Victoria Wheeler Team rider Geoffry Homer on the 2016 Norco Tactic
Another year another glorious Norco Tactic. It’s a bit of a long story, but over the past twelve months I’ve had the opportunity to ride the 2014, 2015, and 2016 versions of Norco’s Tactic SL/SLR frameset so I’d like to consider myself a bit of an expert. Well situated to comment on the relative merits of each at the very least.
Stylistically, the 2016 version is much more understated. Gone is the bold fire engine red and lime green of the previous editions, eschewed in favour of a more demure, conventional black with accents and lettering in white and red. Personally, it’s my favourite paint scheme as it lends itself much better to sneaky darts up the inside leading into a corner. It’s not quite a murdered-out Vette but it gets close.
The geometry of the bike is race first. The combination of short head tube, long top tube and long-way-from 90 degree seat and heat tube angles force the rider into an aggressive riding position, which lends itself well to criterium racing and its emphasis on staying in a low, ready to accelerate position. It’s not terribly uncomfortable for base miles (I’ve ridden worse), but there is no mistaking it’s pedigree as a race machine.
I’ve kitted my bike with my usual SRAM Red 22 setup – I’ve never ridden anything other than SRAM so I don’t know any better – rounded out with the Quarq power meter so I can stay on top of my Watts/Kg game. SRAM’s quick shift and gram saving qualities maintain the overall crit racer theme of the Tactic. The frameset demands direct mount brakes, which are a totally new experience for me. Their stopping power is so noticeably stronger that I grit my teeth at the thought every time the calipers force the pads onto the carbon breaking surface of the Easton EC90SL’s I’m rolling on. The EC90SL’s really are responsive, jack-of-all-trades race wheel set, 38mm deep with ample width to accommodate wider tires.
In both aesthetic and performance terms, the 2016 Norco Tactic SLR far surpasses any bike I’ve ridden to date. It’s a bike that looks fast even when standing still. It’s a bike designed for the kind of nimble, reactive and responsive riding that your Sunday crit series demands. It’s a race bike pure and simple.