We recently tested the Norco Threshold, the Canadian company’s cyclocross bike, and now we’ve got our hands on its adventure bike, the Search Alloy 105. The model we've got for test comes in at £949 with a Shimano 105 11-speed groupset, TRP Spyre brakes and Schwalbe Tyrago 35mm tyres.
Adventures bikes, as well you might know, are designed to be able to switch seamlessly from smooth tarmac to dirt roads. They typically have bigger tyres, more clearance, disc brakes and a relaxed ride position, all things that make them really suited to UK riding conditions and those cyclists looking to extend their riding beyond the confines of the road.
Adventure bikes might have been born out of the US gravel racing scene, but bikes like the Search are what a lot of British cyclists have been wanting for some time. It used to be popular to buy a cyclocross bike and change the tyres and gearing, fit some mudguards, and use it for winter riding, saving the summer bike for, well summer riding. Adventure bikes fit this brief really well. And most, as does this Search, have mudguard eyelets.
And we find all these features on the Search Alloy 105. For just under a grand you get an aluminium frame, with double butted tubing to save weight, a full carbon fibre fork and Shimano’s 105 11-speed drivetrain coupled to TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes. Norco has wisely specced a 50/34t compact chainset and wide-range 11-32t cassette, offering some nice low gears for grunting up steep climbs.
The tyres are voluminous Schwalbe Tyrago 35mm items - the frame does accommodate up to 40mm tyres, and that means there’s loads of mud clearance. The tyres look like having a tread pattern that should provide a decent turn of pace on the hard stuff, with a bit of bite for venturing into the dirt and gravel. These tyres are fitted to 28mm aero aluminium rims on plain aluminium hubs - like some other adventure bikes, the Search goes with a 15mm bolt-thru axle up front, and a conventional quick release out back.
Norco uses its own-brand kit for the handlebars (aluminium, with a compact bend), stem, seatpost (27.2mm, carbon fibre) and saddle.
The frame features internal cable routing and its proprietary “Gizmo” system prevents cable rattle at the entry and exit ports and also stops water and dirt ingress. Norco has designed the frame to provide stiffness (oversized head tube, down tube, bottom bracket and chainstays) but also comfort, with its “ARC Endurance System” comprising skinny seatstays, 27.2mm carbon seatpost and the shape of the fork blades.
As mentioned earlier, the geometry, which defines the fit and handling of a bike, is what separates an adventure bike from other types of road bike. It essentially splits the difference between an endurance road bike and a cyclocross bike. For some bike companies, the difference is closer to one or the other, depending on how the bike has been designed.
The Search Alloy 105 in a 55.5cm size (of seven available sizes) has a 72.25-degree head angle 73.25-degree seat angle, 560mm top tube, 170mm head tube, 70mm bottom bracket drop, 1,019mm wheelbase and 604mm front centre.
For comparison, the Norco Threshold CX bike we previously tested has a higher bottom bracket, a drop of 67.5mm. Other differences, though subtle, include the shorter 145mm head tube and shorter 1,017mm wheelbase.
Norco Bicycles are only available from Evans Cycles
The adventure bike market (born from the gravel racing scene in the US) is getting pretty crowded right now, with options like the Specialized Diverge, GT Grade, Salsa Warbird and Kinesis Tripster ATR, to name a couple of rivals. It’ll be interesting to see how the Search stacks up, which is why John is currently putting in the miles at the moment. Watch out for his verdict soon.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.