Norco Sight VLT Review | The Norco Sight VLT 29er Is An Electrified Behemoth

G'day Frothers it's Wil here from Flow Mountain Bike and this bike next to me here is the 2020 Norco Sight VLT 29 now in this video review I'm going to be
talking about the Sight VLT 29 where it sits in the Norco lineup what's
special about it and how it rides on the trail we're going to be going into some
detail about what it does best what it struggles with and what kind of rider
suits the Sight VLT 29 now before we go any further if this is your first time
joining us on YouTube make sure you hit that subscribe button to be notified of
all the video reviews we have coming your way in the near future you might be
watching this video thinking "hold on Wil, Norco already has a Sight VLT" and
you're correct the Sight VLT was launched around 18 months ago but that remains in
the Norco lineup this 29er version is an addition to the range now it is slightly
confusing because there are a lot of similarities between the two bikes
indeed they have exactly the same suspension travel with a 160mm fork on the front and 150mm travel on the back they're both built around
the same Shimano STEPS E8000 motor and they both feature a 630Wh
battery inside the downtube they both look pretty similar and some people
might suspect that it's the same frame just with 29er wheels squeezed in but I
can assure you that is not the case this is a very different bike for a start the
geometry is quite different like a lot of Norco's other new bikes this Sight
VLT 29er has a much stronger gravity focus the head angle on the front is 64
degrees which is two whole degrees slacker than the 27.5 inch version the seat tube
is also steepened by over 3 degrees on the medium frame here that's sitting at
78.3 degrees which is quite steep the reach is also grown and on the medium
frame here it's gone from 440 up to 455mm and the back end is also longer the chainstays have grown nearly 20 millimeters on this 29er
version they sit at 458mm now if you add that all together you get a
much bigger footprint on the trail this bike has a very long wheelbase the
bottom bracket also sits 10mm lower than the 27.5 inch version and
overall it's basically a downhill bike in comparison to the existing Sight VLT
the build kit on this bike mirrors the gravity oriented geometry we have
sticky Maxxis tyres with the DoubleDown casing front and rear powerful four
piston disc brakes and big 200mm brake rotors we also have a
piggyback shock which Norco has cleverly twisted 90 degrees with a custom alloy
yoke and that's to provide clearance for a water bottle inside the main frame
that was one of our biggest criticisms with the 27.5 inch version which won't
fit a water bottle inside the frame another feature this bike has over the
27.5 inch version is you can fit an extra piggyback battery Norco does offer
the range extender battery pack separately
it'll cost you around $699 AUD dollars it weighs 2.3 kilos but it does
come with an extra 360Wh of juice and combined
with the InTube battery pack that gives you nearly 1000 watt hours which is a
huge amount for any e-MTB now there are four different models
available in this bike for 2020 pricing starts $6,699 AUD for the A2 then we go up to the Sight VLT A1 which sells for $7,599 AUD then we go up to
the Carbon C2 which sells for $9,599 AUD and then we have the top of the range C1 the bike that we have here
which sells for $10,799 AUD in terms
of setup I stand at 175cm tall so I'm riding a medium-sized in the Sight
VLT 29er the reach is exactly the same as the regular Sight A1 that I rode
earlier this year it's 455mm on this medium frame however the cockpit does feel more cramped with the saddle at full height
because the seat angle is steeper on the e-Bike also like the regular Sight this
VLT version has a really nice short seat tube and that's to allow Norco to spec a
long stroke drop a post on the medium size I've got here it's a 175mm travel RockShox Reverb but when you do go to the large
or extra-large frame sizes you get a 200mm stroke dropper up front we
have a RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork I weigh 68kg so I put 85 psi
inside the air spring and it comes with two bottomless tokens from the factory
when standing up on the pedals that gives around 28% sag the rear shock is also from RockShox this is a Super Deluxe it also
comes with two bottomless tokens in the air can and to hit 30% sag I was running
190 psi however I did find I was bottoming out shock
relatively frequently so I added a third bottomless token inside just to give a
little bit more ramp up support and that meant I could drop the pressure down
slightly to 180 psi the wheels and tires come ready to set up tubeless and
because they use those heavier DoubleDown casings it does mean you can
run slightly lower pressures and running 20 psi on the front Minion DHF but I am
running a little bit more on the rear tire that's a Minion DHR – on the back
and i'm running that around 25 to 26 psi with the tire setup tubeless and this
bike weighed without pedals it clocks in at a not inconsiderable 23.35kg
which is pretty heavy-duty we'll start out by talking about some of the
strengths on this bike you've probably gathered from the downhill oriented
geometry the substantial weight and those sticky Maxxis tires this bike is
insanely fast and insanely stable downhill I was kind of expecting that
given my experience of testing the regular Sight earlier this year but the
characteristic is even more pronounced on this heavier e-MTB version
having that heavy battery inside the downtube pushing more weight onto the
front tire helps to improve stability and weight distribution as well I found
compared to the regular Sight this was an easier bike to ride and I didn't have to
exaggerate my riding style and weight distribution as much on this bike
compared to the non motorized version certainly for a light rider like me
being on a heavy bike like this, I tend to get knocked around a lot less on those
really hectic rowdy descents it's the sort of bike that encourages you to get
off the brakes hang on and just let it absolutely rip on the descents it is a
total plow-mobile a lot of that stability comes from the slack 64-degree
head angle but it's also running a reduced offset fork now that gives this
bike a ton of trail 138 millimeters to be precise now believe it or not that's
actually more than Norco's own downhill bike the Aurum HSP what that does for the
Sight VLT 29 is it gives the front end a very strong self-correcting force to the
front wheel and that makes it harder to get knocked off line
so on those really rough fast high-speed descents this bike tracks very straight
and very true and it takes a lot to knock it off line and along with the
supple RockShox suspension and the sticky Maxxis tires this bike just oozes
confidence it also means this bike sticks through the corners like few
other bikes I've ridden whether you're traveling at high speed, at low speed, off
camber, or on banked turns, it just holds a line really really well but while this
bikes downhill prowess didn't exactly surprise me what did was its uphill
efficiency and that comes down to a few different things for a start that steep
seat angle puts you in a fantastic climbing position
Norco has also spec'd an e-MTB specific saddle from Ergon which has a
kick tail profile and that scoop at the end of the saddle profile gives a strong
anchor point for your sit bones and that allows you to stay seated and pedaling
for longer the long chain stays also helped to provide stability on the
climbs it reduces the chance of the front wheel lifting and wandering when
it gets really steep furthermore there's actually quite a bit of anti-squat in
the suspension design and to begin with I didn't think that was really important
for an e-MTB, after all you've got a motor there between the crank arms
but on this bike that anti-squat does mean that there's less wallow to the
rear suspension and that helps to maintain that steep effective seat tube
angle along with 165mm crank arms it also meant that I wasn't
clipping pedals on rocks and roots as much either and all up it means this
Sight VLT 29er is actually a really good climber even when things get steep and
technical I'll talk a little bit about the Shimano STEPS E8000 motor which has been on the market for nearly four years now and in the world of e-MTBs
that's an eternity, that said it's a reliable performer it's a known quantity
I like the intuitive power delivery and I also like that it has a relatively
normal Q factor as well it can be a little bit clunky on the
engagement and that's exacerbated on this bike because it has a relatively
slow engaging rear hub there are just 24 points of engagement on that
DT Swiss rear hub and that means on technical climbs there is a little bit
of a lag before the chain engages and before you get assistance from the motor
it's something you do get used to and it's not that big of a deal but it will
be interesting to see if there are improvements to this motor down the line
from Shimano I also think Norco could tidy the setup on this bike a little bit, in particular the Di2 wires up at the
handlebar a little bit messy other brands are running internal routing
through the handlebar which would surely neaten things up there and the speed
sensor down at the chainstay does look a bit old-school particularly with the
magnet on the spoke other brands are running more integrated solutions with a
speed sensor tucked in at the rear dropouts and a magnet on the disc brake
rotor instead so there is room for improvement on this Sight VLT as for the
weaknesses of this bike well given the hefty weight and those sticky Maxxis
tires once you go above the 25km/h cutoff for the motor assistance this
bike is a lot of hard work to pedal I had a couple of rides where I
deliberately ran the battery flat in order to see how far I could get on one
charge and the remainder of those rides with no power assistance at all were
very very difficult this isn't a bike that you want to get stuck out in the
middle of nowhere with a flat battery I can assure you! While I mostly had good
experience from the RockShox suspension I did find that even with
that third bottomless token inside the rear shock and I was kissing full travel
reasonably frequently now it's worth bearing in mind that I'm only 68 kilos
and I'm more of a wheels-on-the-ground kind of rider that said this is the kind
of bike that wants to be ridden hard and it wants to be ridden fast and
inevitably that means you're going to be hitting things harder and faster for
heavier more aggressive and jumpy riders than me you might find the rear
suspension on this bike to be too linear a potential solution would be to fit a
MegNeg air can which would provide significantly better ramp up support at
the end of the travel then again that's not an inexpensive upgrade and perhaps
it's a bit rich to expect on a bike that costs over $10,000 still I found the
suspension on this bike to be really impressive both the fork and the rear
shock have excellent small bump sensitivity and they maintain an
impressive level of control at high speed.

