We’ve tested a couple of versions of Norco’s 26in-wheeled Sight, and always came away impressed – it’s one of our favourite bikes, taking 2012’s What Mountain Bike Trail Bike of the Year honours and a hard-fought fifth in this year’s test. Norco have entered the 27.5in game early with their Killer-B range, of which this is the cheapest Sight.
Ride & handling: Extra rollability and great handling
At 14.4kg (31.7lb) it’s quite a lot of bike to start hauling around – the suspension is taut and punchy enough to stomp up short rises without too much trouble, but you quite quickly run out of momentum, so low-gear twiddling is the order of the day when faced with any sort of sustained climb. The 24/38T front chainring combined with an 11-36 cassette means low gears are certainly available to help out.
Having had to work on the climbs you will no doubt be expecting some payback on the descents, and the Sight is ready to deliver. The 27.5in RockShox fork has slightly longer offset than the 26in version – that is, the axle is held further forward of the fork leg – and a slightly shorter offset than the 29in model has, which compensates for the reduced trail that otherwise results from a bigger wheel.
That does its bit in creating poised yet agile handling that’s every bit as inspiring as from the 26er. The bonus is the improved rolling of 27.5in wheels; it’s not as marked a difference as going from 26in to 29in, but there is a difference and you will notice it – bumps just don’t take out as much speed as a 26er-attuned mind expects. Meanwhile, it’s noticeably easier to slice around in tight corners and down quick-reaction lines full of holes and rocks than a 29er.
The 2.35in Kenda Nevegals are seriously big boots too, which helps them (and the rims) survive the inevitable onslaught.
Norco sight killer b-3 : Future Publishing
Frame & equipment: On the heavy side, with blunt-feeling rear suspension
Despite sharing a name with the 26in-wheeled Sight, the Killer-B is actually quite a different bike. Norco have put in a lot more work than just simply stretching the back a bit to make room for a slightly bigger wheel.
The fundamentals of the two designs are the same – a four-bar back end, curvy tubes punching hard into a big tapered head tube, and an up-to-date, stiff and secure 142x12mm rear axle – but the B has bigger bones and a lower-slung stance. Neat touches such as the forged clevis-style pivots and anodised bearing caps show that Norco have made a real effort.
So is the Killer-B the killer spec? Well… Spend the same money on a 26in-wheeled Sight and you get a lighter, better-equipped bike – crucially, the 26in bike has a Fox shock rather than the X-Fusion unit here. X-Fusion kit has come on massively in recent years, but this entry-level O2 unit tends to make landings harsher than they ought to be with 140mm of travel.
The unwilling shock takes the edge off what’s otherwise a really good bike – we suspect that the more expensive versions, with Fox shocks and less weight – will be formidable.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.