Quality frame with good length and standover clearance
The Norco Storm 7.1 has one of the best-finished frames in this category: the 3D rear dropouts are neat and the sculpted tubing profiles mean that the frame is every bit as sleek as the stylish matt orange finish.
So it’s disappointing that the Norco doesn’t come with a chainstay protector; the paint was chipped after just one ride.
We loved the dramatically sloping top tube that combines with the tall, reinforcing seat-tube gusset to provide stacks of room to manoeuvre, even on the larger frame sizes.
The frame proportions are thoroughly modern, with plenty of length in the cockpit, despite the relatively short 65mm stem.
So far, so good, but unfortunately the head tube on the Norco is too tall, so even with the stubby stem slammed against the headset, the handlebar position was too high, making it difficult to load the front end for confident steering and control.
Confidence was eroded further by the low-profile Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyres. Yes, they are light and give the Storm a great sense of pace, but you’re not going to be sticking to the high-lines or railing flat, loose corners with aplomb.
Up front, the Suntour XCM fork pumps out 100mm of travel and much as we’d like to see a 120mm fork fitted, to better handle the bigger hits and improve steering stability at speed, this would only exacerbate the elevated handlebar position.
Flipping the stem upside down offered a big improvement in control, but Norco needs to decide on a direction for the Storm 7.1 as it blows between towpath plodder and singletrack shredder, and excels at neither.