As long as I can remember, Norco has been leveraging the tried-and-true Specialized FSR suspension design. While FSR is arguably the best design out there, I’d venture to say there is always room for improvement. Specialized has tweaked and refined the design over the years to improve compliance and efficiency and now it’s Norco’s turn.

For 2011, Norco is introducing Advanced Ride Technology (A.R.T.), which modifies the axle path to better absorb square-edged bumps while also improving efficiency. The new wheelpath can be seen in the following chart:

From the mouth of Norco, here’s what they’re saying about A.R.T.:

Norco is proud to announce the integration of Advanced Ride Technology (A.R.T.) into select models of the 2011 lineup. First off, What is A.R.T. you ask? Through the modification and optimization of proven FSR suspension Norco bikes will climb smoother and descend faster than ever before. A.R.T. delivers a ride which is more efficient while pedaling while offering improved square edge bump compliance to smooth and quicken rough riding conditions. Both of these features have been achieved by changing the location of the pivot points to achieve additional chain growth and a more rearward axle path. The increased chain growth results in higher anti-squat characteristics which reduces suspension bob and makes the bike pedal more efficiently. The improved rearward axle path lets the rear wheel move back at the same time as it moves up to get out of the way of large, square edge bumps more effectively, allowing the bike to roll smoother and faster over rough terrain.

This rearward wheel travel makes for a suspension system that responds more naturally to typical hits such as rocks and roots on any given trail. Allowing the rear wheel to move rearwards through the beginning of its travel allows the wheel to move clear of the obstacle rather than being forced into it through the travel.

Norco is launching 4 new bikes for 2011 that will feature their new FSR design, lets see what Norco has to say about each one.

2011 Norco Range

The Norco Range is a 160mm travel All Mountain bike that utilizes A.R.T as well as a 142mm Syntace Axle, Post-Mount brakes, ergonomic linkarms and a Tapered Steertube. With the top-of-the-line Range SE weighing in at 26.3lbs This really is the perfect bike up or down!

2011 Norco Shinobi 29er

Norco’s first full-suspension 29er will be the 2011 Norco Shinobi. As a 120mm travel 29er with a 140mm RockShox Reba fork this is a true All Mountain Big-Wheeled bike. The Shinobi is additionally outfitted with a Syntace Axle, post-mount brakes and tapered steertube making for a stiff, light and extremely versatile.

2011 Norco Vixa

The Women’s specific Norco Vixa also uses the A.R.T. System for 2011. The updated frame platform also offers riders as continuous seatube along with a lighter and stiffer ride than year’s past. The Vixa also takes a card from the men’s side utilizing the Syntace Axle and  Tapered Steertube.

2011 Norco Phaser

The new Norco Phaser is an all new 100mm XC Race bike taking advantage of the A.R.T suspension system. This is also using a Drop-Link linkage system and Composite Bearings through the frame. These features allow for a lighter frame and a complete bike coming in at 23lbs.

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About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.


  1. Jason,

    You think the FSR is a better design then the DW-Link? You always seem pretty high on the DW in your reviews? I have been trying to learn as much as possible about all the different designs before trying to ride as many of them as possible at Outerbike. From all the designs you have ridden, how would you rank them?

  2. I naturally gravitate to DW and other virtual pivot-style bikes because they seem to have the plushest ride. I have ridden some solid FSR bikes from Ellsworth, but it’s been awhile since I’ve ridden a Specialized extensively.

    The execution of the DW on the Mojo and the Mach 5.7 is superb and represents the gold-standard in my opinion.

  3. The Ellsworth Epiphany is one of the bikes high on my list to test. That Phaser looks interesting for what I am looking for. I am still really back and forth on the whole 26er or 29er thing. I will be testing several 29ers.

  4. Matt kincaid on

    Just got my phaser last week. Wow!! This bike is sweet. It does just what they say, no bob, great on the bumps and it just seems like the hills are not as steep. It is not as plush a my Mojo was but if you are looking for a great handling, fast race/trail bike this is it. My only complaint is the 23 inch flat bars. Who has shoulders that small?

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