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Entries in Downhill Mountain Bike (8)

Sunday
Jul142013

Manitou Dorado Pro Review

Manitou has been in the suspension game since the early 1990's. Gone are the days of their rubber elastomer springs. Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000's Manitou had a strong showing in the downhill segment. The used TPC in both their XVERT fork which was a Carbon Fibre standard triple clamp fork and then in their venture into the inverted market with the original Dorado around 2001-2003 with 30mm stantions and generation 2 came out from 2004-2006 with 32mm stantions. That fork worked well then manitou decided they needed the use the SPV vavling they were licensing from Turner and along came the MRD Dorado X-Works. It turns out downhill was not the appropriate venue for SPV. Its price was high for the time and people were expecting everything from it. That was in 2004 and 9 years ago. But some people seem to never forget things.Their new fork is using TPC + but now has a Dual Air chamber.

Today they are using a Dual Chamber Air design inside their new Dorado. In 2010 Manitou announced the Dorado Pro after extensive testing of the carbon fibre MRD version. This was good because that CF Dorado was approaching the $3,000 mark so very few people had them. The new design is somewhat light at 6.5 LBS and as plush as a fork can get. Out of the box it feels very supple and it feels better than most forks do after their required break in periods!

The new Dorado Pro is an engineering masterpiece. 7050 legs, inverted construction, dual-chamber air spring, TPC+ damping (with independent high- and low-speed compression), hydraulic bottom-out and top-out, and Manitou’s patented HexLock 20mm thru-axle add up to the most advanced downhill fork ever.

Features

Weight Lb / grams 6.55 / 2973.7
Travel 180, 203 Internally Adj. (29'er 175mm)
Spring Air
Spring Rate n/a
Bottom Out Hydraulic and Rubber Bumper
Steerer 1 1/8" Aluminum
Crown Forged Hollow-Oval Bore
Crown Finish Black Ano Polished
Offset 49.55
Compression Damping TPC+
Rebound Damping Adjustable TPC
Adjustments Air
Compression (High Speed and TPC+)
Rebound
Leg Diameter 36mm
Leg Material 7050 Aluminum
Wheel Size 26 / 29
Brake Post Mount
Brake 20mm Hex TA
Crown to Axle 567 / 591
Colors Black Ano

 

Hex-lock Thru Axle

Our patented hex axle locks the lower legs in place, eliminating rotation around the axle. This provides unsurpassed stiffness in a burly, no-gimmick 20mm axle system. US Patent #6, 412, 803.

Semi-bath with Evil Genius Seals

Semi-bath lubrication and Evil Genius seals have proven to dramatically increase the durability and service life of our forks. High quality Evil Genius seals, originally developed for motorcycle suspension, decrease stiction and keep fluids inside the legs where they belong.

Dorado TPC+ 4-dimensional Compression Damping

  • Velocity dependant circuit responds to the terrain
  • Pressure dependant circuit flattens the bumps
  • Energy dependant circuit activates on big hits while providing unmatched small bump sensitivity
  • Position dependant circuit creates a bottomless feel

System Advantages:
  • Durability
  • Traction
  • Comfort
  • Control

Original 2010 Press Release

"The Hayes Bicycle Group is pleased to announce the official release of the 2010 Manitou Dorado Pro.
The Dorado Pro features 7050 aluminum legs and utilizes the same premium internals as the Dorado MRD carbon version. With premium durability, the Dorado Pro maintains its World Cup DH race pedigree. However, it’s not a typical DH race fork anymore. With the added strength of the 7050 aluminum legs, it becomes a very capable park, free-ride and big mountain fork. Along with proven TPC+ damping, the fork has plush top-out coupled with a unique hydraulic bottoming ramp-up that makes the fork feel bottomless.
Updates for 2010 include an improved two-chamber, large-volume, low-pressure air spring which simplifies set-up and optimizes fork performance. The air spring pressure is now tuned by using a single valve at the top of the fork eliminating the second valve at the bottom of the leg. The pressure in the two chambers auto-equalizes when a shock pump is connected offering ease of set up by adding and/or bleeding off air from the top. Also, all mount hardware features high grade bolts with deep hex broaches offering an improved tool inter-face, and the brake line guide has been improved for optimum routing.
Spec:

  • Weight: 6.55lbs
  • Travel: 180mm/203mm for 26”
  • 175mm for 29”
  • Chassis: Alloy Legs & Crown
  • Spring: Dual Air Chamber
  • Damper: TPC+
  • Hub: 20mm Hex Lock

The 2010 Dorado Pro was designed and tested in California and North Vancouver and is handmade in our Milwaukee, Wisconsin, facility. The Hayes Bicycle Group will continue to offer a one-year service program which allows riders to return their fork for factory service and inspection at no charge (specific rules apply to factory service). All race support at the HBG race truck will remain free of charge as we continue to support race teams, free riders and privateers. MSRP for the Dorado Pro in 26” is $1,749 and $1,799 for the 29er version."

