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Verdict: 
Very well-specced race machine that's a good value privateer package
Weight: 
8,970g
Norco Threshold C Rival 1
8 10

Norco's Threshold C is a strong offering if you're looking for a ready-to-race cyclo-cross bike with a bit of versatility. It's a capable off-roader and you can pretty much roll it out of the box and onto the start line. It doesn't quite have the poise of a fully-focused race bike but it's a good all-rounder, with the tyres and gearing range being the only provisos.

Norco claims a sub-1kg weight for the Threshold C frame and our 58cm test bike tips the scales at 8.97kg, which is more or less what you'd expect given the build. There's a matching carbon fork and the bike uses thru-axles front and rear: 15x100mm at the front and 142x12mm at the rear, both well supported in third-party wheelsets.

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Norco says the ARC Race Stays are designed with "optimized stiffness-to-compliance ratio to maximize racer comfort without any compromise to pedaling efficiency or power transfer" and the Threshold C uses Norco's proprietary Gizmo cable routing system, which it claims eliminates rattle and keeps water and muck out of the frame.

Norco Threshold C Rival 1 - stays detail

Norco Threshold C Rival 1 - stays detail

SRAM Rival 1 takes care of shifting and (hydraulic disc) braking. We've reviewed the groupset separately (read the review here) and Dave Arthur was impressed with the performance, especially as a race groupset. The Norco comes set up with a 42-tooth chainring and an 11-32 cassette, giving it a low gear of 35.4 inches and a range of 290%; that's fine for racing but limiting in other circumstances. More on that in a bit.

Norco Threshold C Rival 1 - drive train

Norco Threshold C Rival 1 - drive train

Wheels are A-Class rims and hubs and they're tubeless-ready. They're not set up tubeless, coming shod with wire-bead Clement Crusade PDX 700x33 rubber. You can't run them ghetto tubeless by whipping out the inner tube and lobbing some sealant in. We tried, and they don't seal.

Riding: well set up for racing

I took the Threshold C and raced it in full stock build, and it was absolutely fine. Normally I race 'cross on tubeless tyres because that allows you a bit more licence with tyre pressure without the danger of a pinch flat, but on a fast, flat, dry course the Clement tyres were a good choice. As soon as things start to get muddy they struggle, though, and for general riding round the muddy lanes and byways of Bath I swapped out the tyres for tubeless Bontrager CX3s. The rims needed a couple of wraps of insulating tape to seal, but other than that they were easy to set up.

Norco Threshold C - riding 3.jpg

Norco Threshold C - riding 3.jpg

The Threshold's tube lengths and angles are really very similar to the Specialized Crux Elite X1 that we recently tested. And like that bike, the Norco feels more stable than it does nimble at times. Through really tight race corners it tends to run a bit wide, but once you're out in straighter sections you can really wind it up, with great response when you stamp on the pedals.

Norco Threshold C - riding 4.jpg

Norco Threshold C - riding 4.jpg

Riding a stiff carbon-framed bike with small tyres over rough ground isn't ever going to translate into a smooth ride, but the Norco isn't as edgy as some 'cross bikes I've tried, and the 27.2mm diameter seatpost works with the tyres and seatstays to take the sting out of the back end. At the front, you get a good deal more feedback, with a stiff bar and average tape not helping.

Norco Threshold C Rival 1 - bars

Norco Threshold C Rival 1 - bars

One of the main benefits of the X1 drivetrain is that in the mud there's less to get muddy. The front mech is a magnet for mud, grass and detritus in a boggy CX race and the single chainring is a much better option than a double; the thick-thin chainring and clutch mech mean there's no chain slap and no dropped chains either. The Norco backs that up with decent mud clearance around the wheels. The fork is especially generous, but there's plenty of room at the bottom bracket too.

Norco Threshold C Rival 1 - bottom bracket

Norco Threshold C Rival 1 - bottom bracket

General riding

For more general riding, the main sticking point of the X1 setup, as specced here, is the gear range. An 11-32 cassette gives a 290% range, which is a lot less than a compact double with an 11-28 at the back (424%). That means you'll lose gears at one end, or the other, or in this case, both.

