Norco Threshold 105
Cyclocross races run year round and provide a great triathlon strength workout – but is it worth extending your bike flotilla with a Norco?
Norco is a relatively new name for 220. Yet the Canadians have been making bikes since 1964 and they’re that country’s biggest exporter, with a range comprising more than 100 models including road, mountain, urban, kids’, BMX and – the flavour we got our hands on, in the shape of the Threshold – cyclocross.
Norco makes big noise about testing its bikes in the rugged terrain of Canada’s Pacific coast. To that end, the Threshold’s skeleton is made
with 6061 aluminium. Though there are alu derivatives more bulletproof than 6061 – 7005, for instance – its resistance to failure at over 43,000psi should stand up to the most debilitating cyclocross routes.
A near-square, tapered top tube and equally bulbous down tube alleviate any residual concerns about durability, and the Threshold eases the load slightly with its Applied Road Compliance (ARC) technology. The goal is to maintain lateral stiffness without sacrificing comfort; physically, this means creating seatstays that are significantly thinner than the Threshold’s other tubing, as well as featuring a bow profile.
But does it deliver on its dual promises of comfort and power delivery? Mostly, yes. It’s certainly one of the most comfortable bikes we’ve ridden in a while, eating up uneven trails with ease. (As an aside, the top tube shape nestles on a single shoulder when the terrain calls for carrying rather than riding.) Power transfer’s not quite as efficient, though. It’s not laboured, but out-and-out speed is lacking on long stretches, and is particularly noticeable during acceleration – not ideal during stop-start cyclocross.
Still, the Threshold compensates for any time lost on the straights during technical turning sections – it handles like a dream. A shift of bodyweight and you’re heading in whichever direction you intended and, though getting up to speed out of corners isn’t Bolt-like, it’s helped by the 105 groupset, which shifts smoothly. That flowing neatness is matched by internal routing on the top tube and down tube. The Threshold eases around corners, too, and remains firmly on track thanks to grippy Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyres and a durable WTB SX19 29mm wheelset.
Hayes CX mechanical disc brakes, complete with 160mm rotors front and back, perform adequately, though stopping power could be sharper, especially for discs – unlike the shrill aural accompaniment to each pull of the brake levers, which never disappeared. We had concerns the wafer-thin clearance between the front fork and rotor is asking for stones to wedge themselves in it; that said, our bike remained grit-free for the test period.
All in all, it’s a fine bike for those new to cyclocross, though triathletes with more CX experience might prefer something with a little more oomph.