Bontrager gave us something to be excited about with the release of their new carbon wheels at very appealing prices. When we’re used to seeing carbon wheels trickle up to and well over the $2000 mark, these for under $1700 were worth a look.
The rims are 30mm wide, they use a robust plastic rim strip to seal the internal rim area and roll on nice hubs, the freehub has 108 engagement points and has a very sophisticated feeling and sound.
How do they compare to the aluminnium wheels?
Swapping from the 35mm width aluminium Wheelworks Flite Wide wheels to the carbon Bontrager wheels had quite a dramatic effect, while they are lighter they are also a lot stiffer. The narrower 30mm Bontrager wheels are very responsive to your actions on the bike, and you can really feel how stiff they are when you push the bike around sideways into a corner or hammer hard on the pedals.
Coming off the 35mm wide Wheelworks they certainly don’t feel any near as smooth, in part due to the softer feeling material and the bigger air volume from a wider wheel, the Norco felt more supple and more planted with the Wheelworks. The change to the Bontragers has given the Norco a more racey and fast feel with more trail feedback transferred up to hands.
It has us wondering what we’d pick as the better wheel out of the two, smooth and grippy, or fast and stiff? Full review coming shortly.
SRAM XX1 Eagle, the best drivetrain going?
It’s hard to argue that SRAM is driving ahead with mountain bike drivetrains causing Shimano to chase, it’s a competitive segment and we really enjoy watching it play out. SRAM Eagle solved any debate over the gear range that’s comparable to a double chainring setup, but for us, it’s more than just the range we like about Eagle. The shifting is ultra-crisp, the chain and chainring are dead quiet and it handles its enormous spread of gears without a hiccup.
Shimano XTR TRail Brakes, fickle but fantastic.
In the braking department, it is the XTR Trail brake that really seals the deal for the best trail bike brakes going. While they too are not without their inconsistencies, when you get a good set working well they are hard to match. It’s the power and heat management that edges out the SRAM Guide Ultimates in our opinion, most evident on long descents where you’re constantly on the brakes.
A water bottle cage that fits.
The Specialized cage fits the tight space for a water bottle just right, and the side-access was the only way.
The latest range of Norco suspension bikes have been so good. First, it was the short travel Optic, then the long travel Range and the Sight in the middle. Using a new frame, great spec and a very well received approach to geometry, they’ve been popular!
We sat down with one of Norco’s bike designers, Owen Pemberton, chatting about frame geometry, wheel size and suspension, it’s an excellent read. “I spent months working on a study, staring at excel spreadsheets trying to work out geometry and how we could make it work – on paper, could we get a 29er to handle as well as our 650b bikes?”
While the wheels from custom wheel builders Wheelworks use the similar rims to the stock spec Raceface ARC 30, these have 35mm internal width rims and have been handbuilt with bladed spokes, they also use high-end hubs with a very positive freehub engagement. There was quite a discernable difference in the ride quality with the wheel change, especially on loose surfaces where we could drop the tyres down a little further to give us more traction.
Going to wider rims are an absolute no-brainer for anyone looking to add composure and confidence to their bike, we’ve been super happy with these.
This was an interesting one for us, our first ride of the BOX One drivetrain, a brand previously known mainly for BMX components. The drivetrain is 11-speed with an 11-46 tooth cassette, a black KMC chain and it uses a few unique approaches to the classic task of shifting; the most obvious one is how you shift with your thumb. Instead of two paddles that shift up, and the other shifts down, the BOX One uses one paddle that can be downshifted like normal, but to upshift you ‘poke’ the L-shaped thumb lever inwards towards the shifter. It took a few hours to get used to, but the shifting is actually very smooth and precise, the chain glides up and down the cassette quietly and with a fairly consistent jump in teeth size (unlike the Shimano 11-46 cassette it replaced) we liked its light and slick shifting feel.
It only took a few hours of riding to get used to, the shifting is actually very smooth and precise, the chain glides up and down the cassette quietly and with a fairly consistent jump in teeth size (unlike the Shimano 11-46 cassette it replaced) we liked its light and slick shifting feel.
