Deniz merdano cam mcrae norco range vlt 2025 2
First Impressions

2024 Norco Range C1 VLT eMTB

Photos Deniz Merdano (unless noted)
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After spending a good deal of time on the Norco Sight VLT, I was keen to try the new version. Alas, that was not to be. Norco decided to put most of their apples into the Range cart. There is only one Sight model; the C1 which retails for 14,000 CAD, while the Range has two carbon models (both with Al rear ends) and one all aluminum version ranging in price from 12K CAD to 9K CAD. Word on the street is that many more Ranges were produced making the 2024 Sight a rarity.

The 2022 Sight I rode for several years never felt too small. I over-forked it to 170mm with a Zeb and the 150 mm rear end always felt like enough, even on the most challenging trails. Or so I thought. The 2022 Sight (same as the 2023 Sight) was one of the most sorted dual suspension platforms I'd ridden, boosted or not. It had some pecadillos to be sure, but I loved riding it in virtually any terrain.

This made my enthusiasm for the Range a little muted. Not only did it have more travel with 180 up front and 170 in the rear, it was a high pivot platform with an idler pulley and a mullet set up rather than the dual 29s of the previous gen. Sight and Range. Obviously bikes of this ilk are incredibly capable going down, especially at speed. They are also known for a tendency to bog down in compressions due to the rearward axle path and to feel a little glued to the ground, even when you are looking to leave the earth for a time. It was possible, I thought to myself, that I may not get along with this bruiser at all.

Deniz merdanocam mcrae norco range vlt 2025 54

I don't think I've ever had a first ride on a new bike that felt as sorted, comfortable and fast as my first day on the 2024 Range VLT.

I have been wrong many times in the 24 years I've been writing about bikes, but this was a particularly stunning example of my preconceptions missing the mark. On my first ride on the Range, it felt different of course but not in the ways I imagined. Instead of bogging down it carried speed incredibly well and, with help from the 27" rear wheel, it tucked into corners with remarkable agility. And rather than being disappointed with an overly planted feel, I marvelled at the way it smoothed out chunk and kept me in control while still being willing to get off the ground.

When I first began testing bikes I was a mess if the grips weren't perfect or the geo wasn't what I was used to. As it turns out, riding different bikes all the time makes you more adaptable. I can jump on most bikes now and, with a few minor tweaks, perform close to my meagre best in a short time. Despite this, I've never got on with a bike as quickly as I did with the new Range VLT. I don't use Strava but on my very first ride I'm almost certain I would have nailed some personal descending bests on sections of trail I've ridden countless times. I had a smile on my face that felt painted on like the Joker's. I find it undignified when reviewers gush, but it turns out I was smitten, at least at first.

Deniz merdanocam mcrae norco range vlt 2025 3

Looks like a beast, rides like a beauty.

What's Going on Here?

I've you've been paying attention to Norco's design arc, you'll know the company has gone deep with their version of the oh-so-hot high pivot and idler design. Norco calls their interpretation of this platform the VPShp. This is one of the elements that makes this a blank slate redesign. Virtually every important design consideration has changed for 2024 as well.

2023 dual 29. 2024 mullet. 2023

2023 Shimano Steps system. 2024 - Bosch Performance CX

2023 - Modified Horst Link. 2024 - VPShp high pivot plus idler suspension.

2023 - 4 sizes. 2024 - 5 sizes

2023 - one rear centre measurement for every size. 2024 - rear centre grows by 4mm for each jump in size.

Deniz merdanocam mcrae norco range vlt 2025 7

Continental Kryptotal KR (Enduro Casing) are an inspired choice. The rear (27.5 x 2.4) unfortunately succumbed to a sharp rock at Megavolt in Naramata that ripped the sidewall. I suspect most tires would have suffered the same fate.

Deniz merdanocam mcrae norco range vlt 2025 8

These are great tires with soft rubber and enduro casings front and rear. Maybe a DH casing would be good out back?

