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RIDE ALONG REVIEW

2020 Norco Sight 29 "Build Your Ride" Review

Words AJ Barlas
Photos AJ Barlas
Video AJ Barlas
Date Aug 5, 2020
Reading time

When Norco unveiled the new Sight late in 2019, I wonder if they were prepared for the impact it would have on aggressive trail bikes. Were they concerned about how its cutting-edge shape would be received? These are questions I ponder while riding the bike because this is the most progressive trail bike on the market from a major manufacturer. In the real world the thrust of the comment comes in two forms: riders commending Norco on the progress they've made or riders describing how much they enjoy the bike.

It’s crazy to think that as recently as two years ago, a bike released with a shape like the 2020 Norco Sight would only have interested a select few, but now it seems wildly popular. Perhaps their timing was just right, or maybe it's the fact they’ve already been pushing the envelope with size-specific front and rear centers, making it somewhat expected from Norco. Or maybe their Ride Aligned program with its digestible information and clear explanations for things being what they are is what wins people over? Regardless of what it is, I must commend Norco for sticking their necks out further than the rest, because it appears to be paying off.

Just over two years ago I shared the story of my personal bike. That was the GeoMetron G16 and at the time, people couldn’t believe how slack it was or the length of the wheelbase. Now here we are with the Norco Sight, which admittedly isn’t as aggressive but is really close. We’re talking a difference of 1.5 degrees in the head angle and 5mm for the reach. The rear centre is the same as that G16, and the seat angle on the Norco is actually steeper. It features slightly less travel but otherwise it's similar on paper to the Nicolai and GeoMetron G16 models. It actually sits quite firmly between the two in many aspects.

2020 Norco Sight Ride Highlights

  • Excellent geometry that provides great weight distribution across the wheelbase.
  • Active and highly tuneable 150mm rear travel with Factory Float X2.
  • 44mm fork offset with 40mm stem and 64-degree head angle provide stable, predictable steering.
  • Size-specific seat tube angles. 78-degree seat tube angle on the XL.
  • 25mm BB drop provides a great balance of planted, in-the-bike feel without being sluggish.
  • Leverage curve provides smooth, consistent use of travel.
  • Great tuneability and a wide, usable range of the X2 damper for different riding scenarios.
  • Cartridge bearings at both eyelets of the shock minimize friction from the mounting hardware.

I started my review process in Australia, getting acquainted with the bike on the trails around Glenrock in Newcastle. The terrain is fast and generally loose. There are some steeper, rougher sections but its largely mellower grades allow for high speeds on loose over hard surfaces – perfect for sliding about. From there the bike accompanied me down to Tasmania where a group of us visited Maydena Bike Park and spent a day getting a sample of Hobart’s local trails on Mount Wellington. Then COVID hit, snuffing any further experimentation while Down Under. Maydena was wild in the wet for someone accustomed to the wet riding in the Sea To Sky region. Where we generally need to be wary of some slick roots, Maydena’s dirt made everything a slip ’n’ slide. But once it began to dry we found a groove and were able to push the limits of the bike, rather than battle to stay upright.

When riding in Newcastle, I found I could run the damper in a firmer setting, stiffening up the bike to provide a solid platform to push against. The stock configuration recommended by Norco’s Ride Aligned program was too light for trails with few roots and minimal feedback to worry about. I found it was wasting too much energy. When arriving in Maydena, it quickly became obvious the dampers needed some backing out to free up the suspension. As it dried, I opened things more to allow the wheels to move quickly over objects in the rougher terrain.

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There's no hiding from the fact this is one progressive package.

Back in Squamish, my damper settings were similar to those in Maydena though they did change. Where Maydena had more high speeds and mid-sized hits mixed with heaps of chatter, the trails here are generally steeper with harder compressions. I opened the damper some more in Squamish. The recommended sag measurements were a bit tall for my liking and I ended up running slightly less air pressure to allow the bike to sit into itself a bit more. This applied everywhere I rode it.

