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Norco Fluid FS C2 review

Does a carbon front end take Norco’s Fluid to the top of the trail bikes category?

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £4,999.00 RRP | USD $4,999.00 | EUR €5,299.00
The Fluid has a purposeful stance and impresses on the trail.

Our review

While not the flashiest, this is an incredibly fun bike to ride, which flatters your skills
Pros: Agile yet confidence-inspiring geometry; feels as though it has more travel than it does; excellent climbing traction
Cons: Deserves more powerful brakes; could do with a tougher rear tyre; not everyone will get on with the front tread pattern
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Norco’s Fluid has been around for more than a decade in its various guises. For 2024, it gains a carbon front triangle for the first time, dropping a claimed 600g from the full-alloy bike.

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There’s 140mm of travel up front and 130mm out back, with a 65-degree head angle, 480mm reach and a 76.7-degree seat tube angle. The Fluid sits slap-bang in the middle of the trail bikes category.

There is some overlap between the Fluid and the brand’s other trail bike, the Optic. Both have carbon front triangles, aluminium rear ends, 140mm forks and a similar amount of rear-wheel travel (130mm vs 125mm). The geometry numbers are very similar on paper too.

On the trail though, the Fluid FS C2 ploughs its own path. The geometry offers confidence at speed, yet remains fun, agile and engaging, while the suspension performance is a real stand-out.

Its poppy, playful character and impressive bump-gobbling ability add up to a bike that thoroughly impresses on a wide range of trails.

While it’s not a rocket on the climbs, it claws its way up technical climbs thanks to incredibly traction-rich suspension.

2024 Headliners bike test

Our annual Headliners bike test is an opportunity to swing a leg over the new bikes we’re most excited to ride, and a chance to delve deeper into the minds of the product managers and engineers with their fingers on the pulse of where the industry is heading.

This year, we’ve selected six new bikes for 2024 that epitomise the cutting edge of mountain biking in its various forms.

Bikes on test

Norco Fluid FS C2 frame and suspension

Norco Fluid FS C2 full suspension mountain bike
The ultra-short seat tube and 200mm dropper are a huge bonus.
Steve Behr / Our Media

The C2 is the middle model in the three-strong Fluid FS carbon range. All three bikes share the same semi-carbon frame. This teams the new carbon front triangle with the proven aluminium rear end.

The carbon front end is very well finished, with neat internal cable routing, bolt-in cable ports behind the head tube and an integrated cable-tie mounting point, designed to reduce rattle.

Also under the down tube are two substantial frame protectors; a pickup truck tailgate guard and a bottom bracket protector. The former gives a clue as to how Norco intends the Fluid to be a true all-rounder, shuttle days and all.

There are ISCG tabs around the threaded bottom bracket in case you plan to add a chain device. Like the shuttle guard, it underlines the Fluid will be at home in rowdy terrain.

Water bottle and accessory mounts in the front triangle are placed on the down tube and under the top tube respectively.

The rear triangle and rocker link are shared with the all-aluminium Fluid. Its 130mm-travel Horst-link suspension uses a rocker link to drive the vertically oriented Rockshox Super Deluxe shock.

To further improve suspension performance, the metric Super Deluxe has a bearing in the shock eyelet. This helps to reduce friction in this area of high rotation.

The Fluid is compatible with SRAM’s Universal Derailleur Hanger standard, and will work with the brand’s new Transmission gears.

Norco Fluid FS C2 geometry

Norco Fluid FS C2 full suspension mountain bike
The Fluid’s clean lines and metallic paint look stunning.
Steve Behr / Our Media

The Fluid’s geometry figures are typical of what I would expect of a modern trail bike, except the stack (635mm) and bottom bracket heights (348mm), which are both higher than usual.

As part of Norco’s Ride Aligned System, some parts of the bike’s geometry are size-specific. This includes the seat angle and chainstay length.

This means the front-to-rear weight distribution, and thus handling, is kept balanced across all sizes for riders of differing heights.

It also works in conjunction with the brand’s Ride Aligned online setup guide. Norco claims this is to help “match each individual bike to the human who rides it”.

A 65-degree head angle features, while the seat angle is 76.7 degrees and chainstays are 435mm long for the large. Reach is 480mm reach.

At just 410mm for a size large, the Fluid’s seat tube has oodles of space for a long dropper post.

Seat angle (degrees)7676.376.777
Head angle (degrees)65656565
Chainstay (mm)425430435440
Seat tube (mm)360390410460
Top tube (mm)574602630659
Head tube (mm)110120130140
Fork offset (mm)44444444
Trail (mm)128128128128
Bottom bracket drop (mm)30303030
Bottom bracket height (mm)348348348348
Wheelbase (mm)1,1661,2051,2451,284
Standover (mm)678690699736
Stack (mm)617626635644
Reach (mm)420450480510

Norco Fluid FS C2 specifications

Norco Fluid FS C2 full suspension mountain bike
The RockShox Super Deluxe controls the rear end superbly.
Steve Behr / Our Media

As the middle bike in the range, the C2 gets a solid spec list.

