|Bike||Norco Fluid FS 1 Size Medium 29″|
|Trail System||18 Road, Fruita Colorado|
|Trails Ridden||Prime Cut, Joe’s Ridge, Mojoe|
|Total Distance||5.2 Miles|
|Testers Personal Bike||Kona Process 153|
The Norco Fluid got some major updates this year and I got to try them out at the Fruita Fat Tire Festival a couple of weeks ago. The Norco Fluid for 2019 has new geometry. Some of the highlights include a slackened headtube angle by 2 degrees from 68.5 to 66.5. The reach on my size medium is stretched out by 8mm and the wheelbase is stretched out from 1125mm to 1169mm.
The most felt changes for me though, were the addition of 10mm of travel in the fork and a steepened seat tube angle from 74.5 degrees to 76 degrees. I’ll cover more on these changes in a little bit.
The aluminum frame itself is extremely sleek looking. From afar, you could easily mistake it for a carbon bike. Norco adapts its wheel size based on the size of frame. The Fluid FS is designed around 27.5″ wheels for XS-M frame sizes and 29″ wheels for M-XL with medium being available in either wheel size. I rode the 29er version of the medium.
Components and Build
The Fluid that I tested is the top end model, the Fluid FS 1. This model retails for $3,049.00, but Norco has builds that go all the way down to $1,649.00 with several build options in between. Each model also comes in a men’s and women’s version. From what I can tell though the only difference is frame colors and perhaps shock tunes. In my opinion this is the way it should be. In fact, Norco would be welcome to dispense with the men’s and women’s monikers and just sell and “light” and “medium” shock tune.
The Fluid FS 1 features SRAM components throughout. NX Eagle handles the drivetrain and SRAM Guide T 4 piston brakes provide the stopping power. A 130mm Rockshox Revelation fork is paired with a RockShox Deluxe R shock.
Cockpit components and the dropper post are provided by TranzX and performed just fine. The wheelset features novatec hubs laced to WTB STP i29 TCS, 32 Hole rims with an 29mm internal width. This is all pretty standard equipment for a bike in this price range.
During my testing all of the components functioned well. The NX eagle shifting was crisp and the Guide T brakes provided good stopping power even though my particular demo bike probably could have used a good bleed.
The first task during my test ride was climbing up Prime Cut at the 18 road trail system. The steep seat tube and bit longer reach meant the Norco Fluid FS 1 proved to be an eager climber. I found that I could spin up steeper sections of trail with no front-wheel lift. That, combined with the range and confident shifting of the NX Eagle drivetrain meant I tore through prime-cut in no time. I really liked how this bike climbed.
The Horst-link four-bar suspension design of the Fluid kept the rear wheel on the ground well. Combined with the 2.6” tires, traction heading up hill was not a problem. The power transfer through this suspension felt good.
Once at the top, heading back down showed perhaps some of the weaknesses or touchy setup of the bike. I found that as I started to hit rougher terrain at higher speeds the rear suspension worked through it’s travel very quickly. As I started to hit the jumps and drops further down I found myself bottoming out the suspension pretty easily.
It could very well be that adjusting the sag to less than recommended or adding volume spacers could help solve this problem. But be aware that the suspension may require some tweaking.
On the flip side, the front suspension handled the downhills great and the 130mm fork travel seems exactly right for this type of bike. The slacker head tube and lengthened wheelbase helped the bike feel very stable at speed.
Even though the rear suspension did not agree with me, I did really like this bike. The foundational geometry is solid. This bike could easily be used as a budget “down-country” bike or just as a general trail bike. Swap on some faster rolling and lighter tires and I would not hesitate to take this out to a XC race. Leave those original 2.6″ tires on and it would make a great general purpose trail bike.
In addition, the components specced are the right ones for the price range of this bike, and I don’t think most buyers will find themselves immediately needing to swap out any components. The Norco Fluid FS 1 is a great looking and riding bike that will please many… perhaps with a little tweaking of the rear suspension.