On firmer trails, sitting slightly deeper into the travel provided a more grounded feeling, placing my weight deeper into the bike when banking into corners. It also allowed the wheel to better absorb impacts and track the terrain while cornering and when things did get wild anywhere else. These same attributes applied on the trails around Squamish. I never felt the bike bottom and while I regularly used the entire stroke with my final settings (229 psi for ~14mm/25.5% sag) I didn’t need to change anything internally. Running it deeper, at 27%, I found the bike lost too much stability and dragged its heels. At the recommended 25% sag I found the rear suspension sharp. My final settings were the best balance I found for support, comfort and grip.

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Sweeping corners are a treat on the Sight. Load up in the corner and wait to be spat out with momentum.

While rider shape and size, style, and terrain differ greatly, below are the settings I found to work for the Sight while riding around Squamish. Also included are variations for where I ended up in loose over hard, flatter terrain. It’s also worth mentioning that the conditions where the terrain was flatter were consistently 30+ degrees Celsius, which would have affected damper settings as well.

Shock (Fox Factory Float X2)

  • 229psi (sag: 14mm/25.5%) / 2 Volume Spacers
  • HSC: 16 out (15 out in flat, loose over hard terrain)
  • LSC: 11 out (10 out in flat, loose over hard terrain)
  • HSR: 5 out
  • LSR: 11 out (13 out in flat, loose over hard)

Fork (Fox Factory 36 GRIP2)

  • 77psi (sag: 33mm/20.675%) / 1 Volume Spacer
  • HSC: 11 out
  • LSC: 6 out (5 out in flat, loose over hard terrain)
  • HSR: 5 out (4 out in flat, loose over hard)
  • LSR: 8 Out (9 out in flat, loose over hard terrain)

At 191cm (6’3) I’m at the top end of Norco’s size chart and just fit this XL Sight. On the trail, frequently I was forced to shift my weight rearward, aggressively pushing the bike ahead of me to prevent the front wheel from biting into something. My mass was too close to the front hub and overall, I felt cramped. This isn’t anything to hold against Norco because they’re actually clear about my size being the max in their chart. It's among the larger sized mass-produced bikes on the market yet fits shorter riders than other manufacturer's size charts. That says heaps about Norco’s direction with rider fit and bike sizing because while the 6-foot plus club is smaller, they're still losing potential customers by clearly stating a cut off smaller than the competition.

2020 Norco Sight recommended size chart

Norco says "Modern bike trails take us all over the mountain. You need a reliable tool that takes you up the climbs with ease and gets you down the trails in a flash.” With that in mind, the Sight nails it. It’s comfortable to pedal seated for hours, and despite not being as light as some similar bikes, the fit and placement of rider mass make it more enjoyable to pedal. This is a bike that can be ridden up, down, and around until the cows come home, or you make it to the other side of the earthly plane, encountering a solid bonk and putting an end to your ride.

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Good from far but closer inspection brings some things to light that could be improved.

Norco's Sight is great, but can it improve?

The 2020 Sight is an excellent aggressive trail bike that can be set up for a wide variety of terrain, but don’t mistake it for an enduro race sled. Yes, Norco’s EWS riders are out there training on this bike but I found it more enjoyable as a super capable trail bike. I could "race" XC in Squamish on this and have a blast and cross country loops in Australia were also enjoyable. It could go for a massive all-day mission and remain quite comfortable across all aspects. Then I could turn around and ride a bike park and still have a blast. It can successfully provide an enjoyable, stable ride in a gamut of scenarios, making it a potential quiver killer for some riders.

But when things got really rough I found myself fatiguing more quickly and couldn't let it run like a longer-legged bike; the YT Capra, or my G1 for example. The Sight has the Capra beat for geometry, and this allows it to provide great stability in average, high-speed terrain while being more comfortable to pedal for long periods. But the Capra did a better job of mowing down square edges allowing it to move across rough, high-speed terrain with less effort to compensate. The Sight can get down and party but requires a more focused approach, which taxes the rider more.

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It's a neutral ride that's comfortable for extended rides but it has its limits.

Being at the limit of the sizing I found that in rough or steep terrain I wanted more space and a longer wheelbase to sit within. It would be great to see an XXL size to better fit someone my size and bigger. We would be better positioned between the wheels and the bike will be more stable.

