Help me pick which Specialized Turbo to get -- thanks!

citivas

Member
Hi. Sorry for the long first post.

I'm about to buy a Turbo e-bike. I've been reading this forum – very helpful, thank you. And I've now had the chance to do short test rides on a Vado 3.0, a Como 3.0 and a Vado SL EQ 4.0. Unfortunately – but understandably so – the dealers have no wanted me test riding off asphalt roads, so no gravel paths, and the terrain had only minor inclines, so nto ideal conditions for testing, but given general availability I still count myself lucky.

That said, I'm absolutely torturing myself over which model to get, both in terms of which Turbo line and which level within the line. Researching and the test drives have only muddied the water rather than clarifying – the Como wasn't even in the running until I tested it because it happened to be in the shop after I tried the SL.

Here's my criteria:

-- Male, 6.1, ~220lbs, 50 yo; okay shape but some joint issues

-- I currently bike for exercise about once a week (and do other exercises the other days) and want to do so more, but inclines wear me out too quickly (even in lower gears)

-- I'll probably mostly ride it on roads around my house, but I do want to ability to transport the bike to bike paths (mostly gravel, some dirt roads (but not hardcore mountain bike paths); we have some amazing paths in my greater area

-- I won't be using this for commuting – purely recreationally and exercise

-- I don't want road bike handle bars. My neck and back get uncomfortable after about 45 minutes on my current old hybrid bike, and my hands sometimes get numb

Here's all the things tripping me up:

-- I like the idea of the SL because I think it's the one Turbo I could transport on my existing bike racks or even just put in the back of the inside of my SUV (on its side) or minivan. I also have a little range (or motor problem) anxiety and like the idea that if I have no assist the SL doesn't drag more than a normal bike.

-- That said, I found the ride on the SL 4.0 ridiculously harsh in my test drive. My wife tried it too and had an even stronger reaction saying I was crazy to even consider it because it was the most uncomfortable ride she's ever had on any bike ever. This was all on city streets. She'd get the Como in a heartbeat. I know in theory I can change the seat/saddle, seat post to a suspension post and add a suspension handlebar stem (though with various complications for the lights and display), all of which should help the harsh ride. But without being able to test it, I have no idea if they will make a profound enough difference if I currently hate the ride. I also know the 5.0 has the suspension handlebars but I have no easy way to test that model and I wasn't clear if it made enough difference either for an extra $1K. Is it crazy to get the SL and throw a big springy saddle seat on it? Will the sum total of these mods be a night-and-day difference or only minor and incremental?

-- I also worry the real issue on the SL is the thinner tires. I'm used to tires at least as wide as the regular Vado and think I am spoiled by the bigger tires absorbing more of the road for me. I see on paper you can change the SL tires, but it seems like to do so you either had to sacrifice all the things that are in the EQ – fenders, rack and the fender taillight – or get the non-EQ but then have the seat-mounted taillight that won't work with any of the after-market seat post suspension systems.

-- My only issue with the Vado or Como really is weight making it harder to transport and really unpleasant if you have to finish a ride without assist. I tried both without assist on my test rides, and they were fine flat or downhill but awful up an incline.

-- Between the regular Vado and Como I thought I was a Vado guy going in, which more closely resembles my current bike. But after riding the Como, I wonder if I have been missing the advantages of sitting straight up and having a huge cushy seat all this time. Could help that back/neck problem. Is there ever a type of riding where I will regret the Como orientation versus the Vado half-leaning orientation? I don't care about high speed per se, I'm more interested in stamina – what gets me to keep riding longer and to be able to handle long inclines and regular off-road paths (but not single track downhill stuff).

-- The 3.0's are the easiest to get locally right now and I was generally fine with the power level of the assist (though I didn't get to try it on a major incline). But I am worried about the range on the 460 batteries. Should I be? Also, is the range really any better on the 4.0's or does the more efficient motor of the 3.0's combined with the relatively modest battery difference means the 3's and 4's effectively have similar ranges?

