2024 Norco Sight & Optic First Ride Review




Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Max Rhulen, Sam Clark & Bill Hawley

Norco Bicycles’ release of the updated 2024 high pivot Sight and Optic mountain bikes will likely surprise and excite an equal amount of riders. We’ve all seen the proliferation of high pivot mountain bikes being released, and while most of them are aimed at downhill mountain bikers (or at least gravity-focused riders), it seems more shorter travel high pivot bikes are breaking the surface. New for 2024, Norco’s high pivot Optic and Sight bikes are said to be the next evolution in the brand’s learning and developmental growth. After learning so much about high pivot bikes over the last few years, Norco’s team of engineers, test riders and product managers believe they’ve been able to rein-in the characteristics of a high pivot bike that aren’t quite as desirable to riders who are spending as much time earning as they are turning.


Regardless of whether you’re interested in the new Norco Optic or Sight, some new features and support will undoubtedly be appreciated by riders.

First up is the change in sizing. Norco have added one size, making five options available for their customers. Also new is the naming structure – they’ve ditched “T-Shirt sizing” and are now going with a numbered system, 1 through 5. The goal was to have customers resist the urge to buy the size they’ve been buying for years and instead, look at the numbers that suit their style and terrain best.

Also updated is Norco’s Ride Aligned. If you’d like to get a head start on setting up your suspension, cockpit, even tire pressure, the Ride Aligned update is definitely worth checking out as it will yield some useful guidance for those seeking input.

Both the Sight and Optic are available in carbon or aluminum frames and can be spec’d with 29 or mixed wheel sizes. They share the new VPS HP suspension system, and can be converted via a lower shock mount and link to swap to the other platform.

Colin Ryan and David Cox, two of Norco’s brainiacs heading up suspension, design and other techy aspects of the new bikes talked about the system a bit.

Colin Ryan: We are always looking at new suspension platforms and designs for different purposes. We believe that each application of bike can benefit from their own suspension. For example, we’ve got six-bar DH bikes, VPS HP, and VPS four bar bikes. They all have their strengths and shine in certain scenarios. The VPS HP, or Virtual Pivot Suspension – High Pivot, is essentially still a Horst Link design, but with a higher pivot location.

David Cox: Each of the bikes strike a nice middle ground for their riding style. Wheel path, rearward travel and kinematics are tuned to maximize the performance we’re looking for. We licensed a patent from a company called i-track, which allowed us to move the idler to a position that’s not concentric with the main pivot. Once we did this on our test mules, we noticed huge gains in how we could tune anti-squat and separate the different traits of the bike’s suspension.

Loam Wolf: How different is the rearward travel? We definitely noticed in our long-term review of some bikes – namely the Norco Range – that high pivot bikes are not for everyone, and we didn’t get along with some of the drawbacks from that rearward travel.

David Cox: We look at what each bike is going to be doing and try to find the balance. For example, that Range you referenced has 25mm of rearward travel. That can take a bit of a learning period to acclimate to in certain scenarios, and we wanted to make these bikes more intuitive. The Sight has 12mm of rearward travel and the Optic’s max rearward travel is 10mm, and that’s nearly 2/3 of the way through the travel. So a very different feeling for a different purpose.

After spending a bit of time riding the new Sight and Optic, we dove into the media deck, then talked with Norco’s product manager, suspension guru and engineers. During the convo we asked quite a few questions, learned about their goals, why we noticed some of the things we did on the trail and why Norco made what we initially thought was a radical departure from the outgoing bikes, specifically the Optic.

Jim Jamieson (Norco PM): We actually don’t think it is a radical departure from the previous bikes. Sure, they look different because of the idler, but we think that we’re keeping in-line with the evolution of bicycle engineering, design, and rider’s capabilities on the trails. The industry has a lot of newfound experience with high pivot bikes, and through our learning and experience, we believe these bikes are just the next step in delivering the best mountain bikes for the category.

Loam Wolf: So, if it’s the next step, does that mean the intentions or strengths of the bike have evolved too? If we arbitrarily suggested the last generation Optic was a 50/50 bike, (50% up and 50% down), where does the new bike sit? Did it move to a 60/40 split?

