Norco Sight VLT C2 review

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The Norco Sight VLT C2 may not be the bike you think it is; it’s very much an all dayer climber ‘n’ cruiser. Did I mention how well it climbs?

  • Brand: Norco
  • Product: Sight VLT C2
  • From: norco.com
  • Price: £6,999
  • Tested: by Benji for 6 weeks

Pros

  • Good range
  • Excellent climbing potential
  • Mostly great build kit (brakes, dropper, wheels, rear shock, front tyre, stem, saddle)

Cons

  • Not much ‘pop’ to its ride
  • Slightly underwhelming fork
  • Some duff parts (rear tyre, handlebars)

This was not the bike I thought it would be. I don’t mean it wasn’t the bike that I asked to test. It was. The Norco Sight VLT just didn’t ride like I thought it would do.

Coming off the back of the total blaster (analogue) bike that was the Norco Fluid FS A1 – not to mention the ostensibly on-paper similar Saracen Ariel 50E – I first got onboard the Norco Sight VLT and expected it to be first class ticket to rocket o’clock radness. Or something.

But it wasn’t like that. Don’t get me wrong. The Sight VLT wasn’t a bad bike. It just wasn’t a rad bike. It was much more of a cruiser than a bruiser. The Sight VLT felt more at home executing high mileage rather than shredding hot lapz.

Why? I am not entirely sure. I don’t think it was to do with the overall weight of the bike. I’ve ridden plenty of similarly hefy e-bikes that exhibited a capacity for playfulness and… radness. I suspect that the cruiser attitude of the Sight VLT was principally to do with The Usual Suspects: geometry and suspension kinematic. (I don’t really like the word ‘kinematic’ but it has become the term that the industry uses now for better or worse).

The geometry is very balanced. Balanced in that it is really flipping long. Long in reach, long in chainstay. Now, I’m as big of a fan of lengthy chainstays as the next tragically hip bike reviewer, but long chainstays on a full-fat full-weight e-bike is a tricky thing to pull off.

Ultimately, the Sight VLT was really good at sticking to the ground. Which is fine. It’s a trait that has its place. It can go flipping well fast on open terrain. Like, mega fast. It can also climb up pretty much anything you can point it at. Well, it can do once you’ve swapped out the Maxxis Dissector rear tyre for something with a bit more gappy paddle tread to it. I went all-in on rear tyre and ran a Schwalbe Dirty Dan and was afforded the super-power of being able to ride up and over skyscrapers covered in vaseline.

In terms of ‘pop’ or ‘hustle’, I did have a quick look inside the RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ RT rear shock and was presented with a MegNeg air can stuffed with volume spacers (3 or 4, I can’t remember exactly). I removed them all. This improved things greatly. The bike didn’t fly through it travel too eagerly anymore and generally had a much higher degree of support and feedback. And in its initial rear shock set-up, the Sight VLT was a bit of a pedal striker. Adding support totally removed the incidences of whacking pedals on rocks/stumps/ruts/tufts.

In terms of the front suspension (also known as the ‘fork’), I couldn’t help but think the Lyrik Select wasn’t quite up to the job. Not in terms of chassis stiffness. In terms of damping capability. Basically, it proved to be elusive in ever achieving a good balance of support versus suppleness. In the end I went with prioritising support – to help ward off the alarming head angle steepening moments – and just put up with the harsher and slightly less grippy front end. As for volume spacers in the front, I find they only ever affect how the very last 30mm or so of travel behaves so aren’t really overly useful for adding support where you actually need it.

While I’m moaning about sore hands, the stock no-name 35mm alloy handlebars on the Sight VLT were the harshest pipe I’ve ever tried to hold on to. I swapped it out for a Nukeproof one that was lying around in my shed and things were instantly nicer under palm.

Right enough with the carping. What – and who – is this Norco Sight VLT for? People who want to ride loads of miles and do any and every climb they can think of. It’s not a bike that wants to leave the ground. Which will be totally fine for all those riders out there who aren’t bothered about leaving the ground either.