Compared to Previous Platfrom

As I mentioned earlier, I was a big fan of how the previous bike rode. It had some issues, some related to the off-brand battery and cable connections. Rather than be restricted to Shimano's battery and connectors, Norco went on their own, which produced some connectivity issues for some riders, including me. Beyond that, the carbon seat stays weren't as robust as they could have been and the bearing seats in my VLT failed early on the non-drive side, and later on the drive side. Both of these issues have been addressed directly with a complete Bosch system and an all-aluminum rear end on all models, which is a bold and sensible solution. The rear end of the Range VLT is as stiff and precise under pressure as any bike I've ridden. This sort of accuracy is a bit jarring at first because of how directly the rear of the bike responds to inputs, but it didn't take long before I responded positively to this solid state feel.

Deniz merdanocam mcrae norco range vlt 2025 5

The rear end is very robust and it tracks very well. It may have the most lateral rigidity of any duallie I've ridden.

Component Spec.

This is the top of the line Range but Norco didn't go as crazy as they could have. Some examples of restraint are Crankbrothers Synthesis aluminum wheels, which feel great and have done the job admirably, a GX T-type rear derailleur rather than XO or XX, and a Trans Rad+ 200mm seatpost for sizes 4 and 5. These all have performed as well as more expensive components in the same categories thus far.

Where it counts, Norco has thrown down, with top of the line suspension and braking components. Brakes are SRAM Code RSC with H2 rotors (220/200) which suit the character of the bike perfectly. Damping comes from a RockShox Vivid Select+ in the rear which I really like, and a 180mm Zeb Ultimate up front. Both ends surprised me with excellent levels of traction, composure and smoothness. The Vivid Select+ feels more like a coil than any air shock I've ridden, but with more support through the heart of the travel, and the Zeb 180 feels spectacular.

Aluminum Vs. Carbon

Looking back I wish I had stated my preference for either of the two lower models; the C2 and A1. I often wonder if Aluminum on eMTBs is little more than an affectation. In fact, I have begun to believe that a moderate decrease in weight does little for the performance of an eMTB. The suspension seems to work better on heavier bikes, at least for lighter riders, because there is more mass to overcome breakaway forces, and cornering seems to benefit as well, likely because much of that mass is slung low, and some below the front axle. Of course there's putting your bike on a rack or a tailgate, or on the wall, but otherwise I don't think there's much downside to riding a 56 lb bike over a 58 lb bike (24.4 to 26.3 kg). This makes the advantages aluminum has in terms of durability and cost even more attractive. Carbon bikes are strong and stiff, and light, they look nice and their structures are more easily crafted into complex shapes, but they aren't always the best solution for bikes, particularly considering how far aluminum manufacturing has come. Don't get me wrong though, I am enjoying the carbon front end and the fairly high-end components of the Range VLT C1 but there may be more value in the C2 and the A1, despite some component misses, like a SRAM NX drivetrain on the A1.

Deniz merdanocam mcrae norco range vlt 2025 48

Loving the loam.

Bosch Motor and Controls

I've been very pleased with the Bosch motor. Its four modes have many adjustments, including one for initial acceleration. This is great to crank up if you are doing a steep technical climb but you'll save a lot of battery if you keep it lower on more modest ascents.

Bosch tells us their CX motor produces a max of 85nm but it feels like more to me. It does fairly well even at lower RPMs and is easily controlled on very rough descents or tight switchbacks. The wireless toggle works seamlessly and makes me wonder why other manufacturers aren't able to employ a similar system; less wires is more.

I find it takes some time to plumb the depths of a new motor and really get to know it but I've had no issues thus far and it has performed really well. I'll have more to say in the full review.

Trail Time

Yesterday's ride out at Eagle Mountain included a masterfully reworked trail called Mossom Creek (incredible work - thank you TORCA!). It's what I'd call a technical flow trail with beautiful berms that are tighter than most. And they swap sides with alarming and thrilling frequency. This may not be where you'd expect a bike like the Range to shine but it definitely lit up. Carrying speed here requires angling the bike radically and then slapping it the other way as fast as possible. You might expect it behave like a linebacker playing pickleball but it felt right at home. I even made some tricky gaps on my second time through.

Mossom was all gravity but one of the advantages of the motor is that you can be overbiked and make up for it by getting on the pedals. So far I haven't regretted receiving the Range over the Sight and not once felt like the Range is too much bike.

Of course the bike is particularly at home when things get lumpy and unpredictable and the 63º head angle (the slackest of any bike I've tested) blasts through nasty holes and misplaced rocks and is particularly adept at dealing with holes at the bottom of slabs.

