Article last updated: July 12 2017
I’ve had the Norco for a couple of months now and we’ve covered around 250 miles together, so it’s about time I updated you with exactly how I’m getting on.
As well as riding this bike for my short but sharp daily commute through the centre of Bristol, I’ve taken it on a few longer road rides too and even had a stab at some local mountain bike trails.
At first, I was concerned that the 60.5cm frame might be a little too large, but I’m pleased to report that I’ve not experienced any discomfort or issues with fit. For me, it’s a definite improvement over the 58cm Norco that I owned a few years back.
Ergonomically I’ve found that the design works well with my large hands, though they do seem to add reach over other designs, and I can see how those with smaller hands might be annoyed by the prominent bump at the bottom of the hoods.
Their shift action doesn’t feel as positive as the R685 mechanical parts I’m used to though, and I find there’s a need to push and hold ever so slightly when upshifting at the cassette in order to avoid annoying mis-shifts. The large plastic sections at the top of the hoods are easily marked too.
Bristol’s Leigh Woods and Ashton Court mountain bike trails are an ideal proving ground for an adventure bike, with a series of marked trails that aren’t too technical but do feature a lot of flat and pedally sections. The Search was really good fun here.
It’s fairly obvious that a bike such as this one will rely massively on its tyres in order to perform well off-road and the 35mm Schwalbe Tyragos fitted do manage to cope well in a variety of situations.
With 65psi in each end — that’s the maximum as stated on their sidewalls — I found the tyres rolled reasonably well on the road. Not up there with the 28mm road tyres, but hardly the draggy nature you’ll get from some ‘cross rubber.
Unsurprisingly, dropping the pressures to around 45psi transformed the ride in terms of both comfort and grip. I was no longer just hanging on but actually holding the same lines I’d be aiming for should I have been riding my mountain bike. Dropping pressures further brought yet more grip, but the regular dinging of rim to trail was enough to have me reaching for a pump once again. Even at 65psi I managed to inflict one pinch puncture.
It’s clear then that there’s a strong case for tubeless tyres on this bike for those who want to venture off-road, and this is something I’ll definitely be exploring in the near future. Still, the Search was good fun to ride off-road, with a handicap that makes relatively dull trails an excitement.
In order to properly assess the Search’s road manners I decided to fit some faster rubber, and so on went a set of Pirelli’s soon-to-be-released PZero road tyres.
They’re only 25mm wide, and not the 4-season versions I would’ve regularly chosen for this bike, but they were the only samples on offer and I gladly snapped them up.
The Pirelli PZero tyres with their supple casings and tacky compound have made for a true tarmac transformation on the Search. Because despite its relatively long wheelbase, tall head tube and slightly porky nature, it’s a bike that still rides brilliantly on the road.
Something that has impressed me is the frame’s paint, which has dealt with the battle of busy bike parking without so much as a single chip.
For now at least the Search is dressed for the roads, and I’m enjoying the extra efficiency on offer. I’d like to try and shift a little more weight from the bike and am currently eyeing up some replacement wheels and perhaps a different chainset.
Costs this month
- Pirelli PZero tyre: approx £39.99, available soon from Extra UK
- Shimano M520 SPD pedals (O.E): £19.99 from Chain Reaction Cycles
- Lezyne M Caddy QR saddle bag: £18.95 from Merlin Cycles
Mileage this month
- Mileage clocked: approximately 200 miles
- Most enjoyable ride: this sunny 40km ride with BikeRadar’s Ben Healy
Original post: May 17, 2017
I’d like to welcome you to this new long-term test format on BikeRadar, where staffers like myself will be introducing the bikes we will be spending plenty of time on over the next few months. Served in a blog-like format with regular updates, you can expect more detail and a lot more insight into where our two wheels take us. We’ll also be looking forward to more interactions with yourselves, and we’ll be asking for your suggestions on future upgrades or places to ride.
Each of our writers will have the opportunity to choose their own bikes so you can expect a whole variety of machines, riding styles and preferences. Honestly, it’s going to be great!
