2017 Norco Sight C 7.1

Vital Rating: (Outstanding)
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2017 Norco Sight C 7.1
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Tested: 2017 Norco Sight Carbon 7.1

Norco's all-mountain ripper received a major overhaul for 2017, addressing some flaws and breathing even more life into an already awesome ride. You'll be channelling the talents of Jill Kintner and Bryn Atkinson on this one!

Rating: Vital Review
Tested: 2017 Norco Sight Carbon 7.1

Following an excellent first experience at the 2014 Vital MTB Test Sessions, I've been riding a Norco Sight for nearly four years. Not a tester at the time, I played the role of house mom. Yes, I'm a woman, a darn good cook, and OCD enough to clean everyday (throwing horns). The 2014 Norco Sight was one of the only test bikes with low enough standover for my wee legs – a common issue for women. In the years since I've progressed a lot as a rider aboard the Sight, given it some upgrades, and gone on countless adventures with my bike. Needless to say, I'm rather attached. I call it The Unicorn.

Following a complete redesign in 2017, I'm faced with the decision to upgrade or to keep rolling with my trusty steed. While facing this dilemma, other questions also arise: What would the updated

Following an excellent first experience at the 2014 Vital MTB Test Sessions, I've been riding a Norco Sight for nearly four years. Not a tester at the time, I played the role of house mom. Yes, I'm a woman, a darn good cook, and OCD enough to clean everyday (throwing horns). The 2014 Norco Sight was one of the only test bikes with low enough standover for my wee legs – a common issue for women. In the years since I've progressed a lot as a rider aboard the Sight, given it some upgrades, and gone on countless adventures with my bike. Needless to say, I'm rather attached. I call it The Unicorn.

Following a complete redesign in 2017, I'm faced with the decision to upgrade or to keep rolling with my trusty steed. While facing this dilemma, other questions also arise: What would the updated version of the Norco Sight be like? What are the new standards like? Should I be looking at a female-specific build? Keeping these thoughts in mind, the beloved Unicorn was tucked into the back of the stable while I took on the new generation of Norco Sight.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Excellent pedaling efficiency and feel
  • Feels and rides light
  • Extremely fun on smoother, more flowy trails
  • Builds speed very quickly
  • Great frame stiffness
  • Can take hard hits without feeling too harsh
  • Dialed frame details
  • Suitable for both male and female riders
  • A bit difficult to find a perfectly balanced suspension feel
  • Cable rattle in the chainstay
  • Can be a rough ride over slow chunk
  • Riders on the lower half of the size spectrum may be limited by seat tube length
  • Durability issues with RockShox Reverb dropper post and Race Face ARC 30 rims

Norco Sight C 7.1 Highlights

  • SmoothCore carbon frame and seatstays, alloy chainstays
  • 27.5-inch (650b) wheel size
  • 140mm (5.5-inches) rear wheel travel // 150mm (5.9-inches) fork travel
  • A.R.T. suspension design
  • Tapered headtube
  • Gravity Tune geometry
  • GIZMO internal cable management
  • 160mm post rear brake
  • Press Fit 92 bottom bracket with ISCG 05 tabs
  • Boost 148mm rear spacing with 12mm nutted axle
  • Measured weight (size medium, tubeless, no pedals): 28.0-pounds (12.7kg)
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • MSRP: $6,499 USD

The Sight, like all of Norco's carbon bikes, utilizes ArmorLite resin. This creates an exceptionally strong bond with the carbon, enhancing frame strength and increasing impact resistance. Other interesting bits of technology used by Norco are their Gravity Tune, SizeScaled tubing, and an updated GIZMO internal cable management system.

Traditional bike designs keep the same length chainstay across all frame sizes, which can make for different riding positions on different frame sizes. Gravity Tune, on the other hand, fixes the front-center to rear-center ratio across all frame sizes. By fixing the ratio and adjusting chainstay length as the length of the frame changes, Norco optimizes rider weight distribution for every size in the line.

Similarly, SizeScaled tubing increases tube profile dimensions in proportion to frame size. This allows Norco engineers to calibrate frame stiffness to the weight of the prospective rider. The goal is to ensure that a heavier rider on an extra-large frame will have the same ride experience as a lighter rider on a small frame.

The GIZMO internal cable management system allows tension to be put on the cable housing to prevent rattling while riding. The updated version is a one-piece clamp design that bolts to the frame. Compared to the individual rubber plugs that previously shoved into the frame (and often popped out) this design is far more dialed.

Perhaps the most notable visual difference when looking at the new frame is that the gas-tank hump by the head tube has been done away with. A straightened top tube makes the new bike look like it'll fly like an arrow.

