Oh hi there!
We’re pretty pumped on the new all road and gravel bikes that our brands have been putting out over the past couple years. 2 bikes that we stock in the store are the Norco Search XR and now as of yesterday, also the brand-new Norco Section.
We were excited about the launch yesterday, as we think this is a great bike for a huge portion of riders in our city, so of course we were scrolling through some of the articles posted and in doing that, got sucked into reading some comments.
The feedback seemed to be overwhelmingly positive, but we saw the same question come up quite a few times: “What’s the difference between the Section and the Search XR?”
When the bike was first introduced to us, we had the same question. Both bikes are marketed as fast drop bar bikes that have clearance for bigger tires and excel on gravel. Soooooooo……why would someone buy one over the other?
Having ridden them both and spent time chatting with Norco product managers and engineers about this very question, let us break it down for you, because they are more different than you might think!
GEOMETRY DIFFERENCES (how the bike will fit and feel while you ride it):
DIFFERENCE: Shorter seat tube on the Section. WHAT THAT MEANS FOR YOU: This is actually so cool, and something that will probably get overlooked by most. the Section doesn’t have the same tire clearance as the Search XR and is spec’d with 32c tires instead of 42’s, so with a shorter seat tube, you expose more seatpost and increase the vertical flex and comfort that you lost when you dropped down the tire volume.
DIFFERENCE: Roughly 1 degree steeper head tube angle on the Section. WHAT THAT MEANS FOR YOU: (Snappier handling for the Section, more confidence on trails with the Search XR)
DIFFERENCE: 10mm shorter fork stack on the Section. WHAT THAT MEANS FOR YOU: You’ll get a bit more over the front end of the Section, helping you push a bit faster on the roads whereas on the Search XR, you’ll be just slightly more upright, meaning it will give you a bit more confidence when you want to take it off road.
DIFFERENCE: Taller BB on Search XR by about 10mm. WHAT THAT MEANS FOR YOU: Lower bottom bracket on the Section will focus more on stability but the Search will have better clearance over obstacles and less chance of pedal strike.
- DIFFERENCE: Shorter wheelbase on the Section. WHAT THAT MEANS FOR YOU: Faster cornering and a snappy feel. Will feel better if you ride more road than trail, whereas the Search will feel more at home if you want to push it a bit harder off road and want more trail capability.
DIFFERENCE: The Search XR comes spec’d with a much wider tire across the board. It also has clearance for a 650b x 2.1 inch tire. WHAT THAT MEANS FOR YOU: Wider tires mean more comfort and traction on rougher terrain.
DIFFERENCE: Single front chain rings across most of the Search XR Spec, whereas most of the Section models are for the most part spec’d with a double chainring for more high-end gearing. WHAT THAT MEANS FOR YOU: This means the Section is aimed to help you keep up with the speed of those morning group rides and the Search XR uses a clutch rear derailleur and chainguide so that you can ride hard without your chain falling off.
DIFFERENCE: Flared out drop bars on the search XR. WHAT THAT MEANS FOR YOU: Wider bars help with stability and control to help you tackle some rougher terrain.
- DIFFERENCE: Wider rims on the search XR. WHAT THAT MEANS FOR YOU: Wider rims help give those wider tires a better shape so you have a larger contact patch on the ground and better traction. Both platforms come with tubeless ready wheels out of the gate.
IN A NUTSHELL:
Where both bikes are capable on lots of terrain, if you want a bike that can perform well on road but excel on rougher trails, choose the Search XR. If you want an amazing road bike with well thought out, modern geometry that lets you feel planted and stable while exploring unpaved surfaces and light trail, the Section is the way to go.
To be honest though, if you want the best help we can provide in getting you into gravel riding, come and chat with us. We can dive into details about where you want to ride, how far you want to ride and what you want to bring with you, and from there can offer our best recommendation.
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