When I first received the bike, I was quite surprised at how light, yet solid the bike felt. I’m just under 6’ tall, and have fairly short arms and legs (~31” inseam), I find that I always fall in between the medium and large sizing for most bikes, going with a smaller fitting frame means a more playful fit, going to a large means more efficient. This bike definitely feels playful; not cramped, but I do feel the need for a slightly longer stem. I set up the bike with 25% sag on the rear shock and set the fork to the recommended pressure for my weight.
When I first hopped on the bike, the first thing that really became apparent was how lively and responsive this bike was while pedalling, it definitely didn’t feel like a longer travel trail bike. Syntace’s 142mm through axle and the one piece rocker link noticeably stiffens up the back end of the bike.
I was really excited to see how I would fare on some technical climbs, and the first few days of riding were to be on Vancouver Island in the Comox Valley area, which has a huge network of trails ranging from buff singletrack to technical, tight, twisty trails that are punishing climbs and tricky descents. We’ve had a long wet winter here, so the chance to ride the bike in an area that was a little drier was welcome, although most the time, we ride on the North Shore.
The bike did not disappoint; fast, nimble and playful, it powered up climbs often surprising me with what I was able to ascend, or how long I could maintain the pace on a sustained uphill. I fiddled a bit with the ProPedal settings on the shock, and found that on technical trails the bike was still just as good at climbing with no ProPedal engaged, and turned it off for most of the riding that I did. The ProPedal did offer a small benefit on fire roads and smoother trails. The new ART suspension is obviously doing what it promised; less bob, yielding more power to the wheel. I had access to a Fluid (the predecessor) while riding the Cumberland trails, and was hopping back and forth between the two, noting the similarities and differences through the evolution; the Sight is much more playful bike that feels improved in every aspect especially improved pedal efficiency and reduced pedal bob.
The inclusion of a Rock Shox Reverb seat-post is definitely noteworthy. For the kinds of trail that this bike is intended for, I believe that a dropper post is essential to get the most out of the bike, and the Reverb is a really great post, and has been flawless so far.
The Sight comes equipped with a Fox TALAS fork, and surprisingly, I didn’t find any need to lower the front end, even on the steepest climbs. The fork feels quite stiff and wooden compared to the lively back end, and I feel that a standard Float would serve the bike better. Small bumps through the fork were jarring and rough, hopefully it is just a break-in issue.
After the fork, the biggest complaint that I have, would be the tyres. I know that everyone has their favourite rubber combination, but the Slant Six is a tyre that would work well as a rear tyre on hard pack. As soon as any mud or roots start showing, then the tyre loses traction in a hurry, which is frustrating on the rear, but as a front tyre, the round edgeless profile offers very little traction on the wet roots that are ubiquitous to BC in spring. Norco has a history of equipping Kenda tyres, and there are better options available for a front tyre, such as the Nevegal. I have a personal preference for a Minion DHF/Larsen TT, so I switched to them so that I could focus on how the bike handled, rather than worrying about the traction all the time. With familiar tyres, I was able to really push the bike and quickly found that it’s excellent climbing performance is well matched when you point the bike downhill. The low (13.4”) BB and stiff back end make for sharp predictable cornering, and it tracked lines through the technical terrain with confidence.
Initial impressions are very positive for this bike, and the long term will see how the bike holds up to the abuse, and will determine whether my initial concerns are justified. There are a few issues that I have, such as the feel of the fork, so a little more time with setup and break-in will be quite telling.
Read Steve’s extended review of the 2012 Norco Sight 1 here »