Field Test Editors' Choice: Optic vs Occam vs Primer S vs Stamina - 2020 Trail Bikes

Nov 22, 2019
by Mike Levy  


It's a case of Canada VS Spain VS America VS Finland in a trail bike cage match that sees four brands approach the challenge four different ways.

While they're arguably the most relevant and widely used type of mountain bike, the trail category can sound a bit vague in its intentions. I mean, we're all on trails, aren't we? For the Field Test, we narrowed the window to only include bikes with 125mm to 150mm of rear-wheel-travel, and head angles sitting at 66-degrees or slacker. We also employed timed testing in the Whistler Bike Park this year, and all four were on the same Maxxis 'control tires' to make it as fair as possible. The results are both expected and unexpected.



2020 Trail Bike Field Test. Who do you want in your corner?


In the short-travel corner is the 125mm Optic, Norco's all-new reminder that geometry rules all. Those smart numbers, along with a sturdy build kit and suspension that does nothing but impress, reminded us that fun is nearly always better than fast. Need a little more travel under you and prefer to be out in the boonies on an all-day adventure? At just a hair over 28lb, Orbea's 140mm-travel Occam might be the one that belongs in your corner.

When I see an Intense, I think of bald eagles and America, regardless of where the frames are coming from these days. And when I look at the Primer S, I have flashbacks of some of the best corners of my life. It turned out to be more bike than skill, unfortunately for me but not for anyone else wanting to perform the Stone Cold Stunner to their buddies on every other corner.

The André the Giant of this match has to be the rather large and extremely capable Stamina 140, although ol' André never had moves like the Stamina's, may they both rest in peace. Besides both being the biggest of their peers, they also share something else: An early death. Congestive heart failure in a Paris hotel room took André from us, and a two-foot-tall ramp in an empty Squamish parking lot killed the aluminum Stamina. Read all about the specifics of that particular elephant in the room here.

So, you've watched the videos, read the reviews, and weighed the pros and cons. It's time to decide: Which bike do you want in your corner?




Norco Optic - Short on Travel, Not on Capability
Full Field Test Article

Category: Trail bike
Travel: 125mm
Wheel size: 29''
Frame construction: Carbon fiber, alloy rear
Head angle: 65-degrees
Chainstay length: 435mm
Reach: 480mm (lrg)
Sizes: Sm, med, lrg (tested), xl
Weight: 30.9 lbs / 14.0 kg (as pictured)
Price: $4,500 USD

Pros
+ It might be the most fun bike in this category
+ Suspension tune and spec is dialed
+ Excellent geometry

Cons
- Geometry can let you go fast, but don't forget that you only have 125mm...
- Four-piston brakes, but with resin pads and resin-only rotors
Orbea Occam - The Most Trail Bike Trail Bike
Full Field Test Article

Category: Trail bike
Travel: 140mm
Wheel size: 29''
Frame construction: Carbon fiber
Head angle: 65.5-degrees w/ 150mm fork
Chainstay length: 440mm
Reach: 474mm (lrg)
Sizes: Sm, med, lrg (tested), xl
Weight: 28.1lbs / 12.7 kg (as pictured)
Price: $7,999 USD

Pros
+ Ideal all-rounder for many riders
+ Clean looks
+ Lightweight

Cons
- Not as gravity-oriented as the other Field Test bikes
- Great all-rounder, but doesn't stand out
- Left-side bottle only


Intense Primer S - Mixed Wheel Corner Carver
Full Field Test Article

Category: Trail bike
Travel: 140mm
Wheel size: 29'' front, 27.5+ rear
Frame construction: Carbon fiber
Head angle: 64.5 / 65.1-degrees (geometry)
Chainstay length: 440mm
Reach: 454 / 460mm (L)
Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL
Weight: 30.0 lbs / 13.6 kg (as pictured)
Price: $5,799 USD

Pros
+ Mindblowing in the corners
+ Relatively efficient

Cons
- Not purpose-built for mullet wheels, so seat angle is too slack and reach is compact
- Stock 2.8 tire spec is not our favourite setup
- Fork and brake spec are odd
Pole Stamina 140 - The Fastest Trail Bike*
Full Field Test Article

Category: Trail bike
Travel: 140mm
Wheel size: 29''
Frame construction: Machined, glued 7075 T6 aluminum
Head angle: 64-degrees
Chainstay length: 450mm
Reach: 470mm (med)
Sizes: Sm, med (tested), lrg, xl
Weight: 30.6 lbs / 13.9 kg (as pictured)
Price: $6,940 USD

Pros
+ Incredibly smash-able. Is this an enduro bike or a trail bike?
+ It ain't carbon
+ Unique appearance and manufacturing

Cons

- Not as easy to throw around, and struggles in tighter terrain
- It ain't carbon
- Oh shit, it broke...





2020 Field Test - Editors' Choice


Pole Stamina 140 EN

Mike Levy's Pick: Undecided

These four machines are remarkably dissimilar given that, for our purposes anyway, they all fall into the same trail bike category. Two of the bikes, the Occam and the Primer, both have some impressive qualities to them, but I'm not surprised to find myself more excited by the Optic and the Stamina. I've always been a sucker for anything interesting, and the machined and glued together Pole is exactly that. It's also an absolute beast of a bike on the descents, but the relatively steep seat angle works wonders on the way back up. Ugh, I hope this doesn't get awkward again.

I'm also a sucker for a bike that's designed to do more with less, which is one way you describe the green-colored Norco Optic. It might have 'only' 125mm of rear-wheel-travel, but it's an impressive 125mm, and we all know that geometry trumps suspension on the priority list.
Mike Levy
Height: 5'10"
Inseam: 33.5"
Weight: 155 lb

Norco has some modern numbers for the new Optic while also touting how they're focusing on where the rider's center of gravity is over the bike. Whatever they're doing, it's working; the Optic is a hoot to ride, and far more capable than you might think 125mm should ever be.

The Pole Stamina 140 and Norco's Optic approach trail bike design from different angles; the former being all about traction and going fast, while the latter is more about laughs and going sideways. If I'm honest, I had already earmarked the Pole to spend some more time with me as it's an ideal Squamish trail bike that can easily hold its own anywhere and everywhere, and that's not something that many other bikes can say.

But then the frame failed and, well, I'm feeling a bit conflicted.

But I just rode the Norco yesterday and holy shit was it a good time. They've done some serious wizardry to make 125mm feel this well-rounded, and the handling is out of this world. Put those two things together and you have a bike that's just as much fun toodling down a flow trail as it is taking questionable lines on sketchy singletrack or doing a five-hour epic. What more could you want from a modern trail bike?





Norco Optic C2 review Photo by Trevor Lyden

Mike Kazimer's Pick: 2020 Norco Optic

The Norco Optic is my pick out of this batch of trail bikes, in large part due to how much fun I had aboard the green machine. I'm not sure what the unit of measure for fun is (Smiles per mile? Cackles per kilometer?), but my fun number was the highest on the Optic.

If I'm on a shorter travel rig I'm typically going to be heading out for longer, more pedally rides, and an engaging bike like the Optic makes it easy to squeeze the maximum level of enjoyment out of mellower sections of trail, with plenty of capability in reserve for when things get more technical.

