Field Test: 2022 Norco Range VLT – The Carbon Monster Truck
Norco VLT C1 range
Words by Matt Beer, photography by Tom Richards
Norco reconfigured the frame so that the battery could be removed from the down tube, which still uses a Horst Link suspension design, but the shock is now placed horizontally under the top tube rather than being vertically aligned with the seat tube. . It also opens up space inside the front triangle for not one, but two 620ml water bottles on the large and XL frames.
• Displacement: 180 mm at the front / 170 mm at the rear
• Wheel size: 29 in.
• Hub spacing: 148 mm
• Head angle: 63 °
• Seat tube angle: 76.9 °
• Reach: 475 mm (L)
• Base length: 462 mm
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 25.76 kg / 56.8 lbs (with test tires)
• Three battery options including 900 Wh
• Price: $ 9,648 USD (as tested)
An updated silhouette is also found in the shorter displacement Sight and Fluid VLT. In fact, the Range and Sight share the same frame elements, but use different links, yokes, and shock lengths to change the kinematics.
The Range VLT is the beefiest electric mountain bike in the Norco garage, with a 180mm fork of travel and 170mm of rear wheel action via a coil damper. Our C1 version costs US $ 8,399, without a battery. Customers can choose from 540, 720, or 900 Wh batteries for $ 850, $ 1,050, or $ 1,250, respectively. We could even buy two batteries to adapt to their travel times or reduce the total weight of the bike. Each battery differs by around 800 grams, and our full size bike, fitted with the 900 Wh battery, tipped the scales at almost 26 kg.
Shimano covers everything from drivetrain to brakes on this build with a mix of XTR, XT and SLX shifting, paired with the EP8 motor. Cable management and display integration were quiet and tidy, but the rattle of the Shimano EP8 motor and Ice-tech brake pads made a lot of noise on the way down.
Continuing on, the Range VLT rides on a solid Maxxis Assegais, with a Double Down casing (swapped for control tires) and DT Swiss E1700 hybrid wheels with Centerlock style hubs. It would have been nice to see 220mm rotors up front and rear on this bike, given the extra mass that needs to be slowed down.
Like other Norco-branded bike families, the Range VLT would use its Ride Align geometry to adjust more than the support and front triangle length to meet the rider’s height requirements. There are four frame sizes to choose from to fit riders between 155cm to 193cm. Although the seat angle increases as you go from 76.2 ° on the small size to 77.2 ° on the XL, the head angle remains unchanged at 63 ° relaxed, just like long chainstays. of 462 mm. Our large frame had a reach of 475mm and a stack high of 641mm.
All of the progressive geometry numbers, weight, and longer travel of the Range VLT turned out to be mind blowing, but it wasn’t such a terrible thing. The range felt the most stable and planted, which has a trade-off for quick handling. However, at no point did I find that the amount of displacement held it back, even on narrower terrain.
The upright sitting position and long-travel chassis wanted to get through things rather than through them. It allows a stable and comfortable ride, resulting in a feeling of security with a lot of traction. That said, I sometimes found the coil so sensitive that even with the up switch closed, there was quite a bit of suspension movement. Fortunately, the steeper angle kept the climb position forward and upright. The amount of cushion provided by the Ergon SM-10 E-Mountain Sport added to this experience, making it easier to deliver consistent power without rocking the system over hilly terrain.
If there was one downside to this bulldozer style approach to climbing, it would be the overall length of the bike. That long center back and loose head angle requires a heads-up approach, looking further than usual to navigate a clean line on a climb. It makes good sense, but requires a bit of planning.
Pointed downhill, this big rig eats everything in its path. Sorry, little Sun Peaks waffle!
The same reassuring feeling that the low center of gravity of the non-motorized range and the low low seat height creates also applies to the VLT version. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, the Range VLT’s high travel and stack puts you in a more upright position than stooped. One of the biggest benefits of this is the relief it gives to tired arms on long descents, as it’s easy to relax and let the bike do the work.
What those long bases do for straight-line speed compromised the time it took to lean the bike side to side in chicane-style turns.
Getting around on the bike was never a problem, but it took more muscle to work the bike through turns or technical sections. They required patience in the slow 180 degree switchbacks found on more green and blue trails, otherwise leaning the bike more would cause the front tire to push the traction limit back. A kick of the rear brake to encourage the bike to take the turn a little earlier, mind you, with less exit speed.
These long shrouds aren’t connected by a bridge near the link pivot which was a bit worrying at first glance, but I never found the rear flexing even with the added weight of the motor and battery. due to camber roots or choppy water. corners. This Horst Link coil shock offers impeccable sensitivity in these situations. It was close, but it couldn’t top the Yeti 160E for the full meal of sensitivity, support, and that feeling of being propelled forward with the Sixfinity suspension design. The range progression was a bit weak towards the end of the stroke, resulting in more frequent dips on the 450 lb spring, but it took a big hit to get through the 170mm of travel. Pushing in berms or climbing stairs was predictable as the rear shock did not blow during the trip.
If you have the courage to tackle unimaginable climbs and equally baffling drops, the Range VLT will be there for you. Yes, it will take more engagement to bank it sharply in the corners and some negotiation on narrow uphill trails, but it has the wheelbase and grip to keep you rubber side down. Regardless of your skill level or the local terrain, I think the extra suspension and aggressive angles provide the best package for attacking and feeling confident in a variety of terrain.