You can trace Norco bicycles all the way back to 1964, when it was founded by Bert Lewis, who dreamt of creating a bicycle company committed to quality products and top notch customer service. Better known for their off-road offerings, the Canadian bicycle manufacture has made progress over recent years to expand their road bike line up. This past year, they introduced an all-new road platform, the Valence. The Valence is Norco's entry into the increasingly popular endurance road category. The type of bike aimed at road riders who enjoy riding long rides such as charity century rides and gran fondos.

Available in either aluminum or carbon flavor, we've been fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time with the carbon Valence Carbon 1. The go to all day ride bike for the past several months, the Valence has proved to be quite a nice blend of both comfort and performance.

The Valence Carbon 1 features a monocoque frame that weighs in at just under a 1000 grams and utilizes some of the same carbon technology found on Norcos more race oriented CRR series. The Valence features a longer wheelbase, lower bottom bracket, and a taller head tube stack than the CRR, resulting in more stability and a more upright position.

Unique shapes and curves, such as the S-shape bends and flattened tubes on the rear stays, part of the ARC (applied road compliance) technology, help the Valence deflect road chatter and vibration on rough roads. The chassis remains fairly stiff even with the added compliance of the ARC stays. A tapered headtube, beefy downtube, and tall chainstays connect to a BB30 bottom bracket to offer adequate power transfer. A new all carbon tapered 49mm offset fork designed specifically for the Valence rounds out the frameset features.

On the component side of the Carbon 1, the bike is equipped with mostly Shimano Ultegra 6700 bits, except for the FSA SL-K Carbon 50/34 crankset. Most likely because Shimano doesn't quite offer a BB30 crank yet… the FSA with it's highly machined and profiled rings actually provided quick and smooth shifts and integrated into the otherwise Shimano Ultegra drivetrain seamlessly. Ultegra hoops were shod with Kenda 25mm tires for a supple ride, though clearance showed you probably could go even thicker on the rubber if you'd like. A Ritchey Pro cockpit and 27.2 seatpost round out the spec on the Valence, providing quite a great spec sheet of parts on this $3900 MSRP bike.

The Valence as a sum of all its features is more than capable as an all day comfort road bike. We've taken it out on long rides with varied terrains, over chip sealed roads, cracked roads, and roads that had us question if we had come to the end of the road (Sonoma County's Willow Creek road!). Despite all we threw at it, it still rode comfortably well. Power transfer was on par with what we'd expect from this level of carbon. Its first and foremost a comfort bike, so we weren't expecting race bike level power transfer, but it held it's own. The specifically designed Valence fork and the ARC technology in the rear triangle really work well to deflect a lot of the road vibration and chatter. Steering on the Valence could be described as neutral, though still fun for the rider who knows how to handle their bike. The Valence won't win you any sprints, but if you were looking to win sprints you wouldn't be looking at the Valence.

Norco has succeeded in making a comfort-oriented road bike specific for people looking to do charity rides, longer rides, and gran fondos. Those looking for a bike to tackle that type of riding will find the Valence hits the mark dead on and with it's list of parts at quite the value. Available eyelets for racks are included, making it possible to use the Valence even on foul weather days.For 2013, Norco offers the Valence carbon in 5 trim levels. Starting out at just $1550 for a Tiagra spec'd Valence all the way to the Di2 spec for $5325. The alloy version is offered in 4 trim levels ranging in price from $720-$1450.

[*] Hits the mark on comfort and compliance
[*] Nice mix of parts that add value and performance
[*] Rack mounts are a nice touch

[*] Handling could be a little more livelier
[*] Carbon cockpit may have taken even more road vibration edge off

4 of 5

Price: $3900 as tested (2013 price is $3455 with slightly different spec)
Sizes: 48, 51, 54, 57, 60
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