NORCO SIGHT VLT C1 REVIEW

Review by Drew Rohde
Photos by Dusten Ryen

Since receiving our Norco Sight VLT last July as part of our Dissected Feature on the entire Norco VLT eBike line, our crew has been throttling this thing relentlessly. We began dropping our long Norco VLT eBike long term reviews with the Range and Fluid eBikes before getting into the bread and butter bike, the Sight VLT. It may be the last on our review list, but is certainly not least. The Norco Sight VLT is likely the most versatile eBike in the lineup and the one most people will jive with best. Designed to be an all-mountain crushing eBike to do it all, the Norco Sight VLT is a 29-inch wheeled eMTB with 160mm of travel up front and redesigned 150mm of travel out back. It can be purchased with three different battery sizes, part of Norco’s eBike philosophy of letting the customer pick the right battery size, weight and range for their needs. Let’s dig into our experiences and what happened during our testing of the Norco Sight VLT C1.  

QUICK HITS

• 150mm Horst Link Suspension
• HTA 64
• STA 77.7 (effective, Large)
• REACH 485 (Large) 

Price: $6,398 /€6,499 (A2+540Wh) – $10,298 /€9,999 (C1+900Wh)
Website: Norco.com

THE LAB
The 160/150mm (f/r) travel, 29” wheeled Norco Sight VLT is built with the same DNA as the other VLT eBikes. Norco uses the Shimano STEPS EP8 drive unit powered by a removable battery that’s available in three capacity options: 540Wh, 720Wh and 900Wh. Norco has opted to give every rider the ability to select the battery size that is most appropriate for their needs. With each different capacity comes a different balance of agility, range and price. The smallest 540Wh battery weighs in at 3,190g and costs $899, whereas opting for the largest 900Wh battery gives a battery weight of 4,750g and price of $1,299, making a significant difference to the handling but scaling up the range considerably in the process. Each battery has a 1.5lb weight change for those looking to blend weight and range. If you’ve got the budget for it, this customizable battery size offers riders the option to purchase multiple sizes and switch between them depending on what ride is on the menu. This is a level of tunability we really appreciate, and it certainly sets the Norco VLT range apart from the competition. Although we’d love to see either the battery or bike prices drop a bit for a more affordable entry point.  

Norco Sight VLT C1 Profile Shot

Shimano’s EP8 motor is a solid performer that offers a customizable 85Nm of maximum torque and up to four times the input power, topping out at 500W peak. Using Shimano’s E-Tube Project app, riders can customize two power delivery profiles to suit their preferences, dialing in the amount of assistance generated and the maximum torque output. In this way, the climbing performance can be matched to the group you’re riding with, or some extra range can be eked out by reducing the assistance for those big epics. Of course, you can also opt to deliver the maximum power to get you back up the hill as fast as possible.  

Norco is offering the Sight VLT in both carbon fiber and aluminum frame options to cater to different budgets, with a choice of two different spec levels for each. This gives a range of pricing from $5,499 for the A2 to $8,999 for the C1, without a battery. The aluminum frame adds weight and reduces the price tag, but crucially retains all the features of the carbon fiber model, so riders on a tighter budget can share the same ride experience. The frames feature an IP67 Rosenberger charge port; integrated speed sensors; Super Taper headtubes for 1.8”-1.125” steerer tubes; Boost axle spacing; and clearance for up to 29×2.6” wide rubber.

Norco Sight VLT C1 Rear Triangle

The Sight VLT makes use of Norco’s Ride Aligned fit system to optimize the geometry and suspension performance of each frame size, to produce the most consistent ride characteristics across the board. This comes with a bike setup guide to dial in the initial suspension settings easily and get every rider feeling comfortable on the trail in quick time. We opted for the size large and while we’ve been a bit hesitant with Norco’s push for very long reach numbers, especially on eBikes, we are more comfortable with the 485mm reach than some of their longer bike models. The 64-degree head tube angle is a nice blend of stability without muting out the faster handling required on flatter trails or while climbing steeps. The size large’s 77.7-degree seat tube angle also helps keep the weight over the front end as we tried to navigate steep hill climb challenges everywhere we could. While Norco’s geometry isn’t right for everyone or all terrain, the Sight VLT is slightly less polarizing and we’re happy about that.  

