It's not an especially good-looking bike. Nor is it an especially light bike, or a notably heavy one. It's not particularly long-travel, though it's not short, either. Its geometry is neither progressive nor outdated. It has 29-inch wheels. It's black and grey. It's the Norco Sight A2, and it might just be the most boring bike money can buy.
Be that as it may, the Sight is one of the most exciting bikes I've ridden.
The Sight is Norco's all-mountain platform, offered in both 27.5 and 29, and with either aluminum or carbon framesets. With 130 millimeters of rear-wheel travel and a 140-millimeter fork on its 29er builds, the Sight sits between the enduro-oriented Range and the Optic, a shorter-travel trail bike.
The size Large 29er version tested here has 67- and 74-degree head and seat tube angles, a 457-millimeter reach, and a 435 millimeter rear center. Its wheelbase is just shy of 1,200 millimeters at 1,191.
Since testing the $5,150 carbon Sight C2 during the 2018 Bible of Bike Tests, I've recommended the model line numerous times to friends shopping for a ride-it-all bike. The carbon version we tested at Bible was so consistent in its inconspicuous aplomb, that we found it kind of, well … boring. Since I'm pretty boring, too, I was keen to spend more time on the Sight, ideally in an even duller flavor: aluminum.
At $3,400, the Sight A2 is by no means cheap, but it’s almost $2,000 fewer than the Sight C2 we tested at Bible, and at a glance, there are no deal-breaker components on its spec sheet. It's suspended by a RockShox Pike RC fork and a trunnion-mounted Fox Performance DPS EVOL shock. The seat goes up and down on a 150-millimeter-travel Tranz-X post, which is hooked up to a shifter-style remote.
Shifting is an 11-speed XT affair at both ends of the cable, while the cassette is Shimano’s 11-46-tooth SLX model. There's also a rarely-specced XT rear hub, which is paired with a Novatec spinner up front. The stock rims are WTB STP i29s, whose 29-millimeter internal width makes the Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR 2.3 tires look more like 2.4s. Braking is powered by a set of two-piston Shimano Deores, which grab 180-millimeter rotors. All told, our size Large Sight A2 weighs in at 33 pounds with flat pedals.
I converted the wheels to tubeless and hit the trails. It's noteworthy that I did so without the temptation to swap any components, something that might reflect the rigor of Norco's B.C. testing grounds. The Sight exudes a burly feel for a bike with its numbers, derived from both weight and stoutness. It quickly made clear that it's not "that kind" of 130-millimeter 29er, and wouldn't be hurried to the top.
The rear suspension remains composed under seated-pedaling forces, but stand up and you'll turn a portion of your energy into suspension movement. You'll also probably endure some pedal strikes when dropping off the back of roots or rocks, and when rolling through a compression or over a riser in the trail. That little blue low-speed compression adjust lever provides an effective remedy to this. Flip it into the middle position and the Sight will maintain its posture through uphill tech without abandoning traction. When the trail is rough, you're best off leaving the shock open and paying careful attention to your pedal strokes. Despite having a higher anti-squat value than the Range, the Sight grips tenaciously and rarely breaks traction under power.
Geometry was not a limiting factor when ascending. The grey Norco never felt too long or slack on switchbacks or techy sections, because it isn't, and while I'd like for it to be a degree or two steeper, the Sight's 74-degree seat tube angle made for sustainable seated climbing.
On to the descents. The front end felt a little harsh out of the gate, so I removed one of the two volume spacers that came stock in the RockShox Pike. The A2 comes with the updated Pike RC, which has a larger negative spring and requires a cassette tool, rather than a chamferless socket, to remove the air spring top cap--both of which are welcome changes.
The fork's initial harshness was noticeable partly because the Sight's rear suspension is remarkably smooth and supportive throughout its travel range. It breaks open freely over small bumps without sagging into its midstroke, and there's reliable support deeper down for pumping and loading through rollers and berms.
Root and rock gardens are likewise handled with composure, the rear end recovering well from repetitive hits and never bogging down or packing up. Norco clearly invested time in nailing the shock tune, and it paid off. Yes, I managed to find a hard bottom-out or two, but these were experienced on features that I would consider as slightly beyond what a 130-millimeter chassis is intended to endure. Would I ride it in a bike park? Yes. Would I take it on a long backcountry ride? Yes, ideally after swapping on a few lighter components.
Thing is, the Sight's chassis works so well and has such a solid feel, that the more you ride it, the harder you'll want to push it. Its geometry will help keep your speeds in check, to a certain extent--we're talking about a bike with a 67-degree head angle and a sub-1,200-mil wheelbase, after all. Those stats breathe life into the stalwart frame. If you’ve got the energy to move it around, it's willing to pop and play, whether that means mid-trail manuals, side-hit shenanigans or parking-lot jibs.
It's comparable to the Rocky Mountain Instinct I recently tested, which is slightly longer and slacker (depending on geometry setting) and has 10 millimeters more rear-wheel travel. I'm going out on a limb here, but I think the Norco's rear suspension outperforms the Instinct's on descents. But the Rocky is a more efficient pedaler. What really makes the difference for me, though, is the Sight's stout feel, which helps it track more accurately through corners and probably leads to less shock binding. The Hightower LT is slightly more capable on descents, while a Following or Smuggler would be a slight step down in terms of aggressiveness. A Fuel EX or a Ripley LS will feel like XC bikes next to the Sight.
The Sight A2's solid chassis is matched with a solid spec. I have no complaints to lodge against any of the components, and while I'm tempted to question the XT drivetrain when SLX is practically identical and cheaper, I bet Norco's product managers had good reason to choose what they chose.
One thing's for sure: the Sight is a boring choice. But you could argue that a good bike should be boring: that it should just do its thing--quietly--so you can focus on riding.