The rear derailleur not only looks vastly different from Shimano or SRAM, but it also uses a different approach to chain retention, too. While BOX does suggest using a chain guide with the system, we didn’t drop a chain despite the derailleur’s tension feeling significantly lighter than the Shimano it replaced.
Our biggest gripe with the shifter is how it meshed with the Shimano XT brake lever, the architecture of the mount didn’t allow us to roll the shifter upwards to our preference. Though we doubt that would pose an issue for everyone. Overall we were happily impressed with the drivetrain, though it may not stand forth as a stronger option to the other big guns, it’s nice to try something different.
Geeking out with the ShockWiz.
This is one very interesting little device, we’ve had this fitted to the fork and shock for quite some time now and are really beginning to understand how it works. Interestingly though, one thing we take away from deciphering the ShockWiz feedback is to back off the rear shock’s compression even when it’s in open mode and decrease its progresivity by removing volume spacers. This proves the point that the Sight’s suspension is quite supportive and firm, we’re going to delve into this a little deeper in our next long term test update.
Dropper post – FOX Transfer.
The best dropper post we have ridden, the Transfer is so reliable, consistent and the lever fits so well on the left-hand side of the bar. We’re open to suggestions as to what could trump the Transfer as the best dropper out there if the cost was no factor.
Cockpit – ENVE stem, PRO Tharsis bar, Ergon GE1 grips.
To drop some weight from the front end, we went full carbon with the ENVE stem and PRO Tharsis bar, some of the lightest available. The Ergon grips are huge favourites of ours.
Saddle – Ergon SMA3-Comp.
Saddles are a personal thing, while the SDG saddle that came on the Norco was a good fit for our backsides, we wanted to lose some weight from the bike and try something new. The SMA3 Comp saddle comes in two widths – medium and small – we’ve got the medium on there now, and the saddle feels firm but not too hard, and the material and shape allow us to move around it as we ride in and out of the saddle.
While we’re never going to set records for the lightest trail bike out there, the Sight makes it up in other areas. We’re going to try some 2018 FOX suspension, Bontrager carbon wheels, XTR brakes, TRP Quadiem brakes, Schwalbe Addix tyres, a SRAM Eagle drivetrain and try to find a water bottle cage and bottle that fits in the tight space.
The Sight sits in between the Range and Optic in Norco’s catalogue, a mid-travel trail bike available in both wheel size options. The Sight could be dubbed the middle child of the Norcos, with parts, and a shape that strikes a sweet spot between the lean cross country scene and the burly enduro crowds. In fact, we’d say that this is the type of bike we would hope more mountain bikers consider instead of being attracted to a race bike, or what the pros ride.
We have 140mm of travel up front, and 130mm out the back (the 27.5″ version has 150/140mm), it’s a good amount, not too much, not too little, just right for riding hard on rough trails up and down, right?
The frame is quite compact, low and drew many comments from onlookers it doesn’t look like a typical 29er at first glance. The proportions are nice, the finish is very classy, and the internal cabling managed by the rubber clamps at the frame ports hold the cables from making noise inside the frame and can be easily accessed too, it’s an excellent cable management system in an area that a lot of other brands still battle with.
The frame is quite compact, low and drew many comments from onlookers it doesn’t look like a typical 29er at first glance
The Sight C 9.2 a full carbon frame save for the aluminium chainstays and two-piece rocker linkage, and with no quick release axles at either ends the profile of the bike is quite narrow – great for sneaking past rocks – but make sure you have an allen key handy for wheel removal.
One thing that irks us is the super-tight space provided for a water bottle cage; we’re still experimenting on what size water bottle and cage combination doesn’t come into contact with the rear shock lockout lever and rub the underside of the top tube. Suggestions anyone?
We’ve got more details on the specifics of the new bike on our feature on the Sight release here – Meet the new Sight Carbon – read further on the unique frame geometry that changes with the frame sizing and more.
27.5″ or 29″?
