First Look | The 2020 Norco Optic Grows Longer Legs & A New Attitude

The Optic is Norco’s short-travel trail bike, which slots into the Canadian brand’s lineup between the Revolver FS (XC race) and the Sight (long-travel trail). We got our first taste of the Optic back in 2016, where we praised it for its very non-29er-like handling and playful attitude. That original Optic proved to be a popular little ripper for Norco, and as such, has remained relatively unchanged for the past three years. That all changes for 2020 though, with a complete overhaul to the Optic platform that sees substantial changes to suspension, geometry, frame design and its overall attitude.

Watch our video on the 2020 Norco Optic here!

The 2020 Norco Optic – What’s New?

Basically everything! This bike has been completely reimagined from its knobbly tyres-up, and aside from sharing the same name and a very basic silhouette, it doesn’t take long to realise this new Optic has very different intentions and capabilities to the old one.

2020 norco optic bryn atkinson
Norco decided to let Bryn Atkinson out of his cage for the 2020 Optic launch. BRAAAAP!

So why the change of direction? It’s all because Norco released a new Revolver FS platform earlier this year – a lightweight carbon full suspension bike that is available in both XC (100/100mm) and Trail (120/120mm) versions. With the Revolver FS available with up to 120mm of travel, that saw it stepping on the toes of the previous Optic, which had 120/110mm of travel.

That really left new Optic nowhere to go but up, and so the new bike now features 125mm of rear travel with a 140mm travel fork. It’s still rolling on 29in wheels (and as far we know right now, 29in wheels only), and it’s still billed as a trail bike. Take one glance at the Optic’s piggyback shock, Pike fork, 65° head angle and Magic Mary front tyre though, and it’s apparent that this is one trail bike designed to rip very, very hard and fast.

2020 norco optic rockshox pike select+
A Pike, piggyback shock and Magic Mary? This new Optic is one mean looking trail bike!
2020 norco optic c2
Norco has updated the Optic’s rear suspension, which bumps up from 110mm to 125mm.

Updated Suspension

The new Optic is still built around a four-bar Horst link suspension design, but rear travel has been bumped up from 110mm to 125mm. The kinematics have also been updated. Anti-squat has been increased around the sag point for more efficient pedalling manners, though it drops off faster than the old bike in order to reduce pedal kick-back deeper into the travel.

The travel has also been built around a significantly higher leverage ratio to begin with (3.0 vs 2.4), and a greater degree of progressitivity throughout the full spring curve. In theory, this will improve the Optic’s small-bump compliance, while giving it more support deeper into the travel for Bryn Atkinson-inspired shenanigans.

2020 norco optic rockshox super deluxe ultimate dh shock air
The RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate shock is a custom size just for Norco.

To facilitate those big-hits, you’ll find a custom RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate DH shock (could SRAM please squeeze in a few more superlatives into the name for a shock?). This dinky shock features a piggyback reservoir, as well as a custom damper tune and stroke. The high-speed compression damping in particular is more aggressive than stock, which again is to help the Optic better handle those ‘OHHH SHIT!” moments.

Up front is a 140mm travel RockShox Pike fork, which you’ll find on each one of the new Optic models. Keeping on trend, the fork offset has been reduced to 42mm, rather than the more commonly spec’d 51mm. This increases the trail measurement (129mm for those playing at home), providing greater composure at high-speed.

2020 norco optic rockshox pike select+
The Optic’s head angle slackens out to 65°, and fork offset reduces to 42mm – both of which increase the trail measurement.

Future-Forward Geometry

Matching the newly pumped-up fork and shock spec, Norco has also cranked the geometry dial on the Optic to bring it right up to date. There’s a slack 65° head angle that’s paired to a significantly longer top tube, with reach measurements as follows: 420mm (S), 450mm (M), 480mm (L), and 510mm (XL). Completing the long reach + slack head angle + short fork offset equation, Norco is running a 40mm stem length on all Optic models and frame sizes.

The seat angle has also been steepened to 76°, which brings the rider forward and position the centre of gravity further towards the front tyre’s contact patch. Chainstay lengths have been tweaked slightly, and carry forward Norco’s size-specific system, with a shorter rear centre on smaller frame sizes and longer rear centres on the bigger frame sizes.

2020 norco optic
The mainframe on the Optic is made from carbon fibre, with a drastically sloped top tube for maximum standover clearance.

What Optics Will We See In Australia?

Norco is launching three Optic models to begin with, all of which are built around the same chassis that features a carbon fibre mainframe paired to an alloy sub-frame. With its new aggro-attitude, the Optic frame receives ISCG 05 chainguide tabs, and there’s clearance to run up to a 2.6in wide rubber. The frame also features integrated armour, semi-internal cable routing, and a sloping top tube for added standover clearance.

2020 norco optic c2 sram eagle 1x12
All three of the 2020 Norco Optic models feature a 1×12 drivetrain, 4-piston brakes, and tidy bolt-up thru-axles.

All three models get a RockShox Pike fork and the custom Super Deluxe Ultimate Turbo Extreme rear shock, and you’ll also see the same X-Fusion dropper post and Schwalbe tyre combo throughout the line.

Update: All four frame sizes (Small through to X-Large) will be coming into Australia for both the Optic C2 and C3 models. The top-end Optic C1 model will only be available in Medium through to X-Large sizes.

What about alloy Optics? The answer is ‘no’, because this bike is carbon-only. If you’re after a lower-priced bike made from metal, what you’re looking for is the latest Fluid, which features an aluminum frame with 120mm of rear travel and a 130mm travel fork. Pricing kicks off at $2,299 for the 2020 Norco Fluid FS 3, and goes up to $3,499 for the 2020 Norco Fluid FS 1.

2020 norco optic c1
Purple Rain for the top-end 2020 Norco Optic C1, which features a Shimano XTR 12-speed drivetrain and carbon e*13 cranks.

2020 Norco Optic C1

2020 norco optic c2
The mid-level Optic C2 takes a grand off the sticker price with a GX Eagle drivetrain and cheaper Shimano brakes.

2020 Norco Optic C2

2020 norco optic c3
The Optic C3 manages to dip below the $5K mark – impressive for a carbon trail bike with high quality RockShox suspension as standard.

2020 Norco Optic C3

2020 norco optic bryn atkinson
Ohhhh, so you’re meant to go around corners like that!
2020 norco optic
How’s this custom-built Optic with SRAM AXS and the Crankbrothers Synthesis wheels?

With all of those changes, the new Optic certainly looks like a very different pie to the last one we rode. We’ll have a 2020 Norco Optic arriving soon for testing, so stay tuned for our first impressions of this newly pumped-up trail ripper. In the meantime, we’d love to hear what you folks think of the Optic, so make sure you tell us your thoughts and ask any questions you’ve got down below.

For more information on the new Optic, head to the Norco website, or get in touch with Advance Traders to find your nearest Norco dealer in Australia.

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