Feature: 2018 Norco Bicycles Search XR Carbon Gravel Bike

norco search xr carbon review

About Norco Bicycles

“Since 1964, we’ve been part of the bike industry for 50 incredible years. We are driven by a genuine passion for cycling in all its forms, and that passion is the foundation for everything we do.”

norco search xr carbon review

“Bert Lewis founded Norco Bicycles in 1964 with a simple vision: build better bikes. From our humble beginnings operating out of a converted chicken coop in small-town B.C., we’ve grown into a global brand delivering more than 125 different models to cyclists worldwide. We are proud of the role we’ve played in helping to shape the industry and the sport over the past five decades.”

norco search xr carbon review

Norco Search XR Carbon

If you’re a North American resident far from the southern side of the Canadian border, you could be excused if you’ve never heard of this well-established brand. Norco has been doing business across the globe for many years, but only recently has the brand been making a push beyond the Americano states that line up against the border of the Great White North.

norco search xr carbon review

Pictured above is the Norco Search XR Ultegra model. Also available is the XR Force 1 and XR Apex 1 bikes (both fitted with SRAM groupsets of the same name), along with a frame and fork only option.

norco search xr carbon review

According to Norco’s marketing, the Search XR offers five key benefits:

  1. Search XR Frame and Fork – “Lightweight carbon with Size-Scaled Tubing, SmoothCore, and ArmorLite resin for a stiff and durable frame. ARC Endurance system features bridgeless seat stays and curved, ovalized chainstays for improved vertical compliance.”
  2. Thru-Axles and Power Chassis – Front and rear 12mm thru axles plus an oversized head tube junction, downtube, BB shell and chain stays deliver lateral stiffness for maximum power transfer as well as control through rough terrain.
  3. Tire Compatibility – “Ample clearance for 27.5” x 2.1” or 700c x 28c-45c tires (up to 42c with full fenders).”
  4. Rack, Fender and Bottle Mounts – “Multiple bottle cage mounts on the frame and fork, custom removable fender bridge mount, and stealth rack and fender mounting points for maximum utility.”
  5. Gizmo Cable Management – “Prevents cable rattle and keeps debris out of the frame; offers riders a wide range of configuration options including full Di2 compatibility and 2×11 drivetrains with a stealth dropper post.”

norco search xr carbon review

Starting at the front end of the bike, Shimano’s excellent mechanical shifting / hydraulic brake levers.

norco search xr carbon review

Keeping with the adventure theme of this bike, Norco spec the Easton EA70 AX handlebar, which features a 16 degree flare. This is the aluminium version of the handlebar.  We are reviewing the EC70 AX carbon variant of the handlebar at the moment – stay tuned!

norco search xr carbon review

The Norco’s stem is a house-branded unit.

norco search xr carbon review

norco search xr carbon review

norco search xr carbon review

Norco refers to the fork as the Search XR Carbon. It is tapered, and we assume it follows the current standard of 1 1/8″ to 1 1/2″.

norco search xr carbon review

norco search xr carbon review

Note the fender and rack mounts on the fork.

norco search xr carbon review

The unique tip of the Search XR’s fork. We assume it is shaped in this manner to make for easier wheel changes? Front thru-axle is the 12mm size.

norco search xr carbon review

Above, a view of Norco’s “Gizmo cable routing”. Details on that earlier in this posting.

norco search xr carbon review

The entire cycling world hasn’t gone the way of the 1x / single drivetrain just yet. Norco has wisely chosen the Praxis Zayante crankset with 48 / 32 chainrings. Check out our review of the Zayante crankset, HERE. Sitting above the crankset is the latest variant of Shimano’s Ultegra front derailleur, the FD-R8000.

norco search xr carbon review

norco search xr carbon review

Above is Shimano’s new Ultegra 11-speed rear derailleur, the RD-R8000 GS (mid-cage). Almost identical to its pricier DuraAce brethren, the technology in this unit is a direct trickle down from the XTR mountain bike groupset.

norco search xr carbon review

An integrated chain keeper prevents the chain from dropping, and a port for wired electronic shifting.

norco search xr carbon review

norco search xr carbon review

Norco provides a third bottle cage mount beneath the downtube.

norco search xr carbon review

The Norco Search XR marks the fourth or fifth production bicycle utilizing the drive-side drop down chainstay. If only the company who rekindled this design was able to patent it…

norco search xr carbon review

norco search xr carbon review

Above is a Clement X’Plor MSO tyre in 700c x 40mm. There is a stack clearance between those chainstays.

norco search xr carbon review

The Norco Search XR is fitted with Shimano’s latest Ultegra flat-mount disc brake calipers.

norco search xr carbon review

Flat-mount brakes for the rear.

norco search xr carbon review

norco search xr carbon review

The distinctive Ultegra level disc brake rotors are a direct trickle down from the flagship DuraAce models. Shimano’s Ice / Freeza technologies rely on aluminium at the rotor core to help dissipate the heat of braking.

norco search xr carbon review
Photo by Norco.

Above, “Ninja” aka Not Instantly Noticeable Junk Attachments.

“NINJA threaded inserts add another level of functionality to the frame, allowing full fender capability, while remaining inconspicuous when unused.”

norco search xr carbon review

Clement’s excellent Ushuaia wheelset is provided with the Ultegra-equipped Norco Search XR. Please check out our review of the Ushuaia wheelset, HERE.

norco search xr carbon review

Above, “Das Boot” is a seatclamp cover that prevents water and muck from entering the frame.

norco search xr carbon review
Photo by Norco.

Above is “SASSY”. Secret Attachable Seat Yoke.

 

“To make the Search XR more comfortable on long rides, we removed the seat-stay bridge. This helps increase vertical compliance and the bike’s overall ability to absorb road chatter. Without a seat stay bridge however, we needed to find a new way to mount fenders on our most versatile road bike. So we created the SASSY – a custom plastic bridge that fits into place to provide a fender mounting point when needed.”

Search XR Carbon Models

  • Search XR Force 1 – $US 4,199.00
  • Search XR Ultegra – $US 3,799.00
  • Search XR Apex 1 – $US 2,899.00
  • Search XR Frame and Fork – $US 1,999.00

Norco Bicycles

6 comments on “Feature: 2018 Norco Bicycles Search XR Carbon Gravel Bike

  1. I like the versatility of this frame, it lets you adjust depending on the mix of surfaces you ride on and to changing tech. The frameset price is reasonable but I’d still want to know that I would be able to keep it a long time which means needing to be able to upgrade it.

    What type of BB does it have? I could not find this bike on their web site.

    1. Found it — it’s not in their menus yet, but lower on their main page.

      BB is pressfit86 unfortunately by my way of thinking.

  2. I read elsewhere that the Ultegra came in at just under 20 lbs… definitely on my watch list but seems a bit steep in price to me. Thread together bottom bracket and I’ll forgive BB86…

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