Norco Fluid FS A1 Review
- Price: $3999
- Frame: Aluminum
- Tires: 29
- Gear: 1×12
What we like about it: Great geometry and carefully selected components at an affordable price.
What we don’t like about it: The body is heavier and tends to struggle up hills.
The new Norco Fluid FS A1 is designed to tackle any challenging trail. And it has a proven track record, not only being named Pinkbike Value Bike of the Year, Vital MTB Best Bike of the Year, and most recently, Best Value Mountain Bike by Bike Magazine.
After spending some time riding it, I consider it an excellent trail mountain bike.
The Norco Fluid FS A1 boasts exceptional geometry and a carefully selected groupset, including the Shimano XT M8100 drivetrain, TRP Trail EVO 4 Piston brakes, and Fox FLOAT Factory 34 GRIP2 fork.
Not only does it provide an excellent riding experience, but it also comes at a reasonable price. The standout features are its superb handling and sturdy frame, which offer support and nimble control even on challenging terrain with significant drops.
Now, let’s analyze the riding experience, specifications, and other versions of the Norco Fluid FS A1. For more bicycle reviews, feel free to follow our updates.
As the alloy version of the Optic mountain bike, this bike has gained popularity due to its friendly price and suitable groupset. Norco’s goal was to enhance its performance by increasing its travel and incorporating some performance-oriented geometry adjustments.
To truly experience the highly acclaimed the powerful performance of Fluid FS A1, we took it to the Black Hills National Forest. This area offers a variety of terrains, including streams, lakes, reservoirs, canyons, grasslands, caves, and forests. I couldn’t wait to put this top-notch bike, the Norco Fluid FS A1, to the test.
Another thing that needs to be prepared in advance is booking accommodation. This time, I still booked accommodation on Skyscanner, hoping for a good rest.
The all-new Norco Fluid FS A1 features a 10mm increase in travel at both the front and rear suspension compared to its predecessor. This significantly boosted my confidence when taking on big drops.
Furthermore, Norco didn’t hold back and equipped it with the Fox FLOAT Factory 34 GRIP2 fork with 140mm of travel. This provided excellent support when landing from significant drops.
The Fox FLOAT X Performance Elite rear suspension also absorbed most of the impacts, allowing me to maintain a grounded riding position and prevent unnecessary bouncing that could lead to falls.
The powerful TRP Trail EVO 4 Piston brakes, paired with 203mm and 180mm rotors front and rear, not only deliver impressive braking power but also provide a satisfying and responsive feel.
Although the 29-inch wheels gave me the confidence to conquer more obstacles and a smoother downhill experience, the Vittoria Mazza tires felt slightly lacking in grip on wet surfaces.
Certainly, one of the biggest highlights of the Norco Fluid FS A1 is its uphill performance. While many manufacturers prioritize downhill performance for mountain bikes, Norco has made the uphill performance of the Norco Fluid FS A1 incredibly strong.
Firstly, the 2023 Norco Fluid FS A1 features a taller head tube, allowing me to maintain an upright position during uphill climbs, significantly reducing the energy expended.
Moreover, the handling of the Fluid FS A1 is exceptional, making it easier for me to navigate narrow trails during uphill climbs. The Shimano XT, 10-51, 12-Speed drivetrain that the Fluid FS A1 is equipped with ensures smooth progress on long uphill sections.
The SDG Tellis dropper post, with its responsive speed, allows me to freely adjust my riding position during the ride.
Lastly, the Norco Fluid FS A1 is a fantastic trail mountain bike that I find enjoyable and easy to handle. While it may be slightly heavier compared to bikes in its class, it’s not a major concern for most downhill sections. Norco has always focused on building durable off-road mountain bikes rather than obsessing over weight.
In summary, the Norco Fluid FS A1 is a reliable trail mountain bike that provides immense riding pleasure. It’s worth a try for those who are interested.
I believe many riders who hop on the Norco Fluid FS A1 for the first time will have the initial impression that it doesn’t feel like a typical trail mountain bike; it feels more like an endurance mountain bike. The relaxed head tube angle and generous stack height allow me to maintain a comfortable riding posture.
Additionally, the 2023 Norco Fluid FS A1 offers an XXL size option, providing more choices for taller riders. The 65° head tube angle perfectly suits my riding style. Even on muddy trails, I don’t feel too slow or sluggish, and I don’t experience excessive front-end sway on open roads.
It is equipped with a TranzX 6061 Butted Alloy, 780mm, 20mm Rise handlebar and a 6061 Alloy, 40mm Length, 35mm Clamp stem combination.