For the 2017 update, Norco upped the fork travel from 140mm to 150mm. This is an upgrade I also made a few years back and have been enjoying on my 2014 Sight. Norco also went Boost in the wheel spacing and tweaked their A.R.T. (Advanced Ride Technology) suspension system to work around RockShox's new metric shocks. They've also slightly lessened the rearward axle path and leverage curve progression (it now starts at a 2.8 leverage ratio and ends at 2.4). These changes were made to reduce the level of pedal kickback as well as improve suspension performance while pedaling. Norco uses fully sealed Enduro Max bearings at all pivot points.

To further benefit from the advantages of Metric suspension, they've utilized a 185x55mm trunnion-style shock with upper and lower cartridge bearings to get a super supple feel. With most bike brands using just one bearing mount, bearings at both ends of the shock is a luxury upgrade.

Geometry

In the geometry realm, the new Sight has a 1-degree slacker head angle and slightly steeper effective seat tube angle. The wheelbase, reach, and chainstays are all longer which should make for a more stable ride. Due to the straightened top tube, the bike sees a big 30+ millimeter addition to standover height, which is something I initially had reservations about.

On The Trail

There's the recognizable rumble on the drive and squeak of brakes as the delivery truck rolls up. The dog goes ballistic at the window. Sigh. Clearly he doesn't realize what awesome cargo the person in brown carries. The bike has arrived!

Out of the box, the 2017 Norco Sight C 7.1 was a full build. After a few hours of assembly and a trip to the bike shop for a bottom bracket install, it was looking like a bike. Next I set up the tires tubeless, inflated the fork to match the manufacture recommendations and set the rear shock sag to the suggested 30%. Out of personal preference, I trimmed the bars down to my go-to 750mm width and swapped the spec'd 60mm stem for a shorter 40mm one. The finishing touch was adding mastic tape to a few spots that could use the protection: along the top of the chainstay where Norco's guard didn't quite cover everything and the seat stay bridge where mud and rocks often scratch things. Looking good, bike. In the morning we ride.

Over the past five months, the bike has seen trails in Durango, Flagstaff, Moab, Bend, Hood River, Black Rock, Phoenix and more. It has been ridden on fast and flowy trails with super fun turns, mountain forests through a mix of rocky conditions, classic Moab rides like the Whole Enchilada and Captain Ahab, and the wet and cold of Pacific Northwest in Novem-brrrrr. I even took it on a few laps down Geronimo, an extremely rough downhill trail on Phoenix's South Mountain, to get the action photos in this review and to see how it would perform.

It is oh-so-pumpable and naturally pops off any little jump lip. After just a few good corners, rollers, or undulations you're quickly up to speed.

My first ride was on the smooth, swoopy, super fun Star Wars trail in Durango. The bike felt supportive and quick through the turns. It is oh-so-pumpable and naturally pops off any little jump lip. After just a few good corners, rollers, or undulations you're quickly up to speed. The shock tune and overall feel of the bike is such that it makes you want to channel some Jill Kintner slalom superpowers. It's easy to get the front end light and easy to throw around, which makes it really fun to ride. This first ride left a great impression, like a playful feather that likes to slice and dice terrain.

This maiden voyage also revealed just how buttery smooth SRAM's Eagle drivetrain can be. After a stop to resume riding, I thought the chain must have dropped when backpedaling to position for takeoff. There was so little resistance in the chain that it moved freely like there was no chain at all. When descending, there was also a lot of noise coming from the bike. While the GIZMO cable system works well for the front triangle, where the derailleur cable routes through the chainstay is a different case. There's no system to keep the cable from creating an awful racket back there.

Not every ride with this bike has been a love story. In fact, getting the suspension just right has been and still feels like a struggle. Leveling-up in trail difficulty, I headed to the Dry Fork/Colorado Trail/Hoffeins loop just outside of Durango – a ripping ride with a great mix of fast and occasionally rocky terrain. This is where it became painfully obvious that the starting bike setup was not on point. On the climb it felt like the bike was pin-balling off every rock. Then on the descent I felt like a rodeo bronc rider. It was difficult to keep the bike in control and it required more work to keep the back of the bike down going through the chunk. The fun-o-meter travel indicator O-rings were nowhere near where they should be by the end of that ride. In search of more control, the next step was dropping sag values to the 35% range and turning down the rebound a few more clicks. At this time a pair of Quarq's ShockWiz tuning deviceswas installed to get the bike dialed in faster.

I was givin' er going down the Whole Enchilada, sending drops and launching rock doubles I've never considered before.

