2019 Pinkbike Awards: Mountain Bike of the Year Winner

Dec 20, 2019
by Mike Kazimer  
2019 Pinkbike Awards

The Mountain Bike of the Year award is a broad category, one that's open to everything from ultralight cross-country machines to World Cup-worthy DH bikes. Rather than award prizes for every single genre and sub-genre of bike, the breadth of this category allows for the bikes that impressed Pinkbike's editors the most to rise to the top.

This year's nominees included the Forbidden Druid, a high pivot trail bike; the Specialized Enduro, a smash-all-the-things long travel 29er; the Norco Optic, an energetic trail ripper; and the Santa Cruz Hightower, a versatile mid-travel machine.








MOUNTAIN BIKE OF THE YEAR

Norco Optic

The new Norco provides a shining example of how a modern trail bike should handle.



Take a heaping scoop of modern geometry, add 29” wheels and 125mm of well-managed rear travel, then blend in a generous amount of fun. That's the recipe that created the winner of Pinkbike's Mountain Bike of the Year award – the Norco Optic.

The 2020 Norco Optic was one of the standouts at the Pinkbike Field Test, thanks in part to its excellent geometry. Applying longer and slacker geometry to shorter travel bikes isn't an entirely new concept, but Norco absolutely nailed the numbers on the Optic. They also earned extra credit points by changing the chainstay length depending on the frame size, which means that the handling of the bike should feel similar no matter if you're 5'4” or 6'4”.

The Optic is a trail bike in the truest sense of the term – it remains entertaining on a wide range of terrain, from mild to wild. As Mike Levy wrote, “consider it a trail bike bent on making you laugh while snatching a few KOMs on the way back down.” There may only be 125mm of rear travel, but the excellent shock tune makes it possible to make the most of every single millimeter, which is a good thing, since this bike seems to have a magnetic attraction to extra-spicy sections of trail.

The new Norco provides a shining example of how a modern trail bike should handle. There's also the fact that the little details weren't overlooked. Room for a water bottle, a spot to mount a tube, internal cable routing that's easy to deal with; those things matter, especially considering how refined mountain bikes are becoming across the board, and they play a part in making the Optic an easy bike to recommend to almost any rider, from beginner to pro.

For their efforts, Norco is the recipient of the 2019 Pinkbike Mountain Bike of the Year award.








237 Comments

  • 307 3
 This bike is cheaper than Value Mountain Bike of the Year
  • 36 1
 Couldn't give it a win in all categories I guess?
  • 88 69
 Actually, it’s not “cheaper”, the prices are nearly the same, builds are slightly different, but more importantly the Pistol(a) and the Optic are very different bikes.

The GG Pistol is a much burlier bike, leaning more toward the down, whereas the Optic is leaned more toward the up.

As well, the Pistol is domestic made and built, has more options for the build, can be changed to other models with a seat stay kit, the suspension has two ride settings, and the headset can be adjusted fire/aft by 10mm.

Nice to have choices
  • 33 4
 @nurseben: Bruh, its almost Xmas time and here you are throwing all this hurtful truth around. Shameful really.
  • 42 4
 @nurseben: Norco Optic has a almost a degree slacker head angle than the GG so I wouldn't say it's more geared towards the down.
  • 6 0
 @nurseben:

Yo Ben it’s nice that a non d2c brand is offering a carbon-alu frame for $2300 usd with a rear shock that doesn’t need to be upgraded. Good on Norco for the value prop. And it looks to be gravity oriented like the GG but I'll agree the GG frame looks burlier. Good times!
  • 4 0
 Also contender for Super Trail Bike of the Year, amirite?
  • 33 3
 Value ≠ Cheap. We thought the frame adaptability, build customization, and domestic manufacturing all added up to the Guerrilla Gravity edging the Norco on pure "value". The equation changes if you don't care about those factors (not all of us do), and they're both incredible bikes with great value.
  • 1 0
 Where, specifically, is the frame made?
  • 3 0
 @nurseben: But wasn't the Trail Pistol included in the Downcountry category, and the Norco in the Trail category?
  • 4 7
 @jaydawg69: Like head angle is the only measure to consider when it comes to geometry. Comments like this are why everyone buys the latest and greatest garbage that’s peddled (no pun intended) by the industry and Pinkbikes of the world.
  • 6 3
 @SlodownU: I think it's the biggest factor for dh ability... not the only factor as you mentioned but try riding a 71 degree HA bike down Goats Gully then a 63 degree one. Nothing else is going to make that much difference in regards to geo. The latest and greatest is actually the greatest it's ever been.
  • 7 1
 This is the way
  • 1 0
 @endlessblockades: GG is made in Denver
  • 4 3
 @brianpark: manufacturing is only domestic to the USA, why is this pushed on a Canadian website with an international audience, I think Asian manufacturing has more than proved its quality and environmental standards could be argued are improving faster than established manufacturing nations.
  • 2 2
 @dkidd: They "tested" eight bikes total, if they give more than two "awards" they might as well give a an award to every one ...
  • 3 2
 @duzzi: I think you missed the point I was making, for this bike domestic manufacturing is only a plus to the american population which is only a portion of the audience, no knocks against domestic manufacturing it just gets pushed ALOT with USA brands.
  • 4 2
 @keewi: The majority of GG bikes are sold in the US, so manufacturing them here reduces the environmental impact significantly. If I’m not mistaken that was a major consideration for GG.
  • 2 0
 @keewi:

