Developed in the cold winters of Canada, Norco has a new fat bike out that combines unmatched grip in soft terrain with the extended range that e-bikes offer. The new Bigfoot VLT e-fat bike integrates Shimano’s latest STePS e-bike drivetrains in the trail ready alloy bike, together with key cold-weather optimized components to stand up to the harshest winter weather.
2019 Norco Bigfoot VLT alloy e-fat bike
Norco says the new Bigfoot VLT isn’t only a snow bike, but having spent time fat biking deep in the mountains, the idea of pedal-assist to speed up those grueling soft climbs has a ton of appeal. Proper winter fat biking can be a ton of fun, but sustained climbing in deep snow is a lot of work. Low gearing can only do so much (until you have a hard time staying upright) and makes temperature regulation difficult. You don’t want to get super sweaty on a long climb, only to spend the next few hours riding in sub-freezing temps. So that’s where a proper trail-ready e-fat bike comes in.
Bigfoot VLT cold weather optimization
And Norco says they’ve done the work to find the best tech to handle cold weather e-biking too, expanding on the e-MTB trail riding capability of their recent 150mm travel Sight VLT. At the heart of the Bigfoot VLT then is a Shimano Steps drive unit at the bottom bracket and a high output battery seamlessly integrated into the aluminum downtube to give you that extra boost. Norco says they’ve test them, and the Shimano system is the most able to deliver consistent performance in extreme conditions. Plus, Norco have specifically designed a protected charging port in the e-bike’s seat tube to make it fast & easy to recharge the battery. Because, as much as they try, battery power just doesn’t last as long in the coldest of weather. Maybe this bike could benefit from an insulated downtube cover?
Optimizing for winter riding goes beyond picking the best possible e-assist setup. Norco have also included a cold-weather optimized Manitou fork, SRAM hydraulic disc brakes with more temperature-resistant DOT brake fluid, and have found a TranzX dropper post that apparently still works well with temps drop.
Geometry to ride like a trail bike
As much as this looks like it could clearly be a snow-specific e-bike, Norco developed the Bigfoot VLT to be a modern mountain bike for all seasons 0 just really good in soft & loose terrain. It gets geometry refined over years in Norco’s standard fat bikes, now with a steeper 75° seat angle and longer front end for more efficient climbing. The rear end in’t even affected much either thanks to the compact STePS setup, growing just 5mm to 455mm chainstays.
The e-bike powertrain did allow Norco to get the weight of the new tech lower, with short 165mm long cranks and an extra 16mm of BB drop down to a bottom bracket height of 323mm for a more stabel ride. Combined with plenty of standover & the dropper posts, it should make for a confident descender as well.
Bigfoot VLT complete bike spec & pricing
Two different spec levels are available in the same Boost 197 thru-axle frame. All get internal cable routing, an integrated kickstand, and two bottle mounts on all but the sizes Small. One gets the top level E8000 motor & a 630Wh battery, and a lower-cost build with E7000 & a 500Wh battery.
The Bigfoot VLT 1 with E8000 sells for $4800 and gets the cold-specific Manitou Mastadon Pro 100mm travel fork. It features a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain to go with the four-piston Guide T brakes & 200mm rotors, and is spec’ed with 26 x 4.8″ Maxxis Minion tires on 80mm wide Sun rims.
The Bigfoot VLT 2 dials back its price to $3600 thanks to the more affordable E700 powertrain and drops the Manitou fork in favor of a suspension corrected 6061 alloy rigid fork. It also gets a NX drivetrain but a 11 speed version, and the same Guide T brakes, plus 4.8″ Schwalbe Jumbo Jim tires on unnamed 80mm alloy rims.