While we admit rolling our eyes and letting out a sigh of disdain when we have to talk about wheel sizes, who wants what size, what’s the best size for what type of trail, blah blah, options are a good thing? The Sight (along with the shorter travel Optic) are available in both wheel sizes, big for momentum, small for agility. We chose the 29er because to review, in our opinion, this category of bike is well-suited to 29″ wheels. That said if you’re after a more nimble bike to ride on the trails and a more precise and sturdier wheel on your bike, the 27.5″ version is available. We rode the Optic in both wheel sizes recently, have a look at our thoughts on the two bikes here. Riding two wheel sizes of the same bike, the Norco Optic.
How’s the spec stack up?
Norco is always pretty good at choosing the right parts for the intended use, and this is no exception. We packed this bike and took it for a week of riding – not racing – in Derby to cover the Enduro World Series, and we didn’t change a thing, and it is still completely 100% stock.
Shimano takes care of most of the bits, with the robust and reliable Shimano XT, even down the hubs too. Unfortunately, the XT drivetrain fell victim to the notorious grinding and noise in the wet and dry, even with care taken in cleaning and lubing the chain still would grind and groan over the cassette when we got out of the saddle and put massive torque on the pedals. And we did drop the chain a couple of times too, a bummer for our confidence.
The bike is fitted with a One-Up S3 chain guide mounted neatly via the ISCG mounts, but as we assembled the bike, we found the screw holding the plastic guide to the backing plate overtightened and spinning in its thread. It’s an excellent little guide, but a plastic thread holding it together didn’t work out too well, so we had to ditch the guide and risk a dropped chain on rough trails.
The tyres are amazing too, we’ve not ridden the super-aggro Schwalbe Magic Mary on a bike with less that 160mm of travel
There’s plenty to be positive about the spec though, we loved the powerful Shimano XT brakes, the shifting was always precise, and the new 11-46T cassette may be heavy but offers up a great range of gears.
The tyres are fantastic too, we’ve not ridden the super-aggro Schwalbe Magic Mary on a bike with less that 160mm of travel, but in 2.35″ size on 30mm wide rims, it’s quite fast rolling yet still very grippy on the technical climbs and through the turns. Both the tyres are excellent; we found the Sight to have gobs of traction on the trails.
RockShox takes care of the bounce, at both ends with the new Deluxe RT3 shock with the trunnion (frame linkage mounts on the side of the shock, rather than on top) mount. We used the ShockWiz suspension setup tool on both the fork and shock to guide our setupconfiguration and with two Bottomless Tokens fitted inside the fork as standard we didn’t have to do too much to get it dialled, just fine tuning of the shock pressures was all we needed.
How’d it ride then?
This is the type of 29er that will actually win the wheel-size cynics over; it’s a very agile, quick handling and confident bike to ride. The suspension amount isn’t huge, so coming off a lot of other longer travel bikes we’re currently testing like the Canyon Strive, Norco Range, Trek Slash etc, this bike feels so light to ride and engages with the trail.
This bike feels so light to ride and engages with the trail.
The Sight felt at home manualling sections of trail, hopping up steps and nosing into tight landings, we quickly felt at home on it, and natural like we were on a 27.5″ bike but relished in the momentum and traction that the 29″ wheels have. The supple-yet-supportive suspension, frame geometry and grippy tyres let the Sight keep up with bigger travel 160mm bikes but drop them on flatter trails and climbs in no time.
The supple-yet-supportive suspension, frame geometry and grippy tyres make the Sight come alive through the singletrack when you need to think quick and maintain speed. On the amazing trails of Derby in Tasmania, we hooked hard through the perfect berms and tackled the raw and gnarly race tracks of the EWS without a worry at all.
If you watched any of the coverage of the EWS in Derby, Tasmania you’d understand the type of trails we took this bike through. While it may not have been our choice to race on – we’d opt for the bigger travel Range to let the speeds at race pace be more manageable – the Sight held its own so very well. Standing up on the pedals with one finger on the brakes the bike is confident at rolling down steep chutes, squeezing through tight gaps in massive boulders and pounding straight rock gardens at hectic speed.
What we’d change?
We’d fix the chain guide straight away, and look for a few areas to drop some weight out of the bike like the aluminium cockpit, saddle, etc. Other than that, the Sight is ready for it.
