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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- YT Jeffsy 29 CF
- Trek Fuel EX 8 29
- Canyon Spectral CF 9.0
- Orbea Occam TR H10
- Marin B17 3
- Transition Scout NX
- Commencal Meda TR V4.2 Essential
- Santa Cruz Tallboy Alloy R
- Juliana Joplin R
- Specialized Rhyme Carbon Comp 6Fattie
- Canyon Spectral WMN CF 9.0 SL
- Yeti Beti SB5 C-Series XT
- Scott Contessa Spark 910