As the motherland of real mountain biking, Canada has a vast landscape with some of the sickest trails – ones that we’ve heard are best spent discovering on Norco’s Optic. Norco claim it’s a trail bike with cross-country pop and all-mountain adventure, but how will it fare away from its home turf?
When it came to designing the Optic, Norco ended up creating more prototypes than ever before for one single bike, largely because it is much more than just one bike; it comes in both aluminium and carbon models, as well as with either 27.5″ or 29″ wheels. Against common belief, the various models are reputed to have virtually identical ride characteristics despite the different wheel sizes. For this group test, we picked a 27.5″ carbon model that retails at 4,699 €, kitted out with FOX Performance Elite suspension, Shimano XT brakes and 2x Shimano XT drivetrain, which can be switched to 1×11 with the provided compatible chainring for the Race Face Turbine cranks. It’s a worthy upgrade, and we’d recommend removing the remote lever for the fork while you’re at it. Depending on the frame size, the Optic doesn’t just feature longer reach and stack, but also extends the rear end. Our test bike’s super-balanced handling came courtesy of the 455 mm main triangle and short 435 mm chainstays. The riding position on the Optic is compact for a 180 cm-tall rider, but very comfortable.[emaillocker id=”139658″]
Thanks to the steep 74.5° seat angle and effective rear end, the Norco climbs without much undue effort. Out-of-the-saddle efforts are rewarded with speed, which is also down to the low-profiled tread on the Schwalbe Racing Ralph rear tire. If you plan on exploiting the bike’s downhilling potential, however, then you’ll have to replace the Racing Ralph with a more aggressive tread. The low toptube is another asset to this agile bike’s liveliness. Of course there’s the suspension, which – while reliable – is no rival for the top dogs in this group test.
Specs of the Norco Optic C7.2
Fork: FOX 34 Float Performance Elite
Rear shock: FOX Float DPS
Brakes: Shimano XT
Drivetrain: Shimano XT
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
Stem: Race Face Turbine
Handlebar: Race Face Turbine
Wheels: Naben SRAM MTH / Felgen Easton AR24
Tires: Schwalbe Nobby Nic / Racing Ralph
Weight: 12.65 kg
Price: € 4,699
The Norco Optic with 27.5″ wheels is agile and flickable, turning every single root into opportunity for airtime and an insane ability to flow over the ground. While we’d love to score it top points, there are a few little weaknesses in its spec and an overly crowded cockpit that lets it down.
- Agile handling
- Efficient rear end
- 1×11 option included
- Rear tire too mellow
- Twitchy at high speeds
- Crowded bars
For more information head to the Norco website.
For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: 9 short-travel trail bikes in comparison
All bikes in test: Canyon Nerve AL 9.9 LTD | Evil The Following X1 | FOCUS Spine C Factory | MERIDA ONE-TWENTY 8000 | Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt BC Edition | SCOTT Genius 910 | Specialized Camber Comp Carbon 29 | Trek FUEL EX 9.8 29
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Words: Photos: Noah Haxel, Christoph Bayer