Groadventure machine: Norco Search XR Ultegra

A Canadian take on gravel / adventure

Drop-bar bikes with wider tires, plenty of accessory mounting points and relaxed geometry are sprouting up everywhere. Some people call them adventure bikes, others call them gravel bikes. Norco calls its version the Search XR. 

The blue fade, matte finish paint job is stunning
The blue fade, matte finish paint job is stunning

Norco Search XR Ultegra specs

  • Carbon frame and fork
  • 12mm thru-axles front and rear
  • Clement Ushuaia wheels with Clement X'Plor MSO 700 x 40mm tires
  • Shimano Ultegra R8020 group with Praxis Zayante cranks 
  • Shimano Ultegra disc brakes, 160mm rotors
  • Actual weight: 9.2kg / 20.3lbs (size 58cm)

An interesting drivetrain

Bucking the current single-ring trend, the Search XR Ultegra has a 2x drivetrain with a 48/32 Praxis Zayante crank spinning an 11-34 Ultegra cassette. Compared to a one-by set up with a 40t chainring and a 10-42 block out back, the Ultegra 2x11 system offers an easier climber gear and a faster top end.

The dropped chainstays open up the clearance for wide 27.5in and 700c wheels and tires
The dropped chainstays open up the clearance for wide 27.5in and 700c wheels and tires

But all that is moot if the chain won't stay put, and since the Ultegra rear derailleur remains clutch free and the Search XR is meant for some bumpy terrain, it's something I'll be sure to watch. 

Tech-heavy tourer

Like Norco's endurance-oriented Search bikes, the Search XR steers towards going long, but on less maintained roads and trails, and loaded up with essentials. 

Rack and gear-hauling compatibility can be found all over the Search XR. There are eyelets littered on the fork blades and one on the crown for a fender. The rear dropouts have what Norco calls NINJA, which stands for 'not instantly noticeable junk attachments'. They're threaded inserts for bolting on fenders that can be removed when not needed. 

Shimano's Freeza disc rotors win the most futuristic looking rotor award
Shimano's Freeza disc rotors win the most futuristic looking rotor award

Another acronym on the back end is SASSY: 'secret attachable seat stay yoke'. Norco did away with the seatstay bridge in hopes of delivering a smoother ride. But without that bridge mounting fenders proved to be tricky, so the SASSY is a small plastic bridge that can be zip-tied in place when a fender is wanted.

The last detail isn't all that tech heavy, but does show Norco is keen on what this bike is going to get into. It's simply a rubber boot that covers the seat clamp to prevent water, mud and debris from mucking up the inside of the frame. 

Norco Search XR Ultegra pricing and availability

The Ultegra-equipped Search XR retails at $3,799 / AU$ 4,499 / £N/A. 

There are three carbon Search XR models and two Reynolds 725 chromoly models. 

Availability for the carbon Search XR Force and Apex models is mid October, while the carbon Ultegra model and the two chomoly bikes should be arriving around later December this year.

Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

Related Articles

Back to top