Norco Fluid FS 1

Cana­dian brand pro­duces cost-con­scious trail shred­der

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - re­viewed by Terry Mck­all

Cana­dian brand pro­duces cost-con­scious trail shred­der

When Norco re­designed the Fluid FS plat­form for 2019, the Cana­dian com­pany aimed to create a high-per­for­mance bike that was ac­ces­si­ble to more rid­ers. With up­per-end moun­tain bikes eas­ily break­ing into the five-fig­ure range, the fo­cus on qual­ity at a lower price point is wel­come. The tubes of the Fluid FS al­low for smartly planned in­ter­nal cable rout­ing that favours straight lines and clean en­try/exit points in­stead of com­plex curves. All build op­tions in­clude a stealth-routed drop­per post. This at­ten­tion to de­tail helps the Fluid FS cut a clean pro­file that looks pricier than its book Norco Fluid FS 1 value, es­pe­cially with the up­dated ge­om­e­try of the 2019 bike. Size-spe­cific frame de­sign car­ries over from the brand’s higher-end trail op­tions to the Fluid FS. Smaller sizes, XS–M, get 27.5" wheels, while 29" wheels are on M–XL frames. So the Fluid FS 1 has the looks, but how does it ride? On trail, i t lives up to i ts sharp es­thet­ics. Its trail feel fits in with the emerg­ing crop of high-end trail of­fer­ings with sim­i­lar travel. The bike’s 120 mm of rear squish feels smooth, hug­ging the ground through cor­ners and over rough ter­rain. Ex­tra trac­tion from 2.6" tires add to this feel­ing of con­trol. Up­front, Rock­shox’s Reve­la­tion RC pro­vides 130 mm of travel; the frame’s slacker an­gles add to the bike’s de­scend­ing chops. Turn Norco’s Fluid FS back up­hill, and the bike, with its steep seat-tube an­gle, con­tin­ues to shine. The Fluid FS sus­pen­sion is ac­tive enough to hold trac­tion up bumpy ob­sta­cles and roots with­out feel­ing like you’re pedalling through half the sus­pen­sion to get up hills. With sram’s NX Ea­gle wide-range driv­e­train, the bike will hap­pily spin up most grades. It re­sponds when you stand dur­ing a climb, while its grounded feel­ing helps when you’re try­ing to get over tricky trail fea­tures.

To get the bike down to its im­pres­sive price point, there has to be some com­pro­mise. Qual­ity de­sign and good com­po­nent se­lec­tion were Norco’s choices over ex­pen­sive light­weight parts. The com­pany has been strate­gic with where it adds grams, though, bal­anc­ing the weight of sram NX Ea­gle with the ben­e­fit of its wide-range gear­ing. The down­side of adding weight to the back end is the oc­ca­sional heavy feel­ing when the Fluid FS comes across larger square-edge hits. De­spite this qual­ity, the bike oth­er­wise feels light and ma­noeu­vrable on the trail. The ab­sence of any down-tube pro­tec­tion is one fea­ture the Fluid FS is lack­ing, though. The alu­minum frame isn’t as del­i­cate as car­bon-fi­bre op­tions, but hear­ing rocks ting off a brand new paint job still isn’t a wel­come sound. To save the paint, you can add af­ter­mar­ket pro­tec­tion.

Norco’s Fluid FS is a bike that will sat­isfy very ca­pa­ble rid­ers who might not be will­ing to shell out se­ri­ous cash for a car­bon op­tion. The bike feels com­fort­able and con­fi­dent on chal­leng­ing ter­rain, and is a blast on fast, flow­ing trails. With a per­for­mance-minded de­sign and sharp build kit, Norco shows cost doesn’t have to hold you back from rid­ing a bet­ter bike.

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