Norco Glide 20 – a mini review and market comparison

My 6 year old’s bike was stolen from our front porch, so I set out to find a reasonable replacement. I was looking for a 20 inch wheel bike with no shocks, some gearing, and, after reading online articles comparing the bikes (here is one), I was certain that I wanted a bike that weighed less than 10kg.  The odd thing is that there aren’t that many bikes that fit the three parameters.

Online there are some nice offerings from Islabikes, Redline and Fuji, but finding those bikes in Toronto turned out to be impossible.

After some searching around, I had a shortlist of three models – the Trek Superfly 20, Opus Doppler (which is the same as Opus Nix), and Norco Glide 20.  The Trek Superfly 20 is the lightest at 8.7kg, the Opus Doppler is 9.2kg, and the Norco Glide 20 is 9.9kg.  (It was close to impossible to find how much the Glide weighs, my multiple requests to Norco resulted in no answers, I finally tracked down a dealer that had the bike in storage, and they agreed to weigh it for me.) All three bikes cost more or less the same, at CAD$400.

While I liked the lower weights of the Doppler and the Superfly 20, I thought that the gearing is a bit limiting.  The Superfly 20 has a 32T single chainring, the Doppler – 36T single chainring, and the Norco has a 34/42 double chainring.  All three bikes have a 14T fastest cog on the flywheel.  Norco’s 42×14 gear ratio is quite an improvement over 34×14 or 36×14, so I decided go buy the Norco.  Another noticeable difference is that the Norco has no bottom bracket drop, while the Doppler and Superfly 20 lower the bottom bracket by the same amount, meaning that they use shorter cranks.  Shorter cranks are nice for smaller kids, but my child was able to use 140mm cranks on his previous 20″ bike (that was stolen) with no problems, even before he turned 6, and I’m sure that at the age of 8 the 140mm cranks would make more sense.

In the end, I found a previous year’s model of the Norco Glide 20.  I think that I have a 2012, 2013, or 2014 model, and it came in red.  The 2015 model comes in orange.  From what I can tell, the 2015 model has the following differences:

  • They switched to 32-hole rims and hubs, compared to 36-hole in the previous years.  This probably means that the 2015 model is a bit lighter (at least by the weight of eight spokes).
  • The fork has a bit of an outward bend on the pre-2015 model, while the 2015 model’s fork blades are straight.  This probably affects the wheelbase and the trail of the bike.
  • The 2015 model uses MTB 20″ rims, which I think are the common 406 type.  The bike I have has 451 type 20″ wheels.  It is much harder to find replacement tires for 451 wheels, so if the new Glide Alloy indeed has the 406 rims, that is great.

My son has only had the Norco Glide 20 for a day, so I cannot really comment on it in use, but having looked it all over, it seems like a very nicely built bike.  I hope it will last longer than the previous bike, as I plan for both of my children to ride it for 2-3 years each.


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