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2020 Norco Sight C Custom Lyrik X01 Bike

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Vital Long-Term Test - 2020 Norco Sight

We've spent months hammering on Norco's radical all-mountain bike, get the full rundown on how it held up.

Rating: Vital Review

When the all-new Norco Sight was originally launched at the end of October, we already had the bike on our home trails for a week to get a feel for it. Our first impressions had us a bit smitten but a long term test is what the Sight deserved. After four months and hundreds of miles on the trails, we are ready to share where we stand with the 27.5-inch wheeled version of this trail smasher. Hang on as we share our final stance with the Norco Sight and how the all-mountain bike held up in the video above and review below.

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Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Class-leading descending performance
  • Aggressive geometry
  • Phenomenal suspension performance
  • Makes small to mid-sized bumps disappear
  • Confidence-inspiring, particularly at high speed
  • Frame details emphasize durability
  • Stock Maxxis EXO+ tires
  • Efficient enough for big days in the saddle
  • RockShox Reverb can still be fickle
  • Wheels did not hold up to the bike's abilities
  • Not a bike for "everybody"

Norco Sight V3 Highlights

  • Carbon frame with alloy chainstay (tested)
  • Aluminum frame options
  • 27.5-inch or 29-inch wheel options
  • Sizes small through extra-large
  • 160mm travel fork, 150mm travel frame
  • All-new size-specific geometry
  • Clear frame-protection kit installed
  • Bosses on underside of top tube for accessory mounting
  • Internal cable routing
  • Custom build kits through Build Your Ride, Ride Your Build program
  • Women's specific builds available
  • Four-piston brakes on all models
  • Most models equipped with Maxxis EXO+ casing
  • Downtube features shuttle guard and bottom bracket protection
  • Shimano, SRAM, FOX, and RockShox builds available
  • MSRP: $6,897 USD as tested

Along with the new bike, Norco pushed their Ride Aligned philosophy. A close examination of the geometry chart, not just your own size, will have prospective riders realizing that every size of the Sight has its own geometry. Mid-center, reach, seat angle; all of it is adjusted and optimized based on a pile of anthropomorphic data that Norco collected. This means that our size medium should feel, to us at 5-foot 9-inch as the XL does to a 6-foot 3-inch rider. With particular respect to mid-center, this has been a battle cry of many riders on larger sizes.

Geometry chart for both 27.5-inch and 29er wheel sizes

The Sight has some new-wave details we've begun to appreciate on more bikes these days. On the underside of the top tube, there are bosses to hold aftermarket storage options or even your frame-mounted pump. Going above and beyond, the Sight comes with a clear frame protection kit installed. To top it off underside of the Sight sports rubber protection in the shuttle zone as well as the bottom bracket area while sufficient protection on the alloy chainstay keeps the bike incredibly quiet on the trail. Not so new-wave but always pleasant to find, a full-sized water bottle fit nicely in our medium frame, as did our spare inner tube.

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On The Trail

We'll just say it, the 2020 Norco Sight is the epitome of a modern, aggressive all-mountain bike. Its geometry is transformative while its trail manners are superb. The suspension works incredibly well in a variety of conditions and lends riders to a depth of confidence no bike in this category has yet to deliver. This bike is impressive in all manner of trails and conditions, and seemingly so, across all sizes. The Sight is not without flaw but we felt it best to be clear that on almost any objective measure we tossed the bike against, it measured up to and outperformed. This bike was ridden by multiple testers, each drawing the positive conclusion that the Sight was amazing.

The Norco took all we could throw its way and shrugged as if to say, "Is that all?"

Sitting on the Sight with the 175mm RockShox dropper at full extension provides an upright riding position with proper weight distribution. When riding different bikes back-to-back, the Sight did have a more active feel to the suspension. It is not a rocket ship on the climbs but it is far from a pig. The 77.3-degree (effective) seat tube angle kept the rider weight forward and legs pumping happily along. Technical switchbacks either up or downhill did not have us noticing the 63.5-degree head angle. Norco is clearly up to some VooDoo magic as many of the features that make the bike descend so well remained masked during the countless miles of climbing we logged.

