Details about Norco Fazer 2 X-Country - Dual Suspension Mountain Bike SRP$3749See original listing
21 Jul, 2014 20:04:07 AEST
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Lake Illawarra South, New South Wales, Australia
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Norco Fazer 2 X-Country - Dual Suspension Mountain Bike SRP$3749
Please Note:This item is boxed
(SN:N10770 RWHRED/WHI LGE)
exactly what our large framed test bike
weighed, so the figure on the top model probably stands true and correct—that's both impressive (in terms of being light)
and admirable to see some honesty in their claimed bike weights.
While Norco appears to have assem-
bled a pretty respectable selection of
components to support the new Phaser platform, it's pretty clear that most of
their efforts have gone into the frame; the best way to do it as it's the frame that re- ally sets one bike apart from another—it quite literally defines the ride.
Much of the healthy bike weight is
tied to the frame and fork package. The RockShox SID is a premium race quality
unit and trims a good number of grams
from the Recon/Reba spec that you often
s e e i n t h i s p r i c e a r e a . Wi t h a h i s t o r y
weighted heavily by their freeride/DH
heritage, it almost came as a surprise that they could build a lightweight suspension
frame; yet once stripped back, the large Phaser frame came in at 2,538g—pretty
respectable for an alloy 100mm travel frame that won't break the bank.
The Phaser is a new design from the ground up and resembles nothing that
Norco has produced before. Visually
it shares more design cues with other
new 2011 models like the 160mm travel
'Range' than any of their prior XC de-
signs. Rather than using a tapered steerer
up front, Norco has a specially formed head tube that bulges out towards the
bottom, offering more weld area for
the vital down tube/head tube junction.
Beyond their aesthetic appeal (which may or may not work for you), the curved top
and down tubes provide a ton of stand- over clearance while still offering plenty
of room for a full size bottle on most frame sizes.
At the back end you get a direct post-
style calliper mount, saving a little weight
and providing a sturdy mounting point for rear brake. The bottom bracket and
swing arm pivot are formed from a single chunk of alloy to maintain both strength and alignment. Additional weight savings
are achieved through copious amounts
of machining on everything from the
rear wheel drop-outs to the suspension mounting hard points.
Interestingly, Norco has chosen to use
Norglide composite bearings for the
suspension pivots. These bushing style
norco Phaser 2
1. a relatively narrow flat handlebar
clearly signals the Phaser's intentions; its set up as hard nosed XC racer.
orco has a long, proud and dis-
tinguished history in mountain
biking, forged in some of the
most testing terrain on the planet;
British Columbia's steep, muddy,
that sits squarely in the ultra-competitive
$3,000 to $4,000 price bracket. A lustrous candy red/gloss white paintjob with colour-
coded components and a name-brand
wheel-and-tyre combo also sets the Phaser
shock, a nine-speed Deore drivechain (with
an SLX derailleur) and Elixir 3 disc brakes.
At the opposite end of the scale you have the Phaser 1. For $4,499 you get a race ready wheelset with Stan's ZTR
2. While it still relies on a straight
1 1/8 steerer, the head tube bulges
out to provide more 'meat' at the down tube junction.
3. The main swing arm pivot is the
wet, treacherous trails. Long regarded lo-
cally as a vendor of huck'em high freeride or good value downhill race machines, the new-for-2011 Phaser is out-and-out turn- key XC racer.
With 100mm of RockShox air-sprung
travel front and rear, a functional Shimano
SLX component mix, all fleshed out with
lightweight ancillaries, the Phaser 2 is a light, sharp-looking, well-equipped bike
apart from the increasingly crowded light-
weight dually pack.