It offers agility and responsiveness during downhill sections. The 780mm handlebar is a personal favorite of mine as it doesn’t require me to trim 20mm off each end as I did with my previous 800mm handlebar.
The Stan’s Flow S1 29-inch aluminum alloy wheelset on the Fluid FS A1 provides ample strength while delivering a lighter riding feel compared to other aluminum wheelsets.
Lastly, the long-travel, specific-sized 34.9mm dropper post and low standover height of the 2023 Norco Fluid FS A1 create ample room for adjustments in riding position during long journeys. This instills me with the confidence to tackle challenging terrains and push my limits.
Of course, I love the Norco Fluid FS A1. It has provided me with thrilling downhill experiences and a unique riding sensation. I truly believe it deserves the accolade of being named the Bike of the Year.
However, for riders who are looking to experience a trail mountain bike for the first time, there are other options available. That’s why we’ve also researched other models.
2023 Norco Fluid FS A2
The Norco Fluid FS A2 is priced at $850 lower than the Norco Fluid FS A1. However, the frames of both bikes are nearly identical. The main differences lie in the groupset and suspension.
Firstly, the Norco Fluid FS A2 features the Marzocchi Bomber Z2 fork, which provides similar support to the Fox FLOAT Factory 34 (considering Marzocchi is now part of Fox). However, the Marzocchi fork has fewer adjustable damping options.
Another important consideration is the durability of the Marzocchi Bomber Z2.
Secondly, the Fluid FS A2 is equipped with Shimano SLX, which does not allow for four gears to be shifted simultaneously like the Shimano XT on the Fluid FS A1.
However, the rear derailleur is still impressive, pairing with the Shimano XT M8100 to prevent chain drops during intense riding.
Lastly, both they have two bottle cage mounts, one on the top tube and one on the downtube. This significantly increases the carrying capacity for supplies during trail crossings.
Therefore, if you’re a rider who is new to trail mountain biking, I think the Norco Fluid FS A2 is worth considering. With a similar frame to the A1 and a well-rounded groupset, it can easily meet your everyday riding needs.
What do we like about it?
- This bike is paired with FOX high-performance front and rear shocks that provide excellent support when descending large drops.
- The excellent geometry design and the riding stance that favors the endurance mountain bike give me more comfort and greater confidence to face challenges.
- The frame is in excellent shape and has good handling and a solid and stable chassis.
- The excellent components that go with it improve the whole bike’s riding ceiling even more and are reasonably priced.
- The frame size is complete and can cope with the choice of riders of all different heights.
- The 29-inch wheelset, which is standard across the board, gives the rider more stability downhill and superior passing performance.
What don’t we like about it?
- The heavier weight may not be friendly to riders who like to jump.
- What kind of shocks does it use?
Front shock: Fox FLOAT Factory 34 GRIP2, 140mm Travel, 44mm Offset. Rear shock: Fox FLOAT X Performance Elite, 2-pos, Custom Tune, 210x50mm.
- What is the drivetrain of this bike?
It uses Shimano XT, 12-speed.
- How do I choose the right size for Norco Fluid FS A1?
2023 Norco Fluid FS A1 Specs
|Frame||6061 Alloy, 130mm TravelBB Standard: BSA, 73mm, ThreadedColor: Green / Grey|
|Fork||Fox FLOAT Factory 34 GRIP2, 140mm Travel, 44mm Offset|
|Rear Shock||Fox FLOAT X Performance Elite, 2-pos, Custom Tune, 210x50mm|
|Bottom Bracket||Praxis M24 Cartridge Bearing, BSA Threaded|
|Headset||Sealed Bearing, Tapered|
|Stem||6061 Alloy, 40mm Length, 35mm Clamp|
|Handlebar||TranzX 6061 Butted Alloy, 780mm, 20mm Rise|
|Saddle||Fizik Alpaca Terra with Wingflex|
|Seatpost||SDG Tellis Dropper, 34.9mm, 150mm (s), 170mm (M, L), 200mm (XL, XXL)|
|Pedals||VP Nylon Flat|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano XT RD-M8100|
|Crank||Praxis G2 Cadet M24, 30T, 170mm (S), 175mm (M – XXL)|
|Shifters||Shimano XT SL-M8100-IR I-Spec EV|
|Cassette||Shimano XT, 10-51, 12 Speed|
|Brakes||TRP Trail EVO, 4 Piston, Organic Pads|
|Brake Levers||TRP Trail EVO|
|Rims||Stan’s Flow S1 29″ 32H|
|Front Hub||Bear Pawls Sealed Bearing, 15x110mm Boost, 6 Bolt|
|Rear Hub||Bear Pawls Sealed Bearing, 12x148mm Boost, Micro Spline, 6 Bolt|
|Tires||Vittoria Mazza 2.4″ Trail G2.0, Folding|
|Disk Rotors||TRP TR203-29, 203mm|
|Bicycles||Click view||Drivetrain||Frame material||Travel|
|2023 Canyon Neuron CF 9||Click View||1 × 12||Carbon||130mm rear, 140mm front|
|2023 Trek Top Fuel 7||Click View||1 × 12||Aluminum||120mm rear, 120mm front|
|2023 YT Industries Izzo CORE 4 29||Click View||1 × 12||Carbon||130mm rear, 130mm front|
|2023 Ibis Ripley AF SLX||Click View||1 × 12||Aluminum||120mm rear, 130mm front|
Norco Fluid FS A1 vs Canyon Neuron CF 9
The Norco Fluid FS A1 and Canyon Neuron CF 9 are both high-performance mountain bikes that are often compared, given their similar price range.
