An aluminum trail bike done right


Norco started as Northern Cycle Industries all the way back in 1964. The first bikes were built in a chicken coop in British Columbia. Norco’s grass-roots history is something the company is quite proud of. The mountains of B.C. and the cornucopia of trails in the area are hard-wired into the DNA of the company, and its designs are a reflection of the progression that has happened on the slopes of the North Shore, a place that has been synonymous with the growth of mountain biking.

The Fluid is one of Norco’s do-it-all trail bikes. It’s a bike that is only available in an aluminum version, although in several different build kits to hit a range of price points. The travel and geometry are similar to Norco’s carbon-framed Optic, but the ride characteristics of the Fluid are unique to this bike and stay true to the feel we’ve come to expect from the Canadian mega-brand.


The Fluid FS A1 frame is full suspension and uses 6061 aluminum throughout, hence the FS A1 name. An expanded size range ensures that even very large and very small riders will find a Fluid that fits. The Ride Aligned sizing system allows Norco to engineer the precise center of gravity for each frame size by altering the length of the rear end to match the front rather than having a one-size-fits-all rear design.

The frame comes with a modern geometry that’s both slack and capable, with a steep and powerful seat angle for pedaling efficiency. The frame is designed with a low stand-over height that makes for ample dropper-post room.

For longevity and ease of maintenance, the pivots feature sealed cartridge bearings and machined hardware, and the bottom bracket is threaded. Other amenities include internal cable routing throughout, a custom-molded chainstay protector, a full-size downtube bottle mount, and an extra top-tube tool/stash box mount.

Shimano’s excellent XT drivetrain, Stan’s Flow S1 rims and Vittoria tires are all specs usually associated with higher-end bikes, not value-driven models.



The A1 sits atop the build kit options for the Fluid and features high-end components in several key areas. A Shimano XT drivetrain is a pleasant surprise at this price and offers the crisp shifting we’ve come to know and love. TRP Trail EVO brakes provide ample power and a very nice-feeling lever that allowed us to easily control the bike with one finger, even on steep and sustained descents.

Stan’s Flow S1 rims are paired to a Vittoria Mazza and Mortello Trail tire combo that gripped our home trails in SoCal impressively well and left us with no reason to try mounting anything different during our test. Other highlights include a Praxis G2 crank and 170mm-travel SDG Tellis dropper post.


The bike utilizes a four-bar, Horst-link suspension design with 130mm of custom-tuned rear-wheel travel with a Fox Factory Float X shock. It is paired with a Fox Factory Float fork with 140mm of travel. These are the highest-end Fox models with Kashima coating—a rare spec at this price point.

Norco claims the Fluid suspension design uses consistent compression support and optimized anti-squat to maximize grip when pedaling without the need for a lockout; however, the Fluid still comes with a climb switch on the Float X shock.



On the trail, the suspension kinematics feel supportive but reactive. The Ride Aligned system allows the bike to rely on the suspension kinematics for efficiency rather than a firm shock tune, which improves the ride quality throughout the travel.

Norco claims that this bike doesn’t need a lockout, and in many situations, this is true. The suspension is active and helps improve traction on loose and punchy climbs. The suspension moves slightly but feels like it’s helping the cause more than sapping power with unnecessary movement. Still, we found ourselves reaching for the climb switch on every long fire-road climb.

While the suspension is dialed enough to feel efficient, a firm compression circuit helps keep the bike high in its travel. The Fluid carries its weight well and has the right geometry and features to make pedaling a 34-pound machine as easy as possible.


The Norco has a lively and playful feel that begs its riders to push their skills and progress. Having ridden many of the North Shore-tuned Norco bikes in the past, we can say the Fluid stays true to the Norco feel that knows how to fly downhill. There’s a reason Norco bikes are often the choice for rental fleets at famed bike parks like Whistler. Bikes like this are relatively easy to ride, thanks to a geometry that’s not too extreme in any direction.

Like to pick your way down technical lines? The Fluid is maneuverable enough to make that happen. Prefer to blast over lines with reckless abandon? The geometry is not designed to set a track record on a downhill or enduro race, but it is designed so that literally anybody who picks up the bike and points it down the hill will feel comfortable and in control.

Our favorite rides aboard this bike included plenty of time seeking fun “bonus” jumps on the trail, simply because the bike floats up, over and off the ground easily. Moreover, the geometry and suspension are forgiving enough for when your “moment of radness” comes up a little short or off-kilter. The high starting leverage ratio and precise shock tune boosts mid-stroke support to maintain grip and provide a smooth transition from the mid to end stroke with a consistent feel.

The Fluid felt like a trusty old steed by the time we finished the first ride, and it only got better from there. Norco designed this bike to be high-performance but not so off the beaten path that you must adjust your whole riding technique to reap the benefits.

Whether you need stability on high-speed turns or maneuverability on steep and technical descents, the Norco finds the sweet spot and executes with aplomb. This is not the lightest bike in our quiver, but it carries its weight well uphill. We never felt like we needed the help of a shuttle or chairlift up; however, the bike felt right at home on jumps and drops, and begged us to push our skill set while riding it.




Test riders of all skill levels appreciated how quickly they felt confident on this bike. The term “confidence inspiring” fits the Norco to a T. We like aluminum frames. When done right, they are lightweight, durable and recyclable. We really like Norco’s Ride Aligned program.

The sizing and setup system takes the guesswork out of frame size and suspension settings and is effective for quickly finding baseline settings.

We had to cover the dropper post’s cable with foam to silence the rattle.


We didn’t love the fact that the Norco’s cables and hoses rattled inside the downtube on descents. This issue was resolved by covering the cables with foam tubing inside the tubes, although this will require you to disconnect the brake, shifter and drop cable to install.


This no-nonsense, well-spec’d metal bike suits the needs of any expert, thanks to a dialed geometry and well-designed suspension platform. Beginners and intermediate riders will love the ease of setup with the Ride Aligned sizing system and excellent value in component spec. Any rider looking for a brass-tacks, high-performance, easy-to-use bike to progress their skills will find it in Norco’s Fluid FS A1





SUSPENSION: 140mm (front), 130mm (rear)

Price: $3999

Weight: 33.3 pounds (without pedals)

Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL, XXL



Head tube angle: 65°

Reach: 480mm (18.9″)

Stack: 635mm (25″)

Bottom bracket height: 348mm (13.6″)

Chainstay length: 435mm (17.2″)

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