The Whistler Bike Park recently played host to the 2009 product launch from Norco Bicycles. As expected, Norco took the opportunity to show off their more aggressive, gravity inspired bikes. Two team-inspired bikes highlighted the new lineup.
With the help of last year's Crankworx Slopestyle event winner Ben Boyko, Norco this year is offering the Empire 5.
The Empire 5 sports shorter chainstays and a steeper head tube angle than its cousin, the Norco Six. In addition the Empire 5's lower seat tube allows for the kind of clearance you'd expect from a dirt jumper.
The Empire 5 is a great example of the graphics coordination present on the entire 2009 Norco lineup. Many of the 2009 bikes use an innovative sublimation process that allows for graphics to seamlessly be applied over welds, gussets and handlebars. Although these features are most prominent on the Shore and Six series bikes, the process is visible throughout the lineup.
The second new addition to the Norco Line up for next year is
the Vixa, a women's specific freeride bike. It was developed around feedback from Factory Team rider Darcy Turenne, and will be the flagship model of Norco's new Forma series of women's specific bikes. Inspired by the popular Norco Six frame, the Vixa uses lighter weight, hydroformed tubing and has a steeper seat tube angle and lower stand over height. The Vixa will also be available in an extra-small size to accommodate even the smallest female riders.
The Team DH and A-Line bicycles have also been redesigned for 2009. The new frame design resembles the Shore and Six series bikes with sweeping top tubes and a lowered shock position. Not only does this new configuration produce a lower center of gravity but it also increases the stand over height. In addition these bikes now use an integrated 1.5 inch-to- 1 1/8 inch forged headset that is able to accommodate a lower handlebar height than a traditional 1 1/8 headset.
Aside from the new frame design, the Team DH and A-Line still offer an adjustable 8 or 9 inches of travel and a variable bottom bracket height. Head tube angles stay the same.
For 2009, rather than just offering two sizes, S/M and M/L, Norco has taken the complaints of taller riders to heart and will be offering an expanded the range of sizes to include small, medium and large. This should make the Team DH and A-Line bikes more accessible for taller riders. With all of the improvements to Norco's DH series, a stock 2009 Team DH bike weighs in at an impressive 37.5 pounds. Not bad for a bike capable of nine inches of rear-wheel travel.
The earliest run of bikes should be in stores before Christmas and all the 2009 bikes, along with pricing and detailed information, will be on a relaunched norcobikes.com later this month.