Review: 2024 Norco Optic - High Pivot, Short Travel

Feb 28, 2024
by Dario DiGiulio  
The Norco Optic has become something of a legendary little bike, with an atypical combination of short travel, aggressive geometry, and serious intentions that result in something genuinely unusual on the market. The outgoing Optic even managed to win our Bike of the Year award in 2019, which is somehow 5 years ago due to some sort of space-time rift.

Time may be crumbling away like so many sandcastles, but the Optic has remained consistent in some sense. It's still sporting 125mm of rear travel, a 140mm fork, and aggressive trail bike geometry. There are big changes for the new model though, the most obvious of which is the high pivot idler-equipped suspension design, making it the shortest travel bike of that sort on the market.
Norco Optic Details

• 29" or mixed wheels
• Carbon or aluminum frame
• 125mm frame travel, 140mm fork
• 65° head angle
• 422.5-522.5mm reach (497.5 size 4)
• Size-dependent chainstay length (433 size 4)
• 77.25° seat tube angle, size dependent
• 5 sizes available, size 4 tested
• Weight: 33.12 lb / 15.0 kg (size 4)
• CA Price: $5,399-11,499 CAD
• US Price: $6,999-9,099 USD
• Framekits from $2,099 USD
norco.com





bigquotesFor the right person, someone who wants a little bike that can push beyond its purview when truly ridden hard, the tradeoffs might just be worthwhile.Dario DiGiulio




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Frame Details

Carbon, aluminum, mixed-wheel, or full 29, the options are plentiful with the new Optic. This frame's adaptability will certainly yield some interesting builds as the bike proliferates, and can take many forms depending on which spec and style of build you go with. Regardless of those choices, there are some constants with Norco's new trail bike, such as tube-in-tube cable routing (on carbon models), aftermarket "Missing Link Kits" to change rear wheel size, and of course the idler that allows for the high pivot suspension layout. That pulley wheel is compatible with all of the proprietary chain widths out there these days, and includes a slick upper guide to keep things from jumping the rails.

All of the bikes have room for a water bottle, and include a toptube accessory mount for pumps/tubes/bananas, etc. Frame kits come spec with a Vivid shock, Norco-branded lower chainguide/bashguard, and all the little bells and whistles that keep the bike quiet and well protected.

For those who want to experiment with wheel size that differs from stock, the Missing Link Kit can be purchased aftermarket. This includes the lower shock mounts and rocker link, with a full swap taking about 20 minutes to complete. The kit costs $178.50 in Canada and $134.25 in the US. One very impressive element of the Missing Link is the preservation of the kinematics and nearly all the geo figures, meaning just about everything except the wheel size remains consistent.

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Geometry & Sizing

It's the same old story every time I cover one of their bikes, but Norco's Ride Aligned approach to bike sizing really works, and makes for some very well-balanced bikes regardless of the rider's size. The Optic is no exception, though it does deviate from their typical approach a little bit. That deviation is primarily in the rear center of the bike, due to the growing figure as the suspension moves through travel. More on that later, let's first touch on the more static numbers. There are 5 sizes in the range, with numeric sizing replacing the standard t-shirt descriptor.

The Optic is firmly in the averages when it comes to trail bike geometry, sporting all the right figures for a bike with varied intentions. The head angle is 65° across the board, seat angles vary by size but land within half a degree of 77°, and reach numbers range from 422.5mm to 522.5mm with a 25mm jump between each size. A 32mm bottom bracket drop keeps things hooking in the turns, and when coupled with the high stack numbers make for a nice upright fit and neutral body position.

As I mentioned earlier, the rear center lengths are a bit short on paper, but do grow through travel. The chainstay length goes up by 4mm per size, ranging between 421 and 437mm in the 29" configuration. I mention the wheel size because rear center is the one geometry figure that does change with the Missing Link swap, giving the 27.5" rear bikes 6mm shorter rear center lengths.

A note on the sizing recommendations that Ride Aligned spits out: it's still important to take your personal preferences and terrain into consideration. At 6'3", the calculator recommended that I ride a size 5 bike, with a 522mm reach, but I'm certain that the size 4 I tested was the right bike for me. If I were one inch shorter, it would have given me the option, but for those on the cusp of sizes, keep that bias in mind.

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Suspension Design

Clearly things are a little different than the prior Optic on this front, but generally the nature of the bike is in keeping with the heritage of the name. The Optic is still 125mm of rear travel, still sports a 4-bar layout, and is still meant to be a well-rounded bike with a focus on technical riding in harder terrain. The high pivot layout implements the i-track patent, which essentially spells out where the idler can be located on the chainstay. This location is key to the anti-squat, pedal kickback, and chain growth characteristics of the bike, and was fussed over quite a bit through testing.

In keeping with their semi-secretive trend, Norco didn't provide graphs to describe their kinematics, but instead went into great detail on the description of each attribute that plays a role in the suspension feel.

On Leverage:
bigquotesI mentioned the learning from the previous generation Optic that lead to the leverage curve on the Fluid and the new Optic takes a similar approach. We added progression to the leverage curve to reduce the dependence on volume spacers to get support. In order to increase progression and maintain the same 125mm of wheel travel we’ve bumped up the shock stroke from 45mm on the previous model to 50mm on the new model. We’re speccing air shocks on all Optic models but did some early testing with coil shocks and the leverage curve we’ve landed on for the bike is equally suited to coil shocks if customers choose to go down that route aftermarket.

On Anti-Squat:
bigquotesThe idler on both bikes is mounted to the chainstay separate from the main pivot shaft, which allowed us to fine tune the anti-squat characteristics to suit both the Optic and Sight's personality. We spent a considerable amount of time muling different idler locations for both bikes using swappable idler carrier plates that mounted to the chainstay. This allowed us to go beyond just looking at anti-squat curves on a computer screen and actually feel how these adjustments translated into different pedaling feel. The idler location and resulting anti-squat characteristic we landed on for the Optic was intended to retain the snappy, responsive feel that the previous model had. The Sight idler location reduces anti-squat slightly compared to the Optic to bias it more towards traction on technical climbs and reduced feedback through the feet in rough sections of trail.

We have licensed a patent from I-Track to be able to locate the idler on the chainstay, non-concentric relative to the main pivot.

On Anti-Rise:
bigquotesThe high pivot horst link layout that we’ve designed the Sight and Optic around allow us to reduce anti-rise compared with a single pivot layout of similar axle path. Anti-rise with these bikes does sit a bit higher than the outgoing models but we think we’ve been able to strike a good balance between countering weight shift to the front wheel when hard on the brakes and allowing the suspension to recover back to ride height without packing down through rough sections.

On Axle Path:
bigquotesAxle path is approximately 6-7mm rearward between full extension and sag on both the Sight and Optic. In the 29” configuration, the Optic has a max rearward axle travel of 10mm which occurs at around two thirds of the way through the travel. Axle path is slightly more rearward in the 27.5” rear wheel configuration which helps to offset the smaller rear wheel. When compared with the axle path on the Range, which is almost entirely rearward and maxes out at 25mm, we’ve found the more moderately rearward axle paths on the Sight and Optic reduce rear wheel hang up while handling more intuitively overall.

Thanks to the full link swap to opt between wheel sizes, the kinematics are mostly unchanged, and the stock shock tune will work equally well with either option.

For those that want to know the exact data on where the rear wheel ends up at sag and at the max rearward travel, those figures are as follows.
29/29 – 6-7mm rearward at ride height (depending on setup), 10mm max
29/27.5 – 8-9mm rearward at ride height (depending on setup), 15mm max



Specifications
Release Date 2024
Price $9099
Travel 125mm
Rear Shock Fox FLOAT X Factory, 185x50mm Trunnion
Fork Fox Factory 34 FLOAT GRIP2
Headset FSA #57 E, Sealed Bearing
Cassette SRAM XO AXS T-Type
Crankarms SRAM X0 AXS T-Type
Chainguide Norco Idler Guide and Lower Guide
Bottom Bracket SRAM DUB
Pedals N/A
Rear Derailleur SRAM X0 AXS T-Type
Chain SRAM X0 AXS T-Type
Front Derailleur N/A
Shifter Pods SRAM X0 AXS T-Type
Handlebar Deity Skywire Carbon 800mm, 25mm Rise
Stem CNC Alloy, 40mm Length, 35mm Clamp
Grips DMR DeathGrip
Brakes SRAM Level Stealth Silver, 4-Piston, Sintered Pads
Wheelset We Are One Union Carbon
Hubs Industry Nine 1/1, 12x148mm Boost, XD, 6-Bolt
Spokes Sapim Race Butted Stainless
Rim We Are One Union Carbon
Tires Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5" MaxxTerra EXO. / Dissector 2.4" WT MaxxTerra EXO
Seat Fizik Alpaca Terra, Wingflex
Seatpost One Up Adjustable Dropper, 34.9mm, 150mm (1), 180mm (2), 210mm (3, 4), 240mm (5)



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Test Bike Setup

Thanks to the Ride Aligned system, most of my settings were very easy to find right out of the gate. Norco's setup recommendations are still the best I've encountered in the market, and offer granularity that other calculators don't even consider. Sure, bar width, tire pressure, and stem length might be second nature to experienced riders, but to some these are all daunting steps to take in getting used to setting up a mountain bike's many variables. Alongside the new bike releases, Norco is updating the Ride Aligned system to offer better granularity and variability in the setup recommendations, which should make it an even more powerful tool for riders looking to get dialed in.