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Along rolling terrain and descents, the Sight's standout feature is bump-absorption. Rather, when it comes to small and mid-sized hits, the Sight seems to pave the trail beneath you. Time after time, in swaths of endless rock gardens, not once was the Sight put out of sorts or pushed offline. When it came to riding even the roughest of trails, the Norco took all we could throw its way and shrugged as if to say, "Is that all?" We truly had a hard time believing this bike only had 150mm of travel in the rear.

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When it comes to suspension ramp, there is a bit of preference at play. Some progression is appreciated by most riders but the degree of that ramp is where things tend to turn personal. The Norco Sight does have a progressive suspension design but the rate of that ramp isn't as pronounced as the new Transition Scout or Santa Cruz Bronson, both are bikes we've held in high regard. After using the Ride Aligned setup guide, we found bottom on the Sight more often than we would have liked. Over the course of a few weeks, we stayed in contact with Norco engineers and played with front-end height, suspension pressures fore and aft as well as tuning options therein. What we would have liked was to add another volume spacer and be on our way, but Norco wasn't having it. They stood by their design and had us playing with other features. Agree or disagree, we were able to get the Sight to behave more as we liked but never got the full ramp that would have been preferred. Despite not achieving the performance we desired, we have to concede that the Norco works exactly as it should and is objectively, a well-performing system. To us, the Sight might be a candidate for the RockShox MegNeg kit.

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The riding position and cornering manners of the Sight were reflective of any number of bikes using the super-slack, longish front style of geometry. Much like the new Transition Scout, the Sight asks for a centered rider, pushing the front end to reap maximum dividends in the corners. Comply and you will be treated to all-day grip through the turns, even those filled with rocks and holes. This same bulldog approach is applied in lower-angle rocks as well. Keep centered and the Sight will track beautifully but the rider has to be willing to commit. If you get too far off the back, the front won't be properly weighted and things can get a tad light.

This methodology is at the heart of the Sight. It does in fact demand a rider with a heavy hand to make it light up. The Sight will deliver confidence to a timid rider but you have to be willing to trust it. Less aggressive riders may be better suited to look towards the Norco Optic or other shorter-travel options simply because there isn't much point in lugging around the extra bike if you aren't going to get a bit aggro. There were days when we weren't feeling tip-top and just wanted to go for a spin. The Norco felt like any other slack bike and nothing too special, albeit maybe a bit heavy on the climb. To that end, we have to say the Sight is not for everybody.

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Build Kit

At the time of launch, our Sight had the C1 build moniker but it is now just one permutation of build in Norco's custom program. Retail for the carbon frame, spec'd with the X01 build and Rock Shox suspension kit is $6,697. The X01 kit is just that, sans the carbon cranks where, instead, riders get the alloy Descendant model. CODE RSC brakes with 200/180mm rotors front and rear, stop the bike which rolls on DT Swiss M1700 wheels wrapped in EXO+ MAXXIS Minion DHF and DHR tires. A top tier Lyrik Ultimate fork is mated to a Super Deluxe Select+ rear shock to round out the build kit. Little details like the Deity bars and Ergon contact points are nice but are juxtaposed with a stem that looks like an unrefined paperweight. Complaining about an OEM stem should indicate how deeply we're digging for quibbles these days. The build for the money lands the Norco Sight right in the mix of prices when compared to other brands. For comparable builds, you'll find some bikes for less, others will run you more. The beauty is that through Norco's Build Your Ride, Ride Your Build program, customers can taper the cost in various places, or ball out of control if that's your thing. Yes, you can even have a high-end build on an alloy frame.

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By any objective measure, the Norco Sight is simply awesome.

Long Term Durability

How did the Sight hold up under our antics? With a pre-installed frame protection kit, it's no surprise the paint still looks great. No pivots or parts came loose and no strange noises came to light, no matter how much we tried.

Suspension: Again and again, the goods from RockShox continue to impress. The Super Deluxe was always supple and the Lyrik Ultimate is just outstanding. Highly tunable and always at the ready, this is a stellar combination.

Reverb: Our 175mm Reverb had to be bled not once, but twice to finally keep consistent performance. We know RockShox has worked hard to revise this product and to be fair, even including older generations, this was the first one to give this garage so many fits.