The $3,749 test bike is one of three
Phaser models. For bang on a grand less, you get the same all-new frame platform with a no-frills component selection. The entry-level Phaser 3 comes with a Recon
TK Gold fork, cheaper RockShox Ario
Olympic rims, DT Swiss 350 hubs built
with light but reliable DT Super Comp triple butted stainless steel spokes. This is backed up by XT running gear (with an upgraded XTR rear mech) and Elixir R Carbon brakes. According to Norco it
should hit the scales at 10.52kg, which is impressive for an alloy dually at well
under five grand. Norco's claimed weight
for the Phaser 2 is 11.2kg, and that's
only spot where you'll find traditional
cartridge bearing in the arT suspen- sion system. also note the one-piece bottom bracket/swing arm mount.
4. The sID rlT is a top spec and a
perfect match for the Phaser—it's light, relatively stiff and the Motion
Control damper offers good pedalling efficiency.
pivots are found throughout the rear end
and only the main swingarm pivot uses
standard ball bearings. Despite what
many may assume, this was not a simple
What the hell is chain growth? It's when
the distance between the cranks and the
rear wheel axle gets longer as the suspen- sion compresses. Most suspension designs
cost cutting measure, rather a carefully
considered choice, as these composite
bearings save quite a bit of weight and
are designed specifically for pivoting ap-
plications. Industrial ball bearings may
be great in your hubs where they are
have some chain growth and 'some'
chain growth can be a really good thing. It results from a more rearward arching axle path, which tends to better absorb square edge bumps. Furthermore, hard
pedalling will make the chain pull back on
briskly and holds its
speed like a rabbit
constantly spinning, but most suspension
pivots bear fairly hefty loads while only rotating through a few degrees of move- ment. Composite bearings cope well with
the swing arm, restraining the suspension
movement and reducing the amount of
pedalling bob. As with anything, you can
have too much of a good thing, and too
in front of a hungry
these forces and the Norglide material
promises good durability—purely specu-
lation of course, as a month of riding
isn't really going to test their longevity.
In the worst case, if durability ever
proves to be an issue, the local distribu-
tor will be stocking the appropriate spare
parts; and let's face it, everything wears out eventually. In my eyes the main de-
much chain growth can do nasty things to
your pedalling rhythm when riding over
lumpy terrain—especially when you are in the smallest chainring.
So, has Norco done a bad thing by
adding more chain growth to their new-
est frame designs? I'd say not. Looking
at their own figures (as presented on the
Norco website), the chain growth used to
WarP FaCTor 10
Much of the Phaser's character is deter-
race oriented as a 2x10 set-up but the
Shimano Dyna-Sys drivechain is a bril-
8. a cool looking machined bridge
tracting factor is that you'll need special-
ist parts, as opposed to the universally available cartridge bearings.
s u s P e n s I o n a rT ?
The Phaser also shares Norco's new 'Ad-
vanced Ride Technology' or ART suspen-
sion system with a number of their new
2011 frame designs. While it is still based around the patented Specialized FSR link
(or Horst link), locating the rear pivots
on the chainstays, the rearmost pivot has
been moved down and forward. This is
said to introduce 30% more chain growth.
5. at 440g apiece, the 2.1 schwalbe
be around 7mm over 100mm of travel.
That is a very low chain growth figure—
somewhere between 12-18mm of chain growth would be far more mainstream.
Based on their 30% figure we should now be looking at 9mm of chain growth, which
is not really a massive change. They have effectively 'normalised' the chain growth, bringing it more in line with what the rest
of the MTB world is doing. Is it better
than before? Well yes, it should make for
more efficient pedalling with better square edge bump performance, but it's certainly not an earth shattering evolution in MTB suspension technology.
Once dirty, the Norco truly feels like a well-sorted and efficient XC racer—noth-
i n g m o r e n o t h i n g l e s s . Wi t h t h e s t o c k RockShox Monarch shock, the ride is
more sports car firm than trail ride plush.
mined by the parts spec. The narrow flat
bars, 100mm stem, 440g tyres and paper- thin inner tubes all place it in cross-coun-
try race guise. It is quick, of that there is
no doubt. On sweeping, gravely double track, it accelerates briskly and holds its
speed like a rabbit in front of a hungry
greyhound, its impressively rigid bottom bracket area always urging the bike for- ward, not sideways. The low-ish 325mm bottom bracket height means the cranks
can cop a hiding but also adds a good
deal of stability to the bike at speed.