Who’d suit the Sight?
Because it strikes such a nice balance between a heavy-hitting enduro rig or a short travel trail bike, the Sight will suit quite a wide range of riders. The 29″ wheels give the bike high confidence and traction, the frame geometry is quick-handling, and the suspension supple and balanced.
Finally! There’s been news on the grapevine for some time about Norco having some big release news early in 2017, and here it is!
The new Norco Sight follows in the footsteps of the Optic trail bike by offering both 27.5″ and 29″ wheelsizes, with an all new carbon frame. Norco’s engineering team have a pretty interesting take on giving consumers 27.5″ and 29″ wheel options for their models without compromising the overall ride qualities of the bike, which we discussed with Norco engineer Owen Pemberton last year. We’ve also reviewed how Norco’s approach to bike fit at length in our Norco Optic review.
We’ve reviewed many versions of the Norco Sight previously. Take a read to see how the bike has evolved.
Norco’s decision to offer riders two different wheel sizes in the new Sight is an interesting one, especially given the undeniable swing back towards popularity currently being enjoyed by longer travel 29ers (bikes such as the Yeti SB5.5 and YT Jeffsy that we’re reviewing at the moment). We’ll be interested to see which option proves most popular as the bikes arrive.
As with the Optic, the 29er version of the Sight has slightly less travel – 130mm rear, 140mm front – versus the 27.5″ version, which runs 140/150mm.
With the launch of the new Sight, Norco have also released a round table discussion between Senior Design Engineer Owen Pemberton, Norco Product Manager Jim Jamieson, and Engineering Manager P.J. Hunton outlining why they’ve made the changes that they have to the geometry and suspension, and also some interesting discussion around how the bikes are specced.
We think it’s worth a watch, as Owen Pemberton really simplifies Norco’s philosophy with regards to the Sight’s handling, suspension and fit, and Jim Jamieson does an excellent job explaining why certain components were decided upon with regards to spec.
We’re hoping to have a Sight C9.2 in our hands next week, when we’ll bring you more thoughts once we’ve had time to scratch and sniff it. Now let’s jump back into the official word from Norco.
Building on the best qualities of the previous generation Sight, our engineers applied their evolved geometry philosophy to redesign the frame from the ground up, and to introduce a 29er with the same fit and nearly identical handling characteristics as the Killer B. The result is a versatile trail killer with longer, lower, and slacker geometry to suit modern All-Mountain riding styles, and a new A.R.T. Suspension system for improved suspension performance.
To achieve the renowned fit and handling of the Killer B in a 29er platform, the 29er is designed around the same rear center lengths, with a longer front centre, steeper head tube angle, shorter stem, and 10mm less travel front and rear to offset the characteristics of the larger wheels. Although the stack and reach measurements of a Sight 650b and 29er will differ, when stem length is incorporated (a measurement Norco engineers call Reach Plus and Stack Plus), the fit between the two platforms is identical.
The Sight Carbon 29er is available in the widest possible size range without compromising the geometry, fit, and handling. Whether you prefer the quick acceleration and playfulness of 650b wheels or the improved rollover and momentum of a 29er – the Sight Carbon offers riders choice without compromise.
Balanced climbing and descending capability combined with grin-inducing playfulness and nimble handling make the Sight the ideal accomplice on any aggressive All-Mountain ride. The dialed spec includes metric rear shocks, 1x drivetrains, integrated frame protection, wide tubeless-ready rims, stealth dropper posts, and other thoughtful details that make the Sight Carbon feel like a custom build, straight out of the box.
We’re very excited to be taking delivery of a Sight C9.2 model in the very near future, as we think the new Sight suits the type of riding we do alot of here at Flow. Keep your eyes peeled for a First Bite soon!
Advance Traders will be bringing all three models in the Sight range into Australia in both 27.5″ and 29″ sizes, and prices range between $4999 and $8199.
The Sight C7.2, and the rest of the Norco Sight range, are available from 99 Bikes at some pretty sharp, reduced prices. Take a look!
