The Norco Search Carbon defines what a great gravel bike should be. It feels like a race bike — stiff and responsive — but it’s incredibly comfortable even after long hours on bumpy gravel roads.
A 170-millimeter head tube doesn’t exactly scream race bike, nor does the 1,019-millimeter wheelbase. These figures help make the Search a ripper on dirt, though, and when you combine that with the surprisingly comfortable ride, it becomes an ideal candidate for all-day gravel races like the Dirty Kanza 200. Bowed seat stays that work like micro-suspension reduce road vibration without sacrificing pedaling efficiency. That’s part of the balance that keeps the Search comfortable yet race-oriented.
With room for up to 40-millimeter tires, the Search can accommodate a host of gravel-specific rubber. Clement’s USH 35mm tires come stock with the bike, leaving plenty of mud clearance. The DT-Swiss R23 Spline tubeless-ready wheels are on the heavy side but they do help keep the complete bike’s price down. At $3,450, the Search is a steal with crisp-shifting Shimano Ultegra drivetrain and powerful yet reliable RS685 hydraulic disc brakes.
The slightly slack 72.25-degree head tube angle slowed down the steering just a touch. But this isn’t necessarily bad when you’re on loose gravel roads and need to take corners conservatively. When exiting these corners, the Norco feels stiff, fast, and ready to jump at the first application of power. But its 19.06 pounds holds it back from fully accelerating as fast as we wanted it to. No, this is not a heavy bike, but a little less junk in the trunk would make it unstoppable.
Component Highlights: Shimano Ultegra drivetrain with 50/34 crankset and 11-32 cassette; Shimano RS685 hydraulic disc brakes; DT Swiss R23 Spline tubeless-ready wheels