So what am I looking at here?
This is the $3199 Norco Fluid FS1. The Fluid series received some love for 2019, and the build quality of this full aluminium bike is very neat indeed. In fact, with its clean, straight lines we think it’s now the best looking frame out of all the aluminium Norco duallies.
It’s a 29er (though you can get it with 27.5 wheels in X-small, small and medium frames), with a familiar combo of 120mm of rear travel, and 130mm up front. A skim of the geometry charts reveals some surprisingly aggressive numbers, which are pretty similar to those of the hard-charging Norco Sight. Compare this bike to the old Fluid and the difference is stark – the old bike comes across very, very wimpy!
What does my money get me?
As the pinnacle of the Fluid range, you’re getting a largely foolproof component selection for $3199. None of the kit is flashy (or light, which puts the bike around 15kg) but it nails all the key items: wide-range 1×12 drivetrain, quality RockShox suspension, a precise steering fork, a decent dropper post, wide rims with good tyres, and a confident cockpit setup. What would we change? Not a thing. We haven’t had a single issue with any of the kit.
Let’s look at the suspension.
Norco utilise the same four-bar suspension configuration across nearly all their dual suspension bikes, just tweaked to deliver different performance for each application. In the Fluid’s case, the ride it delivers is more focused on traction under power and smoothness, and less on rapid pedalling performance. In short, more control, less zippiness.
Norco resisted easy cost saving of a crappy fork and shock, opting for decent RockShox equipment. The latest iteration of the Revelation fork gets the much lauded Charger damper, and it’s the highlight here – some of the cheaper Fluid bikes get skinnier legged forks, but this one is the real deal. The rear shock doesn’t offer any kind of compression adjustment, which doesn’t do much for the bike’s acceleration, but it does feel good.
Happiest when you’re off the brakes and descending.
Like most Norcos, the Fluid is built with descending performance as a priority, and it’s when happiest heading downhill or taking on tricky, rocky lines. The suspension feels great when you’re letting it flow, pumping and working the terrain, not jamming on the brakes or sprinting out of every corner.
Slow speed technical trails are confidently handled too, with tonnes of control and poise. The angles are sufficiently slack up front, that even less experienced riders will find themselves taking on steeper and steeper roll-ins and drops.
How does it climb?
It ain’t no whippet. Plenty of rotating weight, a hefty 15kg overall, and the absence of any lockout out back means riders in a rush will feel frustrated. Forget about setting any records, keep a smooth pedal stroke and see your mate on the 12kg hardtail at the top of the climb.
The big rubber seems excessive.
Yes, there’s a lot of rubber, but the upsides of copious grip and floatation over loose surfaces easily outweigh the extra grams. Overseas the bike comes with WTB rubber, but here in Australia we get the Maxxis Forekaster. We’ve previously ridden this tyre in a skinnier format and found them a bit nervy, but in this wide 2.6″ version the performance is steadfast and sensational.
Did you have any issues?
Norco: It’s borderline lazy to sell a mountain bike that’s not tubeless ready. Before we could ditch the tubes, we had to fit tubeless rim tape and valves, and the WTB rims were a little leaky. True tubeless-ready components (including supplying valves) should be the standard on all mountain bikes. It’s not like cheaper cars come with tubes, is it?
Super happy with this one! We often have some pretty glamorous bikes hanging in the shed, we get a bit spoiled really. So it says a lot about the Norco’s performance that not once did we wish for a different bike to take to the trails. The Norco pushes into a realm of performance where the bike is definitely not going to be holding you back, making it an excellent choice for a rider looking to invest in their first ‘serious’ mountain bike. Your only issue is going to be finding of these things, apparently they’ve been very popular on the shop floor.