Any help sorting this out is appreciated. I'm committed to getting an e-bike and a Turbo and am ready to pull the trigger, just not sure which one I should be aiming at given my particular issues…

Thanks.
 

Worm

Member
I think it’s impossible to help you as in the end you have to put some value on each bikes characteristics given your own circumstances and context. I have been struggling with choice between Vado 3 and Vado SL. I really like that SL is lighter and all that goes with that, but as I am an ageing rider think the power of the Vado 3 motor is likely to be increasingly useful. Also my location is very hot in summer, so fact battery not removable a negative. I would be fine with either bike but it’s a toss up - trading one package of “benefits” for another. If I was younger I think SL would get the nod - the Vado 3 is probably the conservative option and being less expensive probably pushes in that direction.
 

citivas

Member
I think it’s impossible to help you as in the end you have to put some value on each bikes characteristics given your own circumstances and context. I have been struggling with choice between Vado 3 and Vado SL. I really like that SL is lighter and all that goes with that, but as I am an ageing rider think the power of the Vado 3 motor is likely to be increasingly useful. Also my location is very hot in summer, so fact battery not removable a negative. I would be fine with either bike but it’s a toss up - trading one package of “benefits” for another. If I was younger I think SL would get the nod - the Vado 3 is probably the conservative option and being less expensive probably pushes in that direction.

Thanks. How are you planning to transport the Vado for rides not originating from your home? Seems like the only option for me would be to get a hitch installed on my car and invest in one of the racks that seat the bike wheels from below, which is at least another $1K investment. I feel like the SL could be slide sideways into my SUV rear, or vertical into our mini van or is light enough to use on other styles of racks.

I agree I'm having trouble settling on the rank of prioritizes, primarily because the ability to easily transport it for rides and the comfort of the ride are both very high prioritizes. If I thought I was always going to be riding it out of my garage, I would definitely drop the SL off my list immediately and not give it a second thought, though I would still be conflicted between the remaining regular Vado and Como.

I'm still trying to figure out what the regular Vado offers over the Como. The Como is at least 5 lbs lighter comparably sized, and has a more comfortable riding position and seat. The slight weight advantage with exactly the same motors and batteries for the comparable models seem to give it a very slight range advantage over its sibling. Except for the 3.0, it's slightly cheaper to its sibling. It seems like what I get on the Vado is a different rider orientation -- are their conditions that's an advantage on if I don't care about speed or aerodynamics -- the suspension fork that most people say doesn't do much and the fenders have a little more coverage. I guess the 3 and 4 Vado also gets the rack standard and of course the tires are different but both seem like they would do the job.

Most of those differences aren't dealbreakers for me so it really comes down to whether I am missing something about the ride differences long term. Since I am used to the orientation of the Vado in my current bike but that's not that comfortable, I guess I'm wondering if some other shoe drops and I end up realizing that riding vertical on the Como will have some trade off in comfort, control, etc.
 

rdowns

Well-Known Member
It is super hard to decide when you like both choices :) Many suggest that you will likely ride more than you expect so it is nice to have a bike to grow into. I would say if you are expecting to ride more on smooth roads go for the como, if you think you may be on rougher terrain then the vado. The vado 4.0 was in my final 2. I ended up going with a trek, but that vado was so nice. My husband prefered the como. He said if he was going for electric he wanted comfort! Sorry, this might not have been much help.....
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
I have the Como 3 but as the search results in post 4 show, it's a tough call. I think it's going to be easier and cheaper to make a Como climb like a Vado than to make the Vado ride like a Como .
 

citivas

Member
I have the Como 3 but as the search results in post 4 show, it's a tough call. I think it's going to be easier and cheaper to make a Como climb like a Vado than to make the Vado ride like a Como .

