Norco Sight A2 29 review£2,750.00

A relaxed ride that inspires confidence on steep descents

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Hailing from British Columbia in Canada, it’s no surprise that the Norco Sight is one of the more confidence-inspiring trail bikes on the market.

  • The Norco Sight A2 29 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.

That’s thanks in part to its 29in wheels supported by 130mm of travel at the back and 140mm up front with a suspension linkage that lets the bike sit nicely into its travel.

It copes exceptionally well on rough, steep terrain, and a RockShox Pike RC up front deals admirably with keeping the front wheel going exactly where it’s needed.

A RockShox Pick RC props up the front end for a confident ride
A RockShox Pick RC props up the front end for a confident ride

At just under 15kg, the Sight isn’t a light bike and with relatively chunky rubber as well, which is felt on the climbs. On prolonged climbs you’ll find yourself plunging to the depths of the 11-46t Shimano SLX cassette and reaching for the lockout lever on the performance-level Fox Float EVOL shock on smooth drags, or if you feel a spirited effort is required. 

After a while riding the bike, you might find the Trans X dropper post and its cable needs a bit of TLC to keep it running reliably. Fortunately, the SDG Fly MTN saddle is a comfortable perch to sit on while you winch uphill.

The rocker linkage might look a little unrefined, but the suspension's performance doesn't reflect that
The rocker linkage might look a little unrefined, but the suspension's performance doesn't reflect that

Despite being at the burlier end of the scale, Norco hasn’t gone wild with the Sight’s geometry. A reach of 458mm (Large) is balanced nicely by the 435mm stays, while the 67-degree head angle is slack enough to push the front wheel ahead, without feeling like you’re riding a chopper. 

A 36mm bottom bracket drop slings the weight of the bike low, while the 611mm stack isn’t sky high. Combine this with a 780mm bar and 50mm stem and you’ve got a bike that feels comfortable from the off. Norco adjusts the chainstay length for a given bike size — 430mm on Medium, 435 on Large, 440 on XL — something most manufacturers fail to do.

Shimano Deore brakes are currently as reliable as they come, and the XT drivetrain is a solid performer
Shimano Deore brakes are currently as reliable as they come, and the XT drivetrain is a solid performer

The frame itself is reasonably stiff and precise, allowing accurate control in higher load situations. The finish looks a touch unsophisticated, with chunky welds and obvious pivot bolts and linkage braces, but the flip side is well-thought-out touches, such as the easily maintainable cable routing.

Norco has squeezed a very competent spec on the Sight A2, with the Pike RC fork and Fox shock being joined by a mixed SLX/XT drivetrain and Deore brakes.

The Novatec hubs hold wide WTB i29 rims, supporting the 2.3in Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR tyres. It’s not necessarily the best-value, though it’s far from the worst, especially in a world where direct sales bikes rule the value roost — the Norco is available from bricks-and-mortar shops.

The Trans X dropper was the only weak link
The Trans X dropper was the only weak link

While the weight of the Norco wasn’t ideal uphill, it didn’t matter on the way back down. Norco has engineered a smooth, progressive stroke for its 130mm of suspension, creating a bike that feels composed in the choppiest of conditions. 

The bike sits nicely into the middle of its midstroke, giving a plush feel to its suspension that rarely felt troubled by conditions under tyre. On smaller hits the suspension never felt shy of reacting, smoothing and calming the ride, while the progressive nature as you get deeper into its strokes seemed to shrug off bigger hits.

External cable routing makes life so much easier
External cable routing makes life so much easier

At lower speeds the Sight isn’t the most poppy, involving ride, but this character changes when you open the bike up and let it run. At these higher speeds, the bike can be lifted and moved around on the trail, and gives you the confidence to ride more technical terrain than you might otherwise.

Steep, technical, rough — the Norco loves it
Steep, technical, rough — the Norco loves it

As such, it’s a bike that almost felt slower than it was. The calm, reassuring ride gives confidence and a relatively relaxed feel. The only downside is on flat, flowy trails it needs more effort to get the most out of it — while the suspension doesn’t exactly wallow, it likes to sit into it, giving a slightly sluggish feel on twisty trails, which need a lot of short bursts of acceleration. This is definitely a bike that suits riders who aim for the steeper descents.

The confidence-inspiring suspension lets you hang loose
The confidence-inspiring suspension lets you hang loose

Also consider...

If you're looking for alternative options, have a look at the following list. Each bike has been thoroughly tested and robustly reviewed. Click on the links for the full review.

Tom Marvin

Technical Editor, Tech Hub, UK
Tom's been riding for 15 years, and has always chopped and changed bikes as soon as his budget allowed. He's most at home in the big mountains, having spent nigh on 30 weeks riding the Alps, as well as having lived a stone's throw from the Scottish Highlands for four years. Tom also enjoys racing events like the Strathpuffer and the Trans Nepal.
  • Age: 29
  • Height: 182cm / 5'11"
  • Weight: 82kg / 180lb
  • Waist: 81cm / 32in
  • Chest: 97cm / 38in
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep and super tech or fast and flowy
  • Current Bikes: Canyon Spectral, Pivot Mach 429SL, Mondraker Vantage R +
  • Dream Bike: Transition Scout
  • Beer of Choice: Gin & tonic
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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