2023 Norco Optic C1 Review
- Price: $5999
- Frame: Carbon
- Tires: 29
- Gear: 1×12
What we like about it: Long wheelbase, low center of gravity, and just the right amount of wheelset.
What we don’t like about it: The Vittoria outer tire used will not have enough grip on wet roads.
The 2023 Norco Optic C1’s frame Ride Align™ design has always been something I particularly admire.
After the introduction of Gravity Tune nearly a decade ago, Norco has fundamentally redesigned this concept with Ride Align™.
It not only adjusts the geometry parameters for each bike size but also considers the center of gravity for each frame size, ensuring even weight distribution on the contact patch for every rider.
By fine-tuning the reach, seat tube angle, and geometry of the Norco Optic C1, they have created a unique combination of precise, confident handling and maximum traction, making it a joy to ride on the trails.
In the following sections, we will analyze the riding experience, key features, components, specifications, and other versions of the Norco Optic C1.
In the latter part of this article, we will also compare it to several other top bicycle models. If you’re interested in more bike reviews, feel free to follow us.
When I received the Norco Optic C1, I was pleasantly surprised. I found the overall paintwork of the new Norco Optic C1 more appealing compared to the previous generation. It looks more aesthetically pleasing.
Without hesitation, I couldn’t wait to take the Norco Optic C1 to a nearby hill to test its performance.
The route had a downhill section with a few 3-foot jumps that I particularly enjoyed. It was the perfect opportunity to see if the 140mm rear and 125mm front suspension travel of the Norco Optic C1 could help me clear them.
Without further ado, I hopped on the Norco Optic C1 and had some fun.
I have to admit, I’ve always disliked climbing sections when riding full-suspension mountain bikes.
Fortunately, the Norco Optic C1, equipped with a 1×12-speed Shimano XTR M9100 groupset and a 10-51T freewheel, allowed me to save a lot of energy. After all, I’m not someone who likes to lock the suspension.
Additionally, thanks to the carbon fiber frame and aluminum alloy chainstay, the weight of the bike was significantly reduced, and I didn’t feel heaviness during uphill climbs.
The excellent adjustment of the front and rear center of gravity on the Norco Optic C1 prevented any imbalance in weight distribution.
However, the Vittoria Martello 2.35-inch rear tire specification on the Norco Optic C1 did experience some slipping or lack of traction when facing steep angles or loose terrain during uphill climbs. However, you can increase the traction by changing the width of the tire.
Lastly, the e*thirteen TRS Race Carbon crank and chainring provided efficient power transfer during uphill pedaling.
Since I’m currently riding a Norco Optic C1, I have to experience its downhill performance.
Despite being a short-travel trail mountain bike, the endurance-oriented riding position and excellent suspension tuning allow me to overcome any obstacles without exceeding the design limits.
When I hit those 3-foot jumps at a faster speed, I can rely on the Fox Performance Elite FLOAT 36 fork.
Although it doesn’t have the cool-looking gold Kashima coating like some other Fox forks, there’s not much difference in the overall performance between them. The Kashima-coated Fox fork might provide slightly smoother action.
Furthermore, during high-speed descents, the Shimano XTR M9120 brakes paired with the MT900 Freeza rotors deliver exceptional braking power.
I’ve always appreciated the single-finger operation design of Shimano XTR brakes, allowing me to have more fingers controlling the bike during intense riding.
Of course, throughout my downhill rides, the 29-inch wheelset of the Norco Optic C1 provides excellent traction and stability. However, I’m not particularly fond of the performance of the Vittoria tires.
They tend to lose grip when the speed is too high or on wet surfaces. This has convinced me to upgrade to my favorite Schwalbe Magic Mary tires.
The latest Norco Optic C1 frame is available in four sizes (S to XL). They all come with a 29-inch wheelset, allowing smaller riders to enjoy the benefits of a larger wheelset and its enhanced traction.
The Norco Optic C1 features precisely adjustable suspension and a Fox Performance Elite FLOAT X rear shock, providing 125mm of rear travel. Paired with the 140mm Fox fork, it easily handles a wide range of riding environments.
With its 65° head tube angle, the Norco Optic C1 offers a geometry close to that of endurance-oriented mountain bikes, promoting better traction.
Additionally, the hidden internal cable routing design gives the bike a cleaner appearance while reducing noise during rides and protecting the cables from external damage.
I was pleasantly surprised by Norco’s attention to frame details. They added mounting points on the top tube of the Norco Optic C1 for carrying tools and spare tubes. They also implemented two downtube guards to protect the carbon frame from flying debris.
Overall, I consider the Norco Optic C1 to be a trail mountain bike that achieves near-perfect synergy between its components and frame. Its overall performance is outstanding.