[divider]What is it, and who is it for?[/divider]
The Norco Sight is a rowdy little bike, available in a big range of price points, in both alloy and carbon versions. It feels like a go-kart on the trails (albeit with monster-truck tyres), and it loves to pick apart your favourite sections of trail and encourage you to ride them in new ways. It really hits the sweet spot for hard riding; 140mm/150mm travel, with geometry that’s 100% built for playfulness on the trail. Our test bike is just one rung from the top in the Sight range with a pretty hefty $7249 price tag, but the same geometry and attitude flows all the way down to the alloy Sight A 7.2 for $3499.
This bike looks great, and the beauty of the carbon frame runs more than paint deep (and we really do like the colour).
Four-bar efficiency: The Sight’s four-bar linkage suspension delivers 140mm of efficient travel, using the Cane Creek Double Barrel In-Line shock. Norco incorporate a fair bit of anti-squat into their suspension design, with an axle path that’s noticeably rearward moving in the early part of the travel. This makes them pedal exceptionally well for a pretty plush overall ride, at the expense of a bit of pedal feedback when putting down the power in rougher situations.
Size-specific geometry: Norco’s Gravity Tune geometry is seen throughout much of their range. In a nutshell, as the frame size increases, so to does the rear-centre measurement of the bike, whereas in traditional sizing only the front end of the bike gets longer in bigger sizes. It’s all about keeping the rider’s body weight in the right position relative to both wheels, and on our medium sized test bike the chain stay measures up at a short 427mm. The head angle is 66.9 degrees, which is fairly standard in this realm, and a reach measurement of 415mm is paired to a 65mm stem.
Cables and water bottle both get a tick: Having room for a full-sized water bottle is a big plus for those humid summer days when you start oozing sweat at the mere thought of wearing a pack. Norco have handled the internal cabling well, with rubber grommets keeping the cables tamed and ensuring clean, rub-free routing around the head tube. The ports into the frame are actually quite roomy too, which reduces head aches should you need to stuff around with the internal cables later.
Why the front derailleur provisions? No one who buys this bike will be popping a front derailleur on it. It would’ve been classier if Norco had used an ISCG mounted chain guide, ditched the ugly mount and cable routing ports for a front mech on this version of the Sight.
In 2015, the Sight had 140mm front and rear. But if lots is good, more must be better, and so in 2016 the Pike RC fork is bumped up to 150mm. The rear end doesn’t change, it still gets 140mm delivered via the potentially confounding Cane Creek DB Inline rear shock. We’ve got a funny relationship with this shock… there’s a lot of performance there, but getting the best out of it takes patience. Given that we normally only have a bike for a few weeks during testing, we often feel we like we’re always working on getting things ‘just right’.
With independent control over high and low-speed compression and high and low-speed rebound (plus a Climb Switch) there’s huge potential to get the rear end feeling great with the CCDB, but it’s a long process, and we can imagine there are a lot of riders out there who either a) never use any of the adjustments or b) use the adjustments without the knowledge to do so and end up with a shock that’s set up poorly. Arguably the performance benefits are there, but are they comparatively enough versus say a FOX or RockShox which usually only takes a ride or two to get dialled? We’re not sure… That said, Norco do provide recommended baseline settings for the shock, so as long as you don’t vary too far from these, you’re likely to be pretty good.
In comparison, the fork is a joy to work with. The recommended pressure guide is usually quite accurate, the rebound rate is easy to adjust, and the bike is supplied with RockShox’s Bottomless Tokens which can be fitted in just a couple of minutes to get the suspension rate how you like it. We love the Pike.
Initially we adjusted the rear shock to the recommended settings (17mm sag), but we did find this left the bike riding a little low in its travel for our liking much of the time, so the pressure was bumped up a little to give us around 14mm sag. Based on our previous experience with the Pike, we fitted one Bottomless Token and ran the recommended air pressure for our weight.
The super-aggressive Schwalbe Magic Mary front tyre is a lot of rubber to push around most trails, but its grip levels will save your arse in so many situations it’s impossible not to love it. DT’s E512 rims needed tubeless rim strips and valves to set up as tubeless, neither of which were included with the bike, a shame. The rims are reasonably wide at 25mm internally, and we felt comfortable running the tyres in the low-mid twenties.