While we’re talking about bigger riders, I’m a featherweight for my size and still needed 229 psi to get an adequate setup. The Float X2 has a max pressure of 300 psi and I feel this will limit some heavier riders or leave them struggling to make it work at all. If you’re a bigger rider interested in the Sight, I recommend checking their Ride Aligned program and running through the setup before diving in. Better yet, if possible get on a demo to see how it feels.


The Sight can get down and party but requires a more focused approach, which taxes the rider more.
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The Float X2 has a max air pressure of 300 psi. I'm a featherweight and yet still required 229 psi for my deeper than recommended sag.

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Needing to run higher pressures could put extra stress on the shock as well as make it difficult for heavy riders to get properly set up.

Lastly, Norco needs to spend some time working on chainstay protection. It's a shame to see so many aspects of the bike well thought out, only to forget about details like keeping it protected and quiet. They’ve come up short, literally, with the rubber moulded protector on the chainstay. What is there doesn’t do much to deaden the sound of the chain and it needs a couple more inches in length.

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The chainstay protection itself is fine but doesn't dampen sound down like others.

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And it doesn't adequately protect the frame from damage.

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The added piece of mastic tape helped but wasn't enough.

When I first received the bike I extended the length of protection toward the bottom bracket with a strip of mastic tape but it’s still not enough. I can hear the chain bouncing off the chainstay between the current protector and the chainring and the visible damage leaves no room for guessing. Specialized knocked my socks off when they released their latest range of Stumpjumpers in 2018. At the time that was the quietest bike I’d ever ridden. We’ve since seen similar designs on other bikes and it'd be great to see Norco improve their chainstay protection with the attention to detail clearly used elsewhere on the Sight.

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The XT derailleur and shifter mate well with the SLX cassette.

Component Check

Shimano XT/SLX Drivetrain

Shimano’s entry to the world of 12-speed MTB drivetrains has been one that I won’t soon forget. Every time I ride it I’m met with tight shifting, a quiet drivetrain and excellent performance. Norco’s Build Your Ride spec with the Shimano drivetrain features an XT shifter and derailleur and while this test bike also featured XT cranks, they’ve since moved to Race Face Turbines. The cassette is an SLX model which I feel is a good thing, as only the final/easiest cog is alloy and the rest are steel.

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The Shimano SLX four-piston brakes with finless, metallic pads performed great no matter the conditions or terrain.

SLX Brakes

As with the drivetrain, I won’t delve into this much as there'll be a full long term review coming soon. But to convey a sense of reliability and power, here’s a very short story: in Maydena, the rest of my riding group were aboard another popular DH brake, with a couple similarly popular trail brakes mixed in. Each and every one of them commented on how good and how powerful the SLXs felt despite their lower price. Not once did they fade, lose power, or lose feel at the lever. While some mates bled their brakes in preparation for the following day, I was lounging in the sun with some Aussie snacks. Norco did fit the metallic, non-finned pads in the bike, which was a plus. More on that in the soon to come SLX review.

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The Fox 36 performed great during the test. The Norco site mentions a 42mm offset but I can confirm it is a 44mm offset.

FOX Factory 36 Grip2 and Float X2 Shock

I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to spend money anywhere on your bike, spending it on your suspension is a good place. That’s not to say there aren’t great value options available but generally speaking, the higher end gear provides a wider range of external adjustability. Combine that with excellent air springs and dampers and there’s plenty of bump-eating goodness on offer. Fox’s Factory 36 and Float X2 don't differ much from the Performance model, so there is potential to save some coin there – roughly 300 CAD. The external adjustability of the Fox suspension, particularly the Float X2, was beneficial to tuning the Sight for different trails.

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The 200mm TransX dropper performed admirably. It's nothing exciting but it does what it needs to without any rattling or need for attention.

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Its lever could be replaced, though. It's another contact point that will come down to personal preference, but I found it possible to slip a finger during rough adjustments.