The Norco Optic C1 is a trail mountain bike with a near-perfect frame and component synergy.
However, its price of $5,999 can be considered high and may not be suitable for riders looking for an entry-level full-suspension mountain bike.
That’s why we have some other recommendations for you.
2023 Norco Optic C3
Compared to the Norco Optic C1, the Norco Optic C3 is $2,300 cheaper. The frames of both models are the same, with identical size specifications and wheelset dimensions. The difference lies in the higher-end and lighter groupset used in the Optic C3.
The groupset of the Norco Optic C3 is also excellent. It features a RockShox Pike Select RC fork paired with a RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate DH Custom RC rear shock.
While it may not offer the same level of support as the rear suspension on the Optic C1, the RockShox suspension still provides excellent sensitivity.
The Norco Optic C3 makes good choices in its drivetrain as well. It uses the Shimano SLX shifter while incorporating the superior Shimano XT M8100 rear derailleur, reducing the likelihood of chain drops during aggressive riding.
Additionally, I prefer the aluminum handlebar on the Optic C3. Compared to the carbon fiber handlebar on the C1, there’s a more solid feeling. The 780mm handlebar width of the Optic C3 also better suits my riding preferences.
Therefore, if you want to try a full-suspension trail mountain bike for the first time without spending too much money, the Norco Optic C3 is a great choice.
What do we like about it?
- The “A.R.T.” suspension layout of the Norco Optic C1 provides excellent shock absorption and jump performance.
- The internal cable routing design gives it a clean appearance, reduces noise during rides, and protects the cables.
- The geometry layout leans towards endurance-oriented mountain biking, offering more agile handling and stable descending experiences.
- All versions of the Norco Optic C1 come with a 29-inch wheelset, enhancing the bike’s traction and stability.
- The high-quality component selection gives the Norco Optic C1 a competitive edge.
- The protective measures on the downtube reduce potential frame damage during rides.
What don’t we like about it?
- The stock tires may not suit everyone’s preferences.
- Is the frame of Norco Optic C1 sturdy?
The frame is constructed from 6061 aluminum alloy, which balances lightweight characteristics with improved frame durability. The seat tube and top tube junctions have been reinforced for added strength.
- What kind of rider is Norco Optic C1 suitable for?
It is suitable for riders who enjoy chasing downhill speeds and have a preference for FreeRide-style riding.
- How do I choose the right size for Norco Optic C1?
Here we have a size chart for you. Of course, it doesn’t have to be according to this standard, and the best way to find the most suitable size is to try it on.
Norco Optic C1 Specs
|Frame||Carbon Front Triangle, Aluminum Rear, 125mm Travel, Ride Aligned™BB Standard: BB86/BB92, Press FitColor: Blue / Chrome|
|Fork||Fox Performance Elite FLOAT 36, GRIP2, 140mm Travel, 42mm Offset|
|Rear Shock||Fox Performance Elite FLOAT X, 190x45mm|
|Bottom Bracket||e*thirteen BB92|
|Headset||FSA Internal Sealed Bearing|
|Stem||6061 Alloy, 45mm Length, 35mm Clamp|
|Handlebar||OneUp Carbon, 800mm, 20mm Rise|
|Saddle||Fizik Alpaca Terra, Wingflex|
|Seatpost||X-Fusion Manic Dropper, 31.6mm, 125mm (s), 150mm (M,L), 170mm (XL)|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano XTR M9100|
|Crank||e*thirteen TRS Race Carbon, 32T, 170mm|
|Shifters||Shimano XTR M9100 I-Spec EV|
|Cassette||Shimano XTR M9100, 10-51T, 12 Speed|
|Chain||Shimano XTR M9100|
|Brakes||Shimano XTR M9120, 4 Piston, Organic Pads|
|Brake Levers||Shimano XTR|
|Rims||Stan’s Flow S1 29″, 32H|
|Front Hub||Shimano XT HB-8110-B, 15x110mm Boost, Center Lock|
|Rear Hub||Shimano XT FH-8110-B, 12x148mm Boost, Micro Spline, Center Lock|
|Tires||Vittoria Mazza 2.4″ Trail G2.0|
|Disk Rotors||Shimano XTR MT900 Freeza, 203mm|
|Bicycles||Click view||Drivetrain||Frame material||Brake Type||Travel|
|2023 Canyon Neuron CF 9 SL||Click view||1 × 12 Electronic||Carbon||Hydraulic Disc||130mm rear, 140mm front|
|2023 Ibis Ripley V4S GX||Click view||1×12||Carbon||Hydraulic Disc||120mm rear, 130mm front|
|2023 Cannondale Habit Carbon 1||Click view||1 × 12||Carbon||Hydraulic Disc||130mm rear, 140mm front|
|2023 Ibis Ripmo V2S GX||Click view||1 × 12||Carbon||Hydraulic Disc||147mm rear, 160mm front|
Norco Optic C1 vs Canyon Neuron CF 9 SL
The Norco Optic C1 and Canyon Neuron CF 9 SL are two bikes with completely different styles.