In line with other VLT eBikes, the Norco Sight VLT sees the shock moved to sit horizontally and attach to a mount that’s connected to the top tube, a move that allowed Norco to obtain the kinematics they desired and fit at least one large water bottle within the front triangle on every size. Progression was increased to handle the bigger hits more confidently, and anti-squat values were dropped compared with the non-electrified Norco Sight to offer more grip when climbing chunky terrain.  

We tested the carbon fiber framed, C1 build with each of the three battery options to decipher exactly how it performs, with accompanying price tags of $9,898 to $10,298. This features their carbon fiber front triangle and seatstay with a more damage tolerant aluminum chainstay. Up front is a 160mm travel, E-rated Fox 36 Factory fork with 1.8” tapered steerer which is paired with a Float X2 factory to control the 150mm rear end. There’s a SRAM GX Eagle 12spd drivetrain with XO1 derailleur for shifting, and SRAM Code RSC brakes with 220F/200R rotors for stopping. The cockpit is handled by a 35mm diameter Deity Skywire Carbon bar mated to a 40mm CNC stem, and a OneUp V2 dropper suspends an Ergon SM-10 eMTB saddle. Rounding out the spec are the DT Swiss E1700 wheels that are wrapped in a Maxxis Assegai/Dissector DD combo.

Norco Sight VLT C1 Action

THE DIRT
We were left very impressed following the initial ride time when filming the Dissected feature, and we couldn’t wait to get some more time on all of the Norco eBikes, especially the Sight VLT C1. Within a couple rides on a pretty big and burly jump line, we had a bit of a wild experience. In a train of our testers, I was mid air on the Sight VLT as I heard a loud crashing sound and saw a big black tube sliding down the landing. I avoided the lithium snake and rode it out fine, but was startled as I’m sure you could imagine. The hardware holding the battery in had worked it’s way loose, and after a long day of hard riding, it was the landing that broke the camel’s back. The battery survived but the plastic mounts to secure it to the frame were broken and we were a bit unsure as to how that could have happened.  

We reached out to Norco and found they had made a running change to hardware after they sent out their early samples which would have prevented our issue. They stated that if the bolts were torqued exactly to spec, they hadn’t seen any issues, but if the torque wasn’t in the window, the bolt could work itself out, hence the running change to add a conical rubber donut, or grommet to prevent even a fully loosened bolt from sliding out and dropping the battery. We installed the new hardware and grommet and have not had an issue since. Long story short, check your bolts everybody!  

Our only other component hiccup came from the rear wheel, which as you can see, suffered some pretty solid damage from a hit we’re not totally sure should have done this. Perhaps a sturdier casing tire, an insert or a more robust wheel would be in order for those in rocky areas.

Norco Sight VLT C1 Action

With our gripes out of the way, now we can talk about the rest of our test time. As we’ve said in our other VLT reviews for the Range and Fluid, Norco has done a great job reworking their suspension platform. We love soft, supple suspension that floats over terrain yet doesn’t feel sluggish or slow.  

Norco engineers experimented with different link arm options until they settled on a starting leverage rate, curves and progression that suited their team, and hopefully the majority of their customers. For our crew, the blend of sensitivity and confidence with progressive ramp is nicely done. We did add a slightly larger volume reducer for the biggest hits but think that the majority of riders will be stoked with the comfort and capable ride right off the bat.  

Traction on the climbs and traverses is impressive with the reduced anti-squat and EP8 system. The upright seat tube angle also put our riders in efficient and comfortable positions for all day rides and steep, techy climbs. When it came time to drop the post and let the bike eat, the 485mm reach was spacious for our 5’11”-6’1” testers, but not unwieldy. Most of us would have liked a slightly shorter reach as it is a heavy bike and we feel a shorter front end would be the ticket to pull some weight and the center of gravity back, to ease initiating manuals and making mid-corner corrections.

