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2018 Norco Search XR takes drop bars on bigger adventures, in steel & carbon

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The 2018 Norco Search XR drop-bar adventure gravel road bike takes their original off-road 700c model and updates it for modern wheel and tire sizes. The original Seach debuted a few years ago, during which time the market for gravel bikes has exploded and evolved. The new Search adds more mounts and more tire clearance, opening it up to 650B or 26″ mountain bike treads and more.

2018 Norco Search XR drop bar adventure gravel road bike

 

The Search uses a flat-section seat tube, their thin ARC seatstays and an ovalized chainstay shape to add compliance, but they borrow layup and carbon tech from their race bikes to ensure plenty of power makes it from your legs to the rear wheel, too.

2018 Norco Search XR drop bar adventure gravel road bike

Where things get really interesting is the wheel size. On most frame sizes, it will fit a 700×45 or 650bx2.1″ tire. On the two smallest frame sizes (45.5 and 48), they swap in 650b for the big wheels, and 26″ mountain bike wheels if you want to run bigger rubber. This lets them maintain normal geometry, keeping the stack and reach consistently scaled from biggest to smallest.

2018 Norco Search XR drop bar adventure gravel road bike 2018 Norco Search XR drop bar adventure gravel road bike

Other clever features include an integrated chain catcher/guide mount, sealed cable entry ports and a hidden rack mount on the seat collar. For the latter, simply mount your rear rack’s front arm to the bolt hole on the back of the seatpost clamp and it’s good for up to 20kg when also mounted to the lower anchor points. Called Das Boot, it also serves to keep mud and dust from getting down into the frame.

2018 Norco Search XR drop bar adventure gravel road bike

There are two attachment points on the rear dropouts – one standard threaded hole just able the thru axle, and another removable one that threads into the back of the dropout. For fenders, they have a removable SASSY (Secret Attachable Seat Stay Yoke). The idea was to give the bike all of the options, but keep it clean looking when you don’t need them.

2018 Norco Search XR drop bar adventure gravel road bike

The fork also gets fender mounts, plus additional cage/anything mounts further up the legs (visible on complete bike pics below).

2018 Norco Search XR carbon complete bikes

Most of the complete bikes come as 1×11 builds. The top model is the Search XR Force 1 at $4,199 (not shown, but comes in the gray fade of the carbon frameset shown on right). The least expensive carbon frame model is the Apex 1 for $2,899.

Between the two is an Ultegra 2×11 build, replacing the chain catcher with a front derailleur mount. It runs $3,799.

2018 Norco Search XR Steel gravel road bike

New for 2018 is a steel version (the original Search came in carbon or alloy, and they’re still available on Norco’s website as of this posting). It has a Reynolds 725 Chromoly frame with their Search SL hi-mod carbon fork (same as what’s on the carbon models). Besides frame material, one key difference is these use external cable routing. It comes in two complete bikes, the Shimano 105 2×11 on the left for $1,999, and the SRAM Rival 1 for $2,599.

2018 Norco Search XR drop bar adventure gravel road bike

The bikes are available for pre-order now through Norco dealers.

Norco.com

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tyler
6 years ago

why did they drop their hi-mod CX bike? shame. scott did the same thing this year.

lop
lop
6 years ago
Reply to  tyler

Because interest in CX is waning. Attendance at races is down, and several big companies are still sitting on huge piles of ’16 and ’17 CX bikes. I’m not sure that the “adventure” bike category is any less crowded, but at least they are bringing something relatively novel to the game.

Andrew
Andrew
6 years ago
Reply to  lop

Interestin CX is waning? We’re hitting record attendance for every event where I am…

Nathan Balsdon
Nathan Balsdon
6 years ago
Reply to  Andrew

While I think CX racing is still booking it used to be that people bought CX bikes for everything. Commuting, gravel, adventure, winter training, etc. Only a small fraction of CX bike sales actually saw a CX race. Now that there are options CX specific sales are dropping.

tyler
6 years ago
Reply to  lop

A CX race can be held in a city park. how many gravel venues are there near population centers?