They comply with environmental standards? I would love to see their pretreatment permit...oh, wait
  • 1 2
 @keewi: it is totally ridiculous to call anything "The bike of the Year" when a couple of people try out less than a handful bikes, out of hundred of offerings on the market, for an afternoon.

It would be kind of sad if anybody made a purchasing choice based on these "awards" ... but it is the purpose of these thinly veiled commercials.
  • 1 0
 @endlessblockades: a few blocks from the Bronco's stadium in Denver.
  • 1 0
 @WasatchEnduro: Too bad Norco isn't d2c. Sounds like they have some nice models, but good luck finding a Norco dealer outside of Canada or PNW US.
  • 1 0
 @dthomp325:

My local shop (northern Utah) is a dealer but they don’t really stock anything. Also it looks like you can buy from their site. Also they have a demo fleet that hits some of the festivals. But yeah a much smaller presence than a lot of brands.
  • 1 0
 @dthomp325: looks like Cycleworx in Boulder is your closest Norco dealer at 6 miles away and The Bicycle Shack is another 10 miles in Arvada. From your listed location you could hit both on your morning road ride before your first espresso break!
If they don't stock your dream bike, you can always build one on the Norco site and have it sent there for pickup.
  • 73 1
 obviously. did you see the Bryn Atkinson video? I mean seriously.. damn
  • 36 10
 I’m still high from it
  • 20 1
 best video of 2019. go to voting page of best video and make the suggestion it should be included.
  • 6 24
flag Ferisko (Dec 20, 2019 at 9:14) (Below Threshold)
 Yeah, if only they actually sold the bike in the spec he had in the video for reasonable price. The specs Norco has across the range are insulting towards the customer. Last time I bought a bike with resin only rotors it was a 1400 euro Gaint/Liv for my girlfriend. Oh it also had a dumb shock without the pedal switch, but I don't think I considered that to be a benefit either.
  • 2 0
 @Ferisko: The brakes are a bit of a letdown but for not a lot of cash you can get on an ultra capable platform and upgrade as you go. Plus, rotors are cheap.
  • 5 12
flag mybaben (Dec 20, 2019 at 9:38) (Below Threshold)
 @mtbgeartech: Yeah, very weird. The C1 gets XTR and the C2 doesn't even get SLX. WTF?? I notice the Canadian bikes cut corners a lot and in weird places. It hurts their overall value in my book.
  • 10 4
 @mtbgeartech: Optic C2 is like 4500 euro here. That's in fact quite a bit of cash considering what spec is on the bike (budget everything). And yeah, rotors are cheap. So I would expect brand product managers to find enough wiggle room in their spec budget to include decent ones. So that you/me and everyone else who buys these bikes don't have to "fix" multi thousand euro/dollar bikes out of the box. Another way to look at it: imagine you are building a bike in this category and price range for your self or a friend/family. Would you even remotely consider some of these components that are there? Would you?

Right now it's like brands are trying to out-do each other who sells a more expensive bike with more trash mounted on to it. Norco is not alone in this.
  • 4 7
 @Ferisko: Agreed. Being cheap is common among a lot of makers, especially the Canadian brands, for some reason. I see a lot of bad hubs, cheaper brakes and bottom of the line rotors. I don't like that either. I don't want to have to "correct" the build kit on a $5000+ USD mountain bike. Personally I will probably be buying a 2020 Nukeproof Mega Factory build next year. There is literally not one thing I would change on those bikes. (saddles/grips don't count).
  • 11 7
 @mybaben: we use up our stuff. A Formula hub often lasts as long as a DT Swiss 350. The only thing you’re not getting is the buzzing sound. The bikes party hard in the woods but really aren’t meant for spraying about at the trailhead.