If you took the Pole Stamina 140's downhill prowess and combined it with the Orbea Occam's easy going trail manners, I'm pretty sure the result would be a lot like what Norco have created with the Optic. While the Pole's geometry numbers made it feel like an enduro bike with a shorter travel fork, which might be exactly what some riders are looking for, I preferred the Optic's easier handling at slower speeds and on tighter sections of trail.
Me.
Mike Kazimer
Height: 5'11" / 180cm
Inseam: 33" / 84cm
Weight: 160 lbs / 72.6 kg

The Optic's shorter chainstays and slightly steeper head angle help give it a more lively nature, making it the kind of bike that encourages you to goof off, to go for the bonus doubles and creative line choices. And don't forget about that shock – that Super Deluxe Ultimate DH took everything I threw at it without missing a beat, include laps in the Whistler Bike Park on trails I wouldn't typically consider riding on a 125mm trail bike.

At the end of the day, it's the Optic's high level of versatility that puts it on the top of my list for the trail category.





The 2020 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible by support from
Race Face apparel & pads, Giro helmets, & Sierra Nevada beer.



318 Comments

  • 198 6
 It doesn’t get any more beloved Canadian than Norco...I think if you cut open a Norco frame it bleeds out maple syrup and Labatts.
  • 233 11
 Rocky Mountain would like to have a word with you
  • 167 2
 Little known fact: The Optic's seat stay can also be removed and used as a hockey stick for post-ride games.
  • 158 2
 @MTBrent: It will also apologise to you if you crash it.
  • 134 3
 @AD4M: yea, where as the Devinci’s will just swear at you in French
  • 42 9
 Labatts....ewww.
  • 13 17
flag Arepiscopo (Nov 21, 2019 at 11:50) (Below Threshold)
 Does it also say sorry if you wreck?
  • 7 3
 Required lube is Timmies...
  • 11 23
flag duzzi (Nov 21, 2019 at 12:11) (Below Threshold)
 @j-t-g: I am not so sure about a subjective test by two riders ... but why not, it is like an opinion piece on a newspaper ...

But besides that, where this strange line up comes from? Norco, Orbea, Intense and Pole? Really? Two high volume bike manufacturer, a low volume one (Intense), and a cottage industry bike (Pole) that retails at $3400 for the frame only?
  • 40 6
 I just want to point out that Rocky Mountain owns the domain name "bikes.com" that must count for something Smile
  • 4 20
flag tonkatruck (Nov 21, 2019 at 12:19) (Below Threshold)
 they should have waited for Pole's blog first before making a verdict
  • 20 3
 Lebatt's? I feel like the Norco is more of a Kokanee kind of feel
  • 22 6
 @duzzi: Personally I think they should have included every bike that is currently available to buy, and a few that aren't. As well as at least 2 bikes per category from the pinkbike buy/sell. SORT IT OUT PINKBIKE!
  • 7 2
 @privateer-wheels: gimme a f*ckin puppers
  • 6 1
 @preach as long as its Kokanee and not blue.
  • 3 29
flag mhoshal (Nov 21, 2019 at 15:12) (Below Threshold)
 @privateer-wheels: he said labatts he didn't say blue. Kokanee is made by labatt and is the best tasting beer I've ever drank and I'm sure a lot of people would agree.
  • 6 2
 @mhoshal: come on man that's a stretch, he said Labatts! He didn't say Kokanee!

I would have figured most would say "Molson" with the I am Canadian thing and all, not that Molson is any better Razz

Labatts owns a lot. They have bought many smaller breweries over the last few years. Mill Street in Toronto comes to mind as probably one of their better purchases. Though some people who are real beer officiants will tell you that the quality dropped subsequently.

Still, I wouldn't say even Kokanee or any or Labatts' subsidiary beers are close to the best beer I've ever tasted - not even by a long shot. You are in Ontario - next time you are in Toronto, reach out - I have some killer brewery recommendations for you.
  • 6 1
 @mhoshal: hmmm kokanee , I shudder to think what you must have tried to conclude Kokanee is the best(not the worst I may add, drank ton of it as a teenager).
  • 1 1
 @fabwizard: It's the Coors Light of Canada, eh?
  • 2 3
 @Buffsfan3493: more like Budweiser
  • 18 2
 Is this what Canadians fight about lol
  • 19 3
 @mhoshal: Kokanee is the best beer you have ever tasted? You either live a sad, mostly beer-less life or you are broken.
  • 4 10
flag mhoshal (Nov 21, 2019 at 16:37) (Below Threshold)
 @fabwizard: clean smooth taste man thats all you need. I've had a lot of different beer bud but nothing really compares to it for my tastebuds. I call tell you a lot of skunk piss beers though.
  • 3 3
 @privateer-wheels: mill street was always a favourite of mine. It used to be unpasteurized and had a 60 day shelf life. I doubt that's still true. The one thing I miss about Ontario though is nicklebrook IPA.

@nskerb: mostly. That and your preferred hockey team. I can tell you the worst part about living in BC is Canucks hockey.
  • 2 2
 @friendlyfoe: LOL! All the Molson muscle Canucks got a hard-on over the American comment . Looks like we can all join hands now and sing Kumbaya .
  • 2 4
 @friendlyfoe: Yeah, I used to really like Mill Street as well. They still aren't bad. But, with the proliferation of craft breweries around Toronto and Ontario now, I wouldn't buy them to take home. I live within spitting distance of The Indie Alehouse, People's Pint, Junction Brewing, Rainhard, Shacklands, and very close to Burdock, Blood Brothers (the best!), Halo, and Bandit...and many more. I'm literally in the best area of the city (possibly the country) for beer (in my opinion) - The Junction Triangle.
  • 7 2
 @mhoshal: don't call me buddy, friend!
  • 9 2
 How many toonies does the base model Optic cost? And can I get free health care with that?
  • 12 2
 @twozerosix: fell off my bike last year elbow first onto some rocks and completely removed the tip of my elbow, just floating in my arm. Ambulance ride, emergency surgery within 2h, drugs, antibiotics and a 2 night stay in hospital for extra antibiotics since the bone punctured the skin = 0 dollars.
  • 2 2
 @MTBrent: sorry, accidentally down voted you
  • 9 32
flag DDoc (Nov 22, 2019 at 2:51) (Below Threshold)
 @friendlyfoe: Its not free, hard working Canadian taxpayers are paying for you.
Socialism works until the middle class is sucked dry by the upper and lower classes (income brackets)
People forget that in true socialism there is no middle class.

