Evolution of the Shore
Norco introduced its V.P.S suspension design in 1997 and launched its Shore model in 2001. Since then, the frame has undergone some serious changes, starting out as a monocoque design and morphing into hydroformed tubing in 2005. The latest incarnation of the Shore still uses hydroformed tubing, but it has basically been redesigned. It combines some features of earlier models, such as the interrupted seattube and the Horst Link rear suspension, with a new streamlined and highly sculpted design that is purpose-built for going large in the bike park or your favourite Shore-style trail.
The Shore One in its unblemished state, ready for a summer of abuse. || Photo: Dan Austin
The Shore has a brand new 1.5” forged headtube this year, increased from last year’s 1 1/8”. It’s ready for burly single or double-crown forks, thanks to the thick-walled aluminium with extra bracing that offers increased strength and surface area at the headtube junction. The head angle is a nice slack 66Ëš, which is roughly 2Ëš steeper than the Norco Team DH/A-Line but a degree slacker than the Norco Six.
The top- and downtube immediately sweep downward toward the bottom bracket and then separate with the toptube connecting to the seattube, and the downtube to the bottom bracket. This change not only looks sweet but also gives you a ton of stand-over height.
The seattube mast is also redesigned for 2008. Support beams come up from the bottom bracket area and there’s extra gusseting between the beams and the toptube. The seattube is well supported with a more minimalist approach to material usage, while the seattube itself is slightly longer than previous years.
The bottom bracket/suspension/front derailleur nerve centre of the Shore is a busy place. The bottom bracket shell is 68mm, and comes with both types of ISCG chain guide mounts. BB height on the Shore One is 363mm; that seemed to be just right, as the cranks of my test bike never contacted the ground.
Slightly behind and up from the BB shell is the main pivot for the rear swing arm, which runs on 12mm sealed cartridge bearings. There’s a small stub of tubing that a front derailleur can be attached to – the Shore One comes without a front changer, but it’s standard on the Shore Two and Three.
This piece of tubing also provides support for the swing link pivot located just above the main pivot. Support braces also connect this area to the seattube mast, creating a box of strength in the bottom bracket / main pivot area. Not a bad idea considering the stresses involved in that area of the frame. Positioning for the rear shock also changes with the new frame design. It’s now mounted pointing slightly downward rather than at the 45Ëš upward angle of past designs – a major shift in Norco’s suspension design.
There’s a lot going on there, but Norco has done its best to keep things clean. Note that the shock is pointing down rather than up. || Photo: Dan Austin
Compared to previous designs, the ’08 Shore frame is more compact and refined, making for a much cleaner, tighter, and sexier looking bike all around. Less material used in frame construction means a lighter weight bike to boot. According to Norco, the whole kit comes in at a respectable 40.5lbs for the Small. My size Large tips the scale at 43lbs (+/-).
As the top-shelf version of the Shore series, the One is adorned with a full line of quality parts. A 180mm RockShox Totem coil-sprung fork with Mission Control damping manages the front end, and a Marzocchi Rocco TST-R out back to soak up the big hits.
Once broken in, the Totem is a truly lovely piece of work. It helps the Shore stick to the ground like glue on landings and corners. Even when bottoming out, the Totem is smooth as silk. With no uncomfortable thud from the front end, I had to look at the dust line to see that I had used every mm of travel available. Be sure to keep the stanchions free of mud and especially dust to ensure the Totems don’t slop oil down the green fork legs.
Every fighter pilot needs a tight cockpit, and the Shore One provides just that. FSA parts, Juicy 5 stoppers and a Totem coil fork keep you heading in the right direction. || Photo: Dan Austin
The Rocco is also another great piece of work. In the Gear Shots for the Shore, I questioned the choice of the TST-R over the World Cup. After riding the Shore for a while, it is clear that Norco chose the TST-R specifically because of the Terrain Selection Technology (TST). The TST allows you to reduce the activity of the rear shock, almost to the point of locking it out, resulting in a Shore that you can pedal uphill. The fact that the bike still has 181mm of smooth rear travel makes the downhill ride that much smoother.
Combine the “locked out” TST-R with the Floodgate platform damping on the Totem and you can actually climb the Shore a reasonable distance. I wouldn’t say that you would be able to tackle a technical XC climb, but for open trails the Shore is a great pedalling big bike. You still need to keep in mind, though, that this is a 43lb. bike with freeride geometry. Long uphill enduros are not recommended.
The full SRAM nine-speed drivetrain uses the X-9 trigger shifter and derailleur combo. This is the first time I’ve used the X-9 system and I am very impressed. Super quick, crisp, accurate shifting is the order of the day. I haven’t tuned it up much since I first put the bike together because of the smooth effortless shifting. The bike shifts well every time I get on.
Norco did not include a front derailleur on the One and has instead gone with a 36T chain ring and an E-13 SRS chainguide. This set-up worked really well and I had no trouble with my chain jumping off, ever. I usually run a double ring, so worry-free pedalling was certainly appreciated. The Shore Two and Three models do come with a front derailleur and the One is capable of running a front derailleur, if it’s something you want.
