THE NEW NORCO FLUID FS

SHORT-TRAVEL, BIG VALUE

Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Dusten Ryen & Brian Niles
Video by Brian Niles/Treeline Cinematics

SPONSORED CONTENT

Norco’s new Fluid line seeks to bring features like ride quality and geometry-driven safety that are normally found exclusively on high end bikes to a more accessible price point. Come along for another Dissected series episode where we review and learn about how and what makes the new Norco Fluid one of the most rewarding, challenging, and fun projects the Norco engineer and design team have had in recent years. Read on for the full Norco Fluid FS review!

As with all of our Dissected Features, our goal is to provide a brief review with the focus of giving our viewers and readers a chance to get a deeper look into some of the newest tech and products in the mountain bike space. We thank Norco Bicycles for the opportunity to create this feature and getting you some valuable beta on this new mid-travel trail bike.

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It may sound a bit gimmicky or like we’re reciting a sales pitch, but something came through time and again during our meetings leading up to the filming of this Dissected, was the genuineness and passion behind the crew at Norco involved in creating the new Norco Fluid FS. It’s not hard for a brand to exhaust all their efforts and contacts to build the best bike they know how. Well, I say that loosely. When you know a bike is going to retail for 8,10, even 13,000 dollars, pulling out all the stops to feature things like size-specific geometry molds, custom tuned suspension and different tube thickness is expected. To try and offer these same features on a bike that starts under $3,000? That’s where the passion and challenge take over.

Now, we’re lucky here as brands often send us their flagship model bikes. It’s what people lust over, and it shows the pinnacle of what engineering and componentry are capable of. The reality is most riders, us included, spend more time evaluating how nice of a bike we can get to fit within our budget. Compromise has long come in the form of components and geometry, with suspension tuning following behind. Norco is seeking to raise the bar when it comes to what an affordable, dual suspension mountain bike is capable of with their new Fluid, and first impressions tell us they have delivered.

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THE EXTRA MILE

Like all of Norco’s high-end dual suspension mountain bikes, the new Norco Fluid FS had two teams working on bringing it to what you see here.

We met with David Cox who oversees the engineering team, which handles R&D, conceptualizing the bike, testing and tuning it. It’s then handed off to the industrial and commercial design team, where the bike gets refined. Here it starts to smooth out, take shape and look more like the finished product.

Along that process, the Fluid spends lots of time with Norco’s suspension tuning team, led by Colin Ryan. And here again is where the passion shone through. It’s not uncommon to see brands spend time working with Fox or RockShox to customize tunes on high-end bikes, but when Norco’s product manager Paul Burnett told us that they spent a ton of time working with X-Fusion, going over dyno data and fine tuning the performance of the shock to best suit the bike at the $2700 price point, it was clear to see this wasn’t just a sales pitch. Norco was looking to challenge themselves and give riders the best experience possible – riders of all budgets and abilities can benefit from good suspension after all.

GEOMETRY IS FREE

This was a big takeaway from our conversations with the Norco Bicycles team. For decades cheap bikes have had outdated – dare we say dangerous – geometry that we’ve long left behind in the high-end bike world. Short reach numbers, high centers of gravity and steep, twitchy head tube angles have been accepted for too long and as Norco pointed out, a mold is a mold, and if you’re going to make a new mold for a budget-focused bike, there’s no reason not to give it capable geometry! Geometry is free at this point, and Norco learned what works and how it improves confidence and safety to riders, especially those who are new to our sport.

So, what is the geometry on the new Norco Fluid? Let’s check it out:

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Five, that’s right, five sizes will be available to suit riders from 5’1- 6’7” tall and they all accept dual 29” wheels and full-length dropper posts.


JUST A CHEAPER NORCO OPTIC?

To put it simply, no. Norco engineers learned a lot about building a capable short travel mountain bike after the last generation Optic, however that is a very purpose-built mountain bike. What makes the Optic too stiff, or too aggressive for some, is exactly what other riders (our test crew included) absolutely love about the Optic. It has a DH shock with maximum number of volume reducers installed from the factory and aggressive rebound tuning. All things that make the Optic a short travel bike that can handle big hits at high speeds.