My settings were close to the recommended, with 92psi in the Fox 34 fork, 190psi in the Float X shock, and compression settings with room to play on either side of ideal.

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Dario DiGiulio
Location: Bellingham, WA, USA
Height: 6'3" / 191cm
Inseam: 34" / 86cm
Weight: 180 lbs / 81.6 kg
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @danger_dario

It's worth noting that the C1 spec changed slightly between my receipt of a test bike and the release date, so that build now comes with a We Are One Union wheelset instead of the Crankbrothers Synthesis carbon wheels I had on for test.


Testing Info

I've taken the Optic all around the Northwest over the past few months, which means it has seen some foul winter conditions, a good deal of excellent dirt, and plenty of hard trails to test the bike's limits. For home trails, this Trailforks loop feels like a pretty ideal use case. Plenty of climbing, technical descents with some faster traversing sections, and some jank to keep you honest.

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Climbing

The Optic might not look like the lightest bike out there, but luckily the on-trail sensation says otherwise. Pedaling the 125mm high pivot was less of a chore than you might fear, though it's still quite far from being confused for an XC bike. The suspension biases a bit towards compliance and grip, especially when seated, but does firm up nicely under hard pedaling. Generally there is a forgiving feel to the rear wheel action while motoring up trails, getting out of the way rather than bumping you out of your seat on every little obstacle.

That bump-smoothing performance comes with some cost though, both in the form of drag and noise. I was diligent about lubing the chain before every ride on the Optic, but found that over the course of any long pedal the chain started sawing away on the idler pulley, producing quite a bit of noise. I resorted to a method I'd used when riding a V1 Forbidden Druid for a winter, and simply carried a little eye dropper of chain oil with me on rides, topping things up if the noise ever got particularly heinous.

That noise might mostly just be a psychological detriment, but Seb's findings seem to indicate that there's some real drag at play with the extra chain wrap. This really didn't bother me for the majority of testing, but after having a few ride buddies comment on the noise it feels worth mentioning for those who mind.

Generally, I thought of the Optic's climbing characteristics as I would a bike more in the 140mm range - capable, composed, but not goading you on to attack the climbs. Luckily, that longer-travel comparison carries over to the descending qualities as well.

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Descending

Over the past few months I've been trying to weigh whether I thought the extra complication and faff of the high pivot was worth whatever descending benefits provided to the Optic, and I think I've come to a semi-confident conclusion. For the right person, someone who wants a little bike that can push beyond its purview when truly ridden hard, the tradeoffs might just be worthwhile.

The benefits here are not profound, making all other 120-130 bikes feel puny in comparison. It's more of a subtle leg up on the competition, with a smoother, more composed ride through rougher patches of trail while still remaining poppy and fun in chill terrain. Going back to back with other bikes in a similar travel range, the biggest difference is in the feedback felt through the feet, with less chain influence on the pedals through successive hits. Getting the bike to sing requires a bit of a heavy hand, rewarding a committed ride style and heavier presence through the feet than other bikes. This is a hard sensation to sum up well, but suffice to say it prefers it when you ride hard.

The Optic jumps intuitively, both on bigger lips and off of smaller side hits, with none of the weird unpredictability that some high pivot bikes can generate. I think this is largely due to the relatively neutral rearward axle path, as opposed to bikes that just keep getting longer the more you push into them. There's enough growth to counter the very short chainstays, but not so much that things get weird. I might have made the starting rear center a little longer myself, but the bike does retain a lively and cutty feel as a result of the shorter back end.

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The chassis of the Optic feels stout without being harsh, which lends more confidence towards the already pugnacious nature of the bike. The only real downside to the carbon frame was some persistent noise that I never really eliminated. It mostly seemed isolated to the internal cable routing, almost as if the tubes were too big for the hoses snaking through them. This led to some chattery noise on high frequency hits, but wasn't loud enough to annoy most. I'd probably just add a rubber plug on either end of the hose if it were my bike, to try to keep things tight at the upper entrance.

Over the test period, I've spent an equal amount of time with the bike in its full 29" and mixed wheel modes, to see if a singular preference won out. I'd have a hard time choosing one all-out favorite, though it's telling that I haven't been tempted to put the bigger rear wheel in anytime recently. If cornering speed, balanced handling, and pedaling efficiency are your goals, then I'd go with the 29er. If you want to lean into the funky idiosyncratic nature of this bike, square off corners, and manual pump through picky little sections of trail, then the 27.5" rear might just be the ticket. Luckily, the nature of the bike doesn't drastically change between the two, it just comes down to whether you like the mixed wheel feel or not.

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Norco Optic
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Santa Cruz 5010

How does it compare?

A bike as unique as the Optic is hard to draw comparisons to, but there are some similarly idiosyncratic bikes out there doing their own thing and keeping things fun. I really like the 5010, and find the geometry to be close to perfect for general trail riding, with intuitive handling and confidence in steeper terrain. The Optic edges out the 5010 when it comes to pedaling characteristics, partially due to a steeper actual seat tube angle, but also thanks to the even-keeled feeling it has over rougher climbs.

The 5010's front-rear balance feels optimal, and doesn't require much to get things hooking up just right. The Optic gets there, but requires a bit more aggressive riding in comparison. On the descents, I think both bikes punch above their weight class in the bump absorption realm, giving a confident and planted feel through successive hits.

There are some creature comforts that come along with the Santa Cruz frame that the Norco lacks, primarily in the Glovebox storage and the superior bearing durability. The former is simple, and a nice feature to see on a trail bike, while the latter is simply based on my experience aboard both bikes. The Optic has developed some notchy bearings over a winter's worth of riding, while the 5010 held up without issue over a similar period.

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US Pricing
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Canadian Pricing

Which Model is the Best Value?

My main pick comes out of the US lineup, because the Canadian lineup is vast and the Loonie exchange rate is fickle, but I'll give a pick out of both for posterity.

To me, there's a clear standout in the lineup, and its name is C2 MX. This might not be the most well-rounded bike in the lineup, but the build is undeniably cool. Mixed-wheel, Vivid shock, Lyrik fork, big brakes, and a solid drivetrain all come together to make a bike that is sure to maximize the punky attitude of the Optic. The price is high, but considering the cost of a frameset the build provides decent value in the components.

On the Canadian front, it's hard to argue with the practicality and value of the A2 build. While I haven't ridden the aluminum frame, the geometry and kinematics are identical, plus the extra heft might lend itself to an even more planted descending feel. The components are sensible, and the price is solid. If it were me, I'd go with the TRP Slates over the Levels, as you have the option.

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Technical Report

SRAM Transmission X0 AXS Drivetrain: I've been wholly impressed with the shifting quality I've had on well set up Transmission drivetrains, but this bike seems to be pushing the system to its limits. Transmission seems to struggle a bit with high pivot bikes, and the Optic is no exception. Whether it's chain growth, chain wrap, or some combination of all factors, the shifts are less than perfect sometimes and at one point led to a broken chain. I've triple checked the T-type setup procedure on the bike, so ultimately I think it's just best to shift a bit more carefully than you might otherwise with the Transmission system.

SRAM Level Silver Brakes: I have a hard time understanding why the nicest bike in the lineup came with the least powerful brakes, but here we are. The Optic is capable enough to warrant Codes (if we're talking SRAM brakes), and I could even see some folks going fully off the deep end and putting Mavens on it. The bike isn't terribly light in general, so the weight savings brought on by an XC brake are negligible considering their lack of power.

Fox 34 / Float X: The shock tune on this bike feels excellent, using travel effectively and smoothly without any hiccups. There is no distinct bottom-out feel, and the top end is fairly supple for such a short travel bike. That feel is well matched by the Grip2 34, which is my favorite short-travel fork on the market.