The way our bikes are specced are great for people who flip (sell) their bikes every year or two or for people who own them for a long time and upgrade over the years.
  • 3 1
 @mybaben: Right, good example. Mega is on my short list as well.
  • 17 0
 @Ferisko: X1 cranks are budget? Shcwalbe tires are....budget? DT Swiss hubs aaaaaarreeee budget?

You and I good sir do not define the word Budget the same... Lol
  • 2 0
 @TheBearDen: It's not a bad spec mate. Just a couple of corners were cut that shouldn't have been, because to your point, the rest of the spec IS good!
  • 5 1
 @north-shore-bike-shop: I like to ride my bike hard for a good period of time, so I'm willing to spend some real money. I don't want to have to upgrade a bunch of stuff, AFTER I already spent a ton of money. that's all.

Regarding rear hubs, I don't care about sound, I care about high engagement.
PS. I live in the PNW, and know how we ride out here. Wink
  • 4 0
 VOTY
  • 3 0
 @Ferisko: just because you'd prefer something else doesn't mean they don't get the job done.
  • 14 0
 @north-shore-bike-shop: Formula Hubs are a joke! Very slow bearings and poorly sealed. The expense of trying to replace a hub on a new bike is very prohibitive since you need to rebuild the wheel and possibly replace the spokes too. You’re probably best to buy a new wheelset and sell the old, which is what I did. Do they think customers don’t notice? I’d rather good hubs than a derailleur upgrade!
  • 2 0
 link? would like to watch
  • 1 0
 @mybaben: I bought a 19 and was pleasantly surpris3ed by how good the saddle and grips were. Ended up keeping both, turned into my favorite grips and saddle.
  • 1 0
 @skerby: Cool, glad to hear it! I just mean grips and saddle are personal, and so get swapped often and sometimes right away.
  • 1 2
 @jfyfe: I've had the same formula hubs on my dh bike since 2010 when I bought my wheels and they have been faultless since with zero rebuilds. So I'm not sure where you're coming from saying they are a joke.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: haha same
  • 1 0
 @mybaben: you miss the point of the word literally
  • 30 1
 Who would have guessed??
  • 8 0
 Yeah saw that coming I was getting tempted to order one but on paper the numbers seem very similar to my Smuggler, would be interested to hear if anyone has ridden both
  • 3 33
flag mybaben (Dec 20, 2019 at 9:06) (Below Threshold)
 @rudymedea: Who makes a Smuggler? What is the rear travel? Regarding the Optic...125mm is just so small...I can't do it.
  • 1 0
 @mybaben: transition 120mm Rear/140mm Front
  • 3 17
flag jorgeposada (Dec 20, 2019 at 9:12) (Below Threshold)
 @mybaben: For real 125mm is very 1990s.
  • 25 6
 @mybaben: who makes the Smuggler, dude, really?
  • 7 1
 @jorgeposada: 125mm is the future
  • 1 0
 @rudymedea: I owned a smuggler with a crazy nice build. I demod the optic for two days this fall, I thought it claimed better. Still fells like a short travel bike on the dh but, more stable. You can push it harder. Just holds it's line so well. I sold my smuggler to a friend, he upgraded the rear shock and said it made a big difference. I got a coil patrol now, and am thinking the optic would be a nice shorter travel bike to go with that monster truck
  • 1 0
 @mobil1syn: Thanks mate.
  • 6 20
flag mybaben (Dec 20, 2019 at 9:34) (Below Threshold)
 @nurseben: Piss off eh. Like I'm supposed to know every single model by every single manufacturer. Whateve.
  • 1 0
 @rudymedea: Had a smuggler and sold it. Geo is dialed, but it’s heavy and is an average pedaler. The suspension is way too linear also. Upgrading to a DPX2 is a must and don’t even bother with anything less than the biggest spacer. It’s a fine line in setting it up to avoid losing the traction and ground hugging that Transition was obviously going for.