Trans X Dropper

Another area that Norco is doing things ahead of some competitors is spec’ing their bikes with the largest size dropper available for a given size. With the XL size recommended for anyone between 181cm and 191cm, they’ve spec’ed a 200mm dropper. The post worked great throughout testing and didn’t skip a beat. I would change the lever, though. Its rounded profile feels nice to run your fingers over but in practice, it can result in easy slips when compressing it to change saddle height.

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EXO+ tires are fitting for the wide range of riding the Sight is capable of, but I'd be stoked to see Maxxis provide a Maxx Grip version of the DHF for 29-inch wheels.

Maxxis EXO+ DHF & DHRII

After years of media outlets bitching about inappropriately fitted tires to bikes, we’re finally seeing changes. The Sight is one that follows this, with the spec of EXO+ tires being quite suited to the overall attitude that I feel best suits the bike. You could absolutely fit a heavier Maxxis DD carcass or similar and some riders could even fit a lighter EXO tire depending on their terrain and ride preferences. The bike covers a good range but overall, the EXO+ is fitting for most on the bike. I would have enjoyed using a Maxx Grip EXO+ DHF but Maxxis hasn’t added the big grip to the lighter casings yet…

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Dropping in on just about anything aboard the Sight leaves little to be concerned about. Just hold on tighter if it's a long rough trail.

Verdict

Norco has delivered what is arguably the blueprint for the modern trail bike. Don’t be surprised to see more bikes from other large brands with similar numbers in the next year or two. They’ve stuck their neck out – and to their benefit. Yes, another size for larger riders would be great but the majority of riders fit within the available range. There is a wide assortment of build kits available, with either 29-inch wheels as tested here, or smaller 27.5-inch wheels if you prefer. It’s an excellent bike, capable of a wide range of riding, which makes it suitable for many riders. I’ve enjoyed it on everything from flatter jump trails to full days in the bike park and it’s been great all around.

The Build Your Ride program is worthy of attention, too. Riders have the option to pick their frame material, colour from a range available, and build the bike up to their liking. It’s not truly custom but close to it without the cost or stress of building your own bike from scratch. Those not stressed about spec’ing their own build likely aren’t in need of the program but it should still offer a great starting point for many.

More on the 2020 Norco Sight is available on their website.

AJ_Barlas
AJ Barlas

Age: 39
Height: 191cm/6’3"
Weight: 73kg/160lbs
Ape Index: 1.037
Inseam: 32”
Trail on Repeat: Changes as often as my mood.
Current Regular: Every test product spends time on Entrail

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Comments

Tjaardbreeuwer
+1 Cr4w
Tjaard Breeuwer  - Aug. 5, 2020, 7:26 a.m.

I agree. Although it is too bad they don’t offer an XXL, they should be commended for their honesty in the size chart. So many brands ‘wishfully’ list a huge range of rider sizes for their largest (or smallest) size.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+1 Harris
AJ Barlas  - Aug. 5, 2020, 7:56 a.m.

Fully. Norco offer realistic sizes and are one of a very small few who do. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a larger size offered for bigger riders in future.

Reply

Harris
+2 AJ Barlas AndrewR
Harris  - Aug. 5, 2020, 10:18 p.m.

Dang. I was really looking forward to this review, as I'm 6'5" and have extra appreciation for your perspectives in that regard. Also, I've been riding a Norco Range for a couple of years now, and while I love it I would also love if it fit a bit better as an aggressive trail bike. The big man's any-ride-short-of-Rampage bike. I guess I'll have to keep riding this bike, and keep an eye out for the next gen Range. 

Or spring for a Geometron with full EXT.

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Aug. 7, 2020, 8:01 p.m.

@Harris the XL Sight is quite a bit longer than the XL Range, almost 50 mm longer. So while I agree with AJ's sentiments, I wouldn't discount the Sight.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
0
AndrewR  - Aug. 9, 2020, 7:33 a.m.

@Harris or a Pole Stamina 180 in XL with full Intend or EXT.

Reply

Phialm
0
Philip Alma  - Aug. 6, 2020, 11:56 a.m.