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Pros

+ Impressively composed for travel number
+ Adaptable and well-considered frame layout
+ Excellent geometry and scaled sizing


Cons

- Pedals like a bigger bike
- Complication and noise from idler



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesThe Optic is a truly unique bike in a world where it can feel like most bikes are becoming more similar. That unusual layout isn't just for conversation starters, as it truly does offer impressive descending characteristics for a bike with such short travel. Those benefits aren't without tradeoffs though, as the climbing won't be as snappy and energetic as other short travel bikes, and the extra faff of the idler pulley might turn some off. It's one of those things that will appeal to a specific crowd - you know if you're one of them. Dario DiGiulio






Author Info:
dariodigiulio avatar

Member since Dec 25, 2016
168 articles

292 Comments
  • 410 28
 Cool, another short travel bike that get's less efficient pedaling and heavier.
  • 106 15
 Thinking rhe exact same thing. Seems like marketing is winning against engineering.
  • 40 2
 I really wonder where the weight comes from. The Commencal Tempo is a kilo lighter than this Norco, with very similar geo and travel numbers, and it's aluminum. I never seem to see any high pivot bikes with a reasonable weight, but I didn't think an idler wheel and some more hardware would make such a difference
  • 57 144
flag ZSchnei (Feb 28, 2024 at 6:38) (Below Threshold)
 Good thing there are so many other options in the bike market that you can look elsewhere, and spare the rest of us your dumb comment.
  • 78 18
 @KUNTHER: you own an evil. Marketing worked on you as well.
  • 25 3
 @hi-dr-nick Its like Norco new exactly what I wanted... not kidding. As Dario pointed out, its not a bike for everyone, but it is certainly what I want.
  • 27 16
 @TheBearDen: I thought the evil rode great coming off a nomad. To each their own. My point is true innovation isn't happening in the bike industry. Just gimmick things that marketing uses and throws fun words at.
  • 43 3
 @KUNTHER: high pivot isn't a gimmick. It's an option for a suspension platform that does things in a Certain way that some folks really enjoy. In the same way your Delta link does things for single pivots that make them feel much better than other single pivots.
___
There's many ways to skin a cat.
  • 7 2
 Absolutely!
Im with @dmackyaheard on this one, the C2 is pretty much the perfect bike on paper for what I'm after. Its not for everyone, and not for everywhere, but these are the category of bike that I think make a tonne of sense. It replaces most peoples enduro or superenduro bike, with something thats a bit more playful, and a little less monster truck.
  • 5 1
 @hardtailpunter: I wonder if a lot of companies are cutting costs on carbon frames so are heavier to get the same strength. This, the new spectral, and even the new Jeffsy are all a bit heavy on the expensive builds. Especially considering this bike comes with some fairly light parts like the 34 and levels.
  • 12 3
 @KUNTHER: Man we are a cynical bunch hey?
These are cool bikes, that are prolly a blast to ride, for the right person, on the right terrain.
  • 3 0
 @xciscool: probably a bit of that and also making the carbon frames stronger so there are less warranty claims I'm guessing. Norco had a frame problem a while back and a recall and they don't want to underbuild a frame meant to go through chunky terrain.
  • 12 8
 @onawalk: That was the previous Optic. Now with the high-pivot, they made it less playful and more monster truck. While also compromising climbing performance. This seems like one step forward, two steps back.
  • 4 1
 As a Druid owner I have to agree a bit. Not sure what this bike is for as the Druid always punched way above it's weight, and that made up for some of the negatives associated with a HSP. Was hoping to see the same review with the norco. I'm currently considering ditching my Druid for the Fluid C and my SX for a Range or the new DH bike once released.
  • 43 7
 Bike companies are making low quality heavy carbon frames because they can. Sites like pinkbike bludgeoned everybody with "weight doesn't matter" at the behest of their ad overlords so now they can sell shit carbon frames.
  • 24 2
 Lubing the chain during rides seems insane and goes against every lube manufacturers instructions.
  • 20 0
 @shredddr: lubing before you ride is always a good idea. Stopping in the middle to re-lube just ruins everyone's enjoyment.
  • 3 0
 @hardtailpunter: my S2 C2 Optic with real tires (DD) weights 34.8lb. With pedals and without bottle and cage.

Btw, the rattling in the frame is because the routing is too wide. Couple of plugs on both ends and solved.
  • 13 1
 It's weird for sure. I own a Foribidden druid and this doesn't make sense to me for the Optic. It was a nimble light horst and Norco does horst great (I've owned an optic). Plus Norco does size based chainstay lengths (or did with their horst). This is a heavy short travel bike that isn't going to accelerate uphill like the previous optic. I'm not totally turned off by the Sight going high pivot, but this is weird and seems like a marketing checkbox "See it's cool! High pivot!"
  • 4 0
 the 2020 was fast up and down. Really fun, Could hit pretty big features. Like more than enough bike.
  • 2 0
 @vielenjank: I definitely wanted one for my quiver and always keep a look out for them on PB incase there is a deal I can't turn down. I'm afraid this might increase their value rather than make them worth less.
  • 1 0
 @hardtailpunter: The frame tubes are probably pretty beefy on the Optic. I have the last generation Optic and it's really stoutly built. I'd imagine the new one shares some of the same design philosophy.
  • 4 0
 @TheBearDen: given the 0.2 cent marketing budget over at Evil I’d love to disagree
If you get an Evil you do it for the Delta, not for marketing
  • 5 0
 @hardtailpunter: Several parts on the Tempo are substantially lighter than those on the Optic. Primarily the drivetrain and wheelset (T-Type is absurdly heavy). The shock on the Optic is also a bit heavier.

And many current carbon frames don't really save much weight over properly engineered aluminium. In part because the carbon needs to be massively reinforced for orthogonal impact strength which CFRP-tubes as a material just don't do well. Making light carbon frames also drives up cost.
  • 8 5
 honored to have a top comment. My opinion is usually garbage, thanks lads!
  • 8 4
 Word. They be slapping high pivots on anything these days. Just cus you can doesn't mean you should.
  • 6 3
 @someguy101: remember the plus tire bike fad? Pepperidge Farm remembers.
  • 2 1
 @ratedgg13: yeah I'm glad that's not a thing anymore, unless you live in Alberta
  • 1 0
 Not sure about the weight, my previous Large C2 Shimano with decent parts 1800 grams wheels and light inserts is 15.4 kg / 34 lbs with a coil and light spring.

So I don't find this too heavy but the drag would just kill me so I'll stick with what I have as the bike still rips like crazy.
  • 4 3
 @hi-dr-nick: And then the dicks come in and downvote you.
  • 2 0
 @Henchman21: So accurate with shit heavy carbon frames--reducing the advantage/point of carbon construction
  • 6 2
 @TheBearDen: it’s idler’s for idler’s sake
  • 1 0
 no duhh marketing. you move up i move down. its all abut sales. i do love lighter more playful bikes i cant break so win win.
  • 1 0
 @Ttimer: have you had a chance to ride the new one?

Local shop has a couple Sights, and Optics, I would beg to differ on your assessment of the Optics,
Sight is even more capable than before, and I have the 23’ version in my garage. Reconsidering my Druid purchase
  • 3 2
 @Ttimer: that’s strange
I have a carbon Spire, 34lbs, full 170 bigas bike
Also have a Knolly Fugee, 34lbs, proper alu engineered bike,
My buddies alu Spire, 38 lbs, wife’s alu Sight, 38 lbs
The Carbon Spire is a significant weight savings….
  • 6 0
 Yeah, the concept is weird.
But even worse is the value in my opinion.
nearly 10000$ for standard high end suspension and drivetrain and a mass market frame???
Thats crazy, especially from norco. They have been incresing prices for a while, but still. It doesnt even get proper brakes...
  • 4 0
 @onawalk: Comparing total bike weights is not really helpful if the bikes dont use the exact same parts.
Just for refrence, frame weights for trail/enduro are typically somewhere between 6lbs and 9lbs. With only a few extreme examples outside of that range. E.g. S-Works Carbon Stumpy is lighter, new Privateer (Alu) is heavier.
So you are never saving 4 lbs between carbon and alu versions of the same frame.

Now the problem is that many companies design their frames for carbon and then spend the minimum necessary effort to replicate something similar in alu. Which makes those alu frames much heavier than they could be.
But weight differences between most carbon frames and comparable frames by companies which work primarily or only in aluminium are at most 1-2 lbs.
  • 4 3
 @onawalk: sounds like you have more fun with purchases than actual riding
  • 1 0
 @levaca: you think greg is cheap even at his age
  • 1 2
 @Ttimer: How about this,
Both Spires are RS GX builds.
Both run the same WAO wheels, except I run full fat CushCore and EXO+, he runs DH casing. They couldnt be more similar. just a 4lb difference....
LIghter weight build on my Fugee as its my trail bike, excellent quality alu,
Fox 36 instead of a Zeb, lighter wheels, lighter tires, blah blah, still 34lbs...
Casrbon bikes can be excellent, stop kidding yourself
  • 6 1
 @housem8d: Part of the enjoyment for me is the research and the friendly debate, planning trips, working on setup, helping others progress, etc. I work in the industry, and have raced, ridden, wrenched, coached, and complained since the late 90's.
I get out on my bike 5-6 time a week, travel with it extensively, and have ridden in 7 different countries.

