Norco Sight 1 - First ride £3900

Full of trail promise

BikeRadar score 4/5

Norco's Sight 1 is a made-for-British-Columbia trail bike that sports 140mm of travel and is hoping to be your go-to ride for any man-sized off-road adventures. In Canada that ‘Trail’ category also includes cross-country, but not the World Cup skinny tyre hardtail type. No, this is for the hairy arsed, bear-hugging cross-country where you make the trail.

We’d suggest you leave the ProPedal platform damping switch off, let the bike be the beast it was designed to be and go and have fun. It’s the best Norco we’ve ever ridden and while it won’t please the traditional full-suspension cross-country/trail crowd, the muddy-funsters out there will have a ball.

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Video: Norco Sight 1 review

Ride & handling: A bike for the chancer, the risk taker rather than the bagger of countless miles

At 12.3kg (27lb) you’re not likely to be busting out record setting fast laps on this bike, but thanks to some well designed suspension you can encourage it along rolling trails at a lick without draining the batteries too quickly. In the UK we’d call it a trail centre breaker, a bike for riders who like to tear up technical trails taking each turn and every mini rock garden as a chance to show off.

We took it out on some rock strewn twisty singletrack, the sort of trail that makes almost all bikes feel a bit, well, average. The Sight simply focused on the most direct line available and floated through. Just point, shoot and arrive smiling at the other end. Helping make the bike feel more lithe and nimble than it actually is, is the smart decision of Norco to fit the bike with the latest 2012 Shimano Deore XT kit.

This was flawless, the standout performers being the brakes – they're some of the best we’ve ever used. Also useful was the new compact 26/38T double-ring chainset. The 38T outer ring is spot-on for keeping leg speed high and making it easier to jab on the power and get an extra turn of the cranks in between corners to keep the overall speed high.

When the trail turns skywards we got up more than we thought we would before downshifting to the 26T inner ring. Then it was a case of slow down, take a breather and let the top of the hill come to you. It was the only time where we didn’t have a madman’s grin plastered across our muddy faces, as the bike isn’t really set up for picking its way up steep pitches. Even with the Fox TALAS fork’s travel knocked back we were sawing at the 711mm wide Easton carbon bar, enduring the process rather than relishing it – and we love climbing.

The Kenda Slant Six 2.35in tyre is fine on the rear where the big volume rounded profile works well to roll with minimal resistance to slide predictably, but these are definitely not attributes we want in a front tyre. We’d have the dealer swap the front one out for something with more shoulder – the classic Kenda Nevegal would be a good starting point.

Go tubeless too while you’re at it. The Sight is a bike which will respond well to the enhanced feel tubeless-ready tyres give and avoid the pinched tubes that the bike will inevitably invite when ridden the way it demands you to ride it. One more thing: the WTB Silverado saddle isn’t very comfy, so fit something classically forgiving like a Fizik Gobi. You’ll be spending quite a bit of time sat on it so it’s well worth the time and trouble.

Frame & equipment: Excellent Fox suspension, XT kit and RockShox post

Our medium size, Shimano XT-equipped, 6061 hydroformed alloy Sight came with a very stubby 70mm stem which, when combined with the slack 67.5-degree head angle, helped in taking every obstacle in the trail head-on. With all that rearward weight bias from the rider, it made the front end really easy to lift. We could and did manual the Sight into, through and out of every bump, dip and turn. It was so easy and just made you feel like a highly skilled hooligan.

Great suspension helped too and on the Sight 1 you can thank Fox for that. Up front the TALAS 140 fork was sublime, staying tall when spinning along the smooth stuff, then when the hits came hard and fast it was able to dispatch each and every one without so much as a hint of being overwhelmed. The same was true for the RP23 shock at the rear. We never felt like it was being maxed out, even if the travel indicator occasionally proved otherwise. We decided to leave the ProPedal switch off.

Helping the Sight tackle the more extreme parts of the mountain was the excellent RockShox Reverb hydraulic seatpost. Run it at full height for optimum pedalling, then as the exciting parts of the trail loom large you can dab the button to lower the saddle. Even if you’re not going to buy the Sight, save up for one of these as they’ll improve your attacking style of riding no end. We used the extra clearance to bust the tough guy line with the confidence of knowing that we weren’t going to get the saddle bashed up our behind if we mistimed a leap. Dab again and the saddle is back to full cruising height.

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