Firstly, the Canyon Neuron CF 9 features a carbon fiber frame, which makes it lighter compared to the Norco Fluid FS A1’s aluminum alloy frame. This results in a lighter and more agile riding experience.
Secondly, the suspension components of the Norco Fluid FS A1 are of a higher level compared to the Canyon Neuron CF 9. The Fox Performance Elite Float 34 fork on the Canyon Neuron CF 9 may lack some sensitivity during continuous operation.
In conclusion, both bikes are excellent mountain bikes. They each have their strengths and advantages. Whichever one you choose, you can’t go wrong with either option.
Norco Fluid FS A1 vs Trek Top Fuel 7
While the Trek Top Fuel 7 is indeed a classic mountain bike, I feel that the groupset it comes with doesn’t justify its price. The 120mm of front and rear shock travel is hard to manage on some rigorous trails. Additionally, the RockShox 35 Gold RL fork doesn’t perform as well in aggressive riding conditions.
However, the sturdy chainstay of the Trek Top Fuel 7 gives me a strong sense of security during my rides. I also appreciate the storage design on the downtube, which Trek has always been known for.
Lastly, due to its limited 120mm suspension travel, the Trek Top Fuel 7 excels in climbing performance.
If you like the design of the Trek Top Fuel 7 and mainly ride on less challenging terrain, I think it can still be a good choice for you.
Norco Fluid FS A1 vs YT Industries Izzo CORE 4 29
At first sight, the YT Industries Izzo CORE 4 29 is undeniably stunning! I have to say that YT’s design aligns with my aesthetic preferences.
The YT Industries Izzo CORE 4 29 combines a carbon front triangle with an aluminum rear triangle, effectively reducing the weight of the bike while maintaining excellent rigidity. The suspension setup on this bike provides great support, giving me the impression that it has more than just 130mm of travel.
All in all, the YT Industries Izzo CORE 4 29 is indeed a great mountain bike in every sense of the word. But I would prefer the Norco Fluid FS A1, not only because the Norco Fluid FS A1 is $1000 cheaper than the YT Industries Izzo CORE 4 29. But I like the TRP Trail EVO, 4 Piston brakes on the Norco Fluid FS A1 better.
Norco Fluid FS A1 vs Ibis Ripley AF SLX
Comparing the Norco Fluid FS A1 and the Ibis Ripley AF SLX at the same price point, the Norco Fluid FS A1 has significant advantages in terms of its overall groupset and front and rear suspension.
The Shimano SLX M7100 rear derailleur on the Ibis Ripley AF SLX falls short in intense riding conditions, and the entry-level FOX suspension doesn’t effectively filter out vibrations from continuous small bumps.
However, the standout feature of the Ibis Ripley AF SLX is its long-standing trump card, the DW-Link suspension. It compensates for the shortcomings of the entry-level FOX suspension in terms of bump absorption.
Of course, I prefer the Norco Fluid FS A1 and the Ibis Ripley AF SLX, two cross-country mountain bikes at the same price. After all, the Norco Fluid FS A1 is equipped with a groupset that can meet my riding needs, so I don’t need to upgrade later.
That’s all we have to say about the Norco Fluid FS A1, and I believe it truly lives up to its accolades as one of the best mountain bikes of the year. The Norco Fluid FS A1 is a great ride and offers a lot of fun on the trails.
Of course, if you’re interested in other mountain bikes, we also review many other cost-effective options. Feel free to check out our related tests.
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