Norco bikes have been making, designing and breaking their teeth on the Canadian North Shore for almost a half century. Many of us will recall the days of the VPS and Shore bikes. These bikes were running the FSR style rear suspension system and were overbuilt to take the abuse that North Shore riding put the bikes through. Those of you needing a history lesson check out the video below to find out more about Norco.
- Aurum One 200 mm travel frame
- Manitou Dorado Expert
- Cane Creek Double barrel coil (300 / 350 / 400 lb)
- Sun Inferno 29 welded rim
- Maxxis Minion DHF 26 x 2.50
- Kenda Light weight MTB 26" tube
- Sun Jumping Flea
- Sun Jumping Flea 157 x 12
- DT Comp stainless spokes (butted)
- Saint 10 speed rear
- Jagwire LEX housing
- Shimano Saint short cage RD
- Shimano Tiagra 12-28T cassette
- Truvativ Decendant DH single 36T 83 MM BB
- Shimano CN HG54 10 speed chain
- E-13 LG 1 chainguide with Taco
- Norco Lite two bolt 2014 aluminum 30.9 mm
- WTB Silverado Race SL saddle
- Cane Creek 40
- 1x10 mm, 2x5 mm , 3 x 3 mm headset spacers
- Alloy top cap
- Easton Havoc bolt on direct mount 31.8 mm
- Easton Havoc DH bar 800 mm , 31.8 mm clamp
- Ergon GA1 Evo grip
- Shimano Saint disc brake (200 mm rotor)
- Shimano Saint disc brake (200 mm rotor)
The Norco bikes of today have shed the weight in key areas while lowering the bikes center of gravity. They still use the tried and true FSR (Four Bar) rear suspension system that is licensed through Specialized. The FSR system stays active under braking while providing a progressive leverage curve. This is not the best pedalling platform but since the introduction of the 5th Element with platform dampening in the early 2000's the bob that was once a very noticeable aspect of a FSR bike has been drastically reduced resulting in a Downhill Bike that has decent pedaling. Along with the platform based shock Norco has also updated the FSR layout on their frames to pedal better than the standard design.
"The rear end is a true Horst Link, four-bar affair. Norco has long licensed Specialized’s FSR suspension design, though they’ve tweaked it a bit in 2011 with an eye toward improving pedaling efficiency. The axle path now takes a more rearward trajectory, which, according to Norco, accomplishes two things: First, as the suspension compresses, it creates a bit of chain growth, which, while pedaling, extends the rear shock and reduces its tendency to bob; and second, it reduces the rear wheel’s tendency to hang up when tracking over roots and rocks."
The Horst Link Defined
"A Horst link suspension has one pivot behind the bottom bracket, with one pivot mounted at each of the chain stays, in front of the rear wheel drop-out (this pivot being the venerated "Horst link"), and one at the top of the leveraged shock linkage that connects to the seat stay. Some notable examples of Horst link four-bar designs include the Specialized FSR and related bikes, Ellsworth, KHS, and Merida.
The Horst Link patent system proved popular since its debut, becoming a standard for rear suspension designs using an 'active' model. Specialized bought several of Leitner's patents in May 1998, and other manufacturers in U.S. now license the Horst link design from Specialized for the use of the 'Horst link' or FSR suspension patent. It is used by notable companies such as Norco, Ellsworth, KHS, and Fuji. European manufacturers, such as Cube, do use the same suspension design, but can not import it to the United States. The FSR patent system uses a wheel path that attempts to position suspension compression between a preloaded and an unloaded condition throughout most of its travel."
The claimed benefits of the FSR system are listed below.
- Reactive to small hits
- Variable wheel/shock ratio
- Handles large hits
- Progressive leverage ratio
- Non-linear/vertical wheel path
The Norco Aurum has slick flowing lines notice the built in fork bumpers.
The Tapered headtube.
The Aurum's hydroformed tubing helps keep it light and tuff.
Built in seat post clamp is oh so clean.
