Norco’s previous generation Optic was a trend-setting bike in 2016 and is still one of the most fun short-travel bikes. The all-new 2020 Norco Optic bumps up 15mm in travel to the mid-travel trail category. Looking at geometry alone you might even think its a long-travel enduro sled. Riders looking for a little more trail bike and a little less enduro should be very interested in this new Optic. Could it be a one bike answer?
2020 Norco Optic C2 | $4499 USD | 125mm rear/ 140mm front | Sram GX Eagle | Rock Shox Super Deluxe Ultimate shock / Pike Select Fork | 31.2 lbs – medium w/o pedals
Riding the Optic
I felt at home very quickly on the Optic. The Rock Shox Pike/Super Deluxe suspension and grippy soft compound Schwalbe Magic Mary/Hans Dampf tires help the bike stay glued to the ground when you need it most. The bike was always more than willing to pop and float over trail obstacles with ease and confidence.
Climbing on the Optic feels very much like other Norco’s I’ve ridden with excellent traction from its horst link suspension. The traction along with a steep 76-degree seattube gives you the feeling that you can climb the steepest root-infested rocky climbs without issues. The Optic has very efficient pedaling manners but has a little softer less efficient feeling than some of its competitors with similar travel.
On tight twisty terrain, I never noticed the long wheelbase as I have on other long bikes with reduced offset forks. Even on super slow speed switchbacks, the bike felt more than capable.
The bike the Optic reminds the most of is the Transition Smuggler (which I also really like). The Optic feels VERY similar to the Smuggler with almost identically geometry and Horst Link suspension. Both bikes put a little more emphasis on going downhill with their tire and suspension specs. Although I think both the Optic and Smuggler climb very well they both sacrifice some climbing ability in favor of descending prowess.
Compared to the latest generation Ibis Ripley (V4) the Norco Optic feels more composed on rough terrain. This shouldn’t be a surprise though since the Optic has 10mm more front and 5mm more rear travel. I believe the Ripley’s DW suspension and lighter weight help give the bike a slightly more agile feel as well as more efficiency on the climbs.
- Crazy fun on a super wide variety of terrain. It’s not just another great pedaling trail bike that you suffer through the gnar with.
- Very Quiet – Notable measures have been taken to quiet down any internal cables from rattling
- Size-specific chainstays – Chainstays grow 5mm each size you go up to keep riders centered.
- Great value with a smart component spec
- A little on the heavier side compared to other trail bikes. Many similar spec’d bikes with this much travel are over a pound lighter.
- Soft compound Schwalbe tires wear a little quick. The tires have an amazing bite, but wear is definitely more noticeable after 100+ miles.
The 2020 Norco Optic should give you the magical ability to ride like Bryn Atkins in the below video :).
Who’s the bike for?
In the hands of a rider that picks good lines, this bike can easily hang with bikes that have 20mm more travel. What it lacks in big bump absorption it makes up for in agility and feels really stable at speed. The Optic is the bike for those that don’t shy away from the most technical terrain. They also don’t want to give up pedaling performance in favor of a big heavy and slower handling enduro bike. If you want one bike to ride any trail no matter how tame or rowdy the 2020 Norco Optic is setting the bar.
If you’re ready to pull the trigger, Norco now sells directly from their website – Buy Norco Optic
Full disclosure: We are not given bikes for review as we attempt to remain as unbiased as possible in our opinions. We do receive a small percentage from sales (at no added expense to you) should you purchase from the link above. We truly appreciate your support! As always let us know if you have any additional questions in the comments below.