Some short cuts, given the price: With the drop in the Australian dollar, we’ve seen prices go up a fair bit across the industry, and Norco hasn’t been immune unfortunately. Even still, we’re surprised that the Sight doesn’t get the more expensive RCT3 version of the Pike, and we’d have expected a carbon bar for this price too.
Fantastic rubber: Schwalbe’s gummy tyres occasionally come under fire for being less than durable, but so far so good for the Nobby Nic / Magic Mary on the Sight. These tyres are a great combo – the Nic’s tread pattern is like a scaled back version of the absurdly aggressive Mary up front, and together they dig into just about anything. We did notice they felt a little slow on fireroad climbs, but that’s not why you buy this bike. We really like that Norco has specced the tougher Snake Skin version of these treads too.
Great drivetrain with extra security: Adding a chain guide to SRAM X1 drivetrain mightn’t be necessary, but we still think it’s a good idea as it only takes one inopportune dropped chain to make your groin and stem awfully familiar. The shifting quality is perfect, every time. Blindfold us and we’d battle to tell the difference between X1 and the far more expensive XX1.
Top notch brakes with neat clamp integration: Using SRAM Match Maker clamps for the brakes/shifter/dropper means the cockpit is more orderly than North Korean military parade, and the stopping power and lever feel of the Guide RS brakes is hard to top.
If you like to view the trail as a playground, rather than a route from A to B, then the Sight will appeal. This is a bike that makes you want to flick the rear wheel about like a cut snake, and generally go over, not through, whatever is in front of your wheels.
Dropping low down into a turn with the rear end sliding is how the Sight likes to approach every corner, and thanks to the crazy amounts of grip up front you’re pretty much guaranteed you won’t lose the front end. Short stays and an overall compact feel make it an easy one to pop into the air, or get on its back wheel with a stab on the pedals to tackle tricky climbs or ledges. While the bike itself is efficient in terms of pedalling, the way we found ourselves riding the Sight was anything but! It’s quite a light bike, and it doesn’t bog down under power so you’re always up out of the saddle sprinting at things, trying to drift, looking for the fun lines, not the fast ones – most of our rides on the Sight topped out at about an hour and a half, not through any fault of the bike’s, but because we spent so much energy just doing fun, stupid things.
The Sight proved to be really comfortable and quiet when taking some big impacts too. We found ourselves remarking time and again just how solid and unflappable everything felt when touching down from some pretty decent six-foot plus drops. There’s a really reassuring, progressive feel to the suspension; the shock uses all its travel but doesn’t crash into the end of its stroke, and the Pike fork feels like it’ll munch up the big hits all day.
At slower speeds, we initially didn’t feel as overwhelmed by the Sight’s suspension, but we feel that the recommended shock setup was to blame. Using the recommended baseline settings provided by Cane Creek, we felt like the rear end was getting a bit ‘stuck’ when trying to keep momentum on slower, lumpy sections of trail. Speeding up the low-speed rebound to keep the bike a little bit more lively and riding higher in its stroke helped.
The Sight is a reliable, steady climber, especially if you use the shock’s Climb Switch, which both stiffens the suspension and increases the damping on the low-speed rebound circuit too. It’s a super effective climbing setting, and with the big contact patch of the Schwalbe Nobby Nic climbing traction is excellent. It’s not a roomy bike to climb on, so we did push the seat back a little to lengthen the climbing position, as well as lowering the bars to put more weight over the axle and tame the tame the front wheel wandering.
While the Norco Sight C7.2 isn’t the value-for-money front runner it was in years past, its performance certainly hasn’t dropped off one iota. This bike will bring a big grin to your face anytime the trail turns twisty or there’s potential to get into the air. If your budget won’t stretch to this model, there are three Sights at lower price points to choose from too, all of which keep the same playful geometry and vibe.
