When talking about the brands that vintage guys are looking for, Norco is rarely mentioned. I can’t even picture what their good bikes from ’91 or ’92 looked like. I’m not entirely sure they even existed. Cheap Norcos from that period are out there, but I’ve never seen a Norco from that time period with XT parts.
They were just late to the party though, as they had some very nice bikes by 1994. I think they are underrated as well, because when most people think Norco, they think cheap bikes and kids bikes. Let’s have a look at some of the good ones.
The owner of the first shop I worked at had a Team 853 like this one here. And it was a beauty; XTR parts, RaceFace cranks, and a Marzocchi Z.2 Superfly. I should have bought it from him, but he always liked to ride a size bigger than I wanted.
One of the kids that worked in the shop raced this Team Ti that ran the same parts group as the 853. Of course he rode a size smaller than me, so no Ti for me. (Sometimes I wonder if I’m destined to never own a Ti bike…) Another great bike that flew under the radar.
According to Bikepedia, which sadly only goes back to 1993, Norco had high end Ti and steel bikes with XTR and Rock Shox forks. I’d say these bikes are the hardest to find nowadays. It used to be that there were zero old Fishers out there, but now it’s these Norcos that hold the rarity crown for me.
I’m not sure why that is though. I think part of it is that Norco didn’t really gain a reputation as a maker of really good bikes until the VPS line came along. Norco was always the brand you found in small town shops, or in the shops that sold hockey equipment in the winter. It just didn’t have the same reputation as Rocky Mountain or even Specialized.
I really doubt that for bikes from 1994, there is a great deal of difference between Norco and KHS, or Specialized, or Kona, or Marin. They were all made overseas, all had good parts and were made from good frame tubes. Somehow, the other brands are just cooler.