Norco Product Manager Jim Jamieson worked on the Shinobi back in the day. As he recalls, it was a great bike but just didn’t quite get over the hurdle into main bike culture popularity:
It was a bit of a sleeper but the few people that bought one were super stoked. That one Doddy rode was the second year (or even third year) of that bike. The original one was all black with a more simple decal.
At the time there were not many cool parts so like Doddy said it was tough to find durable wheels and good tires.
As for why the bike may not have received the love it deserved:
Because the Sight came out that year too with the same frame tubing and styling it sort of stole the thunder from the Shinobi and it was tough to convince people that 29er wheels made sense for trail riding and anything other than full on XC Race hardtails so the bike was loved by few but sort of forgotten by most.
However, it is not just Doddy who developed a soft spot for the Shinobi and its ahead-of-its-time design:
I even had die hard riders who rode these bikes (shop guys or just hardcore trail riders) emailing me and calling years later asking questions and wanting us to keep that bike in the line or wondering if they could get a replacement part or something to keep that bike rolling.
Check out the Pinkbike review when the Shinobi was first released: https://www.pinkbike.com/news/Norco-Shinobi-29er-review-2011.html