2021 Bigfoot 1 | Extended Review


After redesigning the Bigfoot line-up for 2020 you would think that the folks at Norco would dial back the R&D a little and go ride more. Not so much . . . as this Port Coquitlam, British Columbia based bike manufacturer raised the bar a little higher with the 2021 Bigfoot.

Fatbike Republic was able to be able to secure a slick 2021 Bigfoot 1 for a long term review.

2021 Bigfoot Line-up

For model year 2021 Norco made improvements across the entire Bigfoot line-up. Features common to the Bigfoot family include:
  • longer reach, short stem, slack head tube angle and steep seat tube angle gives a more forward weight distribution within a longer wheelbase
  • generous standover clearance
  • 80 mm wide 27.5” rims and frame clearance for up to 4.6" tires
  • 12x197 mm thru-axles for extra stiffness and improved handling
  • internally routed cables for a clean look and protection from extreme weather and terrain
  • rack mounts in the rear, bottle mounts above and beneath the down tube
  • components selected specifically for their cold-weather capability

2021 Bigfoot 1


Taking a closer look at the ’21 Bigfoot 1, there are some significant changes afoot with the premium model in the Norco alloy fat bike family.


Tires & Rims – for 2021 the Bigfoot 1 rid itself of the 26” wheelset and is now sporting 27.5 x 4.5 Vee Snow Avalanche (studdable) tires wrapped around Mulefut SL80 V2 27.5 x 80 rims. The rear hub is now a 197 x 12 Bear Pawls with 6-pawl/72T and 5 sealed bearings.

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Crank & Bottom BracketAnother change for the ’21 Bigfoot 1 is the move to a Praxis M30 crankset and a corresponding Praxis M30 (BSA) bottom bracket. The crankset has 3-bolt direct mount interface, a 30T chainring with new wave tech and solid forged aluminum 175 mm crank arms. The three bolt mounting of the chainring should make swapping out for something smaller or larger relatively straight forward.

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Drivetrain – For ’21 Norco shifted gears and moved to a 12-speed Shimano XT/SLX drivetrain. Up on the bars you will find a SLX SL-M7100 shifter running Rapidfire Plus (quick and light levers) and 2Way-Release (push and pull movements). In the back you will find Shimano XT RD-M8100 derailleur with Hyperglide + and larger 13T pulleys. Attached to the rear wheel is a Shimano SLX, 10/51 cassette featuring Hyperglyde +, Micro Spline and a large 51T cog.

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You can see the remainder of the specs here:


Initial Shakedown Impression

Snow was a little late in making to it to Fatbike Republic country for the 2020/2021 riding season. As all fatbikers know, our steeds are quite capable of riding dirt as well as snow so the review of the ’21 Bigfoot 1 started with getting the tires dirty.

Before heading out I wanted to know how much this fattie weighed. Hanging the bike from the ceiling of the shop, the Bigfoot 1 weighed in at a respectable 15.02 kg (33.1 lbs).

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The initial shakedown of the bike was a simple gravel grind. I found that my 5”11’ frame felt comfortable on the large size frame with the 50mm stem and generous 780 mm bars.

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Being a fan of Fizik saddles I felt at home with the firm feeling Fizik Taiga that Norco speced on the bike. While many fatbikes at this price point come without pedals, Norco included a set of nylon flats to get you up and running. I swapped them out for a more aggressive set of alloy Catalyst Pedals from Pedaling Innovations.

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Having used another popular drivetrain for several years on various fatties, I was really looking forward to putting this new Shimano 12-spd system through its paces. Having the ’21 Bigfoot 1 shakedown ride in a non-technical environment allowed me to pay particular attention to the drivetrain. My initial impression was that the shifting required less effort than I was expecting, and was quick and crisp through entire range.

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Having ridden 26” rim/tire combos for a long while, I did find that the switch to 27.5" helped the Bigfoot get up to speed more quickly. I was curious to see how it would react to a slower exploration mode and in the snow.