Norco 5 Point System
- Custom hydroformed tubing: strong in key areas, stiff, light and beautiful
- New integrated fork bumps: wider turn radius and designed to accommodate a wider range of forks
- Gravity Tune: optimal body position, ideal weight distribution for increased traction & control
- A.R.T. suspension, optimized for DH: efficient pedaling, confident braking, square-edge bump compliance and bottomless feel
- Syntace X-12 157mm axle system: superior stiffness for better handling through rough stuff
Advanced Ride Technology
"Advanced Ride Technology, or A.R.T., is the direct link between engineering and experience. More than a single suspension platform, A.R.T. is a system that we optimize for each intended use. Norco's engineering team strategically manipulates pivot locations to precision-tune suspension kinematics, ensuring that every full suspension bike will excel in the environment it was designed for. For downhill applications, we increase rearward axle path for a more controlled ride over gnarly, unpredictable terrain. For cross-country we increase pedaling efficiency and small bump compliance for a faster, smoother ride. A.R.T. delivers four major benefits to riders: enhanced pedaling efficiency, increased square-edge bump compliance, improved braking performance and progressive suspension characteristics. These benefits are balanced in different proportions based on intended use, creating a ride experience unique to each model.
Enhanced Pedaling Efficiency
A.R.T. is designed to effectively manage chain growth to create anti-squat forces that counteract the forces responsible for suspension bob. The result is an incredibly efficient pedaling platform, superior power transfer and unmatched climbing ability.
Increased Square-Edge Bump Compliance
Rearward axle path describes the rear wheel's trajectory as a bicycle moves through its travel. A.R.T. uses a pronounced rearward axle path that enables the wheel to travel both rearward and upward, up and out of the way of obstacles.
Improved Braking Performance
A pronounced rearward axle path also allows a bike's suspension to remain fully active when pressure is applied to the brakes. A.R.T. delivers powerful, predictable braking with fully active suspension and superior traction at all times.
Progressive Suspension Characteristics
A.R.T. suspension uses a progressive leverage ratio curve, meaning that the forces required to engage the shock increase progressively as the shock moves through its travel. The first part of the stroke is very supple and effectively absorbs small to medium-sized impacts. Toward the end of the stroke, the shock becomes progressively stiffer, resulting in a 'bottomless' feel. To the rider, this progressive curve is experienced as consistent, predictable suspension at every point in the travel."
"With traditional frame designs, engineers adjust front-centre lengths for each frame size but use a single, fixed rear-centre length. This approach leaves riders of certain body types in a poor position when standing. Poor body position leads to uneven weight distribution and negatively affects traction, control and overall performance and ride characteristics. A simple solution to a complex problem, Gravity Tune fixes the front-centre/rear-centre ratio across all frame sizes, effectively optimizing geometry for every bike in the line. As a result, weight is always optimally distributed – regardless of rider height. Available only on Norco Bikes, Gravity Tune means equal ride characteristics and unrivalled control for all."
Hollowform Link Arm
"Norco's Holloform linkarm is a hyper-rigid, one-piece linkarm that provides two distinct benefits to riders. First, it provides lateral support to the seat stays and stiffens the rear triangle, keeping the bike tracking straight and true through any terrain. Second, it prevents torsional forces from affecting the rear shock, reducing stiction and increasing shock life."
"Norco's hydroforming process uses high-pressure hydraulic fluid to form tubing into precise, structurally superior shapes with strategic curves and tapers. The process allows our engineering team to design tubes and complete frames that will behave exactly as intended. Hydroforming also enables engineers to increase strength in key areas and incorporate functional features such as stand over clearance into designs. The result is a visually striking frame that is functional, light and extraordinarily strong."
"Norco's integrated dropouts combine a number of traditionally independent features into a stronger, more efficient rear dropout system. Our integrated dropouts combine axle retention, post-mount brakes, rear suspension pivots, derailleur hanger attachment and frame gussets into a single structure. The result is a stiff, strong and light dropout system."
