Norco Range VLT C1 eMTB Review
Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Dusten Ryen
Charged by RISE BREWING
As ebikes evolve, filling the niches of the sport like their non-powered brethren, the Norco Range VLT C1 eMTB has stepped up as Norco’s long travel, self-shuttle machine. Designed to scratch the itch of gravity fiends who wanted a bit more travel than the Sight VLT. With 180mm of front travel and 170mm of custom-tuned Horst Rocker Link suspension, a 630Wh battery, Shimano Steps motor and aggressive geometry, the Norco Range VLT is definitely an ebike we were excited to get on the trail.
Norco has been making a lot of noise with their mountain bike and ebike offerings so far this year. One of the major factors that has drawn attention to the brand is their technological and scientific approach to frame geometry and fit. We created a very detailed video explaining Norco’s Ride Aligned design system you can watch here. At the system’s core, Norco believes that in order for a rider to get the most out of their machine, it has to have the right dimensions and suspension tune to compliment the rider’s body proportions, weight and center of gravity.
We applaud Norco for all the work and research put into the design as it’s creating a lot of buzz. We have found however, that their newer bikes have become a bit polarizing in terms of ideal terrain and users. The Range VLT to a lesser extent than their new Sight VLT 29, but we suggest consumers do some number crunching comparing the new Norco bikes to older bikes they’re comfortable on.
Reach on our size Large Range VLT sits at 480mm with a 610mm stack height, 63.5-degree head tube angle and a steep 77.7-degree seat tube angle. Rear center length is 440mm on this 27.5 eMTB, which sports a 1,263mm wheelbase and 355mm bottom bracket height. We found the bike to be a little bit long on super steep terrain and the 800mm wide bars only exaggerated our stretched out, over the front feeling. Some may love this set up, but for our 5’11” riders navigating steep, chunky rock gardens into technical, sharp turns, it left us a bit unnerved and feeling slower than bikes like the YT Decoy or Kona Remote.
Norco offers the Range VLT ebike at three price points: $5,399 for the C3, $6,599 for the C2, and our test model, the C1, which retails for $7,499. With a build spec aimed at the discerning rider, Norco hung a full SRAM group on the Range starting with a Rock Shox Lyrik Ultimate RC2 180mm fork and Rock Shox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate DH Trunion shock. We did blow the first shock out after just two rides on the bike. Rock Shox replaced it with a second shock that lasted the rest of our test period. The size Large comes with a 550lb coil, which was a bit stiff for some of our 155-170lbs riders on certain terrain, but was great for our 180lb-plus riders. A coil swap to suit your riding terrain and weight can be done relatively easily, although the unique shock mount does add a few extra steps compared to other frames.
A SRAM GX Eagle rear derailleur and shifter control the NX Eagle chain and cassette, while a Shimano Deore XT 165mm crankset spins with the Shimano Steps E8000 drive unit. A BikeYoke Revive 160mm dropper comes on the large with a Norco 40mm stem, Deity Ridgeline 800mm handlebars and a comfy Ergon SM-10 E-Mountain Sport seat. Stopping this beast of a bike are two SRAM Code RSC 4-piston brakes with 200mm rotors. Ebike rated DT Swiss H1700 wheels get wrapped in the incredibly grippy but slow rolling 2.5” WT Maxxis Assegai tires. Although we really enjoyed the Assegais during preliminary testing, we swapped to faster rolling and equally grippy, eMTB specific Schwalbe Eddy Current tires for our group test.