In 2016 our team switched from Bianchi Methanol bikes to Norco Revolver models. This wasn’t a decision made quickly or easily, and spawned from a quick bike test on one of the Revolver models before they were released in early August 2015.
As an amateur sporting team, our bikes are purchased. Sometimes up-front, other times on ‘terms’ of 3, 6, 12 or even 24 months. It’s always been a little but different depending who we have a relationship with. But such is the nature of working out sponsorship arrangements for a small team. None of us are World Champions, but we need to figure out what works best for us, and for those who are able to support us.
There are lots and lots of bikes that we could be riding and racing on, in fact there are a myriad of choices if you’re starting to look around for something new. But the Norco Revolver FS bikes ticked the most boxes:
- Non-Boost spacing (to work with current stock of Fox forks and NoTubes wheels)
- Modern XC geometry
- Easy swingarm/bearing servicing
- Dropper post compatible
- Size range to suit all riders
Our 2016 bikes were pretty damn awesome. We had a couple of dramas early on with bearings, but that was mostly ‘user error’ in terms of torque settings, and not using them! One glaring problem was chain security, as the 2016 frames were 1x only. With Shimano 1×11 group sets used by all our riders, we really had to ramp up the clutch on our rear derailleurs to help keep the chain on, and this detracted from the light action of Shimano XTR M9000.
Rolling into 2017 on new Revolvers
But for 2017, the Revolver frames have a direct mount and internal routing for a front derailleur – a boon for hard and long stage races, plus a real help as we can run a chain guide. In 2017, Justin Morris will stay on his 2016 Revolver, but Imogen Smith and I have chosen to upgrade, and also invest in Revolver hardtails.
The stock Norco 9.2 full-suspension bike and hardtail are pretty dialled. They come built with 1x group sets, quality suspension, DT wheels… but they don’t quite match with those who support us, and the parts we have chosen to use due to their performance advantages and reliability. So the long process of stripping and rebuilding begun.
The Revolver 29 FS builds
The Norco Revolver FS bikes still have NoTubes Valor wheels come race day, with Maxxis tyres. We typically run Ardent Race 2.2″ tyres EXO EXC 3C TR upfront with the Ikon 2.2″ equivalent out back.
The Norco Revolver 9.2 hardtails
The hardtail isn’t dead. We’ve been over that. For a long time we thought about having hardtails on hand. Living in the west of Brisbane, a lot of our riding is hilly, and reasonably smooth once away from the purpose-built mountain bike trails. So having a hardtail for training makes sense… less maintenance, you keep your race bike fresher as well. It’s a luxury, but one that both Imogen and I saved for over the past few months.
The Revolver frame doesn’t have any flex stay trickery per se, but stripped down it’s a sturdy feeling frame, and the handling should match the ride of the Revolver FS models.
The Revolver HT frames are a ‘mid-modulus’ frame advertised at sub 1000g. That must be for a paint free model in something tiny, as my large was close to 1.5kg with the Syntace hanger and spare bolt.
But I’m not overly worried, it’s a bike for some local races, training, and larger races where a hardtail will be a true advantage. Mostly though, I expect come race day I will usually be on my FS.
We set out to put a fairly similar build on to our FS bikes, especially for suspension, cockpit and brakes. Basically for a lot of the ‘feel’ points. We had our Fox 32 factory forks from 2015/2016 updated to the current cartridge tune, used spare XTR parts and new 2×11 crank sets, left shifters and front mechs, and some new Mt Zoom parts.
All told, a medium Norco Revolver 29 FS in team build is 10.2kg, and the hardtail is 9.44kg (both based on Imogen’s bike with XTR pedals). These weights are highly resectable, certainly not the lightest, but using parts we know work, and parts we have used in countless races.
We are likely to change some parts through the year – mostly around cassette size, 1x or 2x setup, tyres, and usually different wheels for training. You might as well have your 1.28kg wheels for race day!
If you see us around and have a question about what we use and why… just ask! Or post your question below and we’ll get back to you.