Norco Optic, Trek Fuel EX or Kona Hei Hei 29?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Norco Optic, Trek Fuel EX or Kona Hei Hei 29?

    Shortlisted these three (in alloy), looking for a short travel 29er.

    Assuming similar component levels, any pros and cons when looking for a xc/am oriented (less Enduro/DH) bike that likes as much pedaling up as going down without too much jumping, in a Rocky/rooty environment?
    The Quebeco-Flandrien in B.C....

    SC SuperLight

  2. #2
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    Fuel EX, but I'm an owner of 2016 converted to Sram 1x12. Sooo a grain of salt is required.

  3. #3
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    Which model FEX?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by driver bob View Post
    Which model FEX?
    Fuel EX8

  5. #5
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    This a pretty good short list for what you are looking for. Obviously, if you can, demo or test ride to find a good match.

    All three will be really good going up and down but I think the EX would really excel in the rocks and roots. my wife has been riding an EX for a year and she is very happy with it.

  6. #6
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    Your choices seem to be in different categories.
    Which of your choices are a better fit on your local trails/type of riding?

    XC
    Kona Hei Hei
    110R/120F travel
    Lighter - Better Climber
    Best choice for XC racing of the three

    Light Trail
    Norco Optic
    110R/130F
    Threaded BB

    Trail
    Fuel EX
    130R/130F
    Longer Wheelbase - More stable on descents/Gnar
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Norco Optic, Trek Fuel EX or Kona Hei Hei 29?-optic.png  

    Ride, Enjoy...Repeat.

  7. #7
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    Thanks all for the helpful replies.

    Currently leaning towards the Hei Hei for following reasons:
    - might be able to get a good deal on the 2017 Hei Hei AL
    - expect it to have handling closest to my current bike (which I still really like): 26 SC Superlight (120-100mm)
    - read that the EX is fairly heavy, and I like riding up mountains as much (or even more ?) than riding down

    The Optic ticks a lot of my boxes: external BB and cable routing, Canadian brand (and local dealers), a bit more leaning towards trail without being too much.
    For about the same amount as the 2017 Hei Hei AL I can get the 2018 Optic A9.2.

    Consider the Hei Hei to be better equipped: Deore/SLX/XT component mix vs. SRAM NX/Level T brakes (and I have a biais towards Shimano), Optic has somewhat beefier fork (Fork 34 Rhythm Float vs. Recon Gold RL).

    Can't demo the Hei Hei, but expect it to handle a bit like my Superlight but rolling better over obstacles.

    Fuel EX I'm looking at is lightly used, stock 2017 EX8
    The Quebeco-Flandrien in B.C....

    SC SuperLight

  8. #8
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    I'm a FEX guy, all day long but from what you've described the Optic seems to suit what you need.

    If you can't test ride a bike I'd be a little cautious on buying it. I'm a big proponent of "ride before you buy".

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by driver bob View Post
    If you can't test ride a bike I'd be a little cautious on buying it. I'm a big proponent of "ride before you buy".
    Good advice, will keep it in mind
    The Quebeco-Flandrien in B.C....

    SC SuperLight

  10. #10
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    looking into Optic options:
    can get 2017 A9.1 or 2018 A9.2, both discounted, but the 2017 a9.1 would still be about $cad500 more expensive.
    specs seem similar, except for drivetrain (GX vs.NX), wheelset (Alexrims/SRAM vs. WTB/Novatec), not sure if there is much difference between Fox 34 Float performance and Float 34 Rhythm with evol spring?

  11. #11
    Rod
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    I cant comment on the others but the ex9 is heavy. Its well thought out but i wouldnt want to do an xc race or marathon on it. I know it needs lighter wheels. Thats the first upgrade for my wifes ex 9.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk

  12. #12
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    Norco Sight is more similar to a Fuel Ex. Optic is probably a nice middle ground between the Hei Hei and Fuel EX.

    Fuel is not light (in alloy anyway) and not "snappy". Plenty of grip up and down but not a race bike in any way.



    NX cassette is quite a lot heavier which *might* make your suspension perform worse.

    Rhythm Fork is a bit heavier than Performance and seems to be a little more difficult to get air side parts for the Rhythm. Damper function is identical, the Performance version has clickers in the top cap but the actual functional parts of the GRIP dampers are all the same.

  13. #13
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    following comments here continued to watch deals on the Hei Hei and the Optic: noticed yesterday that Norco is blowing out some 2018 models, including 30% off on the Optic A9.1, so ordered one!
    Glad I waited and am able to get a bike that ticks all of the boxes : External bb and cables, shimano drivetrain and brakes, decent wheelset, Pike.
    looking forward to actually riding it.

  14. #14
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    Picked up my new Large Optic A9.1 this weekend and put in a first ride.
    First impressions (having never ridden a 29er and with a 2012 26 Superlight as reference):
    - fit is good, surprised to see how close it feels to the position on my Large Superlight
    - suspension is active, tracks well
    - did not feel like the sometimes mentioned feeling of sitting "in" the bike vs "on"
    - bigger wheels seem to keep momentum more (but take more effort to get up to speed) and seem to roll over better
    - 1x11 XT gearing is sufficient

    Happy with the bike.

    Thanks for all the useful feedback here.

    Norco Optic, Trek Fuel EX or Kona Hei Hei 29?-20190501_005302570_ios.jpg
    The Quebeco-Flandrien in B.C....

    SC SuperLight

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