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Kirk McDowall raced a prototype Norco at Les Gets worlds

Another bike under wraps but out in the open

Kirk McDowall races in Les Gets France Photo by: Kirk McDowall / Instagram

Either bike skirts are the latest aero tech in downhill mountain biking (like suspiciously tight race kit) or Norco is up to something. Kirk McDowall raced a mostly unmarked, and mostly covered up, bike at world championships over the weekend in Les Gets, France.

Much like the prototype Specialized that Finn Iles has raced since Lenzerheide World Cup, McDowall’s prototype Norco is sheathed in a black fabric wrap around the main suspension parts. It’s a change for the two-time Canadian downhill national champion from what he raced earlier in the season. McDowall raced one of Norco Factory Team’s customized Range bikes when he appeared at the Fort William World Cup at the start of the season.

It isn’t the first time McDowall’s raced a blacked-out bike this season. McDowall’s silver bike also made appearances at Snowshoe World Cup, Mont-Sainte-Anne and at Crankworx. The bike frame looks to be sporting a full compliment of telemetric deceives to collect info as McDowall races.

The black sheath is pretty effective at covering what is happening in the front triangle. But the high-pivot and idler design of the Range does look to carry over to the new bike. There does look to be more happening in the middle of the front triangle when compared to the very low-slung Range platform that the rest of Norco Factory Team is racing currently. And the chainstays look simpler than what’s on the consumer version of the Range. Other than that, we’ll have to wait until the curtains are pulled back to see what Norco’s up to.

Norco Range DH
Lucas Curz’ Norco Range in the team-issue-only DH configuration.

You can’t see too much more of the details, but you can see the bike and McDowall in action at Crankworx below.

If McDowall is riding something other than the Range, it could be a savvy move from Norco. McDowall put aside his Wilson earlier this year after years of riding a Devinci. With a background in engineering – and in, uh, going really fast – the Anmore, B.C. racer would be a great rider to bring onboard to help develop a new bike.

The timing also makes sense. It’s been a few years since Norco updated its Aurum downhill bike. Instead, the team races a modified Range platform. The Range, an enduro-specific platform developed out of the Aurum HP project. Could the circle be closing with a new DH model?