Norco Threshold C Rival 1 - crank

Norco Threshold C Rival 1 - crank

The 42x11 gear is big enough for nearly anything you're likely to do on knobbly tyres, although if you swapped to road rubber you might find yourself spinning it out a bit. The 42x32 low gear is fine for most road use but can be limiting off-road on the steep stuff. You can stand up and grind up a road climb, but on a slippery off-road ascent that's sometimes not an option. I'd have preferred to see the Norco specced with an 11-36 cassette for a bit more range – it wouldn't materially affect race performance and general use would be improved.

>> Which cyclo-cross bike should you buy? Find out here

I have some minor doubts about the stiffness of the fork. It's possible to make the front disc rotor rub in a tight turn, when you're loading up the front of the bike, suggesting that it's twisting a bit. It didn't noticeably affect the handling of the bike; tolerances are tight down there and even a millimetre of deflection could cause some rub. While we're on the subject of tolerances, one that is much too tight is the gap between the disc rotor and the fork leg. There's barely a gap there at all, and if you got a stone stuck in your rotor you'd be gouging lines in your fork leg.

Norco Threshold C Rival 1 - fork

Norco Threshold C Rival 1 - fork

Braking was strong and predictable, as we've come to expect from hydraulic discs. The Norco uses a 140mm rotor at the rear and a 160mm at the front. Smaller rotors don't have as much heat capacity or surface area as bigger ones, but I never cooked either of the brakes, even when I was deliberately trying to. It's possible to make one or the other fade a bit by dragging the brake on a long descent, but not both. The front hose runs externally down the fork leg, which makes it a lot easier to fit and fettle but it's less sightly. The rear hose runs through the frame. I managed to eke some rattle out of the various internal cables in spite of Norco's claims to the contrary, but it wasn't anything too annoying.

Norco Threshold C Rival 1 - disc brake

Norco Threshold C Rival 1 - disc brake

The Threshold C has mudguard mounts; I didn't use them in testing and if I'm honest I doubt many people will. If you want a multi-purpose bike and racing isn't too big in your plans then you're better served elsewhere. The Threshold C is more aimed at racing, and as such it represents a very strong proposition.

Norco Threshold C - riding 2.jpg

Norco Threshold C - riding 2.jpg

Compare it with the Specialized Crux Elite and you're getting a bike that's a similar spec and weight for £500 less. It's maybe not quite as refined, but it's still a very good race platform. If you turn up on the start line with this – albeit maybe with a change of tyres – then you're basically out of excuses.