Born in BC, Canada and still there, Norco have a core vibe about them, they feel like a small brand but are rich in mountain bike heritage. And while they have produced some fairly unsightly bikes in the past, we can only sing praises of their strong rise in recent years to become one amongst the best riding bikes available.
For 2016 there may not be too much new, (but do stay tuned for more) although what we did see when meandering through the room were bikes that were polished in all areas and ones that we could picture owning ourselves.
The big news for the Norco Sight for 2016 is the bigger forks. Now a 150mm fork (previously 140mm) the front end is slackened off to a sweet 67 degrees, and with a change of carbon vendors Norco have modified the carbon layup to accommodate for the taller and stiffer forks.
With 140mm out back, and 150mm up front the Sight is a pretty dialled all-mountain bike with geometry that puts it between a hard charging enduro bike and a trail dually. In its first year the Sight Carbon wasn’t without its teething issues as we found out when testing the 2014 model. But each and every issue we had back then has been sorted, and the new 2016 Sight looks bloody amazing.
The Sight Carbon 7.2 was on display and available for demo on the sweet trails of Gap Creek, Brisbane. The two-tone matte red paint and excellent parts spec really turns heads.
The Sight adopts Norco’s Gravity Tune sizing system. Where typically a bike size is determined by the length of the front end and the rear remains the same length, in Norco’s case the front and rear end of the bike will grow in length as the sizes increase. Gravity Tune sizing was developed on the Aurum doanhill bike, and is now found on all new Norco dual suspension bikes going forward.
Five versions of the 2016 Sight will make their way down under:
Sight A 7.2 – $3499
Sight A 7.1 – $4499 (green version pictured above)
Sight C 7.3 – $5499
Sight C 7.2 – $7249 (red version pictured above)
Sight C 7.1 – $8499
A bike that we are very familiar with here at Flow, the Norco Range is a real winner in the big travel enduro segment. Now with longer travel forks like the Sight, you’ll find 170mm travel up front for 2016.
The head angle is slackened off a touch to 65.5 degrees, and a modified carbon layup is used to accommodate for the extra stress placed on the frame with a stiffer and taller fork, just like the Sight.
The bike we have pictured here will actually specced with an all-black RockShox Lyrik fork.
Four levels of the Norco Range will be coming here:
Range A 7.1 – $4699
Range A 7.2 – $3699
Range C 7.3 – $5499
Range C 7.2 – $7999 (pictured above)
For 2016 we’ll see Norco Australia bringing in the entire Aurum range, that is a huge three carbon and two aluminium versions of this burly downhill rig.
The frame is littered with features, the carbon Aurum 7.2 we saw used a clever integrated fender underneath the downtube. This multi purpose feature doubles up as a bump stop for the fork crowns and a shuttle guard to protect the frame when transporting over the back of a ute tray.
All the cable routing is also very neat, and well thought out, it must be a very silent bike to ride.
With a frame weight of 3300g for the carbon and 3750 for the aluminium, the Aurum pictured here is claimed to weight under 15.5kg, crazy light for a DH bike with coil sprung suspension front and back.
With a 142mm wide rear hub spacing, the Aurum is narrower than many of the current downhill bikes out there. It’s said to increase heel clearance, rear derailleur clearance and is made possible with the use of the SRAM XO1 DH 7-speed drivetrain.
Using Norco’s Gravity Tune concept, the rear-centre measurement of the bike is shorter for the smaller sized frames and longer in the larger frames. As opposed to traditional bike sizing (which simply lengthens the front-centre or top tube measurement in bigger sizes), the Gravity Tune concept is designed to keep the rider position consistent across the size range.
Five Norco Aurum’s are on their way soon:
Norco Aurum A 7.2 – $4199
Norco Aurum A 7.1 – $3099
Norco Aurum C 7.3 – $6399
Norco Aurum C 7.2 – $7499
Norco Aurum C 7.1 – $8999
Norco’s 29er carbon hardtail remains unchanged for 2016, but a dual suspension version may, or may not be coming soon…
Norco’s bikes haven’t just come on a little bit in the past four or five years. No, they’ve improved astronomically and the Sight range is really indicative of all that progress. A couple of years ago, Norco launched the Sight in a 26” wheeled variant, but for 2014 it undergoes the shift to 27.5” wheels whilst retaining that trail-friendly 140mm of bounce.