Wheels: The DT Swiss M1700 wheels are reasonably light, have a nice profile and roll well. Even though the pressure on our Maxxis EXO+ tires never dropped below 26-PSI, we managed to dent the M1700s in multiple locations, one of which enough to cause a small leak, requiring regular airing-up before each ride. Whether the Sight dishes out that much punishment or the M1700s weren't up for the job, we were a bit bummed to smoke a wheel so quickly on this high of a build.

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What's The Bottom Line?

By any objective measure, the Norco Sight is simply awesome. That doesn't mean it is for everybody or we didn't have our complaints. No doubt the Ride Aligned methodology is not cheap for Norco and for that, customers may pay a premium in the overall value department. While there is nothing to stop you from putting your own volume spacer in the rear shock, Norco has taken a somewhat dogmatic approach to suspension tuning. All of that aside, there was not one single occasion where the Sight left us wanting for more. Truly, a rider like Sam Blenkinsop should test this bike because no rider short of his abilities could take the Norco Sight to the limit or outside its comfort zone and to us, that is money in the bank. Make sure you head to Norco.com to build your own Sight.

Vital MTB Rating

  • Climbing: 4 stars
  • Descending: 5 stars
  • Fun Factor: 5 stars
  • Value: 4 stars
  • Overall Impression: 4.5 stars - Outstanding

About The Reviewer

Brad Howell - Age: 40 // Years Riding: 25 // Height: 5'9" (1.75m) // Weight: 165-pounds (74.8kg)

Brad started mountain biking when a 2.25-inch tire was "large," and despite having threads, bottom brackets sucked. Riding in the woods with friends eventually lead way to racing, trying to send it at the local gravel pits, and working in bike shops as a wrench to fix those bikes. Fortunate enough to have dug at six Rampages and become friends with some of the sport’s biggest talents, Brad has a broad perspective of what bikes can do and what it means to be a good rider. The past few years Brad worked in the bike industry and got to see the man behind the curtain. These days, though, he just likes riding his bike in the woods with friends.

Photos by Brad Howell // Video by John Reynolds and Brad Howell

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30 comments newest first

Spot on review! Thank you;

I remember riding old norco 2014/2015 they just snap at the chainstay’s and were supershort in terms of reach; glad that they managed geo and hopefully reliability of the bearings;


New models looks quite promising;
Currently I’m hesitant btw stumpjumper evo and norco models as next bike.

Based on norco size chart 6’1 person should go with XL which is kinda strange to me, since this is average height, and i doubt 6’4 and 6’1 should ride the same bike size;

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JBV - I reviewed the Slayer, and I'm riding a Sight now. In spite of the additional travel they feel quite similar in terms of efficiency and their ability to soak up rough terrain. The geometry is definitely the main difference, with the Slayer being more of a bike you're "on" and more "in" with the Sight.

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Would be interesting to see a comparison between the 650b and 29er model. How different are they? And would a mullet option work?

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As per the local rep and their gravity tune philosophy; Norco generally attenpts to make their differing sized, and wheel-sized, bikes of the same model try to "feel" the same in their handling characteristics; their are slight differences in geo, ie HA, stack, STA, RC, WB, etc. , that try to make this happen.

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When you set the fork/shock pressure you have to compress it past the negative chamber equaliser dimple before taking the reading, else first time you compress the forks/shock you won’t be at the psi Norco told you to try!

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Forgive me if I am misreading you here, but do you think that is a step in the process we somehow missed? At the risk of being redundant, the clip in the video is for demonstration purposes, not a literal display of what we did once over the course of a four-month test.

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Just out of curiosity, what was the stroke of the shock on the Sight you guys tested? Norco sell two different lengths depending on the build. I don't have any bottoming issues at all on mine. I've spent multiple days at the park hucking to flat and I've never felt it bottom harshly. That's saying a lot for a 225lb, aggressive rider. Most of my bikes scream and squirm when I point them towards a jump. Also, the 23% overall progressivity on the Sight isn't much different from the Scout @ 25%. The higher leverage ratio just requires more PiSsIes and a more fine-tuning. It think that is ultimately why Norco elected to offer the ride aligned setup guide.

