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Digital Subscriptions > Singletrack > 115 > BACK FROM BLACK

BACK FROM BLACK

Barney takes a look at three machines that eschew the fantastic plastic…

BIKE TEST

We’ve all been there. Snotty schoolkids, scuffed of knee, runny of nose, perhaps with a catapult perched precariously in the pocket of our shorts or cardigan with the empty humbug wrappers, hair definitely in need of its impending twice-monthly wash. Hands, noses, and occasionally tongues pressed urgently, longingly, against the toyshop window as we drool over the latest mechanical wonder we can’t have. A spinning top, perhaps. A wooden wheel and stick. A shiny new (dare I say it) bicycle.

And then the shopkeeper emerges from the doorway, and shakes a futile fist as we scatter, safe in the knowledge that we’ll just regroup and do it all again after school tomorrow. It’s not like we could’ve afforded it anyway.

But that shopkeeper, by displaying things so prominently in the window, kept the burning passion alive. Kept the prized glow of unrequited ownership gleaming on the eyes of we, the drooling tots with our craven desires.

And in many ways, nothing has changed. The shop window is (more often than not) replaced by the internet. Cunning marketing strategies, well-placed adverts, impressive sponsorship deals and all that serves to keep the latest trinkets firmly lodged in the display window of the shop in our minds. And for us, as mountain bikers, the fire often burns bright. There’s so much new stuff! It changes so often! It’s made of the shiny black stuff, with so many wondrous properties! Stiffer! Lighter! Lots more black! And, of course – commensurate with its esteem within the marketplace – lots more expensive! And so the onceprized old faithful bike in the shed is cast in an unflattering light from the bright fire of the new, black and wondrous, and it’s often found wanting.

So, time to upgrade, then! But a swift look at the piggy bank yields a sad state of affairs. Perhaps we may have to think anew? Or perhaps we can convince ourselves that the experience we crave can be borne on a bike not hewn from carbon and epoxy, but made from tried and tested aluminium instead? After all, the geometries are pretty much the same, aren’t they? And the kit, and the suspension design? The only thing that’s different is that they’re not made of carbon, surely? And, of course, the all-important price tag.

The mountain bikes on the following pages, then, are not made of the new wonderstuff – they’re actually made of the old wonderstuff – the aluminium Norco Sight, Santa Cruz Tallboy and YT Jeffsy. The carbon versions of these models are certainly more widely known, and more heavily marketed, but the aluminium ones will be bought on the back of the prestige that the carbon ones bring. They’re more than a fair bit cheaper than their plastic brethren, but apart from the carbon, and a few hundred grams here and there, are they all that? Let’s see…

NORCO SIGHT A9.2

Price: £2,700.00

From: Evans Cycles, evanscycles.com

Norco is a company that has only made an impression in the past few years here in the UK – but this company from British Columbia has been a stalwart of the Canadian scene since 1964, and its first mountain bike was made way back in 1984. So it clearly has some pedigree and fingers in a great many cycling pies.

The carbon Sight was completely redesigned in 2017, and became lower, slacker and longer than its previous iteration, as is now pretty much the norm. On Norco’s website, there’s a lavish section on the carbon Sight, with a nice animated video background and all sorts of flash animated doohickies and wotsits. By contrast, the aluminium Sight – er – site is rather more sombre and much less flashy, if you can even find it. But, like its more conspicuous carbon sister, the alloy Sight is available in two wheel sizes (27.5 and 29, in case you had any doubts, but the largest model is 29in only and the two smallest are 27.5in only. This is obviously to minimise Clownbikeitis) in a variety of trim levels.

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About Singletrack

Trailhunter – Tom Fenton continues his search for the very best trails, and finds that Dartmoor might just have them. Classic Ride – Sanny takes us on a tour of the Merrick in Scotland, where there are great views to be had… if you get the weather. Grouptest – Wil puts eight sets of top trail brakes to the test – which four will make his pick of the bunch? Bike test – Better known for their carbon models, Barney tests out three alloy bikes from Norco, Santa Cruz and YT. Finnish Epic – 100 years after its independence, Hannah goes to Finland in search of fat-bike fun. Luckily all the bears are sleeping, and the moose are on her plate. Singletrack Recommended – We bring you the products that are so good, we’d spend our own money on them. Oddball – we love bikes, but we love other things too. This issue, it’s knives. It’s just as well we love each other in the office. Kit Bag – We take a peek inside the tool box of Ray Waxham, Trek’s enduro race mechanic. What does it take to keep the wheels of champions racing? Room 101 – Charlie dispenses justice for your complaints. This issue he has a couple of celebrity submitters in the form of our own editor, Chipps and a pioneer of mountain biking: Charlie Kelly. Jason Miles – Jason passes on his wisdom after years of racing as a top-level amateur endurance racer. Arizona – Charlie The Bikemonger goes on holiday where life is simpler and the trails are paved with cactus spines. Escaping the Bike Parks – Anthony Pease avoids the French bike parks and heads off for a hut to hut trip in the Alps. Whistler for Mortals – in this area better known for its technicality, Sanny discovers there are trails for those who prefer to keep their wheels on the ground. Last word – A ponder on the transient world of the mountain bike enthusiast.
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