Norco Range C2 650b first ride review£4,600.00

A competent all-rounder

When it redesigned the carbon Range in 2017, Norco aimed to create “the ideal enduro bike”. With a low-slung frame, 160mm of travel and 29in or 650b wheels (with geometry adjusted to suit), it certainly looks the part. I hit the trails to see if it lives up to the brand’s claims.

Norco Range C2 650b specifications

  • Frame: ‘SmoothCore’ carbon fibre, 160mm (6.3in) travel
  • Fork: RockShox Lyrik RCT3, 170mm (6.3in) travel
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX Eagle (1x12)
  • Wheelset: e*thirteen TRS rims on DT Swiss 350 hubs
  • Tyres: e*thirteen TRS Race Sticky Triple (f) and TRS Plus Durable Dual (r) 27.5x2.35in
  • Brakes: SRAM Code R 200/180mm
  • Bar: Race Face Turbine R 35, 800mm
  • Stem: Race Face Æffect R, 50mm
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth 150mm dropper
  • Saddle: SDG Duster RL
  • Weight (Large without pedals): 14.38kg (31.7lb)

Norco Range C2 650b frame

The Range uses a four-bar Horst Link rear end, which drives a metric trunnion shock. While the mainframe and seatstays are carbon, the chainstays are aluminium. Cables and hoses are routed internally, and there are clamps to secure them in place and stop noise.

Norco’s Gravity Tune concept means the effective chainstay length increases by 5mm per size. This is achieved by moving the bottom bracket forwards relative to the main pivot. On the Large size, this gives a rear centre of 435mm. The 1,217mm wheelbase and 452mm reach are relatively short by modern standards. At my height of 5ft 10in I found the bike to be a good fit.

While the 65.5-degree head angle is pretty standard for an enduro bike, the 74.1-degree effective seat angle felt like it could have been steeper. The press-fit BB92 bottom bracket sits 342mm off the ground.

Norco Range C2 650b kit

The metric-sized RockShox Super Deluxe piggyback shock uses a trunnion mount
The metric-sized RockShox Super Deluxe piggyback shock uses a trunnion mount

Norco has adorned the Range with some great kit. There’s a top-of-the-range RockShox Lyrik RCT3 fork up front with 170mm of travel, and a Super Deluxe shock out back.

SRAM’s 12-speed GX Eagle groupset and Code R brakes are strong performers, and the Reverb dropper post gets RockShox’s new 1x trigger remote. The e*thirteen TRS wheels have wide 30mm rims and are paired with its TRSr and TRS+ tyres. A Race Face Turbine bar and Æffect stem finish things off.

Norco Range C2 650b ride impressions

This bike is a jack of all trades but master of none — and that's a compliment. The Norco has a stable, predictable and balanced ride, whether you’re hooning it, nibbling through tight trees or hammering super-steep tech. It feels rigid and precise when crossing rough cambers, without being unforgivingly stiff.

In steeper sections, the Range’s good front-to-rear balance limits forward pitching and you don’t feel like you’re hanging on for dear life.

It comes alive on faster trails, thanks to a fork and shock that give great mid-stroke support and excellent bottom-out resistance. That means you can comfortably play around on the bike while it gets on with ironing out the trail.

The suspension has an active feel when you’re freewheeling downhill, but as soon as you brake or pedal, things firm up noticeably.

With understated looks and a ride that's easy to live with, the Norco’s a decent all-rounder
With understated looks and a ride that's easy to live with, the Norco’s a decent all-rounder

While the 800mm bar feels good on wide-open, flat-out tracks, I cut it down to 760mm for more clearance on tight trails. This made the bike feel smaller, which made me wish for more reach.

I had mixed results with the e*thirteen tyres. Their aggressive tread pattern should work wonders when it’s wet, but the front consistently understeered.

On hardpack, performance was much better, but slippery roots or rocks still caused them to break traction. They don’t roll very quickly either and, combined with the seat angle, this meant I found the Range to be a bit of a burden on the climbs.

Norco Range C2 650b early verdict

Enduro rig that feels at home on most trails but doesn’t have a standout party piece.

Alex has been riding bikes since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. He first raced back in 2003, winning the Juvenile category on a sketchy hard tail Planet X bike. Alex lived in the Alps for seven years so isn't shy of a climb or two and loves getting out in his bike in all weather. His favorite thing to ride is steep loamy tracks with loads of opportunities to slam the bike into turns and really give it some frame bending welly! He's broken his fair share of frames, so any bike between his knees is going to get a right seeing to.
  • Age: 29
  • Height: 182cm / 5'10
  • Discipline: DH, Enduro, XC, BMX, Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Epic descents covered in the world's finest loam and hero dirt
  • Current Bikes: Nukeproof Mega 275 / Giant Anthem Advanced 275 1 / LeMond Reno / Deluxe Pro 2 BMX
  • Dream Bike: Giant ATX 1 DH (1999 model)
  • Beer of Choice: Teetotal
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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