pexels photo 9978368

And that brings me to the verdict
of the Norco Sight VLT 29 well this bike is stupendously fast,
incredibly stable and it hugs the ground like very few other bikes I've ridden
that said it isn't exactly what I would call a beginner's bike it requires a
heavy-handed approach to the steering and it's the kind of bike that goads you
to go faster and faster my adrenaline would spike every time I would ride
this bike and at the end of every ride I was kind of surprised that I hadn't wrapped
myself around a tree at some point or another certainly if you're after
something a little bit more chilled that's more comfortable for all day
pedaling and perhaps something with a bit more pop and attitude on the trail
then I would still recommend the 27.5in version over this Sight VLT 29, something like the Merida eOne-Sixty would be another good
alternative for a long travel e-MTB that's still fairly agile and
playful on the trail but if your typical ride has an elevation profile that looks
like a series of shark teeth with lots of steep technical climbs followed by
fast flat-out descents then this is definitely an e-MTB worth
considering and certainly when it comes to going absolutely full gas on the
descents there are few e-MTBs on the market that are as capable and is
up for it as a Sight VLT 29 now for those of you who would like to read the
full review of this bike scroll down to the video description below
hit the link and that will take you to the full review over at flowmountainbike.com there's a load more information about this bike in the full
review including some detail about the range test experiments I did with this
bike to see how far I could go and how much climbing I could get with that InTube battery pack and also the range extender battery – if you've got any
questions for me about the Sight VLT 29 make sure you drop them into the
comments section below if you enjoyed this video give us a thumbs up and if
you haven't already consider subscribing to our YouTube channel for plenty more
video reviews coming your way in the near future otherwise that's it from me
folks I hope you enjoyed the video and I'll see you next time – tooroo!

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