Norco ITHAQUA 6.2 ReviewMay 5, 2017
- Very light
- Economy minded
- Strong climber
- Pedal strikes
- Stiff front end
- Too wide at cranks
Norco’s ITHAQUA 6.2 has created a compelling carbon frame and fork fat bike at a reasonable price point. Featuring SRAM shifting and drivetrain and brakes, in the mid-level range, the budget minded will appreciate this build and carbon frame quality. Though we noticed pedal strikes came with rocky trails.
The Norco ITHAQUA 6.2 is a fully rigid fat bike that features a carbon frame and fork. The cockpit is open with a wide (760mm) Race Face Turbine 35 handlebar with 20mm of rise. The handlebar is connected to a Race Face Turbine 35mm stem, which makes for a responsive and stiff front end when coupled with the straight and stout carbon fork. On rocky trails continuing to lower tire pressure helped take the edge off a very stiff set up, however pedal strikes were more common.
Weighing in at just over 29lbs, you can almost forget you are riding a fat bike on longer climbs. Race Face Turbine cranks are stiff, and spinning a 28 tooth cog through a SRAM XG 11 speed 10/42 cassette, which is consistent with the stiff frame and fork, and makes for efficient pedaling. The “Q factor,” or distance between the pedals felt wide, and that does rob you of some power unless you have inner-thighs of steel. Overall the ITHAQUA was consistent with other carbon frame and fork bikes we tested in terms of stiffness and efficiency, these bikes continue to blur the line between a fat bike and a more XC or trail oriented rig.
We tested the ITHAQUA 6.2 on some long rocky climbs, as well as some long hard pack snow climbs. Completely solid rear tire hookup as a result of the longer wheelbase (we were riding an XL), and efficient climbing were the norm. The wide bar and short stem made for a comfortable climbing position, and the straight rigid fork was supportive when out of the saddle, yet transported trail vibrations straight up to the rider which can be tiresome. Riding in technical terrain was no problem, and the ITHAQUA was completely confident in rocky high-technical-skill climbs (and descents), where a trail bike is more typically ridden.
After topping the climb, and dropping some additional tire pressure, we were also dropping some fully suspended bikes on the trail. Confident geometry with a spread out feel allows (on our first descent no less), you to release the brakes (SRAM Level TL, more on that later), and fly. Not all bikes encourage that level of confidence, the ITHAQUA does. I did struggle to find the appropriate tire pressure to not bottom out the 4.5 inch tires, yet not chatter my hands off the bars due to the stiffness, however that was a reasonable price to pay for a downhill joy ride. Speaking of the stiffness, the extremely tight front end goes where you point it, there is no slop there, and steering that is quite predictable.
Components: Drivetrain, Shifting and Brakes
A SRAM drivetrain came with our ITHAQUA, GX1 11 speed front shifter, and SRAM GX1 11 speed rear derailleur. These shifted flawlessly and reasonably, even for those of us accustomed to SRAM’s XX or XO. We did quickly top out the 28T combined with the 10/42 cassette on the down hills, however that is to be expected. SRAM Level TL brakes front and rear (180mm, 160mm respectively), were adequate and breaking in nicely, thankfully I used them sparingly at best.
The wheels are not the lightest, and I did manage to knock the front out of true on my first ride, however they are completely appropriate for this bike and price point. Sun Mulefut 80SL 26 inch rims on a KT front hub, Novatec rear. Kenda Juggernaut Pro 4.5 inch tubeless compatible tires came spec, and they hooked up well in varied conditions.
Hard to argue with the price point of the 6.2. At $3,200, this is the lowest priced bike we tested, and one of the more joyful rides. This is achieved with more economy minded components: it is a lot of bike for the money.
Seth Portner has been riding and racing mountain bikes since the late 1990s, specializing in XC, marathon and ultra-marathon events. He also enjoys regular multi-day road tours, and is an accomplished ultrarunner and XC skier. Seth, his wife and their daughter all split their time between Lyons and Winter Park.