Norco Optic - First Ride

Apr 14, 2016
by Richard Cunningham  
Norco Optic C9.2


Paradoxically, the seminal bike brands of the Pacific Northwest - the huckmasters who cluster-bombed the planet with burly, long-travel, freeride machinery - have collectively become the spearpoint for the recent renaissance of the lightweight, short-travel trailbike. Norco's Optic is exactly that: a sexy looking chassis that is outfitted with components, carefully chosen to bridge the gap between climbing weight and descending strength, and made available for either 27.5 or 29-inch wheels. The Optic's carefully-crafted frame numbers change between sizes to maintain the optimum fore/aft balance for different sized riders, and also to meld technical skills forged on the ultra-technical trails of the Northwest, with pedaling ergonomics along the lines of an XC race bike.


Narco

Give me a dollar for every time I've read or written that time-worn recipe and I'd be a wealthy man. Rather than spewing about the "one bike," however, Norco aparrently envisions the Optic as a fresh perspective on riding in general. Norco's tag line for the new Optic is, "See the trail differently," which seems to be the key motivator among the many riders who have left their long-travel brutes dangling from the rafters and are now challenging themselves to ride similar lines on bikes with half the travel and, reportedly, double the fun factor. Norco sent me a carbon-framed, Optic C92 for a first-ride opportunity and a chance to weigh in on their take of the post-modern trailbike.


Two Wheel Options

Norco will sell the new Optic with two different frame platforms, one configured for 29 and another for 27.5-inch wheels. Two top-tier options feature carbon front sections paired with aluminum, Horst-Link-type rear suspensions. In addition, Norco will offer two all-aluminum models in each wheel size to keep the Optic's MSRP within reach, and prices swill range from $7199 to $2599. Suspension travel is reduced ten millimeters for the C9 series big-wheel Optics (110mm rear and 120mm front), with the C7-series 27.5-inch versions sporting 120 millimeters of rear-wheel and 130 millimeters of fork travel.
Optic C9.2 Details:

• Purpose: aggressive XC/trail riding
• Frame: 29" wheels,110mm travel, Boost 148mm rear axle, carbon front, with aluminum 4-bar rear suspension.
• Sizes: Small. medium, large and X-large with geometry specific to each option.
• Fork: Fox 34 Float Performance Elite 29 Boost 110 X 15mm
• Shock: Fox Float DPS Peformance Elite EVOL
• Dropper: Rockshox Reverb stealth 31.6 mm
• Brakes: Shimano Deore XT 180mm (F), 160mm (R) rotors
• Transmission: Shimano XT 11-speed/Race Face Turbine Cinch crankset (one or two-speed options)
• Cassette: Shimano 11-42T 11 speed
• Bottom Bracket: Race Face Press fit BB92
• Wheels: SRAM Boost MTH hubs/Easton AR 24 - 29 rims
• Tires: Schwalbe Nobby Nic 29x2.25 (F), Racing Ralph 29 x 2.25 EVO (R)
• Weight: 27.06 pounds (12.3 kg) - medium size.
• MSRP: $4699 USD
• Contact: Norco / @norcobicycles

Narco

Norco didn't cut corners on the geometry either. The chainstay lengths, seat tube angles, and top tube lengths all grow proportionately for each of the four frame sizes. Reportedly, the reasoning was to provide all riders with a similar fore/aft weight balance and handling qualities. When asked which of the two wheel sizes that Norco's design staff was most excited about, the reply was surprising: It was the 29-inch C9. We got our hands on their more affordable carbon 29er, the C9.2, to find out why.

Norco Optic geometry 2017


The C9.2 is billed as a tougher, more capable XC trail bike, and most of its parts, like its 760-millimeter Race Face Turbine handlebar and 50mm stem, Fox 34 Float fork and Float EVOL shock, and its RockShox Reverb dropper, fall in step with that purpose. Its XC-width, 2.2-inch Schwalbe tires, however, seem out of place. So do its relatively narrow, 24-millimeter-id Easton AR 29 rims. Light wheels can shave a good deal of weight from a 29er, which is probably the motivation for the Optic C9.2.

