The new Norco VLT models let you choose travel, materials and battery size to create the ride you want.
Norco have just released 10 new eMTB models, from the Fluid VLT to the Sight VLT and the longest travel Range VLT. With carbon and aluminium models in the Sight VLT and Range VLT and aluminium frames on the Fluid VLT, Norco also allow you to customise the weight and range of your VLT by choosing what battery size you want. From 540Wh, 720Wh or an all-new 900Wh battery!
We think this is an excellent move, and it makes buying your eMTB a little like buying an off road vehicle with custom options. Why get a long range tank if you're not crossing a desert? Similarly, the 540Wh battery will suit lots of riders, but if you like the sound of almost 100km range on Boost, then the 900Wh battery has what you want!
Pricing is competitive in relative terms, and by opting for the battery size that suits the riding you will do, it does mean you can control the overall total a small amount.
Let's consider that 900Wh battery though, as this is currently the largest on the market. It does weigh well over 4.5kg and it has an impact on the overall weight.
540Wh = 3190g
720Wh = 3880g
900Wh = 4570g
|Range VLT C1||$10899||$11999||$12199||$12399|
|Range VLT C2||$9099||$10199||$10399||$10599|
|Range VLT A1||$8499||$9599||$9799||$9999|
|Range VLT A2||$7499||$8599||$8799||$8999|
|Sight VLT C1||$11099||$12199||$12399||$12599|
|Sight VLT C2||$9099||$10199||$10399||$10599|
|Sight VLT A1||$8699||$9799||$9999||$10199|
|Sight VLT A2||$7499||$8599||$8799||$8999|
|Fluid FS VLT A1||$6699||$7799||$87999||$8199|
|Fluid FS VLT A2||$5899||$6999||$7199||$7399|
So new, so soon?
Norco have acknowledged that this is a rapid turnaround on a new eMTB design, but anyone can tell this is the fastest moving area of mountain bike technology right now. With Shimano's new EP8 system with less weight, more efficiency and more torque available, plus the Shimano approved battery with 540Wh, 720Wh and 900Wh options available, Norco designed the new VLT range around these standards.
This opened up a few options for them, easy fitting and removal of the batteries was one of them, as they slide out of the base of the downtube (best done with the bike on the side, BTW).
Norco also changed to a horizontal link suspension layout, and optimised the suspension kinematics for that. This also created more room inside the frame for water bottle carrying, so you can fit two bottles on the 2 largest sizes of the Sight VLT and Range VLT. This is the perfect combination with a 900Wh battery that increases your range upto nearly 300km in ECO! Of course, range will be impacted on the trail by the rider, total weight, climbing, temperature and more.
What's the parts spec like?
Each model is different, but all the forks are eMTB rated, and hubs are chosen for greater strength, as are tyres and rims. Saddles are eMTB specific for more support when seated and pedalling, and the brakes are also all eMTB rated.
The SRAM-equipped bikes have single-shift shifters, to make sure your drivetrain isn't overloaded, and this can minimise wear as well.
You'll find 165mm length cranks on all the new VLT bikes, and the rims are taped and ready to be setup tubeless, with 200mL of sealant and valves provided. Yes!
Ride Aligned and the Norco VLT bikes
All of the new mountain bikes from Norco since the Optic and Sight in 2019 have been based on their Ride Aligned design. Huge amounts of data were analysed to look at how different height and sized riders sit on their bikes, how that impacts how the bikes handle, and how it makes the suspension react. With a tonne of real world testing, Norco have used their Ride Aligned system to make sure a rider on small bike will have the same handling and ride experience as somone on an XL. Norco customise rear centre length, front centre, angles and suspension kinematics from one size to the next, in each different model.
This overall design process started with the Fluid FS and Revolver FS, although it was perfected with setup guide software when the Optic and Sight were released in late 2019. The combination of the design process and setup guide really helps you get everything out of a given Norco model.
