Hello! I am trying to decide between the Trek Fuel EX Jr. and the Norco Fluid FS 26. Both bikes have their ups and downs. The Fuel EX is manufactured by Trek, an industry leader. But the Trek is $200 more, which isn’t that much. But when I told this to a mechanic, he told me that since Trek is an industry leader, that they can increase the price and get away with it, and use less-quality parts because of the buyer’s trust in Trek. The mechanic was sponsored by Norco, which may have made him a little biased.
You didn’t comment on the type of trails you’ll most often ride. Looking at those two bikes it looks like the Norco has 120mm travel front & rear, while the Trek has 90mm. Which is better? The only universal answer is, it depends… rougher terrain and the extra travel could be great. But if you are more interested in cross country racing then maybe the 90mm is better? Another question, how long will you be riding this bike? The extra travel could be a benefit in a year or two when you are probably bigger & heavier. I see the Norco has a 1×10 drive train, the Trek is 2×10. I’m a big fan of the simplicity of a 1x drive train, but I’m not a racer. The 2×10 has more gear range obviously. The Norco also has a dropper seat post, they are awesome for downhills!
So… I ride a Fuel EX 9 29er, and my wife has a Fuel EX 8, 27.5+ and we are very happy with them. But I think the Norco would be my choice of those two that you’re considering. Try to get a demo ride if you can, or at least a longer parking lot ride and see which feels better to you. Good luck and Happy Trails!