On the subject of components, the bike comes standard with a Shimano XT two-by eleven drivetain, powered by a Race Face Turbine Cinch crankset. If you need the lower gearing, Shimano's side-pull front derailleur is best in class, if not, Norco includes a 30-tooth narrow-wide Race Face chainring with the bike that is a snap to swap out, I did exactly that - and in retrospect, I'd add some more robust tires to better match the Optic's mission statement.

Specifications
Specifications
Release Date 2017
Price $4699
Travel 110mm (R), 120mm (F)
Rear Shock Fox Float DPS Peformance Elite EVOL
Fork Fox 34 Float Performance Elite 29
Headset Cane Creek 10 Series
Cassette Shimano XT 11-42T
Crankarms Race Face Turbine Cinch
Chainguide ISCG tabs
Bottom Bracket Race Face Press fit BB92
Pedals NA
Rear Derailleur Shimano XT
Chain Shimano HG-600-11 11sp
Front Derailleur Shimano XT side-swing
Shifter Pods Shimano XT 2-speed I spec front and rear
Handlebar Race Face Turbine 760x20mm
Stem Race Face Turbine Basic 35 50mm length
Grips Norco lock on
Brakes Shimano XT 160mm (R), 180mm (F)
Wheelset Custom
Hubs SRAM MTH 716 Boost (F, R)
Spokes Sapim
Rim Easton AR 24 29
Tires Schwalbe Nobby Nic 29x2.25 (F), Racing Ralph 29 x 2.25 EVO (R)
Seat SDG Circuit Mtn with chromoly rails
Seatpost Rockshox Reverb stealth 31.6 mm
Narco
Wheels held up well. Tires? Not so much.

Narco
The low-rise, 760mm-wide bar felt just right.

Narco
Plenty of stand-over clearance and a steep, 74.9-degree seat angle.

Norco Optic C7.1 2017
The top-drawer, Optic C7.1 has 27.5-inch wheels, an extra ten millimeters of wheel travel and sports a SRAM XX1 drivetrain.



Narco
The better roll-over of the Optic C9.2's 29-inch wheels made up for its minimal suspension travel


Riding Impressions

Norco's sizing may be on the small side, as the medium Optic feels just right for me, and at five-foot, seven inches, I am on the smaller side of the medium spread. A crash the day before we scheduled the photo shoot put me out of action, so PB test rider Harold Preston stepped in for me. Preston, who is three inches taller, also commented that the Medium Optic felt more compact than similar sized all-mountain trailbikes. That said, its balance is excellent, with little need to move around the chassis to weight the contact patches for steep ascents or downhill sections.

Narco

If I were to rave about any one aspect of the Optic C9.2, it would be its turning - especially for a big-wheel design. Even with the skinny rubber, the Norco held a tight line around most corners and the bike always felt in control when they let loose. I did not switch out the tires, but I was tempted to, just to experience how hard the Norco could be pushed around when descending tracks that I had been testing longer-travel, more capable enduro machines on only a week earlier.

I expected the Optic to shoot uphill, and with the shock switched to the middle "trail" position, it gets up the mountains with less effort than most AM/enduro designs will, but I was not overly impressed with its acceleration. Norco's four-bar suspension kicks in when the trail is rough and helps to keep the bike moving uphill, but it seems to blunt the edge of sharp, quick efforts on the cranks. Smooth, round pedal strokes seem to work best.

Pointed down, the Optic is as playful as Norco's ad copy presents it to be. It feels firm and connected. It handles small jumps and drops with ease and steers with surprising nimbleness for a 29er. Larger jumps, felt a little awkward until I got used to the Norco's compact chassis and how its low bottom bracket exaggerated its planted-between-two-29 inch-wheels feel.
Narco
Smooth pedal strokes and carrying some momentum will net dividends up technical climbs.

Overall, Norco delivers on its promise. The Optic C9.2 is easy to ride, trustworthy on the downs, and easy enough on the legs to encourage its rider to climb to the next higher zone and add another twenty minutes of sweet descending - or to bust out one more lap before the sun sets.

