Bike Test: Norco Sight 3


While mountain biking can be divided into countless sub-genres, the bulk of mountain bikers consider themselves trail riders. “Trailbike” is definitely a less-than-specific term, but that is the great thing about it. Norco looks to please the masses with the Sight 3, classified by Norco as an “all-mountain trail/enduro” bike.

WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Sight 3 is a bike for riders looking for a do-it-all machine. These are riders looking to climb efficiently, but not necessarily win a cross-country race. They don’t expect to enter a downhill event, either, but they want the rush and confidence of staying off the binders on the descents.

WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Sight 3’s 6061 hydroformed aluminum frame features a 1 1/8- to 1 1/2-inch tapered head tube. It comes ready to handle technical trails, with routing for a remote lever for an adjustable seatpost as well as ISCG-05 tabs for a chainguide. The coil-sprung RockShox Sektor fork features a 15- millimeter thru-axle, while the rear end retains the standard 10×135-millimeter quick-release design.

WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Often the first thing we look to swap out on new bikes is the cockpit. This was not the case with the Sight 3. Norco’s 29-inch-wide handlebar and 60-millimeter stem were comfortably wide, offering enough control without us having to worry about getting in a fist fight with a trail-side oak tree. The bike is equipped with Shimano’s SLX brakes, shifters and derailleurs, which were all standout performers despite their relatively modest price tag. The RockShox Sektor R fork offers a two-position coil spring that is adjustable from 5.5 inches of travel for all-around riding and descending to 4.3 inches for climbing.



HOW DOES IT PERFORM?

Moving out: The balanced rider position of the Sight falls right in line with Norco’s goal of versatility. In the saddle, the pedals are where they need to be to achieve a good climbing position, and the sizing of the frame is spot-on, allowing enough room to get out of the saddle if need be, as well as plenty of standover clearance.

Cornering: We never had to think about making tight corners, climbing or rolling along through the flats, as it seemed automatic, and the Sight left a lasting impression in fast, downhill corners. With the saddle lowered, the bike simply goes where you want it to. We found ourselves lapping our favorite descents to see how fast we could hit certain corners.

Climbing: At just over 30 pounds, the Sight hides its weight well. This is mostly due to the stable pedaling platform provided by the rear A.R.T. suspension. The integrity of the pedaling platform in the suspension design was especially important, as the Fox Float RL only offers open and locked modes without a ProPedal or newer CTD-style damper to adjust specifically for climbing.

The RockShox Sektor R fork’s two- position coil spring also aids climbing by allowing the front travel to be reduced to 4.3 inches, steepening the head-tube angle and putting the rider’s weight further forward on the bike. While it is useful, activating the climbing setting required us to flip the knob on top of the left stanchion and compress the fork deep into the stroke, which isn’t easily accomplished once you are already on the climb.

Descending: After climbing to the top of our local trails with ease, we were almost surprised by how much fun the Sight was on the way back down. With the saddle lowered, the bike takes on the identity of a technical trail slayer. We let the Sight loose on some of our favorite testing grounds for bikes with much longer travel, and it still felt right at home. The bike is lively and loves to be thrown around, popping off of natural hits and manualing down the trail. The harder we pushed the Sight, the more fun we had.

The Fox Float RL shock paired with the A.R.T suspension faired well on big hits, but left something to be desired when it came to small bumps. The same firm beginning stroke that provided the above-average pedaling platform when climbing felt unsettled through washboard-like sections.

Braking: While some of the trailbikes we have tested in this suspension-travel range suffered from unnerving brake dive, the geometry of the Sight, along with the Sektor fork, kept the bike high enough in its travel to inspire us with plenty of confidence down steep chutes.
The rear suspension remains active under hard braking and helped us keep cool when we had to get on the binders a little too much in especially technical sections of trail.

TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
Without a doubt, the first thing we would do to this bike is install an adjustable seatpost with a bar-mounted remote. The frame already comes with tabs mounted to route the cable, and the performance gained from riding this bike with a lower seat height makes it a must.
Depending on where you live, the Kenda Slant Six tires may work for your trails—or they may not. On our local trails with a mix of hardpack and loose dirt over hardpack, the tires don’t provide enough bite for us to feel like we are getting 100 percent of this bike’s performance.

BUYING ADVICE
As you move toward one end or another of the mountain bike spectrum, from cross-country to downhill riding, you can find bikes that will do a specific job better than the Sight, but this bike hit the mark Norco was aiming for and performed across the board, even at a modest price point. If you have the means to spend more, the Sight’s more expensive siblings are sure to offer an even better experience with a lighter overall weight and a more advanced suspension setup, but you will never have to feel performance envy aboard the Sight 3.