The New Norco Range VLT
Fresh off releasing the much anticipated Norco Range with virtual high pivot, the Range VLT matches some of the features of the Range, with 29" wheels front and rear, 180mm travel 38mm forks and 170mm of coil sprung rear travel.
The carbon frames have a carbon mainframe and seatstays, with aluminium chainstays. The aluminium frames use hydroformed aluminium throughout. There are four frame sizes from S-XL, running with a reach of 415mm through to 505mm in the XL.
63 degree head angles are complemented by 44mm offset forks, and the rear centre is 462mm on all sizes. Given there is an EP8 system in there, Norco haven't had the same ability to customise rear centre length on the Range VLT like they did on the Range. Of note, this rear centre length is 19mm longer than the 180mm travel Specialized Turbo Kenevo. But, the Kenevo is also steeper in the head angle, shorter in reach and slacker in the seat angle.
The extra length in the Range VLT is going to translate into greater straight line stability, especially at high speeds in rowdy terrain - which is what the bike is designed for.
Cranks are a short 165mm (although you will find shorter on some eMTBs) and tyre clearance is up to 2.6". You can fit a water bottle into every frame size, and thanks to the mounts, you can fit two on some frame sizes. You can run a long dropper, but it does depend on your frame size.
Norco Range VLT C1 - $11999 with 540Wh battery
This is the top model in the line up, with a carbon mainframe and seatstay, Fox Factory 38 fork and Factory DHX2 coil shock.
The group set is a mix of Shimano SLX, XT and XTR 12-speed parts, with 4-piston XT brakes with 203mm rotors, and a cockpit with a OneUp dropper and Deity bars. Wheels are DT Swiss E1700 Hybrid with Maxxis Assegai 2.5" tyres with DD casing.
Norco Range VLT C2 - $10199 with 540Wh battery
The same carbon frame and seatstay gets a slightly more basic parts pack. There's a RockShox ZEB Select and Super Deluxe Coil shock, with a mostly SRAM GX Eagle group (11-50 cassette) and SRAM Code brakes, with a huge 220mm front rotor.
Wheels are E*13 LG DH rims on DT Swiss 370 hubs, with Maxxis Assegai 2.5" DD casing tyres. You do lose a brand name handlebar and dropper and don't have top spec suspension, but you also save a lot from the C1 model with the C2.
Norco Range VLT A1 - $9599 with 540Wh battery
The aluminium frame has all the same geometry and features, with a Fox 38 Performance fork and Performance Elite DHX rear shock, which means you end up with more tuning out back than up front. Ther drivetrain is a Shimano Deore/SLX 12-speed mix with M520 4-piston brakes on 203mm rotors.
Deore hubs are laced to E*13 LG1 DH rims, wrapped in those same 2.5" Maxxis Assegai DD casing tyres for reliable eMTB performance.
Norco Range VLT A2 - $8599 with 540Wh battery
This one isn't much less than the A1, but it suits those who want a RockShox suspension spec There's a ZEB RC fork and Super Deluxe Coil rear shock, and a Shimano Deore 12-speed group set (and SLX mech) with M420 4-piston brakes.
Stan's Flow D rims run on Shimano M410 and 510 hubs, with Maxxis Assegai DD tyres in 2.5". You don't always see consistency in tyre spec through a range, but kudos to Norco for this.
The new Norco Sight VLT all-mountain e-bike
The Sight VLT was popular on debut in late 2018, and the new model hits the ground running in the all-mountain arena. Sporting 29" wheels front and rear, the Sight VLT platform matches the Sight with 160mm travel up front with 150mm in the back. There are two models with a carbon mainframe and swing arm (alloy chainstay) and two full alloy models.
All the Sight VLT models have the Shimano EP8 system with your option for the 540Wh, 720Wh or 900Wh batteries. The bikes also share 2.5" tyres on the front with 2.4" on the back, and there are S, M, L and XL available in each model.
