We recently spent a few days riding Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa, California with Norco Bicycles on their new Optic trail bikes. The Optic is a new mid-travel trail bike that comes in a 27.5 and 29er with almost identical geometry. The Optic was developed to give riders a a less aggressive trail bike (than the current Sight and Range) that was still capable enough to handle BC style trails but also be efficient enough to handle long days in the saddle. During our visit we rode the C7.2 and C9.2 which are near the top of the line. Norco does have one a step up with DT Swiss carbon wheels, SRAM XX1, and Fox Kashima coated suspension, along with a couple options below including an aluminum version.
The 27.5 and 29er options both have similar geometries. The 29er has a slightly longer reach, but Norco uses what they call Reach+ which changes the measurement from bottom bracket to the end of stem. With Reach+, both frames share the same reach. The 29er has 110-millimeters of travel in the rear and 120 up front, the 27.5 uses 120-millimeters in the rear and 130 up front.
The Optic uses full internal cable routing using cable guides called GIZMO that holds the cables down snuggly and prevents rattling inside the frame tubes. The 27.5 frame has a 68-degree head angle and the 29er a 68.5-degree angle, that really steers this platform into the trail category opposed to the “mini enduro bike” arena. Norco built the Optic with Boost spacing, which they claim allowed them to achieve the versatile geometry that they wanted. These frames are front-derailleur compatible with the use of a nifty ISCG adapter that allows riders to run side-swing derailleurs or a chainguide.
As per our request Norco provided our bikes in a 1×11 option but the C7.2 and C9.2 come with a 2×11 option. Both bikes have a full RaceFace cockpit, Shimano XT drivetrain (along with brakes), Easton Arc wheels, and full Fox suspension.
We spent an equal amount of time riding both wheelsizes and really couldn’t decide if there was one we preferred. The 27.5 was nimble and fun on the descents, and the 29er rolled well uphill and ate up on the smaller rocks that littered the trails. The geometries were forgiving and allowed us to do a couple longer rides comfortably.
Keep an eye out at your local shops to schedule a test ride!