The Canadian brand Norco has several models of gravel made of carbon, aluminum, and steel. We have opted for its Search XR C2 (Carbon) model because we love its color and, to be a high-performance model, it has a fair price in relation to similar options.
Below, we detail the most interesting aspects of this bicycle and as always, we encourage you to participate with your comments.
Whenever we look at a carbon bike for gravel, we still have the feeling that we are facing an option that offers us two bikes in one model. On the one hand, it allows you to install thin tires to pedal on the road as fast as your legs allow. On the other hand, you put on thicker gravel tires and you get a choice to enjoy cycling off the road.
This is the case of Search XR C2. In fact, the brand classifies it as a bike that blurs between a mountain and road option. This is explained because you can install both 650b and 700c wheels. In this way, you have, unlike other options, a very versatile gravel.
« You can install both 650b and 700c wheels. In this way, you have, unlike other options, a very versatile gravel»
If you look at its geometry, the bicycle presents a considerable sloping. The steering part is elevated relative to the whole. Consequently, this offers us a much more comfortable posture. In addition, the fact that the bicycle has a pronounced drop in the upper tube, offers us more space for our crotch. This drop reminds us of the one with the Giant Revolt.
« The bicycle has a considerable sloping. The steering part is elevated relative to the whole. Therefore, this offers us a much more comfortable posture»
Search XR C2 has up to three locations to install bottle cages. Two in the usual places and one more located on the outside of the lower tube. In addition, the fork has two grommets in each of its “legs” to install a bikepacking option or also use them as bottle cages.
The bike has enough room to fit tires up to 42c for 700c wheels, or for 650b tire sizes up to 2.1″. Consequently, versatility is more than assured for any type of terrain. I personally choose the 42mm tire size because I consider that it gives you great agility on any type of terrain.
The bicycle, like all current and carbon models, has internal wiring. But I must add that the front brake cable goes outside the fork unlike what we are used to seeing. I would have liked it to be internally since the frame would have been cleaner from an aesthetic point of view. Nor do I consider it especially important.
« The bicycle, like all current and carbon models, has internal wiring. However, the front brake cable goes outside the fork unlike what we are used to seeing »
Another thing that I like about this model and as usual in modern gravel bikes, is that it is designed for 12mm thru-axles.
There is one aspect that I also highlight. The chainstays are asymmetrical. The left is raised above the right and this type of solution seeks to improve torsional and lateral stiffness. Other brands introduce this type of design in their frames to allow more wheel space. Examples are the Trek Checkpoint and the OPEN models.
« The chainstays are asymmetrical. The left is raised above the right and this type of solution seeks to improve torsional and lateral stiffness. »
One of the things I like about this model is that it features the new Shimano GRX groupset. Specifically, the 11-speed mechanical RX800 levers has been chosen. If we compare it with the road groupset, this option is equivalent to an Ultegra. Therefore, we are facing a “top” option that I consider, and it is stated that I have not tested such levers, but the rear derailleur, that its operation must be excellent.
The brakes are hydraulic from the same brand Shimano model BR-RX810. The rotors are 160mm.
As for the other components of the groupset, a single 40 tooth Easton chainring has been chosen. All this combined with a large cassette of 11-42t. I think it is a focused transmission to cover off-road terrain. If you go on asphalt, you are going to be somewhat short in terms of speed, mainly on the descents as you will begin to “float” on the pedals at 40-45km / hr.
«A single 40 tooth chainring has been chosen. All this combined with a large cassette of 11-42t»
The Search XR C2 comes in handy with very acceptable peripherals. For example, the handlebar is an Easton EA70 AX aluminum and features a 16-degree flare. It is a handlebar designed for adventure bikes that allows us greater control in technical areas.
« The handlebar is made of aluminum from the popular Easton brand model EA70 AX. It has a flare or opening of 16 degrees. It will allow you greater control over difficult areas »
The stem and saddle are provided by the Norco brand itself. Little to say about them since they are only included on their bikes.
Finally, I will highlight the seatpost. It is a telescopic option (X-Fusion Manic Gravel) with remote control with a 50mm travel. This type of solutions that comes from mountain biking, gives us some control on descents since we can customize its height. I personally for gravel do not find it so crucial.
Wheels and tires
The wheels of this model are the Easton EA70 AX with a size of 700c and designed specifically for gravel cycling.
I do not know the reliability of these wheels, but I confess you that they are among my wheel options for my Giant Revolt Advanced 2, whose original wheels are heavy (2kg).
« Wheels are the Easton EA70 AX with a size of 700c and designed specifically for gravel cycling »
Finally, there are the tires. They are the well-known 42mm tubeless WTB Resolute TCS. These covers are suitable for cyclocross or gravel. They are a very versatile option for any type of climate and terrain. They have widely spaced blocks that prevent mud from accumulating. Maybe not very suitable for asphalt but a marvel in gravel.
Its official price is € 3,799.00. If you look for it on the Internet, you can probably find it at a better price.
The Norco Search XR C2 is a bicycle built under a very current and attractive carbon frame. Nothing radical. The seatstays are not dropped but have a slight bend, so they have some flexibility on rough roads.
You can use it for various types of terrain as it breathes very versatile air. You can locate different types of wheel sizes (700c and 650b) and different thicknesses. I like its color and, above all, that it assembles the new Shimano GRX groupset designed for any type of gravel.
On the other hand, and as additional information, Norco also offers a cheaper version of this carbon model: The Search XR C3. There is also the C1 version, which is the most expensive of the three. And do not forget its aluminum and steel versions.
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