The folks at Norco have been working hard over the past seasons fine tuning their all-mountain line. As they have done so, they have both lightened their freeride bikes and beefed up their XC lineup in an attempt to find the perfect trailbike. The result? A sweet new Norco Six represents the ultimate in cushy all-mountain, while the Norco Fluid represents the ultimate in all-day efficiency that is still true to its Canadian freeride roots with enough plush travel to tackle even the knarliest of the knarls.
For 2007, the Norco Fluid went through an extensive set of what I will call “fine tuning” from the 2006 model, which in itself was a completely new design. The result? Well… it’s pretty darn good refinement of an already excellent ride. The Norco Fluid 1.0 is the gem of the Fluid “All Mountain Cross Country” lineup and is built with quality components from top to bottom.
What Makes the Fluid 1.0 Tick?
The Fluid 1.0 is billed as an “All-Mountain Cross Country” bike because the frameset was derived from XC lineage instead of freeride roots. That said, the Fluid is a Norco and Norco is well-known for their beefy freeride bikes. So, although it says “Cross Country” in the bike category, by no means is the racer set going to be sitting on any podiums with the Fluid. Not that they couldn’t, but there are better suited bikes for that type of riding. The Fluid bleeds All-Mountain in every sense of the word. The geometry and spec of this bike is meant to be ridden hard all day long in varying conditions.
Specs of the Fluid 1.0:
- Revised suspension linkage and pivot points for more efficiency
- New dropouts
- New seatstay yoke
- New seat tube pivot mount
- New, beefy linkage plates
- New hydroformed downtube
- New curved top-tube for increased standover
- (Basically, it’s all new for 2007, eh?)
- Surprisingly-solid Shimano XT drivetrain from top to bottom
- Mavic Crossride wheels
- Uber-smooth Fox Float 32 RL fork
- Solid Fox Float RP23 rear shock
- Shiny red paintjob
- All this in a svelte 29 lb. package
On the Trail
OK, so enough about the specs and marketing hype… how does the Fluid ride? To be quite honest, this is one of the best all-mountain bikes I’ve ridden to date. It is very smooth and efficient in all conditions and speeds. I’ve pushed the Fluid through blazing-hot fire road climbs in Arizona only to have it beg for more vertical. I’ve bombed down buttery-smooth singletrack in Utah and it just rolls over everything–begging for more.
For the review, I had the Fluid set up in the longest travel setting (136mm – 5.3″) because I firmly believe that 5″ of travel is the absolute minimum anyone should want in an all-mountain rig. With the quick turn of an allen wrench, the rear travel can be reduced to 108mm or 4.25″. The Horst rocker-arm rear suspension remains supple and active in all conditions–be it climbing, braking or descending. Over the years, I’ve been able to quickly decipher between Horst and non-Horst rocker-arm linkages. Norco has done well with the Horst linkage and continues to use it as their foundation, which is a smart move.
The cockpit of the Fluid has just the right top-tube, stem length and riser height for all-day comfort. Many times all-mountain bikes end up feeling a bit too XC-ish, but not the Fluid. It appears that the Norco designers picked just the right parts from the parts bin and came back with an excellent parts spec and perfect geometry that delivers a solid and comfortable ride. I’ve ridden and reviewed lots of Norco’s in the past 5 years and this one is definitely my favorite because it excels in all conditions and still tips the scales well under 30 lbs.! Hallelujah… no longer do we have to pedal a wonky 40 lb. bike to get smooth and efficient all-mountain travel!!!
The Highs and Lows:
- Don’t brush off the Hutchinson Python 2.0 tires too quickly! I took one look at those tires and honestly, they scared me. I usually ride 2.35’s and these looked like roadies. However, I stuck with them and I’m glad I did because they hook up awesome in the dry, rocky conditions found in UT and AZ.
- The Shimano shifters are a huge improvement over last year! I’m a true believer in SRAM’s triggers because they are much more intuitive and functional, but the new Shimano XT triggers allow you to both up and downshift with your thumb, thus leaving your fingers on the brakes at all times.
- No cockpit changes out of the box! This is the first bike I’ve tested in years that I haven’t felt inclined to change the bars and stem or shifters during the test. Like I said, the cockpit is dialed for all-mountain. Well, I guess I did change out the grips, but that was it.
- Nice color and quality of finish. I dig the red paintjob… I think it even shaved a few seconds off my downhill time because it was so good looking.
- Where’s the quick-release seatclamp? This seriously sucked, but it looks like this spec has been changed since my Fluid arrived in February. How that got overlooked, I don’t know.
- Carbon fiber is nice, but… When it comes to carbon fiber handlebars and seatposts, I’m always afraid of the little inscription that states the specific tension to which they should be clamped. I don’t have a handy dandy torque wrench on the trail, so I just tighten it up like I would an aluminum one and hope that I’m not crushing the fibers (so far so good though).
- Plush, but it’s no DH rig. When I say it’s plush, it is plush for a 5+ inch travel all-mountain rig. You will not go dropping off any roofs or barreling down your local DH course, but you will enjoy smooth and plush travel through the stuff that most trails will throw your way.
The Bottom Line
I’ve been highly impressed with the Fluid 1.0. It climbs well with little wander and it descends with the best all-mountain bikes. One thing I can say with confidence is that this is the best Norco I’ve ridden (and I’ve ridden many) and it’s also one of the finest all-mountain rigs available today. It does come with a price ($3300 USD), but given the performance and parts spec, it’s well worth it. This bike will handle anything a hard-charging all-mountain rider will throw its way and keep asking for more!