Norco Fluid FS 1 review£1,850.00

Top value on paper but disappointing on the trail

BikeRadar score3/5

At first glance, Norco has done everything right with its new Fluid FS 1, but the trail tells a different story.

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.

The geometry is all-new, with a long reach (470mm, large)
The geometry is all-new, with a long reach (470mm, large)

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.

At 29mm wide (internal), the WTB rims support the 2.6in tyres nicely, although, at 5.98kg, the wheelset is very heavy. RockShox’s 2019 Revelation fork looks like a spec slam dunk.

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.

That steep seat angle positions you just right for sinking your power into technical climbs
That steep seat angle positions you just right for sinking your power into technical climbs

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.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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