NORCO RANGE VLT C1 EBIKE REVIEW

BIG AND BURLY EMTB

Review by Drew Rohde
Photos by Drew Rohde and Dusten Ryen

Our Norco Range VLT C1 arrived as part of a three-bike shipment containing all of Norco’s electric mountain bike lineup earlier this year. We excitedly opened all the bikes up and the Range C1 was most definitely the attention grabber of the bunch. Norco gave the Range VLT C1 a wet black paint job that contains little metallic flakes, 180/170mm of Fox Factory suspension, and a stance that says, I’m here to f#$k this trail up. It was hard to not have visions of self-shuttling ourselves down our favorite downhill trails. And with the ability to run up to a 900Wh battery, those self-shuttle days could go on forever! Enough about how it looks, let’s get into the Norco Range C1 review and see how it rides.

QUICK HITS

• 170/180mm Travel
• Ride Aligned Design System
• 475mm Reach(Large)
• Battery Sold Seperately

Price: $8,999 (Bike) + $899-$1,299 (Battery)
Website: Norco.com

THE LAB
Like the rest of the Norco eBike lineup, the Range VLT is sold without a battery, so customers have the option of purchasing the battery, or batteries, that best suit their needs. If you want a lighter more playful bike, get the 540Wh (3,190g), if you got epic, backcountry rides and need all the power you can get, 900Wh (4,750g) all the way. We found ourselves mostly using the 720Wh battery as it was 1.5 pounds lighter than the 900 and offers quite a bit more range than the 540. Norco sent us all three batteries so we could test each one for range and also get an idea on the weight difference. Each battery has a 1.5 pound difference, something that’s not massive on such a heavy bike, but is noticeable to the perceptive rider. Changing the battery isn’t too laborious but will take you about 10-15 minutes if you’re not racing.

Santa Cruz Bronson V4 CC Profile Shot
Norco Range VLT C1 Profile Shot

A Shimano STEPS EP8 motor delivers dependable and customizable power up to 85Nm of torque. Shimano’s E-Tube Project app allows riders to customize each of the two Rider Profiles with ten different levels of assist character, five levels or assist start and set the max torque for each power mode.

Moving out from the E portion and focusing on the MTB, the Norco Range MTB features Norco’s Ride Aligned set up guide and frame design concept. We’ve gone very deep into the Ride Aligned tech as well as the Norco eBike line before so if you’d like to learn more about those check the links below.

Ride Aligned Design System | VLT eBike Family Dissected

Norco Range VLT C1 Rear Linkage

Norco updated their suspension layout and kinematics for their eMTB line and the new Range VLT is nothing short of impressive. The horizontal shock configuration allows room for up to two water bottles in the front triangle and improves on small bump sensitivity as well as big hit capabilities. During our research for the Dissected Feature above we spent a lot of time talking and learning about Norco’s development process and what they did to create the new platform. After testing several different link arms, leverage rates, and overall progression, it seems they dialed in a great feeling rear end. Along with the changes to the bike’s downhill suspension feel, Norco reduced anti-squat compared to its non-electrified sibling to give the bike insane traction while crawling uphill.

There are four Norco Range eBike models available, two aluminum and two carbon, from $5,299 up to $8,399. Of course, that price is without battery, so you’ll need to tack on the extra $899, $1,099, or $1,299 depending on your choice of battery.

Norco includes this hex wrench for helping remove the battery however we broke one and the other two are nearly impossible to remove from the frame as they’re so tight. Cool idea, but execution could be improved.

Norco Range VLT C1 in action at Black Rock Bike Park

THE DIRT
In the months we’ve been passing this bike around we’ve had an absolute blast, and while we would likely suggest the Sight VLT as more of a daily driver for most riders, when it came time to go ride the rowdiest, wildest, and steepest trails around, we were all rushing to grab the Norco Range VLT MTB first. With 180mm of travel up front and 170mm out back, it requires a certain rider, mindset, and terrain to come alive. The 56-and-a-half-pound weight also necessitate a bit of speed and strength to keep this bike moving around on the trail.

It’s certainly not a bob-and-weave sort of ride, but then again not many 180/170mm bikes are. Norco built the Range VLT to plow and repeat. Speaking of repeats, climbing the Range VLT is a surprisingly comfortable and muted experience. The coil shock is insanely sensitive, so it will bob a bit under power, but the upright seat tube angle will keep you in an efficient position and poised for attacking the climb. It’s a big and long bike, so you will need to put in some out of saddle yanks and counter-leaning skills if you regularly climb tight switchbacks or super techy uphills.