“gravel” bikes (outside of slacker head angles and lower BBs) are a fad. ppl will get tired of pushing 550 gram fat tires on 1x drivetrains with 20% ratio jumps.

does gerard vroomen even ride bikes in real life?

Smale Rider
Smale Rider
6 years ago
Reply to  tyler

Gravel bike is an all-rounder bike. CX is more of a fad, they are best for CX racing that’s all. 75-80% of most actual gravel riders use 2x. 1x is more of a CX thing.

lop
lop
6 years ago
Reply to  tyler

I am confused why you think you need a gravel rode to ride one of these bikes on…?

Tim Tim
Tim Tim
6 years ago
Reply to  tyler

550 gram?
Your 700c x 32mm Marathon plus tires are 830gram. Your so called “gravel” bikes is a much better option for city people/commuters than a CX bike. besides gravel bikes (many come with options) that make them better suited as multi purpose bikes. along with having a geo that is closer to endurance geo, vs your CX race geometry.
as for your gripe on 20% jump ratios, Pfft I’d ride a 3 speed. hills/tooling/getting somewhere.
What i wished gravel bikes would do is stick with the higher BB. Especially once given the room for 650b options. As moving to a 650b drops the BB even lower coming from a spec’ed 40c 700 tire

myke2241
myke2241
6 years ago
Reply to  tyler

I heard similar. CX bikes have always been a difficult sell. It is a sport that not many know in the US and that makes it risky to stock too many CX options. With adventure bike hitting the market and most having two different wheel size/ clearance specs dealers have a easier time selling those. I see CX as EU’s bmx. Not a huge market for bmx race bikes in the us

JBikes
JBikes
6 years ago
Reply to  myke2241

Fad or not, I think adventure bikes market well as they tug on the heartstrings of what people want to do, not what they actually do. Which is fine. CX? What are they going to market…competition cross race marketing? Very few cyclists race or even ride competitively, yet alone race CX.

ascarlarkinyar
ascarlarkinyar
6 years ago

45mm should be the standard for using the biggest tires for these bikes. I run 42mm on my cross bike and love it. Fitting 45mm would be even better. I also have a dropbar 29er for bigger tires. Good for norco.

MGK
MGK
6 years ago

Flat bars please.

GerryP
GerryP
6 years ago
Reply to  MGK

They have models with flat bars, they’re called mountain bikes.

Durianrider Vegano
6 years ago

Needs ability to run mountain bike cranks. What adventure bike really needs a 50 tooth?? Who is racing crits on this? Who is riding a loaded bike packing bike at 80kph and still wants to pedal to stay in contact with the bunch?

Great looking frameset but its a deal breaker for me because I dont want road gearing on a bike Im going to ride the same climbs as my mountain bike.

I race div 1 btw.

RJ
RJ
6 years ago

Look more closely at the spec: the crank on the Ultegra model is a praxis works and is a 48/32, I believe. Also, the other models are 1x (who makes a 2x MTB anymore?) and can run little chainrings just like on your mtb.

Mark wells
Mark wells
6 years ago

Yeah man!

blah blah blah
blah blah blah
6 years ago

(deleted)

blah blah blah
blah blah blah
6 years ago
Reply to  blah blah blah

feel better now?

timb
timb
6 years ago

Top model also comes with a dropper post, internal routing and the lefthand shifter adpated to operate it. Nice.

NateG
NateG
6 years ago
Reply to  timb

Curious to know whether they’re getting a whole run of the shifters from SRAM that never had ratcheting pawls put in, or whether they’re doing the modifications to the shifters before assembling the bikes.

Terry
Terry
6 years ago
Reply to  NateG

mod is happening before assembly and I believe you get the extra bit in the box if you want to switch it back to a shifter.

Joe
Joe
6 years ago

How come they ended with beers in the lake but no one had bag with them?

Chader
Chader
6 years ago
Reply to  Joe

Because Hollywood.

