BIKE TEST // NORCO TORRENT 7.2
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.