On Test | The 2022 Norco Range is an enduro beast with High Virtual Pivot suspension

In what is fast becoming the Year Of The High Pivot, few bikes have been as hotly anticipated as the new 2022 Norco Range. It’s been a long time coming too, having been four whole years since Norco last updated the Range. It’s a bike we have thoroughly enjoyed riding in both its budget alloy and carbon variants, but after witnessing the release of the Norco Aurum HSP in 2018, and the Norco Shore in 2020, we had a sneaking suspicion that it wouldn’t be long before we’d see a similar high pivot suspension design applied to an enduro race bike.

And, after a year of teasing a carbon prototype under the likes of Sam Blenkinsop, the Canadian brand is finally ready to release its newest, and perhaps most advanced mountain bike yet – the very menacing and very purposeful, all-new Norco Range.

2022 norco range high pivot
The much-anticipated Norco Range embraces the high pivot concept for its new low-slung carbon frame.

2022 Norco Range Overview

Whereas previous iterations of the Norco Range have aimed to do many things, the new bike strips a lot of that back. Part of this is because the shorter travel Sight has become so capable, and that’s allowed the Range to evolve into a pure enduro race machine with high speed brawling at the forefront of its intentions.

There’s a whopping 170mm of suspension travel front and rear, and it’s all built around a low-slung carbon fibre chassis. You won’t find wheelsize options here, as the new Norco Range is 29er only. And no, it’s not recommended to try and mullet it.

For those wondering, there is no indication that we’ll be seeing an alloy model. Norco states that carbon fibre was its preferred material to achieve the complex shapes and tube profiles with the new frame design, so if you want to go fast, it’s carbon-only with this bike. If you desperately want alloy, you can either down-travel to the Norco Sight, or up-travel to the Norco Shore.

2022 norco range high pivot
The High Virtual Pivot platform centres around a four-bar platform, with the main pivot located halfway up the seat tube.

High Virtual Pivot Suspension

Of course the biggest change to the new Norco Range is its suspension layout. Instead of the four-bar design and vertical shock position of the old bike, the new frame moves to a High Virtual Pivot design. This is all about delivering a more rearward axle path, so that the wheel can get out of the way faster when smacking into square-edge hits.

As far as high pivot designs go, the main pivot on the Range sits considerably higher than others – it’s higher up than the just-released Cannondale Jekyll, and it’s higher than Norco’s own Shore. This means the rear wheel moves backwards further, and the rear centre length grows even more as the suspension goes through its travel. In theory, this should provide greater high-speed stability.

To mitigate chain growth, an idler wheel sits up around the main pivot, helping to reduce pedal kickback. You’ll also notice that the Range isn’t a single pivot design like the Aurum HSP. There’s a pivot just forward of the rear axle on the chainstay, which is what makes this a ‘virtual pivot’ rather than a ‘single pivot’ design. Norco claims this arrangement helps to keep the suspension more active under braking, with lower anti-rise values compared to the Aurum HSP.

2022 norco range high pivot
An idler wheel aims to mitigate chain growth from the heavily rearward axle path.

Coil Shock Club

Keeping the mass down low, the Norco Range places the rear shock deep within the belly of the frame, not unlike a Santa Cruz Megatower or Specialized Enduro. This affords plenty of room within the front triangle for a bottle and integrated tool storage.

The shock is driven by a huge alloy link that rotates around the press-fit bottom bracket shell. Norco says the spring curve is ‘straight-progressive’, so it’s ideally suited to a big coil shock, and that’s what each model comes spec’d with.

To shield the shock from rear wheel spray, there’s a mini mudguard bolted to the back of the seat tube. Still, it’s a pretty busy part of the frame, and the bottom portion of the link arm does sit quite low to the ground. To help protect it from battle damage, the Norco Range will come with a custom MRP chainguide and a bash plate for the linkage. You’ll also find an armour plate further up the downtube where it would rest on a tailgate shuttle pad.

2022 norco range frame only
The link arm rotates around the bottom bracket to drive the rear shock, which is cradled in the downtube to keep the centre of mass nice and low.

Ride Aligned Geometry

The Norco Range builds on the company’s Ride Aligned geometry concept, tailoring the angles and rear centre lengths for each of the four frame sizes. The bigger the size, the slacker the head angle, the steeper the seat angle, and the longer the rear centre.

In the case of the XL frame, you’ve got a 63° head angle, a 77.25° seat tube angle, and huge 447.5mm rear centre length. Norco achieves this change in rear centre length with specific link arms per frame size, so the suspension kinematics are slightly different on each size.

As we saw with the new Cannondale Jekyll, there is no user-adjustability for the Norco Range geometry. There are no flip chips or offset headset cups, perhaps signalling an emerging trend for brands to move away from such built-in adjustments.

It is possible to fit a longer 180mm fork on the Norco Range however, and the frame is also rated for dual crown use.

norco range 2022 geometry
2022 Norco Range Geometry

2022 Norco Range price & availability

The 2022 Norco Range will be available in three different models, all of which are built around the same carbon fibre frame and Fox DHX2 Factory Series coil shock. You’ll find either a Fox 38 or RockShox ZEB fork, and each bike gets the same Maxxis Assegai/Dissector tyre combo with heavy duty DoubleDown casings and sticky 3C MaxxGrip rubber.

You can check out the full specs and pricing below. The only deviation from what’s shown in the photos is the top-end Range C1 model, which will be coming with a We Are One Union wheelset and Onyx hubs, instead of the DT Swiss wheelset shown. Covid innit?

The bike we’ve got on test is the mid-level Norco Range C2, and early impressions from throwing it down our local trails are already very positive. We’ll have a detailed review of this brute of a bike coming soon – stay tuned!

norco range c1 2022
There’s a Fox Factory 38 for the top-end Range C1, with SRAM X01 shifting and Code RSC brakes.

2022 Norco Range C1

2022 all new norco range c2
The Range C2 features a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain and a RockShox ZEB Ultimate.

2022 Norco Range C2

the all new norco range c3 2022
Despite the lower price, the Range C3 receives the same carbon frame, high-end Maxxis rubber and Fox Factory shock as the top-end models.

2022 Norco Range C3

2022 norco range high pivot
With its size-specific geometry and suspension kinematics, the Norco Range could well be the most advanced mountain bike we’ve seen from the Canadian brand. But how will it handle Aussie terrain? Stay tuned for our review coming soon!

Like what you see? Check out our full 2022 Norco Range Review.

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