In Depth 2015 Turbo X Review

James Kohls

Active Member
Loved your review @James Kohls! Thanks for taking the time to write and share pictures, it was awesome :D

Thanks @Court. Of course, if you hadn't posted your's first, I might not have bought a Turbo X in the first place =).

@JayVee The 1989 initiative sounds great. I wish we started that early. Your experience with sections being built piece by piece sounds familiar! The people who build it are not necessarily the people who use it LOL. We have a number of head scratching bike path decisions here as well. But at least they are trying. St. Paul boasts 173 miles (274km) of bike friendly infrastructure. Minneapolis has over 226 miles (364km). Both have very ambitious plans still in the works.
 

James Kohls

Active Member
Fall is here and temps down in the 30’s F have arrived as well. I am certainly noticing a hit in battery performance in the cold weather. Especially on longer rides. I keep my bike indoors and charge it indoors too. So the entire bike is nice and warm when I leave. A 5 mile test in constant Turbo mode left me with 84%.

Had my first display glitch at 650 miles (approaching 750 now). The bike diagnostics showed a flashing light when it got to the display diagnostics. Next time I turned the bike on, the display would power up and then immediately turn off (no motor assist). I unplugged the silver inline screw-connector leading to the display and plugged it back in. That seemed to solve the problem and it hasn’t reoccured since. Part of me was hoping for a battery failure so I could get a “Turbo S-X Lite” like @Douglas Ruby =). But no such misfortune/luck?

The bike still performs well in the cold weather. Even if the range is reduce (which was expected), the power is still the same. I’m still not sure what I am going to do once it starts snowing. I’m seriously considering buying a Voltbike Mariner to use as my “Winter Beater.” Ha! A $1300 winter beater bicycle =).

Don’t get me wrong. I love my Turbo, but I’ve skidded out many times in the past on my pedal only road bike with studded tires in the winter and doing so on my larger and significantly heavier Turbo scares me a bit. I like the Mariner with its ground hugging mass and fat tires. Still not sure I want to buy a bike sight unseen, but I figure if I don’t like it for some reason, I could sell it. That, and I’d only use it like 4 months out of the year.
 
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James Kohls

Active Member
I just ordered a $330 eBike accessory ;)

Even tho it is 70 degrees in Minnesota today, Winter is coming! I really don't want to go back to driving every day and my old road bike just isn't in a condition it can go another winter.

I mentioned previously considering a fat tire bike for winter commuting. The Rad Mini and Voltbike Mariner looked like nice options. But when I thought about it seriously, the number of days when roads in my area are too dangerous to ride are few. Maybe 30-50 days out of the year. Even in winter, there are a number of days the roads are plowed and ice-free enough to take the Turbo. So do I really want to spend $1500+ on a bike I only ride 30 days a year?

A big problem is keeping the bike clean. I don't have a garage, so any cleaning needs to be done inside. The only area suitable for that on the main level is my kitchen. I've thought about getting a kids plastic snow sled to set under the rear wheel and drive train so I could clean it during the winter. But then I have to clean that too. Maybe once in a while, but not regularly. This is probably one of my biggest reasons for not wanting to ride my Turbo X in the winter. Keeping my $3,000 investment in clean working condition is a big deal to me.

Next, I considered my plans to eventually get rid of my car...or rather, not to replace it when it dies. I still have a number of trips that are out of my Turbos reach. Buses in my immediate area are very infrequent. But only 2 miles away, I have access to a very frequent (every 10 minute pickup) rapid transit system—it even has heaters in the winter! Two miles is an easy bike ride to me (even without an e-bike), but a bit much in the winter to walk. Plus the buses and trains don't get me quite close enough to my frequent destinations. So there is a 1-3 mile last-leg trip I would need to make.

I could certainly take my Turbo on the bus. I've done it before:

(listen to bus driver's comment @ 1m45s)

But a Turbo X or any 50lb e-bike is not a great experience mounting and un-mounting on a bus bike rack. For the above video, I actually took the battery off the bike and put it in my backpack. A lot of fuss and muss during the freezing cold months in Minnesota.

What I really wanted was a really light weight version of a Rad Mini or Voltbike Mariner. Well light weight means, not an e-bike—even some of the smaller 16" folding e-bikes are nearly 50lbs. But the idea of a folding bike really appealed to me. So I decided on a folding pedal bike.

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At ~$330, the Citizen Bike Seoul, doesn't break the bank. I can easily justify the cost for an infrequently used bike. It folds up small, so I can even take it inside the bus, if I wanted to, and store it in a closet when not in use. It is only 26 pounds, so I can drag it to my basement where there is a sink with a floor drain for cleaning. I will probably buy some winter studded tires for it, so it is safer on freshly plowed roads.

Anyway, my plan is to use my folding bike this winter, when the salt hits the roads, in combination with busses. Even if it doesn't work out as great as I planned, I still think having a little folding bike for throwing in the car on vacations or last-leg transportation on bus trips in the summer, would be a nice thing to have. I could even put it in my cargo trailer and use it in case of a flat...haha.