Socialism is not the American way, it's the way of European royalty/bankers and it eventually leads to an authoritarian regime and repressed, poor and uneducated and angry population.
Thats why America was started in the first place.
As a self-employed guy who can't claim to be poor, I pay 1500/month for decent insurance that still has an unavoidably huge deductible. I( really love to hear from guys who cheat on their taxes and then get "free health care and brag about it. -not to say you cheat, but many do.
  • 6 34
flag DDoc (Nov 22, 2019 at 2:58) (Below Threshold)
 @friendlyfoe: Similar thing happened to my daughter and the first bill that came was $32,000.
Socialized medicine is sucking the life out of this country.
Whoever voted for Obama should go to the nearest bathroom, stick their head in the toilet, and push flush.
  • 1 0
 @pargolf8: Hard yes!
  • 13 0
 @DDoc: Coming from Germany, it is not the "socialized medicine" sucking the life out of the country, it is the people not understanding that it helps EVERYBODY, when it is done right. Not having socialiced medicine lets you pay a several thousand euro bill. With a proper health insurance, like in Germany (and there are downsides to German insurance, the hell yes), you don't have to pay anything, it is covered, you are paying your regular charge, every month, thats it.
So what has Obama done wrong?
  • 1 0
 @Buffsfan3493: definitely!
  • 1 0
 @privateer-wheels: Can't really argue with this.
  • 2 0
 @Doogie711: You absolutely can't. I've been all over Canada, from BC to Newfoundland. There is good beer all across the country, with awesome small batch breweries popping up everywhere, but the sheer number of them, and the quality in this pocket of Toronto is just unrivalled. It's a beer lovers heaven.
  • 3 2
 @friendlyfoe: Oh man, "0 dollars." There is nothing 0 about it. It still cost a lot, but we all sent our money to the provincial and federal governments before they sent it back to the departments that then sent it to the admin of the health authorities, hospitals, doctors and nurses, with each taking a chunk. That was a very expensive fall. I'm thankful we have access to healthcare, but it sure is expensive.
  • 12 0
 @rrolly: I realize it's not zero dollars but regardless of my income level it was covered. I also don't see what the problem is with your scenario? In a private system the difference is the hospital takes an even bigger cut and so does an insurance company.

@DDoc: well I guess it's a good thing we don't have socialism in Canada then. If we're honest it's more like (loosely) regulated capitalism with social services that are necessary for a country to run. You know, roads, water/sewage education etc.
  • 7 0
 @rrolly: I think he is saying he got a bill of $0. We all understand we pay for these thing though tax base. And I think we know that very generally we pay more in tax than those south of us. But we should take come comfort that no matter our income, we're coverd by a pretty alright healthcare system. Be it a crash, or cancer, we don't have to worry about bankruptcy afterward, because that's freaking terrible. A lot of people who have to pay for these things, just don't visit a doctor and end up dying from completely treatable/curable illnesses. And suffer health issues they shouldn't need to. Watch one episode of Dr. Pimple Popper and you'll get it.
  • 2 0
 @privateer-wheels: The PNW IMO is unrivalled.. Its really just personal preference. Wonderful how great beer is so accessible all over these days!
  • 1 0
 @gnarnaimo: partly personal preference. I'm thinking a little more objectively about options however. I quite literally can walk to close to 20 different quality craft breweries within minutes. I agree the PNW has some awesome beer, 100%, but I think this area might just have the most in terms of density of good breweries. There was even discussion about renaming the area "The Ale Yards".

We were in Vancouver just a week ago. I toured around the breweries in downtown and the surrounding areas, and there is a great area with a good bundle of them and some really really GOOD beer. In terms of availability and density of breweries it was quite good, but not close to the same number of good breweries as within a few blocks of one another here. This makes sense too, if you look at the population as the means to sustain brewery businesses. Van has say 700k people, the GVA has say 2.5M. Toronto has 3M, and the GTA has 6M. Toronto is dense, walkable, accessable. Breweries are all close to one another by virtue of these facts. It's a total hotbed here Smile

Thankfully these days there is great beer available everywhere. The PNW isn't lacking that, that's for sure!
  • 3 0
 @privateer-wheels: Toronto is dense. Fact. Wink
  • 2 0
 @rrolly: lol. And we get progressively denser as we drink all the beer Razz
  • 2 0
 Labbatts isn't even Canadian!
  • 2 0
 @privateer-wheels: Fair enough man! The wife and I are doing sober November...all this talk is making it tough haha
  • 3 1
 @gnarnaimo: I always wonder why someone would want to be sad for an entire month. *shrugs*
  • 2 0
 @friendlyfoe: ..because we just came back from a biking trip where we drank way too much.. Also have just been drinking alot all year, just needed a breather haha
  • 2 1
 @gnarnaimo: well I will share with you the most important thing I have ever learned. Apparently after a long day at work or any sort of physical exercise the first beer just counts as hydrating. So even on a non-drinking day you can have one beer.
  • 149 5
 Lets give Pole a break
  • 114 3
 Can't just bend the rules for them.
  • 29 7
 That’s a bit steep, they don’t deserve to be cut any slack.

You’ve been a great audience, goodnight!
  • 51 3
 They do look quite snappy though...
  • 38 1
 Cracking good observations, boys.
  • 9 19
flag MikeyMT (Nov 21, 2019 at 12:16) (Below Threshold)
 They have been so fair with the Pole - its pretty cool to see.
  • 17 1
 Pole leads to bending, bending leads to cracking, cracking leads to breaking, and breaking leads to... suffering... Frown
  • 26 0
 Hopefully they don't fold after this bad press
  • 13 1
 Buckle up, these comments are rough!
  • 15 4
 The optics of the whole debacle can’t be good for Pole.

Hopefully Pole is primed for the backlash.

Occam’s razor can cut pretty deep.
  • 3 4
 All news is good news, they will be fine.
  • 11 1
 I just want to know what bike snapped in half
  • 4 16
flag chasejj (Nov 21, 2019 at 21:12) (Below Threshold)
 @alaska83: The difference between Pole and the others is Leo can tweak CNC coding in a few hours and the problem disappears on the next unit out the door. Any of these others requires 6 months and multiple trips to Taiwan/China to make a new mold and then commit to some kings ransom to run a new batch. This key difference in production method is why I won't buy CF bikes. The "process" of producing CF frames is so capital intensive they stifle development of geometries and designs that make real advances.
Ask any framebuilder privately they'll agree if they aren't massive multinationals.
  • 22 1
 @chasejj: actually the big difference between the pole and the others is that the pole broke
  • 4 5
 @chasejj: yet it’s the only one that broke. Against other Asian made frames. Thus the irony
  • 4 10
flag chasejj (Nov 21, 2019 at 21:53) (Below Threshold)
 @skibuilder: So what. I've broken much more popular frames in much more critical places. Its all in how they handle it. Snapped the latest most amazing cranks. Spun the most amazing and latest freehubs into trash.
I would not hesitate to order a Pole.
  • 3 1
 @skibuilder: exactly. And he Pole had a better chance of coming out on top of this group at Whistler/Squamish than anywhere else on the continent
  • 3 0
 @iduckett: Says baby Yoda to the big Mandalorian...
  • 5 3
 @codypup: yeah, but to be fair to Pole, it sounds like the part was not intended for that particular model.
Yes, it was there mistake in sending it like that. Hopefully they won't do that with future customers. I want to believe small companies are ernest.
  • 1 0
 their :/
  • 2 1
 I'm about 1mm away from snapping with these comments!
  • 74 1
 Well done Norco.
  • 27 0
 Absolutely !
Norco nailed it with the Optic and the Sight.
(only some of the colors are not my cup of tea).
  • 53 1
 Right? Norco wasn’t seen as a high-end option by many, but it’s changing these days. Hopefully a less expensive alloy Optic soon...
  • 3 1
 @mikelevy: one of the few truly killing it for young riders too! Bravo to Norco (I do think they could save some weight off their frames tho...)
  • 2 1
 @mikelevy: Do you guys get to choose what spec level bike for the test or do you test what is sent?
  • 2 3
 Expect a full-on review of the new aluminum Optic tomorrow... Wink
  • 5 1
 @Smokee9000: Sometimes yes, but I don’t think we had any other build options at the time with the Norco.
  • 4 1
 @mikelevy: Count on both the Optic and Revolver 120 to place Norco on the radar of many new bike purchasers, much to their surprise.
  • 3 2
 @mikelevy:

I got into mountain biking a year ago. When I was looking for my first bike, Norco didn't even make it into the top 10. Now, they're right up at the top of my list for a new bike.

