Value Mountain Bike of the Year WinnerFour bikes made the cut for Value Mountain Bike of the Year, including one hardtail. The list includes the Canyon Spectral 125 AL 6, Specialized Status 140, Marin Team Marin 1, and the Norco Fluid FS A1. Multiple editors rode each bike and weighed in with their opinions, but the group decision was unanimous.
Norco Fluid FS A1
Great bikes aren't necessarily the most expensive or the lightest ones out there and the aluminum Norco Fluid proved its strength against much fancier bikes in our Fall Field Test. $3,999 USD is still a solid chunk of change and this is the priciest Fluid in the series, however, the package deal of capable geometry and suspension performance along with appropriate components that don't overload the weigh scale are why the Fluid takes home our Value Bike of the Year award.
To stack up our decisions on why we chose Norco's reasonably-priced trail bike, let's first take a look at the frame. A one-piece rocker link provides 130mm of travel and steers clear of a trunnion-mount style Float X shock to improve reliability. Since this is a light-duty trail bike, we concluded a 65-degree head angle was perfectly adequate for the bike's intentions and got along with the other geometry numbers. Those smoothed welds might even fool you for an expensive carbon build.
Solid specification choices were made where it matters most. TRP's Trail EVO brakes provide solid, consistent power from a light-action lever, Shimano's XT-level shifting is already well proven, and the 140mm-travel Fox 34 Factory fork includes the high-functioning Grip2 damper.
Everything about the Fluid is perfectly normal, and we're ok with that. The performance that Norco packed into this revived model can compete against other bikes out there that are twice the price, which makes the Fluid FS A1 our Value Bike of the Year.