Cockpit Feel/Fit –
Alright, this is where this bike shines. The cockpit feels wonderfully natural. The moment I swung a leg over the saddle, gripping the handlebars, 5.10s on flats, I knew what I could do with this bike. I knew I could ride it down our local DH trails and I knew I could jump it off most of the local doubles. I knew I could pedal it up hill on long trail rides and I knew I could have fun. The very natural and neutral cockpit feel and body position is great.
One thing that did become immediately apparent was that the stem would have to go and be replaced by a stout 50mm stem. Maybe for smaller people it wont be an issue, but I felt too much flex from the stem just pushing down the sides of the handlebars in the office. Once replaced, the bars felt solid and the front end of the bike became very confidence inspiring.
The handlebars are a bit shorter than the 28″ I normally use but are very comfortable. They are very stiff and didn’t tilt or flex once a stouter stem was put on.
Over all I was able to find a saddled position that was comfy and kept my body relatively up right. On long rides my arms never grew tired of supporting my body, like they do in a more aggressively designed cockpit. Do keep in mind that I did run a shorter stem than what comes on the bike (75mm I believe is stock). This did help give me a more upright position. But even with the standard stem the cockpit feels great.
The Pro Palm lock ons are a bit thicker than ODI Ruffians. One thing I really like is that Norco recognizes that lock on grips are meant for hard trails and hard riding, and this bike can take it. So it is great to see that Norco didn’t cut corners and put regular grips on this bike.
So lets be honest, the Fluid LT isn’t meant to be a billy goat up a mountain. It can climb but there is pedal bob. The bob isn’t too apparent on slow climbs while in the saddle, in the middle or small ring. But out of the saddle, or when putting down some thrashing power the pedal bob shows up. It would have been great to have had a handle bar adjustable pro-pedal lock on the shock but as it was, on long climbs I would set the rebound to the slowest rate possible and reduce the pedal bob as much as I could. When the shock rebounds slower then cold molasses, pedal bob is pretty much solved. It isn’t really that big of an issue but it is there and you should be aware.
The adjustable travel on the fork is a great feature to have for long climbs or even for trail rides. However, the aforementioned issues with the travel adjust knob mean that you may not utilize the feature as much as you would, if it were easier to engage. But, as it is, even when not using it at every chance, the fork still provides a stable feel. There were several rides where I just used the fork in the 120mm position and it was fine.