Norco Optic C2 Review
THE NEW ALL MOUNTAIN?
Photos by Drew Rohde and Sean Leicht
This year Norco has been making a lot of waves and the new Norco Optic is no exception. The Optic C2 we reviewed has voided the decades of experience that had us boxing in what a “short travel” bike was capable of. This is not the old school 125mm bike you are used to, it has a modern take on geometry, suspension spec, and the intended user group. While the Norco Optic may have been an XC pinner’s dream a few years ago, it’s now the bike aggressive, baggy short-wearing trail riders will be throwing knee pads on to ride. While that makes riders like us happy, it may alienate the die-hard lycra riders who are still looking to KOM climbs. So, without further adieu, let’s get into the 2020 Norco Optic review.
Those looking at the Optic may be confused as first glance. If you look at the geo chart and see 125mm of rear wheel travel, you may think this is more of a pedal-minded trail bike. If instead your first look at the Norco Optic is a visual one, spotting the Rock Shox Super Deluxe Ulimate DH shock, a 140mm Rock Shox Pike fork and four piston brakes with 180mm rotors, you may think this is an enduro rig built for slaying down trails.
The reality is Norco designed this bike to be something in-between. We examined Norco’s “Holistic approach to fit, geometry and suspension kinematics,” in our Dissected feature a couple months back when we first reviewed and rode the 2020 Norco Sight. The new Optic utilizes Norco’s same concepts when it comes to modern geometry and bike design. To learn more about the Ride Aligned concept and how Norco changes seat tube angles, chainstay lengths and more to optimized each rider’s center of gravity over their respectively sized bikes, click here.
In the past we were used to riding under-gunned short travel bikes because that’s all we had, those days are gone thanks to a stiff, yet light frame, burly suspension and a slack head tube angle with a long reach. Our size large Optic sports a long 480mm reach and 65-degree head tube angle with a 76-degree seat tube angle. A 337mm bottom bracket height, 1,235mm wheelbase and 435mm rear-center length give the Optic a planted, yet somewhat playful feel.
Now, if you’re a number cruncher you don’t need us to tell you these numbers are similar to what you would have found on a 160mm+ travel bike not too long ago. Although that means this bike will give you the confidence and stability to descend like a bike with much more travel, it also means that technical climbers and XC riders will most certainly notice the length and slackness when it comes to navigating their favorite tight trails and steep climbs.
We tested the Norco Optic C2, which retails for $4,699 and comes with a competent build featuring a 140mm Pike Select fork, Super Deluxe Ultimate DH shock, SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, Shimano BR-MT250 brakes and carbon SRAM X1 Eagle cranks. The Norco cockpit is simple and leaves room for upgrading and customization, but it gets the job done. Stan’s Flow S1 29er rims are laced to DT Swiss 350 hubs and get wrapped in Schwalbe Hans Dampf/Magic Mary 2.35 tires. Norco also offer the Optic in four other builds from $3,749 to $8,999 as well as a frame option for $2,499.