Smale Rider
Smale Rider
6 years ago

Size 45 and 48 are useless junk. 650b in normal mode gives very few options for tires, and in 26 inch mode none. The point of this style of bikes is to use the vast variety of 700c wheels, and the road plus/xc mountain tires in 650b mode. Not limited 650b road/cross tires and dead format 26 inch tires.

Threeringcircus
Threeringcircus
6 years ago
Reply to  Smale Rider

I appreciate Norco’s consideration for smaller riders, who often get the shaft when a bike maker designs a frame around one size tire–one that’s disproportionately big and compromises geometry. If you’re 5′ tall, 26 inch tires make a lot of sense. There are 26 and 650b options that make sweet gravel tires, too (Schwalbe Thunder Burt comes to mind). On the flip side, it would be nice to see more bikes like this designed to fit full on 29er tires. As a larger rider, I much prefer the volume and rollover of 29er rubber for the chunky mountain roads I like to ride, with the option to go to something like a 700×42 for the gravel roads I gravitate to in winter (although I’d probably just stick with 29er tires full time). No interest in riding what amounts to a 650b rigid hardtail, let alone one with drop bars. And that’s not a knock on Norco’s bike, it’s just not the right bike for me.

lop
lop
6 years ago
Reply to  Smale Rider

I have no idea where you’ve been, but there are plenty of 650b tire options, with more coming out every year. Panaracer, Maxxis, Vittoria, Continental, Compass, Schwalbe, WTB, etc. Those are just the companies offering slicks or semi-slicks; obviously the number of knobby tires is probably ten-fold.

Just like the design challenge of fitting small riders onto 700c-wheeled bikes, 650b tires aren’t going away.

Smale Rider
Smale Rider
6 years ago
Reply to  lop

650b x 25-28 road tire is non existent. 650b x 32-35 cyclocross tire is non existent. The compelling reason to go 650b is to run 40-50mm tires, which I admit is abundant now. So yes the 700c to 650b bikes are good. The 650b to 26 inch smaller sized bikes are shit useless, when only you can find an use in abundance is 38-42mm 650b tires and 2.0 inch 26er mountain bike tires.

lop
lop
6 years ago
Reply to  Smale Rider

“The compelling reason to go 650b is to run 40-50mm tires, which I admit is abundant now.”

Hmm, seems like a pretty good wheel size around with to design an “adventure” bike.

Smale Rider
Smale Rider
6 years ago
Reply to  lop

It’s no good when the best 650b tires are 47’s or 2.1 inch. Neither of which the size 45 or 48 model of this bike can use. The whole point of this bike design is to swap road tires, cross tires, and fat gravel tires in 650b. It is the selling point of this bike, and others like it. The size 45 and 48 model can do none of this.

lop
lop
6 years ago
Reply to  Smale Rider

High quality 650b tires are widely available down to 32mm, but bikes like this are intended to be ridden with wide tires –
that’s the whole reason a rider might choose this over a Specialized Ruby or comparable bike. This is like complaining that a Tarmac doesn’t fit cross tires.

Nathan Balsdon
Nathan Balsdon
6 years ago
Reply to  Smale Rider

I was really excited about these bikes until I saw the tire limited for the small sizes. I have owned several bikes in 42-46cm sizes that have room for 700 x 47.
We already have tiny legs and lungs, no need to sandbag us with tiny wheels also…

Woody
Woody
6 years ago
Reply to  Nathan Balsdon

Dropbar setups I presume? How was the toe-overlap on those?

Nathan Balsdon
Nathan Balsdon
6 years ago
Reply to  Woody

its there but something you just get used to. The first bike I rode with overlap caused me some issues for a bit but once you get used to it its fine.
I would rather a bit of toe overlap and full sized tires if i had to choose.

Woody
Woody
6 years ago
Reply to  Nathan Balsdon

Now, if only there was a way to combine large volume tires and zero toe overlap?… 😉

Mike
Mike
6 years ago
Reply to  Nathan Balsdon

What about stack measurements? Nothing better than having your handlebars be at the same level as your neck, eh?

