Short travel trail trail bikes are going through a renaissance right now, and Norco is helping build that momentum with the new-look Optic.
While Norco’s new bike has shorter travel numbers, with 125 mm rear wheel travel and a 140 mm fork, it is decidedly focused on the downhills. The Optic comes with a DH shock and RockShox Pike forks across each of the four models.
With a tough gravity-oriented parts build, including 4-piston 180 mm disc brake rotors, Norco has made its intentions for the resigned trail bike clear. It wants to party on the downs, while still being capable enough on the climbs that you want to go back for another lap.
The new-look Optic is part of Norco’s push to implement a new progressive design philosophy, focusing on high-speed, short travel Trail riding. The brand’s cross-country focused Revolver line was one of the first to get the makeover and, if that bikes is anything to go by, the new Optic should be one fun bike to ride.
Built to charge, across the board
Norco might not be the first brand to combine short travel and big capabilities. The Canadian brand’s not just hopping on the trend, though. There’s a few unique features that make the Optic stand in sharp focus compared to its competitors.
First is the RockShox Super Delux Ultimate DH shock. The full, downhill-ready shock is the same across all four levels of its 2020 Optic. Norco knows good suspension is a key element of a bikes performance. Specing the high-end shock across the line shows Norco wants everyone to get the most out of the short travel trail bike.
RockShox Pike 140 mm
Shorter seat tubes and longer dropper posts
Schwalbe's super tacky Addix Soft compount comes on ever Optic
Along the same lines, each of the four bikes gets a 140 mm RockShox Pike fork with 42 mm offset. This ranges from a Pike Ultimate on the Optic C AXS to a Pike Select on the Optic C3.
Each level of Optic also gets 180 mm disc rotors, front and rear and very capable 2.35″ tires from Schwalbe. No matter what build you get, your bike arrives with a Magic Mary Super G/TL front tire and Hans Dampf Snakeskin/TL rear tire, both in Schwlabe’s Addix Soft compound.
Finally, Norco keeps the seat tube short so that you can fit a long-travel dropper post in the frame. Size Large and XL are recommended for a 170 mm post, giving you plenty of clearance to get the seat out of the way and stay low or get rad on the descents.
Short travel trail geometry
Norco wants the new Optic to be confident descending terrain you might not have thought to ride a 125 mm travel bike. The geometry has been thoroughly modernized for that purpose. A slack 65-degree head tube angle matches a reasonably steep 76-degree (effective) seat tube angle. Reach stretches out to a solid 480 mm (size Large) to help make the bike comfortable climbing as well as capable shredding the descents.
One feature that always makes Norco’s stand out are the size-specific chainstays. Many brands keep one chainstay length across all sizes, to help cut costs. Norco, though, thinks its worth the cost to make sure every rider stays centered on the bike. This makes the bikes perform consistently across sizes, as well as gets the most out of the geometry. For 2020, the Optic’s rear centre ranges from 425 mm on a size Small up to 440 mm in XL, changing in 5 mm increments between sizes.
Norco Optic 2020 builds: Dream bike or budget build
The 2020 Norco Optic will come in four builds, plus two women’s specific models. These range from the dream build to more wallet friendly options. At the top, the SRAM AXS equipped Optic C AXS clocks in at a cool $12,000. A RockShox Pike Ultimate, Crank Bros. Synthesis E11 29″ carbon fibre wheels with Industry Nine Hydra hubs, and full XX1 AXS fill out the top-drawer build.
For $4,500, though, you can get the Optic C3 and Optic C3 W. Both bikes come with the same RockShox Super Delux Ultimate DH shock as the top end AXS build, which is a great deal for a bike in this price range. Add a Pike Select, SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, Shimano M420 brakes, and Stan’s Flow S1 aluminum hoops on Novatec hubs, and X-Fusion Manic dropper post, and the Optic C3’s are still very ready to shred.
Between the two are the Optic C1 for $8,000 and the Optic C2 and Optic C2 W, both for %5,500. A frame only option will also be offered for $2,900.
Norco Optic C AXS
One step down from the AXS, but with the same purple-silver colours is the Norco Optic C1
Norco Optic C2 W
Norco Optic C2
The second women's specific model is the Norco Optic C3 W
Norco Optic C3
2020 Norco Optic frame-only
Norco Optic 2020 in numbers
Front Travel: 140 mm, RockShox Pike
Rear Travel: 125 mm, RockShox Super Delux Ultimate DH
Wheel size: 29″
Frame: Carbon fibre front triangle, aluminum rear
Price: $4,500 – $12,000 ($2,900 – frame only)
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Availability: November 2019