JJ: That’s actually a really good question and a hard one to answer actually. We think the Optic is still the same, it’s just a little bit more capable, since it’s the next evolution. We still want the bike to pedal well, we still want it to be fun, but we also believe we could make it be just a little bit more composed, comfortable and capable when trails get rowdy.

And kind of to further explain that, I have a new Optic and one of our other employees has a new Optic as well. I put a coil shock on mine, put a burlier 36mm fork on it, beefy tires and am pushing it harder on the descents because that’s what I love to do. It still pedals, but compared to my co-workers sub-30 pound trail ripper, his bikes climbs a bit differently than mine. It’s a bike that’s more adaptable and ready for whatever.

2024 Norco Optic High Pivot Mountain Bike


With 125mm of travel out back and 140mm of cushion up front, the 2024 Norco Optic high pivot trail bike is designed to blend downhill prowess with all-day pedaling performance. The usage of i-track’s configured idler location allowed Norco’s engineers and suspension tuners to create a bike that pedaled well enough but increased the traction, sensitivity and compliance from the rear end.

We’ve not yet had a ton of time on either bike, however while we’d say that the pedaling performance is slightly less efficient in some situations – like a smooth gravel road – the increase in traction in other situations could mean less power loss after trying to rebalance and accelerate from wheel spin. The efficiency and power debate is a long and nuanced one, but if you’re looking to compare apples to apples, the new Optic does feel a tiny bit “squishier” under power than the last one, but that could be a good thing depending on your climbs.

When it comes to descending, playing and popping, the new Optic is a treat. The rearward axle path is nowhere near as drastic as some longer travel high pivot bikes, and that means it rides much more intuitively. You also don’t suffer the drawbacks of a bike that flattens out and lengthens mid-corner, or when pumping into a lip or trying to compress and boost off a little feature on the trail. Instead, the bike has a more traditional feel, but much smoother and plusher than outgoing Optic. It’s still pretty fun and lively, but that suppleness and softness off the top is welcomed by our crew of chunky terrain lovers. However it may be noted as a slight detriment by those on hard pack, flow or bermed tracks. Not huge by any means, but subtle enough to notice if you’re looking.

2024 Norco Sight High Pivot Mountain Bike


Sporting 150mm of rear wheel travel with 160mm of travel up front, the Norco Sight’s intentions and attitude remain the same in many ways. This is your do-it-all offering from Norco that will be able to handle big backcountry days, short playful after work sprints, some shuttles and even the odd park day thrown in.

Since both the Sight and Optic can be ordered as either 29ers or Mullet (mixed wheel) bikes, riders can really choose the spec level, wheel size and suspension package that suits their needs. We were quite impressed with the new high pivot Sight’s performance with a coil shock. Typically coil shocks can make a bike feel a bit more planted, some may even say “dead” feeling out back. Combine that with a lengthening high pivot axle path, and you’ve got a bike that could easily become a one trick pony. That’s not the case in our testing of the Sight, so far.

The Sight pedals well, but is certainly pushing closer towards how an enduro bike may feel in certain climbs. Likely a factor of the tire spec and coil shock, which could have this particular model feeling a little more DH-biased than other builds. Even so, the bike did well, and would be one we’d consider taking out for some bigger mile-missions. Especially since the comfort and downhill composure had us very pleased.

My first ride on the Sight was in unfamiliar terrain east of Seattle, Washington and the conditions were pretty good, but slightly wet for my SoCal roots. Speaking of roots, I was able to eye up a couple of 18-22 foot gaps that only had a little root knuckle as a lip. With some pumping, absorbing of the terrain before and a compression followed by a yank, I was very surprised that on my first attempt the Sight picked up in a natural and comfortable way to clear the gap and put me safely on the backside of the mayhem. It was a feature I intentionally sought out, to see just how the bike would handle the short transition and yank. The shorter rearward travel was greatly appreciated in instances such as these, yet it was just enough to give some nice cushion and comfort when the fingers were off the brakes and the bike needed to eat up the chunk ahead.

