Neatly stashed away in the Norco line up is the Fluid series. With 120mm of travel, the Fluid falls right in the trail riding segment. Available in either 29" (9 series) or 27.5" (7 series) with geometry specific to each wheel size, the Fluid is meant to be ridden hard and put away wet.
The Fluid features a trail tuned version of Norco's A.R.T suspension design, a tapered headtube and some nice and short rear stays (425mm), all of which add up together to make this a super fun trail bike.
The 7.2 comes with a solid, durable spec that has been well thought out to bring it in under the $2000 marker. The suspension is a matched Rockshox duo, with a XC30 120mm fork up front with a 9mm axle and a Monarch R for the rear. Being the R model, it only has rebound adjustment.
Formula DC hubs are laced to WTB SX 19 rims and are wrapped with Continental X-King 2.4 tires.
Gears are Shimano Deore 10 speed shifters & derailleurs, and braking is provided by Avid DB 1's wiht 160mm rotors.
Coming off my Norco Range, the ride is very predictable. With a slight steeper headtube angle of 68.5, and seattube angle it reacts a little quicker than the Range and enjoys being pointed uphill. The length of the rear stays is very similar to the Range, making it easy to flick about while riding.
While the A.R.T suspension is well proven and great to ride, at times i felt that 120mm left me under gunned in the steeper, downhill sections of Whistler's technical trails. The Fluid is best suited in single track, flowing down the trail. Turning the bike uphill, it loves to climb and the rubber seemed to stick on the trail over most demanding sections. But when I turned to send it down a quick dessent, the 120mm of travel, mixed with the steeper head tube angle, left me with a less than comfortable feeling on the technical bits. Not to say that it can't handle some of the rough stuff, more like I just wasn't comfortable on it through the rough stuff after coming across from a longer travel bike.
It really shone when taking it for a lap through the Zappa's, or Beavers Pond, somewhere where you could spin it up and keep the rpm's going. It doesn't have any issues rallying through tight corners or switch backs and it was very capable of attacking climbs and riding them out.
The Fluid comes in 2 different wheel sizes and spec packages. The 7 series are build around a 27.5" wheel and the 9 series are based on a 29" wheel. The spec packages are either 1 or 2 variants, with a price difference of close to $700 between the models. Interestingly enough, the 9.2 is $40 cheaper than the 7.2 version. My preference leans towards the 7 series, as I really think that 27.5" wheels are where it is all going to be in the next 5-10 years and it is best mixture of wheel size and travel lengths.
Pros: Fun trail bike, great for riding on xc trails. Perfect for intermediate riders looking to get their feet a little wetter in mountain biking.
Cons: Steeper angles make it faster on climbs, twitcher on dessents.