Norco's Search Carbon Ultegra rolls wider for 2016

Fatter rubber and a wheel upgrade for Norco’s all-roader – we take a closer look

Norco’s Search range proved to be a popular addition for the brand when it debuted last year. Wide tyres, thru-axles and disc braking featured across a range that used steel, alloy and carbon for its frames. It fits the (delete as necessary) gravel/all-road/adventure road bill perfectly. 

With the second-generation Search bikes already hitting shops, we thought it was about time we got one of them in to give you a more detailed look. The model we’ve got hold of is the Search Carbon Ultegra, the direct successor to a bike that we spent a lot of time on last year – you can read the full review of that model, here.

DT swiss' r23 spline wheelset: tubeless-ready, disc-specific and with their generous 18mm internal width: dt swiss' r23 spline wheelset: tubeless-ready, disc-specific and with their generous 18mm internal width
DT swiss' r23 spline wheelset: tubeless-ready, disc-specific and with their generous 18mm internal width: dt swiss' r23 spline wheelset: tubeless-ready, disc-specific and with their generous 18mm internal width

New tubeless-ready wheels from DT Swiss are a welcome addition

So, the retail price on this model has spiked for 2016, you’re now looking at an RRP of £2,900 / $3,450 / AU$4,899, that’s compared to £2,100 for last year’s bike. That’s not a completely fair comparison though; the specs of these bikes have changed a fair bit in a year.

You still appear to get the same carbon frame, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. We found it to provide a desirable balance of stiffness and comfort during extensive testing last year, and were also suitably impressed with the bike's road manners. All cables and hoses are internally routed, and they’re done so through a system that we know is quiet and well sealed.

It appears Norco has stuck with the same fork as last year too, which with its super stiff ride and flakey quality control, caused upset among some of our testers last year. Thankfully, Norco has made a couple of other changes to the bike’s spec that may well help out with that issue. First, the fiddly first-generation Maxle axles of the previous bike have been replaced with simpler and slicker components from DT Swiss and second, much larger tyres have been fitted as standard.

DT swiss skewers are simpler to operate than the maxle items found on last year's bike: dt swiss skewers are simpler to operate than the maxle items found on last year's bike
DT swiss skewers are simpler to operate than the maxle items found on last year's bike: dt swiss skewers are simpler to operate than the maxle items found on last year's bike

The DT Swiss thru-axles should be a big improvement over the Maxles used on the 2015 Search

Rather than going with the 28mm Continentals of last year, Norco has fitted 35mm cyclocross rubber from Clement, namely the X’Plor USH. These are around DT Swiss’ latest R23 Spline wheelset, which is tubeless-ready, disc-specific and, with a generous 18mm internal width, optimised for wider tyres. It’s worth mentioning that even with the 35mm rubber in place, there’s a decent amount of mud clearance at the front and rear – so much so that Norco claims upping the girth to 40mm won't cause any trouble.

Just as the model name suggests, you get a full 11-speed Ultegra group, which includes the excellent RS685 hydraulic discs as well as a 32t crawler cog at the rear cassette. The RS685s still use mountain bike rotors rather than the smaller, road-specific items found on many competitors’ machines, although Shimano’s own finned brake pads do now arrive as standard.

There's plenty of room at the back too: there's plenty of room at the back too
There's plenty of room at the back too: there's plenty of room at the back too

No clearance issues here then…

Our 53cm example tipped our scales at 8.66kg (19.09lbs). The Search is sold in seven frame sizes ranging from 45.5-60.5cm.

Although similar to last year’s bike, this Search goes a long way to addressing the problems that we found with the original – which other than minor niggles was a very decent little bike. We’ll be handing this bike over to our sister publication Cycling Plus to give it a good shakedown. As ever, keep your eyes peeled for a full review.

Oli Woodman

Section Editor, UK
With more than 10 years of experience riding mountain bikes, Oli knows the good from the bad when it comes to gear. He's a total bike nerd and loves few things more than fettling with spangly riding bits. Also, he seems to have a talent for crashing hard but emerging unscathed.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Loamy singletrack
  • Current Bikes: Marin Pine Mountain, Pinnacle Dolomite
  • Dream Bike: Honda RN01
  • Beer of Choice: Corona
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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