Norco Range C7.1 Review
- Strong combo of climbing & descending
- Medium fits huge range of testers
- Slack head tube angle
- Not available in small size frame
- All components controlled on right side
- A bit heavy
Like the geeky kid at the dance, the Norco Range C7.1 was no one’s first pick to be ridden. Their loss, as she should not be relegated to wallflower status. It went up efficiently, descended with confidence-inspiring stability, and is tricked out with the priciest and best performing selection of components in the group. This bike will inspire you to ride more and maybe even enter an enduro or single-crown downhill race.
Playful sums up the Norco Range C7.1’s energy. Up, down, and cross-country, it always felt stable and predictable enough to get creative. On this bike you’ll slide the rear tire around a corner, launch that little air, pass your buddy with a burst of speed, and whip around hair pin climbs. Only occasionally did its slack front-end geometry make it feel a little ungainly, and that was usually on tight singletrack or slow-motion climbs. Otherwise this bike always felt fun.
With a full-carbon frame, the Norco Range C7.1 is quite stiff, giving it far better power transfer than the 65-degree head tube angle would suggest. Acceleration was solid and climbing punchy hills out of the saddle didn’t feel like a drag. The bike looks smaller than others in this test, but never felt like it on the trail.
Surprise. That was everyone’s reaction after climbing on the Norco Range C7.1. With its list of specs and the DH-esque slack appearance, downhill performance was expected but not on the up. With one of the shorter chainstay lengths, the rear wheel is tucked under the seat for better climbing efficiency. It felt a little out of its element on singletrack climbs but not as ungainly as some bikes in this category.
Norco used its experience with the Aurum Downhill bike to optimize the Norco Range C7.1’s downhill performance. The Range has the slackest top tube angle (65 degrees), slowing the steering and extending the distance between tires, both of which make the bike feel more stable and solid descending. Oh, and they loaded it up with 170mm travel up front and 160mm on the rear. It rode best when left to its own devices. Point it and hold on and it will suck up everything in its path. Just don’t sit too far back. The modern geometry liked to be ridden from a neutral position on the bike rather than hanging off the back, even in the steepest situations.
COMPONENTS: DRIVETRAIN, SHIFTING AND BRAKES
Norco spared no expense on the Range C7.1, picking top-of-the-line or one-step-down parts for everything: SRAM X01 Eagle components, including a 1x12 gear setup and Fox Factory suspension for the front and back. The dropper seatpost is a RockShox Reverb Stealth. Each of the cables route through the frame with Norco’s Gizmo internal cable routing system, which fits up to five cables, and seals with an allen key. It works great, unless you loose the seal like we did. Our only complaint is that the dropper post, rear shifter and rear brake are all integrated. Combining them into one shifter may cut weight but it makes the right side busy and less intuitive.
How We Tested It
The bikes in the enduro test were pedaled in a mix of terrain and trails in British Columbia. We tasked a small team of riders, varying from 5’5” to well over 6’0”, from all kinds of riding styles and backgrounds. They mostly rode them on the trails of the Comox Valley and Campbell River regions. These range from slow and technical cross-country to double black diamond jump lines, as well as from road climbs to tight switchbacks covering a total of around 150 miles, with countless vertical feet. Over nearly three months of testing the trail conditions varied across the spectrum from wet snow to dusty ball bearings and lots and lots of slick mud.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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