Trail Test - Norco Sight 2
I really don’t like white mountain bikes; never have, and never will. There, I’ve said it; and the Norco Sight 2, well it’s a white mountain bike so it’s obvious from the outset that I’m not going to like it, either. There’s something about white bikes that challenges my old-fashioned sense of what’s masculine, what’s cool-looking and what’s appropriate for throwing around in the dirt and the mud, and I will not give up those long held beliefs no matter what.
So at some point in the near future I’m fully expecting to look up and see a pig flying past, because despite all my deeply, deeply ingrained prejudices I like the Sight. I like it a lot. Bordering on infatuation. In this state of internal turmoil I need to vent, so I’m going to tell you all the things I don’t like about bikes (especially white ones) and why, regardless of all these things, I like the Sight 2, and why you’ll like the Sight too.
A Lonely Sight
I don’t like it when, due to our small domestic market, we consumers have our choices taken away from us. Although internationally the full Sight range consists of four models, for Australia we get just one; the mid-range Sight 2. I understand it’s not commercially viable for importers to spread their limited resources too thinly, but surely anyone can see that one model isn’t enough to satisfy the diverse needs and budgets of the whole Australian riding community. Except that, in this case, it probably is.
At $3,799 the Sight 2 isn’t a budget bike, but if you were to take a poll of riders asking them what bits they’d hang off their reasonably priced dream trail bike, chances are virtually everything on the Sight 2 would be on that list. Shimano XT 2x10 drivetrain; Shimano XT brakes; integrated shifter and brake lever mounts; wide but light tyres; a wide (740mm) handlebar with a short (60mm) stem; thru-axle fork with travel adjust for steep climbs; the list just goes on. Add to that a total bike weight (large) of 12.65kg and only 2,780g for the frame and shock and you can see why, for 95% of riders, this is the only Sight model worth looking at. It’s got all of the stuff you’d upgrade to if you bought a cheaper bike, and all the performance you’d get from a fully bling bike, without the price tag or perhaps some of the bright shiny surfaces. Virtually everything on the Sight 2 is about the best bang for buck, up to date, do it all kit that you can buy.
I say virtually everything because I will take issue with three component choices. The Kenda Slant Six is a great fast trail bike tyre for the rear, but as a front tyre it lacks cornering and braking traction. Unless your trails are consistently buff hard pack, most riders will be better served with more aggressive rubber up front. The seatpost quick release clamp is possibly the ugliest and least functional I’ve ever seen; it’s the end result of a conversation between the Norco parts pickers running something like ‘What? You want us to pay $2 for a seatpost collar? We’ll get a perfectly good one for 45c and not a penny more!’
Fortunately both the front tyre and seatpost collar are very easy and inexpensive to replace, although sadly the same can’t be said for the rims. Whilst still running tight and true, they are only 20mm wide internally, so they don’t give a whole lot of support to tyre sidewalls. Even more significantly in my mind is the inner rim profile, which does not play nicely or reliably with tubeless, even with a Stan’s rubber rim strip installed. In this day and age it’s a travesty that any rim manufacturer makes (and any bike company chooses) a rim that isn’t designed for tubeless conversion—end of story.
Sight for Sore Eyes
I don’t like it when a bike company’s idea of ‘designing’ a new model involves a different colour paint job, some new and often childish graphics, and new marketing spiel invoking the latest buzz words. We see it all too often and it bugs the hell out of me; I mean really, what are these people actually getting paid for? It frustrates me when they don’t bother listening to what riders are asking for on their bikes and when they fail to do even the simple little things that make a bike better. I can’t level any of these criticisms at the white Sight 2, and that bugs me even more!
A new model in the range, the Sight was designed from start to finish by the Norco team, headed by Owen Pemberton (formerly of Rolls Royce) and there really isn’t anything they’ve overlooked. A short (and attractive) tapered head tube for better steering precision; check. Swoopy (but not overcooked spaghetti-esque), large-diameter 6061 alloy frame tubes for extra standover clearance and a solid front triangle; check. Dropper post cable guides; check. ISCG tabs for an optional chain device; check. Direct mount front derailleur mount for consistent shifting; check. Forward-facing seat tube slot to limit crud entry; check. Post mounts for the rear brake; check. Masses of rear tyre clearance for mud or extra-wide rubber; check. Rear thru-axle for increased stiffness; check. All the mod cons are present and accounted for.
The interrupted seat tube doesn’t provide a lot of room for dropping the saddle, but this bike really deserves a dropper post, which will make that a moot point anyway. The X-12 rear axle licensed from Syntace needs a 5mm allen key to remove the wheel, but it’s very light, looks clean and is incredibly stiff. It also combines with a short and sturdy rear derailleur hanger to increase shifting precision—nice!
It doesn’t stop there; the Sight 2 has absolutely up to date geometry designed to wring every last bit of fun out of the trail. The very relaxed 67.5-degree head angle makes descending at speed through rough terrain a virtual non-event, whilst the steep 74-degree effective seat angle keeps you well centred and the front wheel tracking on all but the steepest climbs. The short 425mm chainstays give the Sight a lively, pop-happy feel that will have you searching out every rock or root to hop over, every dip and compression to pump and every drop or jump to launch off. The cockpit is long enough to never feel cramped on climbs but short enough to never feel like you’re over stretched on descents. Everything just fits, just works, and feels instantly comfortable yet totally ready for business.