As 27.5-inch wheels are taking the mountain bike world
by storm, there are still questions as to where the
standard will fit into the big picture. Over the last
few years, we have ridden 27.5-inch-wheeled bikes designed
for all types of riding, but many believe that the optimal
place for them is in the trailbike and all-mountain categories.
Norco seems to have firmly embraced this, as the Range,
their burlier all-mountain bike, is only offered with 27-inch
wheels for 2013. While the Sight is still available in a 26-inch
version, if the 27.5-incher is the choice of riders in 2013, 2014
may tell a different story.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
Norco has taken their Sight and added 27.5-inch wheels to
the equation. It is designed for aggressive trail riders who
need their bike to do a bit of everything—from pedaling up
climbs to blazing down technical singletrack.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Sight Killer B-1 features an aluminum frame, with 5.5
inches of travel via a Horst-link suspension design. Norco
has taken all the necessary steps to build a trailbike that is
stable and confidence-inspiring, thanks to a tapered head
tube, Syntace 142x12-millimeter rear thru-axle and integrated derailleur hanger, and a Press-Fit bottom bracket.
Like their downhill race sled the Aurum, the Sight uses
Norco’s Gravity Tune design technology, which, according to
Norco, keeps the rider’s weight in an optimal position over the
bike when the rider is out of the saddle. This is done by adjusting not only the front-center length for different-size frames,
but adjusting the rear-center measurement proportionally.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Shimano’s XT brakes and drivetrain components are standout performers on the Sight. The RockShox Reverb dropper
post is a piece of the puzzle that would be hard to live without. The suspension components may not match, but they
work great nonetheless. The RockShox Revelation RCT3 fork
is precise when carving hard lines through corners and exceptionally plush through trail chatter. The Fox Float Factory CTD
shock is a trusty companion through rock gardens. Finally, the
expensive Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires are included. Nice
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: Setup on the Sight is straightforward as far as
dual-suspension bikes go. We set the sag to 30 percent, dialed
in the rebound and were off.
The rider position feels very centered over the bike, and
the seat tube angle puts the rider in a good position over the
pedals. Norco understands what today’s trail riders are
looking for and spec’d a short Race Face stem matched with
a fairly wide Race Face Six C Carbon handlebar.
Cornering: The Sight shines in cornering performance.
The frame, fork and wheels are all laterally stiff. With the
saddle dropped, the contact patch of the 27.5-inch tires
feels even larger, which allowed us to push hard
through turns with more confidence. While
the wheels grip closer to what we are used
to from our 29er rigs, the 27.5's aren’t
as much of a burden through tight,
The Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires,
which offered plenty of grip, especially in loose chunder, feel a bit soft
on the side knobs through hardpack
Climbing: Norco designed the Sight
to be able to attack climbs and descents
alike. With a weight of 31 pounds, don’t
expect to be dicing it up with your Lycra-clad cross-country buddies, but the Sight will
handle climbs with a consistent, seated approach
and use of the three-position dampers of the fork and
shock. The 27.5-inch wheels fit in with this approach, as they
won’t be the first ones out of the gate, but make up for it with
their ability to carry momentum over obstacles and stay on top
of rocky sections on climbs. The Sight’s geometry is balanced
enough that with a little body English, the front end kept
pointing where we wanted to go, even on very steep climbs.
Descending: The quality of the suspension design and
components lets you get the most out of the Sight’s 5.5 inches of
travel. In the softest damping setting, front and rear, the bike is
supple through moderately rough sections of trail, but leaves
enough travel available for the occasional big hit, either off a
drop or through a square-edge rock garden. The suspension is
geared toward gobbling up trail and will stay glued to the ground
if you let it, but is still willing to pop off jumps along the way.
We had some hard landings from drops and jumps on the Sight,
but were consistently surprised with how well the bike
The larger wheels help the bike carry momentum and stay
on top of rough sections, eating up trail even better than the
5.5 inches would indicate. The large-volume, 2.35-inch Hans
Dampf tires further contributed to our confidence in the rough.
Braking: There’s not much not to like about the Shimano
XT brakes. We ran them hard in dry, wet and even snowy
conditions, and they remained consistent and predictable.
They received some further help from the sticky Schwalbe
tires and the bike’s Horst-link style linkage, which kept
the suspension very active, even under hard braking into
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The Hans Dampf tires are great trail tires that excel in
nasty, loose conditions where their large footprint and
gripping knobs are appreciated. They are overkill for hardpack trails, but don’t just swap them with the bike shop if
you ride adobe like we do. These well-loved tires are worth
around $90 each, so either sell them or get a fair trade.
While the Reverb dropper seatpost is essential to getting
the most out of the bike, since it is not the Stealth model,
the remote housing moves with the saddle and is not fixed
to the static lower portion of the post. Make sure that the
housing is routed cleanly and has a place to go when the
seat is lowered. Otherwise, you may experience some interference with the excess cable rubbing on your legs or bending at a damaging angle.
The Sight is a great example of what 27.5-inch wheels can
do for a platform. While we really enjoyed the ride of
Norco’s 26-inch version, the Killer B-1 has the ability to
take Sight riders to a new level of confidence. While it
wouldn’t be our first choice for a trail rider who needs a
bike that can blitz climbs, the Sight is extremely capable on
rough and technical descents, corners with the best of
them, and is tons of fun to ride.