13 Sep 2019

Norco calls the new Range VLT 'a monster of an e-bike', and looking at that huge carbon frame and coil-sprung suspension, we'd tend to agree!

Having successfully launched the Sight VLT last year (a bike that earned plenty of high praise in our review), Norco is set to up the ante this season with a new longer travel addition to its electric mountain bike range; the 2020 Norco Range VLT.  But this ain’t just a longer travel version of the Sight – no siree! Norco has pushed the geometry envelope way out with the new Range VLT, added in the option of a range-extending battery pack, and curated a gravity rider’s component wish list to produce a self-shuttling e-MTB that’s designed to ride the nastiest, steepest, and fastest downhill trails around.

2020 norco range vlt c1
Time to sell the downhill bike?

Norco Goes Biiiiig With The Range VLT!

Compared to the Sight VLT’s 160/150mm travel, the Range VLT pumps that up to 180mm on the front, and 170mm on the rear. The four-bar suspension design carries through, though, like the naturally-aspirated Range, Norco is spec’ing a coil shock for the Range VLT too. The coil is actually twisted 90° to offset the piggyback reservoir to the non-drive side of the bike. The reason? It provides more clearance in the mainframe so you can fit a water bottle or a spare battery pack. More on that last point in just a minute.

The shock has been rotated 90 degrees to allow more space for a water bottle.
Or a range extender.

The Range VLT is rolling on 27.5in wheels, and the complete bikes come fitted with burly 2.5WT Maxxis Assegai tyres, with a Double Defence casing on the rear. There is clearance to run up to a 2.6in tyre in the back though if you’re looking for a bit more traction again.

Geometry is about as futuristic and gravity-oriented as we’ve seen from Norco. The head angle is a DH-worthy 63.5°, and that’s paired to a reduced offset fork to keep the bike feeling more planted at higher speeds. Likewise, the front centre is humongous, with long reach measurements across the board. Looking to make the most of the motor assist on technical climbs, the seat angle is a very steep 77-78°.

The Range VLT uses a smooth carbon fibre frame that’s locked and loaded with the Shimano STEPS drive system.

What’s Powering It?

There will be three Range VLT models on offer for 2020. The top two models come fitted with a Shimano STEPS E8000 drive system and a huge 630Wh battery that sits inside the downtube. While that means the battery isn’t easily removable, it does allow Norco to build the Range VLT frame with a straight and fully enclosed downtube, rather than having to hollow out part of the tube for a clip-on style battery pack.

Only the base-level Range VLT C3 comes with the slightly-less-powerful Shimano STEPS E7000 motor (60nM) and a smaller 500Wh battery.

However, Norco will be offering a separate range-extending 360Wh battery pack. This battery is designed to sit on top of the downtube, in place of where you’d fit a water bottle. For those doing the math, adding the range extender to either of the top two Range VLT models means you’ll have as much as 900Wh available. That’s a lot of juice!

2020 norco range vlt c1
There’ll be a separate 360Wh battery pack that riders can purchase separately to extend the range of the…err…Range.

How Much Is This Bad Boy?

Starting at $7,499 for the C3, there will be three 2020 Norco Range VLT models coming into the country later this year. All three bikes will be based around the same carbon fibre frame with the In-Tube battery system and Shimano STEPS drive system. All bikes come with 4-piston brakes, SRAM 1×12 shifting, Maxxis Assegai tyres, a coil shock and a 180mm travel single-crown fork.

It is worth pointing out that the Range VLT will only be coming in three sizes though: Medium, Large and X-Large. The seat tubes have been deliberately kept quite short though, so it’s likely that there’s a degree of flexibility with up and down-sizing available with the Range VLT.

2020 norco range vlt electric mountain bike e-mtb
The top-dog Range VLT C1 model comes with high-spec RockShox suspension front and rear, along with DT Swiss wheels and the slick BikeYoke Revive dropper post.

2020 Norco Range VLT C1 27.5

  • Frame | Carbon Fibre, 170mm Travel
  • Motor | Shimano STEPS E8000
  • Battery | Shimano In-Tube Battery, 630Wh
  • Fork | RockShox Lyrik Ultimate RC2, Charger 2 Damper, 37mm Offset, 180mm Travel
  • Shock | RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate DH
  • Wheels | DT Swiss E 1700 Hybrid, 30mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Assegai 2.5in 3C Maxx Terra EXO+ Front & Maxx Grip Double Defence Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM NX/GX Eagle 1×12 w/Shimano Deore XT 34t Crankset
  • Brakes | SRAM Code RSC w/200mm Rotors
  • Seatpost | BikeYoke Revive Dropper Post w/Triggy lever, Travel: 160mm (M/L), 185mm (XL)
  • RRP | $9,499
2020 norco range vlt electric mountain bike e-mtb
It uses the carbon frame, same 630Wh battery pack and Shimano STEPS E8000 drive system, but the Range VLT C2 makes a few component changes to bring the price down by nearly a grand.

2020 Norco Range VLT C2 27.5

  • Frame | Carbon Fibre, 170mm Travel
  • Motor | Shimano STEPS E8000
  • Battery | Shimano In-Tube Battery, 630Wh
  • Fork | Fox 36 Float, Performance Elite, GRIP2 Damper, 37mm Offset, 180mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox DHX2, Performance Elite
  • Wheels | Novatec Front & DT Swiss H370 Rear Hubs w/E*13 LG1 DH Rims, 30mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Assegai 2.5in 3C Maxx Terra EXO+ Front & Maxx Grip Double Defence Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM NX Eagle 1×12 w/Shimano E8000 34t Crankset
  • Brakes | SRAM Code R w/200mm Rotors
  • Seatpost | JD TransX YSP-39JL Dropper Post, Travel: 150mm (M), 170mm (L/XL)
  • RRP | $8,699
2020 norco range vlt electric mountain bike e-mtb
As the entry-point into the Range VLT lineup, the C3 runs a smaller and lighter battery pack but gets the same radical geometry and carbon frame as the pricier models.

2020 Norco Range VLT C3 27.5

  • Frame | Carbon Fibre, 170mm Travel
  • Motor | Shimano STEPS E7000
  • Battery | Shimano In-Tube Battery, 500Wh
  • Fork | RockShox Yari RC, Motion Control Damper, 37mm Offset, 180mm Travel
  • Shock | RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Select R
  • Wheels | Shimano Deore Front & DT Swiss H370 Rear Hubs w/E*13 LG1 DH Rims, 30mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Assegai 2.5in 3C Maxx Terra EXO+ Front & Maxx Grip Double Defence Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM SX Eagle 1×12 w/Shimano E8000 34t Crankset
  • Brakes | Shimano MT520 w/203mm Rotors
  • Seatpost | JD TransX YSP-39JL Dropper Post, Travel: 150mm (M), 170mm (L/XL)
  • RRP | $7,499

Boost!

So what do you folks think of the new Range VLT? Is this the e-MTB that’ll convince you to sell the downhill/park bike in favour of a self-shuttling approach?

Certainly, on paper, this looks like one helluva gravity rig. With all that travel and that slack ‘n’ long geometry, Norco is definitely targeting the Range VLT at riders who’d rather pedal up instead of using a chairlift. Alongside bikes like the newly released Giant Reign E+, we’ve got a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of these long-travel e-MTBs coming in the near future…