Mountain bikes have hundreds of hours of R&D put into them by some seriously smart bike nerds. Every inch of the frame is optimized to perform day in and day out through a wide variety of terrain under riders of various skills and weight ranges. Larger bike companies must design a bike that can work for both beginner and advanced riders, while making the least amount of compromises. And while today’s modern trail and enduro mountain bikes are absolute weapons when put in the right hands, there is no denying that there are compromises made so the bikes perform best for those in the biggest part of the bell curve. Cascade Components was born out of a desire to tune and compliment a bike if you’re an outlier. While custom suspension is widely accepted, even expected in the off road motorcycle world, it’s a topic rarely discussed in mountain biking. Cascade Components Sight Linkage system is one of their latest additions to the line up and one we were excited to test. After a great report on the Cascade Components V4 Nomad linkage, we were confident the Norco Sight linkage would perform well. Let’s see how it did.
Cascade Components is a small Washington-based company that aims to squeeze out every possible bit of performance gain from some of the top selling mountain bikes on the market today. They make links for several different brands and most recently added a link for the 2020/2021 Norco Sight, which just happens to be my personal bike! I have been following Cascade Components since they introduced the Nomad LT link in May 2019 and have been eager to give one a go.
This link takes the Sight from 150mm of rear travel to just over 155mm. While this might not be a groundbreaking leap in travel, the biggest benefit applies to the leverage curve, allowing for a more progressive end stroke. Cascade Components says there is a 7% increase in progression across mid-stroke and bottom out support. This all happens without losing any noticeable pedaling efficiency. You will need to up your air can’s pressure to retain the same ride quality but more on that later.
The CNC’d 6061-T6 Aluminum Cascade Components Sight Link weighs in at 530 grams – it is not a weight saving upgrade, but it was not designed to be that. Having a few extra grams at the center point of the bike will have a much smaller effect on the riding characteristics compared to running a heavier casing tire. My bike is built to be a point and smash monster, so some added weight for improved suspension functionality is a no brainer.
Install can be done in a parking lot with a few hex keys, as you can see in our YouTube video. The link comes ready to install with sealed Enduro MAX bearings. If you can swap a shock, then you can install the link so don’t be afraid of the work involved. Be sure to check all clearances before heading out on the trail.
Prior to installing the Cascade Components Norco Sight linkage, I had my Sight equipped with a coil shock running a spring 100lbs heavier than what I should have been on to keep from constantly bottoming out. This caused a dramatic loss in small bump compliance that we all expect from coil sprung shocks. Unfortunately, I have not been able to test this link with a coil yet as DVO has not had a replacement for me since incurring some damage to the trunnion mount on my Jade X. All testing has been on a DVO Topaz T3 air shock. It was surprising to hear that I would need to run around 5% more air pressure to achieve the same amount of sag and coil riders would also need to up their spring rate. On the coil side of things, the link would smooth out the initial part of the stroke getting back the small bump compliance while also adding some increased mid/end stroke support. I will need to do some testing to really report back on how it performs with a coil shock.
My DVO Topaz was set at 205psi in the main can and 185 in the bladder with two positive reducers and zero negative reducers prior to the link install (170lb rider weight). After the first few test rides with the same settings and an increase of 10psi to the main can I found that I could still use a bit more pressure. I ended up running 223psi in the main can and 175psi in the bladder with the same volume reducer set up for the majority of my rides.
In the first parking lot bounce test after Jimmy installed the link the change was immediately noticeable. The entire curve felt “smoother” and there was a decent increase in bottom out support. Since I tend to go “gas-to-flat” multiple times a ride, having a good amount of end stroke ramp is super important to me. What this link allowed me to do was rely on the linkage and air pressure to get my desired feel vs reducers. This gave me the perfect balance of brake bump eating compliance and plenty of smooth ramp on big hits. I have always sacrificed a bit of that small bump compliance to prevent those harsh bottom outs. This always decreased my traction and tended to give the bike a bit of a rougher feel, specifically on initial impacts. With the increased mid stroke support I was able to drop the bladder pressure adding even more of a smooth feeling to the stroke, this is unique to DVO shocks and may not apply to your set up.
I hate to use the term “bottomless” as it is really overplayed today, BUT the Cascade Components link gave the end of the stroke a much smoother transition. I could still bottom out once a ride but, I could barely notice the shock reaching the end of its stroke. Definite points earned for end of stroke performance.
If you are looking to turn your bike into a small-bump eating, big-hit killer, this would be a great upgrade to make. While this is not for everyone, aggressive riders looking for small bump compliance will gain the most benefit. My “trail” bike is built to do everything from gnarly shuttle days on wicked steep terrain to group rides and this was the missing link (pun intended ) to perfect my setup. The link does not take away from the rideability in mellow terrain but pays dividends when the trail gets rough. To get the most out of this product you should be comfortable experimenting and logging shock settings for optimal results. If your terrain is mellow or you are not an aggressive rider, an upgrade like this may not be high on your priority list.
Weight: 530 grams