You may have remembered our review of the Norco FBR3 flat top bar road bike last year, a fantastic commuter bike and all-around light bike for rides. This bike was great for my needs as a casual rider, but I soon discovered I wanted a road bike with drop down handle bars for longer endurance type rides.
Wanting to stick to the Norco brand, which helps support my local bike shop, plus it’s a fantastic Canadian company based in BC, I ended up selling my FBR3 and jumping on a 2015 Norco Valence A4.
This aluminum framed bike comes with a new carbon fork for 2015, with an MSRP of $790 CAD (I picked mine up from Brentwood Cycle). As a casual rider, the Valence A4 not only fit the budget, but it is a fantastic bike that’s lightweight. The design in black looks pretty nice, with the massive white Norco name painted in and not with stickers. It’s a simple design that looks fantastic with its subtle styling lines, almost a sophisticated design.
What differentiates these bikes are their frames and components, mainly the drivetrain as the big difference. As I haven’t used any other drivetrains as I just started biking again, the technology nowadays is “good enough” for me, in that I probably wouldn’t be able to tell between the top and bottom drivetrains of Shimano (or it wouldn’t affect me that much as I’m not racing).
The Shimano Claris FD-2400 drivetrain has both up and down shifts built alongside the front and rear brake levers, gone are the clicks of the previous generation. Hey, if the cycling bug really bites me, I’ll just be happy to upgrade in the future.
The technology in these endurance bikes such as the Valence A4 are pretty amazing to new road cyclists such as myself. It is absolutely effortless to ride long distances, such as 10-20km around the neighbourhood. Try that in your mountain bike and get back to me.
I was able to go on my first ‘long’ ride, a 45km trek that not only went along paved road but some loose gravel along the Lochside Trail, all the way to Mt. Douglas in Gordon Head. Despite having thinner road tires, the Continental Ultra Sport II in 25c handed the gravel sections of the Lochside Trail with ease, and the carbon fork helped absorb some vibrations, leaving me with a comfortable ride.
It was extremely easy to keep a steady pedalling pace with the Valence A4, this thing just glides like the wind. Even after riding 22km for just under an hour straight, I felt like I could have kept going, not for my short break. Shifts are smooth and quick, as the Claris ST-2400 set works great for me.
If you’re considering your first road bike, check out Norco’s Valence line up, as their aluminum frame bikes are definitely impressive to a newbie such as myself. Over time, surely I’ll get bit by the upgrade bug, but for now, as a casual rider that doesn’t ride during the winter, I’m loving the Valence A4 as it’s just so easy to ride long distances. This would make a great commuter bike that won’t break the bank. Highly recommended.