2017 Norco Range C9.2 review


Norco 2017 Range C9.2

The Range is always ready for more.

When rides focus on ripping descents through technical terrain and using the cranks to get back to the top, put the 2017 Norco Range on your short list. Its forgiving nature allows for maximum fun without needing to consider what lies ahead, preferring to keep its speed up and flow.

Frame: 2017 Norco Range Carbon C9.2 150mm, Large Cassette: Sram Eagle X01 10-50T
Fork: Rockshox Lyric RC SA 29 160mm, 15mm boost Chain: Sram CN X01 Eagle
Shock: Rockshox Super Deluxe RC3 Trunion mount Bottom bracket: Sram Pressfit BB92
Wheels: RACE FACE AR 30 rim, Sapim butted black stainless steel spokes Bars (including width): Race Face Atlas 800mm, 20mm rise L/XL 10mm M
Hubs: Sram MTH 746 Boost w XD driver Stem (including width): Race Face Aeffect R 40mm ext 35mm stem
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 WT DHRII 2.4 WT, 3C Maxx Terra Seatpost: Race Face Turbine Dropper 31.6 150mm
Brakes: Sram Guide RS hydraulic disc Saddle: SDG Duster RL w/Norco Design
Rotors: 180mm rotors Headtube angle: 65.5
Shifters: Sram Eagle XO1 Chainstay length: 430/435/440 M/L/XL
Front Derailleur: N/A Seat tube angle: 74.5/74.1/73.7 M/L/XL
Rear Derailleur: Sram Eagle XO1 Weight: 31.1 lbs (large, inner tubes, no pedals)
Cable routing: Internal/External MSRP: $5799
Crankset: Sram Eagle FC X1 1400 12 sp Crank w/32T Rating: 4 Flamin' Chili Peppers 4 Chilis-out-of-5

  • Capable suspension, great performance from rear shock
  • Confidence inspiring ride
  • Saddle uncomfortable, user preference
  • Alloy wheels even on high end build
  • Rides high enough so pedal strikes are not a concern
  • Brake performance less than desired
  • Perfect tires (DHF/DHR II)

When you enjoy long rides highlighted by screaming downhill through mixed terrain, look at the 2017 Norco Range 29. Climbs went smoothly, punchy terrain became easier and descents were fast and carefree.

The first ride review describes the different build options and can be found here.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2

2017 Norco Range C9.2.

Since receiving the bike, mtbr had the opportunity to shred for a couple of months. Most rides were grinding climbs to downhill trails, with some mixed terrain singletrack pedals thrown in for good measure. For context, the test rider was 6’, 205 lbs and the Large frame fit quite well.

If you’re like me, a climb is something you want to get over with. That said, whether pedaling or pushing, we’re choosing to do the climb because it opens up vast amounts of terrain that sees relatively little use (and is a whole lot better than sweating in a gym!!!!). That style of riding seems to be exactly why the Norco Range exists: exploring terrain, pedaling to the top and rowdy fun on the way down.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Wheelie

The Range is wheelie a fun bike.

The Range pedaled uphill well, having an upright riding position to reduce fatigue on long grinds. Some heel contact occurred with the seat stay, yet is a common occurance between large feet and frames with Boost rear hubs.

The Rockshox Super Deluxe shock has a three position lever, to select between open, trail and locked out modes. When the firm setting was selected, pedal bob was virtually eliminated yet the bike became fairly unresponsive to terrain, so square edges tended to bounce me off the saddle. The middle setting remedied the bucking, yet the additional bob felt like it sapped energy. I’m sure quite a bit of that is due to pedaling technique, being a bit of a masher. Overall preference was the firm setting for mostly smooth sections, just riding actively on occasional rough bits and using the middle setting for continuous bumpy and mixed-terrain pedaling. Fortunately, the switch is easily accessible.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Turning

Headed round the bend.

When riding through rolling terrain, planning ahead is always smart but not mandatory. The 29er wheels ride high and reduce impact angles, helping the rider maintain momentum, going over rather than into the holes. When momentum faltered, it was easy to do a track-stand, pause, and continue. Even on no-speed rock drops, just pull back on the bars and squish, then continue on. Drama did not happen.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Descending Chunk

Rolling over the bumpy stuff.

