23 Feb 2018

Every time a new Norco bike comes into Flow we get a little excited! The brand just knows how to make a bike that balances new geometry and on-trail fun, after all, isn't that what you want from a bike? On review we have the entry-level Range A3 in the hottest red paint we've ever seen, let's take a closer look.

The not-so-minor details

Product

Norco Range A3

Contact

Advance Traders

http://www.norco.com/

Price

3699

Weight

15160

Positives

Red paint job is HOT!
Excellent spec for the cash.
Mechanics will rejoice with the external cable routing.

Negatives

Tektro brakes and Shimano shifter make for a clunky cockpit setup.
External cable routing is a little messy.

The 2018 alloy Norco Range A3 is the entry-level option from Canadian brand Norco’s new(ish) gravity enduro inspired platform that matches geometry with the high-end carbon model that came out mid last year. It’s offered in high rolling 29″ and agile 27.5″ wheels, for this test we have the 27.5″. The Range uses 170mm of travel up front and 160mm back, with all the spec pointing towards the burly and durable end of the spectrum.

With a skim of the geometry chart, the Range looks to slot in between the long and low Giant Reign and shorter and steeper Merida One-Sixty, it’s burly but not overly massive.

The new aluminium offerings from Norco are built to match the geometry of their more expensive carbon siblings.
External cable routing is a little clunky, but we can hear the bike mechanics rejoicing, it’s quick to access compared to internal cables.

Dressed to impress.

The Range A3 has a smart and well-considered parts spec, someone that regularly rides a mountain bike has most certainly had something to do with it. It looks like it should serve a rider well, someone looking to push the bike hard, but still keeps the bike under $4K.

In our experience, while they lack multiple adjustments of the higher end options, we know that the chunky RockShox Yari fork and RockShox Deluxe shock are top performers. And the TranzX dropper post has proven to be plenty reliable, this one has a 120mm drop and a neat remote lever under the left side of the bar.

Two-stage RockShox Deluxe shock, locked for climbs and open for anything else.

This is the first time using the affordable Tektro HD-M745 four-piston brakes, so we are particularly curious to see how they perform. After all, TRP is an acronym for Tekro Racing Products, and that fast guy Aaron Gwin seems to go okay using them… We are hoping to see some trickle-down performance, sure the 203mm rotor on the front will contribute to decent power.

Haven’t seen these before! Tektro HD-M745 brakes using four-piston callipers and 203mm front rotor.

The Shimano SLX shifter and derailleur pair with a Sunrace 11-46 cassette and RaceFace cranks, it’s a bit of a mixture of brands, let’s hope no compatibility issues arise when we get deep into the review as we’ve already struggled to find a comfortable position on the bars with the shifter and long brake levers not meshing too well.

Shimano, Sunrace and Raceface make up the multi-branded drivetrain. Will it all play nicely together?
Confidence is no chain guide. Fingers crossed!
The Shimano SLX shifter and Tektro levers don’t play that nice, we’re not 100% on our cockpit setup yet.

That colour…

A quote from the film ‘Kinky Boots’ (2005) sums up our feeling perfectly.

“Burgundy. Please, God, tell me I have not inspired something burgundy. Red. Red. Red. Red, Charlie boy. Red! Is the colour of sex! Burgundy is the colour of hot water bottles! Red is the colour of sex and fear and danger and signs that say, Do. Not. Enter. All my favourite things in life.”

Where have all the shining red bikes been all these years?

Yep, this bike is red, and we like it so far.

We have had good experiences with Norco bikes over the years, and this is one of it’s the lowest priced models. Will it stand up and meet our expectations and how will it compare to our other sub $4K 160mm travel 27.5″ wheel bike shootout!?

The Norco Range A3 will go up against the Giant Reign 2 and the Merida One-Sixty 800 in our three-way sub-$4K shootout, so stay tuned for our full review and then the shootout!