Does a high pivot rear suspension design work on a trail bike? The new 2024 Norco Optic should provide the answer. With its 125 mm of rear suspension and progressive spec, it promises not only to be a fast climber but also a rowdy trail ripper. The latest iteration of Norco’s trail bike relies on the Canadian manufacturer’s proprietary Ride Aligned system, a well-thought-out variable wheel size concept, and many other exciting features.

Norco Optic C1 2024 | 140/125 mm (f/r) | 29” | 14.1 kg (S4) | C$ 11,499 | Manufacturer’s website

It takes courage to put high pivot rear suspension on a lightweight trail bike. Despite their increasing popularity, high pivot suspension designs are found almost exclusively on enduro and downhill bikes, as their advantages come particularly into play when riding downhill. Canadian bike manufacturer Norco knows a thing or two about this and has already released several high pivot bike models. Now they’ve done it with a trail bike. But how does it work?

Generating 140/125 mm of travel (f/r), the new 2024 Norco Optic was designed as a lightweight trail bike that takes you to the top of the mountain in no time, but still encourages you to get rowdy when shredding your way back down into the valley. Our C1 test bike in size S4 rolls on 29″ wheels and tips the scales at 14.1 kg. But that’s not all: the Optic has an (almost) identical twin – Norco are simultaneously launching the new 2024 Sight, which looks uncannily similar. Despite the visual similarities, the two bikes rely on an entirely different frame platform with unique geometry and kinematics.

To be more specific, the new 2024 Norco Optic relies on a High Pivot Horst Link suspension design, which you might be familiar with from the Canadian manufacturer’s freeride ripper, the Norco Shore, and further developed for the specific requirements of the Optic and Sight. If you want to know more about the characteristics of high pivot rear suspension concepts, you should read part two of our Underneath the Voodoo article. In a nutshell, high pivot idler systems position the main pivot much higher above the chainring, which allows the rear axle (and thus the wheel) to rotate up in an arc with a rearward axle path, meaning that when the wheel contacts an obstacle, it rotates upwards and backwards, instead of upwards and forwards like most low pivot suspension systems. However, as the axle moves backwards, the distance to the top of the chainring grows longer, which can cause unwanted pedal kickback. The best way to counteract this is to use a chain idler pulley at or near to the high pivot, which maintains an almost constant distance from the rear axle – this is also what gives high pivot bikes their distinctive look.

The new 2024 Norco Optic can be converted from a full 29er to a mullet bike using Norco’s ‘Missing Link Kit’, which comes standard with the Optic frameset and can be purchased separately with both the 29” and mullet complete bike. The kit includes both the upper and lower shock links, which need replacing when converting to a smaller 27.5” rear wheel to ensure consistent geometry and kinematics. While this is slightly more complex than the conventional flip-chip used by most manufacturers, it’s by far the better solution, as it allows you to more accurately compensate for the wheel size change, without interfering with other aspects of the geometry.

Another cool feature is the Ride Aligned setup guide on Norco’s website, which makes it easier to choose the right frame size and helps you with the initial setup, whether it’s the suspension, tires or saddle height. Here you can simply punch in a bunch of basic information like your body measurements, riding style and position, trail conditions and preferred suspension behaviour to get countless (and very accurate!) setup recommendations. You can do this with all Norco models, in all spec variants. We also had the chance to test a beta version of the new Ride Aligned system, which provides even more information and allows you to save your setups in Norco’s ‘Bike Garage’. The Canadian manufacturer is really setting the benchmark with their Ride Aligned system, providing a genuinely useful tool both for beginners and advanced riders.

The new 2024 Norco Optic 2024 is available with both aluminium and carbon fibre frames, in a variety of different specifications, with prices ranging between C$ 5,399 and C$ 11,499.

*At the time of its official launch, the new 2024 Norco Optic was only available in some parts of Europe, which is why there are no final Euro prices yet – hence the Canadian prices in test.