We have gone through 4 or 5 Dorado forks now. The first one we had went on two different test bikes. Since then I have bought 4 others to build personal bikes with and demo bikes. I am known as a maintenance hack. My time is more valuable to me than spending a few hours rebuilding a fork every 4 weeks. Thats not gonna happen especially if I pay $1700 for the thing! 

Our first test bike we built up with the Dorado Pro was the Canfield Jedi. Over the course of our 6 months of testing the fork preformed flawlessly. It mounted easily, has respectable weight, and you dont need suspesnion analysis software to dial the thing in. The Jedi got alot of vertical feet put on it and fast. In its first day out on the hill it had almost 25,000 feet ridden.

The Dorado felt perfect out of the box. Smooth as can be, the only other fork I can compare it to is a Shiver or old Monster T. There was no detectable stiction and the whole way through the fork just eats up chunky terrain like it is not even there. This is one of the areas it leaves other forks looking feable. Not only is it very small bump compliant but the air spring has a natural ramping effect making a bottom out on the Dorado a rare occurance and if it does happen the rubber and hydraulic bottom out control makes it a non issue.

As stated earlier maintenance is something I despise and having a fork blow a seal every month or needing a major overhaul is just way to much. That first Dorado we had was on 2 test bikes and easily eclipsed 300,000 vertical feet of hard decending on it. Never once in that time was the fork serviced! They suggest doing a service at regular intervals, it sort of slipped my mind and the fork ran great the whole time.

Towards the end of year two it was sent in for a complete rebuild and service. It was still under the service period so that was free. We have tested other complete bikes, one had a Boxxer WC and the other had a Fox 40 coil. Both of these developed seal leakage with 3 months of riding. The durability of the Dorado is simply amazing.

Setting up the Dorado was really very simple. In fact with the suggested set-up instructions Manitou includes it is pretty straight forward. We ended up using the DH Race tuning as a start point and then sped up Rebound and increased TPC + a few clicks. I weigh 209 and ran 90 PSI almost the entire time. Sometimes a little less depending on the trail.

Clicking the adjusters just one click is noticeable in the way the fork reacts on the trail. The fork has a fair bit of adjustment range to suite most users. Having the ability to fine tune the preload with the addition or removal of air in such small increments gives the Manitou Dorado Pro a distinct tuning advantage over a coil fork.

We rode the Dorado on rough chunky rock filled trails, down loose steep brake bump filled shoots and over smooth hero dirt up in Santa Cruz. The fork excelled everywhere it went. It provided traction over rough trails and as the speeds increased it had no problem keeping up and making the trail feel more like a sidwalk. The Dorado has the ability to keep low speed and high speed hits well in control without sacraficing one to make the other better. This is another area the fork excels at having a High and Low speed compression that truely seems independant of one another.

Also of note is the Norco Aurum 1 we tested came with the Manitou Dorado Expert. This is a lower dollar fork that is a bit heavier than the Pro version but internally it is identical. Manitou gained some weight and lowered cost by using a 6000 series aluminum, and forged triple clamps on the Expert. But riding the fork it feels just as plush and responsive. You can get the Expert brand new for about $1100 which is a pretty killer price!

We found a few negatives worth noting. The older Manitou Dorado came with two different top crowns one was flat and the other was a drop crown. They have since done away with the drop crown and now it comes with just the flat crown. That takes away some adjustment which may be a concern for some. Another issue that some of us noticed if paying attention you might notice that the fork is a little more flexible than a conventional fork. It is more noticeable going from a Fox 40 to the Dorado. I would say the Dorado has about the same amount of flex in it as a Boxxer WC does. Some people think this may be a benefit in its ability to track over rough terrain. Not sure but the fork really does shine on rougher trails.

Conclusion

Overall the Manitou Dorado Pro has proven to be an awesome fork. Its realibity, tuneability, responsiveness and dampening characteristic are something that none of us have experienced in any other fork. A fork is a very important piece of kit it controls the front wheel, where it goes how well it tracks the ground and how much traction the rider can get. There was never once while riding the Dorado over the last 3 years that I thought it could be mcuh better. In fact most of the time it worked and I forgot all about it being up there. I just knew it was doing its job up front. Point the bike where you want to go and the Dorado Pro will see that the front wheel gets up and over any obstacle in your way without much fuss. The hard part will be finding a rear suspension that can keep up with the fork! We would for sure recommend the Manitou Dorado Pro or Expert to any of our friends with the new Manitou Dorado line effectivly becoming the downhill fork to beat.

Manitou Answers Some Questions

1. Manitou has made 2 traditional and 3 inverted downhill forks since 1999 if I remember right? Is there a reason you decided upon inverted for your latest version?

Correct, Traditional: X-vert & Travis, Inverted: Gen 1/2/3 Dorado. There are advantages and disadvantages of each design. Inverted allows us to keep bushings constantly lubricated, increased bushing spacing vs. traditional for improved stiffness and reduced friction, the large diameter outer legs give us the stiffest chassis (fore-aft direction) which is the direction that the majority of loads are input into the fork. Disadvantages are increased weight, decreased torsional stiffness, and added cost. So the decision to go inverted was part performance advantage and part building on the Dorado legacy of years past.