How do you transport your Como? This is one of the things I'm stuck on. Seems to big and heavy to shove sideways into my SUV or vertical into our minivan, too heavy to put on a bar mounted rack or get on a roof rack which only leaves getting a new hitch and wheel-based rack system. Am I missing something?
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Just jump into the threads you found and ask away. Somebody will know what youre looking for ...
 

Worm

Member
How are you planning to transport the Vado for rides not originating from your home?

I think that's a major negative. I have more or less given up on prospect of self servicing and transporting due to Vado 3 being cumbersome. The other point is that whilst some will have better judgement than me, I would need 3 months solid riding to work out if bike is for me, ... so you obviously have to make best decision with information at hand, ...
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
I think that's a major negative. I have more or less given up on prospect of self servicing and transporting due to Vado 3 being cumbersome. The other point is that whilst some will have better judgement than me, I would need 3 months solid riding to work out if bike is for me, ... so you obviously have to make best decision with information at hand, ...
... make best decision with Inventory at hand. FIFY.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
After having read the posts above, I would say, @citivas:
  1. Get yourself a Como, possibly one without the fenders (MTB riders rarely use them, preferring to be dirty to complicating their gear, endangering the ride, and making it heavier and hard to transport)
  2. Replace the tyres to the same size aggressive MTB ones. You will need that off-road. Just meet sand or mud on your trip and you will thank me for the advice :)
  3. Add Kinekt 2.1 suspension seat-post of proper diameter and length
  4. Add Baramind BAM suspension handlebars. There are three flavours of these bars: City, Trek, MTB.
  5. While you might transport the bike on a car's rack, you might as well remove the front wheel of the bike before any transport. While less expensive Turbo e-bikes have the traditional Quick Release, the more expensive are equipped with Thru-Axle that can be removed with a hex wrench. (I do it regularly to transport my Vado inside my station-wagon).
  6. If you're afraid of lack of workout, just use Mission Control app and significantly reduce the motor assistance and max power.
However strange it sounds, I trust the rigid fork e-bikes when cheapo steel-coil suspension forks are the alternative. All that matters is the tyre. Thick, aggressive tread, underinflated. It is 100x better than a cheap sus fork with narrow tyres. And I know what I'm saying because my Vado model (discontinued) has a rigid fork but 2" tyres. (Unfortunately, I cannot use thicker and more aggressive tyres on my Vado as the Drytech fenders are the part of the rear-rack and of the lighting). However, I've found the off-road virtue of my Giant Trance E+ lies in the tyres because I often lock the full suspension and still can ride in hard terrain with no trouble.

The weak point of the Vado (one of very few ones) is it is hard to use thick tyres on it. Which makes the Vado excellent commuter but that bike is not really good off-road.

P.S. An afterthought: Vado SL might satisfy your needs but I'm not sure how thick tyres could be fit there. Como accepts up to 2.3"
 

citivas

Member
After having read the posts above, I would say, @citivas:
  1. Get yourself a Como, possibly one without the fenders (MTB riders rarely use them, preferring to be dirty to complicating their gear, endangering the ride, and making it heavier and hard to transport)
  2. Replace the tyres to the same size aggressive MTB ones. You will need that off-road. Just meet sand or mud on your trip and you will thank me for the advice :)
  3. Add Kinekt 2.1 suspension seat-post of proper diameter and length
  4. Add Baramind BAM suspension handlebars. There are three flavours of these bars: City, Trek, MTB.
  5. While you might transport the bike on a car's rack, you might as well remove the front wheel of the bike before any transport. While less expensive Turbo e-bikes have the traditional Quick Release, the more expensive are equipped with Thru-Axle that can be removed with a hex wrench. (I do it regularly to transport my Vado inside my station-wagon).
  6. If you're afraid of lack of workout, just use Mission Control app and significantly reduce the motor assistance and max power.
However strange it sounds, I trust the rigid fork e-bikes when cheapo steel-coil suspension forks are the alternative. All that matters is the tyre. Thick, aggressive tread, underinflated. It is 100x better than a cheap sus fork with narrow tyres. And I know what I'm saying because my Vado model (discontinued) has a rigid fork but 2" tyres. (Unfortunately, I cannot use thicker and more aggressive tyres on my Vado as the Drytech fenders are the part of the rear-rack and of the lighting). However, I've found the off-road virtue of my Giant Trance E+ lies in the tyres because I often lock the full suspension and still can ride in hard terrain with no trouble.