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The FloatX2 has an extremely firm bottom out bumper, which (from what I've heard) is nearly impossible to compress the final 2-3mm of stroke; my understanding is that Norco speced the 55mm stroke due to this reason.

That's also why you see the Rockshox suspension with 52.5mm stroke... as it will use full travel freely.

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I've rebuilt X2's, the "bottom-out" bumper is just a thick o ring, and you can definitely get all the stroke out of them. The architecture just allows for more clearance on this particular frame vs. the same stroke Super Deluxe.

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The Scout goes from 2.85 to 2.15 and from the charts that I have seen, the Sight goes from about 3.2 to 2.6. The way we calculate progression...

2.85-2.15 = 0.70/2.85 = 24.6%
3.2-2.6 = 0.6/3.2 = 18.8%

Lots of other factors at play of course...

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You're right, I mathed wrong on the overall progression of the Sight. Either way, 18-19% is more than enough progression built into the linkage for this travel range and intended use, we don't want to end up like YT here. smile I just think the Norco takes a bit of time to really dial the shock setup, then it's golden. No bottoming out here.

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No worries - I have seen some different ways of calculating progression out there. If I recall correctly the video review also called the progression 23% (or maybe I am remember that incorrectly). Either way, I just wanted to make sure the comparison was actually apples to apples. Lots of room for personal preference on what makes up "perfect" for anything with bikes these days. Thankfully there are a ton of great options out there!

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This keeps coming up and perhaps I worded it poorly in my review. I was having issues with bottoming (and other traits too) in the first few weeks. Then, once I reached out to Norco and we made adjustments, there were no further issues with bottoming.

Of note, the tuning guides on Ride Aligned have changed a bit since we first took custody of the Sight. In other words, the tuning guides that owners now have are not what we had at the time of testing.

Also of note, I have (and still am) testing the new Scout. That difference in the progression is very much noticeable on the trail. Look for the review coming soon, but like, not too soon, just you know...in the future.

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I'm 3 rides in my alloy Sight custom build (in Bike Checks)... super stoked thus far. Dialing in my suspension with a ShockWiz and getting her up to speed is the name of the game now. I'll see what it tells me to do.?.

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As someone who's been on the 2020 optic for some good time now and my race partner is on the 2020 sight.... The comment in the review about shifting your weight a little forward to help with traction is a key point that should be deeply focused on when riding either bike.

Don't think about getting your weight forward by going deeper in your arm bend while still keeping your hip hing set back, don't lay down on the bike. Actually shift your body a little more forward then what you are used to and it's staggering the amount of traction these bikes keep through corners.

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I'm on a 20 Optic and definitely have to agree that your bias has to be forward. I'm loving the Ride Aligned app. I'm trying the higher end "rider ability" toggles and this thing is just lighting on fire.

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This is generally true of "progressive geo", the sight promises to be more balanced. I'm very curious to ride one. I'm on a XXL transition sentinel with similar reach and head tube angle, but I think the longer rear center and steeper seat tube will make the sight out climb the sentinel and feel even more stable descending (if that's even possible!?). The first ride on the sentinel felt weird, it wanted me to be forward. Second ride a little less weird. Third ride I was on sighting lines I would have needed to roll up to three or four times on my previous bike. It doesn't take long to get used to better geo, but I do occasionally get too far back on the sentinel on steeps and then forget to move forward again on the flatter corners. In general I've learned to move around more on the bike. It is an adjustment and I don't think we're done yet. Most manufacturers have room to grow in the reach and seat tube steepness. Norco is one of the closest to nailing it, I think. just give my 10-15mm more reach on the XL. I'm only 6'3" for the record.

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How about adding the volume reducer and do a follow up? I get that Norco has their idea of ideal, but that doesn't mean it is your ideal... Suspension feel is so subjective that there's no way for a manufacturer to get the right setup for every rider...

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That is pretty much what we said in the review. Adding a reducer and doing a follow-up would only showcase what I personally like, it would not highlight the objective performance of this system which, works really well.

