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.
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
- Cervélo ZFS-5 XX SL AXS
- Trek Slash 9.9 XO AXS T-Type Gen 6
- Scott Lumen eRide 910
- Vitus E-Mythique LT VRX
- Norco Fluid FS C2
- Merida One-Twenty 700
Norco Fluid FS C2 frame and suspension
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
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)||76||76.3||76.7||77|
|Head angle (degrees)||65||65||65||65|
|Seat tube (mm)||360||390||410||460|
|Top tube (mm)||574||602||630||659|
|Head tube (mm)||110||120||130||140|
|Fork offset (mm)||44||44||44||44|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||30||30||30||30|
|Bottom bracket height (mm)||348||348||348||348|
Norco Fluid FS C2 specifications
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
|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|