JCW’S NORCO OP­TIC C9.2 £3,199

Will adding more fork travel give the Op­tic a shot in the arm?

Mountain Biking UK - - LONG-TERM RIDES - www.evan­scy­cles.com

You may re­mem­ber me talk­ing about ex­tend­ing the Norco’s fork travel, to get a bit more rock­swal­low­ing ca­pa­bil­ity and slacken the head an­gle a tad. Well, the guys from Mojo Sus­pen­sion kindly sent me a new air shaft as­sem­bly for my Fox 34 and Rob sug­gested it would be a good idea to get it fit­ted half­way through the day, so I could see how the bike han­dled with 110mm of front travel in the morn­ing, then ride the same trails with 130mm af­ter lunch and see what dif­fer­ence it made.

That sounded like a great plan, so I headed to the For­est of Dean. A quick jaunt up the blue climb and then down the Sheep­skull down­hill track high­lighted a cou­ple of is­sues with the stock set-up – I had some pedal strikes on my way up due to the Norco’s low BB (and my sloppy tim­ing) and nearly stopped dead when I ploughed into a big root on the de­scent. Af­ter a break for photos and a quick trip down to see Jake from Sprung Sus­pen­sion in his work­shop at the bot­tom of the hill, I re­turned with my fork ex­tended to 130mm and topped up with a few ex­tra psi.

The dif­fer­ence was re­mark­able. I had to shift my weight slightly fur­ther for­ward on the climb and will prob­a­bly end up re­mov­ing a spacer or two from be­low the stem and adding a few psi to the shock to put me closer to my old po­si­tion, but I didn’t have a sin­gle pedal strike, thanks to the longer fork rais­ing the BB by 5mm.

On my way back down, the ex­tra 20mm of travel and the slacker head an­gle (ex­tend­ing the fork re­laxed the steer­ing by around 0.8 de­grees) made way more dif­fer­ence than I’d ex­pected, let­ting me ride over the front of the bike more, con­fi­dent that the fork would soak up most trou­ble, and skim the back end over roots and rocks. It’s early days yet, but so far I’m lov­ing the change.

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