Haven’t ridden the Norco but the Ripley and Tallboy are the next evolution of the smuggler.
  • 7 2
 @mybaben: knowledge is just a transition from ignorance to arrogance
  • 5 0
 @mitochris, what a horrible motto. I'd choose arrogance over ignorance any day if those were the only options.
  • 1 1
 @mitochris: Thanks.
  • 3 1
 @mybaben: (No disrespect, but the Smuggler is a pretty flippin' well-known bike!! At least in the mtb world.)
  • 5 0
 @slumgullion: ignorance can be a blessing, but really, it wasn’t meant like that. One can argue that an arrogant person is rather ignorant. So chill, enjoy your Friday and most of us will already be off for Christmas now, so Merry Christmas. But getting “transition” in there was a nice touch, no?
  • 7 1
 @mybaben: you couldn't have googled "smuggler mountain bike"? the answer is literally the first result
  • 1 0
 @slumgullion: Really? You'd rather be arrogant than blissful? Sounds about right, for the interwebz.
  • 1 1
 @nurseben: i swear ive slapped a dude for less
  • 1 0
 @bishopsmike, they're both bad options - I don't think anyone should abide by that saying. But yeah, I'd rather be knowledgeable vs. not knowing things.
  • 1 0
 @davemays: Maybe for you and good luck. Been fortunate to have just about every length of travel over the decades. I like the move back to 160-170 mm , always been alot of fun.
  • 1 0
 @mitochris: It's also the transition to understanding, realization and wisdom.
Without knowledge what do we have?
  • 1 0
 @jorgeposada: good for an ebike! haha.
Whas up Dude!
Hi from the PIMBA Boyz
  • 1 0
 @DDoc: Yaya! Splattekill ebizzle foshizzle.
  • 2 0
 @thodges @wibblywobbly

Cheers, that’s interesting as I have a 2019 Patrol as well so the fact the Optic is better on the DH is probably a con to me as the Smuggler is my trail bike and doesn’t see much big stuff

It is heavy, I bought a cheap second hand build but last week swapped Yari for Pike (-300g), Hope Wheels for DT (-500g rotating!!) and few other bits which has made a huge difference. Most of my mates are on big Enduro bikes anyway so not a massive issue.

I’ll keep an eye out for a better shock though, a lot of people have reported big improvements with a bigger shock

Would still be interested to demo an Optic but not convinced it would be a big improvement for my riding
  • 20 0
 No surprise here. The hardest choice for publications awarding bike of the year will be to choose the Optic vs. the Sight. Congrats Norco! These bikes are home runs.
  • 1 0
 How about the Trek Fuel Ex or the Rocky Mountain Instinct?
  • 21 0
 Congrats to Norco but for me, the bike of the year is the one on closeout from a couple years ago.
  • 2 0
 Well clearly you didn't study teeth.
  • 1 0
 Yep, buy a frame and put all almost new components on it and you're there for half price.
  • 1 0
 @vinnythespinner: I live in a perpetual state of ‘that new tech might be cool in a few years...’
  • 16 0
 The Optic, Smuggler, Rift Zone, Trance 29er, are all great everyday trail bikes. That short travel modern geo bike is just fun to ride. I am really cheap so I went with the rift zone, but this optic looks so darn nice.
  • 9 0
 Sold my 2019 full carbon Slash with all the bells and whistles to get ready for this bike. I was able to hear some early information and geometry specs for this bike and was very stoked on what I was hearing. Last time I was this stoked about a rowdy short travel 29er was when I got to take my 111DL home.

This bike has got a killer balance between stable at speed but still ultra playful when you want it to be. It pedals really really well but didn't seem to be to the detriment of its descending which is nice. The rear shock is slightly stiff off the top when just pedaling around and doing some XC, this had me a little worried for the descents but when you get going downhill it gets passed that bit of the travel and becomes as supple as you want without feeling mooshy or kinda dead feeling. Good bottomless feel for a bike with not a ton of travel.

It's not the lightest bike in its category and down the road I may put some carbon hoops on it but I'm in no rush. I will say though the bike carries its weight really well.

Changes I have made:
CRD stooge carbon bar/ spank split 45mm stem/ TRP trip G-spec brakes 200/180
  • 2 0
 As someone still riding a 111DL, how does this compare?
  • 5 0
 @tgalster: remember when the 111 came out and after that everyone just followed the same recipe when it came to their shorter travel rowdy bikes? Yeah this is that all over again but in 2020. Norco made a benchmark bike design.