The geometry has a longer reach (485mm on our large test C2) with a 64 degree head angle and steep 77ish (size dependent) seat angle. The wheel base is a little shorter than on the Range VLT but you still have a reasonably long 462mm chainstay. Compare this to Specialized Turbo Levo at 442mm (albeit with a 27.5" rear wheel) or the Pivot Shuttle with 441mm, although it has 140mm of travel. Chain stay (rear centre) length isn't everything, but it does suggest the ride is more stable than whippy - which is about right for a big and burly bike.
The frames still have the option for two bottles to fit in for the large and XL sizes, although from our experience you need to choose the right cage and bottle size to make it work.
Norco Sight VLT C1 - $12199 with 540Wh battery
This is the highest priced new eMTB from Norco, although to be honest it's still cracking value compared to some models which sell for even double this! The C1 has the carbon mainframe and seatstay, with Fox Factory 36 (GRIP2) and X2 rear shock. The groupset is SRAM GX and X01 (with 10-52 cassette) with Code RSC brakes.
Deity provide a carbon bar, OneUp provide an adjustable dropper. Wheels are the DT Swiss E1700 Hybrid with Maxxis Assegai/Dissector 2.5"/2.4" with DD front and rear.
Norco Sight VLT C2 - $10199 with 540Wh battery
This is the model we have on test, with the 900Wh battery ($10599). The carbon main frame and seat stay has a RockShox Lyric Select and a Super Deluxe Select + shock. The group set is a mix of SRAM SX and GX (11-50 cassette) with Shimano M520 4-piston brakes.
OneUp provide the adjustable dropper, wheels are E*13 LG1 DH rims with DT Swiss H370 hubs. The hybrid hubs have ticker flanges and a beefed up freehub body and ratchets. Tyres are Assegai and Dissector, with MaxxGrip in the back, MaxxSpeed up front. So that's a faster rolling, longer lasting rear tyre. Both are still DD casing. Our test bike with the 900Wh battery weighs 25.1kg without pedals. That's not light, but neither is that massive battery.
Norco Sight VLT A1 - $9799 with 540Wh battery
With all the same features of the carbon Sight VLT, just at a slightly lower price point. the Sight VLT A1 has a Fox Rhythm Flot 36 fork and a Fox Float X2 Performance Elite rear shock - which is another case of having more adjustments for the rear suspension than the front.
The drivetrain is Shimano SLX 12-speed, with Deore hubs and E*13 LG1 DH rims and the Assegai/Dissector tyre combo. Bars and stem are alloy and the dropper is TransX. While this model is only slightly cheaper than the C2, the group set offers a wider range and moves away from the single click eMTB shifter that the SRAM group set on the C2 has. And it's up to you whether that's a good or bad thing.
Norco Sight VLT A2 - $8599 with 540Wh battery
Same same but different, the Sight VLT A2 gets a RockShox Gold 35 fork and Super Deluxe + rear shock. The drivetrain is still a Shimano Deore 12-speed group set, with M420 4-piston brakes to pull you up.
The wheels are Stan's Flow D rims on Shimano 410/510 hubs with the Maxxis Assegai/Dissector DD combo. Bars and stem are alloy and the dropper is Trans X. This one is great value, even with the 900Wh battery it is under $9000. But the 35 Gold does seem to be a bit of a let down for suspension spec.
First rides on the Norco Sight VLT C2 with 900Wh battery
I was lucky enough to pick up a sample bike about two weeks ago, and a couple of things were immediately obvious. One was that the stance and overall design is a clear match to what Norco have been producing, with a long frame and slack front end, matched to great stand over height and a steep seat tube.
As for setup, I opted for 30% sag in the back end to get started. Norco take their setup seriously but unfortunately, the Ride Aligned setup software won't be live until this first look is! Trust me, I'll be logging my details in to get their suggested fit and setup right away.
With a pleasantly long reach and steep seat tube, the Sight VLT rides lighter than it looks, and as I took off into my local trail network on Trail mode, the bike reacted as you'd expect. This was the first Shimano EP8 equipped bike I have ridden, and the system is quieter, and has all the punch I would want.
