesus christ.
what? I'm just surprised the bike weighs in that much?? I guess it's not heavy, but for some reason I had in my mind that hardtails were light or something, I don't know. I havn't looked at a hardtail or ridden a hardtail in years..
sorry I offended you.
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Old 03-11-2006, 09:44 AM   #10
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37? Sure it wasn't 47? I remember seeing it at the Demo back in August or sometime, and it felt SO heavy...
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Old 03-11-2006, 05:29 PM   #11
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IdleMind, i ride mostly in nanaimo, the abyss, doumont road trails, benson once.

as for the weight, it isn't light, but it isn't that heavy either. to calm the debate, i'll have to throw it on a scale next week (this is a scientific paper after all). stay posted...
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Old 03-11-2006, 08:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoochy
IdleMind, i ride mostly in nanaimo, the abyss, doumont road trails, benson once.

as for the weight, it isn't light, but it isn't that heavy either. to calm the debate, i'll have to throw it on a scale next week (this is a scientific paper after all). stay posted...
37 lbs sounds about right. I ride an 05 Rampage that tips the scales at 39 lbs (from the Norco website), so I'm slightly jealous, but I am a bigger guy anyway, so the extra weight doesn't make a huge difference to me.

I live in Nanaimo, and mostly ride Duomont. Do you have a preference in trails up there? I haven't tried riding in the Abyss yet, but I would like to give it a try this season. And there is a lot of stuff going on in the Mt. Benson area with active logging and things of the like, so I have avoided that area for now. Plus, last season was my first full season back into riding, and I wasn't quite ready to tackle the more intense downhill lines that are associated with Benson.

I'm also looking to get over to the Shore this season, since I have improved quite a bit since the beginning of last season. Whistler and Mt. Washington over here are other destinations planned.
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Old 03-12-2006, 02:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trail worker
what? I'm just surprised the bike weighs in that much?? I guess it's not heavy, but for some reason I had in my mind that hardtails were light or something, I don't know. I havn't looked at a hardtail or ridden a hardtail in years..
sorry I offended you.
apology accepted. ahahahahahaha.
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Old 03-12-2006, 02:24 AM   #14
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How scientific. Reminds me of my first lab write up.

Good to hear you were treated nicely at Cyclepath. They've got a great staff and Bob is a genuinely nice guy.
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Old 03-13-2006, 07:45 PM   #15
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your first lab write-up? aren't first lab write-ups usually crap? this is quality!

i've been a fan of Bob and cyclepath since they sponsored me and the UBC racing team back in 2000. great staff and service, and they don't try to feed you bullshit (unlike some other places...).

IdleMind, PMs are in order - let's ride next weekend.

max
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