Final Review: Norco Aurum 1 Dorado

After months of all-out testing and serious enjoyment, I have finally had enough seat time to finish up my assessment of the the Norco Aurum 1 Dorado. I’ve gotta be honest: my own personal ride, the Santa Cruz V10c, has never been so dusty before.

(For more info and some background, check out the On Review article.)

Norco Aurum Specs

The medium Aurum frameset has a slack 63.5° head tube angle, which makes the bike feel longer than it really is. In truth, the 42.6in (1177mm) wheelbase is only 0.13in (3.3mm) longer than my same-size V10 rig. The key is the 1.5° difference in head tube angle.

Below are the full frame specs:

Out on the Trail

Suspension feel on the Aurum is great, with a slightly-progressive, stiffer rear end. Tuning the settings on the Dorado Fork and the Cane Creek Double Barrel shock is key for superior control over the bumps and berms.

I think that the Dorado/Cane Creek pairing is an excellent combination. The key, again, is spending time tuning the suspension, otherwise your experience on this bike will be very different from mine. Norco provides tuning guides for both the Dorado as well as the Double Barrel.

Luckily, the base tune on the bike was nearly perfect for me. I did end up adding three clicks of TPC and two clicks of high speed on the Dorado, left the rebound alone, and set the air spring to 80psi, but those changes were pretty minimal. In the back, I began by swapping out the spring to a heavier 450lb Ti unit from Springtime, and then added an extra two clicks of LSC. Those were the only adjustments I needed in the back to make this bike behave like a well-disciplined guard dog.

Not only did the Aurum handle well, the parts build on this bike kept things working almost worry-free. I say “almost” simply because bikes, especially downhill mountain bikes, do need love to keep them going. Don’t think that you can keep riding a bike hard without doing some service.

Over the course of my test, I did have a few parts wear out on me. The Saint brakes performed flawlessly until I had to change the pads. Then, I had one of the ceramic pistons fail and crack on me, which was unfortunate. I noticed the crack as I was cleaning and inspecting the Aurum for another weekend of riding. I am not sure when it happened, but it happened, and I had to replace the caliper. Aside from the caliper issue, the brakes had a great firm feel to them.

I wasn’t the only rider putting the Aurum to the test: I had my buddy Darren, who is a great rider, give the Aurum an go. From the onset it was all go for him, from what I gathered. At one point I feared I wouldn’t get the bike back… it’s kinda hard to catch him. As you can see above, he’s got all kinds of steez.

During the review, I did manage to swap out a few parts. For styling purposes I did change out the stock Descendant chainring for a lighter E13 single ring. It was more bling than anything, but the gold ring went well with the bike. Other items I played with were the bars and grips. Off came the stock Easton Havoc bar (31.8mm, not the 35), which was replaced by a new Truvativ Blackbox Athlete series bars (stay tuned for a complete review).

All in all, the Aurum 1 Dorado is a top-shelf performance machine. The bike performed superbly in every condition I used it in: from fast, flowy runs to technical rocky, rooted runs.

I did find the slack 63.5° head tube angle made some really tight turns a bit more difficult, requiring me to pitch the bike more to make the same turns, as compared to the V10C with a 65° head tube angle (with zero offset in the angleset). Yes, it was a bit of a compromise in low-speed corners, but at higher speeds and in steeper terrain, the Aurum really shone!

The 38 pound-weight of this bike is not a hindrance: most riders should be able to handle this rig easily. The Aurum is a bike that any rider, from one who is just getting into DH or someone who is already an established rider, can enjoy.

MSRP: $5,730 (CAD)

A big thank to the folks at Norco for providing the Aurum for a review!