2024 Norco Sight High Pivot Mountain Bike


Norco seem to have done a good job with the new machines, taking some of the learned lessons from the Range and making the new Optic and Sight more well-rounded and natural for a broader spectrum of riders. While our test miles and time aboard has been quite limited, we’ve got enough of a taste to say these bikes will definitely be fought over by our test staff, provided we can get the correct size in. Unfortunately, we received size 4 bikes, which have 497.5mm reaches, and our test crew of 5’11-6’1” riders much prefer bikes in the 475-485mm range. Hopefully we’ll get some Size 3 bikes coming in and we’ll get cracking on our long-term review after that.

It does seem there is a small sacrifice in smooth-road climbing/pedaling efficiency, however the arguments for improved traction and comfort making up for that efficiency loss could be justified. When it comes to fit and finish, quietness of the bike, and downhill performance, there’s not much we’ve got to complain about just yet! We will be curious to see how the chainstay mounted idler fairs in mud, gunk and debris collection, and cleaning. However, seeing as how Norco is from British Columbia, we’d imagine they’ve done their fair share of sloppy testing days.

These two bikes are certainly impressive for riders who want to dip their toes into the high pivot world without too radical of a wheel path or loss of pedaling performance. Similarly, if you love descending hard, want a more comfortable ride or increased confidence on your local trails, the VPS HP platform seems to deliver.

2024 Norco Sight & Optic launch



The names haven’t changed, but the technology has.

Norco Bicycles has unveiled a ground-up redesign for two of their mainstay models . The new Sight and Optic are here.

Since introducing the bike in 2012, Sight has been the go-to for uncompromised All-Mountain performance. It’s shown up at the top of international Enduro podiums, shredded the North Shore, and has become the bike for riders who’re all-in, every time they’re out.

With t he last generation of Optic that was released in 2019, Norco set a new standard for capability with the fastest, most aggressive trail bike around, and firmly established that suspension travel isn’t the only indicator of how much a bike can handle.


For the new 2024 models, both bikes are set to gain serious ground with the new Virtual Pivot Suspension | High Pivot (VPS HP) platform, an innovation that has been tested to the limits to ensure ultimate performance.

2024 Norco Sight launch

With 160/150mm of travel, the 2024 Sight takes the best of the Range platform and has tightened it up into a light, pedal friendly, maneuverable, high-pivot package. Whether you’re carving down a steep loam line, dropping in for an enduro stage, or heading off into the backcountry for an all-day epic, this bike performs. With increased rearward axle path, idler, and the innovative VPS HP suspension layout, this new design gives the Sight next level confidence and capability, up or down the mountain.

The new Sight is available in carbon and aluminum. The Sight has carbon builds starting at $4,999 (C3) to $7,499 (C1), a carbon frameset is also available at $3,999. The Alloy builds start are priced at $3,999 for the A2 model and $5,699 for the A1 model. An alloy frameset is also available for $2,399.

2024 Norco Sight Geo
2024 Norco Optic launch

With 140mm/125mm of travel, the 2024 Optic condenses years of technology from long travel bikes into a lightweight package that’s as ready to tear up climbs as it is tackling challenging descents. The VPS HP suspension layout provides increased rearward axle path and an idler to manage pedal feedback, keeping Optic’s playful roots, while punching above its weight when the trails get rough.

The new Optic is available in carbon and aluminum, however, Norco is only offering an alloy frameset option for the U.S while Canadians can purchase a full alloy build. The alloy Optic frameset retails for $2,099. Carbon offerings start at $6,999 (C2) and tip the scales at $9,099 (C1), with the carbon frameset retailing for $3,849.

2024 Norco Optic Geo

As a part of their Rider First mentality, Norco is also introducing a serious upgrade to the industry leading Ride Aligned Setup Guide. This update not only covers data for the newest MY24 models, but it will include the entire range of Norco bikes to ensure every rider has the best on-bike experience possible.

More than just a facelift, the enhanced Ride Aligned platform includes:

  • Streamlined bike set up suggestions (suspension, cockpit setup, and tire pressures) for all stock Norco models using rider height, weight, positioning on bike and other modifiers such as preferred suspension feel, trail grip and trail type.
  • A Garage portal to save multiple set ups for varying trail conditions, type and ride feel for the same bike and multiple bikes.
  • Setup Assistant to adjust settings after a few rides and truly dial in your ride to what feels best.
2024 Norco Sight & Optic launch


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