The drivetrain spec is almost impossible to beat – e.13 guide, Holzfeller cranks, and SRAM chain / cassette / derailleur worked perfectly throughout the test. || Photo: Dan Austin
Truvativ Holzfeller OCT cranks, a Howitzer BB, and DMR magnesium pedals transfer leg power to the drivetrain. What can you say? They are tough and they were problem free, and that’s all good in my books. The only thing I noticed was the inner flange on the one of my pedals was loose from day one. The pedals were not adversely affected but it may affect them in the long term if the bearings get contaminated.
Direction control is managed by an FSA Gravity bar and stem combo with Pro Palm lock-on grips. The bar and stem combo worked well for me. I was a bit hesitant in choosing the right size because in the past Norco VPS bikes seemed a bit cramped in the cockpit area and at 6’1”, I don’t like my bike to feel too small. However, the 60mm stem in conjunction with the 40 mm rise of the bars translated into a roomy and comfortable cockpit.
Braking is handled by 8” Avid Juicy 5s. The brakes offered tons of power and helped bring the Shore down from speed effortlessly. The combination of good brakes and a Horst Link suspension allows braking to occur on even the roughest braking bumps. I did have to bleed the brakes when putting the bike together, which was a bummer, but once properly bled they are spot on.
The Juicy 5s and FSA bar / stem combo did the job, but a higher-end set of brakes would have been nice to see.
|| Photo: Dan Austin
I was a bit disappointed by Norco’s choice to spec the Shore One with the Juicy 5s. As well as they work, I would have liked to see some Juicy 7s or Avid Codes on a bike at this level and price point. It’s likely a move to keep the price down, but if you are already spending ~$4500 for a bike, you want the best.
The wheel package is made up of WTB sealed bearing hubs laced to WTB Laser Disc FR 32 hole rims with DT Swiss spokes, and 2.5” Kenda Nevegal Stick-E-Rubber tires. I was very impressed with the performance of this particular wheel set. After casing the fence gap on Kerplop in Kelowna and riding away (barely) with a round, true, and inflated tire, I can only say that this wheel set is very capable of taking big hits and rolling away.
Considering the size of beating the Shore is designed to endure, a wheel set you can count on is worth its weight in gold. The tires were also a pleasure to ride. They seemed to grip at all times and when they didn’t, it usually involved slippery roots and a lack of wet riding skills. The Kenda 2.5s looked more, and acted more, like 2.7s when mounted on the WTB wheel set. This was also my first experience with the rear Maxle and the 150mm x 12mm thru axle is just as great as the Maxle up front. Quick and easy wheel removal is always a plus.
The seat on the Shore is a good size, comfortable for the short durations that you may be in the saddle. The FSA DH-300 seatpost does a great job of holding the saddle securely, but I was a little puzzled by Norco’s choice to spec a 350mm post. The seattube is only 180mm long and there is not much room between it and the rear suspension’s travel path, which means you NEED to cut it down if you plan to lower your saddle height at all. Why not simply spec a shorter post? The long post was also a source of problems that I will discuss a little later.
One quick look at the Shore and you can see the possible problems associated with stocking a long post.
|| Photo: Dan Austin
The Shore One also sports the only anodized finish of all the Shore models.
Now with the bike details out of the way, how well does it all come together on a ride? The bottom line is that it’s fantastic.
For those times when you have to climb, the TST settings on the Rocco and the Floodgate on the Totem allow you to essentially lock out the suspension completely. With this set up, the frame barely moves, all your energy is directed to the drive train, and the uphill battle is winnable. Keep in mind, though, that the Shore One does not come with a granny gear so keeping the climbs short is a good idea. But if you want to earn your descents more often, throwing on a front derailleur and a telescopic seatpost will make a huge difference.
Going downhill is what the Shore is designed for and that’s where it shines. Getting this bike up to speed is easy, and once there staying at speed is pretty much a given. It corners like a pro giving, you the confidence to head into a berm full-out knowing you will stick. The combination of the suspension and the grippy Kendas inspire confidence after just a short time in the saddle.
Steeps weren’t a problem for the Shore, thanks to the good rubber choice and the Juicys. A confident rider might have had something to do with it, as well… || Photo: Damien Burggraeve
The Shore tracked straight, bombed through the bumps like they weren’t there and basically smoothed the ride out. I switched back and forth between the Shore and a Santa Cruz Bullitt several times this summer, and the difference in how winded I get on the same trail just reinforces the fact that this bike is doing what most of the work. And it’s doing it very well.
When stopping, the Shore was also very responsive. The Juicy 5s let me fly into the corners at speed, and I just needed to scrub speed right before the turn rather than miles before it. The combination of the Juicys and Horst Link rear suspension allowed braking to be applied with confidence and not a moment before it had to be.
