For this week’s Reader’s Rig, we head to New Zealand to check out Nigel Sirisomphone’s flat bar Norco Search XR Steel, a bike that meets his requirement of being a “Swiss-army-knife bike that doesn’t suck.” Find out more about Nigel and his rig here…

Words and photos by Nigel Sirisomphone (@hey_its_nigel)

I’m Nigel. I moved back to Wellington, New Zealand, after a 10-year stint living in Sydney, where I worked at a tech startup. I came back to bikes as an adult via track and road cycling, which led to me being much more into riding off-road and sinking VBs in the bush with mates. My last touring bike was Surly Karate Monkey but I found it way too overkill for most of the touring after moving home. Since moving back, I’ve taken a step back from my intense tech-startup job, and have been working remotely on contract, which means there is more flexibility with work, and often times I’m only working 1-2 days a week in my tech job.

Norco Search XR Steel

I’ve spent a bunch more time riding and fixing bikes and have even spent the last few months working part-time at a bike shop my good friends at Get Lost Cycling. Koen and Stu, who own Get Lost, are really good dudes and helped me spec up the Norco, build the wheels, and consult on the pretty weird things like wanting to run flat-mount gravel calipers with MTB levers. I’m pretty sure Koen and his Cotic have already featured as a Reader’s Rig here on! Besides commuting, I pretty much exclusively ride off-road (mostly on my enduro MTB), so the track and road bikes are hung up and don’t see much use these days.

  • Norco Search XR Steel
  • Norco Search XR Steel
  • Norco Search XR Steel

As for the bike, I basically wanted a Swiss-army-knife bike that didn’t suck. Having done a bunch of off-road riding around regional NSW/Sydney surrounds and getting like 4-5 (mostly pinch) flats on some trips, I’m a sucker for good tyre clearance. Being able to clear 2.25″ tyres was a make or break, and although not advertised, the Search XR will secretly clear a 27.5 x 2.25″ tyre without a fuss. Because of the fantastic trail network in Wellington, this bike gets ridden on a lot of silly singletrack, so I opted for flat bars to improve the off-road capability.

Norco Search XR Steel

The amount of sweep and rise on the Cut Loose bars makes them pretty tolerable for long days in the saddle too. The wheels are probably the nicest part of the bike. I’ve been a long-term dynamo fan but this is the first time I’ve had a dynamo setup of my own. The sun sets before 5 p.m. during Winter in Wellington, so all of my weekday riding is in the dark, and the kLite bikepacker light is amazing. The flood lights operate at stupidly low speeds, which is great for the super long climbs. The bags were all made by my mate Harry at Hungry back in Sydney, who was able to suss all the measurements for the framebag from a photo. Given none of the bags are fully waterproof, they’re pretty resilient to water ingress, which is handy for the weather here.

  • Frame/Fork 2020 Norco Search XR Steel
  • Rims Light Bicycle AR36 650B
  • Hubs SON 28 Front, DT350 rear (with 54t ratchet)
  • Tires Teravail Sparwood 27.5 x 2.1″
  • Handlebars Nitto x Crust Bikes Cut Loose
  • Headset FSA Orbit
  • Crankset Easton EC90SL with Garbaruk Cinch Chainring
  • Pedals Shimano XT M8100
  • Cassette Shimano XT M8100 10-51
  • Derailleur Shimano XTR M9100
  • Brakes Shimano XT M8100 Levers to GRX 810 Calipers
  • Shifter(s) Shimano XTR M8100
  • Saddle Specialized Power Saddle
  • Seatpost Thomson Elite Inline
  • Stem Thomson Elite 0 degree
  • Front bags Hungry Big Lunch V2
  • Frame bags Hungry Custom Half-frame Bag
  • Rear bags Oveja Negra Gearjammer
  • Accessory bags Hungry Muncher Stem Bags
  • Other accessories kLite Bikepacker Ultra (mtb) + kLite USB Charger

As for the rest of the build, it’s all pretty flashy. This is definitely the nicest bike I own and has some ridiculous parts, which is funny given it’s basically a glorified hybrid bike. The bike has already seen a good variety of riding, from multi-day tours to shredding (very slowly) on local grade 4 mountain bike trails.

Norco Search XR Steel

You can keep up with Nigel on Instagram @hey_its_nigel.

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