Narco






147 Comments

  • + 114
 Who are all these people (imagine Jerry Seinfelds voice) who are hanging up their long-travel bikes, that were the greatest thing ever last year, and now switching to short-travel bikes because they're bored with how easy riding has become?
  • + 56
 I agree with everything you just wrote, but prefer to image George's mother voice instead of Jerry's.
  • + 17
 Gilbert Godfried
  • + 176
 People who live near newly built IMBA trails Big Grin
  • + 27
 @groghunter: Savage. +1 for you.
  • - 4
flag Silliker269 (Apr 14, 2016 at 8:00) (Below Threshold)
 I think perhaps the older or slower crowd
  • + 23
 People who also have DH bikes
  • + 24
 @groghunter: BEST COMMENT! no more trails that look like golfcart paths, bring back the GNAR!
  • + 10
 @tttyyler: spot on. I just got one of those long-travel 'enduro' bikes because my wife only lets me have 1 mistress, and since i also like to play around with lift access, i have the compromise bike.
  • + 1
 Looks just like that orange bike being reviewed two stories down or so.
  • + 21
 People who pedal up to get down. For instance in Bellingham the majority of the gnarliest descents require close to 2000 feet of climbing to get to the trailhead. With the quality of suspension design as high as it is these days, you don't need 6 inches to have fun, and a more pedalable bike means less time grinding up fire road and more time spent blasting loam. PNW bike designers know how we like to ride out here.
  • + 6
 @groghunter: yeah. I had a lot of really fun local trails... but then the IMBA "updated" all of them. Now I could ride them all on a bmx bike
  • + 3
 @rphertel: Well if that's true, you apparently like to ride differently every year.
  • + 1
 You just need to do harder stuff if you are bored.
  • + 4
 @TFreeman: at least you'll feel safe? Big Grin
  • + 1
 @Silliker269: I donno. I'm nearing my mid-30's and definitely slow, and I fell in love with 160mm of travel when I finally hopped on the enduro bandwagon last year. Nothing against people who are having fun on shorter-travel bikes, but I think this "trend" is entirely made up by bike companies trying to make XC trail bikes sound more exciting.
  • + 7
 I think this is what you call a 'market correction' where people realize their local trails don't warrant those coveted DH sleds, and even 160mm 'enduro' bikes are more than they need. I live in Calgary, AB which should have access to endless mountain biking trails, but reality is a limited amount of novice single-track is all we have. If I were to spend money on a full-suspension mountain bike, it would be a 140mm charger like the Devinci Troy, Evil Insurgent, or other. I'd hazard a guess this is a reality more places than not. Furthermore, I'm not surprised to see Devinci release the new 120mm Django to further split the demographic.
  • + 4
 The range of trail conditions is so wide depending where you live, it's just good to have options for people to really dial in their rides. I own a 140mm bike and a longer travel rig as well as a hardtail. It all depends what I want to ride and how I want to ride it.
  • + 3
 I find it funny when they imply that travel is affected by trends, as if my local trails get a yearly overhaul.
  • + 2
 next year it will all be about 150mm bikes again Smile
  • + 6
 Me. I ride a 34 pound rune around trails that just don't warrant it and i'm sick of it.
  • + 3
 @tttyyler: very true actually. Many of my friends and acquaintances who put dh racing at the top of their priorities have been buying 120-140mm trail bikes to train on. They don't need a trail bike for the bike park, since they will always prefer to be on their race bike.

I like the options we are getting in the bike industry as of late.
  • + 3
 @Silliker269: Or guys who realize they don't want or need a 160mm bike? In my experience, most of these older slower guys are on kitted out sb6cs and nomads, spinning up xc trails, getting passed by a guy in lycra on the way down.
  • + 5
 @atourgates: I have an "enduro" bike (owned two now) and a dh race bike. I also have a 29er hardtail. I can tell you, after every ride on my local trails, I wish I had one of these new trail bikes, too. I don't need one, but man would it be fun to have something that would pedal awesome but is still killer on the dh. 130mm of travel is a lot if you have your suspension tuned correctly and know how to ride. Pump the rear shock up and hit slopestyle courses and bmx tracks.