What swung it for me, though, was a positive previous experience with Norco’s gravel offering, specifically a carbon frame Norco Search that I used throughout a majority of 2015. You can read about that bike here.
There’s a good looking alloy frame from a brand with a superb heritage in mountain bikes, a thru-axle carbon fork and flat-mount hydraulic discs from Shimano. Its 11-speed Shimano 105 drivetrain might be lacking the attractive four arm chainset but the parts that remain are all solid and proven.
Shimano’s RS505 shifters are famed for their ungainly looks but I’m curious to find out how they’ll compare to the RS685 parts that I’ve used on a couple of bikes now. The comically named Shinnigrims wheels (complete with a cheeky Shimano-esque font) don’t inspire as much confidence but at least the high spoke count and generous rim width seem encouraging.
The fact this bike arrives with 35mm tyres in place suits me too, and is a big shift from the 28mm tyres in place on the previous generation bike, though I’ve not had any previous experience with the Schwalbe Tyragos fitted.
The bike was a doddle to assemble, arriving 95% complete from distributor Evans Cycles. Once together, I fitted a Spurcycle bell, which along with being astonishingly expensive has a reputation as being one of the best bicycle bells out there, so I’ll be sure to post a full review once I’ve had enough time with it.
Last but by no means least was Bontrager’s compact Ion 100 R/Flare R City light set which I fitted to the Norco’s handlebar and seatpost. These excellent lights are optimised for daytime running and I’ve found them invaluable for negotiating the sleepy drivers of Bristol.
I’ll be posting a first ride update over the next few days so stay tuned for that.
Costs this month
- Norco Search Alloy 105 Hydro: £1,399 / $1,799 / AU$2,299 – Buy now from Evans Cycles
- Spurcycle Bell: £49.99 / US $49 – Buy now from SJS Cycles
- Bontrager Ion 100 R/Flare R City light set: £59.99 / $69.99 – Buy now from Evans Cycles
Mileage this month
- Mileage clocked: 0 to date
- Most enjoyable ride: is yet to happen
Norco Search Alloy 105 Hydro specification
- Frame: Norco Search X6 double butted aluminium, Size 60.5cm
- Fork: Search mid-mod full carbon disc
- Crankset: Shimano FC-S500 50/34t
- Front derailleur: Shimano 105 FD-5800
- Rear derailleur: Shimano 105 RD-5800 GS
- Shifters: Shimano SL-RS505
- Brakes: Shimano BR-RS785 calipers with 160mm rotors
- Front hub: Alloy 15x100mm thru-axle 28h
- Rear hub: Alloy cartridge bearing 28h QR
- Rims: Aero double wall alloy
- Tyres: Schwalbe Tyrago 700x35c
- Handlebar: Norco Flare 44cm
- Handlebar tape: Norco Ultra Comfort 3mm
- Headset: Angular sealed cartridge bearings – tapered
- Stem: Norco 120mm
- Seatpost: Norco composite 27.2mm
- Saddle: Norco
- Weight (actual): 10.48kg/23.1lbs (without pedals)
|Name||Search Alloy 105 hyrdo (17)|
|Brakes||Shimano BR-RS785 calipers with 160mm rotors|
|Top Tube (cm)||595|
|Standover Height (cm)||837|
|Seat Tube (cm)||57|
|Bottom Bracket Height (cm)||277.5|
|Seatpost||Norco composite 27.2mm|
|Rims||Shiningrims Aero double wall alloy|
|Cranks||Shimano FC-S500 50/34t|
|Rear Tyre||Schwalbe Tyrago 700x35c|
|Rear Hub||Alloy cartridge bearing 28h QR|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano 105 RD-5800 GS|
|Headset Type||Angular sealed cartridge bearings - tapered|
|Handlebar||Norco Flare 44cm|
|Grips/Tape||Norco Ultra Comfort 3mm|
|Front Tyre||Schwalbe Tyrago 700x35c|
|Front Hub||Alloy 15x100mm thru-axle 28h|
|Front Derailleur||Shimano 105 FD-5800|
|Frame Material||Norco Search X6 double butted aluminium, Size 60.5cm|
|Fork||Search mid-mod full carbon disc|