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On paper the Norco Fluid 1 has all the right stuff to mix it up in our neck of the woods. Adjustable travel from 116-143mm, a Fox Float 32 fork with a 15mm axle, Fox RP2 air shock out back, Elixir brakes, Shimano SLX shifters / front derailleur, an XT rear derailleur and Race Face Deuce XC cranks.

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Norco Fluid 1 smooth sexy lines.

 

While the package is intriguing and well thought out, it seems to be better suited as an XC bike for Whistler riding than an all mountain rig. I found it hard to ride as an all mountain bike in Whistler.  While it climbs like a goat up the side of a rocky mountain, anytime that I pointed it down a technical trail I found the whole bike to be flexy and twitchy.  Twitchy could be partially due to the head angle of 68.5, flexy seemed to come from the 15mm front axle.  (This isn't the first time that I have noticed this on an all mountain bike with a 15mm front end).  While the rear end stayed planted while climbing, when descending I could feel it flex when it was pushed deep into corners. Turning the linkage into a 1 piece design would certainly remove some of the flex and that is being brought to some of the new 2011 models.

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Norco Fluid 1 rocker arms. Source of flexy rear end?

 

The Fluid 1 uses the Specialized FSR suspension design to soak up the bumps in the trail.  Norco has been a licensee of the FSR design for many years now and has used it across a good percentage of the bikes in their product line.  Time tested and approved, it is one of the most popular suspension designs in the last 20 years.  My personal opinion is that it is a great design that works well over a wide amount of travel lengths, but there really isn't one suspension to rule them all.  Just ask Dave Weagle, he has designed three different suspensions that all have a slightly different purpose. In my mind FSR works better for >140mm travel bikes, sub 140mm travel bikes should be single pivot and I have a special fancy for >160mm bikes that use single pivot with linkage.

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Norco Fluid 1 controls.

 

The wheels are a mixture of Shimano XT hubs and Mavic XM 117 rims and felt quite good and stable.  They have stayed straight despite some hard beatings and abuse. This was also the first time that I tried out Schwalbe tires and I have to say that I am impressed with the Knobby Nic tire.  It stuck to the ground in a variety of conditions and didn't fill up with mud.  But if I was to use them as my daily ride,  I think going to slightly wider tire at 2.35" range would help out immensely.

 

 

Opinion:

The spec for the bike is well thought out for a beefy XC bike, with the weight at a hair under 30lbs it is a durable build that doesn't break the bank, and shouldn't get broken too easily.

 

Plus:
Durable, affordable, stuck between two different markets.

Minus:
Not so much an all mountain bike, more XC orientated.

 

Rating: 3.5/5
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Price: $3400 cdn.

Website: http://www.norco.com/bikes/mountain/all-mountain/fluid-1/

 

Full gallery here: http://www.whistlermountainbike.com/wmb/gallery/showgallery.php/cat/799

What do you think of the Norco Fluid 1? Talk back here.