A 27.5, 130, 66* trail bike that weighs around 25lbs could be the ultimate bike for a lot of people's local trail systems. Product diversity is a good thing for us. You don't have to buy one just because a lot of people like them. If it isn't for you, it isn't for you. I guess my point is that regardless of marketing tactics (they gotta tell us about the bikes and try to showcase them!), this "trend" is diversifying the product line by filling in gaps. Instead of some new fat bike or e-bike or something that isn't really filling in holes in the current product offering, we are getting access to more dialed bikes that may be perfect for a lot of people. Remember when you used to be able to pick 3 different build kits for a given bike (the "xc" build the "trail" build and the "AM" build)? There was a 130mm fork and a bash on one end, and a 100mm fork with a triple ring on the other... both on the same frame, 69* ha, etc etc. Now they design a whole bicycle for each category!
  • + 1
 Just adding air or releasing air from your shock setup will completely change your ride regardless of what kind of bike it is.
  • + 1
 not more than geometry and weight..u know you don't do any climbing in Florida haha.
  • + 1
 @DirtMcGuirk07: haha you'd be surprised.. I got a hill
  • + 1
 @DrippingPink: ha na I know, not surprised at all, I've ridden all your spots with my boy kapp and suddawg and use to get away with pedaling a SX trail with a Totem and Outlaws lol..but 2k ft straight up ALL climbing over 3miles is a different story you'd be really surprised. Even locking out a shock on any ride regardless if it's a 35lb long travel dinosaur with a 65-66ish HTA will nevvvver come close to a 120-140mm light weight bike with a 67-68ish degree, I promise. But if you think just pumping up a shock on a bike regardless of your ride will have the same effect as geometry and weight I assume you may not have been on a new carbon quick pedaling bike with a very rigid BB and carbon wheels. It's a big difference. If not, you should try one!
  • + 2
 @DirtMcGuirk07: oh hell ya man, nice! Naw, I know that. What I do know is stiffening up my ride for more groomed pump and jump trail stuff is the way to go. That's all I ride, GFT
  • + 1
 @DirtMcGuirk07: MT DORA! lmao
  • + 1
 @DrippingPink: lol ya and Alafia..steep lil climbs. The only thing you can climb at gft is trees lol, I like that lil place
  • + 1
 @DirtMcGuirk07: there's atleast two GFT fairly steep longish but short single track climb sections that are great in the overall loop. GFT is only a 1.8 mile closed loop, but filled with session lines. Work day tomorrow, we're presenting a check to the Mayer at the trail for 2015 volunteer hours!
  • + 2
 @DrippingPink: haha aah that's rich bro, good stuff lol,,what (2) 30second climbs? Seriously tho that's proly close. Yesterday I climbed for about an hour without it flattening out, some climbs are more. You get to enjoy the challenge, the decents, and then when the parks open lol.
  • + 6
 @groghunter: The modern 160mm sleds have progressed so much, that to an experienced rider it may seem like it can dumb down/numb their local trails (as in the recent Rocky Mountain ad with Simmonds, although they were trying to make it seem as a good thing to promote how good the bike is). As you progress as a rider, one of the ways to continue to get that exciting "on-the-edge" feeling is to go down in travel or even to a hardtail. Especially if you don't have gnarlier and gnarlier trails to keep progressing up to in your local trails.

I would venture a guess that most average riders like the current progression of mountain bike capabilities because it's finally allowing them to conquer the more difficult trails and ride the trails and lines that scared the piss out of them yesteryear. So to them, that equates to "FUN".

To some extent, even highly skilled and experienced riders are most likely, very much enjoying the newer, more capable 160mm bikes. Mainly because they are now riding them on trails that were previously the sole domain of DH bikes.

I am still a firm believer that going back to riding a shorter travel and less capable rig, on gnarly trails, will keep your skills sharp. Most people love how much better the bikes are getting year after year because they make riding easier. But by making the riding easier, they are doing more of the work that the rider was once doing. Effectively diminishing the riders skills over time, and to some, making familiar trails not as exciting as they were. So to continue to get that FUN factor and continually test your skills, riders result to riding harder and harder trails. Which for some ends quickly because of the lack of advanced trails nearby, or safety for ones life starts to become a major thought. And mountain bike protection is definitely not keeping up in this regard. But that's another topic...


Ahhhh what do I know anyway.....
  • + 1
 @dgeahry: 160mm bike let you ride trails who once were "true DH" but the opposite is also true. Long endurance efforts seem to be my bane. While bikes being more capable by the year does make it easier on rough terrain at the cost of developing skills, it also means I can sacrifice travel to get a more efficient bike and still be able to kick ass on the way down... Which brings us back to riding the same terrain with smaller bikes argument.