The new 2024 Norco Optic in detail

For this first ride review, we tested the 2024 Norco Optic C1 spec variant, which comes in an elegant, understated black/grey paint finish with bronze accents. A delicate glitter effect in the paint adds a touch of class and ensures an extremely high-quality look. The chain idler is seamlessly integrated into the chainstay and protected by an additional chain guide ­– this is the most elegant, beautiful idler integration we’ve ever seen on a bike.

The new Optic’s idler pulley is tucked away inside the chainstay and complemented with a beautifully designed chain guide.

A generously sized seat and chainstay protector prevents paint chips and chain slap. In fact, the Optic would almost be silent on the trail if it weren’t for one thing: while the cables are partially clamped at the ports, at the transition between the main frame and swingarm, a long section of the rear brake line is routed externally, rattling loudly against the frame. Unfortunately, not even the protective film on our test bike seemed to help. Incidentally, we had the same problem with the new Norco Sight. On top of that, the cables rattle slightly against the handlebars, but this can easily be prevented with a couple of zip ties.

The cables are routed internally through the frame, but aren’t clamped at the ports on the headtube.
However, the rear brake line is clamped securely to the exit port on the downtube.
At the transition between the main frame and swingarm, a long section of the rear brake line is routed externally, without a guide, which causes it to rattle against the frame – what a shame!

There’s enough room in the main frame to accommodate a big water bottle and an additional tool mount on the top tube where you can attach all your trail essentials directly to the frame – Norco have yet to jump on the storage compartment bandwagon with their bikes. However, the down tube comes standard with a TPU protector in the bottom bracket area and an additional shuttle guard a few inches further up, which, in true Canadian style, is meant to protect the frame from chafing when you throw the bike on the back of a truck for some epic shuttle laps.

The spec of the 2024 Norco Optic

Our Norco Optic C1 test bike comes equipped with a 140 mm FOX 34 Factory fork, with striking orange lowers. It’s great to see that Norco use FOX’s top-tier GRIP2 damper, which is sadly a rare sight on shorter travel bikes, despite offering a wide range of adjustment options and delivering a tremendous performance on the trail. The fork is paired with a FOX Float X Factory air shock, which controls 125 mm of travel at the rear.

Shifting is taken care of by a new SRAM Eagle X0 Transmission drivetrain, which relies on a direct-mount rear derailleur that bolts directly to the frame, protected by an additional bash guard – this clearly shows what kind of trails the Optic was designed for! According to Norco, you’ll only have to replace the idler pulley when the entire drivetrain is worn out. Unfortunately, and this is a big UNFORTUNATELY, Norco rely on SRAM Level Silver four-piston brakes, which are designed specifically for XC bikes and don’t provide sufficient braking torque for a bike in this category – not even the big 200 mm front rotor seems to make up for it. The big front rotor is paired with a smaller 180 mm brake disc, which might be a suitable choice for a bike like the Optic when paired with the right brakes. That said, the Level Silver brakes feature tool-free lever reach adjustment, along with SRAM’s proprietary Swing Link technology, which is designed to minimise deadband and optimise modulation, thus reducing arm pump, though this feature is a little redundant with such under-powered callipers.

Unfortunately, the SRAM Level four-piston brakes lack braking power, despite the big 200 mm rotor.
SRAM’s Silver series model features tool-free lever reach adjustment, and even SRAM’s proprietary Swing Link technology.

It’s incredibly cool that Norco spec the new Optic with a long travel dropper post, which can be inserted all the way into the frame. Our test bike in size S4 comes with a massive 210mm OneUp V2 dropper, with which we have had great experiences over the past few years. The ergonomic OneUp remote is attached to 800 mm Deity Skywire carbon handlebars.

For the wheels, Norco rely on fellow Canadians We Are One, combining their 30 mm Union carbon rims with Industry Nine Hydra hubs. The wheels are paired with MAXXIS tires, with a Minion DHF at the front and DISSECTOR at the rear, both in EXO+ casing and the harder MaxxTerra rubber compound. Both the tread pattern and the casing are a good match for the Optic, though we would have preferred the softer MaxxGrip rubber compound at the front.