I am just under 6'6" and ride a 2020 Norco Revolver in XL, the size guide for the Revolver is the same as for the Sight and the feeling that AJ described of occasionally being over the front wheel is the same.  But that is ok because it wasn't a surprise, Norco are clear and realistic with their recommended height range.  It is still the longest, best fitting bike I have ridden, even with other brands bikes that they say will fit up to 6'7".

But Norco, please start making some XXLs.  The only brand I can think of that make XXL is Santa Cruz.  Anyone else?

Reply

awesterner
0
awesterner  - Aug. 6, 2020, 8:16 p.m.

Transition has a Sentinel in an XXL with a 531mm reach

Reply

gdharries
0
Geof Harries  - Aug. 7, 2020, 8:30 a.m.

Trek does in their Fuel EX bikes. Specialized used to, but no longer. Rocky Mountain used to as well, but being Rocky’s their XXL fit like most companies’ XL.

So I guess the answer is, I wish.

Reply

boomforeal
0
boomforeal  - Aug. 5, 2020, 8:20 a.m.

as you have ridden and reviewed both the current optic and sight i would be interested to hear any comparisons of/contrasts between them you feel are worth noting. obviously they're different bikes -- but did they seem (once you account of differences in discipline) similar/consistent in terms of design, function, geometry, fit, handling, etc.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Aug. 5, 2020, 8:38 a.m.

The Optic was a sort of kick off into the latest evolution of Norco’s size specific geometry and bike shape. They’ve paid close attention to it for years but the Optic made a considerable leap forward. The Sight continues that evolution. It sits a bit taller, which I believe the Optic could have benefited from, includes steeper seat angles as sizes increase, and the suspension also improved. I believe that as with many brands, we can expect to see each release model build from the one before as the development team discover new things. 

As you say, they are different bikes and they ride quite differently on the trail. But in terms of design, the Sight is more refined than the Optic, as to be expected from an evolutionary process.

Reply

boomforeal
0
boomforeal  - Aug. 5, 2020, 12:43 p.m.

interesting. i got to try them both on the same day last summer so thought perhaps they'd been developed in tandem; but based on your review of the optic it seems like it had been out well before that

i did notice the increasing STA with sizes on the sight and thought that was really smart. but it may have contributed to the sight's "short" feel, which i definitely noticed too. 

as far as sitting taller: did you ever fiddle with the number of volume spacers in your review-optics' air cans? i was surprised to find that it was maxed out of the gate; just pulled a couple out and find the rear suspension character much more to my liking. i've been able to set it up a bit more firm, addressing the ride height issue a bit, and use full travel more regularly, but it still seems plenty progressive

Reply

Jotegir
+2 bananowy JVP
Lu Kz  - Aug. 6, 2020, 9:36 p.m.

Interesting to say the Optic was sort of a kick off seeing as the bikes came out at relatively the same time. I heard they were working on a "crazy" version of the optic where they let the design team do "whatever they wanted" a couple years before it came out, so maybe those experiments and projects inspired the current gen Sight... but they still came out to the public as MY2020 bikes. 

I actually don't think the Optic should have a steeper STA. STA is a dynamic number now like many others on the bike and should change relative to the discipline. It makes sense that a bike thats only going up stupid steep fire road climbs have a stupid steep STA, but a bike that's more well rounded, more XC-ish (sorry optic), or generally meant for more standing efforts will benefit from a slightly slacker seat tube angle. I've had this discussion with top level XC athletes and they say that during testing, super steep seat tube angles actually make it harder to climb that sort of stuff at an elite level. Sure, they help the average shmuck get in a better climbing position, but I'd like to think the Optic invites a more athletic approach to some climbs.

Reply

Pnwpedal
+2 AJ Barlas DobberDoo
Pnwpedal  - Aug. 5, 2020, 9:11 a.m.

This was one of my top picks for a new bike this year, but unfortunately availability was crap in April/May which took it off the table. But that's still saying a lot... Up until this bike, there wasn't a single Norco that I was willing to actually spend my money on. They knocked it out of the park with this bike.

Reply

robnow
+3 DMVancouver bananowy Tim Coleman
robnow  - Aug. 5, 2020, 8:08 p.m.