When Norco set out to build a new Fluid, the goal was to take those capabilities but tune them to be more enjoyable to a wider range of riders on a wider range of terrain. By going to a 50mm stroke shock and upping the travel compared with the previous generation, Norco Bicycles wanted to add comfort and compliance to the Fluid. The lighter rebound tune and custom shock tunes developed with Fox and X-Fusion mean the fluttery, plush and confident feel will be there for all riders, not just the fastest and gnarliest pinners going for gold.

BURLY WITHOUT THE HEFT

As a material, aluminum tends to be more affordable, albeit a bit heavier, however Norco went to great lengths to keep weight respectable for a capable alloy mountain bike. One impressive example of this is the two different tube sets they’ve opted to build the bikes from. Size Small and Medium frames will use smaller, lighter tubes for frame construction while larger size frames will get a slightly heavier and more robust tube set to handle heavier riders and maintain frame stiffness and ride quality.

Norco also increased the bearing sizes in the main pivot and are using double bearings in key areas for more durability across the board. Also new is the forged, one-piece link arm. You can see the hole through the link arm, and the absence of any welds or seams means reduced assembly joints and potential areas for failure or creaks. It also increases stability and stiffness right in the heart of the frame.

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AVAILABLE MODELS*

Norco will have four aluminum Fluid models available at a variety of price points from $2,699 to $4,449. Each model has thoughtful spec selections that blend value with a mind for performance and durability.

*Builds and pricing are located at the bottom of this page*

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THE WOLF’S FIRST IMPRESSION

We’ve had three different riders put time aboard the new 2022 Norco Fluid FS as we worked on this Dissected Feature. Each rider has been very impressed with what Norco has achieved in their new affordable mountain bike line. As we sat down to review the Norco Fluid FS, we found that while we do love the build and spec on this FS A1 model, we’re all excited to spend some time riding the entry level Fluid FS A4 to see how the work with X-Fusion came out on that sub-$3,000 bike.

Norco’s new Fluid is without a doubt one of the category leaders in the affordable, performance dual suspension mountain bike department when it comes to tech, features and effort put in. We look forward to putting in lots more miles aboard this bike as we work towards our long-term review, but initial thoughts have all been positive. It’s fun, playful, snappy and quite capable all around. If you’re in the market, you may want to jump on one before waiting for our official review to come out, as they may be gone by then.

VISIT NORCO’S WEBSITE TO LEARN MORE
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NORCO FLUID FS A1

Price: $3,999

Norco Fluid FS A1

Frame: 6061 Alloy, 130mm Travel
Fork: Fox FLOAT Factory 34 GRIP2 | 140mm
Shock: Fox FLOAT X Performance Elite, 2-pos | Custom Tune
Headset: Sealed Bearing, Tapered

Handlebar: TranzX 6061 Butted Alloy | 780mm, 20mm Rise
Stem: 6061 Alloy | 50mm Length, 35mm Clamp
Seatpost: SDG Tellis Dropper, 34.9mm
Seatpost Travel: 150mm (S), 170mm (M, L), 200mm (XL, XXL)
Saddle: Fizik Alpaca Terra with Wingflex

Brakes: TRP Trail EVO, 4 Piston, Organic Pads
Rotors: TRP 203mm / 180mm
Shifter: Shimano XT SL-M8100-IR I-Spec EV
Derailleur: Shimano XT RD-M8100
Cassette: Shimano XT, 10-51, 12 Speed
Chain: Shimano XT
Crankset: Praxis G2 Cadet M24, 30T | 170mm (S), 175mm (M – XXL)
Bottom Bracket: Praxis M24 Cartridge Bearing, BSA Threaded

Front Hub: Bear Pawls Sealed Bearing, 15x110mm Boost, 6 Bolt
Rear Hub: Bear Pawls Sealed Bearing, 12x148mm Boost, Micro Spline, 6 Bolt
Spokes/Nipples: Stainless, Black
Rims: Stan’s Flow S1, 29”, 32H
Front Tire: Vittoria Mazza 2.4” Trail G2.0, Folding
Rear Tire: Vittoria Martello 2.35” Trail G2.0, Folding

NORCO FLUID FS A2

Price: $3,149

Norco Fluid FS A2

Frame: 6061 Alloy, 130mm Travel
Fork: Marzocchi Bomber Z2 | 140mm
Shock: Fox FLOAT X Performance, 2-pos | Custom Tune
Headset: Sealed Bearing, Tapered

