A great frame will always trump great components
The Norco Storm 4 is our only 29er on test and as such it gets off to a good start, rolling over rough ground more easily than the 27.5in wheel bikes.
While the Carrera Vulcan’s standout feature was its spec level, to the detriment perhaps of the frame, on the Storm it’s the other way round. Canadian brand Norco has produced a sumptuous frame that, on pure sizing and fit, is the best on test, but poor spec choices drop it down the rankings.
The standover height is really low meaning the bike never gets in the way when you’re descending, while there’s plenty of room in the cockpit to lend confidence to your riding. It’s a comfortable bike to ride too, and although the chainstay is starting to look a bit tatty as the chain whaps into it this could be easily solved with a chainstay protector.
Sadly the components aren’t half as good as the frame itself. The Suntour XCE28 suspension fork doesn’t have the plusher feel of the Suntour XCM and certainly not of the superlative RockShox XC30, while the cable actuated brakes aren’t strong enough to stop you unless you use two fingers.
Norco gets the same score as the Carrera Vulcan then, but for different reasons. But it’s the Storm that’s the better bike because it’s prime for upgrades as bits and pieces wear out over time. A great frame will always trump great components, it’s just a shame Norco couldn’t spec better parts.