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Extended Shakedown

It was now time to expose the ’21 Bigfoot 1 to a larger mixture of dirt based riding while waiting for old man winter.

Before I jump into the riding I need to talk about the paint on this bike. On the Bigfoot 1 and 1S Norco shot the bike with a coat of gloss black paint - with glitter - accented by silver decals. I love the look of this bike as the light seems to catch the glitter and make the bike sparkle.

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In addition, I found that the paint seemed to repel dirt. I finished many a ride with the bike covered in mud, only to have it practically fall off the bike with a light washing. Other fatties I have ridden just seem to be a dirt magnet.

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The ’21 Bigfoot 1 does a great job in hiding its cables, routing them inside the frame just behind the bars. 

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While there are no bottle mounts on the fork, you will find sets on the bottom tube (top and bottom) and on the underneath of the top tube. Rack mounting points on the chainstay and seatstay should make rack mounting a simple affaire.

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Having spent a significant amount of time on fatties sporting front suspension, moving to a fattie with a rigid front end allowed me to pay more attention to the bumps in the trail. 

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While there was an absence of significant front squish with the super light carbon fork, I found that the 27.5 x 4.5 Snow Avalanche running 7-8 psi gave sufficient relief from trail nasties. The carbon fork made easy to loft the front end over trail obstacles and gave the bike an overall playful feel.

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On both versions of the ’21 Bigfoot 1 you will find an X-Fusion Manic dropper post connected to a Fizik saddle. The dropper length varies by frame size, however the large frame I was riding sported a massive 170 mm drop. 


When approaching descents, stabbing the lever on the bar would drop the seat, and stabbing again would bring it right back up with no surprises or hiccups. However, I did feel that for my 32” inseam going the full length of the 170 was a little bit of a stretch. But a quick tap of the lever dropped the seat within comfort range. 

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And speaking of the seat, while other may prefer a softer saddle, I found that the firm nature of the Taiga continued to feel comfortable when exploring dirt trails. For longer bikepacking trips I might consider something with a little more cush.

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Reaching out to the generous 780mm wide alloy bars I found the SRAM brake levers falling easily under my fingers. Running Avid rotors on both ends (180/160), I found that the brakes provided ample stopping power in the wet and in the dry. The only time I ran into an issue is when I completely buried the front end in mud during the 2020 GFBD ride. The front brake was awful crunchy and deserved a cleaning when I got back to headquarters.

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My initial shakedown ride with Shimano 1x12 was rather positive. Continuing in the dirt I found the SLX shifter continued to shift crisp and quick without a heavy thumb/finger presence. As time progressed I really became fond of the push/pull feature of gear selection. While I did not dig fully into the Rapidfire Plus by dropping three gears in one stroke, I commonly dropped two. And with no complaints.

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Working hand in hand with the shifter, the XT derailleur moved the Deore chain across the large (10-51) SLX cassette. I was particularly interested in Shimano’s Hyperglide + system that supposedly allows for better shifting even under load. 

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Changing gears under load was not something that I purposely attempted with other drivetrains - easing into a gear change was more appropriate to keep drivetrain moaning to a minimum. With the Shimano 12-speed system I purposely shifted under light to medium loads and was pleased to experience no noticeable drivetrain complaints.

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Powering the cassette was the 30T Praxis chainring mounted to a Praxis Cadet crank spinning in a Praxis M30 bottom bracket. I did not drop a chain in any of my off-road trail excursions and I found the gearing selection quite good for hill climbing and speeding down smooth singletrack. 

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Prior to swinging a leg over the ’21 Bigfoot 1 the majority of my ride time was spent on fatties sporting 26” rims. A large chunk of my recent riding - both winter and non-winter - was on Johnny 5 (26 x 5.0) that have an approximate diameter of 30.5” and width of 4.84”. The Vee Snow Avalanche (27.5 x 4.5) on the Bigfoot 1 are slightly taller with a 30.75” diameter and narrower width at 4.23”.

