I know that this bike is sort of getting lost in the fray with both Giant and Trek introducing 650b/27.5 bikes, but I thought I would do a review for those that might be interested in the bike. I have had it for about a month now, so it is just getting dialed in. Still, it is enough time to get a feel for the bike and report my findings so far.
I'm a 48 year old that started in the mountain bike world in 2010. Before that, I was strictly a road rider. I am 5'9" with short legs, and a long torso. When I got into mountain bikes, I took the recommendation of a LBS to go with 29er HT. My first bike was a Specialized Stumpjumper Comp 29er. A year later I switched to a Giant Anthem X2 29er. It was a better bike, but after over two years on it, it felt like I could find something that worked better for me. The 29ers always felt like I was on top of the bike, with what seemed like a tall center of gravity. I was spending more time on the ground then I should. Some of this can be in part to inexperience, but still after over three year, it did not explain everything. I spent some time talking to a friend that I ride with, who also works at a LBS. They had just started to carry Norco, and he suggested that I come in and demo the Range Killer B's that they had in. My first impression was that the bike felt like it should. After talking to my friend, I decided to go with the Sight for the style of riding we do. I'm going to break things down into sections, so that I can keep things clear as possible.
Make no mistake about it, 27.5 does not roll over everything like a 29er. I notice a more abrupt approach angle on bigger roots and such. That said, I have only a a couple of times where I have almost stalled out where I might have not with my 29ers. What I lost in roll over, I have made up with the ability to loft the front end. The 29ers never really seemed to work well at lofting, but then again, most of the time it was not needed.
I do a lot of fire road climbing before getting to my descents, my initial concern was that the extra two pounds would affect me, but to date I don't feel it. As a matter of fact, all my Strava climbs are much faster. Most times are at least two minutes or more. The only reason I can conclude is that with the smaller tires, I can spin up the hills. I usually have two gears left to spare verses what the 29ers did. On the few technical climbs that I have tried, I have been pleased as well. The rear tire stays planted and just grips.
I am truthfully not a confident descender. I've always felt like I was going to go over the bars, or go over the side of the bike. In some cases I did. Part of the problem was it seemed that I could never get the bike in front of me, especially on steep descents. My thinking is that the XC race geometry of my Anthem was one of the culprits for this feeling. Also, as mentioned, both my 29er felt like I was riding high on top of the bike. While I still am not the most confident descender, the Sight Killer B has gone a long way in fixing that. I can get the bike in front of me, and I feel like I'm in the bike now. My Strava times show that I am going faster too. Most of my descents are at least 45 seconds faster, with many over 2 minuets faster.
I've put these together since they are really tied together. My prior experience from the 29ers was a different world from what I am getting now on the Norco. While the 29ers felt like I was on train rails, and could only ride in wide open lines, the Killer B just slices to wherever I want to point it. My corner entry and exit is much tighter if i need it to be. Also, I find myself find myself pedaling out of the corners earlier and attacking them more. Another thing that seems different is the balance of the bike. It feels like I can move all over the bike for any situation, and still be in the bike. Because of this, it seems more forgiving when I don't take quite the right line.
If you have not figured it out by now, I'll put it plainly for you, I love this bike. It continues to surprise me with every ride. I've gone into corners that I thought that I was going into to hot, and it just somehow gets me through it. Even on trails that my old 29er really shined, the Norco has been faster, and I have not pushed the bike to its limit yet. Granted, it may not be fair to compare a XC race bike to a trail bike, but I am finding it hard to find a down side for what I ride on. I in no way regret getting this bike, and would recommend that anyone getting the chance, put a leg over one and give it a try.
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Thread: Norco Sight Killer B-1 Review