We picked up a Sight Carbon 7.1 and took it to singletrack Nirvana, Rotorua, for five days of guess what?
The Sight’s the best looking Norco we’ve ever seen; clean shapes, the contrasting matte and flourescent colours and the smart little finishing touches had us drooling over the Sight at first sight.
With the move to a carbon front end, 25% of the grams are gone. Like a number of manufacturers, Norco have opted for a carbon front end and aluminium chain stays out back. We like this method of construction, as the rear end is the part of the frame most susceptible to crash damage, while the front end is largely protected by the bars and cranks.
Norco have taken a step in the right direction with internal cable routing, including some neat rubber grommets do prevent dirt or water accessing the frame. But during our testing the rubber cable grommets occasionally pulled loose, making making a bit of a mess, and requiring us to stop and wedge them back in periodically.
A ‘true’ four-bar suspension design makes it all happen out the back, with Norco’s A.R.T. take on the well-proven system. The placement of the suspension pivot on the chain stay allows for a little rearward rear wheel movement at the start of the suspension travel. This rearward axle path wheel also adds tension to the chain, so if you’re cranking down hard the rear suspension will display a certain amount of anti-squat and the bike jumps forward nicely.
We had some dramas with the pivot hardware coming loose during testing, and because the two main pivots use a spanner and not just Allen keys, it wasn’t something we could fix out on the trail. A spot of Loctite resolved it.
Norco don’t settle for the standard one-size-fits-all approach in regard to the frame’s rear end. As the frame sizes go up, it’s both the front end and chain stays that grow in length to keep the rider’s position centred.
Meaty rubber, four-piston brakes and an adjustable post tells us the Sight is ready for some action, and definitely sways it’s attitude towards the more aggressive side of the scale. The big tyres did feel a bit slow on the flatter trails, but of course the big shoulder knobs held on tight. Still we’d probably opt for some slightly faster-rolling rubber for general trail riding.
We battled with the Rockshox Revelation during our testing, the fork’s action just felt uncharacteristically choppy and harsh, not like the usual Revelations we’ve tried. It all came to head when the main seal on the air-spring side came free from the lowers with a loud POP. We think that air had seeped from the negative air chamber into the lower, resulting in a build up of pressure that ultimately popped seal out. We pulled the lowers off, reset the seal back in place and changed the lubricating oil and the result was immediate improvement. Still, the fork was never quite all we’d hoped for.
SRAM’s X01 gear is simply spot on, but the brakes are a bit weak on bite, especially in the wet. We’d recommend swapping out the original resin brake pads for some metal sintered ones.
The Sight left us with mixed feelings. The efficiency of the bike is great. It pedals brilliantly, even with the heavy rubber fitted, and in spite of its slack angles it’s easy to keep it on track up a steep climb.
Low weight and a very stiff frame give the Sight a precise feel; it never seems to doubt the direction you take. The lowly slung top tube and wide bars really allow you to tip the bike right over beneath you too, adding to the agility of the ride.
We were less impressed by the suspension feel overall. Perhaps our impression was influenced overly by the fork’s problems, but the ride never felt ‘alive’. The Norco prioritises stability on the big hits over suppleness. Some riders will revel in this firm feel, but when compared to some of the other bikes we were reviewing alongside the Norco, the suspension just felt a bit lacking.
This was admittedly a very big surprise, as most new-generation Norcos we’ve ridden have been incredible – it does make us wonder if there wasn’t some issue (like the wrong shock tune) with our bike that could have been resolved with a longer testing window.
Our short time aboard the Norco may have brought a couple of teething issues, but sorting them out would not have been to much of an issue and we’re certainly positive about the overall potential of this bike. The frame, geometry and component selection are all excellent and with a lighter set of tyres set up tubeless the Sight could hit an impressively low weight. Although we didn’t entirely mesh with the bike’s suspension, the geometry, looks and ability to hold a line on the roughest trails all make for a great platform to build a dreamy trail bike.