Norco has been busy lately. The Canadian brand is releasing three eMTBs today, including the entirely new Fluid VLT. All this newness comes just weeks after the release of the brand’s highly anticipated – and blazing fast – Range.
Today’s release is the third generation of Norco’s VLT line. Now, the Burnaby-B.C. brand only launched the Range VLT, its first eMTB three years ago. Since then, it’s been a rapid development, for Norco and for the eMTB market as a whole.
What makes the third generation stand out? The biggest change is the addition of removable batteries. That required a complete redesign of the VLT frames. There’s also major – and important – upgrades to the build kit, including upgraded suspension and drive unit. Last, the Fluid VLT is an entirely new bike to the line. The shortest travel of the three, the Fluid is a much more affordable and XC/trail focused platform, similar to its human powered namesake.
2022 Norco VLT: What’s new?
As mentioned above, this isn’t a minor reworking of the VLT line. Norco’s gone all-in, all in the name of adding removable battery units. The three-bike VLT line, from Fluid to Sight and Range, all come with the sliding battery design and the option of three different sized batteries.
Removable, interchangeable, and long range batteries
Instead of using a drop-out style battery, Norco decided to have the battery slide out of the VLT frames near the bottom bracket. This allowed for better torsional strength in the frame and easier design. It did mean designers had to reposition the shock on the Range and Sight, but Norco says both bikes still use the same kinematic and shock progression that worked on prior generations.
Removable batteries also allows Norco to fine tune the VLT’s. The batteries come in three sizes, and can be purchased separately. They range from a smaller, 540 Wh size, through a mid-range 720 Wh option and, finally, an industry-leading 900 Wh battery. The trade off for greater range is added weight. So riders who only want a lighter feel or only want to do short rides can choose the 540 W/hr size. Rider’s seeking maximum range for big rides or lots of self-shuttle laps can go further and longer safely with the 900 W/hr battery.
Shimano EP8 – repositioned and refined
Quieter than the old Shimano motor, better, and now positioned up out of the way. To get the removable battery into the frame, Norco tilted the EP8 up in the frame, adding a bit of safety from any BB strikes. (If you’re wondering, the battery sits up higher in the downtube so it also doesn’t hit first. The space formerly occupied by the motor is mostly taken up by a replaceable charging port/mount).
E-Optimized, Ride Aligned, Carbon or aluminum
All three eMTB’s are developed around Norco’s Ride Aligned design system, including e-bike specific parts. Ride Aligned helps keep the bike and rider balanced and in control, and has proven successful in the brand’s unassisted bikes. For eMTB, it also offers suspension set-up support, so you can get the most out of the bikes.
“We’ve learned so much about what makes a great-riding electric mountain bike since starting this project. To keep innovating in the E-MTB space, we really wanted to offer riders something extra with these new bikes,” said Jim Jamieson, E-MTB Product Manager.
Norco uses eMTB specific parts across the VLT line. This includes new e-rated suspension, designed specifically for eMTB use, as well as wheels, drivetrain and even an eMTB specific seat.
Range VLT and Sight VLT are offered as either carbon fibre and aluminum frames. The Fluid VLT is an aluminum-only bike to keep its price point lower.
Norco Range VLT C1
Range VLT C2
Metal: Norco Range VLT A1
Norco Range VLT A2
Powered by Shimano Steps
Shimano EP8 drive unit and Shimano drivetrain
Fox Factory level suspension
Norco keeps the Factory-level shock for the Aluminum Range so all riders get a consistent ride from the VLT frame
Norco Range VLT A2
The brawler of the bunch, the Range VLT brings 180-mm travel fork and 170-mm coil sprung rear wheel travel to the party. Enduro, big-mountain, and pretty much anything else you want to put this bike through, the biggest VLT of the bunch is ready.
New for its third generation are 29″ wheels, in place of 27.5″ of the previous generation, the removable battery and Shimano EP8 motor.
Four Range VLT models are on offer. Two carbon fibre frames and two aluminum. Read our review of the Range VLT C1 here.
Sight VLT C2
In aluminum, the Sight VLT A1
Sight VLT A2
Factory suspension for the C1
A stout aluminum frame will keep the Sight A2 solid through All Mountain riding
And Shimano Steps controls
The Sight VLT keeps its place as Norco’s All Mountain eMTB. It rides on 150 mm rear travel, via a DH air shock with piggy back reservoir, and 160-mm forks. The Sight line continues to run on 29″ wheels, with the added power of Shimano’s EP8 motor.
Like the Range, you get your choice of carbon fibre or aluminum frames, with two of each available. The same choice of three batteries, from 540 Wh to the industry-leading 900 Wh powerhouse fit the Sight just like they do the Range VLT.
Norco Fluid VLT A1
Norco Fluid VLT A2
The Fluid is new to the VLT line for this year, adding a more trail-focused alternative to the agressive Sight and Range models.
Fluid VLT – New lighter-use eMTB expands the VLT line
New for 2022 is the Fluid VLT bike. It brings a short-travel trail bike option to Norco’s eMTB line, with 130mm rear wheel travel and 140mm up front. There are two Fluid VLT models, both running on an aluminum frame and 29″ wheels, for trail bike performance at a more accessible price point.
Both bikes use RockShox Select 35 forks and Shimano Deore drivetrains. The Fluid A1 gets full Deore 12-speed while the A2 uses a 10-speed Deore drivetrain.
Norco VLT – Pricing
Since Norco is offering three different batteries with each of its bikes, the batteries are sold separately. If that sounds odd, it’s instead of picking a base-level battery and making you buy the upgrade to a lighter or more powerful battery aftermarket. It’s all about giving consumers more choice.
Norco Fluid VLT
Norco Sight VLT
Norco Range VLT
Norco VLT Battery