Check out the 2023 ‘value’ bike of the year winner! The Norcos Fluid FS

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, ‘how cool is the filter down effect’ when it comes to MTB!? Case in point: feast your eyes on the all-new Fluid FS from Norco, a bike which has been developed with the exact same DNA and trail eating performance know-how that you’ll find in the brands ultra-fancy top tier models, but at a fraction of the ticket $ price!

Words // Mike Daly   Photos // Mick Ross @ Flow MTB

Now, you may be familiar with the Fluid name and that is because this model has been a regular fixture within Norco’s model line-up for a few seasons however for the 2023 season Norco completely redesigned the bike from the ground up. The new Fluid FS is a budget friendly 140/130mm of travel trail specific bike boasting high-end geometry and it’s available at Norco dealers across Australia in 4 complete spec levels with pricing starting at just $3199 (or in other word around a third the price of some of Norco’s absolute premium trail bikes!) 

So, the new Fluid FS sounds pretty impressive, and judging by the photos it’s also rather easy on the eye you’d probably have to agree, but of course the key detail everyone’s keen to discover is how does the bike actually ride? Well, late last year we scored an exclusive invite to head up to the stunning Hidden Vale Estate in Southern QLD to experience the Fluid FS for ourselves firsthand at the bikes official Aussie launch.

With this new bike Norco focused heavily on the sizing and geometry package in a quest to unlock as much trail performance and ‘bang for buck’ as possible. Using the brand’s proven ‘Ride Aligned’ system and bringing some of the ideas from their higher end bikes down to more budget friendly models like the Fluid. As part of the revamped R&D push Norco are developing a huge new R&D and test centre along with increased trail testing of all their new models with a new mobile workshop set up. There’s also been a rebrand with new logos and colours across the range.

Now you might be mistaken when looking at these photos of the incredibly smooth frame lines of the Fluid’s front triangle that it must be made from carbon fiber, but it isn’t. It’s been cleverly engineered from 6061 aluminium and the welds have then been smoothed flat which not only makes the Fluid’s frame look super clean, but it also adds to the bike’s overall performance. 

For the Fluid range Norco uses specific geometry for each size from Small through to XXL, including size specific chain stay lengths and dropper posts to help the bike fit each rider perfectly. This size range covers riders from 5’1” to 6’7” and it’s great to see a real XXL to suit taller riders. “Ride Aligned” is an app on the Norco website which helps you with bike set up. Jump on enter a few details and the app will help you find the best suspension settings, tyre pressures and bar adjustments to suit you and your bike perfectly.

The new Fluid range is built around a very nice alloy frame and sees a 10mm increase in travel both front and rear from the previous model, so you now have 140mm up front and 130mm out back. The seat tube has been shortened to give you more stand over room and cable routing has been improved. The four-bar suspension, tapered headtube and internal cable routings lead to a slick looking bike with super smooth welds and nice sparkle silver paint on the A2 that we rode.

The geometry is focused on providing a great all round trail bike that climbs and descends well but is not designed to be overly aggressive for fast descents.

There are 4 build specs in the range with the A4, A3 and A2 all available in Australia now and the top spec A1 due next year. The bike we tested, which you can see in the photos here, is the ‘A2’ model. Our size ‘large’ version had a reach of 480mm, 435mm size specific chain stays, head tube angle is 65 degrees, and the effective seat tube angle was 76.7, which again is also specific to this frame size. The spec on the A2 features a Marzocchi Bomber Z2 with 140mm Travel and 44mm offset, a custom tuned Fox FLOAT X Performance, gears are a mix of Shimano XT and SLX and there are 4 piston TRP Slate EVO brakes across the range. You’ll also find a few nice aftermarket parts like e*thirteen bars, SDG Tellis Droppers and Stan’s Flow wheels.

Oh, and did we mention shortly after the 2023 Fluid FS was launched late last year it won the hotly contested ‘Pinkbike Value Bike of the year’ award? Impressive, but hardly surprising we’d have to say now that we’ve test ridden it for ourselves.  [R]