Im sure youre trying for a dig in there, but I enjoy most aspects of cycling, as do any of us who are commenting here....
  • 1 0
 @eh-steve:
You gotta ride one first, it's a sick bike, very fun.
  • 1 0
 Can't comment on riding it, but shop near me has one built up. It was the C1 build, but with DT swiss XM 1700 wheels, DHF's and some flat pedals. Came in at 31.14 lbs. I think it was a medium too.
  • 3 0
 Cool... another short travel bike built in coastal BC for oriented for coastal BC style riding (which is similar to other parts of the world)...maybe these type of bikes arnt for you, but the people around where i live love the way they ride.
  • 2 0
 @deepstrut: Can confirm
  • 123 15
 Not sure who this bike is for... short travel idler pully bikes don't make sense to me.
  • 75 21
 maybe for the full-faces-on-greens camp
  • 33 19
 @H2o1199: can come throw down with me on my druid if you like. We won't be riding greens or wearing full faces.
  • 6 0
 Makes sense to me. Sign me up for a metal version.
  • 14 0
 Rearward axle path on a short travel bike sounds like a good idea to me? The bike still feels small and lively on easier trails and then if you get into some fast gnarly sections the rear wheel will get out of the way and not leave you limited on those either. I say this as someone who's never ridden a high pivot but does love an O-Chain.
  • 15 0
 People who trail ride really technical, messy, root-filled terrain. No serious steeps or big hits so no need for slack geometry or big travel but traction is at a premium. I agree, there are lots of places this bike won't make any sense. But places like Vancouver Island it totally fits. It's no big surprise that's where the Forbidden Druid comes from.
  • 3 0
 @fartymarty: it would be perfect for the peaks or lakes where it's steep, tight and rocky. It's a shame the chainstays get shorter in the mullet mode rather than longer like they probably need to though.
  • 2 0
 @90sMTBEnjoyer: I was thinking a short travel Surrey Hills slayer.
  • 7 0
 @nilswalk: This. Bikes like this and the Druid make a ton of sense here on the east coast of Canada. Tight, technical, rooty trails without many long sustained downhills, but lots of punchy ups and mid sized bumps are where these bikes shine. If I lived in BC, or had lots of lift accessed parks nearby, I might think differently.
  • 5 11
flag eh-steve (Feb 28, 2024 at 9:38) (Below Threshold)
 @brightfff: If you lived in BC this bike wouldn't mark any checkboxes. The previous was a ripper that could *almost* do anything. With enough skill it could be ridden in the park. There are more efficient longer travel bikes (e.g. old sight) and quicker bikes in the same travel range. The only benefit I find from the high pivot is it's going to make that 124mm travel feel like 135mm. But then you have a 140mm fork with 34mm stanchions.
  • 4 0
 Finally a pugnacious bike. All the pugnacious riders have been clamoring for a bike built for them.
  • 2 0
 @eh-steve Totally. I would most likely have a Dreadnought instead of a Druid if I lived on the west coast. The burlier spec than the Optic (36 especially) makes the Druid a great all rounder for our trails though. Lots of granite smashing and square edges out here.
  • 2 0
 @fartymarty: Maybe wait for the Deviate Lowlander Ti. 125mm HP with climbing chops to match.
  • 1 0
 @fentoncrackshell: Wow, that's nice but is gonna be well out of my price range. A steel one would be interesting tho.
  • 2 5
 @TheBearDen: So, you're either running mid-level stuff and no one cares, or you're running blacks where you should be running a full face.
You lose either way.
  • 2 1
 Try one out. Idler is great if you like trail riding, but also like to go fast.
  • 3 0
 @brightfff: I'm on the island and have fox performance elite 36 up front. 150/130mm is goldilox travel around here for most stuff, though I wouldn't mind bumping the fork up to 160mm (less bottoming out and a bit more bb clearance.. I already dropped to 165mm cranks). I have a 170/160mm 29er for the rowdier stuff, but I seem to always reach for the Druid.
  • 1 0
 Its for me brah
  • 1 0
 forbidden druid is wildly popular
  • 105 8
 125mm bike that weighs as much as a 170mm bike, has a load of drag and after some climbing (which I assume people buying short travel bikes would be doing a lot more of?) you need to be carrying oil with you so that you and everyone riding with you doesn't get sick to death of the noise of the idler grinding away. Seriously?
  • 25 4
 Weighs the same as my Orbea Rallon, probably pedals worse due to idler, but might be better in... square edge rock gardens I guess? Seems like a bad tradeoff.
  • 16 1
 Was thinking the same thing my 170mm nomad weighs around a pound less...
  • 8 14
flag jwdenver (Feb 28, 2024 at 11:50) (Below Threshold)
 these high pivot bikes are absolute trash
  • 3 2
 Long term durability of the idler would worry me in addition to the drag, and he broke a chain. Maybe the idlers are easy and cheap to replace?


Can it be ridden with no idler or does the chainstay block it?
  • 1 0
 Within 2lb of my XL Rocket, frankly that's nuts.
  • 2 0
 I ride a Banshee Prime that weighs in at 37lbs before adding a bottle....and yeah. I have only good things to say about how it rides, but you sure feel that weight on the climbs. If I could do it again I woulda just built a Titan and had an extra 25mm travel to play with.
  • 3 2
 @jwdenver: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt” - Abraham Lincoln
  • 2 1
 See I'm torn. My Process 153 is 37lbs. My '04 Rocky Mtn Slayer 50 was 30lbs on the nose, and was a fun little trail bike (125ish travel as well). Part of me wants to go back down to that travel number for better climbing, and to have more capability and better geometry like the optic, would be pretty sweet... I do like my park days though, and having a bruiser of a bike is pretty much a necessity for what I want to hit. Because I can only have one full susp bike at the moment, and do some enduro races in the future (my last race w/ short travel didn't go well), this almost rules out the Optic for me.
  • 1 0
 Local shop here got a C2 build in at 30.06 freedom units before pedals. Not bad.
  • 53 4
 Why would anyone want a short travel bike that pedals like a long travel bike? This idler phase doesn't seem to be going away.
  • 3 1
 Idler pivots started 20+ years ago and have only gained momentum.
  • 4 2
 @hohmskullkrishten: 20+ years ago....BMW FTW....how's that for some acronyms, if you know you know.
  • 2 2
 These bikes were designed a couple years ago. Because of COVID delays, existing stock and $$ they're just dropping now. I heard rumors they've been 'done' and built for well over half a year. Becoming more obsolete with every month that ticks by.
  • 1 3
 Like someone above said, I wonder if this will be like plus sized tires. Around 2018 they were all the rage haha.
  • 1 0
 @DylanH93: I remember going to Interbike when the B+ was all the rage. Every other bike was a plus. They were the "it" bike for two to three years...then poof...no more. The marketing went back to 29 again. Marketed as 29ers that are B+ compatible.
  • 1 0
 @hohmskullkrishten: Balfa was so far ahead of their time
  • 49 7
 Seems like a lot of negativity here, but I think Norco killed these releases. Threaded bottom bracket, carbon and aluminum offerings, 29 or MX with no change to geo, great geometry with lots of sizing options, very clean lines, and reasonable alu frame-only prices. Whether you want HP on a 125mm bike is rightly up for debate, but if you don't, just get a Fluid. Bravo Norco!!
  • 9 3
 I would prefer if they had external routing, but at least they didn't go for headset routing haha
  • 5 0
 @scotteh: Routing these bikes is really easy. Especially the carbon models.
  • 4 2
 Also no cable tourism!
  • 41 2
 Please tell me why this bike weighs 4 pounds more than the Sight from five years ago?!
  • 100 2
 Longer chain.
  • 4 13
flag JasperTS (Feb 28, 2024 at 6:17) (Below Threshold)
 shock, size and capability
  • 8 8
 we are getting camouflaged ebikes with the last nanotech not disclosed yet... to all get used to without noticing it and take over the heart and soul of true riders! wake up!
  • 10 0
 @PauRexs: Yes that's right, it's a government ploy to reduce resistance in cycling making everyone weaker so they don't have the strength to resist when the globalist takeover happens. Or something like that.
  • 2 0
 I think it's so it doesn't snap when you go out of the bike's depth.
  • 17 1
 It's a long con to make us complacent with weight and the move to ebikes less noticeable. That's how they get you.
  • 2 0
 @flattoflat: that!.. thx
  • 20 0
 It's so the industry can suddenly remember low weight is important and then start selling us lighter bikes and components again.
  • 2 0
 @Woody25: I guess I’ll just have to go back to my roots and get all drilly with the parts. Drillium is real and a low cost way to weight optimize your parts.
  • 2 0
 @JasperTS: how many pounds of capability were added? usually thats the riders job
  • 2 0
 my 2022 Sight weighs more than my 2014 Range but it is sure as shit faster... i really dont notice the 2 lbs difference on the ride up. take a piss and shed those grams lol
  • 31 2
 HOW ON EARTH is the SHIRT Dario is wearing in the review video not the key point of discussion here??