A RockShox Pike fork and Super Deluxe shock feature in OE (complete bikes only) Select+ guise.

The fork sports the same adjustable Charger 3 damper as the top Ultimate model. Meanwhile, the shock is custom-tuned for the Fluid, but makes do with rebound-damping adjustment and a two-position pedal-platform lever.

SRAM’s GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain takes care of gearing, although the crankset is a Truvativ Descendant 6K.

While this is a downgrade from GX, I’d much rather have a lower-spec component here than elsewhere in the drivetrain.

Norco Fluid FS C2 full suspension mountain bike
SRAM’s GX drivetrain is a no-frills choice, but does the job perfectly.
Steve Behr / Our Media

Mid-range SRAM G2 RS brakes are fitted. While power is boosted by a 200mm front rotor, they lack bite-point adjustment.

Stan’s Flow S2 rims are laced to Bear Pawls hubs, and are wrapped with Vittoria’s Mazza (front) and Martello (rear) tyres.

A 200mm-travel SDG Tellis dropper post is matched with a Fizik Terra Alpaca saddle. Finally, there’s a Norco-branded bar and stem, finished off with WTB grips.

My size-large test bike weighed a reasonably chunky 14.7kg.

Norco Fluid FS C2 ride impressions

Norco Fluid FS C2 full suspension mountain bike
The Fluid is immensely good fun in the bends.
Steve Behr / Our Media

I tested the Fluid FS C2 on a wide range of trails, from epics in the UK’s Lake District through to trail centres, bike parks and old-school cross-country loops.

This included rocky natural descents, flowy trail centres, technical singletrack climbs and long fire-road slogs across a host of terrain types – from rocks and hardpack through to loam and soft mud.

Norco Fluid FS C2 setup

Setting up the Fluid was very straightforward, thanks to Norco’s Ride Aligned System. Not only does this give size-specific geometry, but a comprehensive setup guide as well.

Plug your weight, height and riding level into Norco’s website and it throws out a range of recommended settings for the suspension, cockpit and tyres.

The settings it recommended for me were an excellent base setup right out of the box.

I left the fork alone for the test period because it felt spot-on, but I added a little extra pressure to the rear shock and an extra click of rebound to improve the front-to-back balance.

The recommended tyre pressures and cockpit setup both felt ideal for my taste. Suggested bar width was 780mm, with a 10mm spacer under the stem, both feeling in line with my preferences.

While it doesn’t guarantee a perfect setup, as I found out, this system gives riders a brilliant benchmark to start from.

Norco Fluid FS C2 climbing performance

Norco Fluid FS C2 full suspension mountain bike
It’s not the fastest, but the Fluid is a very capable technical climber.
Steve Behr / Our Media

The Fluid might be chunky, with quite hefty wheels (2.28kg), but it feels far lighter on climbs. It carries speed very well on all inclines, with the fast-rolling Vittoria tyres helping.

A small amount of pedal bob meant it benefitted from the shock’s firmer damping position on long fire-road slogs, helping calm down the rear end. It remained comfortable, however, sucking up vibrations well.

The flipside to this pedal bob is that in technical terrain, the Fluid is a true traction monster.

Whether it’s rocky steps, slippery roots or loose hardpack, the Fluid finds traction where other mountain bikes struggle.

I was continuously impressed by some of the climbs I cleaned and by its ability to keep the rear wheel glued to the ground.

Norco Fluid FS C2 full suspension mountain bike
I wasn’t a fan of Vittoria’s Mazza.
Steve Behr / Our Media

The Fluid is particularly impressive on square-edge rocks and roots. The wheel moves quickly up and over obstacles, and maintains momentum impeccably. Very little jolting comes through the saddle.

Meanwhile, the bottom-bracket height makes pedal strikes a rare occurrence, even with the specified 175mm cranks.

Despite the long wheelbase, it scoots up switchbacks with no problems. The steep seat angle makes keeping your weight centred very easy too, maximising traction.

There are more efficient trail bikes on the market, but few match the Fluid’s capabilities in technical terrain. If you have to take a dab on the way, you won’t be able to blame the Fluid.

Norco Fluid FS C2 descending performance

Norco Fluid FS C2 full suspension mountain bike
The Fluid is immensely good fun in the bends.
Steve Behr / Our Media

If the Fluid is glued to the ground on climbs, the opposite is true on descents. Here, it reveals its fun-loving side and you can really chuck it around.

Even usually timid, air-shy riders like me will be seeking the biggest jumps and sends they dare find.

I sent drops further and deeper than ever before and the Fluid begged me to pedal back up and do it again, but bigger.

