The Norco Revolver FS has been the bike of choice for the MarathonMTB.com Team since 2016. After we finished racing on Bianchi mountain bikes when they were no longer available in Australia, we needed a bike that climbed well, was light, and easy to service. The Norco Revolver 29 FS was all those things, with through-axles (hey it was late 2015, it wasn’t a given), internal routing, full-carbon construction and geometry that was a bit more modern than our Bianchi Methanol FS frames.
Fast forward to late 2018, and soon enough I saw something that looked a lot like our Revolvers but a little more aggressive on the World Cup circuit. Our Revolvers have taken us to results and experiences in cool races around the world, but we were keen to see some updates.
So after racing The Pioneer on our sweet new Norco Revolvers kitted out with Fox 34 SC forks and 125mm dropper posts, I dropped Norco Australia a line to see if there was something on the horizon.
There was, and there was a sample bike in Australia for just 2 more days. I drove to their offices and picked it up.
A closer look at the all-new Norco Revolver
I got one two hour ride on the new Revolver but took a good look over it first. As it belonged to the international brand manager it had an eclectic mix of parts that don’t represent the spec on stock models.
On this bike fork and shock travel is 100mm, with a 190×37.5mm rear shock, although with a longer stroke shock (190x45mm) it is then 120mm. And models with 120mm forks and dropper posts fitted are also available.
The geometry is totally different. At first we liked how the Norco Revolver was slacker with a steeper seat angle and a longer reach when we got them in 2016. Times change and what was slack is now steep. This new model takes it way further, to 68.5 degree head angle, a 76 degree seat angle and a reach that’s about 30mm longer. The chainstays are much shorter as well to help for climbing and aiding in cornering with the longer wheelbase.
The 120mm option does slacken it out further and obviously shortens the reach a little. The full geometry chart lays it out.
There are a few other stand out features on the frame that change from the original. Firstly it truly is 1x specific, and the lower pivot is much wider for greater stiffness. The BB92 pressfit bottom bracket remains. This frame had ISCG chain guide mounts. I’m not certain if that is a production thing or not.
The chainstays are a lot shorter and the swingarms have clearance for 2.35″ tyres too. Given our 2.25″ tyres on wide rims have got some rub, this is a good thing.
The chainstay is way beefier, and has internal routing. It’s hard to say if the pivot location is different, but it does look a little closer to the rear axle.
There’s also more clearance for the chain on the inside of the swingarm.
Norco have used a different internal routing system compared to previous models, and also compared to their other bikes. There appears to be a plug on the underside of the downtube to secure the housing to, for a rattle free ride.
On the trails with the Norco Revolver
Now bearing in mind this was someone else’s bike and it had already seen plenty of action, I had to focus on the frame and not the build. So my body was still aching from finishing The Pioneer just a few days before, but it was good to pedal on the road to my local trails.
My biggest fear was it would feel stupidly long. But the frame sizing works hand in hand with the bar and stem, and with the 60mm stem it felt like my own bike (which is also a large). With the steeper seat tube angle it does change the effective reach a little as you’re more forward.
Climbing to the trails was good, even on some double track the bike felt nice and responsive, with some better snap when jumping out of the saddle. The chainstays are much shorter with a move to boost spacing and a new design and burlier swing arm. And it shows.
Going gown is where it really started to shine, as the bike is so much more stable. The short stem kept steering input pretty immediate, but thanks to the slacker front rolling into steeper sections and rocks wasn’t nearly as squirelly as you’d expect on a light XC bike. The feeling from the bars to the back of the bike is more connected too – whether there is more carbon in the front of the frame or something I’m not sure. But it’s stiffer up front.
Repeated corners were great too, with a better response to driving through your feet to push out of corners. While the BB is a little higher, it actually sits a bit lower when fitted with 2.35″ tyres like the ones on this bike. With the better stiffness from the bars back
So it’s not a ground breaking new ride that will change the world. But it is a modern version of the Revolver that brings all the modern standards and geometry you would expect, in a package for the pure XC racers or a 120mm option for those chasing some stage race and technical marathon glory. It can still only take one bottle cage in the frame, although it can be fitted high or low. Given the increase in stiffness combined with the updated geometry, the bike in the 100mm setup feels more confidence inspiring than the previous model. I can only suspect the 120mm version adds another level to that.
There are a few models available, starting at $6499 here in Australia, and the top ones come with SRAM AXS and all the sort of bling parts you’d expect. Along with my team mates I’m counting up savings and ordering a frame set, so we can hang a new Shimano XTR M9100 group set on them with some Fox suspension along with some new wheel builds.
If you need to know more head to the Norco website.