It also means that we are getting nearer and nearer of the mythical beast that is the quiver killer. I'm not much of a half-full glass type of guy when it comes to the bike industry but I like where things are headed when it comes to bike capability. I once went the way of having a bike for most disciplines and I really prefer having a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none kind of bike in the end. More flexible and cost/time efficient.
  • + 1
 @PLC07: I think that quiver killer isn't that mythical anymore. Just a matter of money. Get a new SWORKS or Carbon Nomad with carbon wheels, buy a coil shock and lyric for park days, and go light tires, longer stem and a stiffened up air shock on pedal days. And there's the unicorn.
  • + 1
 @DirtMcGuirk07: how many people have 12k-14k$ to put on a bike though? Unless you're mountain biking in some place like monaco, I'd say those bike are still unicorn-rare. Lightness does help, but geometry/suspension has much more of an impact on ride qualities than weight does.
  • + 2
 @PLC07: idk how many people,, but I got one,, a new Enduro SWORKS with an Ohlins TTX. So I can tell you speaking from experience, and I don't live in Monaco haha. I had a 140mm Norco sight 1 with XT kit Flow EXs, FOX factory suspension. And the ride quality nor the pedal efficiency is no where near my 160mm SWORKS. Even though the geometry isn't that far off, a unicorn quality 160mm still beats a good 140mm.
  • + 1
 @DirtMcGuirk07: I can believe that. My mate's endruo expert feels unreal when I get on it, and I doubt I could find a 140mm travel bike that would climb or descend as good. If I can find the cash i'll get something similar, but i'm still not in the market for a yeti or those sort of $10k bikes.
  • + 1
 @taurausmountain: the gnar is in canada eh
  • + 1
 @Eli29er: "The Gnar is Everywhere"
  • + 65
 No metric shock, already dated.
  • + 1
 At least it will put off some people (me included) from buying a bike until seeing if Metric sticks or not. Last thing you want is to buy a frame that will be outdated next year! Yeah, legacy shocks will be available so that may be moot.
  • + 0
 Pressfit BB? .....Barf
  • + 36
 As things are now evolving, I think my 2010 Santa Cruz Superlight with its 26 wheels, 100mm/120mm of travel and 2x9 gearing will probably become the new standard for trailbikes in a few seasons...
  • + 136
 "The 2x drivetrain is a big relief on those long fireroad climbs. The 2x also avoids the issue of concentrating all of the drivetrain mass at the rear axle, a problem older systems such as Eagle faced. Another key to reducing the mass at the rear axle is the weight savings from dropping those 3 massive cogs off the cassette. The difference in suspension actuation was noticeable with this reduced mass and together with the new imperial shock the suspension was buttery smooth over small bumps. A big contributor here is obviously the new imperial shock, which replaces the old "metric" standard and offer 0.0002% lower breakaway forces. And of course the elephant in the room, 26" wheels. The nimble feeling is simply unmatched by the previous generation of 27+ and 29" trailbikes. Setting up for corners takes only the lightest touch and the bike feels perfectly balanced and easy to maneuver at all times. You'll be finding little lips to boost off of all over, because taking flight with this machine is simply a treat.
Overall this bike is a huge step forward in trailbike design."
  • + 29
 @captaintyingknots: On behalf of the staff at Pinkbike, we're pleased to announce nice that your hired.
  • + 7
 @captaintyingknots: COMMENT OF THE F*CKING YEAR
  • + 1
 Everything that @captaintyingknots said, plus I have a 2013 Santa Cruz Blur TRC set up as light as possible and it is 25.5 pounds. People were panic selling these in 2014 with full carbon/XTR builds.
  • + 5
 @captaintyingknots: Do you working in marketing? If not, you should.
  • + 2
 @Heybud: Actually an engineer who was just turned down by trek.. should I reapply for their marketing team? I would love to do my part for the future introduction of the revolutionary "Boostcardi 151 rear hub spacing"
  • + 4
 @captaintyingknots: well played. I'm actually jealous that you thought of all that. We should start a petition to give you the first annual Pinkbike "comment of the year" award... @acetasting1992 probably agrees
  • + 1
 @captaintyingknots: is that sarcasm I'm reading :-)

