Words by: Rudolf Zuidema | Images by: Frans le Roux
Norco Bicycles is a relatively new brand in South Africa, and we had the opportunity to test one of their 2019 trail shredders, the Fluid FS 1. Check out regular bike tester RUDOLF ZUIDEMA’s first impressions.
As a new brand in SA, Norco is probably not on most people’s radar and you’d be forgiven for overlooking the brand as you’ve probably only heard of them in the realm of hard-core trail and gravity riding. The reality is that the brand was founded in 1964 in the riding mecca of British Columbia, Canada and offer a full range of bikes including the skinny wheeled variety! Thanks to the guys at Cycles United the brand has
finally arrived in SA and we got to spend some time with the Fluid FS 1, their 130/120mm Travel Trail bike.
At first glance the Fluid is a striking bike; clean lines, uncomplicated paint job and 2.6” tyres make it stand out in an instant! The Alloy frame features smoothed welds which add to the clean look of the bike. The internal cabling system is very neat and quiet, and the large removable covers should make replacing cables a cinch. Rear Suspension travel is 120mm via a tried and trusted 4 Bar Linkage with a Rockshox Deluxe R shock. Rockshox also supply suspension for the front in the form of a 130mm Revelation RC. A SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain with 30t chainring and Guide T 4 Piston Brakes paired to 180/160 Rotor combo form the core of the excellent spec package. The WTB ST29 wheels are mated with Maxxis 2.6” Forekaster tires and finishing kit including dropper post are all courtesy of TranzX. While there is nothing glamorous about the spec of the FS1, Norco have done an excellent job of delivering a spec level that delivers in terms of function and practicality.
The suspension package is super smooth and the updated chassis on the Revelation Fork keeps it tracking
true through even the gnarliest rock gardens. In terms of rear suspension there is no noticeable pedal bob,
testament to the efficiency of the 4-bar linkage design. The Forekaster tires are a great choice for the wide WTB rims and offer huge amounts of grip, although the 2.6” size is probably a bit overkill for what most of us would use the Fluid for, but definitely hints at Norco’s roots and heritage in trail riding. The tires, on trend geometry of a longer top tube and shorter stem and a nice aggressive, confidence inspiring 66.5-degree head angle all point to a bike that is intended to be let loose with the front wheel pointing down more than up.
That said, the Norco is no slouch on the climbs, especially technical singletrack climbs and the 30T chainring is a welcome boon for those of us that don’t get enough time to keep fit but are up for a good ride on the weekends. That said, a lockable rear shock would definitely help getting some more power through the pedals on long, steep jeeptrack climbs.
Overall the Fluid is a great bike and Norco have definitely got the spec dialled in terms of intended purpose and value for money without any of the usual spec shortcuts. Apart from a tubeless conversion it doesn’t need any immediate upgrades in terms of reliability or durability, and you can hit the trails straight from the bike shop!
“Swinging a leg over the Fluid feels immediately comfortable and the ride is super confident, which is great
given the lack of trail time I’ve had recently. If you’re in the market for a good mid-range do it all bike, the Fluid should be on your short list, it’ll definitely be on mine. Personally, I’d look at some leaner rubber for everyday riding and probably add some lighter wheels and a lockable rear shock in the future that will make the Fluid even more versatile.”
|NORCO FLUID FS1
RRP R39 999
Measurements are for a LARGE frame
|Head tube angle||66.5°|
|Seat tube angle||76.0°|
|Top tube length||623mm|
|Seat tube length||1204mm|
|Travel (rear / front)||120mm / 130mm|