Syntace Derailleur Hanger System
"Proven to be substantially stiffer and less prone to damage than conventional derailleur hangers, the X-12 system ensures incredibly crisp and precise shifting. Each frame comes with a spare hanger bolt integrated into the frame for emergency trailside repairs."
360 Lock Pivots
"Norco's 360º Lock pivots employ a tapered collet insert that, when the pivot hardware is tightened, expands to grip the inner race of the pivot bearing around the full 360 of its inner diameter. This design creates a much stronger grip, prevents unwanted forces from acting on the bearing and prolongs bearing lifespan."
The 2013 Norco Aurum 1 sits right in the middle of the Aurum line. It has a beautiful build kit consisting of the Dorado Expert fork, Saint brakes, shifter, deraillure, CCDB rear shock, Easton controls and other mid to high end parts. The MSRP on the complete bike is $5700, which from the build kit alone is a very good price point.
Norco offers 3 less expensive version and one called the LE that will save you 3-4 pounds at the cost of $1400 over the price of the Aurum 1. Although it is the only factory bike I know of that weighs 33LBS so considering that the LE is also a good deal.
The build kit on the Aurum 1 is astounding for the price of the complete bike. This new Dorado Expert has the exact same internals as the more expensive Pro version but uses a 6000 series aluminum so it is almost 300 grams heavier. Most would agree that the Saint gearing system is almost flawless and with the new clutch system this bike is almost silent. The only parts that we would consider replacing would be the cranks and maybe the wheels. Ride it for a year and replace as needed. You can for sure shave weight off the bike by swapping these out for lighter parts.
Setting up a CCDB takes some fair bit of time. Cane Creek's set-up helper is located below for the CCDB shock. We would suggest using it unless you are familiar with tuning a Double Barrel shock. It took us a bit to get the bike set I run my rebound a bit slower than some of the faster riders. We also ended up adding some LSC to the shock to keep it firm under pedaling.
Norco Answers Some Questions On The Aurum
1. When Norco began laying out the Aurum on paper what were the traits and strengths you were looking for the bike to have?
We were aiming to design the fastest possible downhill bike. To do this we paid special attention to wheel-path, leverage curves, braking performance and geometry.
2. Can you tell us a little about the custom hydroformed tubing you are using?
The Aurum frame uses double butted and formed aluminum for optimal strength, stiffness and weight. The frame’s curves are also functional, creating room for the shock, improved stand-over, heel clearance, chain clearance, caliper mounting, etc…
3. The Aurum features what is referred to as a Gravity Tune can you elaborate a bit on what it does and the benefits it provides? Is there anything a customer should keep in mind while setting up their new Aurum?
Gravity Tune ensures that all sizes of riders get equal and optimal handling characteristics. To do this we modify the front-centre and rear-centre within the frame’s front triangle to optimize the rider’s weight distribution.
4. With all the different suspension systems out what made you choose the FSR four bar for the Norco Aurum?
Norco has a strong belief in the Horst-Link as it offers superior square-edge bump absorption, optimum braking characteristics, lateral stiffness and great pedaling efficiency.
5. Can you elaborate some on the A.R.T. Suspension and explain a bit what was altered and why?
A.R.T. suspension is all about the rearward axle path. This helps the bike hold its momentum through rough terrain, helps the suspension remain active under braking and also improves pedal efficiently.
6. Was weight a very big concern when you went to create the Aurum bike? Do you know what the frame and shock weigh in it?
Weight is always a concern for any bike and the Aurum is no exception. Coming in at 7.5 lbs with a shock, the Aurum’s strength to weight ratio is something that we are very proud of.
7. The current crop of downhill bikes has undergone a slow evolution becoming
lighter, slacker and lower. Do you think we are approaching the magic set of
numbers for downhill bikes like MX bikes have had for years?
There will always be differences based on rider preference and suspension design but the variances are becoming less with every passing year. I believe that we are approaching a zone of perfection.
8. How do you think the three big suspension companies are doing with their most recent offerings of forks and shocks?
We have seen huge advancements over the past few years. Each manufacturer has stepped up their games and are pushing each other to remain competitive. The suspension technology available is getting better every year and will continue to improve moving forward.
