Review: Norco Indie Drop

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Most people associate Norco with adrenaline-fueled gravity and freeride mountain bikes, for good reason. The company’s head office is located in British Columbia, Canada, the heart of those cycling disciplines. But Norco is not all dirt. The Indie models, part of the company’s Urban Performance line, are designed for pavement and come in either straight or drop bar configurations. The Indie Drop 1—obviously with a drop bar—is the middle sibling of the trio.

Double-butted, 4130 chromoly steel is used for the frame and straight-blade fork. The frame has a semi-sloping top tube to increase standover clearance, and an integrated headset for stiffness and durability. For strength, forged, C-shaped dropouts are welded to the seat and chainstays; aesthetically, these make the rear triangle appear as one long tube.

For urban accessorizing, there are separate front and rear mounts for racks, full coverage fenders and two bottle cages. Without fenders, a 35mm tire will fit into the frame, but with fenders I couldn’t use one wider than 28mm—kind of a bummer. The stock tires have flimsy sidewalls and pinch flat more than I could handle, so I swapped them for a set of Continental Touring Plus tires. My hands have remained clean since. For durability, the bike is spec’d with Shimano 105 derailleurs and shifters, with less expensive Shimano components filling in the remainder of the 2×10 drivetrain. The wheels are basic Shimano hubs laced to WTB Freedom Cruz rims. These stayed true until a large stick lodged between the wheel and fork, something that would damage most wheels anyway. The Hayes CX5 mechanical disc brakes, with 160mm rotors, provide a great amount of stopping power and easily modulated without skidding, but are a bit noisy up front while braking. They are, however, quieter than the Avid mechanicals I’ve used.

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The Indie drop 1 is one of the most comfortable bikes I’ve thrown a leg over, requiring nothing more than a stem swap for my preferred positioning. A bonus for me is the traditional-bend, short-reach handlebar. It created a nice, flat transition to the shifters for my hands, and would make reaching the levers easier for a rider with shorter fingers. On pavement and rails-to-trails, the steel frame rides incredibly smoothly. The 72.5 degree head tube angle keeps steering predictable. Paired with short 16.9 inch chainstays, the rear tracks quickly and the bike maneuvers precisely through traffic and around road debris.

With a rack and half-loaded panniers, however, the skinny chainstays make the rear end shimmy. For around-town use, the shimmying isn’t troublesome, but you probably wouldn’t want to take this bike on an extended tour with the limitations of wavering rear and skinny tires.

The Indie Drop 1 is so close to being the perfect bike that I would have kept it if wider tires fit in the frame. aside from that, the paint scratches easily and there are abrasion marks on the bottom of the top tube from my frame pump.

If you can live with a few minor issues, I recommend you locate a norco dealer and take an Indie for a test ride. It will meet your com- muting and pavement needs in a stylish and comfortable fashion with durable components, great handling and safe disc brake stopping power. The frame includes a lifetime warranty.

Vital stats

  • Price: $1,440
  • Weight: 27.4lbs.
  • Sizes available: 45, 48, 51, 54, 57 (tested), 60cm
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