Fluid Two – XC and uphill performance
Billed by Norco as a bike “for efficient climbing” I climbed the Fluid Two up fire roads, up singletrack, up roads and also had it on rolling up and down terrain in my home trails in North Vancouver, Squamish and on road trips to Merritt and Pemberton. As previously stated the Fluid Two has adjustable 116-143 mm / 4.5″-5.6″ rear wheel travel and I used both setting for the review.
Climbing is efficient on the Fluid Two. Technical climbing in particular is a delight; the Fox RP2′s platform valving does a lot to help and stiffens up considerably when the bike is in shorter travel mode. One can attack scrambly technical sections and the bike hooks up – conspiring to drag you uphill as much as your lungs and legs will allow. At 29lbs, the Fluid isn’t particularly light and you won’t mistake it for a dedicated World Cup XC rig. Fire road climbs are tolerable (are there any which inspire joy?). Both front and rear shocks can be effectively locked-out with simple switches on the fly so it’s entirely possible to make the Fluid Two essentially rigid and grind it out. However, there is no height adjustment on the RockShox Revelation which would help with comfort on steep extended uphills.
Unsurprisingly, a bike that handles well in technical downhills also handles beautifully in xc applications. The Fluid Two’s handling is telepathic. The bike can be sprinted up short climbs and dances down short downhills. It’s very much at home in rolling terrain with short up and downhills and can be flicked around from switchback to tight turn to grinding uphill. In short, the Fluid Two is a bike that can react quickly to changing terrain.
Some improvements could be made. There is no room for water bottle cages. I cannot stand the OE Crank Bros pedals; to me they are unpredictable throw-aways. A height-adjustable front fork would improve climbing performance.
Sharons’ comments (She Said):
From a 150lb women’s perspective I found the bike to be a good climber with the pro-pedal turned on. Typical of the horst link design the bike does bob in active mode while climbing or on technical pedaling single track. I found the bike descended well within classic cross country parameters. At higher speeds and on rougher trails it was not as confidence inspiring. It could handle typical fast smooth cross country trails, but was compromised on more steep rough terrain. As indicated above this could be compensated for with bigger tires and a stiffer fork. The Revelation was surprisingly plush for the lower end Rock Shox but was easily overwhelmed on rougher terrain. Front travel adjust would be beneficial on this bike. This bike would not disappoint someone looking for a good all round cross country bike that can accommodate most terrain.
Video of the Norco in action