Behind the 2016 Torrent: Five Questions with Product Manager Paul Burnett

2016-01-20 15:43:22
2016 Norco Torrent
Fresh off the Torrent’s win in MBUK Magazine's plus-size hardtail shootout, we sat down with Product Manager Paul Burnett to get the story behind the latest evolution of our aggressive all-mountain hardtail.
What was the concept behind the Torrent?
Paul: In the late 90’s, hardtails still dominated on the Shore because most full suspension bikes of that era couldn't stand up to the abuse the trails dished out. The Torrent had been around for a few years as more of a racing bike, but as the freeride movement took hold, it evolved to become Norco’s first true North Shore hardtail.
With the new Torrent, we wanted to stay true to that heritage and design a hardtail that was capable of handling any trail. The geometry is on the aggressive side of the trail spectrum with short chainstays, slack head angle and long top tube paired with wide bars and a stubby stem. The spec follows the same concept with a 120/130mm travel forks, a dropper post and 3.0" Schwalbe tires. This bike is made to help you forget about Strava, hit some stunts and bring fun back to riding trails!
Norco Torrent
This is Norco’s first bike to use 650B Plus wheels. What made you decide to build the Torrent around the new wheelsize?
Paul: We had originally planned to use standard width tires for the Torrent, but then we started to see new lightweight mid-fat tires and wider rims entering the market. If we were having a conversation about 3” wide tires fifteen years ago, we’d be talking about the Nokian Gazzolodi that weighed 1,650g. The new 3.0” Schwalbe Nobby Nic is only 870g. Still slightly heavier than a traditional tire size, but the benefits of a larger volume tire trump the minor weight penalty. With our goals in mind, 650 Plus just made sense for this bike.
A 650B-plus setup gives you the same outer diameter as a 29” wheel with a 2.3” tire, but with a larger contact patch. Because you can run these high volume tires at significantly lower pressure, the end result is massive traction on loose and slippery trails. The bigger tires also help you float over soft terrain, improve your rollover and soak up some of the rough stuff on the trails. Because we’ve used 40/45mm wide rims, you also get great tire stability, even at low pressure. You can push this bike into corners without having to worry about tire roll.
650 Plus
How did you manage to find enough clearance to fit big tires in a short rear end?
The Torrent uses a three piece forged chainstay yoke with asymmetrical stays similar to what we’ve been using on the Sight, Range and Sasquatch. This gives us the clearance we need and is stiffer and stronger than other designs. Another major component to 650B Plus is Boost 148 hub spacing. Boost brings the hub flanges and disc mount out 3mm for more tire clearance and a better chainline. This helped us get the chainstay length down to 420 – 427.5mm, depending on the frame size, and have enough clearance for up to a 32T chainring.
Torrent 3
Tell us about your own experiences riding the Torrent
Right away, I was surprised with the speed I was riding a hardtail - I can hit some trails as fast or faster than on my full suspension bike. With the extra control from the big tires, I can brake less and later to carry more speed. When it comes to climbing, the grip is ridiculous. I've been riding this bike throughout the winter and it eats up slick roots and muddy sections. You get the same benefits as a fat bike, but in a lighter, nimbler package. I tend to grab the Torrent over any other bike in my garage.
Torrent 4
The Torrent recently won MBUK Magazine’s plus-size hardtail shootout. What does this mean to you?
I’m happy to see our bike division get recognized for the hard work it put into making the Torrent. It shows that Norco is still a leader when it comes to making the best hardtails around, and that hardtails aren’t just for racing!
Torrent Drop