For the 2020 season, Norco’s short-travel Optic trail sled gains some squish to accommodate its fully updated geometry and wheel sizing. The new bike will do away with its predecessor’s 27.5″ and 29″ wheel selection, in favor of 29″ hoops across the size run. Travel numbers for the Optic increase by 15-20mm, from 120mm front and 110mm rear on the 2019 model to 140mm and 125mm respectively.
The Optic’s geometry table was largely erased and rewritten for the new frame by swapping a 68.5° (size M) head tube angle for a more descent-friendly 65° leaner, adding nearly a centimeter to the reach, righting the seat tube angle by 1.1° to a climb-happy 76°, and chopping the seat tube by 30mm (size M) to make room for longer travel dropper posts. Chainstay lengths are size-specific, as they were in 2019, gaining 5mm per size between the small’s 425mm and 440mm on the XL frame.
Norco worked with RockShox to create a custom Super Deluxe Ultimate DH shock designed around the bike’s kinematics and intended use, and the shock is included with every frame in the lineup. Norco will have a “Suspension Setup Assistant” tool on their webpage to help owners dial in the Optic from day one.
Regarding the suspension design, Norco says “The Optic kinematics were radically updated from previous bikes with a focus on providing support for hard cornering, stability on lips and landings, and composure when the travel becomes outdone by the terrain. A much higher starting leverage allows improved small bump [sensitivity] but also provides the ability to build in a much higher amount of progression. When combined with the more aggressive high-speed compression tune on our custom Ultimate DH shock we were able to build a high support point into the bike allowing the rider to push hard into corners and takeoffs while still handling the square edge hits you can’t avoid.”
Optic frames use a carbon front triangle with fully internal cable routing and a robust alloy rear end. Frames are available for $2,799, and complete bikes start at $3,599 with a SRAM NX Eagle build, topping out at $7,499 with SRAM’s electric AXS gruppo and dropper.
Rider: Bryn Atkinson, Film by Scott Secco