In more challenging XC terrain the
bike comes across as being a touch nerv-
ous. Much of this comes back to the narrow race focused flat bars and the tyre selection. While the impressively
light Schwalbe Rocket Ron's are listed
as a 2.1, the casing only measures 49mm
liant do-all group in my eyes. You could
always ask the shop to do a pre-purchase swap out if your leg strength/riding area
is better suited to a double ring set-up.
If speed and efficiency is your thing, you can never say enough good things
about a decently light wheelset. The Sun
Ringle rim/hub combination certainly delivered for me; okay, the freehub is
a bit noisy and brash but it engages
promptly which is a bonus in technical
riding situations. Average-to-large riders will probably notice a bit of flex but real XC whippets will love them—if only they
were tubeless ready like the No Tubes rims on the Phaser 1.
seT To sTun
While they haven't reinvented the wheel
with their new ART suspension package,
ties the seat stays together to boost
rear end stiffness.
9. The direct mounting point provides
a solid base for the rear brake cal- liper—also note the tidy finish.
rocket ron tyres are ridiculously
light but on the narrow side for their designated width.
6. Most suspension pivots rely on
norglide ceramic bushings. They
weigh just 10% of an equivalent car- tridge bearing.
7. Everywhere you look, excess ma-
terial has been machined away from the Phaser.
There is no noticeable pedal kickback
from the ART suspension on technical granny gear climbs and minimal pedal- ling bob; although I feel this probably
has more to do with the damping on the
rear shock rather than the designed in chain growth. Getting the most out of
the rear shock required a bit of fiddling; a few psi either way or a click too much
rebound and it could feel mushy and
unresponsive, or harsh and unforgiving.
Once in its sweet spot, though, it behaved perfectly well.
across—that's more like a 1.9-inch width
in my books and not a lot of air volume.
The pesky cork/foam grips don't help
either; yes, I know they're light, but these things wouldn't stay put on a gentle ride with my nine-year-old son, let alone on a day or two at Stromlo Forest Park.
Fitting a wider bar with some slightly wider XC rubber allowed the bike's true
handling characteristics to shine through.
These simple changes transformed the
Norco into the bike I envisaged it to be,
given its Canadian origins. The once-
twitchy front end that stalled in techni-
cal terrain disappeared, replaced with a steering that was only marginally let
down by a bit of give in the lightweight Sun wheels and quick release front end.
The XC style 100mm stem, combined
with an upright 73.5-degree seat tube and
a zero-offset post could easily present an
overly forward weighted riding posi-
tion—real over the bars material. Howev- er, ample wheelbase length and a sensible head angle (Norco claims 71-degrees but
ours measured closer to 70) makes the Norco a stable and able descender. The effective top tube length was also rela- tively long (620mm), ensuring that you
have plenty of breathing space and never feel cramped on the Phaser.
Beyond the aforementioned tyres/tubes
and handlebars, the bulk of the compo-
nents on this mid-range model performed without fault. It may not be as trendy or
they have succeeded in producing a fast,
efficient, light and entirely race worthy bike, and done so at a competitive price point. 'Stable and relaxed' is the phrase
that kept popping into my head when
trying to sum up the ride; Norco's Phaser
2 has very few vices out of the box, and swapping the handlebars for something wider adds a good deal of versatility to
the ride. It can be an out-and-out racer if
you wish, or with a few tweaks, a fast trail
bike for carving buff local trails. A new phase that's set to lift Norco's profile in
the XC arena? I'd say so¼
article by Tim robson
Photography by John hardwick
• Lightweight & damn good
• Good stability for an XC racer
• Competitively priced
• Wheels flexy under bigger riders
• Monarch shock a tad harsh
• Twisty cork/foam 'throttle grips'
Front Derailleur Rear Derailleur
Bot tom Bracket
D i st r i b u t o r
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