High pivot, downcountry, missing-country, idler drag, weight weenie, blah blah blah.

LETS FOCUS ON THE SHIRT
  • 6 0
 I had to go back and look. Love it.
  • 2 0
 @basic-ti-hardtail: Is it Levy??? I want one
  • 3 0
 This is BY FAR the most interesting part of this article. Where do we get these? Whats the back story...were they made by PB staffers while levy was on leave? Is it some sort of guerilla marketing plan to have staff model the before they're released in the PB shop and Outside profits of Michael's name and likeness??? We need answers!
  • 1 1
 Gimme dat shirt! How can I haddat shirt?
  • 23 3
 "over the course of any long pedal the chain started sawing away on the idler pulley, producing quite a bit of noise. I resorted to a method I'd used when riding a V1 Forbidden Druid for a winter, and simply carried a little eye dropper of chain oil with me on rides"

This, more than anything else, would be a deal breaker for me. I don't expect bikes to be maintenance free but failing to make it through one entire ride without requiring attention is just not good enough.
  • 5 8
 I have 1200+ Kms on my druid and there never any sawing going on with the idler. He just need to buy proper chain lube and take care of his bike...
  • 6 2
 It doesn't "require" attention. It does not need to be lubed mid ride, the person reviewing this just preferred to do it to keep the noise down. I ride bike with an idler and while there is some extra noise it is something that you get used to and stop noticing fairly quickly. I think for most people its not likely to be an issue.
  • 7 0
 @sino428: I have had my current bike for about 7.5 years and I notice every single creak, squeak, and rattle. I don't think I would be one of those people that gets used to it Smile
  • 3 1
 @n734535: you would likely be fine. I am actually the same way as you with creaks and rattles. I can’t stand them and will obsess over finding and fixing them.

Idler noise different. It’s not a rattle or a creak. It’s a just continuous sound. Like how a chain guide with rollers would make your drivetrain louder but not necessarily annoying like creaks and rattles.
  • 4 1
 Putting oil on a chain mid ride and not wiping of the excess will just result in a dirty chain that attracts tons of dirt and build up a grinding paste on the chainring and pulleys.
  • 18 2
 Prob a great ride. Love my current Optic. Level brakes are a terrible spec I assumed that was just a missing component for launch day but doesn’t sound like it. Completely unacceptable. No in frame storage is a big miss for me as well at the price point this bike is at now. It’s crazy but I think I’d still pick a last generation Optic when you take value into consideration.
  • 3 0
 Me too
  • 8 0
 Sticking with my 2023. And at 29 lbs, I’m pretty pumped about that
  • 5 0
 I agree. You can order on Norco's web site a 2023 Optic C2 for $4,649.00 CAD; that's with complete Shimano XT components and Fox Performance Elite suspension. I have been riding an Optic C2 for 2 years: best bike I've had.
  • 5 0
 Same, I got my Optic sub 30 with alloy wheels and GX AXS. I see zero benefit to this bike. Honestly the only thing I'd change about my current optic is frame storage, which this doesn't address. Seems like it's just high pivot for the sake of being high pivot. I'd either get an old optic or the fluid if I want a similar bike.
  • 1 0
 @bmied31: sure hope they have some old optics laying around for warranties or crash replacements. I don’t want a fluid or the new optic. Maybe the they will put a deal on a frame only purchase for the my optic. I’d be tempted to pick one up
  • 15 1
 I think it looks nice overall aesthetically. But I am confused also by who the target buyer would be. It performs like a longer travel bike but it's a shorter-travel bike. I guess I'd just get a longer travel bike that weighs 33lbs? I liked the days of a short-travel bike, that weighed under 30lbs for a basic build, pedaled like a short-travel bike, but then you were like "damn this thing can rip downhiill too!". Now it's just like....well its a good descending, fun bike considering it's only 125mm. Why? What is the lack of rear suspension travel doing for you?
  • 9 11
 What 29er with real geo and suspension is under 30lbs for a basic build? That's just not possible with modern components. Put 27.5 wheels on, a tiny dropper, pinner fork, air shock with no reservoir and paper thin tires and, sure, the bike will be light but it will totally suck to ride. This nostalgia for how light bikes used to be is totally forgetting how much more capable modern bikes are. Downcountry is probably the best option for those who want that early 2010s level of performance downhill and low weight.
  • 5 0
 @WheelNut: I guess that's why I was saying "I liked the days"...like those days are gone now. Or at least the bikes are few and far between. Then again, I mean you call out downcountry..but think about it. Most downcountry bikes are 120mm and this bike is only 125mm but like 4-6lbs heavier than most of them. It's not so much that a 33lb bike is an issue...I just don't understand what the benefit is of only having 125mm on a bike like this. Like what would be the downside of it being 140mm rear travel with adjusted kinematics?
  • 9 1
 @WheelNut: smuggler, tallboy, spur, blur TR, epic Evo...
  • 3 2
 @aphollis: "Basic" buildkit Tallboy is 31Lbs. Pretty good, but not under 30Lbs. That is the SC claimed weight too, which is suspect since it is manufacturer reported. No size indicated either- so that 31Lbs bike it probably a small.

I see what you are getting at though. There was a good test done, maybe here on PB, last year where they compared long travel vs short travel bikes on a climb and the advantage the short travel bike has was basically nothing, which was quite interesting.
  • 4 0
 @WheelNut:

In 2016 I had an alloy santacruz tall boy Lt with a 160mm fox 36, alloy wheels, dropper and 1x drivetrain that weighed 30lbs on the dot. That thing ripped and the only "lightweight" thing on it was a nextsl crank.

Its crazy that bikes dripping in carbon are 5 to 8 lbs heavier than my "budget" build from 10 years ago.
  • 1 2
 @WheelNut: "There was a good test done, maybe here on PB, last year where they compared long travel vs short travel bikes on a climb and the advantage the short travel bike has was basically nothing, which was quite interesting."

Yes weight doesn't matter and long-travel climbs like short-travel. This seems to be the latest wisdom from some.
  • 2 0
 @WheelNut:

WheelNut: .....

everybody: smuggler, tallboy, spur, blur TR, epic Evo..

WheelNut: ..... Sorry eh.
  • 3 0
 @WheelNut: I don’t think a comparison to bikes from 10 years ago is what he was going for. And you’re totally right about sub-30lb bikes not being relevant in the same way anymore. But… a size medium Spire (29er with 170/170) weighs less than a lb more. So if there’s no weight penalty in picking a far more capable bike, why limit to 125mm travel? I know there’s a lot more to bikes than travel and weight, and I’m not a guy who typically cares much about weight, but I’d certainly expect my trail bike to have a weight advantage over my enduro.
  • 1 0
 @yupstate: I'm literally just referencing work done by PB editors. Not my own hair brained opinions picked out of thin air: www.pinkbike.com/news/short-or-long-travel-which-is-the-best-all-round-mtb.html
0.6sec difference on a ~66sec climb difference between a 130mm bike and a 170mm bike. Think about what kind of contribution TRAVEL makes to the efficiency of a bike- it is only one component in that calculation. The thing is most long travel bikes are heavier because they are built with different tires, wheels, cranks, brakes, etc, etc. That make the long travel bike heavier. The weight difference between a 50mm stroke Super Deluxe and a 55mm SD is nil. Same goes for a 140 Lyric vs a 170mm Lyric. Spec, frame design and strength are what make up most of the weight difference.
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio: 2.2Lbs difference. So which one wins downhill? Your Tallboy or the Optic? How big is the gap uphill? Which is more fun? It will be really interesting to see future comparison tests with this Optic and other idler bikes to see how they stack up.
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio: Hi Dario, how would you compare the Tallboy to the Spur? I have the Spur but would like a little more suspension to soften things up but not lose a lot of efficiency..
  • 2 0
 @WheelNut: Yea I wasn't calling out the "wisdom of some" as yours specifically. Just seems to be a theme around here lately with articles and videos. Weight doesn't matter and long travel climbs like short travel, sometimes better because that smooth suspension is better at technical climbs. I think numbers can be very misleading without full context or if someone is looking to prove a point with them. They can be tweaked or explained to prove whatever point you're looking for. Something as simple as twisting words. Like if you had 10 of something and now have 8 of them. You lost 20 percent.......or did you previously have 25% more than you have currently? Same numbers, different percentage.