Ripping high-speed berms on the Shore was a lot of fun, and Dan just kept getting faster and faster.
|| Photo: Stuart Kernaghan
Jumps and drops are the Shore’s bread and butter. It jumps like no other bike I have ever ridden. Popping off the tables on Rock Star at Silver Star bike park became a lesson in restraint rather than balls out, going for it. The Shore effortlessly clears just about every gap I have come across – after a couple of overshot transitions, it was obvious that this thing flies at the drop of a hat. When you do hit that transition just right, it’s like the wheels never left the ground. The bike handles larger drops with equal ease and landing those overshot transitions proved far less shocking than anticipated.
No rims were hurt in the making of this photo. Postil Lake road gap. || Photo: Damien Burggraeve
I found the rear suspension on the Shore, with the stock 500lb spring, was never as plush as I would have liked. I replaced the stock spring with a 450lb one and the difference was immediately noticeable. It uses more of the travel more often and it never bottomed out once. I wouldn’t say to change the spring on yours right out of the box, but don’t be afraid to drop some spring weight if you feel it’s too stiff. Conversations with other Shore One owners over the summer confirmed my feelings in regard to the rear spring weight. On the flip side, the slightly stiffer suspension reacts quickly to commands, and gave me confidence to try technical stunts that required a little more than just coasting off at speed.
The choice of a Totem up front really must have been easy for Norco. Super stiff, burly, and loads of adjustments make this fork perfectly suited to Shore riders who want to push this baby to the limits. Once broken in, the Totem was plush, responsive, and kept me going in the right direction.
Again, swapping back and forth between bikes over the summer gave me a new-found appreciation for how much less effort riding can be when you have great suspension working for you up front. With the Shore, I had the confidence to fly into corners knowing the front would hook up and stay that way the whole way through the turn. That stability was also pronounced in rougher sections of trail that required you to limber up and let the bike dance underneath while the suspension did what it was designed to do – keep you rolling fast.
Getting air on the Shore was never an issue, and thanks to the suspension, neither were the landings.
|| Photo: Stuart Kernaghan
I did find the Shore to be quite twitchy on tight skinnies, though. Maybe it’s because I am used to my old bike but even after several attempts, I was never that comfortable on taller skinnies and usually let out a sigh of relief once they were done. More time in the saddle might cure this particular ailment.
There were a couple problems…
As mentioned above, there were some issues with the Shore that are worth mentioning. First, the seatpost length is a mystery to me: why such a long post for a bike that has no way of using it? Unless you are super tall and don’t plan on lowering your saddle at all, 350mm of post is way too much. Not being able to use all of the post isn’t the real problem, though. The real issue is the risk of breaking the rebound knob off of the rear shock.
And that’s precisely what happened to me. I had cut the post, and thought it was short enough, but the post slipped on a hard landing and snapped the rebound knob off the shock. The seat collar must have been a little loose, but it’s still a very annoying thing to have happen on a brand-new bike – especially since you’re going to have to pay $100 plus shipping to get the shock fixed. If you get nothing else from this rant, it’s either make sure the seat collar is extra tight or cut the seat post so it can never reach the shock. [I've personally seen two Shore Ones that have had the rebound knob broken off by the seatpost, so be sure to heed Dan's warning. - Ed.]
Second, it pains me to report that the seatstay on the ’08 Shore broke just forward of the rear brake mount during the test. Norco has already addressed this issue for ’09 and sent me a new replacement ’09 stay for the ’08 model to get me back on the trail. They’ve also said that they’ll stand behind any issues you may have with your ’08 Shore.
The old seatstay assembly. The break occurred just in front of the forward disc tab. || Photo: Dan Austin
The new seatstay assembly, complete with extended gusset that supports the entire area that broke in the older version. || Photo: Dan Austin
Overall, I thought the Shore One was a wicked bike that was a lot of fun to ride. It rides fast, holds corners, takes hits, and does what it is designed to do very well. In addition to that, it has a very solid parts spec, is reasonably priced and is perfect for anyone who wants to go big but doesn’t want a full-on DH rig. Aside from the seatstay problems – which Norco is committed to resolving, if necessary – I have trouble finding fault with this bike. I can be nit-picky and superficial, but the bottom line is that it’s a great bike.
- Smooth, fast ride – eats up big hits and jumps, sticks to the ground, and allows you to go faster, bigger, and more confidently than ever before
- Flies effortlessly – worries of making a jump are a thing of the past
- Great fit – very comfortable and roomy
- Great parts spec for the price
- It’s gorgeous – sweet new look to the frame design, love the anodized finish
- Overall great performance
- Seatstay broke – the problem is resolved but still a bummer
- Seatpost too long – leads to problems if not careful and it MUST be cut
- Juicy 5 brakes – I’d like to see Juicy 7s or Codes on this level of bike
So, what do you think? Are you going to sell your left kidney just to get your hands on one of these bad boys? Was Dan right about his comments on the spec? Head on over to the board and let the world know what you think.