Couldn't agree more though, the idea of "what we think we need" vs. what we actually need as a comparison to the bike industry the last few years is honestly a joke. Single speed cassettes with 14 gears that weigh a ton and cost a fortune to machine for a decent weight. Almost every component is arguable these days it seems for functionality over cost. Soon we'll all get fed up and just stop buying stuff because we'll be so confused at what we're looking at or being told to look again at a "NEW" trail bike setup that was popular about 8 seasons ago. Round and Round we go!!
  • + 27
 The bike is pretty optically appealing........
  • + 12
 The geometry and wheel sizes are far from short-sighted, but I think I would eye another ride for myself.
  • - 5
flag rjhayter (Apr 14, 2016 at 5:39) (Below Threshold)
 Does that mean it looks good?
  • + 4
 @rjhayter: I can neither deny nor confirm this.
  • + 8
 op-ticks a few boxes fo sho
  • + 3
 Yeah, or, to be more specific, the 27.5" version - I'll probably never get used to the wagon wheels...
  • + 8
 27.5/29? Would be better if it was 20/20.
  • + 3
 It think the Short-Travel-Senseis will gain a few more pupils with this one.
  • + 2
 @bikekrieg: Dare I ris-k a poor joke here? No.
  • + 25
 I don't understand. Is this a bike for spandex-heart-rate-monitor-people or is this for baggy-backpack-beer-people?
  • + 10
 can it not be for both?
  • + 24
 @HaydenBeck: NO. Keep our cliques discipline pure.
  • + 19
 All mountain trail bike? But I want xc downhill
  • + 9
 Have been waiting to see this bike for a while now. Got wind a short travel aggressive 29er was in the works only a few weeks after Norco's Revolver came out.

The short travel 29ers are showing up more and more on the shore as well along with my own Process 111. Once u get the suspension dialed( also running 140 fork) these bikes take absolutley everything that gets chucked at em.

With all the roots and tech and steep AF wood rollers the big wheels take care of this stuff really well. I have yet to ride a trail on either Seymour or Fromme that I felt heavily out gunned.

If you aren't sure about the short travel aggressive bikes and what not get out there and try one out. They are a lot more capable than you may think.
  • + 4
 It's more about the slackness on a lot of the shore stuff. Coming out of steep chutes/rock faces is sketch with a steep HA but you can pick your way through most rock gardens etc. with just about any bike. I think bikes like this will be a big hit
  • + 1
 @j12j: slackness is definitely a part of the equation. My 111 is at about 67 with the longer travel fork. I'm not one to pick my way through I more just monster truck it lol. This also results in some pretty good crashes...
  • + 0
 I agree. I rode an optic today. Very capable bike. I would take it to the shore any day. The drop post blew my mind along with the 1x11. Drop the seat and a high gear and it is fast. Raise the seat and the granny gear it climbs like crazy. Loved it.
  • + 8
 Trail bike come back? Seriously? I have been riding all my life. That marketing term did not exist until recently. How can something stage a come back in such a short amount of time? Did it suck so much that it went away for a reason?
  • + 2
 I agree why the hell does everything old repackaged have to be presented as a new way to do anything?

When is "recently" with respect to the term trail bike? 5"/130mm travel bikes have been called that for 10 years. I like Norco and as far as I can recall the Sight was their 5" trail bike. Richard, why must you call this 4" trail bike idea a "new way to look at trails"? My 2014 130mm Felt Virtue 920 is a trail bike as are a dozen more like it from other companies. Yeah its 5 inches but its a trail bike and it wasn't a new model in 2014.

I guess this is a new model name and I guess now for lack of anything else to focus on or sell it on 4" will be the "new" trail standard... But wait a minute... the 2000 Rocky Mountain Element Race I had 16 years ago was a 4" XC/trail bike...
Drop the new hype. Nothing "new" about the idea.

One more thing just how much bulk neon yellow paint did the industry buy 2 years ago and when for the love of god are they going to run out of it? Time to move on.
  • + 1
 @davemud: @davemud: I just spent several comments defending the development of these bikes. However, I totally agree with you. The fact that I like to see product diversity doesn't negate the fact that I HATE the hokie advertising bullshit that we are so constantly fed. I guess it's not that bad compared to the shit most of the 1st world consumers lap up...

