Luxury Bikes

(Tested) Norco Fluid FS A1

This winter Norco sent us a mid-weight bike that happens to be their highest-end offering – the Fluid FS A1. The Fluid is a 29-inch trail bike with 140mm of front travel and 130mm of rear travel. It features a mix of pieces ranging from budget to flagship, while also boasting an extremely sophisticated aesthetic. Thanks to the polished welds, you could easily mistake it for a carbon fiber frame. In any case, this bike has a very attractive mix of components with modern geometry and promising features at an excellent price of just $3,999 – let’s see how it performs on the trail…

Norco Fluid FS


  • 29″ front and back
  • 140mm travel front / 130mm rear
  • SRAM UDH compatible
  • Ride Aligned geometry
  • 5 sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL, XXL
  • $3,999.99

Norco Fluid FS

At the front of the bike, the flagship Fox 34 Factory RC2 features a Grip2 cartridge and four-way damping adjustability. This fork is as good as it gets when it comes to trail-level performance. I had nothing to complain about, although due to the high performance of the fluid I sometimes felt that a slightly more powerful 36 would have been appropriate. At the rear is a Fox Float X Performance Elite with lockout and individual rebound/compression adjusters. Thanks to Norco for specifying a piggyback shock when many brands would simply offer an inline shock. Adding a reservoir makes long descents cooler, quieter and smoother and provides a better overall ride quality.

Norco Fluid FS

There’s nothing particularly noticeable about the cockpit, but the Trans’s handlebars. The in-house 40mm stem fit the handlebars solidly and neatly and put me in the right position in both height and length. I wasn’t a big fan of the WTB grips as they were a bit thin and blocky for me, but I’m sure many riders wouldn’t have a problem with them. The Fizik Alpaca saddle had a short and wide profile, which seems to be popular lately. There are no problems with that either.

My tester was equipped with a Trans-X seatpost with 170mm of travel, which delivered solid performance. However, the spec sheet on Norco’s website lists the SDG Tellis 170mm dropper seatpost. Regardless, Norco scales seatpost travel on each model based on frame size, which is a commendable touch.

The TRP Trail EVO brakes are phenomenal, especially at their price. The thick 2.3mm brake discs are tougher than most and the large calipers and comfortable lever blades complete a great brake set. I also ride these on a private bike, so take that for what it’s worth…

A 12-speed Shimano XT drivetrain priced at $4,000 is certainly nothing to scoff at. I also found the Praxis Cadet cranks to be a solid, practical offering that does the job. All in all – great shifting and plenty of range.

I have to say that the cable and hose routing on the Fluid was pretty well chosen. I didn’t have any of the usual problems with the eyelets at the front slipping or popping out, and on the bottom of the down tube, a screw-on cover and cable tie guides keep things tidy and quiet. At the rear of the bike I have to give Norco support for the 2-way chainstay exit. The upper one works better with Shimano’s shift cable angle and the lower one works better with SRAMs.

The Stan’s Flow S1 rims are also a great budget offering. They have stainless steel rim eyelets and an inner diameter of 29 mm. The S1s are attached to in-house hubs, but gave me no problems and did their job with good commitment.

The wheels are wrapped in Vittoria tires – a Mazza 2.4″ at the front and a Martello 2.35″ at the rear. It was my first time driving the Vittorias and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The tread patterns were both ideal for their intended use and they rolled along fairly quickly. Although I’m not sure exactly how the casing is designed, I didn’t suffer any punctures while riding in the high 20 PSI range on mixed terrain. The site was what I would describe as middle of the road. It’s not a fluffy ultra-high performance rubber, but a smart, economical balance between softness and durability.

A few final details about the frame… I always appreciate having a second accessory mount under the top tube. The is, in my opinion, the next best thing to frame storage. As for protection, a unique molded rubber chainstay guard kept noise down and the paint job intact.


A quick overview of the numbers here shows a very pleasant and modern geometry. For my size Large, 480 mm reach and 440 mm stays are exactly what I would want if I were having a custom bike built. Kudos to Norco for sizing chainstay lengths specifically for each size budget bike!