The weak point of the Vado (one of very few ones) is it is hard to use thick tyres on it. Which makes the Vado excellent commuter but that bike is not really good off-road.

P.S. An afterthought: Vado SL might satisfy your needs but I'm not sure how thick tyres could be fit there. Como accepts up to 2.3"

Thanks. I think I've settled on the Como. The only one with out fenders is the 3,0, which has the weakest motor and smallest battery but easy enough to remove on the others.

I'll try out the tires as-is but set expectations to change them later. I'll check out the other mods you suggest too.

Removing the tire sounds like a hassle. I might due it on a long transport but is it really necessary if I am driving 30 minutes or less to my bike route?

On the Vado SL, the widest tire it can accept is a 47mm, if you drop from 700 to 650 and doing that would require swapping the losing the fenders, rack (integrated with the fenders), LED taillight (mounted on the fender) and swapping out the rims, etc. I decided I was putting too much emphasis on weight and ease of transport . In every other regard I liked the Como better -- tires, seat, motor, battery, removability of the battery, etc.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
The only one with out fenders is the 3,0, which has the weakest motor and smallest battery but easy enough to remove on the others.
Not necessarily. Think of the rear light that might be mounted on the fender.

Removing the tire sounds like a hassle.
A tire or the front-wheel? Removing and replacing the front wheel is as simple as changing shoes. Did you really mean "tire"?
NB: MTB-ers often carry their bikes in a van. Removing the front wheel is a norm. Yet, MTB have a Quick Release lever with Thru-Axle, making life even simpler. Not applicable to Como/Vado Thru-Axle. A hex wrench has to be used. Still, it is so easy. I've made a tutorial about it, will try to find it.
 

citivas

Member
Not necessarily. Think of the rear light that might be mounted on the fender.


A tire or the front-wheel? Removing and replacing the front wheel is as simple as changing shoes. Did you really mean "tire"?

I meant wheel -- was colloquially using them interchangeably. I was reacting to your suggestion to remove it before transport.

Not sure what you are saying about the fenders and the rear light. I was reacting to your comment to get one of the Como's without the fenders and pointed out only the 3.0 comes standard without them. The 4.0 includes plastic fenders but the taillight is still mounted below the seat. The same used to be true of the 5.0 but as of the latest models they are now mounting it to the fender like with the Vados.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Not sure what you are saying about the fenders and the rear light. I was reacting to your comment to get one of the Como's without the fenders and pointed out only the 3.0 comes standard without them. The 4.0 includes plastic fenders but the taillight is still mounted below the seat. The same used to be true of the 5.0 but as of the latest models they are now mounting it to the fender like with the Vados.
OK. So you'd probably go for the 4.0.

Here's the tutorial:
 

citivas

Member
Don’t do it! Get the Trek Allant+7! 😎

Seems like it functionally competes with the Vado 4.0 (less like the Como) but is a tad more expensive. Why do you like it more?

One major plus for Specialized for me has been the extensive dealer network. There's a crazy number of LBS's around here that sell them, and the Specialized site has been super helpful with giving real-time accurate inventory of which shops have which bikes physically in-stock. That's been invaluable for test riding without needing to try and get someone on the phone for every possible shop in the region. Trek doesn't seem to do that at all. The two shops I contacted only had one in-stock testable e-bike and it was a Verve that wasn't that interesting to me.
 
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