Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Outdoor Bike Lane - RRP $2199­vance­ TESTED BY Tested by Mark Wat­son PHO­TOS BY Mark Wat­son/Incite Im­ages

KISS! DAMN IT’s a great prin­ci­ple (Keep it sim­ple stupid). Norco’s Torrent 7.2 with its hy­dro­formed hard­tail al­loy frame, plus­sized tyres and trail geom­e­try proves that the KISS prin­ci­ple is sur­pris­ingly rel­e­vant in the high-tech world of trail MTBs. Hit­ting a sand­stone-based grav­ity trail on a hard­tail kinda feels wrong, but that at­ti­tude changed on the first pedal stroke of our first ride.

In the MTB world, what goes down must first come up, and the 650B plus rub­ber lives up to its rep­u­ta­tion for end­less trac­tion on the as­cent. The mas­sive Maxxis Min­ion 27.5" x 2.8" EXO/TR aboard Alex MD-35 27.5" rims of­fered ridicu­lous grip on the loose climb… so much so that you could throw your weight to the bars and crank the ped­als as hard as pos­si­ble and the rear still stuck.

Like ev­ery other new­bie to plus tyres I cranked the rub­ber to my stan­dard 30psi off the rack and then dropped it three times on the trail… ac­ci­den­tally go­ing as low as 12psi on the climb, but the thing hap­pily rolled along. On the de­scent the tyre/ wheel/bike combo of­fered even more trac­tion, stick­ing to off-cam­ber cor­ners when it shouldn’t have and re­gain­ing grip quickly when a lack of rear sus­pen­sion saw the tail oc­ca­sion­ally bounce a lit­tle off-line. My scep­ti­cism at ‘plus’ just be­ing an­other mar­ket­ing ploy was dis­proved in the first 30 min­utes of our ride… but then again I also fa­mously once said to any and all that “650B is just a fad.”

The Rock Shox Sek­tor Sil­ver RL 140mm of­fers tried and tested Mo­tion Con­trol damp­ing and a sim­ple and ef­fec­tive on-the-move lock­out, but we didn’t touch the blue dial as the hard­tail frame means driv­e­train power goes di­rectly to the earth, so leav­ing a lit­tle give up front al­lowed our over­sized front wheel to roll over al­most any­thing when­ever we pointed the nose up.

Don’t be fooled into think­ing this is an XC or jump-bike with big tyres; the geom­e­try of­fers a slack 67-de­gree head angle and 1x10 driv­e­train (SRAM’s GX 10spd to be ex­act), while the TranzX 125mm Drop­per Post pro­vides fluid and easy ad­just­ment of where your back­side sits on the climbs – and doesn’t sit on the de­scents, with the cable neatly routed away within the seat tube. Drop­ping the seat and point­ing the nose down­hill is where the Torrent ex­cels; it’s only at the bot­tom that you re­alise you just rode your favourite trail nearly as fast on a hard­tail as you would have on your du­ally.

The X6 Al­loy 785mm bar felt wider than it should and the ex­tra width of the plus-size rub­ber means get­ting the rig pointed where you want it to on the climbs takes a lit­tle get­ting used to, espe­cially when our com­par­i­son rig hap­pened to be a near-$10k build of one of the most revered FS all moun­tain rigs on the mar­ket.

On that same note, the al­loy frame and ex­tra burli­ness of the Torrent means those lit­tle drops and jumps on the trail need an en­tirely new ap­proach, as in the air the bike tends to of­fer more of an A380 feel than the F-111 of our com­par­i­son bike. If you get it wrong, as of­ten as I do, then it might be worth up­grad­ing the Tek­tro Auriga Hy­draulic disc brakes to some stop­pers that of­fer that lit­tle more, er, stop­ping power.

What Norco has done is fill a gap in the mar­ket fo­cussed on of­fer­ing a solid all-rounder at an af­ford­able price. It is also a rig for some­body who wants a bike that does ev­ery­thing but would rather avoid the com­plex­i­ties, main­te­nance and costs as­so­ci­ated with a dual-sus­pen­sion all-moun­tain bike.

All in all, the Torrent just works, and it leaves a huge smile on your dial after ev­ery out­ing. In a near $2k pack­age you have a bike that can bash out kilo­me­tres with your mates on the week­end but also han­dle burly grav­ity-ori­ented trails or even hit the lo­cal jump park.

Big rub­ber and rel­a­tively slack head angle make the Torrent a bike for all ter­rain types.

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