I’ve been reviewing Norco bikes for several years now. The crew at Norco is super-friendly and their bikes are always good for a ride–especially downhill rides. The first Norco I reviewed was the 2004 Norco Shore… a capable freeride rig that could still climb if prodded properly. It’s very evident that Norco designers value the downhill above all else because every bike I’ve ridden since has been a scream on the down.

For that reason, I’m always stoked to get on a Norco. They may not be as well-known here in the States as they should be, but that shouldn’t stop you or I from wanting to get on one. This year’s test bike is the all-new Fluid LT 3–the entry-level bike in the new Fluid LT lineup. Building upon the success of the new Fluid design from last year, the LT offers more travel and burliness to handle anything you can dish out. Lets see how it fared after I doled out some punishment on the local Utah singletrack.

About the Norco Fluid LT 3

The Fluid LT platform is new for the 2008 season. As with all Norco full-suspension bikes, the LT utilizes the Specialized-owned Horst Link suspension design. Well-known and deservedly well-liked, the Horst Link is held by some as the Holy Grail of suspension designs. It’s not new, but it yields efficient and smooth travel while pedaling, descending or braking. Some may say it’s getting old and that other designs are superior, but it is still the standard that everyone looks to.

The LT 3 is Norco’s all-mountain steed for the price-conscious. In today’s market of hyper-inflation, the Fluid LT 3 is still well-priced at $2350 USD.

Sporting adjustable travel of 137 to 158 mm, the Fluid LT 3 is right in the sweet spot of all-mountain. Here are a few more specs on the LT 3:

  • Rear Shock: Fox DHX Air 3.0
  • Fork: Marzocchi 55R (160mm travel)
  • Drivetrain: SRAM X.5, Shimano Deore and FSA Alpha Drive cranks
  • Brakes Avid Juicy 3
  • Tires: Kenda Nevegal 2.1 (Nevegal 2.35 as tested)
  • Rims: WTB Speed Disc (SUN S.O.S. as tested)
  • Head Angle: 68-degrees
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Weight: 35 lbs
  • Price: $2350 USD – more info

2008 Norco Fluid LT 3 Mountain Bike Review

Norco Fluid LT 3 Bike Review

The metallic green Fluid LT 3 arrived on my porch in the middle of one of the best winters in recent memory. So, it sat for a couple of months as I pillaged as much Utah powder as I could. With a slow spring warmup, I’ve been exploring more of the lower-elevation trails that don’t get ridden as often during the height of the season. After some quality miles on the LT 3 I’ve been able to find out just what it’s made of.

Looking over the LT 3, the parts spec is acceptable for this pricepoint, but potentially a bit on the low-end side. Let me explain this further and try to make some sense of the parts selection. For many manufacturers, the first place they cut corners is on the wheelset. They will slap an XT rear derailleur with Alivio components everywhere else (lipstick on a pig), then put noodly wheels on it. Not Norco… they are satisfied (and so was I) with the SRAM X.5 drivetrain, but they also slapped a stout pair of wheels onboard, which is something that means a lot more than an XT rear derailleur in my book.

Climbing on the Fluid LT 3 was great. Well, it’s not going to be the first to the top, but you’ve got enough efficiency to handle technical climbs as well as any other bike it this category. At 35 lbs (according to my scale), it is a few pounds heavier than many of its competitors, but there aren’t many competitors coming in at this price range. The Marzocchi 55R doesn’t offer adjustable travel, so the front end wandered at times. During tight, turny climbs, I really had to finesse the bike to keep the front end on the trail.

I rode the bike in both travel modes. I found that climbing was better in the lower travel setting (137mm) and descending was better in the higher travel setting (158mm)–pretty much as expected. But, climbing wasn’t that much different in the longer travel setting, so that’s where I settled at. The only negative about adjusting the travel is that the shock bolts seem to be made of very soft metal. I’ve nearly stripped out one side after having moved the shock position two times–another reason to just keep it at the highest setting.

Fast, technical descents are just what the LT loves. This bike can fly through obstacles and hop over anything in sight–all while maintaining its composure under intense, laid-out corners. I had a blast railing the LT all over the mountain.

2008 Norco Fluid LT 3 Mountain Bike Review

Nothing is worse than a noodly wheelset that flexes while cornering at speed, or deflects at the sight of a rock garden. The SUN S.O.S. wheelset performed exceptionally–even under hard cornering and in unforgiving terrain–very nice!

Other than the issues mentioned above, I have had an odd clicking sound coming from the rebound cartridge on the Marzocchi 55R fork in slower rebound settings. After a call with Marzocchi tech support, it appears the cartridge may need replacing, but it didn’t seem to affect performance. The only other gripe I’ve got is that the front derailleur is rather difficult to dial in. It seems like this bike really shouldn’t be equipped with a large chainring. Not only do you not need it, it’s nearly impossible to get this thing to shift to all three chainrings very well.

Good Fluid

  • Descends like a Norco… smooth and fast
  • Great price point
  • Capable climber
  • Solid wheel and tire combo
  • Adjustable rear travel settings

Bad Fluid

  • Marzocchi 55R rebound cartridge issues
  • No travel adjustments on the fork
  • Front derailleur is difficult to dial in

The Bottom Line on the Norco Fluid LT 3

This bike has been a ton of fun. I’ve loved the legendary Norco descending prowess and have found it to be a capable climber. It would climb better with an adjustable travel fork, but again, at $2350, this bike is a great value. A few technical issues here and there, but a solid package that still puts this bike on my shortlist of all-mountain long-travel bikes for 2008.

Buy Now: Visit Norco.com to Find a Local Dealer

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.


  1. I have a fluid lt 3 and love it and have no issues with the front der. the problem lays with the chainrings on the cranks. Being that I work in a bike shop I get great deals on parts and bike through our dist. First thing I changed was the cranks. I replaced the stock cranks with a set of Dues Xc from Raceface and have had no problems shifting in the front.

  2. Good to hear. Too bad this frame doesn’t have ISGC tabs! If it did, the new SRAM HammerSchmidt would be perfect and we wouldn’t worry about shifting issues.

    Thanks for your $0.02 on how to make this bike even better. Sometimes people don’t think to go that route, but they should to make a bike really their own.

  3. The bike seems awesome, but i find the LT 3 with a Marzocchi ist overpriced in my opinion, well i might be to picky, but a Rock Shox with poploc would be nice =)

    Too bad we dont get this anywhere near my home region, and they are not sold online. =(

  4. George Mason on

    Well Its been a year and I have made the bike even more my own, I have swaped out the X%stuff for XO, wow what a difference, droped te bg ring in favor of a bash through on a Diabolus 50mm stem and 1.5″ rise bar, tossed the stock post for a Thompson elite and most recently, as inn today gave up on the stock wheels and tires and went to Mavic CrossMax and Kenda Small Block 8 2.35″. Now this thing climbs like a goat, face with a sudden steep climb drop a few gears lean forward and apply pressure, look up and its over before you knew what happen. I had previously had no problems with the 55r fork but lately it has been feling what I can only describe as notchy, a little stiff at the start smooth through the middle and back to stiff again, but only at slow speeds, but its ok its on my upgrade list and I have a 66 ATA sitting in the wings. I have always like the rear suspension action in long travel but prefered the head angle in short travel so the answer for me was add an inch to the legnth of the fork, tryed it out and I found my perfect bike. Going for a trail ride with a lot of climbs twist down the fork and head out, going to do a secent on some of the small hills her pop it back up, going to shutle and shred the gnar, put it away and grab the old trusty ALine and have at it when the day is done get back on the fluid LT taake an evening cruise

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