After several more rides, more tweaks to the suspension, and swapping out the ultra-beefy Schwalbe Magic Mary front tire for one with a more supple casing, overall bike control was still a struggle at times. After deep compressions following drops it felt like the front wasn't sticking to the ground and I didn't have complete confidence in my control of it. This was particularly concerning when the next obstacle to avoid in the trail was an exposed edge or a large solid object I didn't want to run my mere mortal body into.

In Moab, a Bottomless Token was added to the RockShox Pike RCT3 fork, the air spring pressure was dropped a few psi, and rebound adjusted to match the new spring rate. After this change the bike felt much better and was super fun riding Moab's classics. I was givin' er going down the Whole Enchilada, sending drops and launching rock doubles I've never considered before. This was the best the bike had felt, and on that day things were really jiving well. Suspension balance was no longer a struggle. It was there soaking up hits, always ready for the next one and working together with me to make the most of the terrain.

The spec'd RockShox Deluxe RT3 DebonAir shock comes loaded with three Bottomless Tokens, which, when combined with the progressive leverage curve, creates a rear end with loads of bottom-out support that needs to be complimented by the addition of a Token or two up front. While the suspension feel is excellent on smoother terrain at the suggested 30%, there's a bit too much of each bump transmitted in the roughest sections of trail. I was happiest riding the bike around 34-35% rear sag while seated, allowing the bike to sit a bit deeper into the travel.

The lack of jarring feedback through the saddle and feet when pedaling over bumps and technical uphills is very enjoyable.

Climbing and pedaling on the Norco Sight is an easy task with no turning of knobs needed. It has good pedaling efficiency, maintains traction, and the seated geometry is comfortable. The lack of jarring feedback through the saddle and feet when pedaling over bumps and technical uphills is very enjoyable. The old generation had a good seat tube angle for climbing and the slightly steeper angle on this generation is better yet. It takes zero extra effort to keep the front of the bike down, yet it's easy to loft it into the air with a quick pedal when required. Climbing traction is also top notch. Whether powering up rocks in Moab or through slick roots in Oregon, traction was there in all conditions.

At 5-foot 7-inches (1.7m) tall with a longer torso and shorter 30-inch (76cm) inseam, there were some initial concerns about geometry for me. Would the longer reach, taller stack, and higher standover compared to the previous Sight be an issue or a blessing? After riding the bike, the extra reach translates to added stability and I feel balanced while standing. It never felt as though the bike wanted to pull out of my hands going off features. Stack is a smidgen high for my preference, but not detrimentally. I just have to be conscientious about keeping my weight over the front end. Standover too is also not a problem even for my short legs on the size medium bike. Other geometry changes that proved themselves on trail were the slacker head tube angle, slightly lengthened chainstay, and longer wheelbase. All worked together to make for a stable ride whether going slow, fast, uphill, or downhill.

Build Kit

The 2017 Sight C 7.1 is what Norco would classify as a "race bike." At $6,499 USD it is on the pricey end of the spectrum and comes with top tier components.

Personally, this was my first SRAM Eagle drivetrain experience and it was a good one. There is so little friction in the X01 system that after coming from SRAM's 11-speed systems you'd think you dropped a chain when you backpedal. The shifting is still running smooth after many months of riding, the added gear range is really appreciated during extended climbs, and there is enough to get you trucking when heading down.

SRAM's Guide RSC brakes with 180mm rotors also did the trick for the duration of this test. Stopping power and control were good. The customizability of the tool-free reach and contact point adjustments was appreciated. These features make it possible to get just the right feel for all hand sizes. There was never any squeaking from the pads or rotors, even while riding through some very sloppy conditions in Oregon. On my most recent rides the rear brake has been pulling a bit inconsistently on longer descents, however, so it might be getting close to time for a bleed.

Boost or bust. Is that a saying? The Race Face ARC 30 rim / DT Swiss 240 hub combo provided good stiffness that made for confident and precise steering. The soft rims looked pretty poor after the smash fest that is the Whole Enchilada and Phoenix's South Mountain, but in both cases had a clean record with no flats. I've ridden those trails a number of times before and have fewer scars on my other rims to show for it. Expect to do some wheel tensioning a few months into ownership.

The Schwalbe tires stuck like glue everywhere the bike was ridden. Only on off-camber roots, in peanut butter, or in looser trail conditions did it feel like the bike was breaking traction – all cases where if you aren't slipping, you are probably a wizard. Expecto tractionium! #dork #notsorry

In the cockpit department, the stock handlebar width of 800mm gives riders the option to set the width they want. The stock 60mm stem was a bit long for my liking, but an easy swap at most shops if you prefer something shorter. Race Face's newer Love Handle grips were a treat. The channeled pattern creates grips that are like pillows for your hands, they've held up well so far, and the raised rubber isn't tearing off like Vital has experienced on similar grips.