Norco Sight VLT C1 Action

This bike excels at speeds and over rough terrain. In fact it could lead to a couple other minor spec complaints for some. First up the brakes weren’t quite up to task and on long days full of downhills, the SRAM Code’s would squeal and howl for mercy, particularly during the TransCascadia bike race, which we took this bike to for days of backcountry abuse. Another area some may question is the fork spec, the 36 saves some minimal weight compared to the 38 and helps differentiate this bike from the big and burly Norco Range VLT, but we’d argue this bike is so heavy and capable, why not just put a 38 on there and cut the travel to 160mm? We doubt there’d be any complaints about that swap. That said, we don’t really know how much that Fox 36 held us back or will hold back other riders, but we all love to think we’re super gnarly shredders, right? 

So, what battery size did we settle on? If we had to pick one battery it would be the 720Wh size. It’s 1.5 pounds lighter than the 900Wh, which helps this somewhat portly bike out, but still gets us plenty of range for big days or self-shuttle laps. The 900Wh is absolutely insane and if you live for just Boosting yourself up and down DH trails all day or getting out into the backcountry, by all means, get after it. For us, a 720Wh with the optional 504Wh backup for a spare would likely be the way to go. Then we could put a lighter battery in our backpack for epics, or drop another 1.5 pounds off the bike for shorter after-work ride days where mileage isn’t as big of a concern.

Norco Sight VLT C1 Action

The Wolf’s Last Word

The Norco Sight VLT is a very solid eBike that will do just about everything well. It is a bit heavy-feeling on the trail, which may be an issue for those hoppy, jibby type riders but will likely not be much concern for most full-powered eBike riders. It’s certainly not the heaviest bike in category, but when compared to the new Santa Cruz Heckler, Specialized Levo and even Trek Rail, it does ride a bit heavier. The flip side is it also rides a lot more planted and is very confident and plush on terrain that may have bikes like the Heckler twitching and skipping. Norco’s Sight VLT rides like it should be an enduro eMTB more than an all-mountain eMTB.

If you favor long days in the saddle where comfort is important, you’ll love the sensitive and supple redesign of the Sight VLT. Similarly, if you are a rider who values traction, a bike that feels stable, planted and on the ground, Norco’s Sight VLT could be a great option to check out. Overall we are very happy with the Sight VLT C1, think it is a very capable plow hound that will erase the chatter beneath you and give riders looking for more confidence an edge to push a bit harder and faster. Nicely done Norco.

Price: $8,999 /€9,000 (Bike) + $899-$1,299 (540Wh-900Wh battery)
Weight: 55lbs 8oz
Website:  Norco.com

VISIT NORCO TO GET YOURS!

SPECIFICATIONS

CHASSIS
Frame: Carbon FIber Front Triangle and Seatstay, Aluminum chainstay; 150mm
Fork: Fox 36E Float Factory, Grip 2, Boost, 1.8” Tapered Steerer
Shock: Fox Float X2 Factory, 210×55 

ELECTRIC COMPONENTS
Motor: Shimano STEPS EP8
Battery: Removable. 900Wh, 720Wh and 540Wh Options. (Sold Separately)

COCKPIT
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC, 220F/200R Centreline rotors
Handlebar: Deity Skywire Carbon, 25 x 800 mm, 35mm 
Headset: FSA No.55R-1
Saddle: Ergon SM-10 E-Mountain Sport
Seatpost: OneUp Dropper, 34.9mm, 120mm (S), 150mm (M), 170mm (L) , 210mm (XL)
Shifter: SRAM GX Eagle Single Click; 12s
Stem: CNC alloy, 35 x 40mm 

WHEELS
Wheelset: DT Swiss E1700 Hybrid E-Rated, 110/148
Front tire: Maxxis Assegai 2.5″ 3C MaxxGrip/DD/TR/WT
Rear tire: Maxxis Disector 2.4″ WT 3C MaxxTerra/DD/TR 

DRIVETRAIN
Cassette: SRAM XG 1275; 10-52T
Cranks: Shimano FC-M8150 E-MTB, 34T Eagle Ring, 165mm
Derailleur: SRAM XO1 Eagle; 12s 

Norco Sight VLT C1 Cockpit

We Dig

Plush and Buttery suspension
Battery Options
Confident, stable and planted
Fast as hell
Looks good

We Don’t

Pricey
Rides a bit heavy
Brake spec

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