Is smoothly climbing up a gravel road at 250 watts and comparing two bikes efficiency the same as ripping around an XC course where you may be pedaling at 5, 6, 800watts at times? Standing and stomping on the pedals at times, sitting, leaning, etc? If I cruise along on the highway with my pickup truck I can get 22mpg and my wifes silly little SUV only gets 28. Not a huge difference! But guess what happens if we're ripping around town and stomping the gas? I get 8mpg and she gets 15. Now her MPG isn't 27% better its almost 50% better!!! Aren't numbers fun?
  • 16 1
 a $7k bike that doesn't come with top-level suspension components is wild
  • 7 0
 Exactly what I was thinking. $8,000 CDN + just to get mid-level suspension, a new T type transmission and Code R brakes? Prices are getting ridiculous.
  • 12 0
 Gee Billy, your mom let you have TWO launch day full reviews?
  • 12 0
 Okay but. Is it better than the druid?
  • 5 0
 The Druid V2 is quite impressive and hard to beat. I've been skeptical of short travel, more moving parts, high pivots.... but it rides pretty amazing. I still like my 170 bike but the Druid shreds nicely! It was a bit mind blowing how good it was in chunder. Obviously this is personal preference.
  • 6 0
 The fundamental difference is this bike is the axle path growth on this bike is 7mm, a V2 Druid is 22mm. You could argue that this bike doesn't benefit from the increased complexity of an idler etc.
  • 4 0
 Correction, - 10mm max axle path growth on the Optic.
  • 2 0
 @BuntyHoven1: agreed! Hence if I had a choice I'd pick the Druid, also frame only price is close I believe!
  • 11 3
 The combination of STOCK WeAreOne carbon wheels and SRAM Level brakes is hilarious.

Love to see more high pivot trail bikes though. I absolutely love my v1 Druid, and IMO a lot of the "issues" with the idler are massively overblown. It adds basically nothing in terms of maintenance, and I don't agree with a lot of what's been written on PB when it comes to the "drag" or "noise" issues – I have never once felt the need to carry chain lube with me on a ride, I just wash it and relube it every month or so and it's fine.

Like Dario says, you're not going to confuse it with an XC bike, but that's true of most non-high-pivot trail bikes too. There's a reason XC racers don't ride 125mm/140mm bikes with 65 degree HAs, regardless of the suspension design.

To me, this looks like it'd be a super fun bike for most people, across a wide variety of trail types. (That said, I'm not buying one – my Druid v1 is still going strong and I have no intention of replacing it anytime soon).
  • 7 7
 I don't think the issues are overblown at all, it's just a case of different riders in different places. I ride every day in a very wet place, with particularly gritty dirt - and where high pivot bikes really do require more maintenance.
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio: recommend a chain lube?
  • 4 0
 Choosing the correct chain lube could be the make or break factor here.
  • 2 0
 Something from Silca.
  • 3 1
 @dariodigiulio: My issue is that it's not generally presented as "this is an issue in my specific area and conditions," it's presented as "this is an issue with this type of bike" ...which is a lot broader. I mean, obviously you can only test and review the bike in the conditions where you live, I'm just saying that if where you live is "very wet" and has "particularly gritty dirt" it might be worth mentioning that in the discussion of the idler being so noisy that you have to re-lube the chain mid ride.

That said, my original comment wasn't really about your review specifically, more just about how commenters on PB and in MTB discussions generally will throw out "maintenance" as a reason to avoid all idler bikes. In my experience – I did say IMO, after all – there is no maintenance difference between the Druid I have and my non-idler bikes. (And while I'm not in the PNW, I'm not exactly in the desert either. It does get wet here, although I have no idea how gritty our dirt is, comparatively speaking.)
  • 2 1
 @charliewentoutside: No difference between your druid and non-idler bikes? Honestly surprising to hear. I was living in Oregon and was riding lush forest and high desert year round on my Druid v1, that damn drivetrain needed to be re-lubed and idler needed to be wiped after every ride... not to mention one of the creakiest bikes I've owned. That being said, the bike absolutely rips anything from big trail rides to bike park days. It is still of the best feeling "trail bikes" on the descents that i've experienced
  • 2 0
 @fastandloose: Yeah, I treat all my bikes pretty much the same (read: not very well) and haven't really noticed any difference. If there's anything, maybe the Druid drivetrain gets noisy slightly more quickly when I haven't washed it in a while. But I'm talking like after a month of riding at least a few times every week, nowhere close to every ride as I am WAY too lazy to wash/lube that often.

Interesting yours was creaky as well, I have had no issues with creaks at all. And I have Onyx hubs on it, so I definitely notice any out-of-place sounds more or less immediately.
  • 10 0
 Shut up and take my money! Not for the bike, but for Dario's missing Levy shirt.
  • 10 0
 What's with the fluid fs geo chart
  • 5 0
 This is a direct competitor to the (now discontinued) Canyon Spectral 125. It's too bad that they discontinued it, the 125/140 burly combination makes a great bike, looking forward to riding this bike, although i do tend to agree that the high pivot feels more gimicky at this travel.

Canyon's decision on speccing a 140mm fork with 36mm stanchions is a better decision than Norcos' high pivot, the Spectral 125 is even a bit more agressive in geometry (a little too aggressive i think)
  • 6 0
 It's competition for the druid.
  • 3 0
 I think it's made for tight, technical trails like the PNW or North Shore. It would probably do well in the UK too, definitely some trails in the Peaks or Lakes that would be fun on a 125/140 bike like this!
  • 8 1
 My thoughts as well.
A 125mm travel trail bike that weighs 33+ pounds? Seems about 5lbs over weight. May explain the climbing experience.
Cool bike though.
  • 3 3
 My HT weighs more than 33lb and that's only got 140mm travel but it rips.
  • 8 0
 Speccing levels on a bike that expensive is a joke. Even on a pure xc bike those brakes are awful.
  • 6 0
 Yeah, for a ~120mm bike I'll take my Transition Spur, or a Rocky Mountain Element. Big fan of the current optic, but I don't see why you'd choose this over either a fast 120mm bike, or the more capable Sight.
  • 8 0
 @danger_dario Where do I get that shirt?? I have never needed something so badly.
  • 1 0
 @shadow20: Is it Levy? @dariodigiulio: ??
  • 7 1
 I have a lot of respect for Norco. They fully support the IBD, they have an amazing team of engineers, and they're focused on making a solid product for a reasonable price. I hope they continue to do well.
  • 1 1
 if only they had quality controls teams at their factories...
  • 5 0
 I love my 2019 Optic, but I don't see this being an improvement over that in any meaningful way. Also...wtf are level brakes doing on this bike? Mine came with Codes back in 2019
  • 5 1
 How this wasn't compared to the new druid is a bit of a missed opportunity. Regardless, it seems like what these engineers really want is access to a dual link suspension layout. To me, with a bike like this, the square edge performance is all thay matters, slightly longer default chainstays on a dw link makes way more sense then using high pivot as a workaround for better square edge performance when it costs you so much.
  • 8 3
 Seems a bit chunky for full carbon. I have my XL steel Cotic FlareMax 4 down to 33.9 lbs. Granted I have carbon wheels, bar, and saddle. Total price was still only $4600.
  • 3 2
 If my RocketMax 4 is anything to go by, I'd bet the FlareMax climbs brilliantly and corners better than this Optic.
  • 3 0
 I was thinking the same thing. My Flaremax G5 medium with a GX/XO mix is pushing 31.5.
  • 7 0
 9k for sram level brakes? Sweet deal!
  • 7 0
 Remember Pinkbike comments don't represent the market, haha!
  • 5 0
 You wouldn't "hang off the back" if you rode your recommended size. Its hard to listen to your comments on geo when you keep riding the sizes out of your recommended zones.
  • 2 0
 Norco might have been smart by making the New Optic closer to the Old Sight, because the new Sight being high pivot, they are going to loose some market for people who don’t want that.

A 140/150 Optic with the old Horst link would be rad IMO.