9. What would you suggest to the suspension engineers to improve their products?
Mountain bike suspension could be improved through addressing durability and reliability. Weight reduction is another area to look at moving forward through the optimization of air springs in forks and shocks.
10. On future version can you see having adjustable BB, HA and chainstays or any form of chassis adjustment?
11. How long did it take to get the bike from Cad drawings to first production run?
The Aurum was a big push for Norco that we put a lot of resources into. Given the push we were able to move from a CAD model to a first production in a little over a year.
12. Who helped develop the frame?
The Aurum was a team effort. Our engineering team, product managers and team riders all had a great influence on the design and development of this bike.
13. How has the response been to the Aurum line?
Response to the Aurum has been extremely positive. Everyone who rides the Aurum raves about it.
14. What do you envision changing on the current Aurum frame over the next few years?
We are always striving for perfection and when it comes to the Aurum that means making it faster. Wait and see.
15. Any other thoughts or things we should know about the frame?
Go ride one and find out for yourself.
Kyle Hogan takes the 2013 Norco Auarum 1 for a run down a local trail. This is only his second time on the trail but he managed to keep the Aurum 1 moving at a good rate.
A short film by BFree Media on the Norco Aurum 1.
The first trail I took the bike down is a short rock filled one. This trail is not very steep but has rocks from golfball to waist high boulders the whole way down. The Norco Aurum 1 tracked straight and true. The FSR suspension stayed active while riding the brakes something I do but not much on this trail. I had been riding a 41 LBS bike last and the Aurum 1 weighs in at 38 LBS so it was a bit more lively and easier to move around and change lines while navigating down the trail. Overall the bike felt very good on this first trail. It tracked well, ate small and big bumps alike. All while being nimble and pretty easy to change direction on.
I have not been riding much so the next trail I brought the bike out on was a little much. Having more saddle time on the bike I realized it started to get stable and feel balanced as speeds increased. This wasn't a problem on the previous trail but I was a bit worried with this next one. It is very long and rock filled the entire way down it also has some steep roll in sections on it. The bike again ate the rocks well, held a line when asked and seemed to provide a decent amount of traction. I noticed the weight of the bike this time it seemed to bounce around a bit more than some of the other bikes I have ridden down this trail. It could also be that I was just not pushing it hard enough to get into its comfort zone. The slack head angle combined with the low BB allow the bike to roll down steeps with ease. This bike for sure favors an aggressive riding posture elbows out and over the front to maintain traction.
The Dorado fork and CCDB shock combo are about as good as they get. We have not ridden a fork that is better then the Dorado yet at smoothing out the rough terrain especially at higher speeds. Having so many shock adjustment options on the back of the bike with be a huge plus to riders that like to tweak their bikes at every race or trail they ride. We suggest making a log to keep track of what works where to make the task a snap the next time around. The Saint brakes worked very well. There was a weird feel to the lever pull where we had it adjusted to. If you adjust the lever out or in further it went away. This was the only complaint.
Norco's dropout and derailleur hanger system are pretty clever. Having an extra derailleur hanger bolt in the frame is a nice touch. The Aurum frame itself is very nice. Having the built in bump stops for the fork and a built in seatpost clamp are just the icing on the cake. Attention to detail on the Norco is first rate. All the little things that some of other bigger companies overlook Norco took full advantage of and included them on their Aurum frames.
Overall the Norco offers a superior build kit for its price point. The bike likes to go fast and gets into its element once riders start pushing the bike and themselves. This isn't one of those bikes that you just hop on and it is easy to go fast. It takes an aggressive riding style to get the most out of the 2013 Norco Aurum the bike responds very well as the speeds increase. Having a slack head angle and low BB help keep it stable and carving the turns. While out back the short chainstay keeps the bike lively and makes direction changes a snap.
The Aurum would be a top pick in the bikes I would love to ride for a whole season. The bike has an amazing look to it from the color scheme to the frame design. Everyone I rode the bike with asked me does it ride as well as it looks. In my opinion yes the bike rides great from the steep rocky terrain to smooth jumpy trails.
