Long Term Review: 2012 Norco Sight Trail Mountain Bike

2012 Norco Sight trail mountain bike review details and actual weight

The Norco Sight is a 140mm trail bike introduced at Sea Otter last year and made official at Norco’s 2012 launch in Whistler last fall. We’ve been ripping one around our local trails in NC and VA for about nine months under a few different riders.

We’ve played with 650B wheels on the bike, too, but the majority of the test was in stock form. We’ve been testing the mid-level Sight 2, spec’d with Shimano XT drivetrain, the Syntace 142×12 rear axle, Rockshox Revelation fork and Sun/XT wheels holding Kenda’s Slant Six tires.

Detail pics, actual weights and full review below…

BIKE OVERVIEW & WEIGHT

2012 Norco Sight trail mountain bike review details and actual weight

The Sight uses Norco’s A.R.T. version of an FSR suspension. Frame weight is claimed around 5lbs, pretty good for a 140mm / 5.5-inch travel bike. FSR designs are particularly active, but Norco does a good job of taming the motion under pedaling without giving up any of the trail taming performance.

2012 Norco Sight trail mountain bike review details and actual weight

Hollo-Form linkage welds two halves into a single piece, which lets them create a svelte yet burly piece. Norco says this isolates frame forces from affecting shock performance. In laymen’s terms, that means it keeps things stiff. All of the pivot points use “top hats” inserted into the frame with bolts running through them. This means no threaded parts on the frame that could get stripped or otherwise tweaked. They even include a spare bolt on the frame, just in case.

Also visible are cable routing points for a dropper seatpost if you choose to add one.

2012 Norco Sight trail mountain bike review details and actual weight

2012 Norco Sight trail mountain bike review details and actual weight

The chainstay yoke is heavily shaped and designed to accommodate cable routing patterns for both SRAM and Shimano front derailleurs.

2012 Norco Sight trail mountain bike review details and actual weight

Clearance is pretty good around the chainstays and seatstays. The stock tires, while not particularly knobby, were 2.35 width. Putting a 2.3 tall knob on the bike wouldn’t be a problem…particularly since we were able to cram 2.0/2.1 650B tires in there.

All cable routing runs under the downtube and is designed for full length housing. Note the extra bolt just above and in front of the BB. Simple threaded bottom bracket makes emergency replacements easier as most shops will stock these parts.

2012 Norco Sight trail mountain bike review details and actual weight

The tapered headtube gets really big at the bottom, and the downtube takes full advantage of the width with shaped, hydroformed tube the meets the full width. None of our testers had any complaints about frame stiffness or steering precision.

2012 Norco Sight trail mountain bike review details and actual weight

The only spec that we had issue with was the bar width. Our size small test bike came with a 740mm wide bar. For our shorter riders, this was a bit too wide, particularly on tighter XC-ish trails. Other than that, the spec was good for our area. The Slant Six tires and standard XT 2×10 drivetrain were matched well for our terrain and the less aggressive local trails. We also took it up to Carven’s Cove and Anglers Ridge in VA, as well as to the trails in Boone, NC, and everything performed well. The only change really necessary for more aggressive stuff would be knobbier tires and, perhaps, a dropper post.

2012 Norco Sight trail mountain bike review details and actual weight

Our test bike weighed in at 27lb 10oz without pedals.

REVIEWS

EVAN’S REVIEW: There has been a significant amount of buzz over the Sight. The cycling press has praised it, and it’s attracted a lot of attention from dealers and people on the trail. At least once an outing I’m asked “How do you like that Norco? I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. Looks cool.”

The simple answer is: I love it, and yes, it does look pretty cool.

2012 Norco Sight trail mountain bike review details and actual weightIt goes deeper than the skin though. The Sight is well equipped and well designed. Standout features are a rock solid tapered head tube allowing for larger frame tubes and weld connections, which Norco fully exploits. The hydrofromed aluminum tubes are large and stiff, but easy on the scales. This, combined with Norco’s proprietary Holloform one-piece rear suspension link, equates to a lightweight, stiff and lively overall package with minimal lateral flex and a lot of go for a 140mm trail bike.