2024 Norco Range VLT cam mcrae 2

Un-sagged, the boot on the drive side crank rubs against the stay protector. It mostly avoids contact when the cranks are loaded and the bike is sagged, but not always. Photo - Cam McRae

Minor Gripes

My first grumble is one Bosch and Shimano share; rattling from the motor in rough terrain. Earlier Bosch motors seemed quieter to me, although the Canyons I rode in Tuscany were among the loudest. This one was quiet at first but as it's broken in it sounds a little like muffled nickels in a tin can. It's not loud, but the metallic nature of the sound is a little unsettling.

Unlike most bikes, which attach the rear wheel sensor to the brake rotor, this one is wireless and is placed below the valve stem's lock ring. Aside from the extra weight placed where there is already extra weight, on a spinning structure, the valve stem isn't long enough to accommodate this making it a challenge for many pumps.

This is the first eMTB I've seen that's capable of in-bike storage but the opportunity has been missed. There is a large triangular void in front of the rear shock that is just begging for some sort of custom solution to fill the hole. The challenge is that the void of each size Range has different dimensions so there would need to be five custom solutions. I remain hopeful that some industrious soul will figure this out as I puzzle it out on my own. If anyone has ideas I'm all ears.

2024 Norco Range VLT cam mcrae 3

This triangular void ahead of the shock is begging for some sort of bag that would fit perfectly in this spot. This Crankbrothers took stash is a pretty good substitute though. Photo - Cam McRae

As detailed above, the only display on the bike is a coloured LED light bank. There is no speedometer or trip display, which I miss much more thanI thought I would. Bosch has a display that will work and I'm hoping to get my hands on one.

The WTB crank arms are nice and short at 165mm but the combination of boot at the bottom of the arm and the guard on the drive side chain stay makes for regular contact. This is most pronounced when the bike is on the ground and riderless without any sag but I have had it bump on both the guard and the stay itself on most rides. Generally though there is enough weight on the cranks that they clear.

The last one is a bit rich, but after having a 900Wh battery on the Sight VLT for a couple of years I miss it. The range is pretty good with the 750Wh Bosch motor and I've done a 32 km ride with 1400 metres of climbing and finished with juice to spare, but I'm a glutton with a serious dislike of range anxiety.

Deniz merdanocam mcrae norco range vlt 2025 1

Just begging for a zippered compartment to store your stuff. There are two bolts with holes spaced 5mm apart and I've put a Crankbrothers tube stash holder in there that capably holds a jacket, tube or (just barely) a small beer can. I had to drill a new hole to bolt it on but it seems to work very well.

Megavolt 2024 Day 2 Deniz Merdano 93

Bracing for landing that felt like nothing at Megavolt 2024 in Naramata B.C. - it was an absolute blast!

How's it Going?

So far I like the way this is going. Each time I saddle up the Range VLT I'm more keen than the last time as I figure out how far the bike can be pushed. I'm looking forward to some big mountain adventures this summer to truly plumb the depths of this very capable machine.

Norco Range VLT C1 12,000 CAD / 9,000 USD

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae

Height - 6'/183cm (mostly legs)

Weight - 170lbs/77kg

Inseam - 33"/84cm

Ape Index - 0.986

Age - 58

Trail I've been stoked on lately - Sam's Dad's Trail

Bar Width - 760mm

Preferred Reach - 485-500mm (longer with 27.5 wheels than 29)

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Comments

Clownshoe
+3 tmoore Jotegir Cam McRae

I just picked up almost this exact bike.  My first foray into e-bikes, and it's pretty sweet.  

In my first two real trail rides in my local hood (Sea2Sky), I've already been given the stink eye and a bit of shit talk at two trailheads.  

Hilariously, one was at the start of a trail that I built, where a guy suggested that I was wrecking the trail with my e-bike.  The second was from a respected trail builder who I've known for 25 years who wasn't too happy that I had used an e-bike to get all the way up to where his new trail was.  

I guess it's to be expected, especially around here.  I'll get over it....There, I'm over it.

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Jotegir
+1 tmoore

The amount of trail builders on ebikes for access, building, and testing purposes in my area has exploded over the past two years or so. I guess that hasn't reached its way down to the Sea to Sky from the interior quite yet. They really are great tools for optimizing build/test/tweak time, especially given that for so many builders and everyone else, time is a key limiting resource for trail work.

