Developed on Norco’s backyard trails in the mountains surrounding their Vancouver-area headquarters, the 2020 Norco Optic is a bit of a departure from its previous iterations. Norco have re-examined every last detail of the previous Optic to transform and optimise its its geometry and handling for high-speed trail riding. Norco say the new Optic will give riders more confidence than ever before to ride hard as it can handle speeds much faster than the 140mm/125mm suspension travel would suggest. Check out Bryn Atkinson putting the Norco Optic through its paces. Blink and you’ll miss him.
Norco Optic short travel trail bike
Rolling on a 29″ wheelset, the 2020 Norco Optic is one of the more aggressive-looking short travel trail bikes we’ve seen from Norco. It seems a little academic to compare its geometry to the 2019 Optic, given that these two bikes differ greatly in many ways. The 2020 Norco Optic gets more front and rear travel, sitting at 140mm/125mm, the seat tube steepens up to an effective 76°, the head angle slackens off to 65°, and the top tube lengthens, increasing the reach measurement across the size range (450mm, medium).
With a Horst link suspension layout, the Norco Optic features high initial anti-squat with a fast drop-off rate. The high anti-squat numbers around the sag point should provide a firm pedalling platform. The reduced anti-squat deeper in the travel should minimize pedal kickback creating stability as the terrain gets rougher. Lower anti-squat deeper in the stroke should also reduce chain support, providing more consistent depth to the middle and end stroke of the suspension and better square edge hit management.
Despite its lack of suspension travel, it almost seems more pertinent to compare it to Norco’s slightly longer travel trail bike, the Sight. Its geometry and suspension kinematic have been tailored with a focus on providing support for hard cornering and stability on lips and landings. A high starting leverage is designed to improve small bump sensitivity but has also allowed Norco to build in a much higher amount of progression. When combined with the more aggressive high speed compression tune on the custom Ultimate DH shock Norco were able to build a high support point into the bike allowing the rider to push hard into corners and takeoffs while still handling unavoidable square edge hits.
Each bike in the Norco Optic range has a carbon front triangle and aluminium rear end, and features a 140mm travel Rockshox Pike fork. Each will feature powerful 4-piston brakes on 180mm rotors, and soft-compound Schwalbe 2.35” wide tyres, with clearance for up to a 2.6″ with a Boost 12 x 148mm rear end. The Optic frame has pretty low standover height (680mm, medium) due to the relatively short seat tube. A decent amount of insert before the seat tube bend should allow riders to fit a long travel dropper post.
Pricing & Availability
Expect the Norco Optic to be ready for order in November, in sizes Small through to XL. It is available at no fewer than 7 price points; $7,499 will get you the top-end Norco Optic AXS, fitted with the full complement of SRAM’s AXS range of electronically operated shifting and dropping, and Crank Brothers carbon wheels with Industry Nine hubs. At the other end of the spectrum you can pick up the Optic C3 W for $3,599, fetching you the SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, Shimano BR-M420 brakes, and a Stans Flow rim-Novatec hub wheelset.