Norco Optic C1 2024


Fork FOX 34 Factory GRIP2 140 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT X Factory 125 mm
Seatpost OneUp Dropper Post V2 210 mm
Brakes SRAM Level Silver Stealth 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Eagle X0 Transmission 1x12
Stem Norco CNC Alloy 40 mm
Handlebar Deity Skywire Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset We Are One Union Carbon 29"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF MaxxTerra EXO+/Dissector MaxxTerra EXO+ 2.5"/2.4"

Technical Data

Size S1 S2 S3 S4 S5

Specific Features


All spec variants of the 2024 Norco Optic

As already mentioned, the new 2024 Norco Optic will be available with both aluminium and carbon fibre frame options, which can be distinguished on paper by the A and C suffixes. Norco also offer a frame kit, which includes the “missing link kit” for mullet conversions. When purchasing a complete bike, the conversion kit can be purchased separately.

Norco Optic C2 2024 29” | C$ 8,999
Norco Optic C3 2024 29” | C$ 6,799
Norco Optic C2 2024 MX | C$ 8,999

If you go for a complete carbon bike, you can choose from four spec variants and four colours, with prices ranging from C$ 6,799 for the C3 entry level model to C$ 11,499 for the C1 flagship model. There are also two frame kits with a RockShox Vivid Select+ air shock for C$ 4,999.

Norco Optic A1 2024 29” | C$ 7,899
Norco Optic A2 2024 29” | C$ 5,399

If you go metal, you can choose between the A1 and A2 models. The cool thing is that there’s also a top-spec alloy version, which comes equipped with high quality components rather than cheap parts, which is common with alloy bikes these days. For example, the A1 spec variant features a RockShox Pike Ultimate fork and SRAM Eagle GX Transmission drivetrain. Aluminium frame kits are available too, retailing at C$ 2,399.

The geometry of the new 2024 Norco Optic

With the new Optic, Norco rely on a brand-new sizing concept, which includes 5 frame sizes, S1 to S5. If you’re unsure about which size to choose, you can use Norco’s Ride Aligned system to make sure you’re getting the right one. However, their recommendations are on the big side of the spectrum, with frame size S4 covering riders between 178 cm and 188 cm tall. However, the Optic in S4 already has a very generous 497.5 mm reach, which is far too long for our test crew, corresponding roughly to a size XL for most other manufacturers.

One thing we’re incredibly fond of, however, is the short seat tube across all sizes, which lets you push a long-travel dropper post all the way into the frame. This allows you to choose the frame size based on your desired frame length and riding style, without surrendering freedom of movement on the trail. For example, our size S4 bike has a 430 mm seat tube and 210 mm dropper post.

With the frame size also grows the chainstay length, which is meant to ensure consistent handling across all sizes – awesome! But don’t worry, although the chainstays might look incredibly short on paper, they grow considerably as the suspension compresses, already gaining a few millimetres at sag. In addition, the seat angle steepens up as the frame size increases, to ensure a central riding position despite the longer saddle extension – that’s pretty rare!

The geometry of the 2024 Norco Optic, with carbon frame and 29” wheels

Size S1 S2 S3 S4 S5
Top tube 568 mm 593 mm 617 mm 641 mm 665 mm
Seat tube 350 mm 370 mm 385 mm 430 mm 445 mm
Head tube 100 mm 110 mm 120 mm 130 mm 140 mm
Head angle 65° 65° 65° 65° 65°
Seat angle 76.5° 76.75° 77° 77.25° 77.55°
Chainstay 421 mm 425 mm 429 mm 433 mm 437 mm
BB Drop 32/32 mm 32/32 mm 32/32 mm 32/32 mm 32/32 mm
Wheelbase 1,159 mm 1,193 mm 1,226 mm 1,259 mm 1,292 mm
Reach 422,5 mm 447,5 mm 472,5 mm 497,5 mm 522,5 mm
Stack 608 mm 617 mm 626 mm 635 mm 644 mm

The 2024 Norco Optic on the trail

For this first ride review, we rode the 2024 Norco Optic C1 primarily with 29″ wheels, but of course we squeezed in a fair amount of laps with the smaller rear wheel for comparison’s sake.

