Norco Storm 5 Bike Review
There are many different types of bikes in the world. Most people are familiar with the everyday urban bike or the small BMX bike. Mountain bikes are also popular with cyclists. A notable model is the Norco Storm 5. This bike is one of the offerings in Norco’s Storm series and it is popular among experienced and beginner cyclists. But is the Norco Storm 5 actually worth buying?
In this review, I will cover the various aspects of the Norco Storm 5 mountain bike. I’ll give my thoughts on each section and share my experience with using this bike. Hopefully by the end of this article, you’ll know whether the Norco Storm 5 is the bike for you. To kick things off, let’s take a brief look at the different mountain bike types.
Pros and cons
Seat has little padding.
Portability and storage is lacking.
Strong usability and performance.
No built-in kickstand.
Work on various terrains: city streets, bike paths, gravel roads, and mountain trails.
Mountain bikes overview
There are five main types of mountain bikes. They are:
- Trail bikes: These are the most common mountain bike type. Trail bikes are not designed for any style of cycling. They are well rounded bikes that can be used on a variety of trail conditions.
- Cross country bikes: These bikes prioritize speed and climbing. They usually have efficient pedalling and are low in weight. Cross country bikes are best for cyclists interested in competitive racing.
- Fat tire bikes: As the name suggests, these bikes have thick tires. Therefore, they have great traction, especially on slippery surfaces. Fat tire bikes can be a good option for beginners. Their stability gives the rider confidence in conquering rough terrain.
- All mountain bikes: Built for rugged terrain, all mountain bikes are excellent for steep descents or climbs. They are mostly used by experienced mountain cyclists.
- Downhill/park bikes: This bike type is bigger than the other types listed. Downhill/park bikes are designed to tackle things like wooden bridges, rock gardens, and exposed roots or small branches. Riders typically wear full-face helmets and body armor.
There are also three suspension types for mountain bikes:
- Rigid: These mountain bikes are fairly hard to find. They do not have any suspension, which means they are cheaper and easier to maintain. But the lack of suspension means you’re losing comfort.
- Hardtail: This bike type has suspension only for the front wheel. The rear wheel has no suspension fork, hence the name hardtail. Like rigid bikes, hardtail bikes are affordable and require less maintenance.
- Full suspension: These bikes have front and rear suspension, which provides better traction and comfort. While full suspension bikes can absorb impacts, they are not the best for climbing uphill.
According to the Norco website, the Storm 5 is a cross country hardtail mountain bike.
If you’re interested in learning how mountain bikes work, check out this article.
The price for the Norco Storm 5 was similar on several online stores. The bike goes for $799.00. While this seems high, the other bikes in the Storm series are in fact more expensive. The Storm 4 costs $899.00, and the Storm 3 costs $999.00. And other brands are even more expensive. For example, Kona hardtail bikes are usually priced over $1,000. I’ve come to realize that the Norco Storm 5 is actually on the lower side of the price spectrum.
Availability can be tricky. The Norco website has a store locator to help you find a bike shop in your area. This feature doesn’t guarantee that the store will have the Norco Storm 5 in stock. You will have to contact the dealer to see if the bike is available. I bought my Norco Storm 5 from a local store called Mud Sweat & Gears. I called to see if they had the bike in stock, and luckily they did. I had them put the bike on hold for me until I could drive over and buy it. I would recommend using this strategy. It is the best way for you to secure a Norco Storm 5. Also, try to buy the bike during the winter. Hardtail bikes usually sell out quickly during peak seasons (e.g., spring and summer). During colder months, you have a higher chance of grabbing one for yourself. But even in winter these can bikes sell steadily. Therefore, I recommend that you buy the Norco Storm 5 as soon as possible.
Comfort and fit
Finding the right bike size for you can be tricky. When I was searching for hardtail bikes, I was unsure which size to get. I kept asking myself, am I a large or extra large? Buying a bike that is too small or too big is a huge waste of money. Plus, it will lead to an uncomfortable ride. To make things easier, Norco has a chart on their website that estimates your sizing based on your height. Enter in your measurement, and the chart will show you your approximate sizing. For my height (6,0”), my recommended sizing was XL. At the time I bought my Norco Storm 5 (February 2021), I did not know about this feature. I phoned the bike shop beforehand to see which sizes they have. With hindsight being what it is, I wish I knew about Norco’s sizing chart feature. It is very convenient and will help new cyclists find their proper bike size. It eliminates a lot of the confusion. If you need to further adjust the fit, the seat post (also called the dropper post) can be raised or lowered. I adjusted the seat height a few times until I found a position that worked well for me. Even though the sizing chart is very useful, I still recommend visiting your local dealer and trying the bike out for yourself. You’ll get a true sense of the bike and how it feels. Plus, an employee can make little adjustments to personalize the fit. In my experience, trying the bike in person was a smart move. The employees at the shop were able to fine tune the sizing so that the bike felt comfortable.