2. What were the main objectives in creating the latest generation of Dorado? 

The Dorado was designed to do one thing… race. Damping performance was the top design parameter when designing the Dorado. It had to react faster, track better, and maintain control throughout travel better than any other fork on the market.

3. One of your engineers came from Showa USA correct?

Yes, Ed Kwaterski came from Showa, but the Gen 3 Dorado MRD design began before he started with HBG. Ed and the experience he gained while at Showa is a great asset to the brand.

4. What do you think is more important in a fork reliability or weight?

Is performance an option? If you can make a 8lb fork react faster to the terrain and control the wheel and chassis better than a 6lb fork, isn’t it worth the additional weight?

5. Initially the Dorado was hand made here in the states that ended how has the QC and product been since?

In order to increase our Dorado volume and remain competitive with other brands we needed move the Dorado production line to our Taiwan facility with the rest of our product line. Like any other product that we begin production on, there is a great effort that goes into making every fork at the highest level of quality. But like anything else, there is a learning curve that goes along with a new product and we have not been without problems. Fortunately we have a very good Tech/Warranty and QC department that can react quickly to any quality issues and make sure we minimize issues in the field.

6. Your fork seems very easy to get a baseline setting and get out on the hill without too much fuss. Do you think with the current adjustability of suspension system it hurts or benefits the average rider?

DH riders are a special breed. They demand a high performance product, and it is our job not just to design and produce the product, but also to educate the user how to dial in their fork to their own riding style and terrain. The benefits of allowing the rider to fine tune their fork to specific course conditions is of the utmost importance. One weekend you may be racing a very technical course littered with rocks and slick roots. The next weekend you may be racing a flowing course with every turn burmed with a couple of doubles mixed in. You need your suspension to react for the specific conditions of the course, and that is where the adjustability of a fork comes in to play. All the adjusters can be overwhelming, but if we can provide good direction and the rider is willing to put the time into making the adjustments they will begin to understand the benefits of the system.

7. Rocks or turns?

Rocks

8. How beneficial is the Hex Axle versus a standard 20mm?

The hex shape on our axle prevents rotation of the axle under unbalanced torsion loads about the axle. The Hex Axle provide a solid interface between the drop-out and the axle that would otherwise slip under torsion loads. Without adding a good amount of weight to the chassis, we could not achieve the same level of torsional stiffness without the Hex Axle. A traditional fork has a casting arch to help fight torsional flex, but an inverted fork must rely on the axel and leg stiffness alone to resist torsional flex.

9. How quickly can you rebuild a Dorado?

Our tech boys have it down to about 1hr per rebuild.

10. Looks like the Pro GRT was won and Kevin is riding a Dorado that is cool. Any plans for more racers next year?

Always. The Teams & Riders we support are tremendous. They provide valuable feedback regarding our products and excellent exposure for our brands.  

11. How do you feel about the current state of MTB suspension and the players involved? Do we have too many, too few, or too much marketing?

MTB suspension is just like any other market. Take the automotive market for example, some provide good value per dollar, some good looks, others good performance or weight. There are customers who value one of those characteristics more than others, but the majority are customers who value all. So generally you have to sacrifice one or the other characteristics to be competitive. Otherwise everybody would be commuting to work in a Ferrari. Unfortunately the performance of suspension is the most difficult attribute to quantify and advertise to the end user, you don’t really know if you really like it until you actually ride it. That is why reviews are so important; marketing creates brand visibility, but word of mouth is how we really win new customers.

12. Any plans for alterations coming in the near future for the Dorado? 

We do have a few improvements in the works that will slowly trickle in over the next year, but we are not anticipating a full model year changeover anytime soon.

13. Where do you see the sport of Downhill mountain bike racing in 10 years?  

Technology & Materials Advancement / Frame Development & Design will continue to push the DH Sport. This combined with: Improving Venues, evolving trail networks and  powerful advocacy groups make for a bright future.

14. If I can convince The Tour De France to do an all drug race and then the next month an all natural event like bodybuilding which would you watch?

Who wouldn’t want to watch a guy who can squat 1200lbs on a road bike?

Dorado Pro Owners Manual

Monday
Oct152012

2013 Norco Aurum 1 Review

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.

 

Specifications

  • 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.[5] 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

  1. Custom hydroformed tubing: strong in key areas, stiff, light and beautiful
  2. New integrated fork bumps: wider turn radius and designed to accommodate a wider range of forks
  3. Gravity Tune: optimal body position, ideal weight distribution for increased traction & control
  4. A.R.T. suspension, optimized for DH: efficient pedaling, confident braking, square-edge bump compliance and bottomless feel
  5. 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."

Gravity Tune 

"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."

Hydroformed Tubes 

"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."

Integrated Dropout 

"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."

Geometry

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 a 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?
 

Not telling.

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.

Ian Wilkinson

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.

Vance Bennett

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.

Kyle Hogan

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.

Conclusion

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".

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 Norco Aurum CCDB set-up guide.