Verdict

Very well-specced race machine that's a good value privateer package

road.cc test report

Make and model: Norco Threshold C Rival 1

Size tested: 58cm

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

FRAMESET

FRAME Threshold Mid-Mod Carbon - TA Disc

FORK Threshold Mid-Mod Full Carbon - TA Disc

COMPONENTS

SEAT POST Norco 27.2mm - Black Stealth

SEAT POST CLAMP CNC Alloy - Black

SADDLE Norco Cross Race w/Chromo Rails - Black

SHIFTER CASING Shift Housing w/Sealed End - Black / Lime

HEADSET N/A

HEADSET SPACER 2x10mm Matte UD Carbon / 1x5mm Alloy

TOP CAP Alloy w/Norco Shield Logo - Grey

STEM Norco - Black Stealth

HANDLEBAR Norco Compact - Black Stealth

GRIPS Norco Ultra-Comfort 3mm - Black/Lime

FRONT BRAKE Sram Rival 1 Hydraulic Disc w/160mm Rotor

REAR BRAKE Sram Rival 1 Hydraulic Disc w/140mm Rotor

CHAIN TENSIONER N/A

BRAKE LEVERS Sram Rival 1 Hydraulic Disc

BRAKE CABLE CASING Sram Hydraulic Brake Hose

WHEELS

RIMS A-Class CXD4 - Tubeless Ready Design

TIRES Clement Crusade PDX 700 x 33c

TUBES Presta Valve - 48mm valve

FRONT HUB N/A

REAR HUB A-Class CXD4 Sealed Bearing - 12x142mm

SPOKES/NIPPLES Alex Stainless Black

DRIVETRAIN

SHIFTER FRONT Sram Rival 1 Hydraulic Disc Brake

SHIFTER REAR Sram Rival 1 Hydraulic Disc Brake/11s Shifter

FRONT DERAILLEUR N/A

REAR DERAILLEUR Sram Rival 1 Medium Cage

CASSETTE Sram PG1130 11-32T

CRANKSET Sram Rival 1 42T - Black

BOTTOM BRACKET Sram PressFit30

PEDALS N/A

CHAIN Sram PC1130

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Norco says:

Norco's cyclocross race machine was designed and developed on Canada's Pacific Coast: a region characterized by rugged landscapes and abundant precipitation. The all-new Threshold is a product of our demanding environment and a symbol of Norco's distinctly Canadian take on the cyclocross tradition. Tested on the trails and proven on the racecourse, the Threshold is how Norco does cyclocross

THRESHOLD CARBON KEY BENEFITS

SUB-1000G CARBON FRAME WITH SIZE-SCALED TUBING:

lightweight for easy shouldering, lateral stiffness for maximum power transfer and vertical compliance so riders can stay on the gas all race long.

 

FULL CARBON FORK WITH 15MM THRU AXLE:

delivers maximum front-end stiffness for enhanced responsiveness and control through rough, rutted terrain.

 

GIZMO UNIVERSAL CABLE ROUTING SYSTEM:

fully proprietary system prevents cable rattle at entry/exit points and within the frame; keeps water and debris outside the frame where it belongs.

 

POWER CHASSIS DESIGN WITH 142X12MM REAR THRU AXLE:

oversized head tube junction, down tube, BB shell and chain stays deliver optimal lateral stiffness for maximum pedaling efficiency and power transfer.

 

ARC RACE STAYS AND 27.2MM SEATPOST:

optimized stiffness-to-compliance ratio to maximize racer comfort without any compromise to pedaling efficiency or power transfer.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Very tidy.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Threshold Mid-Mod Carbon.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

See https://www.norco.com/bikes/road/cyclocross/threshold-carbon/threshold-c... for full geometry chart.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

Pretty standard CX geometry.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Responsive and not over-harsh.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Plenty of stiffness for power transfer. Some minor issues with fork stiffness.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Very efficient.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

No issues.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

Stable and predictable, not super-quick in tight stuff.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

Bar and bar tape are average.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
6/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
8/10

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
7/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
6/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
7/10

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Maybe as a dedicated race machine.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
8/10

Use this box to explain your score

Very good performance overall, some minor issues. Good build for the money.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 189cm  Weight: 92kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

5 comments

Avatar
macrophotofly [261 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Really good review - wish some of the road bike reviews in the summer extract as much data from their testing. Seems like the application in race conditions has shown up some key points that will help buyers decide for/against

Avatar
Carton [390 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I'd say great reviews on the winter bikes in general.

Avatar
Chris James [439 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I'm surprised you say that the PDX tyres struggle when it gets muddy as they are marketed as a full on mud tyre. I use them when things get very claggy and I find them good in mud, perhaps it depends what pressures you use? I weigh about 11.5 stone and run them at approx 28 psi with standard wide butyl inners.

The Norco looks a nice machine.

Avatar
dave atkinson [6304 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Chris James wrote:

I'm surprised you say that the PDX tyres struggle when it gets muddy as they are marketed as a full on mud tyre. I use them when things get very claggy and I find them good in mud, perhaps it depends what pressures you use? I weigh about 11.5 stone and run them at approx 28 psi with standard wide butyl inners.

The Norco looks a nice machine.

I'm a fair bit heavier and tend to like something more aggressive in the mud, so that might explain it. I need to run the tyres a bit harder than that too, or I pinch flat them

Avatar
sb88 [2 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Looks like it uses post mount... If someone got this bike would the braking system be obsolete within a couple years as flat mount spreads? Or will there remain a use for post /  I.S --> post calipers on bikes that aren't out and out road racers?