Long term review: The 2020 Norco Sight A2 29er climbs beautifully, ploughs downhill
For the last nine months (yes, this is a very long term review) we’ve been cutting about Scotland’s Tweed Valley aboard the 2020 Norco Sight A2. But, the 2021 model has already been released? Correct. However, not one aspect of the Sight’s geometry or linkage has been altered, so what we discuss here holds true for the 2021 Sight. We already covered the geometry and tech in a previous article. Here, we put into words how the bike feels in a multitude of riding situations; pedaling to the top, ploughing down, turning corners…
Long term review: 2020 Norco Sight A2
In brief, the 2020 Norco Sight 29er is classed as an “all-mountain” bike. A 160mm Fox 36 Rhythm fork is paired with a Float X2 Performance Series shock supporting 150mm of rear wheel travel. We rode the medium frame; 455mm reach, 435mm rear-centre, 64° head angle, 77.3° effective seat tube angle and a BB drop of 25mm.
Spinning to the top
For climbing, Norco definitely got the geometry and anti-squat right on the Norco Sight. The 77.3° seat tube angle is nothing short of excellent. It puts your hips in a commanding position over the bottom bracket, making the most of the rider’s pedal stroke.
Our tester was able to climb everything with the X2 shock in open mode, never feeling the need to firm it up. That’s testament to the bike’s anti-squat which, based on our experience, we’d say is optimised for the climbing gears of the cassette. Here, pedal bob was unnoticeable, making long fire road climbs feel manageable no matter how may laps we’d done that day. We wouldn’t go so far as to call them effortless, thanks to the 16.8 kg* heft of the A2 model.
On more technical climbs, steeper and littered with roots, the Norco Sight was again very composed. It offered great traction and stability, allowing the rider to just look where they wanted to go, without feeling like they were wrestling with the bike.
For an all-mountain bike of this travel and weight, it really is all about the descent, not how you got up there. Sprinting from a standing start, the Norco Sight feels sluggish to get going. The great anti-squat you get in the climbing gears isn’t so great in the small cogs – the bike noticeably sinks into its travel as you lay the power down. Thus, in this respect at least, we wouldn’t say the bike is very responsive.
However, once it gets going, slowing it down is your next problem. With 29″ wheels, it comes as no surprise to find that the bike holds speed extremely well. The Norco Sight does love a straight line, feeling extremely well composed over rough unpredictable terrain at speed.
We note that the rear suspension still works remarkably well under braking. Pedal kickback is negligible. Our tester rides flats and reports that the suspension felt plush and supportive enough under harsh braking, as she never had problems with her feet bouncing off the pedals.
As for turning corners, the Norco Sight was a mixed bag. On your typical trail centre well-supported bermed corners, the Sight was a delight to ride. It offered great mid-stroke support, responding positively to the rider’s pumping inputs with acceleration out of berms.
On flatter corners with less support, the Sight was merely OK. On wide arching corners, our rider felt like she was able to track her chosen line well. Though, on tighter, looser turns, under-steer was evident.
On reflection, our tester very much felt as though the weight of the bike held it back. It’s worth noting here that she weighs just 60kg, so her weight as a percentage of the overall system weight is always going to be on the lower side. She found it cumbersome when switching lines, hoping from rut to rut. It certainly isn’t the most nimble bike she has ever ridden, but it is the most stable. Unfortunately, she never quite felt like the master of the Norco Sight.
Here are a few things we noted about the spec and frame details. First up, the Fox X2 performance shock leaked air, albeit very slowly. Our tester had to top it up every week to get it back the 165 PSI she preferred to run it at. Secondly, we were surprised to hear that the SRAM Code R rear brake required frequent bleeding, with the lever squashing almost all the way to the bar after just a few rides.
The Norco Sight A2 has internal cable routing, but the frame doesn’t feature any rubber clamps or tabs at the down tube entry point. This meant that, over time, the cables started to fray from the friction of constant small movements in this area.
At the rear, we found tyre clearance to be ample. There is plenty of room for a 2.5″ WT tire, even one that is caked in mud. Also, there was no “loam shelf” to speak of, so the bike didn’t end up harboring obscene amounts of slop too often.
Your Norco Sight A2 tester: Fiona Berry
Fi stands at 5ft 3″ and weighs 60kg in full riding kit. She ran the Fox 36 fork at 54 PSI, with the rebound set to 2 clicks from fully open. In the X2 shock she ran 165 PSI, with all adjustments set to 1 click from fully open.
She ran 18 PSI in the front tyre and 22 PSI in the rear, with no tire inserts. The Norco Sight A2 was originally spec’d with a Maxxis DHF up front and a DHR on the rear. Our tester swapped the DHF onto the rear and ran a Maxxis Assegai up front, partly because of its softer 3C Maxx Terra compound.
Admittedly, fit wasn’t great. The 455mm reach was a real stretch for our tester, something she struggled with from the first ride. She cut the 800mm bar down to 750mm to compensate a little, but with the stem already at 35mm, it didn’t leave much room for improvement. Another way she was able compensate was to slam the saddle right forward on the rails, so at least the pedaling position was good.
As for descending, our tester felt the cockpit was a little too roomy – she struggled to place her weight centrally, feeling like she was either leaning on the handlebars or hanging off the back, unable to weight the front wheel sufficiently.