Norco Fluid FS on the trail

I was very impressed with the facility Norcos Setup Guide. It’s simple and straightforward, but what I particularly liked is that it includes a section with a skill level slider, as well as two options for position alignment: more forward or more backward. Referring to the instructions above, I set up my bike and found that, apart from adding a few more pounds of tire pressure, it was exactly what I wanted. Setup guides that get you to a good baseline are great and all, but the ability to dial in depending on your skill level and How They ride the bike and take things to the next level when it comes to doing it right the first time.

On the climbs I noticed that the fluid on the trail felt neutral. I didn’t really care about using the lockout lever except on longer climbs, and the bike felt peppy coupled with plenty of traction on the harder bits. Aside from the suspension, the bike gets a good portion of its climbing ability from its relatively steep seat angle – in the case of my Large, 76.7° (effective). This put me in a natural and comfortable upright position where I could shift my body weight over the front wheel on the steeper sections and never had any trouble pulling myself forward on the long stretches. All in all, a worthy climber.

As for the fun, it’s a bike that punches above its weight in both performance and value. As far as performance goes, I always mistakenly thought the Fluid was a 150mm/140mm rig. Even to the point that I told this to my friends a few times and then had to correct myself to tell them that it actually has 140mm/130mm travel. Although this bike doesn’t have any special features or components that scream “aggressive,” it holds its own very well. Bikes in this price range often get the job done, but can feel a bit wobbly or fragile under a more aggressive rider when the going gets tough. This wasn’t the case with the Fluid, and I think a lot of the credit goes not to any single aspect, but to a little bit of everything – quality suspension, sturdy frame construction, strong brakes and a well-chosen set of equipment that ties it all together. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that good geometry can also make a big difference.

As for some handling and suspension characteristics, the Fluid just felt middle of the road and competent. I didn’t notice any special features. While that sounds boring, it’s not really a bad thing. Riders looking for a bike at this price probably aren’t worried about the ride quality of a pair of $2,000+ carbon fiber bikes, or worried about the kinematics charts and graphs. Rather, they’re probably looking for a reliable, practical vehicle that they can trust as a daily driver, and that’s exactly what the Fluid is. The suspension curve was very middle of the road – it was neither too linear nor too progressive, but just the right combination of slight rise at the top, supportive in the middle and well suited to withstand harsh bottoming.

Again on the topic of neutral feel, I didn’t detect any noticeable brake pressure or squats and found the Fluid to feel stiff and stable in the corners without any noticeable frame flex. The link and pivot hardware is high quality and easy to maintain, which helps, and the thoughtful cable routing ensured a quiet ride and a distraction-free ride. Finally, I think a lot of this bike’s performance and great handling comes from well-chosen geometry that is properly scaled and proportional for each rider’s size. Pouring over reviews of bikes that cost twice as much as this model is something we get used to, but it’s worth pausing to give Norco a few suggestions to take this concept to lower price levels and acknowledge that they We have taken this approach longer than any other brand out there.

In total

All in all, the Fluid FS A1 offers value that we rarely see in the cycling world – especially from a brand that isn’t working on a consumer model. Its carefully selected parts and brilliant, balanced geometry give it a very high quality ride and a level of performance that ensures it stays cool, calm and collected when you’re going over your head. The simple, proven four-bar suspension layout provides the performance you need without burdening you with any gadgets or oddities, and the frame is tied together and loaded with great features. The only sticking point I had with this bike was that the headset didn’t adjust properly. Either it had a little play or it was tightened too tight. This is probably just a coincidence and your dealer would sort this out without much effort.

All in all, that’s a pretty short list of issues, and this is the perfect bike for the type of rider who wants to take the plunge and seriously invest in mountain biking. It’s also perfect for anyone for whom budget is a priority but doesn’t want to sacrifice performance at the expense of value. When it comes to value for money this bike is hard to beat, so hats off to Norco for a very good job!

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