NORCO RANGE KILLER B-1
Weight: 30.7 pounds
By Ryan LaBar
On paper, or at least the internet forums, the buzz surrounding the Range Killer B should be focused on its 650b wheels. On the trail, however, the new wheel size proves somewhat of a moot point, as the other changes Norco made to its 160-millimeter all-mountain bike overshadow the slight increase in wheel size.
This year's Range receives a complete redesign, giving it a more refined tubeset, size-specific geometry and a reworked suspension linkage, or as Norco calls it, "Gravity Tuned." The revamped suspension features a rearward axle-path in the beginning of its travel, allowing the Range to smash smoothly though fast, big, square-edged hits, providing a bit of stability when pushing through corners and G-outs, and adding a bit of anti-squat while pedaling at speed.
While this axle path helps the Norco eat up big hits and pedal well in the big ring, it bites back when climbing requires the granny ring. Every pedal stroke here causes the shock to extend to an almost distracting degree, and the bike to bounce. This could be a deal-breaker for riders who spend a lot of time climbing in the small chainring.
Adding to the Range's descending and cornering capabilities, which earned unanimous praise, are a stiff frame front-to-back and an aggressive, slack geometry. One thing we noticed on the Range was that its big-ish wheels seemed to carry speed in a rather sneaky manner. It's like driving a new car after owning an old beater, and suddenly noticing that you are doing 25 over. We found ourselves over-clearing jumps and rocketing through technical sections without extra effort or the perception of added speed—and everything about that is a good thing.
For this category, the parts hanging off the Range are nearly flawless—it featured a short stem, wide bars, Fox 34 fork, Avid X0 Trail brakes, SRAM drivetrain with a Type 2 rear derailleur, Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires and a chainguide with bashguard. This is one bike that we were happy to ride straight out of the box.
Want to know more about the Norco Range Killer B-1? For more info, go to www.norco.com