Still, riding up the firetrail to some singletrack trail heads, it is noticeable where the support tails off. With a bike weighing over 26kg (with a water bottle and pedals) and running DD casing Assegai tyres, the Sight VLT C2 still has some heft, and when you move beyond where the support is you do notice it.
The first trail I rode into has a flatter start with a few dips, and the Sight VLT was staunchly stable to start, lofting over some small jumps easily. Transitioning into a tiny climb and across a plateau took the edge off, as it's a section where you normally top out and power on at a little over 30km/h when under your own steam - of course, that felt like being in quick sand on the Sight VLT as the assistance disengages after the rise and you get up to speed.
Still, that disappears as you plunge into the faster section, which isn't particularly techinical, it's mostly a case of holding on and seeing how fast you can go without pinballing off the larger rocks. And the Sight VLT handled that with aplomb - yet it didn't steam roll it. It was easy to change direction when starting to low side off a flat corner, and then through some tighter corners at the bottom, I could switch from one side of a root to the other, and bring the bike back in line to avoid hitting the bars through some trees.
This is one of my usual test trails as it tests high and low speed agility, and I could notice the 29er in the back end did have a different feel to the 27.5" wheel of the eOneForty I tested last year. But not in a bad way, it was just different.
Onto some climbing singletrack and the forward seat tube position belies the 64 degree head angle, getting round all but the tighest climbing switchbacks easily - and this is on narrow hand cut trail. Heading into a trail with a mix of steeper machine built features, and some fast hand cut sections the Sight VLT really came alive.
The bike sheds it's weight on steeper terrain, with the extra stability of the longer wheelbase creating a very surefooted ride. The Maxxis Double Down (DD) casing did play a role in some more exposed sections, with a slightly bodged landing resulting in some noise but no burps, and no torn sidewalls.
Sliding the battery in and out is simple enough, with a 6mm allen key to release the mount. The tool that is incorporated into the bike makes this easy. You will probably need to remove the battery to move the internall routed cabling if you need to raise the seat from stock, as the internal cabling is held very firmly. This is really good as it stays quiet. The outers or brake hose are in their own little carbon tube inside the downtube, with access at the battery port or inside the head tube.
Getting the battery back in is a cinch, but I have found getting the bolt to locate a bit tricky. It helps to hold the battery back out a couple of millimetres and look in from the side to make sure the bolt is hitting home.
So far, I can see that the Sight VLT is going to be very popular. It takes all the ability of the past Sight VLT and updates the geometry, suspension, battery and motor - while also adding more fluid capacity. Pricewise, it's hard to suggest any eMTB is 'cheap' but it is really good value. The C2 does spec features as opposed to top spec, and the drivetrain is a clear example of this. That said, I'd be happy with the slightly more basic drivetrain on the Sight VLT C1 when the wheels, tyres, brakes and suspension deliver what you want.
I'll be getting some fine tuning done on the setup of this one for a complete review, and I'll play around with the Shimano EP8 settings a little more too. I have already customised the support levels in ECO and Trail a little, just to give a little more pop without going all out with Boost levels of assistance. With the head unit it is easy to switch from one profile to another, so in this case I'm playing around with stock, and my own configuration. In general, I think this is ideal for being able to tune your bike to suit different trails - slower trails will want less direct input from the Shimano EP8 system when climbing, but then you might want all that help when punching out of corners on the descents - and you can programme that.
If you've got questions, head to your local Norco dealer, otherwise stay tuned for a coming review.
The new Norco Fluid FS VLT
Third in Norco's new VLT range is the Fluid FS. Some say, the Fluid FS is where Norco's current range of full-suspension bikes all began! Oh wait, that was us... but the fact remains, the Fluid is an excellent mid-range bike choice whether you look at a hardtail, full-suspension bike or - the Fluid FS VLT.
Visually, the Fluid FS VLT looks a lot like the Range VLT and Sight VLT. The shock sits below the top tube, there's a drop out pivot, massive down tube to hold one of three battery sizes, and twin bosses for bottles and accessories. The Fluid FS still uses Shimano EP8, and of course is based on Norco's Ride Aligned geometry and kinematics.