As far as your tire 'wish', have a look at the My21 Megatower revealed this week. Assegais coming this fall in Exo+ MaxxGrip...perhaps Maxxis will follow suit with some others.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Aug. 6, 2020, 7:16 a.m.

Unreal! Fingers crossed for a similar DHF too. Thanks heaps for the heads up.

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Aug. 7, 2020, 8:06 p.m.

This is amazing news! I've been begging for Exo+ MaxxGrip tire for front tire and Double Down MaxxTerra for rear tire for ages!

Reply

neologisticzand
0
Chad K  - Aug. 8, 2020, 7:19 p.m.

Oh man, I hope those tires make it into production soon, that is my dream front tire for most riding

Reply

Timer
0
Timer  - Aug. 10, 2020, 1:39 a.m.

Not sure about availability in Canada, but MaxxGrip EXO DHF and DHR2 have been in the Maxxis product range for years.

Or do you specifically mean EXO+ ? The additional super thin (~80g) anti-puncture layer is probably not worth it unless you ride in cactus-country.  Compare this graph of a lab tests which plots pinch-flat resistance against weight: https://s14761.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/END_039_VT_Reifen_Maxxis_2000_GER.jpg

Reply

grambo
0
grambo  - Aug. 6, 2020, 12:44 a.m.

Any bigger guys have experience on the Sight? I'm about 225lbs geared up to ride and have read about problems with getting the X2 setup properly. Is a DHX2 an option?

Reply

bcsnipes
+1 AJ Barlas
Wesley Abbott  - Aug. 6, 2020, 5:06 a.m.

I have the 2020 Sight A1 29, currently at 260lbs, was 280 when I started in April. The A1 has the RockShox Super Deluxe Select +, so I cannot comment on the X2. As stock and full shock tokens I was bottoming out on trails. So I got a tune from Vorsprung Suspension. With that tune, the rear shock now performs like it should.

Other than my weight being a factor for the shock, it has so far this season been a great bike, and I am riding trails I never thought I would.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
0
AndrewR  - Aug. 9, 2020, 4:51 p.m.

@Wesley Abbott:

Reference the rear shock (also AJ makes this point): It is an interesting choice of the Norco design/ product management team that they choose the SD Select + for the high end "Build Your Own" Sight because it has a stronger base compression tune than the SD Ultimate as there is a wide range of weights that can be associated with an XL rider. For example AJ is 6'3" and 73 kg and I am 6'2" and 93 kg (98 kg riding weight) he rides faster than I do but we both spend a lot of time in steep tech terrain so naturally we are going to have different rear shock set ups. His base pressure is 229 psi (Float X2) mine is 255 psi.

As a side note Norco also love developing the bike based around a rear shock that is stuffed full of positive volume spacers (the Optic arrives full at 4.5 spacers - too bad if you need more support/ ramp up as a larger rider). Luckily the Sight only has one so there is scope for tuning either way.

As I suspected, before I even got my Sight, test laps (16 runs) with a stop watch, note book and the Shock wiz told me that I needed more LSC which obviously one cannot change on the SD Select +. I also ended up at Vorsprung (which I usually do with every bike I own) for the Tractive tune and ended up with a far firmer compression tune and a firmer and slower rebound tune. The test lap (timed, Shock Wiz and personal feelings) confirmed that my personal SD Select + with Tractive tune is now perfect for me.

Talking to other riders with Sights it appears that the SD Select + is more capable of supporting the larger rider than the X2 as there appears to be more support at the higher pressure ranges

Reply

Wile_E.
0
Wile_E.  - Aug. 6, 2020, 3:02 p.m.

I'm running the A3 29 but it came with the A1's Super Deluxe.  I'm about 285 with gear, and I'm at the upper edge for the Super Deluxe running about 320psi in the shock at 30% sag.  I talked to Suspensionwerx (who have tuned my past shocks to accommodate my weight) and they said not to go near the X2 as the air can couldn't hold the pressure I'd need which is how I ended up on the A3.  

