by Wil Barrett
March 23, 2017
We have had some absolutely beautiful machines come through Singletrack Towers in recent months. High-tech full suspension bikes crafted from carbon fibre, sophisticated hardtails built from titanium, and gorgeous handmade works of art custom fabricated from steel have all left us drooling over some very high-end and very expensive exotica. But as much as we enjoy playing with unobtanium, the reality is that those high-end machines are only accessible to a very few.
We know those expensive bikes get lots of hits on the website, because, well, who doesn’t like ogling over the equivalent of a Ferrari F1? But when it comes down to it, not all of us can afford such exotica. So we test all sorts of bikes across the entire budget spectrum. You may recall our Grand Hardtails For Under A Grand bike test, and more recently, our Big Name Trail Bike test. All brilliant bikes that show just how good the entry and mid-level end of the mountain bike market has gotten.
Within the last fortnight though, we’ve had one of the best value machines come through the office in some time; the 2017 Norco Fluid 7.3.
“For this version of the Norco Fluid 7.3 we worked exclusively with Norco to get the best spec level available for an unbeatable price making this one of the best value Norco’s out there. It utilises an improved fork and rear shock to its predecessor, improving on an already amazing suspension platform. With trail-tuned A.R.T. suspension and short, stiff rear ends, the Fluids snap around corners, explode up tech climbs, and flow through rocky, rooty descents. This truly is a bike for those looking to take their trail riding experiences to the next level. Find your sweet spot with the Fluid.” – Evans Cycles.
Norco Fluid 7.3 Features
- Entry-level full suspension trail bike
- Hydroformed alloy frameset
- 27.5in wheels
- 120mm travel RockShox Recon fork
- 68.5° head angle
- A.R.T four-bar suspension design w/120mm rear travel
- 425mm chainstay length
- 1×10 drivetrain, hydraulic disc brakes & tubeless compatible rims
- Available sizes: X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
- RRP: £1099
The Norco Fluid is Norco’s entry-level into the full suspension market. Norco offers the Fluid platform in both 29in and 27.5in wheels, and all built around an alloy frame using a four-bar suspension design. The Fluid 7.3 is a special build spec that’s only available in the UK. Co-developed with UK importer and retailer, Evans Cycles, the Fluid 7.3 receives a very tidy spec and a very tidy price to make it one of the most accessible quality full suspension bikes on the market.
The frame itself is shared throughout the £1499 Fluid 1 model. It uses flowing hydroformed alloy tubes, including a tapered head tube that uses a zero-stack headset for a nice clean look.
Out back is the A.R.T suspension platform, which uses sealed bearing pivots throughout, along with clevis-style pivots to increase stiffness through each junction.
Cable routing is fully external, which makes maintenance that much easier for those who may be new to the sport.
The Fluid 7.3 is equipped with 120mm of rear wheel travel, which puts it into the trail bike segment. The A.R.T suspension design relies on a horst link-style pivot near the dropout, along with a short rocker link that mounts halfway up the seat tube. The two-piece rocker link drives a RockShox Monarch R rear shock.
Impressively at this price, the rear shock is air-sprung. That means all you need is a shock pump to increase or decrease internal air pressure to match your riding weight. Easy to adjust with low-speed rebound damping.
To match the rear suspension, the Fluid 7.3 has a RockShox Recon SL fork on the front with 120mm of travel. The Recon shares a similar design to the pricier Reba models, but subs in steel stanchions and a more basic damper to bring the price down.
The Recon is also air sprung, so you can adjust spring pressure with a shock pump too. It’s also lighter than a coil-sprung fork.
Adjustable compression damping on the top of the crown, with the blue lever allowing you to close off the damping to a full lockout.
It’s nice to see an entry-level full suspension bike come with a proper cockpit. Norco has spec’d a 760mm wide handlebar and a 65mm stem to give loads of stability on the front of the bike.
Operating shifting is a Shimano Deore 10-speed trigger shifter, while braking is handled by a set of Tektro hydraulic disc brakes.
On the left side of the handlebar is a lonesome Tektro brake lever. As the Fluid 7.3 is rocking a 1×10 drivetrain, there’s no need for a front shifter, and it leaves plenty of room for a dropper post lever if you choose to fit one in the future.
There’s a clean 1×10 drivetrain complete with 2-piece cranks and a narrow-wide chainring. Impressive to see at this price point.
Handling shifts out back is a new generation Shimano Deore rear derailleur, complete with Shadow Plus friction clutch to keep the chain tight.
The rear axle is a 135mm quick release number, and the disc brake mount uses post-style tabs for a neat direct-mount setup with a 160mm rotor.
Rotor size is upped on the front brake, with a 180mm stainless steel disc offering a more power.
Rubber on the Fluid 7.3 is from the WTB stable, with a grippy 2.3in wide Vigilante up front.
And a slightly faster-rolling 2.2in Bee Line tyre on the rear. The WTB rims are tubeless compatible with a 23mm internal width. The tyres themselves aren’t tubeless compatible, but it does provide a point of upgrade if you’re looking to ditch the inner tubes in the future.
No dropper post found on the Fluid 7.3, but it is a £1099 full suspension bike, so we reckon that’s fair enough! Norco has provided quite a neat seat binder that uses an integrated cable guide for when you do upgrade to a dropper seat post that has external routing.
A comfy WTB saddle sits atop the alloy seat post, with some subtle but very classy matching colour details. It’s pretty rad to see this kind of attention to detail in spec on an entry-level mountain bike.
And there you have it – the 2017 Norco Fluid 7.3. A very tidy package on paper for only £1099, and a frame that features loads of details with plenty of room for future upgrades.
We’ll be testing the Norco Fluid 7.3 over the coming months, and will see how this trail bike fares with some proper technical riding in our neck of the woods. Keep your peepers on the website for future ride reports, though make your way through to the Evans Cycles website if you’d like to know more about the Fluid range and to find your nearest Norco dealer.
2017 Norco Fluid 7.3 Specifications
- Frame // Hydroformed Alloy, 120mm Travel
- Fork // Rockshox Recon Silver RL Solo Air, 15mm Maxle, 120mm Travel
- Shock // RockShox Monarch R
- Hubs // Alloy Disc Sealed Bearing, 100x15mm Front, 135x10mm Rear
- Rims // WTB STP i23 TCS
- Tyres // WTB Vigilante 2.3in Front, Bee Line 2.2in Rear
- Chainset // SAMOX, 32T Chainring
- Rear Mech // Shimano Deore Shadow Plus 10-Speed
- Front Mech // N/A
- Shifters // Shimano Deore 10-Speed
- Brakes // Tektro Hydraulic Disc HD-M285 w/180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
- Stem // Alloy MTB 60mm (XS, S, M, L sizes), 75mm on XL
- Bars // Norco 6061 Alloy 25mm Rise, 760mm Wide
- Grips // Norco MTB Gator Design Trail Grip
- Seatpost // Norco 6061 Alloy Double Bolt 30.9 x 350mm
- Saddle // WTB Volt Sport Trail Saddle
- Size Tested // Medium
- Sizes available // Small, Medium, Large, X-Large