The Fluid is a little more upright than the Sight, with a shorter reach. Travel is 140mm at the front and 130mm in the back, with a 65 degree head angle. Fork offset is still a reduced 44mm like the Range VLT and Sight VLT. The seat angle isn't as steep as the Sight VLT, sitting around 76 degrees depending on your size.
Of note, you can only fit one water bottle in, despite the two lots of bosses on the frame. The rear centre (chain stay) length is 462mm to account for tyres upto 2.6" and the 29er wheels.
2.4" tyres come as stock, as do 4-piston brakes and wide range 1x12 group sets.
Norco Fluid FS VLT A1 - $7799 with 540Wh battery
This is another model we have on test in a large, and it clocks in at 26.89kg with the 900Wh battery ($8199). The full aluminium frame has a RockShox 35 Silver coil fork with a Select R rear shock. The group set is Shimano Deore 12-speed, and you get a TransX adjustable dropper post.
Brakes are Shimano MT420 4-piston with 203mm rotors, and the wheels are Shimano 410/510 hubs on WTB i30 rims. Tyres are Maxxis Dissector 2.4" with EXO+ in MaxxTerra, not the DD casing of the Sight VLT or Range VLT. While the spec doesn't seem as sharp, this bike is a blast to ride! More on that later.
Norco Fluid FS VLT A2 - $6999 with 540Wh battery
Slotting in as the cheapest new eMTB in the Norco VLT range, the Fluid FS VLT A2 has a full alloy frame like the A1 and the same RockShox 35 Silver fork. The rear shock is an X-Fusion O2 Pro R Air (so it has rebound adjustment).
The group set is Shimano Deore 1x10 with an 11-46 cassette, and the brakes are Tektro M285, with Resin pads on 203mm rotors. Norco use plain alloy hubs on WTB i30 rims for the wheels, with some trusty Good Year 2.4" tyres.
First rides on the Norco Fluid FS VLT A1
Norco Australia provided a Fluid FS VLT A1 with the 900Wh battery to test along with the Sight VLT C2. This one sells for $8199 with the huuuuge battery in there. Visually, it looks similar, but with an alloy frame it does clock in at 26.89kg, which is a lot of bike. Clearly, with a smaller battery it would shed some weight.
The funny thing is, right from the get go the Fluid FS VLT A1 rides like a lighter bike than the Sight VLT C2. I've compared the Shimano EP8 settings, but it just feels more lively, and with better trail feel. I put some of this down to the tyre casing being EXO+ and not DD, so being a little more compliant - but also being slightly shorter travel as well. My local trails are an absolute blast on an XC bike and really fun on a short travel trail bike - but something like a Sight can be a bit much bike at times as the terrain doesn't truly require it.
A lot of the other ride feedback is similar in terms of how the motor reacts, but when the trails do point down, and they do get rough, the Fluid FS doesn't feel as confident as the Sight, which is what you would expect. On the milder trails, and on singletrack climbs, the Fluid FS felt a little more agile, albeit quite heavy when clearing features. The rubber guard below the bottom brack has already been peeled off and I need to glue it back on (sorry Norco).
Coming from the Sight VLT I did notice the controls are little less ergonomic than my regular preferences. I could do without the shift indicator, and I wouldn't mind a shorter brake lever as well.
But, given the pricing of the Fluid FS VLT and where it sits in the range, these spec choices are about right. If you want a hard charging eeb, you'll probably look at the Sight VLT or Range VLT anyway.
On that, despite liking the overall ride of the Fluid FS VLT, the fork left me a bit underwhelmed. The RockShox 35 platform is pretty basic, and with a coil spring it felt nice, although I wouldn't mind firming it up a little. If the spring rate isn't right for you, you need a new spring. Coil is cool but I do think an air spring is a better choice for the majority of riders.
Like the Sight VLT C2, I need to spend some more time on this bike. So far I really like them both, but I'm looking forward to fine-tuning the assistance levels and setup to get them just how I want.