I'm quite surprised to discover that the suspension on the Sight handles my weight adequately without custom tuning.  Other bikes/shocks needed at a minimum the rebound tuned as the air spring pressure would overwhelm the damping circuit.  I'm not an overly aggressive rider and so maybe that's why it works for me (my weight makes my bikes think I am though if that makes any sense).

At 6'2" the Sight fits me very well, although I still find myself riding too far off the back but I think this is a habit left over from my past bike being a little too small.  When I get centred properly, the Sight comes alive.  I think overall for a trail bike it is a big beefy frame that handles bigger riders well.

Not sure at your weight, but a quick email to Suspensionwerx and they can set you right on the X2.  They did say they could sell me a custom tuned DPX2 that would be great, but I didn't want to drop the extra cash.  When I get to the first service on my suspension, I'll see what the Rockshox guys can do to improve things.

Reply

mb
0
Mikey Bikey  - Aug. 7, 2020, 12:59 p.m.

At 6'2" 185 have always ridden a Large w. Norco. Got a Sight A2 XL 27.5 , went to a Carbon L and now am back on a  carbon XL. The steeper seat post even with more reach doesn't compare to the older Larges w. slacker seat tubes  where you sat further back. All in all an improvement in handling and traction tho it means a  longer wheelbase in the tight corners.

Reply

Wile_E.
0
Wile_E.  - Aug. 6, 2020, 4:25 p.m.

AJ, 

Interesting to hear about your playing around with spacers under the bars and deviation from ride aligned. 

I'm 6'2" 285 pounds on an A3 with the Super Deluxe shock.  The Ride Aligned system is of no help to me however as it only makes suspension recommendations for riders up to 240 pounds, and they did not include the A3 as one of the bikes in the guide.  I've been grumbling about this since the first day I owned the bike.  There are other issues with Ride Aligned, though. 

All sizes of A1 come with a Deity bar with 25mm rise.  The XL A2 and A3 come with a generic Norco bar with a 30mm rise (20mm on small and medium).  The ride aligned guide tells me that my ideal at 6'2" is an XL bike with 20mm rise bars and 15mm spacers regardless of whether I have the 25mm Deity bar or the 30mm Norco.

I find the generic Norco bar a little too flexy for my liking and wanted to upgrade so I messaged Norco about the inconsistencies on this and got nothing back, but your discussion on stem spacers in the video helps a bit.  

I was wondering about 5mm more stem spacers but given that I'm already above Norco's recommendation by virtue of the 30mm bars they put on the bike I was hesitant.  Sounds like the additional 5mm worked for you so maybe I'll try anyway (I know rise achieved by bars and stem spacers aren't equivalent). 

I'm also wondering about your thoughts on their recommended tire pressures.  They seem high to me.

Overall, however, I love this bike.  It has amazing stability and is burly enough to handle my weight without complaint.  Thanks for the review (even if it only served to validate my purchase!)

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Jotegir
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Lu Kz  - Aug. 7, 2020, 7:08 a.m.

Really? Recommended tire pressures high? To me they seem shockingly, tire-rollyingly and rim-destroyingly low unless everyone is running tubeless and with tire inserts (the bikes come with neither).

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Wile_E.
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Wile_E.  - Aug. 7, 2020, 8:47 a.m.

That's another glitch in Ride Aligned,  They don't state whether their pressures are for tubes or tubeless.  If assuming tubes, then I agree with you... the pressures are shockingly low, tubeless, I find a couple psi too high... but then again, I can't really know... if have to extrapolate their recommendations to my weight.  I assumed tubeless because I wouldn't get very far with 31 psi on a rear tire with a tube in.

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Jotegir
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Lu Kz  - Aug. 7, 2020, 7:11 p.m.

The vagueness at least I think will be remedied - I'm sure they're recommending tubeless as for MY2021 it seems that most of their Ride Aligned level bikes will come tubeless with sealant on the side from the factory. 

As for too high for tubeless, I think differing areas of riding will dictate. I'm still running 30 PSI rear on my Aurum HSP despite it being tubeless, any lower and (without inserts) I'm burping/rolling sidewalls on some of the high speed, high-g descents we have where I live, and I'm on the larger side too.

