How does it compare?
The Process 134 and the Norco Optic were both developed in roughly the same geographic location, which makes it even more interesting to look at the two company's interpretations of a modern trail bike.
Both bikes are spec'd with a 140mm fork, but the Optic has a bit less rear travel – 125mm vs. the Process' 134mm. When it comes to geometry, the Optic is the longer and slacker of the two. The reach numbers are relatively close, but the Optic has a 65-degree head tube angle, and longer chainstays on all but the smallest size. Norco gets a bonus point for the fact that they alter the rear-center length depending on the size – the back-end of the bike gets longer as the front end grows. On the Process, the chainstay length is 427mm no matter if the reach is 425 or 510mm.
I preferred the climbing position of the Optic over the Process – the Optic's actual seat tube angle is a few degrees steeper than the Kona's, which, combined with the slightly longer chainstays, made me feel more centered over the pedals.
The 134 has the edge when it comes to maintaining sharp, snappy handling at slower speeds – the Optic feels a little more subdued in mellower terrain. It's still very easy to maneuver, but there's a calmness to it compared to the Process' almost-frenetic eagerness to dart around tight turns.
Unless you're doing back-to-back laps, the difference in rear-travel between the two bikes isn't all that noticeable when descending, but the geometry differences are. They're both extremely versatile, but the Optic's extra length and slacker head angle helped keep it more composed at higher speeds and in steeper terrain – the Process felt a little pointier, and I had to pay more attention to my line choice.
As far as price goes, the Optic's aluminum rear end gives it a significantly lower frame-only price - $2,299 vs. $3,299. The pricing difference translates to the complete builds as well. The Process 134 DL and the Optic C1 are the same price, but the C1 gets niceties like a carbon bar and DT 350 hubs.