Norco’s new Sight debuted last year to great acclaim, with the £2,500 Norco Sight 2 lifting What Mountain Bike’s Trail Bike of the Year cup. The Sight continues into 2013 with just a few spec changes and price shifts. The 2 is now £2,350, but the entry-level Sight 3 is a whole £700 cheaper.
Ride & handling: Excellent performance for the money
Grab the monster 760mm bars and look down at the bulging 2.4in tyre and you know all you need to know about the Norco’s intentions. This really is a bike that begs you to go faster, push a bit harder and try stuff you might not be entirely sure about.
Although the Sight’s tubes look quite slender compared to some bikes, there’s no shortage of chassis stiffness to back your silliness up. The X-King tyres aren’t the most aggressively treaded, but they’re reasonably grippy under most conditions. Plenty of volume and a friendly rounded profile means that they’re very predictable, which counts for a lot.
There are no tricks or gimmicks to the suspension, with a straightforward, gently-progressive feel that balances performance over small bumps and control on big hits while still retaining a useful mid-stroke. The Sight 3 isn’t quite as sprightly as the more expensive 2 – some of that’s the simpler shock, although the extra couple of pounds is at least as significant.
We loved last year’s Sight, and the cheapest model in 2013’s range is brilliant too. Norco has kept all the key qualities of the Sight at a lower price, and still managed to come up with a great-value parts spec.
Very few bikes from mainstream manufacturers don’t have some sort of tube shaping
Frame & equipment: Well engineered, futureproof frame with room to upgrade
Norco use the same frame across the whole Sight range, although they don’t all get the same shock. The 3 has a Fox unit with a CTD lever, but it lacks the Boost Valve found on the more expensive models.
The main tubes are as swoopy as most contemporary bikes, but the most beneficial tube shaping is a little less obvious: the seat tube is heavily manipulated, incorporating a rocker pivot and clearance for the direct-mount front mech on the chainstay, while maintaining good seatpost adjustment (it’ll go all the way down with a small trim). There are guides for a dropper post too.
You find an even more subtle bit of tube shaping at the ends of the seat and chainstays, with clevis-style pivots formed into the stays themselves, rather than welded on. A compact rocker linkage drives the shock, which is mounted to the main frame just above the bottom bracket in an area that’s already beefed up for pedalling. There’s also a chain guide mount down there for easy fitting of chain guides.
The Sight 3 comes with a triple chainset; in this case the Deore-level Shimano M552. The Shimano theme continues across the transmission, with mainly Deore kit bar the SLX front mech. 2.4in Conti X-King tyres offer plenty of volume and a good mix of high grip and low rolling resistance, although they’ve got wire beads which doesn’t do the weight any favours. Still, the Sight sneaks in under the 30lb mark (with plenty of scope to go lighter), which is impressive for a £1,650 140mm bike.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.