To improve front-end strength Norco uses a forged 1.5in head tube with an integrated triangular flange, increasing the weld contact area between the hydroformed top and down tubes, while eliminating the need for gussets. An S-shaped top tube gives the Shore great standover clearance, and although the interrupted seat tube restricts saddle height adjustment, the lower shock position ensures that it is adequate for a 178mm-travel bike. Welded to the 83mm bottom bracket shell is a dual ISCG 05 /old ISCG chain guide mount.
While we had no problems with the Maxle rear end on the Cove, other than breaking the QR lever on a rock and losing all of the internals, the Maxle on the Norco would work loose two to three times a day. The tell-tale sign was a sensation similar to the spokes working loose in the rear wheel and then you knew it was time to pull over and tighten the skewer. The problem could be due to several things. Firstly it’s much harder to get the dropouts of a suspension bike to line up than those of a cast fork lower, especially on linkage bikes, or it could be due to flex in the rear end. Either way, we prefer the extra clearance of regular bolt-through axles.

Up front the exclusive green Totem forks had more then their fair share of admirers in the lift line-up, but the Mission Control damper blew within 10 minutes of take off. RockShox was aware of the problem, apparently a small O-ring sometimes gets nicked during assembly, and once rectified we had no further problems with the damping. With the Marzocchi shock on the rear we found it hard to get the right level of rebound damping; fully closed was super slow and one click from fully closed was too fast. We ended up running the rebound dial halfway between the two settings, which felt good but it’s crazy to think that the usable range of rebound adjustment is limited to less than a couple of clicks. The shock’s TST compression adjuster gives you a full range of compression adjustment by throwing the lever through 180 degrees. The idea being that you can rapidly increase compression damping for climbing.

After a couple of runs the Avid Juicy 5 rear brake started pulling back the handle bar as if the system was under-filled and we’d end up having to ride with the lever primed to keep it working. After landing a drop and shooting off the trail into a pile of rocks because we had no back brake whatsoever, we figured that it was time to get the brake seen to. Once bled it performed flawlessly.

Of the five bikes on test the Norco was the only one that didn’t require some shock fettling to help prevent the rear suspension from bottoming out. This is because the angle of the rocker link in relation to the shock makes the suspension progressive. Having ridden on the ‘Shore’, where log rides end abruptly, often to flat landings, it is easy to understand why Norco has configured the bike this way. Also, because the suspension isn’t diving through the mid-stroke, Norco is able to run one of the lowest bottom brackets on test (even with the high-volume Kenda tyres) without pedal clearance problems. The lower bottom bracket height improves stability without having to increase the wheelbase, so the Shore maintains a tight turning circle and gets plenty of boost off jumps. Norco’s four-bar suspension works well in all situations, but we had some trouble getting the correct rebound setting on the Marzocchi rear shock. Other than that our only complaints with the Norco are that the rear end isn’t quite as stiff as the other bikes on test, and it started to creak. The flex may explain why the Maxle worked loose on several occasions.

All in, the new 2008 Norco Shore 1 is a great freeride bike. The spec is killer, it performs well in every situation and excels on tight trails with drops and shoddy trannies.
But even though it weighs the same as the other bikes on test it just didn’t feel quite as solid as the Specialized or the Scott.