I'd be incredibly excited to see an aluminum optic.

It seems though that having an aluminum short travel trail 29'er isn't very common. Transition no longer makes an AL smuggler, Norco doesn't offer an AL Optic, Whyte no longer sells an AL S-120. It seems like the new Marin Rift Zone is the only bike in the category thats available with an AL frame?
  • 1 1
 @mikelevy: Where does the Fluid FS place in Norco lineup? It seems to have similar kinematics and geo. Isn’t this the aluminum Optic?!
  • 1 1
 @ocnlogan: You might find this article helpful for your aluminum short travel search: www.vitalmtb.com/features/Vital-MTBs-2-000-Mountain-Bike-Comparison,2793
  • 1 1
 @xcjunky:

The Fluid is similar, but its got a steeper HTA, slacker STA, longer fork offset, higher BB, shorter wheelbase (by 30-40mm per size), and the chainstays don't change by size.

Seems different enough to warrant a totally different model/frame? Hard to know exactly without riding them though (and I've not ridden either).
  • 1 1
 @Svinyard: at least its not a 50+lb 07 shore lol god those old dh bikes were heavy af.
  • 1 1
 @ocnlogan: still time to get a heavily discounted 2019 alloy optic...
  • 1 1
 @ocnlogan: Santa Cruz Tallboy and Hightower AL, Stumpjumper, Fuel EX, Knolly Fugative, Rocky Mountain Instinct, Banshee Spitfire, Occam H10, Kona Process 134, Pivot Switchblade AL... who am I missing? Anyway, choices are alive and well.
  • 6 1
 @mikelevy: but that frame only price... $2,299... the carbon front alloy rear Optic is priced competitively with most other brands full AL framesets. Shoot, the C3 is only a few hundred dollars more than a yeti sb130 frame, and the parts are pretty good.
  • 2 1
 @vaedwards:

I totally forgot about the new tallboy, and the Knolly Fugitive thanks for the reminder on those. I'll have to add those to the "need to demo" list Smile .

The Hightower, Stumpjumper, Process 134, Instinct, Fuel EX, all of those seem to be more mid travel trail bikes in my mind, which is why I didn't have them on the brain. Admittedly though, the line in the sand between those categories is getting blurrier over time.
  • 4 2
 @vaedwards: commencal meta tr, 130mm rear
  • 4 0
 @mikelevy: Are you working on a longish term review of the Sight? I would love to know the differences in ride characteristics compared to the 2018/19.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: hey, at 5 ft 7 I'm GUTTED the UK distributor is not importing size small Optics.... and I'm a small frame lovin sort of a guy... I'm gonna try and sit on a medium... but I fear the worst... what did the sizing feel like please? thanks!
  • 1 0
 @rrolly: Kazimer is on that case. He's reviewing the 29er.
  • 2 0
 @ovadebarz: I'm the same height and the medium is perfect! I had a small already for a cpl of days and it was fine but a little too small. Medium rides better......also can bring the bars to 760mm
  • 1 0
 @mh731: cheers!! that makes me very happy!!
  • 71 0
 I feel like more mention should be made about the Optic being almost $1300 cheaper than any other bike.
  • 4 6
 In that spec though. The top end Optics are still quite pricey!
  • 11 1
 @atauro: Agreed, but I believe the test was done on $4500 Optic C2 vs the other, more expensive bikes.
  • 8 2
 @Smokee9000: And it was still better! That being said, my biggest take away from these reviews was how well the geometry and critical spec compared between each of these, as they don't really change all that much across the price points.
  • 49 1
 When the geo and suspension are on point, a good bike is a good bike.
  • 1 8
flag JohanG (Nov 21, 2019 at 15:29) (Below Threshold)
 The takeaway being that the best way to improve a short travel bike is to put a big shock on it, I guess?
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: what about the very short cockpit of the stamina, looks cramped on the climbs?
  • 25 2
 I really wish there was a bigger focus on how the bikes climbed, and a comparison between them. I have watched and re-watched all the videos and I still cant figure out which of the Orbea and the Norco is the better climber. On paper I think it should be the Orbea with a steeper seat tube angle and longer chainstays?

Edit: I mean, It still feels a bit like the test of the trail bikes weren't necessarily just as mini enduro bikes, but the reporting was? Only downhill performance rated and discussed (but reading that the Occam is the best for all day adventures I guess it's the most generally capable?)
  • 11 0
 I agree. I get that we're going to get an Impossible Climb standalone video, but I thought there could have been a bit more focus on which climbed best, what type of climbing each excelled at, etc.. Overall I thought they did a great job, but did get the feeling that in the end, this was a review of the best descending trailbike.
  • 16 1
 Both have excellent climbing positions. The Norco has less travel, so its sagged STA is probably about the same as the Orbea. The Orbea has only a slightly longer back end (compared to Size L Norco), so it might have an advantage on straight-up steep stuff, while the Norco might get around tighter stuff a little better.

Both are somewhat efficient pedalers. The Orbea might be a little more efficient under power, but again the Norco has less travel so it feels plenty sporty.

I'm sure the Mikes will chime in here, but I don't think there's a lot of daylight between those bikes if you're mostly concerned with climbing performance.
  • 5 1
 @brianpark: Thanks! I wouldn't say that I'm mostly concerned with climbing, but I do a lot of it in tight, Northeastern woods, so I'm always curious. I got a really good feel from the reviews as to how each bike descended, but after five videos still wouldn't have been able to say which climbed the best or would be the most fun on mellower terrain days so that info is really useful.
  • 3 1
 I agree, these are "trail bikes" and trails go up and down. Its not the enduro bike test where I can see focusing on downhill abilities (even tho enduro racing includes flats /climbs). If you parse the video and text review coverage of climbing im betting its minimal.
  • 8 1
 @MarcusBrody: If I needed a bike for twisty, slow speed tech, none of these four are the ideal options. The Occam would probably be my pick, though.
  • 1 2
 @mikelevy: Thanks! That's not my only riding though (this bike will see more traditional "trail" riding and some park as well). The versatility is why this category is so intriguing right now. The Ripley and the Tallboy are other options a bit shorter on travel.
  • 2 1
 @mikelevy: @brianpark: Thanks for the replies! For me it's already a lost cause as I actually chose between the Intense and the Orbea a few months ago (before the Norco had been announced), but it's always interesting and I feel it would be good info for everyone else reading. I actually picked the Orbea as my home trails would be perfect for a downcountry bike, but I regularly ride in bike parks and enduro trails as well and felt it to be a good "quiver of two" bike thats still fun on my flat technical home trails (I also have a DH bike for proper mountain assaults). I actually found the Orbea pedals significantly better than the Trek Fuel EX I demoed, both on gravel and in the technical stuff..
  • 2 1
 @mikelevy: Unrelated but how far off is the Trust shout review? Have a message and love it, building up an enduro bike and really tempted by the shout. No full reviews of it out yet, so hesitant to pull the trigger.
  • 2 2
 comment on your edit: bingo! mini enduro bikes have been reviewed.

