JCW’S NORCO OPTIC C9.2 £3,199
Will adding more fork travel give the Optic a shot in the arm?
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.