Click here for more info on mountain bike sizing.
Comfort is an important part in cycling. After all, no one wants to go on an uncomfortable bike ride. There are numerous ways in which the Norco Storm 5 improves its comfortability. The left and right handles have rubber grips that come in handy especially during colder months when the handlebar freezes up. Having to hold on to cold metal would be very unpleasant. Furthermore, my hands and arms never got sore when holding onto the handlebar; it had the right amount of length. The front suspension did an excellent job of absorbing shocks and impacts during my bike rides. While larger bumps were still felt, their force was minimized. Smaller bumps were barley felt at all.
The only problem I had was with the seat. It has very little cushioning. Instead, a thin layer of rubber separates your butt from the seat frame. I noticed that during bike rides over an hour long, my butt started to get sore. While the pain was manageable, it became more pronounced when I went over rough terrain. Thankfully, the soreness largely went away a few minutes after my rides ended. And I eventually got used to the seat. Most hardtail bike seats are similarly designed; you’ll be hard pressed to find one with thick cushioning. Therefore, your best option is to buy a bike seat cushion.
Outside of the seat, the Norco Storm 5 was very comfortable to ride. Even in the most difficult terrain, this hardtail bike provided plenty of protection. If I ever developed some body pain, it was due to the difficulty of my ride rather than the bike itself. For example, going on two-hour bike rides with plenty of steep hills usually left my legs screaming. But again, this wasn’t the bike’s fault.
The Norco Storm 5 comes in 3 colour schemes: Ultraviolet/Pink, Silver/Black, and Orange/Charcoal. Each colour looks nice, but the most appealing to me was the Silver/Black scheme. I though the others were a bit too flashy. I tend to prefer simpler colour schemes.
There are a lot of parts to a hardtail mountain bike. Some examples include the rear derailleur, crankset, disc brakes, and the cassette. Even with all of its moving parts, the Norco Storm 5 manages to maintain simple look. When I looked at the bike, I hardly noticed the chain, spokes, and other components. What immediately grabbed my attention is the bike’s sleek and modern aesthetic.
For a mountain bike, the Norco Storm 5 is light in weight. You would think that a bike with fat tires and plenty of parts would be bulky. But I could pick the bike up with ease. This increased the portability of the Norco Storm 5. I could lift it onto a wall or car stand without expending that much effort. However, the bike’s large size did get in the way when it came to storage. I kept my Norco Storm 5 in a bike shed. The shed already has another bike in it plus other things like a weed whacker and a lawn mower. In these cramped conditions, I sometimes had trouble with fitting my Storm 5 in the shed. Fitting the bike into a car also came with some issues. You will likely need a truck, mini van, or large SUV if you want to put the Storm 5 into a car. The bike definitely did not fit in my mini-SUV. An alternative would be to buy a bike rack for the hitch, trunk or roof of your car.
The Norco Storm 5 operates like other mountain bikes. It has two gear shifter, one on the right side and one on the left. The right shifter controls the rear gears, while the left shifter controls the front gears. On each shifter, there are two levers the increase or decrease the gear. The bottom lever lowers the gear, while the top lever increases the gear. At first, I had a hard time remembering which was which. I often pressed the wrong lever, e.g., I increased the gear when I wanted to lower it. But I eventually got the hang of it, and from then on, I had zero issues. Like the gear shifters, there are two brake levers, one on each side. The right brake lever is for the rear tire, and the left brake lever is for the front tire. Both levers were easy to pull, and the brakes never stuck or broke. The breaking time was also good. I could shoot down a steep hill and quickly slow down when I got close to the bottom. I could also stop instantly without losing my balance.
The Norco Storm 5 handled well. I could easily make tight turns or quickly move around objects blocking my path. The rubber grips also improved the bike’s handling. They gave me better control over the steering. And stability was never an issue. The 2.25” tires helped keep the bike level. The front suspension also prevented the bike from going off kilter whenever I hit large bumps or potholes. Pedalling felt smooth and seamless. It sometimes felt like I was putting in no effort at all, even though I would be pedalling hard. I also found the pedalling to be more powerful and efficient than traditional urban bikes I have used in the past. Reaching fast speeds or climbing up a steep hill was easier with the Norco Storm 5.
