First Commuter eBike: Gazelle Ultimate/Madeo T10+ vs. Specialized Vado/Vado SL

pierretong

New Member
Region
USA
Hey everybody! I'm looking to buy my first e-bike. With an impending partial return to the office this year, I'm looking for an e-bike to use as a commuter bike. My commute is not terribly long - 8.15 miles each way and it's something that I did on my Surly road/hybrid bike pre-pandemic maybe once or twice a week. Not a whole lot of elevation - some rolling hills but the first 0.5 mile is an uphill 5-6% grade (I live right at the bottom so it is kinda brutal coming out of the driveway with zero momentum). Also, I was previously working full time at the office and now I'm probably going to be transporting my 8 lb laptop most days between home and work adding on more weight. Lastly, it gets hot and humid here in the southeast during the summer so it would be nice to not work as hard on those days.

I live near a local bike store that I trust that sells both the Gazelle and Specialized bikes and I narrowed it down to either the Gazelle Ultimate or Madeo T10+ or the Specialized Vado or Vado SL. I considered going the Rad/Ride1Up route but I think for my first eBike, I'd rather have something that I have some local support if it's needed since I don't really know a whole lot about eBikes. I liked the Gazelle bikes a lot and heard a lot of good things but wanted a class 3 e-Bike so I'm limited to the T10+. The Vado is similar to the Gazelle's on the Specialized side - I am intrigued by the Vado SL though because sometimes I integrate my bike trips with transit and the weight factor would be super nice for having something light to throw onto the bus rack or a flight of stairs at my house.

(there's a Trek store nearby and places that sell Tern/Cannondale but just wasn't a huge fan of those choices but if anyone has any suggestions for those brands to take another look at let me know!)

Is there anything I should consider before making a decision and throwing 3-4K at one of these bikes? I'm looking primarily just something to ride so I can commute to the office more often and take to the grocery store though I'm definitely open to riding it for fun if it ends up being more fun that I expect (though I kinda hope not since I do like my other bike).

I have heard some iffy things about the Specialized's reliability with the Vado line lately with regards to the motor. Anybody have any input with that? The fact that the battery and components are more integrated with the Vado SL gives me some pause after hearing that. Also how durable is the rear rack on the Vado if I use panniers?

The Gazelle just looks to check all the boxes for a commuter bike but the Vado (especially the SL) seems like the more fun/lightweight bike to own if I branched out into riding it beyond commuting purposes.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Main problem is availability. My work has ordered return to work from August 2nd. An order placed today might not arrive in two months. Totally get your desire for local shop support. That’s a great list, happy test riding!
 

pierretong

New Member
Region
USA
Main problem is availability. My work has ordered return to work from August 2nd. An order placed today might not arrive in two months. Totally get your desire for local shop support. That’s a great list, happy test riding!
I "think" I've got until the first week of September so hopefully I've given myself some lead time to get an order placed by that. Not in a huge rush though but rather sooner than later!
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Rereading your first post you sound like you really want the lightness of the Vado SL, and given you aren’t riding really steep hills I think the lower power assist (35nm) won’t be a problem, where do you plan to store the bike over the winter? The non-removable frame battery of the Vado SL is the main issue, but depending on how cold it gets where you live it should be fine in a garage

Regarding carrying stuff, Court’s review of the Vado SL said the rack is rated to carry up to 33lb
 
Last edited:

pierretong

New Member
Region
USA
Rereading your first post you sound like you really want the lightness of the Vado SL, and given you aren’t riding really steep hills I think the lower power assist (35nm) won’t be a problem, where do you plan to store the bike over the winter? The non-removable frame battery of the Vado SL is the main issue, but depending on how cold it gets where you live it should be fine in a garage

Regarding carrying stuff, Court’s review of the Vado SL said the rack is rated to carry up to 33lb
I think the Vado SL would definitely my pick if I went with a Specialized bike. I don't need the extra power of the Vado and I value the versatility that it would bring. I would be planning on storing the bike inside - I'm definitely against leaving my bikes outdoor. I'm just a little weary about what happens if I get a lemon of a bike since Specialized uses a ton of proprietary motor/battery while with the Gazelle uses Bosch which is more of a known. I've also read some things online that have led me to have some doubts about the reliability of the Vado. On the other hand, I bet the Gazelle bikes are not as widely sold as the Vado so maybe that's why I don't hear as much about any issues.