It's the exact progression in design and capability you would expect/ want coming from the earlier rowdy short travel bikes.
  • 1 0
 @TheBearDen: love that! Thanks bro !
  • 12 0
 Can't wait to read a long term review of the 2020 Sight.
  • 8 0
 I just watched the Bryn Atkinson video, holy smokes that guy is so fast its friggen unbelievable. He makes that Optic dance like it was a 160 mm travel bike, unreal performance.
  • 2 1
 130 is the new 160.
  • 19 8
 @griztour #griztour 2020
  • 9 7
 LOL, did Jason guess your password, JJ?
  • 2 1
 @dkidd: get on the plan man...everyone knows @griztour is where it's at.
  • 8 0
 So excited!!!! My wife and I bought one each and couldn't be more with them. Bryn's sweet edit almost sold me before I got to sit on one.
  • 7 0
 matching colours!??!?!!!
  • 7 0
 @jamesbrant: Yeah, because it shows everyone just how much in love with each other we are. Also, I wasn't allowed the purple one.
  • 2 0
 @chubby5000: My wife and i just received and built up our matching optic c1's yeah they are amazing!!! complement or ranges very well.
  • 10 0
 The 2019 bike of the year is a 2020 bike? Whoa
  • 28 0
 The future is now.
  • 5 0
 Haven't ridden one - but damn, the description and test ride up make it sound pretty much like an up-to-date version of the 2015 Process 111 I've got sitting in my garage, or the OG Smuggler I test rode at the time I bought that, or a slightly less beefy version of the new Process 134 29 I just rode a little while ago. Is this thing so far above and beyond its peers in the short-to-medium travel fun burly 29er trail bike genre? Is it somehow different than all those bikes? What am I missing? I mean other than the fact that Bryn riding it in that launch edit is the sort of thing you share with your non-MTB friends if you're trying to get them interested in picking up the sport.
  • 2 0
 Plenty of opportunities to try one out and see what the difference is. Then you, like the judges of the category, will be able to say you've had real world experience on the bike. Contact Fanatik about a demo, they should be able to set you up with one!
  • 2 0
 That is an interesting point, I'm kinda surprised the new 134 wasn't in the field tests, seeing's how Kona is a few hours down the road. Perhaps admission was based on previous ride impressions or they wanted to have a diverse field. Lots of killer bikes in general though, for 2019!
  • 5 0
 @iduckett, we have a 134 on hand now for a longer term review - look for that in a couple months.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Nice!
I got one from two years ago for my kid, I figure it will last her a decade.

Also, how do you think the trek fuel ex compares to the optic if you don't mind me asking. thanks ahead of time.
  • 8 0
 Way to go Norco, now make a cheap Al version for us.
  • 4 0
 Norco Fluid has very similar numbers.
  • 3 0
 @fasian: Not similar enough. And the rear center doesn't change for each size.
  • 4 0
 @kcy4130: he asked for the cheap aluminum version. Fluid is as close as you'll get at the moment.
  • 6 0
 Bike is gorgeous in person! Was sceptical about the color until I saw it! But how in the world do I decide between this and a Sight!?!?
  • 2 2
 I test rode one and thought it was a really great bike. I do wish I could un-see that color though...
  • 7 0
 This bike literally just came out..
  • 2 24
flag stumphumper92 (Dec 20, 2019 at 12:29) (Below Threshold)
 Norco probably paid them off
  • 9 0
 @maxwharin1, it was released in the middle of October, and we managed to get our hands on one ahead of time, back in September. We put more than enough miles on it over the last few months to give it a thorough evaluation.
  • 1 0
 @stumphumper92: it's all a big bicycle conspiracy! Witch-hunt1!!
  • 7 0
 Damn. Now Im just a fanboy who bought the bike of the year!
  • 3 0
 Same
  • 6 0
 Excellent choice! Way to go Norco. Great to see a Canadian brand doing so well.
  • 7 0
 THATS MY BIKE!! Love my Norco optic
  • 7 0
 Congrats Norco!
  • 5 0
 I'm not sure about the optics of this award. Kidding. I'm actually not sure about the optics of that pun.
  • 3 0
 I think you lost Sight of the pun gods
  • 1 1
 Optics is an overused buzz word. Having said that, analytics use systemic correlation coefficients to geo target avatar algorithms for crowd sourcing social relevance scores.
  • 5 0
 Super choice! Norco was my 2nd consideration. a company that gives a damn dammit!
  • 6 0
 Super sick norco!
  • 3 0
 Looks like a great bike. Being canadian, i just wish it was spec'd with a OneUp dropper, and a few OneUp of RF parts here and there.
  • 1 0
 If the Optic has a 34.9mm dropper post like the Sight does, OneUp doesn't make one... I was looking for it too if I buy a Sight! Frown
  • 2 0
 @Timo82: yes they do. I just put a 34.9 OneUp post on my new Sight.
  • 3 0
 @wallheater: Wow you're right!! They didn't have it the last time I checked but it is now in the list... yeeeahhh!!! Big Grin Thanks!
  • 1 0
 I Ride a GG Trail pistol and i think it got what it deserves. It's a fantastic bike with great value. The adjustability alone makes it worthy in my eyes. That being said I see a lot of Norcos on my local trails in my new stomping ground in Huntsville AL and a few of this particular model. It's a great bike and people love it. Stop by Trailhead bike co. If you are in the area and looking for one of these. James and the others are great folks.
  • 1 0
 Wait.. I thought you could only buy Norco's in Canada or the PNW..?
  • 1 0
 @ssteve: nope. I know of at least one shop here in Huntsville Alabama that sells them.
  • 3 0
 From a Canadian Tire special in the 70’s to one of the most progressive.. consistent..reasonably priced bikes out there... Bravo Norco????
  • 1 0
 @markz: I wasn't alive in the 70s but could you actually buy a Norco at crappy tire in your day?
  • 2 0
 Well deserved, often smaller and independent brands get overlooked in favour of those owned by huge industry players such as PON Holdings
  • 1 0
 Ive had a 212mm droppper in 450mm and 405mm seat tubes Im 5'10 and want my seat to go low in my frame. I guess i ride a medium or perhaps small cause i like reach of 415-440mm
  • 3 0
 I'm 5'8" and ride a medium Optic. There is currenty a 175mm dropper in there with more room to go down (!). First bike I have ever owned that I can fit such a long dropper. There's a lot of insertion depth. At full drop, the rear wheel clears the seat my about 5mm. Perfect. No doubt you could put a 200mm in there if you ride the medium.
  • 4 0
 Why not an Optic vs Process 134 comparison then ??
  • 2 0
 That’s a great comparison! Let’s see it pinkbike! Maybe throw the Rocky instinct too just for me.
  • 2 0
 Did you guys really like that better than the Norco Sight?? Just curious. Thanks.
  • 3 0
 I don’t think they’ve had enough time on it.
  • 6 1
 Consider the appeal, this bike suits the needs of more riders because it’s versatile and because most folks are better off with a bike like this.