I think a more important trait for a trail bike is throw-ability. How easy/rewarding is to whip, manual, scandi flick and put sideways in general, as oppossed to pure speed and cornering. Pole's mini monster truck would be the last bike in any trail bikes list for me.

Honestly, I would be riding the same trails in an enduro bike and a trail bike, but with two different approaches and not caring too much about the climbs in any case.
  • 1 1
 @brianpark: what’s the theory with a climb switch (say DPX2 with 140 travel) in the middle position: is it the same as 120 travel fully open?
  • 1 1
 @brianpark: ... STA wise...
  • 3 1
 @Artigas: maybe, but you'd lose some top-end traction. Maybe less important in some places but it matters here.
  • 1 1
 @brianpark: Thanks for your answer
  • 2 0
 You can use some cheap nylon ratchet straps to compress a bike to sag and then measure the practical angles.
  • 25 1
 I love the chemistry between the two Mikes.
  • 14 1
 Like an old married couple ????
  • 5 1
 Great banter back and forth lol
  • 41 1
 It’s pure tension
  • 4 1
 @mikelevy: needs more donuts!!
  • 2 1
 @mikelevy: you could cut the tension in here with a beach ball!
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: of a sexual nature
  • 19 3
 Is the entire test going to be a Mike V Mike series or will we see content from the Angry Asian, Sarah, and Luca?
  • 42 4
 I'm sick of me, too, but plenty of others are coming up. Kazimer and I tested the trail bikes, but there's still the enduro and down-country bike reviews in the coming weeks Smile
  • 3 0
 I believe the others will be reviewing the other categories, which is why they haven't been present much for the trail bikes
  • 21 1
 @atauro: You are correct! @Circe: @angryasian and I rode the downcountry bikes, videos coming soon!
  • 2 93
flag jorgeposada (Nov 21, 2019 at 10:36) (Below Threshold)
 You guys should test some bikes people actually might buy.
  • 24 2
 @jorgeposada, there are still more Field Test videos to come, including the Enduro category, Downcountry category, and a video that's focused on some more value-oriented options. Hopefully there's something in there you like.
  • 12 2
 @jorgeposada: ah yes, everybody buys Walmart bikes. How could I have forgotten
  • 6 4
 @jorgeposada: My next bike will definitely be "Downcountry" - so you can go ahead and shut your mouth.
  • 3 1
 And Taj! What did he ride? Smile
  • 24 1
 @iduckett: Taj was there as team dad. He rode a bunch of bikes, drew a bunch of cartoons, and told us a lot of crazy old BMX stories. Great times.

I think his favourite bike was the SB165, but he thought they were all "too boingy." Smile
  • 3 1
 @mikekazimer: Got any big guys testing the bikes? I'm 100kg and most bikes ride super differently with another 25kg on board!
  • 3 1
 @mikekazimer: Presenting the best Zoolander 'Magnum' as always. I had to look away, I thought he was stealing my soul..... or my underwear from inside my pants!
  • 15 1
 Wait, so Levy didn't test the Downcountry category that he singlehandedly subjected us to?
  • 6 1
 @tamallama, yep, Jason Lucas was one of the testers for the enduro bikes, and he's about 90kg.
  • 1 36
flag jorgeposada (Nov 21, 2019 at 12:21) (Below Threshold)
 @ewikpark: We don't have Wal-Mart in NYC. I own 6 bikes but range from street to DH, my xc bike is a 160mm enduro bike.
  • 1 21
flag jorgeposada (Nov 21, 2019 at 12:22) (Below Threshold)
 @ratedgg13: Good luck with that Hahahaha
  • 2 1
 @mikekazimer: we need more Jason doing stuff on video. It's the law
  • 7 2
 @jorgeposada: Ha, my enduro bike is a 100mm xc bike.

Honestly can't believe how much abuse it has withstood in the last year.
  • 18 3
 @jorgeposada: where do you ride? Central Park?
  • 18 2
 @jorgeposada: what's the point in owning 6 bikes and then using them for the opposite of what they're designed for? Maybe one of these "do-it-all" trail bikes is what you need after all?
  • 1 13
flag jorgeposada (Nov 22, 2019 at 9:55) (Below Threshold)
 @DownhillDoozy: Were you born today? It's called being a well rounded rider/ racer.
  • 1 12
flag jorgeposada (Nov 22, 2019 at 9:57) (Below Threshold)
 @ewikpark: What insane asylum did you just break out of stunad! I was riding Central before you were born moron, Now you get a ticket for being anywhere near there. We have things called cars and ride anywhere anytime we want, Hi how am I doing.
  • 1 13
flag jorgeposada (Nov 22, 2019 at 9:58) (Below Threshold)
 @fabwizard: You couldn't ride that girls bike through a paper bag lady.
  • 7 1
 @jorgeposada: hahaha baby Troll

Oh no, you hurt my feelings.

wait a minute i don't have any

You have much to learn from @Waki young jedi
  • 1 12
flag jorgeposada (Nov 22, 2019 at 13:28) (Below Threshold)
 @fabwizard: What? Hahahaha, miserable little guy aren't you. Maybe learn how to ride and cheer up!
  • 5 1
 @jorgeposada: Hahaha.

Come on you can do better than that.

That was pathetic.

I guess if you keep practicing you may be able to Troll one day.
  • 3 1
 @fabwizard: Master Waki meets Young Padawan Jorge
  • 4 1
 @ewikpark: Jorge may be a Sith Apprentice, i sense the dark side in this one.
  • 1 5
flag jorgeposada (Nov 22, 2019 at 15:18) (Below Threshold)
 @ewikpark: Please he old but I far from young. Every year in NYC is like 3 so technically I'm 126. You guys never learned not to assume anything about anyone. Sorry about that , much you have to learn. I get around!
  • 2 3
 @fabwizard: You don't know what they say young one. It's what you know about yourself that makes you afraid.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: why no downhill? You have a whole new type of DH bike people have never ridden before.
  • 1 7
flag jorgeposada (Nov 22, 2019 at 23:37) (Below Threshold)
 @Rubberelli: For real how about categories for people who do all types of riding, which seems to be mind boggling for some. Want to see someone hit my new step down on a downcountry hahahaha, camera rolllin!!!!-
  • 2 1
 @jorgeposada: they did say they are doing a DownCountry category.
  • 2 4
 @Rubberelli: We want downhill DH big moves. I can downcountry on my street bike.
  • 6 1
 @jorgeposada: 3x12 is not 126.. Or did they not teach you Maths at well-rounded-racer Elementary?
  • 1 6
flag jorgeposada (Nov 25, 2019 at 21:10) (Below Threshold)
 @DownhillDoozy: You British t-bags are soo dry grow a sense of humor. Do we need to show you everything?
  • 6 0
 @DownhillDoozy:

I think that went waaaaaaaay over his head. The math must have confused him.