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Lowcard
+1 Cam McRae

Nice one Cam. I share most of the same thoughts as you. Minor quibbles aside, I loved this bike so much that I bought it.

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Jotegir
+1 Cam McRae

Another advantage of aluminum: heat sink for you electronics. Ha!

Shame to see NX feature on the alloy models when 10-speed linkglide with 80 dollar cassettes and deralleurs is right there. 

EDIT: interesting to see them go for the LED-blinky-light display rather than the full display. The very first gen Rocky ebikes were unique in the sense that they just had blinky light displays rather than full screens and people found it a turn-off. Enough so that for the next full generation Rocky ditched the lights in favour of built in screens.  Maybe 7 years later people are ready for flashing LED lights instead of full screens again? 

A few thoughts on bike weight/rider weight combinations with e-bikes:

- as a 100kg+ rider myself, suspension absolutely does work better on ebikes. This isn't reserved for lighter riders. Riding an e-bike for a little while and then swapping back to one of my daily driver bikes takes a few turns to get used to the lightness of the regular bike. My Deviate Claymore is dialed suspension wise, and it felt downright unsettled on fast chatter for a couple hundred meters coming off an ebike until I got used to the sensation of a ~35 lbs enduro bike again.

- on the other hand, weight does seem to matter on descents for lighter or less strong riders. When Trek came out with the Fuel ExE one of the shop's first e-mtb customers traded her full weight ebike in for the lightweight version because the one thing she didn't love about the full weight ebike was on steeper, slow descends the bike felt like it would pull her off the trail - more momentum than a 120 lbs intermediate really wanted to have.

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fatfootguy
+1 Cam McRae

The linkglide stuff is the way to go with ebikes, I have it on mine and it is wicked, full power shifting and no crunch.

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C.Lee
+1 Cam McRae

I'd say gx transmission derailleur is a better choice for the bike that's considered "Enduro" than x01 or xx1. Battery is nicely tucked away and caged, better protected if you by chance lay it down or hit something.

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cam@nsmb.com
+1 Kyle Dixon

Cheaper as well!

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roil
0

If I was in the market for a full power ebike, this (and nicolai's pinion ebike) would at the top of my list. If you're going to get the power and weight, why not get all the travel you can.

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XXX_er
0

" I have begun to believe that a moderate decrease in weight does little for the performance of an eMTB." 

I also think same ^^ while expensive components are lighter and might  shift a tinny bit faster its not a big deal when I got 85nm  to make up for a slower shifting NX group ,  parts  that don't break or wear are more important IME, the EP8  recently tore up my  X01 chain, i say it was the motor because I normaly don't break chains, the lowest spec/ cheapest steel drivetrain is fine IME  

An 85NM motor is an 85NM motor don't get hung up on the brand as long as it keeps working, how does the ride is as always the most important

So what does the Range weigh ? One can always just claim anything, Santa cruz claims 49 for the full power Bullit & Heckler but its 52 on my scale ;)

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cam@nsmb.com
0

I haven't been able to weigh it yet. I'm afraid my current set up may not support that much weight so I'm likely back to the stand on scale/lift bike procedure. I'll try and do that today. 

I'm pretty happy about the weight added to the rearend since that was a problem with the previous carbon versions and this one feels incredibly burly. I have inserts in there so I'll have to deduct that - and I'll swap out the coil shock first since I've been planning on doing that anyway to compare the ride between the two Vivids.

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XXX_er
+1 Cam McRae

Ha watch your back ! 

I weighed mine by getting on my bathroom scale with and without it

When I put the  bike in my Tacoma ( what else ) under a canopy it gets levered off of the front wheel so i don't have to pickup the whole 52 lbs

I got used to the weight and not stopping on a hill while trying  to dab on the down hill side

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cam@nsmb.com
0

I got on the scale and after subtracting pedals, inserts and a few other small items I'd say it's right around 58 lbs. And I don't mind at all!

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XXX_er
0

Steed lists  an entry spec carbon Bullit or Heckler which aren't that different  for  < 8k, it would have been  11500 in 2020, which was the covid price so even if I wasnt a Bullit fanboi I would think this Norco is overpriced, like I said NX is fine when I got 85NM's,  I think  a cheaper spec sells better and  is all I  need in an E-bike

edit: So  at < 8K every size of cheapest spec Bullit or Heckler are sold out

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DaveSmith
0

This comment has been removed.