Personally, I have a bike like this (Trail Pistola) and an enduro bike, make me pick one and I’d take the enduro. Ten years from now, when I’m 65, I’d take the trail bike ....
  • 2 1
 The answer is self evident, perhaps?
  • 3 0
 Yes, despite having a little less travel, the Optic is actually more refined through high-speed rough stuff than the Sight, while also having a slightly roomier cockpit and cleaner lines.
  • 1 0
 @scvkurt03: Yep, that's possible. Cheers.
  • 2 0
 It's not better or worse than a Sight - it's a different bike for a different purpose. The Sight wasn't released in time to meet the BOTY criteria.
  • 2 0
 @nurseben: I get that. I have four different bikes, and can only afford one good full sus rig, so I need to go all mountain/enduro. The Optic looks very, very nice, but too tiny in the back for my trails...
  • 1 0
 *whoops, I was comparing it to the 2019 Sight, not the 2020, which is what I now assume you're talking about. Ma' bad!
  • 1 0
 @dkidd: I was wondering.... Wink No worries. Cheers.
  • 2 0
 @richbelson: Well technically the title says MTB of the Year, so purpose isn't really relevant. Anyway I was just curious. I haven't had a chance to ride either yet. They both seem very well sorted!
  • 5 1
 @mybaben: rear travel should not define a bike. The limits of any bike is the rider. I have a hardtail that I ride every single trail that I ride on my full suspension
  • 2 1
 @fasian: Nice sentiment and all, but that's completely ridiculous in a practical sense.
  • 1 1
 @fasian: You're incredible. Keep it up!
  • 2 1
 @scvkurt03: Right?! Yeah let's just pretend rear travel doesn't mean anything. SMH.
  • 1 0
 @mybaben: It's one of those things you either do just to say you do, you do to learn how to do it faster on your full suspension, or you do because you're bored of your local. All things being equal, there's a type of bike that's fastest on every trail.
  • 2 0
 @mybaben: hey, we're neighbors! I found the Optic very much up to the riding we have in the Portland area. If you'd like to try one for yourself, we can definitely make that happen!
  • 1 0
 @dkidd: Hey that's cool. It'd be fun to go for a ride sometime. Where did you get your Norco?? It seems like we don't have any dealers in town anymore. Where do you typically ride? I usually hit Sandy or once in a while I'll go to Stub Stewart. I live in SW.
  • 1 0
 @scvkurt03: all rear suspension allows a rider to do is go faster. Just saying @mybaben shouldn’t even be entertaining the optic if his primary concern is rear travel. He obviously needs an enduro bike to ride his “home trails”.
  • 1 0
 @mybaben Sight is totally different bike. Sounds like you need this bike rather than Optic. More rear travel lol.
  • 1 0
 @fasian: Another way of saying that less travel holds you back, which is yet another way of saying that a travel number is one of the limits of a bike. I'm not disputing that a rider is another one of those limits, but travel matters.
  • 1 0
 @scvkurt03: agreed. what this bike (and others) are doing is trying to convince people that rear travel isn't as critical as once thought. I'm not disputing that this bike will outperform a bike with 180mm or 200mm out back but am trying to enlighten people that won't even consider it because it "only" has 125mm.
  • 1 0
 @mybaben: Fat Tire Farm have a few on the floor, as does Santiam if I'm not mistaken (though they might have only Sights left). You can also find Norco at Camas Bike and Sport across the river and Discover Bicycles just down the gorge (and at the eBike Store, but that's just VLT's).
I ride all over. My main riding areas are Cold Creek, Rocky Point, and Dallas, but Sandy is always a good standby!
  • 6 7
 I don’t doubt it’s a very good bike if you are looking for the kinds of things Pinkbike testers are. I get the sense they almost alll live in bigger mountain areas where you climb for a longish time then you descend for a longish time. In other words you’re standing and your post is down or you are in a steepish seated climb and your hands are not heavily weighted on the bars. What if you live in more rolling terrain? Is a super steep seat tube reallly good - I don’t know yet myself but I doubt pinkbike testers really know either. Maybe they do - it would be good to know. Also some of us do a lot of slower speed right stuff. Is longer always better? Are 435mm stays short- doesn’t seem like it to me
  • 22 0
 It's a great bike for rolling terrain too - the high level of versatility is part of the reason it ended up taking the win. The steep seat angle is totally fine for flatter sections of trail, or spinning on the road during an approach to a trailhead - the concept that steep terrain is a necessity for a steeper seat angle is unfounded. But I'd recommend giving one a try yourself, since that's the best way to see if a bike will work for you.
  • 5 0
 Spot on. Long climbs and long descents. This is my kind of riding, but if it’s not yours then you gotta parse what they report with how it compares to your needs.