My first adult bike was a Specialized Sirrus hybrid and I loved riding it so I'm not sure why I'm so hung up on this but this is a little bit of a bigger purchase than $500 :) That being said, I think I would be pretty happy if I ended up with a Gazelle Ultimate T10+ too.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Gazelle are a great brand, I like they use rust resistant paint and hardware, the Ultimate T10+ model has a suspension fork which would be useful when riding at Class 3 speeds, and the latest Bosch Performance Speed motor (85nm) which is powerful. The dual battery option would really open up the range for riding long distances at speed.
 

GenXrider

Well-Known Member
The Bosch motor would be my preference, like in the Trek. Specialized uses a Brose motor. Those have a lot of early failures. I've heard of people replacing several Brose motors in the same e-bike. There's a thread here that goes into some detail about Brose motor problems.
 

Deacon Blues

Well-Known Member
One of the riders in the seniors group I ride with just had the motor fail on his Vado 4.0. He's owned the bike for 3 years and cover just over 7000km.
He was pleasantly surprised to find out that Specialized is replacing the motor under warranty.
 

GenXrider

Well-Known Member
So, that's 4350 miles with a free motor replacement after 3 years. I wonder what the warranty cut off is for a first time motor replacement. I had read somewhere that a replacement motor was covered for two years from the time of replacement.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
Specialized pushes the technology a bit more than the other big brands, so there might be more of a chance for a failure on a new model, but AFAIK they have fixed things under warranty well beyond reasonable expectations . Your LBS is very important if there is an issue .
 

pierretong

New Member
Region
USA
Went and test rode the SL 4.0 today and loved it. I liked that it provided a little bit of a kick but it still felt like I was riding a bike, just a little bit faster. Unprompted but the salesperson at the LBS was telling me how he loved the motor in the SL and how he thought it was more reliable and put Bosch's to shame.........

Any thoughts on whether the SL 5.0 is worth spending the extra money compared to the SL 4.0? Both are surprisingly available right now. Initial thought is that I really don't care too much about the future shock to justify spending an additional $800.

Also, both of these are the non-equipped versions. How easy is it to get an after-market rack/fenders to fit the bike or do I have to get one off the Specialized website?

Gonna go track down a Gazelle in a neighboring town to test ride this weekend.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
I’d get the 4.0 and, if you want some shock absorption for your wrists, fit either the Kinekt suspension stem and save $600, or Baramind handlebars and save $700. Specialized fenders for the Vado SL are excellent providing much fuller coverage than typical, and I think the rack is built into the rear fender so it’s worth getting the official Specialized accessories.
 
Last edited:

pierretong

New Member
Region
USA
If a salesperson said it, it must be true. Even better than reading it off the interwebs. 🤣
To be fair, the LBS I visited is a chain and they do carry Bosch motor bikes at other stores. This store that I went to sells Specialized/Cannondale bikes. But it was funny how he casually mentioned it since it is one of my concerns about the Specialized.
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
Yes the Vado SL uses a motor developed as a joint venture between Mahle and Specialized. Seems Mahle saw what Bosch was doing in e bike motors and all the $$$$ they were making, over the 'Rival-German-Engineering-Giants' garden fence so to speak and wanted in on this lucrative biz. They also bought the Spanish 'e Bike Motion' motor company and so have an instant in, on all the lightweight hub motor road bikes you see. Pierre, I have the SL 4 and love it. I bought it last October unequipped and added SKS Speedrocker mudguards myself. Also Salsa sell a seat clamp designed to attach third party rear racks to the seat post, so with a bit of searching you'll be covered there too. I haven't needed suspension - feel it on rough roads occasionally but it's not too bad, swapped out the 38mm Pathfinder tyres for WTB Nanos 40mm which have more cushioning and better grip on dirt trails. If you go unequipped be aware that the rear light on the non equipped SLs is wired through the seat post so if you pick a suspension seat post you might lose that (very handy) light. Likewise with handlebar stem and front light mount though I'm sure I read somewhere on here that third party mounts can work if you get a redshift sus stem for example. One other thing on reliability - my TCU unit packed up in February (the control unit in top tube) I brought the bike back to shop I bought it in and Specialized replaced the TCU immediately with no quibbles. Love this bike, great for fitness, fun to ride, just enough motor assist for hills, headwinds or when legs feel wobbly heading home after long ride.