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Norco Empire 5.

After winning the 2007 Slopestyle at Crankworx on a Norco 6, word was on the street that Ben Boyko was working on a new 5” bike with Norco. The fruits of their labour ending up as the Empire 5. The Empire 5 is a slopestyle specific bike that has been designed around what Ben thinks is the best attributes for a bike that can handle any course in the world, and Mr. Boyko certainly knows what it takes to win.

Norco Empire 5.

The first noticable part of the Empire is the new hydroformed top tube with a nice low standover height, perfect for doing can-can's. Short chain stays also help keep the bike feeling nice and tight while still stable.

The components are a good mix that is durable and light, basically what you need for a slopestyle bike. Starting with the suspension it features Marzocchi 55 ATA adjustable fork (4.7”-6.3”) and a TST air rear shock with 5” of travel, a Maxle 135x12 rear axle, Sun wheels, Avid brakes & Gravity lite cranks with E-13 chain guide. SRAM X-5 derailleur and shifter carry the gear changing duties and a set of Kenda Nevegal 2.35 tires keep you connected to the ground.

Norco Empire 5.

In my opinion, one of the most interesting parts of the bike is the pivotal seat & post. The post has a indexed head that matches up with the seat, adjustments are made via through the top of the seat, it makes for a bit of a firmer feel but easy to change.

When I got to put my leg over the bike it certainly made for an interesting ride. Starting off nice and easy I took a quick run down Crank It Up as a warm up. The handling was superb and the short wheelbase made it very easy to flick around and it seemed to really enjoy being in the air as much as having the rubber connected to the ground. It did feel a bit short, but could be addressed by changing the cockpit around.

Norco Empire 5. Matching fork graphics.

Now for the record, I absolutely suck at dirt jumps but love jump trails like A-Line, Dirt Merchant and Crabapple Hits. I took the Empire down both to see how it handled on the larger jumps and it was a bit of an eye opener. My old and tired body has grown accustomed to the extra three more inches of travel and it was noticeable. The Empire rode stiff and was more like a hard tail than a dual suspension bike. Point being that it isn't quite as forgiving as a long travel bike. You really have to be on your game when riding the Empire 5, or you could get your new gear a little dirty.

Norco Empire 5.

Opinion: Fun play bike that likes to be in the air more than on the dirt.
Plus: Quick, responsive.
Minus: One spec level.

MSRP:$3,285.
Website: http://www.norco.com

Rating: 4/5