Words by Flow, Pat the Porpoise. | Images by Flow

The not-so-minor details

Product

Norco Revolver 9.2 FS

Contact

Advance Traders
www.norco.com

Price

AUD5,499.00

Weight for Revolver 9.1 FS

9.5kg

Positives

Trademark Norco confident handling.
Incredibly good looking frame.
Single ring drivetrain and internal cables.
Efficient 100mm travel 29er race bike.

Negatives

Light wheels feel a little soft when pushed hard.
Aluminium cockpit.

Created for the sole purpose of racing, the new Norco Revolver FS is the lightest dual suspension frame the Canadian mob has ever produced.  After three years or development and testing the outcome is a no holds barred all-out cross country racer with sharp geometry, 29″ wheels and a beautifully crafted full carbon frame.

It certainly appears good on paper, and after a quick spin on the trails we do rate it’s performance, but holy s*#t this has to be the BEST looking Norco we’ve ever seen, fact.

Take a look at the rest of the sweet range of bikes for 2016 from Norco here: Fresh 2016 Norco froth.

Norco Revolver FS 29

The Revolver 9.2 FS. What’s going on over there at Norco, all the 2016 bikes are looking so damn fresh!

Norco Revolver FS Action 2

Pat the Porpoise gives the Revolver FS 9.2 a quick razz on the trails at Gap Creek, Brisbane.

We’ll see two versions of the Revolver FS for 2016, the 9.2 FS (purple one pictured here) for $5499 with a Shimano XT build and the 9.1 FS for $6999 (below in orange) with a SRAM X01 build kit. The 9.1 FS weighs 9.5kg.

Built in two wheel sizes (29″ and 27.5″) the Revolver FS will only come to Australia in the 29er version, playing to the strengths of the faster and bigger diameter wheels that really suits this bike.

With 100mm of suspension up front and out back, the Revolver FS is a lean as they come. You won’t find a dropper post as standard spec (although the provisions are there for mounting one if you wish) and all the parts are specced for maximum efficiency and lowest weight possible. There’s narrow 2.25″ Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyres, a slim SDG saddle, a long and low cockpit and lockout front and rear suspension.

Four sizes will be available, S, M, L and XL.

Norco Revolver FS 10

No front derailleur mounting here, looks neat though, doesn’t it?

Norco Revolver FS 22

Space for a full sized water bottle, and a second one underneath the down tube, too.

You won’t find a front derailleur either, it’s a single ring only affair. The absence of any provisions for a front derailleur won’t bother the racer with good legs, or just about any keen rider especially now with Shimano finally joining SRAM in offering excellent single ring versions of the Shimano XT and XTR drivetrains.

Plus we are seriously spoilt for choices when it comes to aftermarket options (like RaceFace that we see here) with huge gear range solutions, and swapping chainrings to suit the terrain is a snack. So nowadays a single ring only frame is not at all a limiting feature.

The Revolver 9.2 FS uses a Shimano XT 11-speed drivetrain with a RaceFace crank and chainring.

Norco Revolver FS 23

The frame gets a lot of its slick and smooth appearance by housing all the cables internally with their new tight fitting Gizmo cable system, with rubber ports that seal the frame from water and mud whilst keeping the cables secure and rattle free. Four ports are found on either side of the head tube area, fill all four with a rear shock remote cable, dropper post, rear brake and rear derailleur, or cover the holes with the neat little plugs.

Having four entry ports for cables is handy for us down under, where we typically have our brakes run the opposing way around to the USA/Canadian guys, you’ll be able to swap it around so the rear brake can neatly be routed from the left hand side and around the head tube to enter on the opposite side, that way the cable won’t touch the frame of fork crowns at all. Clever, and neat indeed.

Using Norco’s A.R.T. four-bar rear suspension design, with a pivot below and forward from the rear axle on the chain stay.

The Revolver’s rear shock is mounted underneath the underside of the top tube, with a swing link driving the shock in a horizontal plane, this is said to be the lightest shock configuration that Norco could come up with, and rear shock remote cables will plug in the front of the rear shock body easily.

Norco Revolver FS 8

Norco Revolver FS 7

Note the chainstay measurement in the chart below, it grows in length as the frame size increases. Like all Norco duallies, their Gravity Tune system is also found on the Revolver FS. The theory goes in saying that the whole bike grows with the bigger size, not only just the length and hight of the front end.

Norco Revolver 29 FS geometry chart:

Size S M L XL
Top tube horiz. 574 mm 601 mm 628 mm 655 mm
Chainstays 437 mm 439 mm 442 mm 444 mm
Steering angle 70,25° 70,5° 70,75° 71°
Seating angle 74,75° 74,5° 74,25° 74°
BB drop 38 mm 38 mm 38 mm 38 mm
Seattube 410mm 445mm 485mm 530mm
Reach 415 mm 435 mm 455 mm 475 mm
Stack 604 mm 622 mm 636 mm 650 mm

 

Riding the Revolver

With a quick lap of the Gap Creek trails in Brisbane on the Revolver 9.2 FS, Flow’s resident tester Pat the Porpoise was able to get a pretty good feel for what the Revolver is all about.

Norco Revolver FS Action 1

Nothing beats the speed of a short travel 29er dually on fast trails.

For a 100mm travel race bike that makes no mistake about wanting to be raced it felt quite confident and stable when ridden casually, giving the rider more room to move about and play around on than we had expected. With a nod to what makes the bigger travel Norco Sight and Range so popular amongst aggressive riders, the angles might be sharp but still manageable for serious riders just out of the circle of top elite racers.

The DT Swiss X1900 wheels felt very light underneath us, but perhaps could be a good area for upgrading to give the bike a stiffness boost, as they did feel a little soft under the hard sideways loads of pedalling and cornering.

We appreciated the generous width 740mm bars, and paired with a short 70mm stem, the cockpit felt relaxed and lively for a cross country race oriented bike.

Under hard accelerating efforts, the 100mm of rear travel remained stable, resisting bobbing nicely. The bike really pedalled well, and having a lockout lever on the rear shock will give riders that extra bit of control depending on how smooth or bumpy the trail surface is.

Upgrades to the aluminium bar, stem and post to something carbon would surely help further drop weight from the bike, at least we would have liked to see a carbon bar at this price point.

The top-tier Norco Revolver 9.1 FS shares the same frame but upgrades its parts to SRAM X01 for $6999. 

We’ll be getting our hands on one soon for a longer test, so keep your channels locked for more. The Revolver will be a fantastic option for the marathon racer or endurance racer that will still like to take it trail riding without feeling too nervous. Oh, and did we mention that we like the new look? It’s a real stunner.

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