JBikes
JBikes
6 years ago
Reply to  Nathan Balsdon

What about small wheels “saddlebags” anyone…at least on pavement

Technician
Technician
6 years ago

I am fed up with this slo-mo video bullsh*t. “Overused” is a bit understatement.

Threeringcircus
Threeringcircus
6 years ago

With the explosion in popularity of bikes like this, it would be great to see the component manufacturers add some chainring combos to their offerings that are targeted at this type of ride. Sure 1x or a road compact works, but neither seems ideal. A double ring setup in 42/28 or 44/30, for example, seems about right.

lyford
lyford
6 years ago

FSA has a 48/32 and 46/30. It’d be great to see Shimano make a 105-level 46/30, 44/28 or similar.

Smale Rider
Smale Rider
6 years ago
Reply to  lyford

Shimano metra, 46/32. But I am unsure of its compadabilty with regular road based systems. Praxis has a 48/32, Rotor has a 46/30. Only issue with these cranks is that the use 30mm spindle system, making them not good for certain frames.

DolanHalbrook
DolanHalbrook
6 years ago
Reply to  Smale Rider

Expensive, but Sugino OX are a solid contender here too.

lop
lop
6 years ago
Reply to  lyford

I feel like the whole damn industry is waiting for Shimano to make a “sub-compact” with 46/30 gearing, or something similar.

And few people would want to admit it, but when you realize that 46×11 is virtually identical to 50×12, you realize that gearing would be better suited for most road bike riders than regular compacts.

Brent
Brent
6 years ago

The original Search did come in steel, although it hasn’t been available for the last one or two years. I’d agree that one of the new “subcompact” 2x cranks would be much better than a road compact! I do like that most of these bikes can do cross if you’re a casual racer–hard to justify a dedicated race bike that spends comparatively little time on an actual race course. I race my Willard, and it’s just fine.

Maus Haus
Maus Haus
6 years ago

Norco is on their game. In the NA, Adventure and Gravel categories are the biggest growth besides eBikes. These bikes are amazing. Great job up in the Great White North… love Canadian bike companies and component brands.

Andrew
Andrew
6 years ago

Seems like a great ride – its like a cheaper Open!…and Norco is killing the paint jobs these days! Impressive!

Lancetigerblood
Lancetigerblood
6 years ago

…but its not an Open

Chader
Chader
6 years ago

…and it doesn’t cost $$$$$ because of that.

Frank
Frank
6 years ago

I’ve got the previous edition of the Norco. The only fault with my bike is the tire clearance being limited to 40c. Otherwise, its the perfect “any-road” bike, not to mention pretty good for CX and some trails.

I think adding all the mounting points takes away from the clean/high-performance look of the bike. I think its a bit much to expect this to be a road bike, a gravel bike, a touring/bikepacking bike all in one. I think they should have stuck with road/gravel-road as their focus. That’s just me I guess.

Overall, I think the obsession with 1x for gravel bikes is a big miss. It works on an MTB because you don’t really ever need high gears. On a gravel bike you need low gears to get up a hill and high gears for speed on paved flats and downhills. A 48/32 crankset option with an 11-34 or something in back would serve this type of bike a lot better than a 1x with a more limited range and much bigger jumps between the gears.

DolanHalbrook
DolanHalbrook
6 years ago
Reply to  Frank

I have the previous version as well. Note that they deliberately branched the line (Search vs Search XR) instead of shifting everything towards “adventure”.

Michael Cleveland
6 years ago

I get the 650 for smaller riders but I, occasionally, run 700X2.25’s on my Sutra LTD and it works fantastically. Downsize this year and then they’ll all go back to 700c in a year or two. Personal opinion, for these bikes, 700X45mm should be the minimum upper width. I don’t put fenders on any of my bikes… so, adding mounts for same is pointless, for me. Additionally, like Frank, I think it’s just too many useless mounting options and they muck up the look of the bike. Oh well, I guess that’s why I didn’t buy this bike in the first place.

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