I can only say that they wouldn't do it if it didn't work... Pinkbike commenters probably make up a small percentage of the mtb buyers. Also consider that the logical buyer will make the logical choice regardless of advertising; i.e. you (probably) won't say "well that's a great bike, perfect for me, but I hate the ad campaign so I refuse to buy it." The illogical buyer is swayed by marketing. So companies have every reason to make a great product and also market it with loads of bullshit
  • + 1
 @davemud: True, it has existed for a little bit. I bought a Trek Liquid when it first came out, around 2003. I remember all of the reviews talking about it being the first trail/ all mountain bike. That was a 5" TALAS travel bike. Since then, plenty of bikes have existed in that travel range and have just been getting better. To my point, it/ they never went away. Sure, there was a run to 6"+ bikes but it would be a fallacy to proclaim, like this story, that the segment died and is now coming back.

I love the reviews here. I would love to have @Banshee-Team give one of their Phantoms to hear what Pinkbike thinks about it. In fact, I would love to read more reviews of these "new, mid travel trail bikes." I know enduro is the new thing but the market is probably more in tune with 5" travel bikes that can do just about everything. Just, please, leave the marketing jargon in the round file.
  • + 11
 How many awesome 29ers do you guys have to ride before you stop saying "surprisingly nimble for a 29er"?
  • + 16
 Give them a little credit, they spent almost a decade riding a lot of terrible ones. & it''s not like you can't still buy a terrible one, as long as they still let Tony Ellsworth design bicycles...
  • + 6
 Nobody mentioned this yet?
"Larger jumps, felt a little awkward until I got used to the Norco's compact chassis and how its low bottom bracket exaggerated its planted-between-two-26 inch-wheels feel."
  • + 1
 Read it again.
  • + 4
 @jclnv: OP was obv. edited quickly after comment. Typos happen. 26" is the new 29"....
  • + 6
 Strange that this bike is being described as 'compact' when the reach on the medium measures 445mm, which is longer than a size large yeti SB5.5c reviewed a few days ago, which was described as 'long'.
  • + 1
 interesting. Wheelbase numbers? I guess I should check those and then post a more informative comment...
  • + 1
 @trialsracer: Yeti has a longer wheelbase as it's got a longer fork and a slacker head angle, but in terms of cockpit size it looks pretty cramped to me.
  • + 5
 Look up the spelling of 'renaissance' if its going to be the theme of the article. French word. Canadian bike company. Nice parts spec, but the top tube has a little bit of sway-back donkey curvature. I love donkeys though.
  • + 1
 Have a look at 'brands' and 'burly' while you're there... Smile All in the first sentence!
  • + 6
 Some bike brands are so amazing. Look at this bike, perfect in all the aspects. Design, color, angles, componentes. Amazing bike
  • + 18
 what are you talking about no one would be able to ride this bike with just one water botle cage.
  • + 2
 I mostly agree and nice geo numbers for the XL, but those hubs are awful. When the rear blows, I doubt the word 'amazing' will come to mind.
  • + 1
 I love this bike. Only Jesus was perfect
  • + 2
 @mudmandhbrazil: the one who plays for man city isn't.
  • + 4
 "seem out of place. So do its relatively narrow, 24-millimeter-id Easton AR 29 rims." Maxxis suggests 30mm as the max ID for a non-plus tire. To put it another way, above 30mm their tires don't work so well, according to Maxxis. If 31 is too wide, then 30 probably isn't ideal - the optimal width is probably somewhere between 21 and 30, like maybe 24mm?
  • + 5
 awesome pricing.

i'm still sure on the whole thing about bikes getting gigantically huge. 441mm reach is on the small side of a medium these days?
  • + 4
 Agreed. 441mm reach in a medium is not a "compact chassis." It is still on the the longer side of the averages.
  • + 2
 Why are so many of the bikes coming with carbon front triangles and alloy swingarms?

