PINKBIKE FIELD TRIP
NORCO FLUID HT 1
Loves all-day pedal fests.
Words by Sarah Moore, Photography by Tom Richards
We're halfway through the hardtail reviews in our Field Trip value bike series
and up next is the Norco Fluid yHT 1, a hardtail that comes with a 120mm fork and retails for $1,499 USD. Norco says it's built around a "progressive aluminum frame design to create the ultimate singletrack adventure hardtail."
The sparkly black Fluid HT frame is available in 27.5" wheels in the smaller sizes and 29" wheels in the larger sizes, with medium-sized rides having the choice of either wheel size. The aluminum frame is pretty straightforward with internal cable routing, a threaded bottom bracket, and a Boost thru-axle rear end.
Norco Fluid HT 1
Fork travel: 120mm
Wheel size: 27.5" & 29"
Frame construction: aluminum
Head angle: 66.5 degrees
Chainstay length: 430mm
Reach: 440mm (medium)
Sizes: XS-S-M (27.5") & M-L-XL (29")
Weight: 31 lbs / 14.1 kg
Price: $1,499 USD
More info: www.norco.com
As for geometry, up front the Fluid has a 66.5-degree head angle and that's paired with a 74.5-degree seat angle. Reaches range from just 380mm on the XS all the way up to 500mm on the XL, with the medium-sized 29er we rode sitting at 440mm. All sizes, no matter what the wheel size, come with 430mm chainstays.
There are only two Fluid HT to choose from, with our $1,499 USD HT 1 being the fanciest option with its 120mm X-Fusion RC32 fork, a Shimano Deore drivetrain, Tektro HD-M275 Hydraulic brakes, and a TransX dropper post. If you’ve got a bit less to spend, the HT 2 uses the same frame kitted out with an SR Suntour fork and Deore 11-speed drivetrain. It goes for $1,199 USD and Norco has still managed to spec a dropper post at that price.Climbing
They're all hardtails, how different can they be? Well, you'd be right that there isn't a whole lot of pedal bob on any of them on the climbs, but you would be surprised by how different they feel. On our test lap on the Sunshine Coast, the Fluid proved to be a capable cross-country hardtail on the climbs and its 120mm X-Fusion fork made it feel snappy and responsive. You're not in as aggressive a climbing position on the Fluid as you are on the BMC Two Stroke, but that actually makes it more comfortable for tackling a long day, without it feeling like you're sacrificing efficiency. The longer top tube on the Norco makes it feel less cramped than the Vitus, which comes in handy for putting down power on the climbs.
If faced with a long day in the saddle and 10,000 feet of climbing, the Fluid would be a great choice. There's a big 11-51 tooth spread on the cassette, which is key to making climbing enjoyable, especially if you're a newer rider. While the Maxxis Ardent tires don't provide much traction if you're tackling a climb in wet conditions, they are fast rolling and provide plenty of traction in dry conditions. Overall, the Fluid likes to be pedalled hard and excels on tricky, twisty uphill sections of trail. Descending
The Fluid loves fast, smooth sections of trail and accelerates quickly when you pump into the terrain. It's responsive and speedy and much more aggressive than a traditional cross-country bike, with its dropper post and 120mm X-Fusion fork. If you're a precise rider, with lots of smooth, fast trails, the Fluid is going to be a really fun trail companion.
When you get into rougher sections, the Fluid feels quite nervous, and is no match for the Rocky Mountain Growler on those types on trails. It has 20mm less travel and a steeper head tube angle and you really do feel that when you're pointed down the trail. Basically, you're just closer to the edge when you're on the Fluid and you have to be a lot more precise with your lines. The Fluid isn't the kind of bike you're going to go smashing through things on, you'll want to choose the smoothest line you can.
One thing you'll also notice on the descents is that the brakes don't provide a lot of bite or power. There's also a 750mm wide bar, which may be too narrow for some riders. You're going to want to upgrade those brakes and likely choose a wider bar if you want to feel more confident on the descents.
Fast and fun on flowy trails+
Fork is a highlight of the build
Nervous at speed and on rougher terrain-
Tektro brakes lack power
The 2021 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible with support from Toyota.
Video: Jason Lucas, Max Barron
Editing: Max Barron