13 June 2014

REVIEW: Norco Valence A2 Road Bike

Road warrior.

As the Tour de France is kicking off in good old Blighty this year,  we thought there was no more appropriate thing for this month's cycling review than a no-nonsense, balls to the saddle,  tarmac scorching road bike. Thanks to our mates at Evans Cycles we found the perfect beast in the Norco Valence A2.

To say the Valence A2 is a thing of beauty would be an understatement. That lean arcing frame, those thin sleek wheels, and those ergonomic handle bars all add up to make this one of Norco's most attractive bicycles yet. The shape of the frame seems to leap forward and everything about the design screams speed.

Although we've all ridden a bike before, none of us were quite prepared for the sheer power of the Valence A2. Seriously, this thing goes like a rocket, and just the faintest of presses on the pedals gives a surprising amount of forward locomotion. This is achieved not just by the strength of the rider (because,  you know,  we don't have any strength) but by the light-as-a-feather alloy frame, the excellent Shimano Tiara gears and the bike's narrow, friction-limiting tyres.

Road bikes were something of a mystery to us until we chambered aboard the Valence A2, so there were a few surprises that took a little getting used to. First of all was the ride,  as the Valence does not possess a shred of suspension. Obviously this is a feature of road bikes as suspension would dissipate energy upwards and not along the road you are currently chewing up. Therefore, to begin with, we found it quite an uncomfortable ride, helped in no way by the stiff saddle that the Valence A2 ships with.

But as we say, this was just to begin with,  and a pair of padded cycling shorts did help us get used to the stiff ride. After a few days our arses acclimatised - but it's definitely something to bear in mind if you're making the move to this from a mountain or hybrid bike.

The next surprise were the gears.  Unlike bikes we've ridden before,  the Norco Valence A2 Road Bike uses the flappy paddle shifters on the brakes to change through those 20 gears; the smaller recessed paddle to go up,  the brake itself to go down. This means you use your fingertips to change gears, rather than your thumbs as with most mountain bikes. This makes the whole process far easier and quicker and means you don't have to awkwardly shift your grip on the handle bars.

Going like the clappers, this bike shrinks your town and city. We found that the area we could cover during a pleasant morning cycle was suddenly and drastically enlarged,  making the Norco Valence A2 the perfect bike for those who like to explore as much as work out.

One word of warning though. This bike's natural habitat is the road.  Going anywhere other nice smooth tarmac could cause you problems, not just from a suspension-less ride but because the way the bike is designed means that bumps and rough terrain could seriously damage it.  Fortunately we took our own advice and kept to the streets, but we have heard horror stories (admittedly NOT about a Norco bicycle) about damage to road bikes. So as we say,  if you're changing from a mountain bike bear this in mind.

At the end of the day this is an incredible machine at a price that we wouldn't quibble about paying. Be sure to check out Evans Cycles other Norco bikes as well.


Visit www.evanscycles.com

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