The Neuron CF 9 SL is a cross-country bike designed for comfort, lightweight, and efficiency, suitable for long-distance rides. On the other hand, the Norco Optic C1 is better suited for challenging rough mountain trails.
The main difference lies in the Optic C1’s beefier Fox 36 fork compared to the Fox 34 fork on the Neuron CF 9 SL. The Optic C1’s fork provides better support, making it more suitable for rides with significant elevation changes and more aggressive riding styles.
Additionally, although the Optic C1 features a higher-grade Shimano XTR drivetrain compared to the SRAM GX Eagle AXS on the Neuron CF 9 SL, SRAM’s shifting experience is generally preferred over Shimano’s. I personally also prefer SRAM groupsets.
So, when choosing between these two bikes, it ultimately depends on what type of riding experience you’re looking for.
If you prioritize comfortable and long-distance rides, the Canyon Neuron CF 9 SL would be a better choice.
On the other hand, if you enjoy pursuing aggressive riding styles and extreme downhill experiences, the Norco Optic C1 would be the better option.
Norco Optic C1 vs Ibis Ripley V4S GX
When comparing the Norco Optic C1 and the Ibis Ripley V4S GX, the Ibis Ripley V4S GX is more similar to the earlier mentioned Canyon Neuron CF 9 SL. Both bikes are focused on providing a comfortable off-road riding experience.
The Ibis Ripley V4S GX features a mixed drivetrain using SRAM’s NX and GX series components. It uses the higher-level GX rear derailleur while opting for lower-level NX components like the crank and chain.
Although I appreciate the shifting experience of SRAM groupsets, when considering two mountain bikes with similar prices, the Norco Optic C1 offers better value for the money.
Furthermore, the front and rear suspension travel of the Ibis Ripley V4S GX is shorter compared to the Norco Optic C1. This indicates that the latter is better suited for aggressive riding, while the former may not handle high-intensity riding as well.
Additionally, although the SRAM G2 brakes on the Ibis Ripley V4S GX offer powerful braking performance, I still personally prefer Shimano XTR brakes, which is why I lean towards the Norco Optic C1.
Norco Optic C1 vs Cannondale Habit Carbon 1
These two bikes have similar rear suspension travel and each has its unique suspension characteristics. This makes it difficult to directly compare the suspension performance of these two mountain bikes.
However, due to the Cannondale Habit Carbon 1’s sensitive initial stroke in its RockShox suspension, it provides good small bump compliance. On the other hand, the Optic C1’s FOX suspension offers excellent support for big drops and jumps.
It must be noted that the Cannondale Habit Carbon 1’s Maxxis 29×2.4-inch tires provide slightly better traction than the Norco Optic C1’s Vittoria Mazza 2.4-inch tires.
Moreover, both bikes offer equally excellent riding experiences and riding positions. They both have great maneuverability and allow riders to descend at high speeds.
Therefore, when choosing between the Norco Optic C1 and the Cannondale Habit Carbon 1, it ultimately comes down to personal preference.
Norco Optic C1 vs Ibis Ripmo V2S GX
Indeed, the Ibis Ripmo V2S GX does have more shock travel and uses a higher shock rating than the Norco Optic C1, but the problem with the Ibis Ripmo V2S GX is that there are some issues with the riding position and overall frame details on the bike.
First of all, the Ripmo V2S GX does not have enough protection on the chainstay. So there will be a rattling sound of the chain slapping the chainstay when riding the descending road intensely.
In addition, it is the cable tube of the inner alignment will also make a strange sound.
The Ripmo V2S GX has a higher center of gravity and a shorter wheelbase compared to the Optic C1, which also gives the former a more jumping performance. On the trails, the Ripmo V2S GX will be more agile and can jump higher as well.
Finally, if you are confident in your riding skills, the Ripmo V2S GX will be more fun for you to play with. But Optic C1 will bring you a more exciting and fast descending experience.
Above is my review of the Norco Optic C1. In our opinion, the Norco Storm 1 is a mountain bike for off-road trails that brings a lot of riding enjoyment and is worth buying. Taking everything into consideration, we give it a high rating of 4.9.
Of course, if you are interested in other hardtail mountain bikes, we also review various bikes at different price points, and they are equally interesting. Feel free to check out our other reviews.
Finally, if you enjoy our content, please share it with your friends! If our content has been helpful to you, you can click the subscription button below. Thank you for your support!