The acceleration and pedaling prowess surprised me. I confidently rode it alongside friends sporting XC race bikes. Does this mean that I’m going to rip their legs off in a sprint or KOM them on hills? No, not quite. However, I am going to keep up, have a better and more comfortable time doing it and hit every aggressive trail line I can find (or make up). This bike begs you to push it when the trail turns technical. At full tilt, it soaks up bumps without getting sloppy and keeps it composure even if you’re still driving the pedals and careening for thrills. The slack 67.5º head angle does a decent job on flatter trails, but definitely shines when things point down.

I also appreciate the low slung top tube. There is ample inseam clearance and an easily pilotable center of gravity. There is peace of mind having the top tube distanced farther away from your crotch. Furthermore, Norco was able to reach such a high level ride quality with the Sight by including the 142 x 12 mm rear thru-axle (Syntace’s X12) and A.R.T. (Advanced Ride Technology). Together, they make the suspension mesh incredibly well with the platform, purpose, and geometry of the bike. For a much better explanation check out the link and soak it all up from those who invented it, pretty neat approach.

The Sight comes in four different versions varying from around $3000 USD up to approximately $9500 greenbacks (whoa!). There is also a Sight Forma line for the ladies with two build options, how awesome is that?! Shimano occupies the main component groupos throughout the range, SLX to XTR, and there is a mixture of seats, forks, handlebars and other bits from low to high end.

Our test bike had the XT 2×10 group. I loved everything about it. The shifting on that groupo is so precise and crisp and the XT brakes, in my opinion, are some of the best feeling, best stopping brakes you can bolt on a bike. Up front, I had a Revelation RL 15mm thru-axle fork. Setup on it was straightforward and I got it dialed in to where I wanted it in two rides, about par for me. After logging several hundred miles on the Sight, I have had no issues with the Revelation and it has performed flawlessly the entire time. Same for the bike – no problems or complications.

I did find the 740mm wide Norco 6061 aluminum handlebar to be a little too wide for my taste. I would have trimmed some length off had it been my bike. The WTB Silverado seat is the same I have on my personal bike (Cannondale Rize). As to be expected, I find it just as comfortable on this bike and a good fit for the application of a trail bike in general. Where the rubber meets the trail on the Sight 2 are located Kenda Slant Six 26 x 2.35 kevlar tires. They roll fast and corner well even at steeper angles to the ground. Tossing from side to side they had good grip and high levels of control. However, a lot of that control stemmed from the incredible ride acumen of the Sight. The Slant Six rubbers weren’t my favorite when I got caught in the mud and did seem to wear faster than most trail tires.

Norco has done an admirable job with the appearance of the entire Sight line. Clean and well swept lines along with quality, smooth looking paint jobs and unobtrusive, well played graphics make for an appealing roster. I honestly don’t have anything harsh I can say about the Sight without digging deep with the sole purpose of just finding something unpleasant to say. Hmmmm, sorry to folks hoping I’d rip it apart. It is a phenomenal trail bike that does well, if not excels, in all areas. It climbs efficiently without forfeiting being a monster when gravity acts in your favor. It is a well thought out design and is quality built (not one issue with all the hell I could throw at it). It is attractive and fun to ride. If Norco said we’ll give you the bike, but you’re never to be seen on your personal Cannondale Rize again, they’d have a taker and I’d happily adopt the Sight 2 as my personal trail bike.

ROB’S REVIEW: The Norco web site says it best: “There are so many places around the world where you can ride your bicycle. With a seemingly infinite number of trails to discover and new lines to explore, this is the one bike that every adventurer needs on their search for the perfect trail and the perfect ride.”