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While it might reflect what you prefer, it would also be useful for some people to know if it has the desired effect or if it makes it ramp up too much...

On my bike, I had contemplated a volume reducer, but then I found a sag setting that hit the sweet spot..

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Specifications
Product 2020 Norco Sight C Custom Lyrik X01 Bike
Model Year 2020
Riding Type Enduro / All-Mountain
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry SM (27.5", 29"), MD (27.5", 29"), LG (27.5", 29"), XL (27.5", 29") View Geometry
Size SM (27.5", 29") MD (27.5", 29") LG (27.5", 29") XL (27.5", 29")
Top Tube Length 560mm, 564mm 588mm, 593mm 617mm, 621mm 645mm, 649mm
Head Tube Angle 63.5°, 64.0° 63.5°, 64.0° 63.5°, 64.0° 63.5°, 64.0°
Head Tube Length 100mm, 90mm 110mm, 100mm 120mm, 110mm 130mm, 120mm
Seat Tube Angle 77.0° 77.3° 77.7° 78.0°
Seat Tube Length 370mm 395mm 435mm 465mm
Bottom Bracket Height 342mm (15mm drop), 350mm (25mm drop) 342mm (15mm drop), 350mm (25mm drop) 342mm (15mm drop), 350mm (25mm drop) 342mm (15mm drop), 350mm (25mm drop)
Chainstay Length 430mm 435mm 440mm 445mm
Wheelbase 1180mm, 1183mm 1220mm, 1222mm 1259mm, 1262mm 1299mm, 1301mm
Standover 668mm, 682mm 677mm, 687mm 683mm, 704mm 701mm, 726mm
Reach 425mm 455mm 485mm 515mm
Stack 585mm, 603mm 594mm, 612mm 603mm, 621mm 612mm, 630mm
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b), 29"
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details Carbon front triangle and seatstays, aluminum chainstays; molded shuttle guard, down tube and chainstay protectors
Rear Travel 150mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Select+, DebonAir 2 spring
Fork RockShox Lyrik Ultimate, Charger 2 damper, 37mm offset (27.5"), 42mm offset (29")
Fork Travel 160mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered, 1.125" top, 1.5" bottom
Headset FSA #57 E internal, sealed bearing
Handlebar DEITY Ridgeline 35, 800mm width, 25mm rise, 35mm diameter
Stem Norco CNC, 40mm length, 35mm clamp
Grips Ergon GE10 EVO, lock-on
Brakes SRAM Code RSC, 4 piston, 200mm front rotor, 180mm rear rotor
Brake Levers SRAM Code RSC
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-speed
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-speed
ISCG Tabs ISCG05
Chainguide e*thirteen TRS Race, with direct mount bashguard
Cranks Truvativ Descendant 7k DUB, 170mm length
Chainrings Truvativ Descendant 7k, 34 tooth (27.5"), 32 tooth (29")
Bottom Bracket SRAM DUB PressFit
Pedals N/A
Chain SRAM Eagle, 12-speed
Cassette SRAM X01 Eagle XG1295, 10-50 tooth, 12-speed
Rims DT Swiss M1700 wheelset
Hubs DT Swiss M1700 wheelset, 110x15mm Boost front, 148x12mm Boost rear with XD driver
Spokes DT Swiss Competition, stainless steel, 15g/16g butted
Tires Front: Maxxis Minion DHF, 3C MaxxTerra, EXO+, TR, folding, 2.5” WT
Rear: Maxxis Minion DHR II, 3C MaxxTerra, EXO+, TR, folding, 2.4” WT
Saddle Ergon SM10 Sport
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper
Drop: 150mm (SM), 175mm (MD, LG), 200mm (XL)
Seatpost Diameter 34.9mm
Seatpost Clamp Norco alloy nutted
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 148x12mm Boost
Max. Tire Size 2.6"
Bottle Cage Mounts Yes (single, with additional storage bosses under top tube)
Colors Dark Red/Copper, Black/Red, Deep Jade/Jade
Warranty 5 year on frame, 1 year Norco components
Weight N/A
Miscellaneous Ride Aligned design
Internal cable routing
Price $6,897
More Info

norco.com

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