I think he hasn't learned his national flags yet either.
  • 1 5
flag jorgeposada (Nov 25, 2019 at 23:33) (Below Threshold)
 @fabwizard: Either that or comedy went over your heads as is historically applicable similar to me flying over your head on a box bike. See how that works? ! .
  • 19 4
 2 water bottles. Test over.
  • 15 2
 Make that 3 including the underside of the downtube as he said. No wonder the damn thing broke!
  • 2 1
 @Samuel-L-Jackson: It looks like the Norco actually has a 2nd set of bosses on the top tube, too. But from my eye, it's not clear that there is enough space to fit 2 water bottles in there. Plus, I think they tested a large, and I'd be a medium, which would probably be enough to obsolete that 2nd boss as a water bottle carrier, if a 2nd boss is indeed what I see there.
  • 7 1
 @pinhead907, that second set of bolts on the Optic is intended for a tool / tube holder, something along the lines of what you can get from Wolf Tooth.
  • 3 3
 Duh, the Pole is made of legos, of course you can stick a bunch of stuff on it.
  • 5 1
 I really hope more bike companies catch on to this trend - a hole to put a samosa in, or some bolts to securely attach some tools ... I hate wrapping an ugly Velcro strap around a smooth carbon frame and hoping it stays put. We can do better.
  • 2 0
 @vaedwards: saddle bags might be better for you if you don‘t like to mount stuff onto the frame
  • 11 1
 This test sequence should be like a pill. One a day please for my sanity. It is working though. Everyday multiple times looking for the next review..... get me off this drug
  • 1 2
 Subscribe to their YouTube and hit the bell icon... you'll get an email when they upload any videos, Field Test included.
  • 9 2
 If they already have the 29" frame for the intense then why not just throw a 29" wheel on the back, put the control tires on, and review it as the 29er?
  • 7 1
 They do a full 29er version, but we had the Primer S mixed wheel bike and reviewed it in stock form, control tires aside. We’re also limited on time - I want to ride the bike as much as possible, not split the time riding it not stock Smile
  • 10 1
 @mikelevy: I think a better idea than control tires, would be control wheelset. That would save you a lot of time swapping all of the tires over. It would give you guys more time to do such experiments like changing the Primer over to a 29/29. And it would negate the feeling you get from different wheelsets.
  • 5 1
 @Endurahbrah: Not a terrible idea ????
  • 5 1
 @Endurahbrah: I like this idea, but think it's important that they're ridden stock (tires aside...) as well. Stock wheels are an important part of the overall value I look for when shopping new bikes, and if the stock wheels aren't so great I'll factor that upgrade into my total budget.
  • 7 1
 @Endurahbrah: wheel sets are a pretty significant part of "a bike" though. They're not testing just frames, they're trying to tell you what you'll get if you buy these bikes.

Even $200 worth of tires are likely more than an average gumby would change out when buying a new bike. Gotta draw the line somewhere.
  • 2 1
 Is the Primer s frame not the same as their 29er frame? So putting a 29" wheel on the rear would be essentially the same as the 29er they offer. Wouldn't this help confirm or deny the negatives of the bike. Obviously if you put a wheel size on a frame that wasn't built for it will ride uniquely.
  • 2 1
 @runnxc: Yes, it's the same frame as the Primer 29. It just has a different fork.
  • 1 0
 @bishopsmike: @seattlecyclist: Very true. Probably should leave stock wheels for the test.

I do think the Primer could have made an exception to the rule though.
  • 13 8
 If it weren’t for all this pole controversy then I’m sure that would’ve been the top pick. Cool bike with progressive geometry. While the fact that it broke may have been a fluke, it was the was that Pole chose to handle it that left a bad taste in our mouths. I still don’t doubt this bike, besides the hefty price tag for an aluminum frame, I think it is a top contender.
  • 13 3
 I don't know... my takeaway from the Pole review is that it's great bike for descending, not so much for climbs. I get that most people out West, that's pretty much what the perfect bike would look like. But from PB's definition of a trail bike, it doesn't handle the climbing portion very well. So I think it did just right for what it is, biases removed.
  • 3 1
 @atauro It didn't sound like it was particularly inefficient for climbing, it's just that it's LONG. For a long fire road endure type climb I'm sure its great, but that's because like Mike said, it's really more of a short travel enduro bike than a trail bike.
  • 5 2
 Optics still would have won.
  • 2 1
 @atauro: not entirely true, plenty stuff out west is tight and twisty and janky. Pole isnt as nimble as others...tho as bikes keep getting stretched out...things change. Also note that these guys didn't ride a large but opted to size down...so many the extra bike length is nominal becaus they are sizing down and didn't need the extra mountain of WB/Reach. Which begs the question, is the ultra long Pole geo super great or just a large with a medium sticker on it and a steeper STA?
  • 2 1
 @theelias09: Given its steep seat tube the pole only need some time-trial handlebar extensions for those fire roads climbs.
  • 2 1
 @atauro: FWIW I’ve been on a Machine this season and it’s been nothing short of a phenomenal climber (for a 160 mm bike). Went in with an open mind and am now 100% sold on the 78-80* seat angles.
  • 3 1
 @atauro: My Pole climbs better than any bike I've owned, and I ride almost always in Eastern tight tech. It's just super fun.
  • 6 1
 Norco has been doing great lately.

I never really paid attention to Norco before this year, but between the new Optic, Sight, and Torrent, they're knocking it out of the park right now.

Seeing the optic tested well, gives me hope that the Sight (the one I'm more interested in) will be designed/executed similarly well.

After reading this though, I'm just trying to see how I can justify owning another bike :/.
  • 1 3
 Around here, I got the impression Norco was a "rental fleet bike".