As I mentioned earlier, hardtail bikes can be used on numerous trail conditions. This is certainly true of the Norco Storm 5. I primarily rode the bike on paved bike trails, but I also used it on grass and gravel roads. On these rough terrains, I couldn’t go as fast, and the ride was often bumpy. But I could still ride through them effectively. The following video shows how the Storm 5 performs on a gravel path.
When it came to maintenance, refilling the bike’s tires was a fairly simple process. There was only one minor obstacle. I had to use an adapter to connect the air pump nozzle to the valve. But once that was sorted, the tires were quickly refilled. I was impressed with how long the air in the tires lasted. In the time I’ve owned the Norco Storm 5 (nearly two years), I’ve only had to refill the tires once. The bike’s frame is made from aluminum alloy material, which is very durable. I have yet to find any rust or chips/cracks on any part of the frame. The other parts of the bike have held up as well. The chain, crankset, disc brakes, and other parts have not been replaced at all. This is quite surprising since I’ve used my Norco Storm 5 often and I’ve hit some major bumps.
I’ve had several accessories added to my Norco Storm 5. A bell was placed on the handlebar, which comes in handy when you want to let people ahead of you know that you are behind them. A water bottle holder was installed on the down tube. This was perfect for hot days when I needed to take a water bottle along for my ride. Lastly, I bought a pair of bike lights so that vehicles and other cyclists/pedestrians could see me at night. As you can probably guess, these accessories improved the bike’s usability. In my opinion, they are three essential features you should add to your hardtail bike.
Unlike other bike models, the Norco Storm 5 does not come with a kickstand. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, having a kickstand would make it easier to prop up the bike. On the other hand, I could usually place the bike against a wall or bench, and it would stay upright on its own. Plus, most mountain bikes do not come with kickstands. If having this part is important to you, I’d suggest looking at urban bikes that come with kickstands. Or, you can have one installed separately. So, in the end, the absence of a kickstand did not affect the bike’s usability in a major way. However, if given the choice, I would have one added to my Storm 5 simply for the convenience.
Real life example
To further demonstrate the Norco Storm 5’s usability, I’ll describe a typical bike ride I do. The route is usually 1hr 30min long and takes me from my house to a local city park which is 11.9 km away. The ride mainly consists of paved bike paths, but there are some spots where the path is full of cracks and holes. The first part of the ride is primarily downhill. But the ride out has several up-hill sections. The trail taking you out of the park is basically one large hill that can be daunting and exhausting to climb.
So, as you can see, this bike ride is not smooth sailing all they way through. It has many challenging parts. But the Norco Storm 5 makes it a little bit easier to complete this ride. The seven-speed gear selector gives me plenty of options when going downhill, uphill, or pedalling on a fairly level path. I usually use fifth or fourth gear on level terrain, and this lets me get up to a good speed. Sixth and seventh gear got me reaching some pretty fast speeds when going downhill. And for the dreaded uphill exit, second and first gear made the climb a bit more bearable, even if it was still a strenuous workout. There are some rough patches to the ride. The entrance/exit to the park is full of potholes and cracks, and some areas are filled with rocks and gravel. But the Norco Storm 5 easily conquered these parts. I pedalled over them without much difficulty.
Here is a video demonstrating the various parts of the Norco Storm 5:
The Norco Storm 5 is a good hardtail bike that is perfect for both experienced riders and those just getting into off-road cycling. The bike has a modern and sleek design that is very durable. My Storm 5 has gone through some hard terrain, and so far, it has managed to survive unscathed. The tires have only been refilled once, and all of the bike’s parts have not been repaired or replaced. Portability was also good. The bike was light enough so that I could lift and carry it to different areas. The usability was exceptional. The steering was precise, the braking was accurate, and the pedalling was smooth, efficient, and powerful. Even though it took me a couple of tries to master them, the gear shifters were intuitive to use. They enabled me to reach some pretty quick speed. The price might seem high, but the Storm 5 is actually one of the more affordable hard tail bikes on the market. For $799.00 CAD, you get plenty of value in return.
I did run into some issues with the bike’s seat. The lack of cushioning makes it uncomfortable, which gets more pronounced the longer your bike ride is. However, this is common to most hardtail bike seats. And after a while, I got used to the seat, almost to the point where I barely noticed the discomfort. The bike did not have a kickstand, which wasn’t a big deal. But having one installed would provide some convenience. Storage was another problem I dealt with. Because of the bike’s large size, it can be hard to fit it in a car or cramped space.
Still, the Norco Storm 5 has been an enjoyable bike to use. I plan to ride this bike countless more times in the near future.
Rider height supported
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