GB
0

Cam I'm the old man shaking his fist. Stay off my lawn ! 

I am a sadistic purist that endeavors  to do everything  manually.

I witnessed a friend that is a shuttle queen clean every climbing section on a rather long very technical trail only possible because she was on a E bike . It took definate skill and a little boost from a good looking invisible dude in a yellow shirt . 

Say your doing 5th Horseman.  E bike or meat power ? 

Do you own a E bike ? Got a favorite?

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XXX_er
0

The dude: yeah, well i still jerk off manualy

so you are in good company

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cam@nsmb.com
0

On 5th I'm equally comfortable on either bike so it mostly depends on who I'm riding with. I own a previous gen. Norco Sight C1 which I think I'll be selling. It's been a great bike (minus the quirks mentioned  above).

In terms of a favourite, I had a great time on the Canyon Strive ON at a press camp and I'd like to try the LTD version with the Bosch Race motor. At the time they were offering it with a 900 Wh battery but that no longer seems to be an option in their online store. I've also enjoyed the SC Nomad. This bike is right up there with the best I have ridden as well.

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hotlapz
-5 Kyle Dixon GB MrAnderson Cr4w Merwinn XXX_er Shoreboy 4Runner1 Sandy James Oates Clownshoe dhr999

who the hell looks at a 60lbs $12k bike and thinks, ah yes this is gonna be great for riding in bc

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+7 Jotegir Merwinn XXX_er 4Runner1 Sandy James Oates Clownshoe MrAnderson

Where do you think it would be better? I understand being unenthused about eMTBs, but B.C. has much of the best terrain in the world for an eMTB like this. Thus far it has fit right in to the riding I do. And it was fine riding in Naramata on some lower angle trails as well.

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XXX_er
+2 Cam McRae James Hayes

Lots of people ( mostly old ) in BC are buying expensive E-bikes so the bike makers are making the money, altho knowing what I now know I wouldn't pay that 12K price for an e-bike but post Covid price correction I would pay < 10K.

these bikes work great, I got 4500 kms at < 13 kph on a full power E-bike

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tashi
0

I hear ya. 

Would possibly sell better at $15k with a carbon frame and kit.

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Captain-Snappy
0

Huh? How do geopolitical boundaries negatively affect the bike? Do long, steep climbs and electrically assisted bikes not compliment each other?

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cam@nsmb.com
0

Hopefully this mystery will be solved!

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XXX_er
0

well in the excited states an e-biker is pretty much the anti christ, in BC not so much, up here not at all, the only difference seems to be,  340 million rugged individualists down thar

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cam@nsmb.com
0

Is that true? It seems like sales are booming so it's not hurting from that end. Maybe you are referring to access issues? Or just other riders airing their displeasure when you pass them? There's a little of that up here but it's getting better.

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XXX_er
+1 Cam McRae

Access issues and so I think people just ignore a no E-bike sign and then  displeasure  gets expressed ? The question has to be what exactly IS the probelm with pedal assist and why are there signs to ignore in the first place, I  duno ? The local trail association exec and both  the builders say there are no problems with E-bikes and they own them, I did ask before spending all that money,  the Rec BC trail sign/ map paid for with taxpayer dollars sez " class 1 only no class 2 or 3 " so no problems with pedal assist  in my neck of the woods. 

I am suprised the usual group of wankers has not shown up to smack talk and generaly disrupt an e-bike thread.

GB
0 Cam McRae BarryW

who the hell looks at a 60lbs $12k bike and thinks, ah yes this is gonna be great for riding in bc

It could be 100 pounds doesn't matter it has a motor . 

BC is not flat all mountains . 

Motors are a necessity weather it's meat powered, shuttles or a motor bike .

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cam@nsmb.com
+3 Kyle Dixon Clownshoe MrAnderson

Motors for lift access as well. 

For some people motors aren't a necessity (power to them!) but I'm unfortunately no longer in that camp.

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MrAnderson
+1 Cam McRae

Dear Mr HL 

You obviously have never ridden an  alike EMTB or any trails in BC or Alberta. The Norco Range VLT is 100%  built for this terrain.  Perhaps its time to get out of your  own way ! IE change  your crowd !

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