Until now!
  • 8 1
 Norco to the other bikes after coming out on top (In true Canadian fashion)...oh, sorry!
  • 9 1
 Not often the best bike is also the cheapest.
  • 8 1
 I just want to know what the other bike that broke is?
  • 11 4
 Too bad the Pole is ugly AF.
  • 9 2
 I agree, but most people dont.
  • 3 1
 never liked the looks of genitals to be honest
  • 3 1
 Have you guys tested a Norco Fluid FS? I noticed the bikes are very similar to the new Optic in terms of frame and geo, but they are very inexpensive (2099.99CAD and includes a dropper.). Looking for a new bike for my dad after his bike got stolen, and I love this new Optic, so wanted to see how the Fluid compares.
  • 7 1
 Yep, we covered that in the value bikes portion of last year's Field Test: www.pinkbike.com/news/field-test-three-affordable-trail-bikes.html.
  • 14 9
 Optic: got me drooling like a freakin dawg
Primer S: seems cool!
Occam: meh...
Stamina: psh… POS
  • 3 0
 Occam with better shock or tune seems attractive. I just like lighter trail bikes!
  • 3 1
 Curious how you would rate the optic vs a Yeti SB4.5. Mike K reviewed that bike a few years ago and quite liked it. It's the bike I ride now, and I'm wondering if going to the Optic would be an upgrade or a sideways step? Things I like about my Yeti are the light weight of my bike (27lb) and it's a nice pedaling bike. Things I wish for are a calmer more supple rear end on rough trails. Also on short really steep tech climbs it's hard to keep the front end down which might me better with a steeper seat angle I'm guessing? Last thing is that the real life standover on my small at 5'6 with a 30 inch inseam is still too close for comfort. Not having seen a optic in person I'm not sure how it compares in this regard. Would love to hear your thoughts.
  • 11 1
 The 4.5 is a great bike, but I'd say the Optic would be a worthy upgrade. You'll benefit from the longer reach, slacker head tube angle, and best of all, the ability to hold a water bottle.
  • 10 3
 Seems you're missing the obvious "upgrade" to the Yeti SB130 in your thinking. Steeper seat angle, maintains great climbing manners, and based on reviews the whole SB lineup blew everything out of the water over this past summer as it comes to descending. Never ridden the 130 - but I have the SB150, and I cannot say enough about it.
  • 3 3
 @KJP1230: I got the feeling from the reviews that the SB130 might pedal even better than the Optic and the rear end has more reserves in the rough... I'm quite confused by the Optic. If I want to pedal all day lighter tires and wheels make the difference, not 1 cm less travel...especially if the rear end isn't that sporty anyway
  • 9 2
 @KJP1230: I'm kinda off Yeti since breaking a seatstay when I fell over on a tech move 7 mo into owning it and having to shell out 1k for a new rear triangle. The fact that the rear end on this is alloy is actually a selling feature for me. Plus like I said the Yeti standover is not as low as I'd like. I actually would consider a knolly fugitive for that feature alone since they appear to have really good standover with that curved top tube. Lastly as a Canadian it's nice to support Canadian bike companies
  • 2 1
 @mhaager2: Been on a Fugitive LT for the last 4 months and love it. Never been on a 29r before getting it but any concerns I had when out the door pretty fast.....Can’t fault the build quality either in the short time I’ve had it it’s been well used from local trails to bike park and hadn’t missed a beat.
  • 3 1
 @mikekazimer: The Optic is nice, but I'm excited to hear your longer term review on the Sight! Which bike are you riding on that Mike, the 29er?
  • 7 1
 @mybaben, yes, I've got the 29" Sight in for a long term review.
  • 1 0
 @Prh: Nice! I wonder how the shorter travel fugitive would compare to the bikes in this test.
  • 1 0
 @jzPV: I could not agree more. To your point, why limit the travel when there are obvious gains to be made elsewhere if climbing is your interest.
  • 1 1
 @mhaager2: I'd just point out that the new Yeti SB frames come with a lifetime, no questions warranty. But I understand the CA to CA allegiance.
  • 1 0
 @KJP1230: crash replacement is a different thing though! ~700 € for a rear end is rough, would be interesting what a front triangle comes in at. I know from a friend that an Evil front triangle here is 800 € with crash replacement. Might be possible that there is no real difference in price between a rear end and front end though...
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: when will Sight's review come out? I'm considering the purchase but prefer to read your opinion first.
  • 4 1
 Really nice work on this guys, the filming quality is very high... Very well edited and layed out. I like the format, it's quite similar to the Bible of Bike tests but you guys are slightly more in depth. Cheers.
  • 11 3
 Pinkbike is way better than trying to decipher that gibberish with bible of bike. These guys pretty much say it how it is.
  • 6 2
 @mangoe5: yeah, that Bible of Bike tests is incredibly dull. They just seem so miserable and joyless, despite being on a paid holiday with free bikes. At least the PB crew seem to be having fun.
  • 3 2
 @honourablegeorge: and the only adjective they know is progressive. They even use it for rear ends that aren't progressive...
  • 3 1
 Fun to watch. The best thing I get from it is learning how to think about buying a bike as opposed to the conclusions. Also those short video clips really show how composed each bike (or rider?) is - showing the same section on each bike is helpful.
  • 4 1
 Amazing job guys. We’re so fortunate that you guys put in all this work, put yourself out there in front of thousands of people, and provide all of this to us, for free. Thank you.
  • 3 0
 Ever since the 2017 Sight, Norco has just been getting more and more rave reviews from satisfied customers. It's hard to find a used 2018 Sight compared to a lot of other makes and models out there.
  • 2 0
 ok the pole is kinda an oddball, so the optic is the winner in my eyes even if the pole didn't break.
How about a shootout now with the Optic and the big brand bike with similar travel (125-140).

would like to know how it compares to trek fuel ex, stumpjumper st , etc.

Thanks guys for all the hard work testing and writing.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: @mikekazimer: Do you guys look at geometry, travel and weights before you ride the bikes to get a sense of where the bike lives in relation to the others or do you look at the numbers afterwards not to create and preconceptions about how it will ride?
  • 4 1
 That Norco looks fun as hell. But given the way I ride and where I ride most, and how the descriptions remind me of my current stumpy I think I would take the Orbea.
  • 7 3
 Questions for the Mikes: how does the Optic compare to the latest Ibis Ripley?
  • 6 1
 Norco is really putting out good bikes. I want an Optic.
  • 6 1
 So the Pole with a 160 upfront blends categories in to an EnTrail bike
  • 4 1
 3:06 :-D :-D

Mike L: "you're not going to go any faster with 10mm more travel up front"

Mike K: [look of utter bewilderment]
  • 8 1
 The truth hurts sometimes
  • 3 2
 hey hey hey I have stickers on my car that give me 5 more horsepower.
  • 3 0
 I would be very interested on how you would compare the Norco Optic to the new Tallboy 4? I have demoed a Tallboy but don't have access to a Norco demo. Any thoughts?
  • 4 1
 It would have been really helpful to see how the Optic and Stamina compare to last year's favourite trail bike, the Yeti SB130.
  • 6 1
 Which bike snapped in half and sent the guy to hospital ?!
  • 1 0
 That's what I want to know, poles failure seems trivial in comparison
  • 2 0
 It must be one of those devil ebikes, surely...
  • 4 2
 so... the impossible climb, the pole couldnt make it, so as a trail bike how can you pick this as your winner as 50% of its job is its ability to climb and climb the steep tech!
Dh review....
  • 4 2
 Please bring back the original field test theme/intro music! I don’t know why, but something about that catchy tune just gets me goin!
@mikelevy
  • 5 1
 i'm really liking this entire series, nice work Pinkbike.... and Mike(s).
  • 1 1
 @mikekazimer @mikelevy how was the chain noise on the Pole? Even though that shark fin collapsed, it looked close to the chain and other reviews have talked about how noisy the bike is. Is that warranted?

