Norco Sight A1 29 review$3,799.00

All rounder at a great price

BikeRadar score4/5

The Norco Sight A1 29er is a relatively hard-hitting trail bike that manages to merge a decent downhill confidence inspiring ride with capable pedalling characteristics.

The Norco Sight A1 29 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2019. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub page.

At £2,899 / $3,799 / AU$4,999, and with a spec that includes a largely SRAM GX eagle groupset, 150mm RockShox Pike forks and a piggy-back Fox DPX2 shock, it’s also decent value for money. This is further backed up by the bricks and mortar back-up from Evans in the UK.

Norco specs a SRAM GX Eagle groupset
Norco specs a SRAM GX Eagle groupset

Norco use a 130mm four-bar suspension linkage with an off-set main pivot and seat tube design, and an asymmetric rear triangle for stiffness. Each size bike gets a slightly different tube profile to maintain ride characteristics between sizes, according to Norco.

I tested the 29in version of the bike, with sizes available from M to XL, while there are also 27.5in Sights available in XS to XL.

The rocker might not be the tidiest, but it's an integral part of the Norco's composed rear suspension
The rocker might not be the tidiest, but it's an integral part of the Norco's composed rear suspension

The Sight retains its confidence inspiring descending capability that really appealed in the 2018 Trail Bike of the Year test, where it came in the top three. This year it was tested alongside bikes with a slightly more gravity focus, but it was its stable pedalling platform that really became noticeable.

The RockShox Pike sits upfront
The RockShox Pike sits upfront

The four-bar suspension is nicely neutral, balancing the demands of climbing and descending well. It’s 15kg weight means it’s no lightweight, but the suspension remains well composed while sat climbing, and only starts to get a overly active when really pushing hard through the pedals — at this point I flipped the compression switch on the DPX2 shock to calm it down again.

The 30t ring and 50t sprocket on the NX Eagle cassette does give a low ratio for spinning up steep climbs, however the 73.5-degree seat angle is slack by modern standards.

The GX rear mech pushes the chain over the NX cassette
The GX rear mech pushes the chain over the NX cassette

This, combined with the weight, means it’s unlikely to claim any KOMs. Stick it on something technical though and, so long as you’re happy shifting your weight forwards, the 2.5in Maxxis Minion tyres do provide plenty of grip.

The stability that gives the Sight decent climbing manners also helps on the flat too. The Sight accelerates without too much effort and happily propels you along tracks at a fair speed.

The geometry isn’t wild — a size large has a 453mm reach and a 66.5 degree head angle — but this helps keep the bike nimble through flatter turns, while the 33mm bottom bracket drop allows you to lower your heels and push the tyres into flatter corners for decent levels of grip.

The wide RaceFace bar gives plenty of control
The wide RaceFace bar gives plenty of control

Norco change the chainstay length for a given bike size too, something not many manufacturers are doing, in order to maintain balance. The head tube is nice and short, which allows you to drop the bars lower on flatter terrain to help weight the front wheel, but it’s supplied with a fairly long fork steerer tube so you can raise the bars for personal preference, or when hitting steeper terrain where a higher bar might be beneficial.

Fox's piggy-back DPX2 shock remains consistent on long runs
Fox's piggy-back DPX2 shock remains consistent on long runs

The tyre combo helps the Sight on the way back down again too. Big hoops and burly rubber mated to wide rims are a classic confidence inspiring combo, which when linked to the extra long-descent control offered by a piggyback shock means it’s unlikely to be the bike that gives up on a big descent.

RockShox' DebonAir spring gives great small bump sensitivity
RockShox' DebonAir spring gives great small bump sensitivity

The ride isn’t sofa-smooth, but there’s a nice balance between composure through the rough stuff and feedback through the pedals. It’s by no means kicky or skittery, but retains a relatively efficient feel.

If I was being picky, a triple compound tyre up front would be preferential, however the 2.5in tyres on a 29mm internal width WTB rim means low pressures are possible without too much puncture risk.

SRAM's Guide R brakes lack a touch of bite but are consistent performers
SRAM's Guide R brakes lack a touch of bite but are consistent performers

I’d also like a touch more power from the brakes. The Guide R brakes from SRAM lack the SwingLink mechanism that boosts power a touch, but a 200mm rotor up front would help with stopping power.

Finally, I found that there’s a fair bit of rattle from the bike, both from the chainstay that’s unprotected and a touch from the cables.

2.5in tyres sit on a 29mm internal width WTB rim
2.5in tyres sit on a 29mm internal width WTB rim

It’s not quite got the smoothest ride around, nor is the geometry anything other than middle-of-the-road, but the Sight would be a great companion for those looking to expand their riding radius from trail centre to ever-steepening trails in the woods and over rocks. It’s capable, confident and good value for money, and still up there with some of the better all-round trail bikes on the market at this price.

Norco Sight A1 29 specifications

The Sight inspires confidence over the rocks
The Sight inspires confidence over the rocks

  • Sizes (*Tested): M, L*, XL (27.5" available in XS, S, M, L, XL)
  • Weight: 15kg
  • Frame: Aluminium 130mm 29-inch
  • Fork: RockShox Pike RC 150mm
  • Shock: Fox Float Performance DPX2
  • Crankset: Truvativ Decendent 6K DUB
  • Mech: SRAM GX
  • Shifter: NX Eagle
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss 370 hubs, WTB ST i29 rims
  • Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5WT, Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.5WT
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide R 180/180
  • Bar: RaceFace Turbine R 800mm
  • Stem: Norco Alloy 50mm
  • Seatpost: Trans X Stealth 125mm (M), 150mm (L,XL)
  • Saddle: SDG

Norco Sight A1 29 geometry

  • Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
  • Head angle: 66.5 degrees
  • Chainstay: 43.5cm /  17.13in
  • Seat tube: 47cm / 18.5"
  • Top tube: 63.4cm / 25"
  • Head tube: 9.4cm / 3.7"
  • Bottom bracket drop: 3.3cm / 1.3in
  • Bottom bracket height: 34cm / 13.39in
  • Wheelbase: 1,195mm / 47.05in
  • Stack: 61.4cm / 24.17in
  • Reach: 45.3cm / 17.91in

BikeRadar would like to thank 661 Protection, Northwave, Effetto Mariposa and Finale Ligure for their help and support during our Bike of the Year test.

Tom Marvin

Technical Editor, Tech Hub, UK
Tom's been riding for 15 years, and has always chopped and changed bikes as soon as his budget allowed. He's most at home in the big mountains, having spent nigh on 30 weeks riding the Alps, as well as having lived a stone's throw from the Scottish Highlands for four years. Tom also enjoys racing events like the Strathpuffer and the Trans Nepal.
  • Age: 29
  • Height: 182cm / 5'11"
  • Weight: 82kg / 180lb
  • Waist: 81cm / 32in
  • Chest: 97cm / 38in
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep and super tech or fast and flowy
  • Current Bikes: Canyon Spectral, Pivot Mach 429SL, Mondraker Vantage R +
  • Dream Bike: Transition Scout
  • Beer of Choice: Gin & tonic
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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