At first glance, Norco has done everything right with its new Fluid FS 1, but the trail tells a different story.
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Norco Fluid FS 1 frame
The all-new frame uses an evolution of Norco’s ‘ART’ four-bar linkage, with the (metric) shock flipped so the shaft is uppermost, to minimise unsprung weight.
There’s a beefier look to the mainframe, which has neat internal routing and a threaded bottom bracket (BB). The geometry is all-new, with a long reach (470mm, large), 66.5-degree head and 76-degree seat angle. These changes have added some weight though.
Norco Fluid FS 1 kit
Getting 12-speed SRAM NX Eagle and a 150mm dropper as standard is awesome for under £2k. The 780mm bar and 50mm stem sync well with the handling, and the SRAM Guide T brakes are brought up to strength with 180mm rotors.
Norco Fluid FS 1 ride
The overall result is a bike that feels great when you sit on it, with the reach, head angle and bar width putting the front wheel and your hands in the right places to push hard on technical trails.
That steep seat angle poises you just right for sinking your power into technical climbs too, and there’s no distracting bob or bounce from the suspension.
Sadly, the ‘medium’ compression tune robs the rear end of sensitivity (Norco says it tried a more mobile ‘light’ tune but wasn’t happy with its pedalling efficiency) and I had to lower pressures significantly to get meaningful movement from the fork, which remained stubborn and spiky.
The flimsy carcass of the wide tyres prevents you exploiting their low-pressure potential and the tread came unstuck regularly. (Thankfully, most Fluids should come with faster and more predictable Maxxis Forekasters.)
Add excessive wheel weight, and a bike I expected to love, due to its sorted shape and high value, never managed to reach its obvious potential on the trail.