I know Pole has rear triangle changes coming to cut down the noise, but personally I don't like the idea of needing a STFU device to do that.
  • 2 1
 I don’t recall it being noticeably louder than the other bikes, but I could see how it might be. Nothing our friends at 3M can’t fix, though.
  • 2 1
 The sharkfin is gone, they went for another design a few weeks ago.
  • 3 5
 @mikelevy: Why are you brown tonguing pole so much?
  • 6 2
 I want to see a shootout between the Norco Optic and the Yeti SB130.
  • 4 2
 I'm wondering why the 2020 Santa Cruz Hightower wasn't a part of this field test? It is a newly released bike and I think it would have been a contender.
  • 5 1
 It's because we already did a full review on that bike: www.pinkbike.com/news/review-2020-santa-cruz-hightower.html
  • 2 1
 In the Hightower review, Kazimer says he'd like something with more travel for bike park Whistler, but here Optic is given the okay for park use. Can the suspension layout and shock tune on the Optic be that much better? Given the similar geometries, I'd like to hear more on this.
  • 4 1
 @ceecee, the Hightower would do fine in the bike park too, but neither would be the best option if the majority of your riding is taking place on those type of trails.
  • 1 1
 @mikekazimer: how would the Hightower stack up in this review?
  • 2 1
 Norco for 2020 seem very promising, modern geo, smart specs, nice constructions details and cool looking frames and colours and prices are not bad. I like specially the new Sight
  • 1 1
 Also with the option to build your own with their build kits (frame, suspension then drivetrain and wheels). They're offering a lot nowadays and now I am very much considering an Optic or Sight.
  • 1 0
 @Ryan2949: I'm looking forward to Kazimer's long term write up on the Sight! Although he's doing the 29er, and I'm a 275 guy...
  • 1 1
 Can't wait for my local shops to get demos of the new Optic and Sight. I have a 2019 Sight Carbon 29 that I love which looks to be closer to the new Optic than Sight. Definitely interested to see how much of a jump has been made with the new models.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer How does the Optic compare to the Hightower 2 you recently tested considering both climbing, descending and the "fun factor"?
  • 4 1
 It would've been interesting to see these bikes compared to the Forbidden Druid.
  • 1 1
 That would have been another interesting comparison.
  • 6 2
 My bike wasn't on here therefore this article is shite.
  • 1 1
 Nice, it's awesome the Optic comes in a lot of price points and frame only options. Very cool.

Gotta say though, I can't help but think how much more practical as a "trail bike" it would be at 140/140 instead of 125/140. The geometry and builds are so capable it just seems like the bike was "meant" for more travel...? Smile If it was your ONLY mountain bike than a little more travel would make more sense IMO? Other wise it seems to just fit in a "niche" that only some people would really benefit from as a trail bike? VS As a light weight marathon bike 125/140 sounds perfect?

But I guess a 140/140 Optic would be too close to a Sight. So there you go...
  • 2 0
 Orbea is most polivalent, more color options (you can have a truly unique bike), more component customisation...no doubt is the best imo.
  • 3 0
 I was super interested in the Occam when it was released but damn the Rallon is such a good looking bike I keep looking back at it instead LOL
  • 1 0
 They both look super cool
  • 2 0
 I have been waiting for years to hear @mikelevy change his tune on long and slack bikes with steep seat angles. Glad to hear you are now on board ;0P
  • 3 2
 there are so many good bikes out there. wish you would of had more then 4 bikes in each category. I would love to see how these compared to the new hightower or the sb130
  • 1 2
 @mikelevy - I get where you are coming from with the Pole. The geo / travel on my Starling Murmur is fairly close to the Pole and I love it although I am still working it out. It's just so fast and composed yet composed.

A long term review would be interesting.
  • 3 3
 Indeed, also your Murmur didn`t break yet, and it shouldn`t, whereas the Pole... hum...
Starling is a wonderful brand; good choice ;-)
  • 3 0
 How come the new Ripley was not in this test?
  • 3 0
 We already reviewed the Ripley back in July: www.pinkbike.com/news/review-ibis-2020-4th-generation-ripley.html, but the Mojo HD5 was included in the Enduro category. Those videos are on the way.
  • 1 2
 Optic frame is such a deal at $2300 US.

Really has me considering one to build up as a trail bike. However it looks like the Optic has the geometry and suspension tuning to support some high speed and around here that means tires need to be up to the job. Inserts have made a huge difference in durability for me so I think I'd run at least Cush Core XC. With all that I wonder if the Optic would then turn into a fairly heavy build just to survive my riding?

My SB150 is 33 lbs with front and rear Cush Core so I'd be aiming to beat that in a meaningful way from a weight and efficiency perspective, otherwise what's the point?
  • 4 1
 When Bryn Atkinson introduced the Optic its was all said then.
  • 2 0
 The Norco Optic is a looker!
Gotta love the (mostly) straight top tube and down tube.
  • 5 3
 The Pole one
Cons: Oh shit , it broke
  • 2 0
 I think the pole was two?
  • 7 5
 everyone trying to be a smuggler
  • 5 2
 seems like Transition was way ahead of time with their Smuggler and Sentinel. Now, almost 3 years later, other companies releasing almost exact copies of them.
  • 4 2
 I would have thought the smuggler and process 134 a better fit into this round than the broken pole, but I guess things might have been a bit repetitive.
  • 8 3
 @JesseE: it's only bikes that have all-new frames for 2020. Otherwise the list is simply way too long.
  • 3 1
 @brianpark: make sense. I thought the 134 was all new, but I guess it's old now that's been around for a few months haha
  • 6 1
 @JesseE: I forgot—we're actually going to do a full review on the new 134 as well.
  • 3 1
 There is a big difference between a short travel bike with 12-13% overall progressivity (Smug, SB130) and the Optic with 26%+. The Smuggler is a great bike, but Norco have Transition beat at their own game when it comes to kinematics and overall geo. The Smuggler (and Sentinel) always relied too much on its air spring/shock tune to get enough bottom-out resistance when pushed hard. You'll see, when the new Trannies come out they will be significantly more progressive, just like the Optic. Maybe even Yeti will figure it out sometime...
  • 1 1
 @brianpark: It would be really interesting to see a comparison of the 29er and 27.5 version. Is that possible/feasible/likely? This seems like s great bike to test this on, with both wheel size versions.
I’m guessing there will be some fundamental differences that most readers could guess at, but it would be interesting to read an informed rider’s take on whether one was markedly better than the other, whether there were unexpected differences, or maybe whether they’re just different and it’s a case of ‘horses for courses’.
  • 2 0
 @grizzlyatom: Transition have been quiet of recent with new or improved models. im quietly waiting for an improved Sentinel....
  • 1 0
 Can I ask what is the pedal and shoe combo that we see in the clip at the end of the video @ minute 7:55?
  • 3 1
 Where's the Trail Pistol in all this?
  • 2 0
 It's down in the country. (even though it's the only bike with "trail" in it's name; Don't call it a Trail Bike)
  • 1 0
 Just what I needed while on formation..
  • 1 1
 2021 I think. Category for direct to consumer, category for bike shop 140mm to 150mm
  • 1 0
 PLEASE do downcountry next
  • 1 0
 Does the alloy rear triangle of the Norco affect the ride?
  • 1 0
 ROADIE in the house. primer flawed pfffft ok
  • 1 1
 Off the fence @mikelevy !!
  • 1 1
 Ok, time to get to the Enduro category.
  • 2 0
 Seems like they tested like they were Enduro bikes? Smile
  • 1 1
 When are the vids of Taj on an mtb going to happen? That guy shreds!
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