The previous, 650B-only Sight was well-versed, balanced and a blast to ride, but when 29 is done right, I almost always prefer it, so when I heard that Norco would be offering the Sight as a 29er, I knew I needed one.
It's not like there's a shortage of mid-travel 29ers out there to choose from, but I like the way Norco rolls. The British Columbia brand applies an appreciation for certain details that other companies just don't bother with. Did you know that the tube profiles are different for each frame size? Yeah, smaller frames get smaller profiles, so lighter riders won't be on a frame that's too stiff and unforgiving, and heavier riders won't be riding a wet noodle. That's pretty cool. But wait—and I'm going to sound like an infomercial here—that's not all.
Each frame size also gets its own chainstay length, because Norco believes in maintaining a balanced center of gravity. You don't want to have girl on the XL looping out on all the climbs while dude on the small can't even get the front wheel up into a manual. When you think about it, you begin to wonder why every bike maker doesn't maintain the same front-to-rear-center ratio across their frame sizes. The numbers looked enticing to me. To begin with, the Sight 9 delivers 130 millimeters of rear wheel travel and 140 up front. The size large (the 29er Sight is offered from medium to XL) has short 435-millimeter stays, a lengthy 458-millimeter reach, a reasonable 67-degree head angle and an upright 74.1-degree seat angle. And then there's the added detail of the Sight's ultra-short 93-millimeter headtube, which allows aggressive (and shorter) riders to get the bars nice and low.
The new Sight 9 seemed aimed dead-on target. That target being all singletrack, everywhere. My firing range of choice offered all types of terrain, from green-circle, flat, cyclocross-bike-smooth ribbons, to steep, loose, bony, double-black DH track, to your average undulating blue-square singletrack. It was on that steep, bony junk where the Sight 9 showed its true all-mountain teeth. On my first ride, I pointed the Sight 9 at a mind-boggling, near-vertical minefi eld of jagged volcanic rock, and fired away. They should call the 29er version of this thing the Laser Sight, because it's hard to miss on this thing.
Everywhere else, the Sight 9 was perfectly happy masquerading as a trail bike. Because it's not overly slack up front and the seat angle is nice and steep, the Sight 9 can hammer climbs in a way that made me look down to see if I was still on the same bike that had so confidently delivered me to the bottom of a trail made for downhill bikes.
And when I'd look down, I'd see that new trunnion-mounted RockShox Deluxe rear shock, which is really something to write home about. It's nice and supple off the top, but remarkably supportive in the mid-stroke. On the Sight 9, it makes that 130 millimeters of travel feel like a whole lot more on descents, and a whole lot less on climbs.
The Sight's suspension feels like a Tempur-Pedic mattress. Bear with me on this one. The softest, plushest mattress feels great at the bed store, but makes your back feel like shit in the long run. The Tempur-Pedic mattress doesn't feel amazing at first, but once you get used to it you realize how having support and controlled cush is where it's at. All of a sudden you're waking up feeling rested, skipping down the street like a frickin' kid.
With the controlled cush and extra support, the Sight is fast everywhere. The lively feel will make you want to pop off every extra credit point you spot, the pedaling support will have you sprinting for KOMs and the progressive stroke will have you boosting farther with more confidence.
So who should ride the 650b version of the Sight now that the 29er is here? Well, first off, short people. The 650b model is available all the way down to extra small. And then there's the extra bit of playfulness that smaller wheels provide. The 29-inch Sight is remarkably playful and agile for a 29er on the long end of mid-travel, but I'll say this: It's easier to go really, really fast through a straight section of rough trail on the Sight than it is to duck and dive through tight stuff. Once you learn to preload it into corners, though, it has the ability to return the favor by spitting you right back out of them with more momentum than you'd expect.
I talked about the shock, but what about the rest of the parts? Well, there's a Pike up front, which nobody's complaining about. For drivetrain, it's a full Shimano XT kit, including cranks—a surprising and welcome inclusion. I prefer drivetrains that were designed together, spec'd together. Which leads me to the one place Norco didn't deliver on the details. The Sight is spec'd with Jagwire cable housing, not the Shimano stuff that's engineered to minimize friction, especially when combined with the special, coated shift cable the system is designed to run. It might seem like a small thing, but it makes a huge difference in shifting speed and accuracy.
Moving on, we've got a RockShox Reverb seat post with 150 millimeters of drop, Race Face Altas 35 800-mil-wide bars, 50-millimeter Aeffect stem, Half Nelson grips and AR 30 wheels rolling on Schwalbe Nobby Nic and Magic Mary tires.
Those wide bars and burly front tire are a couple not-so-subtle hints that this bike is down to party. But, it delivers such a well-rounded ride that shredders and spinners alike will find that the Sight is aimed to please.
$5,000 / norco.com
Norco's Two Cents: The new Sight is all about the details. The previous generation was well loved, so we didn't want to create a completely different bike, just tweak it. We felt like the Sight was being pushed into more technical trails and aggressive terrain. This led us to making smalls changes in geo, and component spec choices such as 800mm wide bars, wider rims, more aggressive tire spec etc. It really seemed like everything came together in the new Sight and the chance to offer it in a 29er as well as 650b was exciting. While it may look similar to the Range, there are a vast number of differences in the details. As we refined the Range into our Enduro race bike, and introduced the Optic last year, we made sure the Sight struck right down the middle–capable and fun to ride.
Re: the cable casing–We have been using Jagwire for years with both Shimano and SRAM drivetrains. We have worked closely with Jagwire and they are the experts in cable casing with many options, and what we feel to be top quality casing. We have recently been testing a new lighter weight casing for our MY18 bikes that is significantly lighter weight but it did not make the spec for 2017 as we need more time for our team to test it. Based on this comment, we will however go back and do some more back to back testing to compare the Jagwire and Shimano casing. Our goal here is to listen to the riders, media, and team athletes and when we have a comment such as this, we listen. —JJ Jamieson, Norco Senior Product Manager