Thought of mainly as a mountain bike brand, Norco has been in the road market for a long time. Once a sponsor of the powerful Canadian Symmetrics team, Norco knows a thing or two about road machines. When the Symmetrics team folded in 2008, Norco stepped away from the road market in 2009 before introducing the successful CRR line in 2010. Their race ready CRR was not only a success on the racecourse, but earned them respect in the road market. For 2013 Norco has introduced the Tactic, an evolution of the CRR.
The new Tactic aims to keep the heart of the CRR, but in a more refined package. To accomplish this Norco kept the geometry the same but with a slightly shorter head tube for racers wanting a lower bar position. The frame itself is constructed using proprietary, 46T high modulus carbon and uses two of Norco’s advanced manufacturing techniques. The first is their SmoothCore molding process, which ensures smooth inner surfaces resulting in increased frame strength. The second is ArmorLite, a resin that increases impact resistance and reduces frame weight.
These technologies go into a heavily sculpted frame that features a tapered 1.5 to 1.125 head tube mated to oversized top and down tubes. The BB30 bottom bracket keeps with the oversized theme and delivers solid power transfer. These are all characteristics found on the CRR, but it’s in the seat tube and the rear triangle that Tactic really stands apart – both visual and in performance. Starting with the aero-profiled seat tube the Tactic has a slimmed down back end that results in a much smoother and refined ride. The chain stays are vertically oversized to reduce flex and tapper along their length towards the rear dropouts. The biggest change in the rear comes in form of Norco’s ARC Race stays, which deliver lateral stiffness while ensuring vertical compliance. The ARC Race seat stays are thinner than those found on the CRR and feature a very slight forward bow to allow for a bit of vertical flex. For a balanced ride Norco equips the Tactic with a proprietary, straight bladed, full carbon fork.
The Tactic will be available at 7 price points. At the top of the range sits the Tactic LE, which is equipped with Shimano Dura Ace components. The Tactic LTD with SRAM Red follows it. Next are the Tactic Di2 with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Tactic 1 with mechanical Ultegra. The Tactic 2 and 3 use the same frame, but are constructed of 24T mid modulus carbon. The Tactic 2 is equipped with SRAM Force, while the Tactic 3 uses Shimano 105.
Our time on the Tactic was limited to an afternoon of riding around the city of Vancouver. Fortunately we have a CRR in house so we had a point of reference when riding the Tactic. After a few turns of the pedals it is clear that the Tactic is intended for racing. The oversized frame is stiff, with the Tactic featuring a noticeably livelier bottom bracket feel than the CRR. This results in the feel of quick acceleration during hard efforts. In the saddle comfort is also greatly increase with a compliant yet engaging feel. Road shock and vibrations are dampened, but enough feel is provided that the rider doesn’t feel isolated from the tarmac. Adding to the race feel of the Tactic is the long and low rider compartment. Our 55.5cm Tactic had a long 56 top tube that jointed a 73-degree head tube and 73.5-degree seat tube. This puts the rider in a stretched out and aggressive riding position. Overall first impressions of the Tactic are positive as it has all the makings of a great road bike. It is light and fast, with refined ride qualities. Where the CRR was a game changer for Norco, the Tactic might be the game winner. Look for a full review in a future issue of peloton.