It would be nice if the reviews didn’t always take place in big mountains, not everyone lives out here ... though I’d highly suggest moving if you can Smile

I’d be willing to bet that this bike is pretty good for rolling terrain, nice mix of up and down capabilities, light and stiff, plus playful.
  • 1 0
 I live in rolling terrain although some of it certainly gets as steep as anything out there (pretty often actually) and with an effective actually measured 76 degree STA (L Foxy 29) I'm finding myself constantly at the very front tip of my seat when climbing and only a bit further back when on total flats.

It took some time to get used to the steeper STA, but if I could choose, I'd probably make it another degree or 2 steeper. Don't know where the limit is.
  • 6 0
 @SunsPSD: The limit is when it's parallel to the downtube. When the seat is mounted to your stem, and you have to hold the bars under your butt.
  • 1 0
 @chubby5000: Hahahaha. That made me nice. +1 for you.
  • 1 1
 @mikekazimer: “fine” isn’t much of an endorsement! You need more than a few flatter “sections” to know - how about the whole ride. I’ve just never felt I needed a steeper seat tube on my rides so call me very skeptical. But soon you won’t be able to buy a bike without one
  • 1 0
 Dam! I’m in a pickle now. Basically the next bike is between the optic and rocky instinct. This decision just became a lot harder to make.
  • 6 0
 I don't know mate... Seems like the Optic for the easy win! Some real differences in geo, with the Optic being more modern, and if we look at the C1 vs Carbon 70, Norco has a much better build kit... I'm not a fanboy, I'm just looking at the numbers...
  • 1 0
 @mybaben: but in favour of the Instinct it is a lot lighter and has 140/140mm, in case you need that extra squish in the rear. And it has a lock out if you're riding fireroads.
I don't see the Ride9 as a huge bonus as you'd likely just ride it in high/low setting anyways.

I kinda see the Instinct as an all rounder: capable on the descents, light enough to climb all day with, maybe even do some XC

Or do you think the optics geo makes up for those differences?
  • 2 0
 @mybaben: Yah very fair point the Geo is superior. And the testing done on the bike areas like whistler and pemberton make me think it would do just fine in the 1-2 enduro races I do a year (I’m not nearly as good as the testers either so I don’t think 125mm would hold me back).
  • 1 0
 @JonoSchwarz: As I mentioned, I'm really going by what's on paper. It would be best to demo them both. I'm sure the Instinct is nice too. I think I would still prefer the more modern geo, but also, I was looking at the build kits too. The C1 build kit is very nice (better) compared to the Instinct 70. They're close to the same price, so the Optic takes the win for value.
  • 1 0
 @suranko: Agreed. And if you don't hit any jumps or gaps that are too big, seems like it will be a sweet bike.
  • 2 3
 "a shining example of how a modern trail bike should handle"...