While the 125mm travel RockShox Reverb Stealth B1 dropper post offered just enough travel for my 30-inch inseam, taller riders will want more. I had it pretty much slammed, showing why Norco chose the length they did for a size medium bike. Unfortunately the post developed 15-20mm of squish over the course of the test and won't stay all the way down.

Women's Considerations

Norco is offering two women's Sight Carbon builds in 2018. Is it worth looking at female-specific options? Can you rock the unisex version as I did?

If a choice had to be made between unisex and women's, it may come down to what is important to the rider and rider weight.

The women's bikes feature thinner profile grips, a women's saddle, and a lighter rebound tune on the shock. They'll also be offered in different colors, including a few bright and flashy options and some more subdued options. Geometry and all other specs are identical, except the women's versions only come in sizes XS through medium.

If a choice had to be made between unisex and women's, it may come down to what is important to the rider and rider weight. The shock with a lighter rebound tune could be nice for riders lighter than 140-pounds, but at that weight you'll be right in the middle of the rebound clicks on the unisex build.

Other than the shock tune, different contact points could also be nice. Seating with the SDG Circuit saddle was a bit on the firm side and soft tissue relief wasn't totally awesome on the unisex model, so the saddle change is a great one. Slimmer grips are also nice for women. Both of those are an easy switch you can do at home, however. That incurs more cost after purchasing a complete bike unless you already have the parts, of course. Either way, depending on what extra work you want to put into the bike, don't feel like you have get the women's build. A woman could find herself quite happy on either one, unisex or women's.

For a 5-foot 7-inch tall woman with a 30-inch inseam, the size medium was a good fit with a 40mm stem. Shorter riders might consider a size small as I was at the limit of seatpost insertion.

Lighter riders might also consider getting the fork re-valved for optimal performance. If this were my bike, I probably would have that done. The stock setup and tune for the RockShox Pike RCT3 fork was a bit rough. After adding a volume spacer to the fork and dropping the air pressure it felt better, but not perfect. Big compressions felt good but the front end still tended to feel a bit more pinballed around than is ideal on small square edges. Things worsened in cold weather. As verified with the ShockWiz device, less high-speed compression is needed to alleviate this issue, which isn't adjustable by hand. Even without a re-valve I had plenty of rockin' days on this bike. The bike's suspension was supportive in turns, sucked up the big hits, pedaled well, and was poppy and fun when playing on the contours of the trail. A lightweight rider would just need to decide whether getting the suspension to be 100% is worth it to them.

Long Term Durability

Aside from a battered rear rim and a squishy dropper post, the bike has withstood several hundred miles without issue. Norco's use of sealed Enduro Max bearings in the suspension pivots ensures things will stay smooth for a long time, and all pivots are easily accessible when the time does come for a refresh. There was no creaking in the bottom bracket area, and the only notable noise came from the rear derailleur cable inside the chainstay. Using some electric tape to hold the derailleur cable in place can help stop rattling, although this fix wasn't perfect.

Aside from a battered rear rim and a squishy dropper post, the bike has withstood several hundred miles without issue.

Though the paint is of excellent quality and hasn't chipped much at all, the downtube finish can wear quickly if transported with a tailgate pad. Some clear vinyl protection would be a wise addition.

Norco backs the bike with a five year limited warranty.

What's The Bottom Line?

After riding and experiencing the updated Norco Sight, let's revisit those earlier questions. With three years of advancement in components and materials, new standards, and updated geometry, what was the new version of the Norco Sight like?

Both the previous and new editions of the Norco Sight are really fun rides. I prefer the updated version for the dozens of improvements to the little details, big increase in responsiveness, less flex, and feeling as though it can withstand a beating much better. Like a boxer on the ropes throwing in the towel before receiving the next blow to the face, on the old Sight there were times I didn't take on that next feature because it felt like the bike was overwhelmed after going through the proceeding features. Once that magical sweet spot in the suspension was found, I rode things on the new Sight I hadn't fathomed riding before and were ready to try more. The supportive feel makes for a bike that loves to rip turns, pop off jumps, and soak up those big hits bombing down the trails. It is truly in its element on smoother, faster, flowier terrain, but does well when things get rough. After a rippin' downhill, when you're ready to head back up for more, the bike is ready to do that too. No turning of dials or deep preparatory breaths are needed... just start pedaling.