The Norco Sight is a versatile 140mm bike that’s perfect for the rider who likes to ride and do just a little bit of everything – all day back country trip, Super D race, 24 hour marathon event or just local riding with friends during lunch – and keep a smile on your face the entire time. It weighs in at just under 28lbs stock, but it never really felt heavy out on the trail. It has enough mass to feel stable on the gnarly sections, but not too much that dread pedaling to the top of the hill.

2012 Norco Sight trail mountain bike review details and actual weight

When I first got the bike a couple of things I noticed were the massive oversized head tube, hydroformed frame and Syntace 142×12 rear drop outs. By using these elements it allowed the engineers at Norco the ability to gain impressive amounts of front end and overall frame stiffness with little to no weight penalty. Rear suspension duties were given to Fox’s tried and true performer, the Float RP2 with Pro Pedal. This, combined with the proven FSR four-bar linkage suspension, had the bike soaking up small rocks and roots like they were not even there. When paired with the 140mm travel Rockshox Revelation fork with a 15mm Maxle Lite the bike felt really well connected front to rear. This allowed the bike to track straight through the rough stuff and helped keep my single-speed-XC-29er-hardtail riding self safe even when I got in a little over my head on the down hills.

After spending just over a week riding this awesome bike I can honestly say that it feels more like pedaling a XC bike (with the Pro Pedal turned on) than an all mountain bike, but when the trail gets rough or turns downhill, the Sight really comes alive. Point it downhill and hold on because this bike will take you to the edge. It just feels like it wants to be pushed harder and harder. How hard? Well, that depends on your courage level. Am I ready to give up my 29′er single speed for short track racing? No, but I totally want to add this to my stable for those all day adventure rides with friends. The perfect trail is out there, we just need to keep riding ’til we find it. The Norco Sight is a great vehicle for that adventure.

Comments

jeff - 08/11/12 - 6:00pm

Any further comment RE: 650b conversion, beyond the original article?

I think the 650b version next year will be unbelievable…
Any idea of a release date for it?

will - 08/12/12 - 1:18am

Really, ripping Norco for actually putting properly wide bars on a bike?

That it comes stock with 740mm bars is awesome, and they should be complimented for it. After all, they can always be cut down. Most manufacturers put bars on that are far too narrow. Good job Norco!

dave - 08/13/12 - 8:25am

msrp is $4k.

giant has a bunch of excellent bikes at this price point with better spec.

Alb - 08/13/12 - 11:08am

Ditto Will’s comments – wide bars is a massive plus point. You can always cut them down, it’s a little harder to add extra length.

Nick - 08/31/12 - 12:30am

Just sold my giant reign and am getting a sight killer b. Gonna be siiiick!

groovastic - 02/20/13 - 9:47am

Nick,

can you compare the bikes on downhills?

Cheers!

KevinB - 07/17/13 - 4:17pm

I have had the 2013 Sight 2 SE from Evans for three weeks now, £2500, my first “proper” full sus and I can say it is superb, well happy with it and a fantastic spec. Far more than could be had from the “big 3″, is this because Norco is less well known? I do not know. The bike looks awesome and feels really light when pedalling up the hills and feels like it far exceeds my capacity to take it to its limit on the deown bits, I am chucking it about far more than I did my hardtail (to be expected?) but is instilling far more confidence in me every time I go out on it. I am not an expert MTBer by any means, 48YO and just learning what having a big grin on a real bike means.

Nick - 09/30/13 - 11:46pm

I actually bought the 26″ sight 2. Threw some crossmax ST wheels on it. Snappier and lighter than the killer B. And it is way more better on the down than any Giant that I owned. I had a trance, trance X and then the reign. The Norco Sight is seriously the most fun bike that I have ever ridden.

Nick - 09/30/13 - 11:49pm

I actually bought the 26″ Sight 2. Put some crossmax STs on it. Climbs and decends better than the Giant. It is more playful and plush than the sight killer b too. Probably will never get rid of it.

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.