I guess when you design a bike so good 5 years ago, it’s hard to release a new version without major “updates”
  • 5 3
 I own a 21 Optic C1 and I am really disappointed with the new 24. I was expecting some minor tweaks and cutting a little more weight. The big price increase and a short travel bike that pedals poorly is going to kill the optic. They really jumped the shark.
  • 4 2
 Umm, that's why they filled a void the new Fluid. Fluid > Optic > Sight.
  • 6 0
 Why wasn't this bike compared to the Forbidden Druid?
  • 4 2
 So both you and Kazimer claim Ride Aligned is just about perfect, but you ended up on a bike a size smaller than recommended. And Mike chose the one he was at the top of the chart on instead of the one his height puts him closer to the middle of, yet wanted longer chainstays, and more dropper post than recommended. The recommendations don't even match the droppers that are specced! Yes, personal preferences matter, but if you know your preferences that well then you don't really need those recommendations.
  • 2 0
 Would love to see real-world measurements as to how changing the link can change the rear-center by 6mm. The rear center is primarily driven by the chainstay, and to take 6mm out of the horizontal length it would need to rotate somewhere around 8 degrees, which would also move the axle at least 50mm (if not 60mm) downward, which is definitely not going to preserve the geometry even with a smaller rear wheel (~16mm smaller radius on a 27.5).
  • 4 0
 Given the prior iteration of the Optic was so successful it would be cool to see a comparison between the prior model and current.
  • 2 0
 Why wouldn’t you get a Ripmo or similar bike instead of this that would be longer travel, climb way better and be lighter.
I don’t get who would buy a short travel bike like that as I do everything on a Ripley and it’s been fine for me.
I know industry needs to progress but feels like a step backwards now with these short travel ,high pivot, super heavy bikes.
  • 2 0
 As the owner of a previous-gen Optic, I honestly find this new version a bit puzzling. I'm not quite sure I fully understand what exactly Norco was going for with this one. The Optic already had a pretty extreme character and quite unique handling (for a trail bike). It was long and slack, stiff and stout and had crazy firm suspension - like a long-travel enduro bike, but with short and extremely rampy suspension travel. Going to even bigger extremes with geometry and suspension could only serve to emphasize and bring out the extreme character even further. Way to push a bike extremely deep into a very specific niche, I guess. Time will tell if this works out for them. But I've already got a sneaking suspicion that this won't be as popular as the last-gen version.
  • 1 0
 the version of optic you're riding was and still is pretty extreme character and quite unique handling. so for this new generation they kept this approach. how can they make it; pretty extreme character and quite unique handling.
  • 4 0
 I just can't get past the "pedals like a longer travel bike" con haha

At least they specced a proper length dropper
  • 6 1
 I didn't know boat anchors could get up to 125mm of travel...
  • 3 2
 Perfect bike to keep yourself in check, not every bike has to be a 180 mullet beast, I had the previous optic and felt that it being under-biked is the perfect way to force yourself to say no sometimes or dial it back some. If you think 33 lbs is too heavy for a 125 trail-bike, then I assume this is not for you, I would if anything get cushcore and DD tires and get it close to 40, if you want a light peppy bike get a tallboy
  • 6 1
 But for the purpose of dialing it back you really, really don't need the high-pivot. Just get a Fluid which is faster and easier on the way up, less maintenance and cheaper.
  • 5 0
 The Tallboy is peppy, I will give you that but it's certainly not light. Even the tippy-top builds are still pushing 29-30 lbs, which seems heavy (to me) for a 120mm travel bike. Not everyone cares about weight but many do, especially on shorter travel bikes.
  • 1 0
 Honestly, that was my exact thinking in getting my 23 Optic... Dialing it back .. But that bike shreds so hard that I feel the only thing I've lost is the "blind send" capability... I now have to think about lines more and not just stupidly follow someone down a line I don't know... I'm ok with that LOL. But honestly; I have zero regrets about getting this 23 Optic... Got it late September and after seeing these build kits, I'm not mad at all ..
  • 6 5
 Weight weenies don't seem to realise that an overbuilt frame that may climb a little worse is better than a sub 30lb piece of plastic that snaps if you ride it too hard. Riding an enduro bike on regular local trails just isn't practical for everyone either. This is a nice middle ground for people who don't need an enduro bike, but they also don't want something super duper lightweight that will be going back to the shop for a replacement rear triangle every time they ride a bike park. IMO it fills a niche only a couple other bikes fill, for example the Airdrop filter, it shares tubing with the big travel version so it can stand up to use and abuse, but it's also only 135mm rear travel.
  • 5 3
 There's no reason why this bike couldn't weigh 30-31 lbs, and still be just as strong. Overbuilt is just another buzzword that gets thrown around with no real meaning.
  • 7 0
 My arrival 170, and my hightower both weigh less than this and I'm not too worried about breaking either one...
  • 4 0
 Just came here to say: no more FSA No57 headsets on $9,000 bikes, please!! At the least a CC40 at these prices!!
  • 2 0
 Are the Optic and Sight frames the same apart from the linkages? Certainly looks that way and might explain the weight. I have the previous gen Optic and absolutely love it but even that could have stood to lose a few grams.
  • 2 1
 As a Druid V1 rider, these bikes make a lot of sense to me. Everything is a compromise. My Yeti before the Druid was lighter, and faster overall on my local trails, but iI felt under biked on rougher, steeper terrain. The Druid is by far the most versatile bike I have ever owned. I have had it on the Shore, and in bike parks, and it’s worked nicely everywhere for me, and how aggressively I want to ride. The one area where I think it could improve is weight. I’m not sure how / why the optic is heavier than my Druid which has a Lyrik on it. I think shaving a couple of pounds off the weight would make it more responsive for the rapid, severe, and frequent gradient changes on my local trails.
  • 2 1
 Also confused about product placement - if it has an idler, why not go for the Sight?

And I'll let others beta test a high pivot design, but no way I'd sacrifice more weight (from my 2020 Optic) for this bike to still have 140 / 125mm suspension.
  • 2 1
 Look how they massacred my boy. I have a 2018 Optic C2 that still feels relevant and functional in a variety of terrain and use cases, including endurance racing on big backcountry loops. This looks and feels less fun and more complicated for days loaded with climbing and where straightforward functionality on descents reigns. When it comes time to replace the 2018, which will be soon, not sure where to go for an upgrade.
  • 5 2
 Epic EVO or snag a non-EVO Stumpjumper before they update it.
  • 3 2
 @ARonBurgundy: agreed, definitely look into the current stumpy. Its a great climber, very light and still rips the descents
  • 3 0
 @arrowheadrush: I picked up a Stumpy EVO on mega sale last year and liked it so much I got a standard Stumpy frame just before Christmas. It feels like an absolute rocket ship compared to the EVO and other 30-35 lbs trail bikes I've been riding for the last several years. I recently bought a set of lightweight wheels and XC tires (Maxxis Aspen) for it and along with another couple tweaks, I dropped nearly 3 lbs off compared to the trail wheel and tire (Forekaster) set up. It's not World Cup light by any means, but for the endurance racing I want to do it's quite competitive.
  • 3 1
 When your chain wears out, do replacement chains have enough links, or do you have to buy a second chain? Idler doesn't make sense for the Optic - it barely does for the Sight.
  • 1 0
 The S3 optic in a 29" with 30t requires only 118 links according to SRAM.

The S2 Sight in a 29" with 32t required 120 links.