Getting on this bike was a shocker cause I felt almost instantly comfortable on it. Being a medium and I'm 6 ft it was a little small but wasn’t a problem at all when I was riding the bike. The Aurum goes threw rock gardens extremely well and it hardly made a sound. I would have to say my overall favorite thing about the bike was how quiet it was threw even the roughest rock gardens. It almost made me feel smoother because I couldn’t hear a rattle on the bike. The integrated features such as the seat clamp and bump stops are a major asset to the Aurum. The bump stops are very slim which allowed for a tight turning radius which I was stoked about. The integrated seat post clamp makes the bike look a lot cleaner.
The Aurum is incredibly light weight. It weighs about 38 pounds stock from the factory. The low B.B. on the bike made it comfortable to hit sketchy corners a lot faster and smoother. I first got on the Aurum on one of the steepest trails in the area and the first thing I noticed was how well it stops even in the loosest dirt. The Rear linkage looks simple but works very well and doesn’t cause any problems braking.
The small head tube was a concern to me because the look of it. But its serves a good purpose allowing people a much larger range to adjust there height. My one and only complaint was the cable routing on the rear linkage could cause the cables to bunch up. This is a simple fix of loosening or moving the zip ties in that spot to stop that from happening. So when setting up the zip ties just keep that in mind. All and all the Aurum was a great bike and I had a lot of fun riding it.
I recently had the pleasure of testing the new Norco Aurum 1. My first impression was how good the bike looked. Clean lines, and an overall dominant look overwhelmed my senses, and I knew it was going to be an awesome ride. Some small, sizing adjustments later and I was ready to ride. So out to the trail I went.
The first thing I noticed was that the medium I was on was a bit smaller than other bikes I've ridden. The shorter top tube gave the cockpit a slightly cramped feel, but after a short while I found that the smaller stature was not a negative aspect of the handling. Under rough conditions, the bike performed very well. It seemed like it was more at home the rougher the terrain got. The shorter top tube was probably why it seems to handle faster in technical turns.
The build was very nice, with Shimano Saint parts and the Manitou Dorado fork. The crank set seemed like a downgrade in comparison to the rest of the parts, but I could only feel a very small amount of flex. Wheels were solid, and the bars/stem/seat post/saddle were all very nice feeling. Out of the box, I'd be confident in any situation, racing or not.
Obviously sluggish on the climbs (but it is a downhill bike), the only thing that I noticed as bad was the narrow handlebar. As it turns out the bars had been cut down, they come from Easton at 800mm which is about standard for todays low and slack gravity bikes! The Dorado had some seal seap happening and we assume it was just the typical thing that happens with inverted MTB forks. Their seals are not nearly as heavy duty as a MX fork so it is normal for some oil to bleed from the seal.
All in all, the Norco Aurum 1 was a lot of fun. It handled very well on almost every condition I could put it through. Rough, uneven terrains were where it felt most at home, and the parts specification makes it a “ready to race out of the box” machine.
Having spent a fair amount of time on the Aurum 1 we can say that we would suggest one to a friend. The bike does all it was inteded to do. It delivers a light, low, slack and well built gravity machine at a reasonable price point. This bike is one step below the high end build. The extra $2,000 will save close to 5 pounds in weight. There are two versions below the Aurum 1 each with a downgrade in componentry.
Those familiar with the FSR suspension will find no suprises in the bikes suspension feel. The A.R.T. tuning claims to handle square edge bumps better do in part to allowing more chain growth. This may be true it seemed to handle the rocks well. The frame was stiff and showed little signs of flex. Being low and long the bike comes into its element as the speeds increase and the terrain steepens.
Norco has created a race ready downhill bike in the Aurum series. The bikes have features built into them that very few large companies use. From the built in bump stops, seat clamp, suspension pivots and one piece rocker link. All the details help to elevate the package that Norco offers and by selling the Aurum 1 with this build at this price point they deliver to the consumer a race ready rig that is "affordable".