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andrewbikeguide
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AndrewR  - Aug. 9, 2020, 4:48 p.m.

@Wile_E: Reference tyres and tyre pressures? I cannot think of one reason for running tubes in 2020 other than a recent puncture on the trail and some weird oversight that means I don't have a tubeless capable spare tyre in my workshop (even a partially used one).

I felt that Ride Aligned was recommending pressures that were slightly too high or biased towards high speed jump type trails over technical traction.

I weigh 216 lbs (riding weight) and I run 22 psi front and 24 psi rear with a range of 3 psi on the front (so 20.5 -23.5 psi) and 4 psi on the rear (22 - 26 psi) depending on the terrain and season but I also never go to the park or choose a jump trail over a tech trail. Traction on roots, rocks, mixed soil and steep terrain at low and medium speeds is my set up priority.

But I also only run Continental Protection Apex model tyres as I find that they have more stick than MaxxGrip, roll as fast as MaxxSpeed and last longer than anything else I have ever run (that actually grips through its entire life cycle). 

Usually I run Der Baron Projekt 29 x 2.4 front and rear if I want all round grip, speed and predictability and I run the Der Kaiser Projekt 29 x 2.4 on the rear in early spring and late autumn if I want more of a climbing edge bite on damp roots and rocks when the ground has more moisture in it and mud clearance is not an issue (The Der Baron Projekt clears mud better but gives up a bit in climbing traction due to the smaller centre knobs). If I was riding somewhere that was just dust or loose over hard pack I would use a Trail King 29 x 2.4 on the rear as a fast rolling tyre that has great side knob grip strength. I have also run Trail Kings front and rear and Der Kaiser Protection front and rear in dry loose terrain and in the bike park (which is all dust over rock).

Effectively I get a DD casing in toughness and wear at an EXO weight and without the Maxxis prices and SKU nightmare. Despite trying other tyres several times per year (on demo bikes as well as my own bikes) I always end up back on Continental.

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andrewbikeguide
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AndrewR  - Aug. 9, 2020, 4:45 p.m.

@Wile_E To answer your stack question:

One needs to remember that the rise in the bars raises the grips/ hands without necessarily affecting the effective reach (unless you are doing something weird with bar roll) but allowing a tiny reach adjustment if required. Increasing stack/ rise with spacers also reduces reach (it is a right angle triangle with a 64º angle) - not much but when you are after the perfect fit and overall balance on a bike those 2-3 mm increments all add up.

In exactly the same way that 10mm does not appear to be much on paper (re chain stay lengths) but those of us who are taller riders (XL frame size) really notice the difference between the Norco at 445 mm and other brands who insist that 433-5 mm is the perfect chain stay length. 

I can feel the difference between my 2020 Sight (445 mm and 78º seat post angle) and my 2020 Optic (440 mm and 76º seat post angle) whilst in theory they should feel almost the same at sag given the same rider weight and the difference in rear travel (150 mm vs 125 mm). Overall I feel that Norco made a mistake by not going for the 78º seat post angle on the XL Optic. And as a result, other than the slight difference imposed as a result of having more travel the Sight is actually the better natural climber.

You can also micro adjust effective reach 3-5 mm with the position of saddle rails but in reality if you need a bigger adjustment one should go to a shorter or longer stem (despite a longer stem being "not cool").

Bar back sweep can also affect reach (at the grip) as 1º over 400 mm is 6.9 mm (working on the average XL rider having a 760 - 800 mm bar).

It is interesting that there are brands who will tell you how they carefully tested and developed their new hard tail and decided on the 'perfect' chain stay length of 435 mm (which is about the effective length of a 2020 Sight chain stay at sag).

Also the final effective stack is affected by the overall stack height of the stem as well (which generally vary between 30 mm and 60 mm).

It is the main reason that there is not a good cockpit comparison calculator for mountain bikes as the maths gets really complicated when one considers all the little triangles and how changing the length or angle of one affects another.

Most riders don't have the inclination or the budget to spend the money and valuable ride time experimenting with their set up (it actually only has to be done properly once and then one has a mathematical base line that one can calculate changes from).

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