Little side hits and natural gaps on the trail are part and parcel of the Fluid’s character – it wants to be airborne.

Norco Fluid FS C2 full suspension mountain bike
Vittoria’s Trail casing is too fragile for aggressive riding.
Steve Behr / Our Media

Combine its trail bike geometry and poppy suspension, and the bike imbues an agility that keeps delivering the smiles.

The tall stack, short seat tube and 200mm dropper post give you plenty of room to manoeuvre, enabling you to get low.

It feels confident and agile in the turns, too.

If you want to sit back and plough through the rough stuff though, the supple, traction-rich suspension enables you to do just that. It feels as though it has more than the advertised 130mm of rear-wheel travel, and it’s well controlled by the rear damper.

The matching Pike fork up front is an equally impressive performer. It’s stiff, the Charger 3 damper provides excellent control and I found the air spring supple though stutter bumps.

Norco Fluid FS C2 full suspension mountain bike
The SRAM G2 RS brakes lack bite and have too much lever throw.
Steve Behr / Our Media

Downhill, though, a couple of flaws appear. The Norco is so capable at carrying serious speed on a variety of terrain that the G2 RS brakes feel somewhat under-gunned.

Lacking overall power and bite-point adjustment, and having too much lever travel, hinders feel. In my opinion, SRAM’s Code brakes would be a more suitable choice.

The Vittoria tyres are also something of an acquired taste. They offer a reasonable amount of grip and rolling speed is impressive.

However, I found the large gap between the shoulder and centre tread a little wide. I’d prefer a mountain bike tyre with a more consistent feel, such as the Maxxis Minion DHR II.

I also punctured the Martello on the rear, and have ripped and sliced the same Trail casing on other bikes. I’d like to see a tyre with a burlier casing, such is the Fluid’s propensity to let it all hang out on the descents.

Norco Fluid FS C2 bottom line

Norco Fluid FS C2 full suspension mountain bike
The Fluid is confident and stable in the air.
Steve Behr / Our Media

The Fluid is a stunningly capable trail bike. It may be relatively short on travel, but it’s big on personality. The geometry and spec may not set hearts racing or grab headlines, but it shines like its metallic black paint on the trail.

It climbs very well for a bike of its weight, feeling far lighter than the scales suggest. Few bikes, if any, have impressed me as much on technical climbs.

Heading back down and I’ve rarely felt so comfortable on a bike from the first time I dropped in. The geometry puts you in a great position to attack the trail. The suspension deals with the trail chaos underneath the tyres incredibly well, given its modest amount of travel.

The Fluid is an easy bike to ride, regardless of your ability level, and the Ride Aligned system means you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to set it up.

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If you want a versatile, fun and solid-value trail bike, Norco’s Fluid FS C2 should be towards the very top of your list.

Product Specifications


Price br_price, 5, 3, Price, EUR €5299.00GBP £4999.00USD $4999.00
Weight br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 14.7kg (L) – without pedals, Array, kg
Brand br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Norco


Available sizes br_availableSizes, 11, 0, Available sizes, S, M, L, XL
Brakes br_brakes, 11, 0, Brakes, SRAM G2 RS 200/180mm rotors
Cassette br_cassette, 11, 0, Cassette, SRAM 1275 Eagle, 10-52T
Chain br_chain, 11, 0, Chain, SRAM GX Eagle
Cranks br_cranks, 11, 0, Cranks, SRAM Descendant 6K DUB cranks (1×12)
Fork br_fork, 11, 0, Fork, RockShox Pike Select+, 140mm (5.51in) travel
Frame br_frame, 11, 0, Frame, Carbon Fibre Main Triangle, Aluminium Stays, 130mm (5.12in) travel
Grips/Tape br_gripsTape, 11, 0, Grips/Tape, WTB Wavelength
Handlebar br_handlebar, 11, 0, Handlebar, 6061 Butted Alloy, 800mm
Rear derailleur br_rearDerailleur, 11, 0, Rear derailleur, SRAM GX Eagle
Rear Shocks br_rearShock, 11, 0, Rear Shocks, RockShox Super Deluxe Select+, 210x50mm
Saddle br_saddle, 11, 0, Saddle, Fizik Alpaca Terra
Seatpost br_seatpost, 11, 0, Seatpost, SDG Tellis, 200mm
Shifter br_shifter, 11, 0, Shifter, SRAM GX Eagle
Stem br_stem, 11, 0, Stem, 6061 Alloy, 40mm
Tyres br_tyres, 11, 0, Tyres, Vittoria Mazza Trail G2.0 29X2.4in (f) and Vittoria Martello Trail G2.0 29X2.35in (r)
Wheels br_wheels, 11, 0, Wheels, Stan’s No Tubes Flow S2 on Bear Pawls hubs