Until next year when new standard/new geo is touted. Or when someone who isn't a tester actually bought one and rode it reports back.

All that said, I wish I rode well enough to know what good handling really is.
  • 10 0
 It'd be pretty messed up if bikes got worse next year.
  • 3 0
 @brianpark: you mean like when Specialized ignored 27.5" and tried to convince midgets to buy 29ers?
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: Wasn't implying they'd get worse, just that they'll change. All of these things are moving targets because riding is a dynamic thing.
  • 3 0
 Still tempted to throw down a deposit on one at my Norco dealer.
  • 1 2
 Wait a second.... the 2019 bike of the year is a 2020 model? A carbon front, alu rear 125mm host link and a press fit BB? Aside from the modern but nothing new geo, a dropper post and one more gear, I think I owned a nearly equivalent bike in 2014. Can't wait to see what they do for 2021
  • 1 0
 Press fit BB. Why! Why would they do that Frown
  • 1 0
 I have a 2018 not the same but just such a fun bike. I xc it trail it and downhill it and it's just happy whatever I throw at it.
  • 2 0
 ... but how would it compare and contrast with the Trail Pistol(a)?
  • 2 1
 A bike before it's time, Norco missed an opportunity by not releasing the Optic in 2020.... >
  • 2 0
 That new women's 2020 sight a2 is sweet!!!
  • 3 0
 The women's bikes have some good colors for sure. I also like the women's Sight C2.
  • 1 0
 Looks like bike geo is finally getting to a place where it is dialled. Cant wait to see more like this.
  • 1 0
 Hmm, seems like "Mountain bike of the year" should be more of a quiver killer. 120/140 seems a bit niche to me.
  • 3 0
 Last year it was a DH race bike...
  • 1 0
 @epoit: well consistent that it's niche then? Smile
  • 7 0
 @stiingya: I wouldn't say the Optic is niche. Seems like a bike that suits the majority of trails in North America...
  • 1 1
 @epoit: a bit niche. To some degree just about all bikes these days are either niche, compromise, or both? Smile

I think if you counted and categorized mountain bikes enthusiast level and above actively being ridden that short travel, progressive and aggressive trail bikes would be a smaller percentage of the whole?

Per your 2nd sentence, I think there is a HUGE range of trails, riders, intent, skill set, athleticism, and comfort level to make that kind of broad statement. What works for you isn't necessarily going to work for everyone else.

For me it just seems like an Optic with a little more travel would make a lot more sense/cover more riding scenarios, etc. Be a quiver killer. It's like the new Sight is just a little too big, and the Optic is just a little too small. Goldilocks... there's a place for a bike right in the middle that seems like winner to me?

Now I do think the Optic makes a perfect 2nd bike to go along with something like the Range? Only problem with the big/small thing is you inevitably end up on rides wishing you brought the other bike!!
  • 1 0
 @stiingya: the Druid fits your description.
  • 1 0
 2020 Hightower@stiingya:
  • 1 0
 @granite: yeah, many bikes in that travel range to choose from. Just saying I think Norco missed a bigger sakes opportunity by not also putting a bike in that range?

Who knows, maybe Optic owners who don't "also" have a bigger bike will not miss more travel?
  • 1 0
 Curious how this bike would compare to an SB130 -on performance alone, as price comparisons are beyond obvious.
  • 3 1
 Good call imo
  • 1 0
 I can't wait to try one of these out at the next bike demo event.
  • 1 0
 Can’t make up my mind between the C1 or C2
  • 1 0
 C1 mate!
  • 2 0
 mybaben: Cheers buddy.
  • 1 0
 Saw the C1 today. $8k CDN, but super nice. I would swap out the E*13 cranks before it left the store, but whatever. I'm sure they are fine.
  • 7 6
 #GRIZTOUR
  • 1 0
 because it's DCAF?
  • 1 0
 Rimpo AF ...
  • 4 4
 #griztour
  • 1 1
 Looks like a session
  • 6 7
 Tallboy got robbed
  • 3 4
 LaPierre got robbed
  • 2 4
 Nooooooooooo hiiiggghhhhttttoooowwweeeerrrrr!!!!!
  • 1 2
 #griztour 2020
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