Much like our time aboard the Norco Fluid Alloy, the Fluid Carbon C1 impressed our riders from the get-go. We put three different testers aboard the bike, one of whom bought our aluminum Fluid from Norco after we wrapped that test up last year.
Notable differences compared to the alloy frame come from the front triangle stiffness. Nic, our Fluid Alloy owner, noticed it most while standing up and putting hard pedal strokes down. Similarly, he noticed increased stiffness in the front end while cornering, pushing hard into berms and also felt a bit more feedback and frequency chatter over extended rough sections of trail. This could be something to consider for riders who enjoy the compliance and smoothness of aluminum frames and is quite frankly why I’m personally riding alloy bikes so much more these days.
Aside from frame stiffness being notably different, our testers found the RockShox-equipped Fluid Carbon pedaled a bit more efficiently than the Fox-spec’d Fluid Alloy we have. The platform was a bit more supportive and meant the bike felt like it rode a bit higher in the travel. This also traded off in the form of a bit more hand and foot feedback in chattery bits of trail, but also made the bike so fast and poppy in corners and off little features or jumps.
Norco selected the spec sensibly on our Fluid Carbon C1, with little to wish for in terms of improvement in terms of spec. The only items we’d change if we were to spec the bike to our exacting specifications are the brakes and tires. SRAM’s G2 RSC brakes lack the out-and-out power of their CODE or the likes of Shimano’s XT or TRP DHR brakes, which is notable when you get the Fluid C1 into steep terrain or attack a sustained descent. We never quite gelled with the Vittoria tire spec as much as some more familiar options, but they felt to perform reasonably well.
Overall, we really like the Norco Fluid Carbon but regularly felt the bottom of the travel when pushing it hard. It lets you know it’s just a 130mm bike out back, and if that’s all you need, then you’ll likely enjoy this spritely jibber. It rides like a hyperactive kid who just snuck his first Red Bull energy drink. The rear end will snap, slide and lift with just a notion of direction change, and the Fluid C1 rewards riders who enjoy pumping and popping. For heavier riders, or those who like drops-to-flat or going big, be prepared to invest some time installing volume reducers to get a bit more progression, as the Fluid’s 130mm of travel does seem to come quickly. If that sounds like it may be you, perhaps moving up to the Norco Sight would be a better call, as the extra travel will certainly smooth out rough, chundery trails and landings from big hits. The Fluid remains a very fun and capable all-around trail mountain bike.
The Wolf’s Last Word
It’s safe to say that the Norco Fluid Carbon is a sweet machine all around. We really like this bike’s performance, looks and all-around playful demeanor for a 130mm trail bike. If it came to us having to spend our own money however, we’d likely still buy the Fluid Alloy for a few reasons. The value component is undeniable on the Fluid Alloy and my personal preference is towards comfort and compliance, which the aluminum frame gives a little more of. There is an undeniable weight saving for sure, and for those who want to have the newest SRAM T-Type and RockShox suspension spec will likely disagree with me, but that’s alright! We’re in a day and age where brands can offer a variety of specs and products to meet different riders’ needs. If you prioritize frame stiffness, weight savings, and want a lively, playful trail-shredding mountain bike that’s comfortable at speed, jumps effortlessly and is an absolute treat in the corners, the Norco Fluid Carbon line could be worth a trip to your local bike shop or norco.com.