I would recommend this bike to any level of rider, and to both those who enjoy pedaling and those who enjoy descending. I'd tell you though, "The harder you ride it, the better it rides," and send you off with a go-get-‘em-tiger pat on the bum. This would not be the best bike for a rider who prefers to passenger rather than drive. To more novice riders: this bike will pedal efficiently while you build your stamina and the suspension is there to help you advance, saving your ass as you push your personal skills envelope doing so. Don't expect it to do all the work, however. You'll need to give in order to receive from this one. To intermediate and advanced riders: Ride faster and push/pump the bike harder! The Sight won't be holding you back as you push your limits and progress your skills further and further.

Visit www.norco.com for more details.

Vital MTB Rating

  • Climbing: 4.5 stars - Outstanding
  • Descending: 4 stars - Excellent
  • Fun Factor: 5 stars - Spectacular
  • Value: 3.5 stars - Very Good
  • Overall Impression: 4.5 stars - Outstanding

About The Reviewer

Courtney Steen - Age: 30 // Years Riding: 10 // Height: 5'7" (1.7m) // Weight: 143-pounds (64.9kg)

"Going downhill puts a smile on my face and I climb for ice cream." Courtney routinely shocks the boys with her speed and has experience in various disciplines. Today she travels the country in a RV in search of the next best trail and writes women's reviews for Vital MTB. Her technical background helps her think critically about products and how they can be improved.

Photos by Brandon Turman

Specifications

Product Norco Sight C 7.1
Model Year 2017
Riding Type Trail
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
XS, S, M, L, XL View Geometry
Size XS S M L XL
Top Tube Length 532mm 562mm 592mm 622mm 652mm
Head Tube Angle 66.5° 66.5° 66.5° 66.5° 66.5°
Head Tube Length 90mm 100mm 110mm 120mm 130mm
Seat Tube Angle 75.4° 75.0° 74.5° 74.1° 73.6°
Seat Tube Length 380mm 405mm 435mm 470mm 510mm
Bottom Bracket Height 339mm 339mm 339mm 339mm 339mm
Chainstay Length 420mm 425mm 430mm 435mm 440mm
Wheelbase 1,094mm 1,126mm 1,157mm 1,189mm 1,220mm
Standover 772mm 767mm 772mm 784mm 791mm
Reach 382mm 404mm 427mm 449mm 472mm
Stack 578mm 587mm 596mm 605mm 615mm
* Additional Info Bottom bracket height based on a nominal 27.5x2.35 tire
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b)
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details
Rear Travel 140mm
Rear Shock RockShox Deluxe RT3 DebonAir, lower bearing, metric
Fork RockShox Pike RCT3 RL Boost
Fork Travel 150mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered 1-1/8" to 1.5"
Headset Cane Creek 40 Zero Stack sealed bearing
Handlebar Race Face SixC 800mm carbon bar 35mm
Stem Race Face Turbine R 60mm ext, 35mm clamp
Grips Race Face Half Nelson lock-on
Brakes SRAM Guide RSC hydraulic disc with 180mm rotors
Brake Levers SRAM Guide RSC hydraulic disc with 180mm rotors
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters SRAM X01 Eagle
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur SRAM Eagle X01 12-speed
ISCG Tabs ISCG 05
Chainguide OneUp S3 FD mount
Cranks SRAM Eagle X01 carbon
Chainrings 34 tooth
Bottom Bracket SRAM Pressfit BB92
Pedals N/A
Chain SRAM CN X01 Eagle 12-speed
Cassette SRAM Eagle X01, 10-50 tooth
Rims Race Face ARC 30 welded tubeless ready
Hubs Front: DT Swiss 240 15x110 Boost with RockShox Stealth Axle
Rear: DT Swiss 240 Boost 12x148 Boost XD Driver with Novatec nutted axle
Spokes DT Swiss Competition buttend black stainless steel spokes
Tires Front: Schwalbe Magic Mary 27.5x2.35 Trail Star
Rear: Schwalbe Nobby Nick 27.5x2.35 Trail Star
Saddle SDG Circuit Mtn with chromoly rails
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth
Seatpost Diameter 31.6mm
Seatpost Clamp Norco Design alloy nutted clamp
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 12x148mm Boost
Max. Tire Size 2.6"
Bottle Cage Mounts Yes
Colors Blue, Orange, Aqua
Warranty 5 Year Limited
Weight 28 lb 0 oz (12,701 g)
Miscellaneous S3 mount side-swing front derailleur compatible
Price $6,499
More Info

​www.norco.com

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