Norco Range VLT C1 in action at Black Rock Bike Park

Once back at the top, the confidence our riders felt could be described as uninhibited. You’ll likely be riding this bike with a full face and goggles more often than not, and that’s exactly what it was built for. The buttery smooth suspension tracks and cushions the weight of the bike very well. On bigger landings, we wouldn’t mind a bit more progressivity, but for the traction, suppleness, and small bump compliance, we wouldn’t trade it. If we know we’ll be hitting a trail with lots of flat drops or jump lines, we just add a bit more preload and call it good.

The component spec on this bike has held up well, no issues developed however after some issues on the Sight VLT with hardware, battery bolts coming loose etc., we definitely suggest checking hardware after your first few rides to make sure everything is staying tight.

Norco Range VLT C1 in action

The Wolf’s Last Word

The eBike market is evolving quickly and brands are keeping pace with new features, options and types of bikes that cater to all categories. Norco’s Range VLT eBike is a no apologies, no holds barred, trail basher. Our testers agree that the Norco Range C1 VLT has some of the smoothest suspension in the game. It absolutely erases the trail beneath you and will let riders charge harder and faster. That being said, slowing this beast down or getting it to change directions in tighter corners does require a bit more muscle and determination. It can certainly be overcome by a rider willing to take the bike by the horns, but it does require some commitment.

The Norco Range C1 VLT can feel a bit like using a blow torch to light a candle. Yes, it’s overkill but who wouldn’t have fun doing that? We see the Range VLT being ideal for a couple different types of riders. If you are a downhiller looking to ditch the shuttle truck and want to get more laps on your favorite DH trails this eBike could be a solid option. Similarly, if you’re a rider who’s newer to riding, older, or just looking for an insanely stable, predictable, and confidence-inspiring bike that will mute the trail beneath you and take the 2-foot drop you’ve been nervous about hitting and turn it into a speed bump, Norco’s Range C1 VLT is worth a test ride. Conversely if you are looking for a light, nimble and snappy eBike, why are you this deep into a 29-inch wheeled 180/170mm bike review? Jokes aside, we had a ton of fun riding this bike and rode it in a lot of terrain, including some lower pitch jump lines and twisty flow trails as well as vertical, butt puckering chutes. The Range VLT can hang, however we’d say the shorter travel Sight VLT is a more well-rounded option for all around riding.

Price: Bike – $8,999 + $1,099 – 720Wh Battery;
Weight: 56.2 lbs
Website: Norco.com

VISIT NORCO TO GET YOURS!

SPECIFICATIONS

CHASSIS
Frame: Carbon Front Triangle and Seatstay, Aluminum Chainstay, 170mm

Fork: Fox Factory FLOAT 38, 180mm
Shock: Fox Factory DHX2, Custom Tune

ELECTRONICS
Motor: Shimano STEPS EP8
Battery: Integrated, Removable | 900Wh, 720Wh and 540Wh Options
Display: Shimano

COCKPIT
Brakes: Shimano XT | 203mm IceTech Rotors

Shifter: Shimano XT Sl-M8100 I-Spec EV
Handlebar: Deity Ridgeline, 800mm
Stem: CNC Alloy, 40mm Length
Saddle: Ergon SM-10 E-Mountain Sport
Seatpost: OneUp Adjustable Dropper | 120mm (S), 150mm (M), 170mm (L), 210mm (XL)

WHEELS
Hubs:
DT Swiss 350H
Rims: DT Swiss E 1700 Hybrid E-Rated 29″

Tires: Maxxis Assegai 2.5″ 3C MaxxGrip/DD/TR/WT

DRIVETRAIN
Cassette: Shimano SLX CS-M8700, 10-51T, 12 Speed
Cranks: Shimano FC-M8150 E-MTB, 34T, 165mm
Derailleur: Shimano XTR M9100

Norco Range VLT C1 Review

We Dig

What bump? Buttery smooth suspension
Confident and composed
Looks
Very fun to ride
Battery size options

We Don’t

Can be a lot to handle
Not cheap
Could be overkill for most
Integrated hex wrench hard to access

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