It is a heavy bike but it wears its weight well during riding. It doesn’t feel overly top heavy, not overwhelmingly low-slung. The fact that it is heavy does mean that you’ll be thankful for the big battery. Why? Because you’ll be taking the long way around instead of going the usual route over gates/stiles etc!

Honestly though, the excessive weight of ebikes can end up being a good thing because it really does force you to think of a new ways to link up your trail network. You will find yourself riding up tracks that previously were descents. And loving it.

I think I need to reiterate this bike’s climbing ability. It climbs brilliantly. Again, the first few rides were impaired by the not-very-grippy Dissector rear tyre and a tendency for pedal striking and/or ‘sumping out’ on ledges/steps. With a decent rear tyre and a bit of shock surgery, things were massively better. This bike is well up there with the best climbing ebikes currently available.

Perhaps the most significant and/ore revealing feature of the Sight VLT is the twin bottle bosses. You can carry a decent amount of water/stuff on this frame.

It’s worth pointing out the unique way the rear shock is mounted. The shock is mounted at 45° so as to ensure that its piggyback reservoir doesn’t clash with water bottles. Kudos Norco. It doesn’t impede the ability to quickly work on the rear shock either. In fact, the way the shock swings out when you undo the front shock mount makes things arguably easier when fiddling with air can guts and so on.

The rear suspension is plenty adjustable both via external controls and via cracking it open and do some volume dspacer shuffling. This adjustability is just as well, because chances are you might find the back end a bit dead-feeling as it is. Which is fine. It’s not the killer blow. It’s just not a bike that you can set the sag on and get on with your life. It probably will need a ride or two of faff setting up.

The Shimano EP-8 may not have the surging thrill-shove of a Bosch system but it is plenty powerful enough and genuinely does feel more ‘natural’ (whether you like or dislike ‘natural’ if down to you). And I still maintain that Shimano controls and display is the best combo out there.

Overall

In summing up this bike, I feel like saying to the Norco Sight VLT “it’s not you, it’s me”. It’s a fine bike. It’s just perhaps not the rad machine that some of its geometry or spec suggests. Perhaps it’s because whenever I see a bike with ‘NORCO’ emblazoned on the downtube, I expect a certain kind of ride. The Norco Sight VLT C2 is very much an all dayer climber ‘n’ cruiser. Did I mention how well it climbs?

Norco Sight VLT C2 specification

  • Frame // Carbon w/ aluminium chainstay, 150mm
  • Fork // RockShox Lyrik Select, 160mm
  • Shock // RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ RT DebonAir 2 w/ MegNeg, 210x55mm
  • Wheels // e*thirteen LG1 DH rims on DT Swiss H370 hubs
  • Front tyre // Maxxis Assegai 29 x 2.5in 3C MaxxGrip DoubleDown
  • Rear tyre // Maxxis Disector 29 x 2.4in 3C MaxxTerra DoubleDown
  • Chainset // Shimano FC-EM600, 34T, 165mm
  • Drivetrain // SRAM SX Eagle Single Click shifter, SRAM GX Eagle r-mech, SRAM Eagle PG 1210 11-50T cassette
  • Brakes // Shimano BR MT520, 203/203mm
  • Stem // CNC Alloy, 40mm, 35mm
  • Bars // Butted 6061 Alloy, 800mm x 25mm
  • Grips // DMR DeathGrip A20 Soft Thick
  • Seatpost // e+thirteen dropper, 34.9mm, 200mm
  • Saddle // Ergon SM-10 E-Mountain Sport
  • Bottom Bracket // Shimano
  • Motor //Shimano EP-8, 85Nm
  • Battery // 720Wh
  • Size tested // XL
  • Sizes available // S, M, L, XL
  • Weight // 24.5kg
  • Head angle // 64°
  • Effective seat angle // 78°
  • Seat tube length // 455mm
  • Head tube length // 130mm
  • Effective top tube // 652mm
  • BB height // 25mm BB drop
  • Reach // 515mm
  • Chainstay // 462mm
  • Wheelbase // 1,327mm

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