Review: 2020 Norco Sight – A Modern Enduro Slayer

2020 Norco Sight on Black Mountain trail

One positive thing about 2020 is the aggressive trail/enduro bike category has a wide range of good bikes — if you can find one to buy. Finding the great bikes that work well for everyone is not as easy, especially if you’re as picky as I am. Long travel bikes with dated geometry, long seat tubes, monster long wheelbases, no bottle mounts and other quirks are common. The completely redesigned 2020 Norco Sight is a modern enduro slayer void of those buzzkills.

The latest Sight has evolved with some of the most aggressive geometry in its class and a significant travel increase. This boosts the new Sight squarely into the all-mountain/enduro category from the previous generation’s more trail bike status.

2020 Norco Sight

The evolution from trail to enduro

In the last three years, the Sight has stretched its legs from 140mm front/130mm rear to 160mm front/150mm rear. With a 64 degree HT, 77.3 seatube, 455mm reach, and 1222mm wheelbase my medium test bike is definitely as modern as it gets from any major brand. The big question for me is did the bike lose too much of the previous generations’ playfulness in favor of a more traditional enduro plow race bike? With the additional travel and much more aggressive geometry, there has to be a compromise? Right?


2020 Norco Sight 29″ | Size: Medium | SRAM XO1, Lyric Ultimate, 2.5″ Maxxis Minnion DHF/DHR | 31.4 lbs w/o pedals |

2020 Norco Sight Geometry

Norco’s Ride Aligned geometry – The rear end of the bike grows as the rest of the bike does. I can’t believe more companies don’t do this. Obviously, a 6 foot 3 rider doesn’t want to ride the same length rear end as a 5 foot 3 rider. This should help keep your weight better centered between front and rear especially if you’re at the smaller or larger end of the spectrum. Another nice note on 2020 geometry is short enough seat tubes for almost anyone to use a long 150mm+ dropper. Again, I can not believe how overlooked this is even among brand new designed 2020 enduro bikes.


The Ride

Downward — The Sight is calm and collected even on the roughest, root-infested trails I could throw it down in my Pisgah backyard. I easily had some of the fastest times down trails that had previously been set on last year’s Norco Range and Ibis Ripmo. The surprising thing to me was that I set new PR’s without even trying and when feeling safely in control. The Sight just eats up the super chunky root-infested, from small to large bumps, as well as any bike I’ve ever ridden. It was easy to trust that the bike could remain stable on whatever line I pointed it down.

 

Upward — With Norco’s four-bar suspension, traction is another area where their bikes really excel.  The Sight is no different. I was simply amazed at how the rear end stayed glued to the ground while braking hard over rough terrain or climbing up the nastiest sections of trail. Yes, the very small tradeoff is that there is a slight amount of rider induced bob from weight shifts. This by no means is something I believe held me back or had me wishing for a lever to flip on the rear shock.

Overall Handling — On the tighter terrain the bike was surprisingly maneuverable. That raised a question. How is this bike so agile when it’s so slack and long? The only thing I can narrow it down to is solid mid-stroke rear suspension support and it’s 42mm reduced offset fork. The suspension simply does not wallow deep into its travel through turns. This gives a very responsive feeling that it can change directions as quickly as needed.

I love the balance Norco struck with the geometry. There’s more than enough stability for faster and steeper DH speeds but still fun in the slower and tighter terrain. Norco’s 2020 Sight begs you to let go of the brakes and bowl those unimaginable lines, but somehow in most conditions feels as agile as last year’s shorter travel Sight.

Compared to the Ibis Ripmo

There are a few other bikes in this category that I believe closely resemble the 2020 Norco Sight.  One of my favorites is the Ibis Ripmo. In comparison to the Ripmo, I believe I can ride with a little less precision (sloppy lines) on the Sight. The Ripmo’s DW-Link suspension’s climbing efficiency and a pound lighter frame help make it the better climber though.

I might choose the Ripmo for my familiar local terrain where I normally climb 3-4,000 ft on an average ride. When on unfamiliar rowdy terrain, I’d choose the Sight due more to the feeling that I don’t have to be quite as precise in my line choices.  For the same reasons, I’d likely choose the Sight for an enduro race where fatigue and that “going for it” mentality is set in.

2020 Norco Sight Protection
Downtube protection even for the tailgate pads. The cutout in the middle of the downtube is for a zip tie around the internal cables to prevent rattle.
Norco Sight non-drive side
Note the internal cable port at the headtube that has worked its way out. Other 2020 Norco’s I’ve ridden that didn’t have this problem. Maybe this is just a case of cables being a little on the long side?
2020 Norco Sight cable routing
Well secured cables. This bike was dead quiet and without cable rattle despite the rubber insert that sometimes worked its way out.

?

  • Excellent geometry built to attack the steep and rough yet more agile and playful than expected
  • Ride Aligned system makes it simple to set up fit and suspension
  • Size-specific geometry keeps different sized riders better centered with size-specific rear center (chainstays) and seat tube angle
  • Dialed suspension — From small to big hits it always feels good and maintains incredible traction
  • Short seatube – should allow nearly any leg length rider to use a long dropper

?

  • Internal cable routing — no internal tubes to ease cable replacement and noise
  • Rubber cable port inserts — mine worked their way out almost every ride

Who’s the bike for?

The Sight is a highly capable technical descender with surprising ability to pop over and off-trail obstacles as well as duck and dive through the tight-n-twisty. You can almost close your eyes and roll through just about anything on the Sight. That said, I believe it can work for a wider range of rider than your enduro slayer-type. I did a few 40+ mile 5,000+ ft Pisgah rides on the Sight that I didn’t feel too over-biked on. It may not be the fastest tool uphill, but even when exhausted the bike still made it easy to plow through rough lines both up and down.

Would I choose this bike if I lived in milder terrain? Nope! I would choose the equally great Optic in a heartbeat over the Sight. The Optic is basically a mini Sight with similar geometry and less suspension travel.  See my review of the Optic here: https://crankjoy.com/review-2020-norco-optic/

Bottom Line

The Sight is your bike if you’re looking to tackle the steepest, sketchiest lines with complete confidence. It’s amazing how the Sight has the ability to float through the roughest terrain while remaining reasonably agile. Norco’s Ride Aligned geometry, custom build your own ride and consumer direct programs make it easy to get the exact bike you want. The Sight is easy to recommend due to its fantastic ride quality without common quirks that many other bikes are plagued with.  The 2020 Norco Sight would definitely be the bike I would choose if I were racing enduro.

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