The bottom bracket is high enough that pedal strike issues simply did not happen, to the point of preparing for them when mistiming a stroke, yet contact did not occur. On trail sections through rock slides, where a line definitely exists yet is littered with holes, this is the bike I’d choose and have frequently missed since returning it.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Descending Chunk

Cruising right through.

“Boing, boing, boing,” is the playful thought I had every time when approaching a favorite rocky descent. That is even with a 300 foot cliff a few feet to the side. The 2017 Range lets you blissfully flow through rocks and roots, in an athletic upright riding position. It immediately feels good.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Flat Out

Keep it low and you will fly.

Take a little time to get used to the bike though, because it gives the rider a wake-up call when exiting turns. The centered position also mandates getting your weight low, back and really bend at the hips to get power down out of turns. On more than one occasion I started to wash out, reminding me to bend at the hips and get low, low, low. Thankfully the Range was forgiving, reminded about the mistakes and highlighted when I got it right – rocketing forward. It helped to improve technique without tossing me into the rocks.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Riding Turn

Get lower!

The riding position makes air time feel very natural. On many bikes, it feels like you’re slightly following the bike or a passenger driving a vehicle. The Range seems like your body is in the normal position you’d be in when jumping without a bike, then smoothly catches you. Full travel was used frequently, yet bottoming out was smooth and firm, exactly like it should be. Midstroke was supportive enough to ride actively and firmly pump. The rear shock was consistently full open when descending.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Rock Roll

All smiles rolling down the rocks.

The centered position did seem to exacerbate an issue I’ve experienced on most 29” bikes. When slower descents are desired on really steep terrain, it was difficult to find traction and felt like my weight was a bit forward and high. The sweet spot between traction and forward rotation was very narrow. Sure, get off the darn brakes and let it flow! That said, it’s the only time I grumbled at the bike. For really steep stuff, I’d look towards the 27.5” version of this bike.

The drivetrain performed very well, zero issues encountered. Yes, an upper guide is included and zero chain drops were experienced. During the first few rides I was amazed at the 50t cog in back, finding myself one cog short of the granny on most climbs. However, I quickly adapted to the range and would select a 30t chainring up front since I never spun out. Also, the alloy cranks might be a tad heavier than the carbon versions, yet they are very aesthetically pleasing and durable.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Seat Stay Curves and Linkage

Range’s drivetrain and sexy curves.

The wheels stayed true, amazingly. They are the AR series, similar to the ARC wheel but uses a sleeved joint instead of welded. Regardless, they required zero truing. Their only downfall seems be being on the heavier side. Norco did riders a favor and wrapped them with the exact tires that I’d select, Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 WT / DHR II 2.4 WT combination. The rider will need to convert over to tubeless, which is normal.

Both the fork and shock performed quite well and left little to be desired. The Maxle up front made removing the front wheel convenient, yet is a bit less stiff than tools-required alternatives. My initial concerns about cable routing along the shock stanchion proved to be a non-issue, with zero wear happening during our riding. The Race Face dropper post also performed flawlessly.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Cables Around Shock and Dropper Post

Cables securely routed next to the shock, Race Face dropper.

The Norco Range feels like it was built to withstand hard and frequent use, and proved to be exactly that. Countless laps were ridden down square edged rocky terrain with a clydesdale driving and the Range was always ready for more.

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Flowers

2017 Norco Range, a great choice for exploring.

During the test period, very few issues were encountered. On the first ride, I forgot to torque two of the cable port cover bolts and lost them, just additional items to keep an eye on during the pre-ride inspection process. Those port covers allow convenient access for routing, while securing the cables snugly. Just remember to tighten the bolts!

Norco 2017 Range C9.2 Cable Routing

Helpful cable port covers allow access while securely holding cables.

The only mechanical issue was with the Guide brakes, whose performance tanked after about a month of riding. Pads were not overworn, no contamination was present, but the power vanished . New pads were needed, well before expected. I’d also select a larger front rotor, because there’s little reason not to.