Norco Sight VLT 29 eMTB Review
EVOLUTION OF A CHAMPION
Words By Drew Rohde | Photos by Dusten Ryen
Charged by RISE Brewing
Earning back to back titles, Norco is back on the podium with their brand-new Sight VLT 29 ebike. The Norco Sight VLT 29 won our Trail Smasher Award in the Trail (150mm or less) category in our 2020 eMTB Roundup. For those who missed it, the Sight VLT 27.5 was our eMTB of the Year at last year’s ebike shootout. Just before we left for this year’s group test in Palm Springs, California, we found out that Norco had a new Sight VLT 29 in the works. It was a group scramble to get this bike in the mix, but by the skin of our teeth the bike showed up just in time. We were able to spend some quality time riding it with the rest of the competitors before bringing it home for another month of testing and riding. It goes without saying that the new Norco Sight VLT 29 had big shoes to fill, and like the rest of Norco’s line, the new VLT saw some major changes to the frame dimensions that resulted in a very different ride on the trail.
If you’re looking for the full spec sheet and launch material of the newly released bike, you can click here. We’ll keep it somewhat brief and focus on the points that affect the ride most.
Norco Bicycles carried over their new Ride Aligned concept to the Sight VLT 29 ebike. We did a very in-depth video look showcasing the Science of Send and what Norco puts into their bike design to make them the capable machines that they are. So if you’re looking to have all the technology and jargon dissected, be sure to click here.
The new Norco Sight VLT 29 is designed to be a true all mountain machine and competed with eight other bikes in our Trail (150mm of rear travel or less) category. Where the Sight VLT 27.5 was lively, peppy and versatile, the Sight VLT 29 is planted, unflinching and stable. The bikes share the Sight name; however, they couldn’t ride any more differently, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Norco offers two different Sights for two very different riders, so be sure to take notes and pick the best bike for you.
A first for Norco, the Sight VLT 29 is offered in both carbon and aluminum frame materials and at a variety of price points from $4,399 for the A2 up to our top of the line C1 test bike, which retails for $7,499.
We tested a size large Sight VLT 29 C1, which has a 485mm reach, 621mm stack height, 78.7-degree seat tube angle and 458mm rear center length. These increased dimensions combined with the 64-degree head tube angle give the bike a whopping 1,280mm (50.39 inches) wheelbase. That’s longer than the wheelbase on Norco’s 29-inch wheeled Aurum downhill bike! The Sight VLT 27.5 also sports a much shorter wheelbase at 1,218mm, that’s over 60mm or roughly 2.44 inches shorter than the VLT 29.
Other notable geometry changes between the Sight VLT 29 and 27.5 include: a 15mm longer reach, 2-degree slacker head tube angle, an 18mm longer rear center, a 14mm taller stack height, a 9mm higher bottom bracket and 3.7-degree steeper seat tube angle. Some of the changes obviously correspond with the larger, 29-inch wheels, however the rest fall in-line with the newer trend of lengthening and slackening bikes for all out downhill confidence. There is no doubt the VLT 29 is superior to the 27.5 when it comes to holding a line, dropping into the steeps or attacking rowdy downhills, but those benefits may not mean it’s the best bike for your local terrain. We’ll get to that later.
Our Norco Sight VLT 29 C1 is the top spec’d model, retailing at $7,499. It comes with a Rock Shox Lyrik Ultimate 160mm E-rated short offset fork and a Rock Shox Super Deluxe Select + Debonair Trunion rear shock with a custom tune that we felt was spot on for aggressive riding! Drivetrain spec also comes from SRAM in the form of a GX Eagle derailleur, GX Eagle shifters and cassette mated to a Shimano Deore XT Hollowtech crankset with 165mm crankarms.
Helping spin those cranks is a Shimano Steps E8000 drive unit and In-Tube 630Wh battery. Norco also offers a 360Wh Range-Extender battery that will mount to the top of your downtube and will seriously extend the bike’s range capabilities.