I always thought it should be the other way around, the swingarm seems to be the most flexy and would benefit the most from being carbon, where an alloy front triangle would flex less and benefit less from being carbon (weight weenie aside).
  • + 2
 A properly designed suspension layout and rear triangle is plenty stiff. Main reason is it's much easier to make a carbon front triangle then rear.
  • + 11
 Cost and complexity are the reasons for aluminum rear suspension. Laying up and molding smaller tubes, with bridges and bearing junctions is very difficult and time consuming - plus, it is difficult to achieve consistent internal pressure during the curing process. Welded aluminum is much more manufacturing friendly - and far less expensive.
  • + 4
 Probably has something to do with both clearance requirements and the fact that the rear triangle tends to take more hits. Better to have a dented rear triangle then a shattered one
  • + 1
 Just saw this bike in the store. Looks sweet. Great bike depending how you ride and where you ride. I love the options we as bikers have now. There really is a bike for everyone if you take the time to really look at which bike is truly best for you based on where you like.
Next phase for me is a 170mm all mountain bike for burly days here in BC and the 2-4 days in the park. The other bike will be something like this Optic and in the 120-130 mm range for the other 50% of my riding. Do I need both? Absolutly not, but I want both because it's fun? Same reason I have my everyday snowboard and and a 2nd board for deep powder days. It's all about the conditions and how you want to ride. So much fun when you have the right gear matched to the right terrain.
  • + 1
 Just checked the Norco website and MSRP for the frame-only carbon option is a mere $2099. Sure, it has an aluminum rear end but so does my S-Works Enduro 29. Bravo for keeping the price down.
  • + 0
 Still no review of the Following.

For f*&^Ks sake Pinkbike, review the benchmark "short travel aggressive trail bike" first then people will have something to measure all of these "oh shit we need to get one of these to market too " bikes against.

The Following's a year old with stiffer back end than these boosted imitators or or should we have a reader whip round and buy evil some ad space??!!
  • + 1
 The following rear end is not the stiff......
  • + 3
 huh. My Camber Evo from 2014 has pretty much the same spec. Maybe big Evil Spesh was on to something....
  • + 4
 New bike release everyday! Smile
  • + 5
 Get well soon RC!
  • + 4
 Always nice to see new stuff from Norco. Bring back the Truax!
  • + 3
 Slacken it out, make the wheels smaller, stretch that frame a bit and put some meaty rubber on that..... and I'm in!
  • + 1
 DS/4X ?
  • + 1
 @bikercarl Yep,in the bush..
  • + 1
 @bikercarl : you have the old family recipe for a fun bike.. Have the rest of these idiots been smoking crack?
  • + 1
 Next youll be saying this will replace the Downhill bike too, every few years we roll the pendulum, love the bike industry and the media, got everyone sucked in!
  • + 3
 FREERIDE FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!
  • + 1
 Ya buddy
  • - 1
 Slack short travel fun 29ers seem to have re-energised the big wheel category. For trail/xc everyday riding they seem a pretty good choice now.
Because of this how long before the other end of market (gravity/DH) moves back to 26?
I can see benefits of choosing application of bike and wheel size 26 / 29 more than the middle ground 27.5.
What was meant to be best of both worlds could end up being jack-of-all / master of none.
If I could have 2 bikes I'd rather have a HighTower/Jeffsy/Evil 29er and a 26 DH - specialising their usage.
  • + 1
 How about a 29inch wheel in the rear and a 26 in the front with lighting bolt graphics!
  • + 2
 This test could be straight out of MBA. Hilarious stuff.
  • + 1
 just weighed a C7.2 in the shop, 13.3kg, 1kg heavier than the claimed weight of the C9.2 above ! bullshit
  • + 1
 Been waiting a while for this! The C7.1 looks awesome. So do the alu models.
  • + 1
 Looks like a S...........muggler
  • + 1
 I feel like I can safely say...looks like a Patrol.
  • + 0
 Another bike with the idiotic boost: in a little while we'll be riding with a sidecar in the back.
  • + 1
 It needs sour apple chris king hubs. That color is awesome.
  • + 1
 Short travel? Ride a hardtail
  • + 0
 Looks a lot like the transition scout
  • + 2
 which is also a BIKE.Amazing they look so similar.
  • + 0
 If you were Christian and Coptic, would you choose a Cotic or an Optic?
  • + 1
 Here we go again.
  • + 0
 Good job on the chainstays, less exaggerated drop , looks clean.
  • - 1
 Less travel coupled with giant wheels? Sounds like less fun... Am I too late for the five o'clock free crack giveaway?
  • + 0
 yeah, bring on the xt builds! finally.
  • + 1
 Love this style of bike.
  • - 3
 What a great Optic into where 29" bikes are headed!
  • - 3
 I like the optics of this bike
  • - 1
 Hipster nonsense!
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