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Bike check: Norco Optic stage racer

A shorter-travel bike for big rides on a multi-day event

Norco Optic

When I got the news I was going to be racing the Quebec Singletrack Experience, I knew what bike I wanted to bring for the seven-day odyssey in August. I tested out the Norco Optic last year and was really impressed by the capabilities a shorter-travel trail bike can offer. With 110 mm of travel in the rear and a Fox 34 Step-Cast 120-mm fork handling duties upfront, whatever the 29″ wheels can’t roll over gets soaked up by the buttery Kashima-coated suspension. It’s a bike that has enough travel to handle some rowdy trails, but won’t make me squish though extra travel on climbs while pedalling: perfect for seven days of technical Quebec singletrack.

SRAM GX Eagle, including the 1X DUB crankset, handles the transmission duties on the Optic. DUB technology helps to seal the bottom bracket fully against the elements. The last thing I want to be doing is changing out creaky bottom bracket cups at night in between stages. I have enjoyed the range and feel of GX Eagle shifting on previous bikes, so I’m looking forward to putting a lot more miles on this group to see how everything holds up.

Bringing everything to a stop is a set of SRAM Guide RSC brakes. With a four-pistons working on each caliper and 180-mm-diameter rotors, the RSC brakes have loads of power. Fully adjustable levers and contact points mean I was able to setup my cockpit easily. Thanks to the matchmaker bar clamps, I could put my shifter and Reverb dropper remote right where I like them on the FSA Grid riser bar, which is clamped into a FSA Grid 50-mm stem.

The photos show Continental Der Baron tires, but come race day, I’ll be swapping the beefy knobs for a something more XC focused that will pair well with the wide rims of the Race Face Next R wheels. I have become a big fan of the Race Face Vault hub: not only for its ability to announce your presence on the trail, but also for its lightning fast engagement. A set of HT T1 pedals, Lizard Skin Peaty grips and a Syncros saddle round out the build.

Stay tuned for more Quebec Singletrack Experience updates and look for long-term reviews of the components post-race.

Specs for the Norco Optic stage racer

Frame: Norco Optic C
Fork: Fox 34 Step-Cast, 120 mm
Wheels: Race Face Next R
Shifting: SRAM GX Eagle
Crank: SRAM GX Eagle DUB
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
Brakes: SRAM Guide RSC, 180-mm rotors
Pedals: HT T1
Saddle: Syncros XR 1.0 SL
Grips: Lizard Skin Peaty pro model
Bar: FSA Grid
Stem: FSA Grid, 50 mm
Headset: FSA No.42 ACB
Tires: Continental Der Baron Projekt 29 x 2.4