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When hitting the dirt trails and exploring the back country, the 27.5 shoes continued to feel a little sportier. It was probably a mixture of a slightly taller and narrower tire with a significantly different tread pattern. 

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The biggest difference I felt was getting the bike up to a faster operating speed . . . the bike just felt a heck of a lot quicker. At slower speeds I felt no discernable difference between rim/tire sizes.

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As I have always been a fan of the Vee Snow Avalanche tread pattern, I was pleased that Norco popped it on the ’21 Bigfoot 1. I found that the smaller lug size, coupled with the sharper edge profile allowed the tire to grip roots and rocks and power the bike through medium weight mud. As an added bonus, these tires are studdable for icy winter conditions.

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Winter Arrives

It was only a matter of time before the temperature started to drop and the white stuff started to accumulate. For a while there was that lovely mixture of mud and ice (mice?) that would stick and freeze to every part of a bike. It made cleanup a real pain, but the ’21 Bigfoot 1 was still prowling on the trails.

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During this icky transitional period the performance of the drivetrain and brakes did not falter. I did notice that the combination of slick mud and slicker ice caused the Snow Avalanche to break free a few times under heavy pedal pressure. I found dropping the psi and easing up on the pedal pressure reduced unnecessary spin.

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The snow finally arrived and covered all that wet dirt with a layer of white. It was time to drop tire pressure to my preferred snow cruising pressure of 5 psi.

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I immediately found that this bike is an absolute dream on the groomed trails. Carving through the twisty trails in the forest or blasting down the straightaways . . . the ’21 Bigfoot 1 was a hoot.

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I felt the 27.5 wheelset ramped up to speed as quickly as on the gravel. The Snow Avalanche hooked into the snow keeping this fun machine moving. 

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The super light carbon fork was almost weightless when comparing it to running snow with a suspension fork strapped to the front. 

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And the DOT fluid running through the veins in the SRAM stoppers did not freeze up, stopped me quickly and helped with a little drifting.

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The Shimano 12-spd drivetrain continued working through the range pulling me up the hills and speeding down the valleys. My gloved hands had no issues finding and flipping the shifters. And when heading down those hills, the X-Fusion dropper kissed the seatpost collar and returned with a simple stab of the lever.

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While I felt the new 27.5 wheel/tire combo on the ’21 Bigfoot 1 made the bike feel a little more nimble than it 26” counterpart, when heading into ungroomed snow territory I did miss the extra 0.5” width offered by the smaller diameter tire.

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While the 27.5 Snow Avalanche did get me through, I felt that the larger footprint of the 26er would provide more flotation and a little more traction when heading into the deeper untamed white stuff. An acceptable trade-off unless spending all my time in deep virgin snow. 

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And while on the topic of deep snow, the X-Fusion dropper came in quite handy when trying to mount the bike when standing knee deep in the white stuff.


Bottom line . . . the '21 Bigfoot 1 is probably the most fun I have had riding a fatbike in the snow since I started in the sport back in 2014.

Final Thoughts

Over the span of a couple of months I exposed the 2021 Bigfoot 1 to a true mix of terrain – dirt trails, mud, water, rock, gravel and snow. I was particularly impressed with Bigfoot’s Shimano drivetrain, amazing paint, more relaxed geometry (slacker HT angle, steeper ST angle and longer reach) and super lite front fork.

I did find the new 27.5 wheelset gave the ’21 Bigfoot 1 a more spirited mannerism. While the wheel/tire felt a little faster rolling, I also felt that it could be giving up a little flotation in the deep snow to its chubbier 26” counterparts.

Designed and manufactured by a company that is committed to the sport of fatbiking, the 2021 Norco Bigfoot 1 is a fine example of a fat bike.


RIDE FAT !






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