NORCO VFR
The Norco VFR Disc 4 is part of a grow­
ing style of multi-p urpose flat-bar road
bikes, designed for city commuting, fit­
ness rides, bike paths, and tooli ng around
the neighborhood. What makes this style
of bike unique is the emphasis on versa­
til ity and performance. They are not road
racing bikes, but they'r e not comtort/ hv­
brid bikes eit her. They're a pract ical alter­
nati ve to each.
The VFR group bikes from Norco has
a spectrum of compo nents and features
fitting almost any budget, ranging in price
from about $500 to $1 400 dependi ng
on the model. Sitting nicely in the middle
of this group is the VFR Disc 4 . a well­
aopointed and budget-triendly ride.
The 7005 double-butt ed, hydroformed
alum inum frame with understated graph­
ics and glossy black paint is nicely shaped
for strengt h and aesthetics, but also in­
corporates rider-friendly geometry like a
sloping top tube for step-over clearance,
shorter 17" chainstays for snappy han­
dling, and a low 11" bottom bracket for
stability. The 72° head tube and 73 " seal
tube angles are closer to cyctocross geom­
etry than to road or mountain. The smooth
lines of the glossy black, alloy bladed fork
resemble a higher-end carbon fiber fork
(an option available wit h the VFR Disc
models 1 and 2). Both frame and fork
have fender mounts and the frame has a
rear rack mount.
Speaking of fenders, one of the more
interesting features of the frame is the
chainst ay disc mount. With the disc cali­
per mounted all the cnainstay instead of
the seatstay as is the case on most mou 1­
tain bikes, the rear fender and rack can
be mounted without the use of a spacer
when bolted on to the rear dropout. Thls
makes rack and lender installation a lot
easier and cleaner.
From top to bott om, t ile VFR Disc 4 in­
cludes B thoughttui spec package, wh ile
leaving room for upgrades in ttll-: future.
The Shimano Alivio front and rear derail ­
leurs, and the triple FSI\ Dyna Drive crank
(48/ 38/281) , make for an economical and
durable drivetrain. FSA's Dyna Drive triple
gives a wide range of gears for just about
any kind of terrain. I 11Bve to admit I only
used the granny gear once or twice, but it
during the test period . Aft er
my first couple of test rides
I noticed my hands were
tingling and falling asleep.
Unfortunately,
I
usually
experience th is on flat-bar
road bi kes th at do n't have
some
kind
of
ergon omic
grip or bar end . I put on a
set 0 Ergon GX2 grips w ith
magnesium bar ends and
my ha nds have been happy
ever sin ce. These made the
stock
was nice to know it was there if I needed
street s, crushed lim estone rail- trail path .
mo untain bike- style
handlebar feel wid er Ulan it act ually wa s,
a
old rocky double-track rail road bed, and
but if the bike were mine I would cut oi f
couple of inches anyway.
are an especiall y nice touch for a road
count ry roads . Til e VFR handl ed th is w ide
range of surface condit ions well. Obvi­
bike at this price point. They worked well
ously t ire ch oice is c ritical for th is ty pe
brake levers and shifter pods on tire
it.
The Avid Juicy 3 hydraul ic disc brakes
It also took me a While to set up the
and required no mai ntenance for the du ­
of commute , and the stock 70 0x3 2rnm
handlebar in a com for table posit ion . The
rat ion of the test. Not all the VFR's corne
Cont inental TownRID E touring t ires w it h a
Alivio shi fte r pods and the .Juicy 3 brake
levers both take up sizeable handlebar
w ith disc brakes. but they'r e well w ort h
reflective st ripe on th e sidew alls really fit
the upcharge for maintenance-free opera­
th e bill. The bike felt quick in city traffic
real estate. It took a few tr ies, but I fin all y
tion and all- weat her stoppi ng pow er if you
can afford the higher-end models .
and stable on th e road even at 30 +mph .
The upright riding position is also good for
found a brake lever/sn ifte r pod arra nge­
ment t hat worke d for me.
The JOOc WTB Cross Country Speed
visibil ity in the cit y. On rougher sect ions
Disc rims are a good match for this go­
of the tra il the VFR felt responsive and ca­
A!I in all , the Nor co VFR Disc 4 is a
soli d, versatile steed . It 's really the kind 0
anywhere style of bike. The larger 700c
pable , almo st li ke a mounta in bike w ith a
bike that most peopl e could use. W hether
Wheels are fast on the road, and both
rigid fork .
you' re commu ting to school or w ork , rid­
frame and wh eels can accommodate fat­
On family rides around town w ith th e
ing tor fitne ss, doing a c har ity ride, or go­
ter tires (at least up to 700 x40rn m) for
lig ht ofl-roadlng. A WTB Pure V Race Cus­
iBert child carr ier (reviewed in Bicycle
Times # 2 ), the VFR showed its versat il­
ing to the grocery stor e, tile VFR is up to
th e task. Norco deserv es credit for making
tom sadd le and Ritchey Logic Zero head­
lty. With th e iBert on th e front and a rack
a bi ke that's affordab le, comfortable, ver­
as stem, single bolt
Rizer as handl ebar round
seatpost and
with panniers on the back , a tr ip to the
sat ile and efficient.
o ut the sol id
grocery store tu rns in to a fun adventure.
Word has it t hat t here are som e cha ng­
Aside from one pi nch flat th at was prob­
es to t ne VFR group of bikes for 2 0 10 .
ably my fault , the VFR han ol ed everyt hi ng
App arently there won 't be a disc mo del,
I threw at it.
but there will be a bike simi lar to the VFR
Disc und er the Indy model name . Keep
set.
spec package.
Most of my riding on the VFR Disc 4
wa s commuting to and from tile Bicyc le
Times/ Dirt Rag office. The I3-m ile (one­
way) com mute incl ud es just about every
rid ing su rface t his bike was buil t fo r-ci ty
Wil ile I wou ld say 1I1 at the VFR Disc 4
is a we ll-s pec' d and affo rdable all- around
bike, there are some notable issues I had
an eye open for it. or snatch up a 2009
rnodel wh ile th ey're hot.
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