Handlebar: e*thirteen | 800mm, 20mm Rise
Stem: 6061 Alloy | 40mm Length, 35mm Clamp
Seatpost: SDG Tellis Dropper, 34.9mm
Seatpost Travel: 150mm (S), 170mm (M, L), 200mm (XL, XXL)
Saddle: Fizik Alpaca Terra with Wingflex

Brakes: TRP Slate EVO, 4 Piston, Organic Pads
Rotors: TRP 203mm / 180mm
Shifter: SLX SL-M7100-IR I-Spec EV
Derailleur: Shimano XT RD-M8100
Cassette: Shimano SLX, 10-51, 12 Speed
Chain: Shimano Deore
Crankset: Praxis G2 Cadet M24, 30T | 170mm (S), 175mm (M – XXL)
Bottom Bracket: Praxis M24 Cartridge Bearing, BSA Threaded

Front Hub: Bear Pawls Sealed Bearing, 15x110mm Boost, 6 Bolt
Rear Hub: Bear Pawls Sealed Bearing, 12x148mm Boost, Micro Spline, 6 Bolt
Spokes/Nipples: Stainless, Black
Rims: Stan’s Flow D, 29”, 32H
Front Tire: Vittoria Mazza 2.4” Trail G2.0, Folding
Rear Tire: Vittoria Martello 2.35” Trail G2.0, Folding

NORCO FLUID FS A3

Price: $2,699

Norco Fluid FS A3

Frame: 6061 Alloy, 130mm Travel
Fork: RockShox 35 Silver TK | 140mm
Shock: X-Fusion 02 Pro R AV | Custom Tune
Headset: Sealed Bearing, Tapered

Handlebar: e*thirteen | 800mm, 20mm Rise
Stem: 6061 Alloy | 40mm Length, 35mm Clamp
Seatpost: SDG Tellis Dropper, 34.9mm
Seatpost Travel: 150mm (S), 170mm (M, L), 200mm (XL, XXL)
Saddle: Norco Trail

Brakes: Tektro HD-745, 4 Piston, Organic Pads
Rotors: Tektro 180mm / 180mm
Shifter: SRAM SX Eagle
Derailleur: SRAM SX Eagle
Cassette: SRAM PG1210 Eagle, 11-50T
Chain: SRAM SX Eagle
Crankset: SRAM SX Eagle DUB, 30T | 170mm (S), 175mm (M – XXL)
Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB BB, BSA Threaded

Front Hub: Bear Pawls Sealed Bearing, 15x110mm Boost, 6 Bolt
Rear Hub: Bear Pawls Sealed Bearing, 12x148mm Boost, Micro Spline, 6 Bolt
Spokes/Nipples: Stainless, Black
Rims: Stan’s Flow D, 29”, 32H
Front Tire: Vittoria Mazza 2.4” Trail G2.0, Folding
Rear Tire: Vittoria Martello 2.35” Trail G2.0, Folding

NORCO FLUID FS A4

Price: $2,399

Norco Fluid FS A4

Frame: 6061 Alloy, 130mm Travel
Fork: RockShox Recon Silver RL | 140mm
Shock: X-Fusion 02 Pro R | Custom Tune
Headset: Sealed Bearing, Tapered

Handlebar: e*thirteen | 800mm, 20mm Rise
Stem: 6061 Alloy | 40mm Length, 35mm Clamp
Seatpost: SDG Tellis Dropper, 34.9mm
Seatpost Travel: 150mm (S), 170mm (M, L), 200mm (XL, XXL)
Saddle: Norco Trail

Brakes: Tektro HD-535, 4 Piston, Organic Pads
Rotors: Tektro 180mm / 180mm
Shifter: Shimano Deore SL-M5100
Derailleur: Shimano Deore RD-M5100
Cassette: SunRace CSMS8, 11-51T, 11 Speed
Chain: KMC X11
Crankset: FSA Comet 1X DM, 30T | 170mm (S), 175mm (M – XXL)
Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB BB, BSA Threaded

Front Hub: Bear Pawls Sealed Bearing, 15x110mm Boost, 6 Bolt
Rear Hub: Bear Pawls Sealed Bearing, 12x148mm Boost, Micro Spline, 6 Bolt
Spokes/Nipples: Stainless, Black
Rims: Stan’s Flow D, 29”, 32H
Front Tire: Goodyear Newton 2.4”, Folding
Rear Tire: Goodyear Newton 2.4”, Folding

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