As soon as you swing your leg over the saddle, you’ll notice the slightly stretched pedalling position, which is nevertheless very comfortable. It helps keep the front wheel planted on the climbs, allowing you to focus on the trail ahead without having to actively shift your weight forward in steeper sections. Surprisingly, the high-pivot rear suspension doesn’t really feel any different from more conventional designs and doesn’t bob unnecessarily, even when pedalling out of the saddle. During this test, we never reached for the FOX FLOAT X’s climb switch, not even in steep uphill sections.

Although the extremely long frame is also clearly noticeable when gravity takes over, the Optic is predictable and intuitive to ride, making you feel at ease from the very first pedal strokes. After playing around with the stack height a little, we managed to hit the sweet spot. Finally, the weight was evenly distributed between the front and rear, enabling direct, precise steering without requiring active weight shifts. The Optic shines above all on fast, flowing trails, where the firm suspension and stiff components – like the carbon wheels and handlebar – allow you to generate plenty of speed by pumping through rollers and popping off tree stumps to collect a bunch of well-deserved airmiles. At the same time, the suspension offers sufficient reserves, bailing you out with botched landings and bigger drops.

The Optic still keeps shining on rough, technical trails, inspiring tons of confidence and control despite its conservative 125 mm of rear travel. However, when the trail gets gnarlier and faster, it requires an experienced rider to tame the direct, firm handling. On long descents, the Optic becomes increasingly difficult to control and requires a vigilant riding style to hold on to your line. The longer wheelbase also makes it a little cumbersome in slow, narrow techy sections. However, if you know what you’re doing and can keep the Optic in check, you’ll have a potent, lively partner on your side that encourages you to pull a few wild tricks.

Who should take a closer look at the 2024 Norco Optic

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned trail bum, Norco’s unique Ride Aligned system is extremely useful, both for the initial setup and even before you buy your bike. The new 2024 Optic is a real banger and delivers a tremendous overall performance, especially on fast, flowing trails, where it generates shed loads of speed while at the same time slapping a massive grin on your face. Despite the initial scepticism, we were pleasantly surprised on the climbs, with its efficient suspension and sporty riding position. When gravity takes over, the 2024 Norco Optic punches well above its weight, albeit reaching its limits on rough trails, which is partly due to the undersized brakes.

Our conclusions about the 2024 Norco Optic

The elegant, high-quality look and practical Ride Aligned tool alone are reason enough to take a closer look at the new 2024 Norco Optic. On our first climb to the trailhead, the efficient suspension quickly dispelled our initial scepticism, although the undersized brakes and loud rattling noise cloud the overall impression a little. Riding downhill, the Optic shines especially on flowing, fast trails with its firm suspension and direct handling, but also punches well above its weight on technical descents.


  • High fun factor on flowing trails
  • Doesn’t shy away from gnarly trails either
  • Ride Aligned system is extremely practical


  • Undersized brakes
  • Cables rattle loudly

For more info, visit Norco’s website.

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Words & Photos: Peter Walker

About the author

Peter Walker

As editor-in-chief, Peter is as much a man of action as he is of words. This expert, screw-driver-flexing two wheeled-whizz has many envy-inducing characteristics, including a background in motocross, several EWS race plates to his name, and more than 150 recorded days at Whistler Bike Park. However complex the bike and however steep the trail, he’s probably already nailed it, twice. Oh, and he can do it all on skinny tyres too. When it comes to guiding consumers, Peter cut his teeth at Vancouver’s oldest bike shop and now puts pen to paper on the daily translating this know-how into our editorial plan. When not tearing up Stuttgart’s local trails while testing bikes, he loves nothing more than loading up his self-renovated VW T5 and hitting the road. The fact that he’s a trained paramedic gives his colleagues reassurance out on the trails. So far we haven’t had to call him by his alias ‘Sani Peter’, so here’s hoping he keeps it right side up for the rest of his time here!