I got a 2011 Shinobi last week and am very stoked about it! It was exactly what I was looking for in my next bike (29er, all mountain, horst-link 4 bar). So far, I have two rides on it and it has more than lived up to my expectations.
The first ride was a 7 mile road climb followed by a rocky descent back into town. On the climb, I locked the fork out right away, and it scooted right up the hill. I'm used to climbing ona a 40+ pound Knolly so it was really a treat to be on a 31ish pound all mountain bike. It's the first time in a long time that I've kept up with my riding buddies on this climb. I didn't feel any bob, and the acceleration was very decent considering the large wheels.
On the descent, it tracked very well through all of the rock gardens--the stiffness of the front and rear through axle really pays off. It was a cold night ride so I didn't spend any time playing with the suspension, but there weren't any glaring needs to stop and tweak it. I did notice that line choice was much more important than on my Delirium--it wasn't as flickable in the tight sections and I did get hung up a few times when trying to correct my course.
The next ride was in our local technical playground which is filled with short techy climbs and short techy downhills. In one ride, I totally killed the big ring--I'm glad they speced a bash ring instead on the 2012 Shinobi. This ride contained terrain about as aggressive as I would ever consider taking the Shinobi on and it definitely delivered!
I did feel that the longer wheelbase (or the larger wheels) required more thought when climbing than the Knolly, but I was able to clean several of the climbs that I don't usually make so I'm stoked about the technical climbing ability. I found that straight lines are key--when I committed to a frontal assault and put the power down, I could roll over anything in my path! However, if I doddled around, making my line up as I was going (something my Delirium T rewards with 4x4 rock crawling ability), I got hung up. Part of this could be due to the low bottom bracket too. I had more pedal strikes and foot catches than usual. All in all though, the Shinobi really shined on some really crazy climbs.
On the descents, this trail system is famous for big roller moves where you really need to be over the back of the bike. This was the one area where I was a little nervous about a 29er vs. a 26er--especially after reading the Shinobi review by Leel. OK, there is no beating around the bush here--I rubbed my shorts several times on the tire. That being said, I also cleaned some really steep lines where it's not unheard of for me to check my shorts on a 26er, it just happend more frequently on the 29er. I didn't ever make uncomfortable contact with the tire, nor did I ever scare myself so I'd call steep lines a win for the Shinobi.
Here is a YouTube link link to a short roller that one of my buddies shot.
YouTube - Broadcast Yourself
On the stair steppy descents, the bike handled very similarly to the climbs. When I attacked them straight on, I was rewarded with the wheels and suspension rolling right over whatever was in the path. If I took them cautiously and tried to thread through the rocks, I was more likely to get caught up. I knew that having a 29er FS would require a few changes to my riding style. It's a little more business/a little less play, but it certainly got the job done well. I look forward to building more familiarity with how this bike handles on the techy stuff and I think it's going to bring my riding to a new level.
I'll continue to post pics and ride recaps on this forum--hopefully others will do the same. So far, I'm totaly impressed by my first Norco and I would love to see some stoke from other owners on this site!
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