Stock chains are 126 links.
  • 4 2
 what a useless thing. Its not lighter, its not snappier, its not good uphill, its shorttravel for downhill. who is it for?
for people that want high pivot without knowing why.
  • 1 0
 If u never try a high pivot then u never understand how get it is.. And the noise? I really don't understand about it. I never heard it unless I forgot to put a chain lube after a 4 to 5 rides on it. I can never go back to a regular bike. Plus on high pivot bike is, u got traction all day and no pedal kickback, it means, no stress on your legs. Try it.
  • 3 1
 Previous version Optics just went up in value after this nonsensical ‘update’ haha. Just because you can build a light trail bike heavier and more inefficient than some enduro bikes doesn’t mean you should.
  • 1 0
 They nailed it with the last Optic, this is a weird move.
  • 1 0
 It's almost a bike for me, but not quite. Being in SK you might think it's all flat, but we do have some really steep stuff and at our small enduro races some of the best guys are riding full on enduro bikes like the norco range. But I think this bike makes more sense for that type of guy. Someone who doesn't have the craziest longest descents at home, but sometimes travels to the mountains. This would be extremely fast on our harder trails, and we essentially never need more than 140 here. But still a lighter better pedaling 140 bike probably makes more sense for most. Also the price is so high that it makes even less sense. Fox Factory Norco Fluid is still cheaper than the cheapest model of this optic. Seems like a hard sell.
  • 1 0
 Dario is at it again, damning with faint praise (reminds me of my mother-in-law)
Even though the bike carries a pound or two, you acknowledge that this isn’t noticeable on technical uphill. Only perhaps on long fire roads which is hardly native habitat for a trail bike. Ironically, the most probable reason an owner of this bike might be riding a fire road is because its downhill capabilities take it beyond trail riding and into all-mountain territory.
You somehow spin the ability to handle chunk and rowdy terrain is a constraint rather than an extension of its ability to do more than we normally expect of a trail bike.
Dare we dream that for many riders, a single, albeit pricey machine can take the place of two pricey machines? You describe attributes of a do-it-all bike that would appeal to a very broad market yet summarize with the pejorative phrase ‘little’ bike for a niche group of riders.
Huh?
  • 4 2
 So it's another Forbidden Druid. The high pivot was a mistake IMO but I guess they needed to differentiate it from the new carbon Fluids.
  • 4 0
 not sure Im sold on the high pivot either, but with the Fluid fully occupying the old Optic space I guess it gives this bike a nice niche.
  • 3 0
 Norco needs to get these bikes under potential buyers with a demo tour. How many are going to commit $4K+ to a concept like high pivot without taking it for a real ride first? It's not like the bike will be easy to sell in this market if you don't like it.
  • 1 3
 My buddy as one and said the drag on the higher wears is really noticeable and tiresome, Interesting to see that @Dario saids it pedals better than the 5010 that is a really good pedaling bike, but he need it to carry eye lube for the noise and drag, did not quite under that contradiction.
  • 3 0
 @fedfox: As I wrote above, the climbing difference between those two just comes down to actual seat tube angle more than anything else.
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio: Thank you Dario for explaining
  • 5 1
 This is probably gonna suck on the uphill
  • 2 0
 Great, now I need to spend my whole morning getting quotes to have my rocker and lower shock mount painted/powdered/anodized to match the Kashima bits.
  • 5 1
 weight weenies gonna weenie
  • 3 2
 15 kg for a short travel bike that pedals poorly and loses the advantages - nimble and dynamic ride, responsiveness in pedaling - that it should have instead... well done, indeed!
  • 4 0
 $7000 for base Code R's and select+ suspension? Yikes....
  • 4 0
 watch for 2026 update with automatic oiler for chain
  • 5 3
 Hugely disappointing. All Norco had to do here was revise the previous iteration of the Optic, not try (and fail) to reinvent it.
  • 3 0
 the old optic is still around. the fluid Carbon will fit you need too. The optic is the bike that started the short travel aggressive geo bike trend. The new optic keeps the same tag. pushing the limits.
  • 3 0
 Dang, I thought I liked this bike overall but then I read the comments and realized it's awful.
  • 2 0
 If someone told you in 2010 that a short travel carbon trail bike would be 15KG and cost $9000 US you have had them committed to a loony bin.
  • 2 0
 Am I crazy? How are prices this high? Literally can buy two izzos for the price of one optic, why would anyone consider this?
  • 8 9
 Another big bike release, another bike with poor front center to rear center balance! Lots of brands are starting to figure this out, most are still not. This bike does look sick though, and I appreciate that they offer an aluminum frame only option.
  • 7 7
 When Are you releasing your bike?
  • 5 3
 @TheBearDen: lol, did you design this bike? Sorry I hurt your feelings.
  • 4 6
 @Froday: my feelings aren't hurt. I asked you a question.
  • 4 1
 The new Optic is way expensive because they have to pay Greg
  • 5 3
 Great to see that my 2021 Slash is still probably better than the bikes of 2024 (lighter, more travel etc)
  • 1 0
 If you don't mind a super slack STA and poor dropper insertion depth that is ; ). Just teasing you, keep enjoying your bike.
  • 1 1
 More travel doesn’t have to equal worse to pedal or less playful or appreciably heavier. Short travel bikes that try to fit the role of an enduro machine make no sense to me
  • 3 2
 I just made my element 140/120 and put enduro wheels and grippier tires on. Basically this but pedals efficient and no weird idle noise
  • 3 1
 JFC … starting at 7 THOUSAND dollars?
These prices are outrageous it’s insane.
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio - the stats says it has a 185 x 50 Float X on it. Fox does not show this size as a purchase option. Can you speak to this? Correct size?
  • 1 0
 Correct size, probably a shorter stroke build for this bike's layout.
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio: thanks. I wondered if it was a custom size from Fox or a misprint. Interesting. Thanks for the info.
  • 1 0
 @gmoss Not a common stroke length, but you can convert any 185mm Float X to 50mm with a couple of travel spacers and new screws, 10 min job only need a 2mm allen key and parts.
  • 3 0
 These start at $7000 US now, are you kidding me?
  • 1 0
 There are a stack of mid travel trail bikes that climb and descend better, cost and weigh much less. This bike makes zero sense.
  • 1 0
 Who the hell wants to lube their chain during their ride? A real deal-breaker for me that's for sure. (Although it seems like a nice bike otherwise)
  • 3 2
 Aside from the high-pivot-idler (which makes no sense to me for this travel), why would I buy this over a Fluid carbon?
  • 4 2
 The fluid isn't as planted through the horrid rough stuff. The suspension is super active but not in the way you always want it. The fluid is an unbelievably good bike and great value but rough chunk isn't where it shines. Popping out of corners and what not... It does that very well. -- Lots of folks need to remember that for many of us shorter travel bikes that eat big shit are fun in the PNW. If these bikes aren't for you. Don't buy them
  • 3 1
 @TheBearDen: As someone who rides all over the PNW, and someone with two shorter travel bikes and one longer travel bike, I just can't see the point of a short-travel bike for regularly riding steeps, chunk, and rough stuff. Regardless of how active the rear suspension is, it will still run out of travel.
  • 3 0
 @cycleskiclimb: then I suppose its not for you. I have been loving my druid for all things from north shore dark side to fast flow trails in Bellingham.
  • 2 1
 I'm curious to see how this bike compares performance wise to the new Marin Rift Zone XR AXS.
  • 2 0
 goddamit if i had 7000 dollars id be tickled
  • 1 3
 "The suspension biases a bit towards compliance and grip, especially when seated, but does firm up nicely under hard pedaling."

You can't pedal hard when seated? It's not a URT, the suspension doesn't change when you get out of the saddle.
  • 3 1
 Can you make the labels SMALLER on that price chart. I can still read it.
  • 2 0
 Did anyone notice Levy on Dario's shirt?
  • 3 1
 Dario's shirt should be the only thing for sale in the PB store.
  • 2 1
 It’s basically a cheaper version of an Acto5 P-Train. What’s not to like.
  • 2 0
 Not as good as sight review, but that's ok.
  • 1 2
 Part of these tests should include removing the chain from the idler and running the bike in a "normal" set up and compare between the two. Like, holey smokes, you cant ride this bike without the idler!
  • 1 0
 A 125mm bike that pedals like a 140mm bike and descends like one too. Smile
Awesome.
  • 1 0
 Maybe I missed it and it’s old news, but why is no one talking about @dariodigiulio tshirt. Amazing.
  • 1 1
 Seems like there are two more cons that were missed in the technical report.
  • 2 1
 Naked knees should come with some kind of warning on a site like this
  • 3 2
 All the cons of a big bike without the big travel. Yay
  • 1 0
 Good review, Dario. Is that Levy on the milk carton?
  • 1 0
 Would be nice to see Bryn ripping the trails on this new rig. Too late
  • 1 0
 Chuck a nut island hahaha.
  • 2 0
 That bihh is thick
  • 2 0
 Make bikes light again
  • 1 0
 According to comments section, the average mid-travel bike weighs 29lbs.
  • 2 1
 I'd rather have a Trail 429.
  • 1 0
 This was one of my wish list bikes until now
  • 1 2
 So, two or three years from now when no bikes are high pivot and steep angled bikes with 26" wheels & girvin forks come back will this matter?
  • 1 0
 When is the new Revolver being released?
  • 1 1
 Needs a flip chip on the main pivot. So you can throw the idler in the bin and flip it back to a standard pivot.
  • 1 0
 Short travel trail bike. 15kg. No thanks.
  • 1 0
 We can use the word " it looks like Slash" again...yeah!!!
  • 1 0
 33 pounds, short travel, shifts poorly, loud, $9k, da faq?
  • 1 1
 No, I don't mind my chain "sawing away" on my idler pully. The bike world is insane, you can have it.
  • 1 0
 How does the performance compare to a Pivot Trail 429?
  • 1 1
 Was waiting for this to see how it is, but going to go with a 23 C2 instead. Pricing for them is currently on point.
  • 3 2
 Nope.
  • 1 0
 Xduro
  • 2 5
 This really is amazing..are we going backwards??..the optic was ..who is actually even looking at these .. expensive..heavy...I don't get it..but I also don't get ebikers either..so what I know
  • 1 0
 Level brakes hmm
  • 4 4
 Ah yes, a 33lb 125mm trail bike. Just what I was after!
  • 1 0
 Why?
  • 1 0
 why the camo?
  • 1 0
 The price lol
  • 1 0
 Looks like a Druid
  • 1 3
 The only way this bike would look good would be Bryn Atkinson riding it at full throttle.
  • 3 4
 the idler ain't worth the drag and noise.............pass
  • 2 4
 Just not a fan of HP designs.
  • 4 0
 Cool story.
  • 1 2
 Looks like a Process 111
  • 4 7
 Someone drank to much Kool-Aid. Total insanity to have an idler on a bike let alone an XCish bike.
  • 6 2
 The optic is far far from an xc bike even prior to the high pivot
  • 8 2
 The comment were similar when Norco launched the optic the first time
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