Still trying to figure out this (eventual) car-free life I've dreamed of. Hopefully this will be a significant piece of the puzzle.
 

James Kohls

Active Member
Upgrades come in pairs
Well after 3 flats in a week (all rear tire) and 5 flats total within 900 miles, I decided the stock tires on my 2015 Turbo X suck! So I ordered a pair of Schwalbe Energizer Plus HS 427's in 28x1.75 (47-622) size. Wow, what a difference in ride quality. Bumps are so much smoother, I don't really even care about getting a seat post suspension anymore. On my stock tires, I left them at about 50PSI to make them ride over bumps smoother. But with my Energizers, I'm at a full 70PSI and they soak up bumps better than the Trigger Sports did. Not to mention a rolling resistance reduction I can actually feel. The Triggers may be great gravel tires, but for the road, I think they are well worth replacing.

I also picked up a pair of Ergon GP3 grips. While I didn't mind the Specialized grips, these (large size) have a bit more palm rest area, which I love. The 3-finger bullhorns are nice for resting my palms on the rests and fingers extended on the horns.

Last but not least, I traded the cage pedals for a pair of Shimano Saint PD-MX80 Platform Pedals. These are very high quality pedals and have a beautiful fit and finish to them. The Specialized pedals were too slippery when I would wear my boots and a bit too narrow. The Shimano Saints have a nice wide pad and I have a much more confident grip. I'm sure it depends on what types of shoes you wear, but for me, this was a much needed upgrade.

Citizen Update
Since UPS decided to deliver my new Energizer tires 1 per day (*shrug*), I took my Citizen folding bike to work today. Happy to report, it was a great ride. Although the seat doesn't quite go as high as I'd like, it didn't really bother me too much. I opted for the rack and fender option thinking I could use my Two Wheel Gear backpack/pannier on it. NOPE! The tires are too small brining the rack waaaay too close to the pedals. So even though the backpack will mount to it, my feet knock into it. Ah well, at least it has a backpack mode!

Second, did I mind riding a non-electric bike after 900 miles of electric pedal assist? While I don't have much for hills on my daily commute, I didn't find it to be as hard as I thought it might be. I was certainly traveling a lot slower, but it was kind of nice to take it easy for a change instead of chugging along at 20+MPH. One thing I was considerably worse at was knowing when to shift. I only use 2-3 gears on my Turbo and I rarely downshift when stopping or climbing small hills. It is something you take for granted.
 

reoutput

Member
I also replaced the pedals on my Turbo X. After riding in the rain one day and having my foot slip 4-5 times on the ride, I was done with the lame pedals. I replaced them with the Specialized Bennies which have the pins in them and they are awesome! I really wanted to get the Boomslangs, but my tiny budget cannot afford them.

I am currently looking to possibly buy a gravel/adventure/whatever bike. Basically a drop bar bike with wide tires but I haven't decided on what type yet. I really love the Turbo X but the problems keep side lining the bike. The last problem I encountered is the motor on the second wheel has gone out. Lucky I work at a bike shop so we have a spare Turbo S wheel I borrowed ;) Can't wait for tomorrow's ride.
 

James Kohls

Active Member
So after flip flopping several times about winter riding, I've decided to just do it. There will certainly be heavy snowfall days where it just won't work (that's what my folding bike is for); but I think I would just miss riding my Turbo if I sidelined it for several months. It has been unseasonably warm here so I've had a chance to ride in several snowfalls before the salt hits the roads and make bike cleaning a headache. Today we got about 1-2 inches of really wet snow. So, I decided to test out my new winter tires.

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I did a lot of flip flopping when choosing tires as well (sense a trend?). Schwalbe is one of my favorite brands and think they make spectacular tires. I've never owned a pair of Schwalbe's I didn't like. The decision came down to Schwalbe's Marathon Winter HS 396 at 622-50 (29x2.0) and 45NRTH's Gravdal 622-38 (700x38c). The Gravdals were about $35 per tire more, but I found a coupon that brought the price difference down to about $25 for the set. They do have a cheaper 33 TPI version too. What really attracted me to the Gravdals are: 1) It is a Minneapolis, MN company (I live in the Twin Cities, MN) and 2) the deeper tread pattern for pushing snow and water out of the way.

I also added a pair of fenders. You can see my post in the Fender thread here.


Riding the turbo through slush was a much different experience than my old pedal bike that I used last year. For starters, the disc brakes perform sooooo much better than the vintage rim brakes. Granted, I never did get winter (soft rubber) pads for them. But still, the confidence in braking was great.

Grip-wise, the Gravdals did a good job plowing through snow and keeping me in contact with the road. They are rated 35-75 PSI and I was running them at 40. I was mostly following tire ruts, but did hit a number of snowy bits. The wet road performance was great. They handled very well even in some deep puddles I encountered. Riding over road slush left by the plow and passing cars was also fairly uneventful.

When it came to un-plowed side streets, I stuck with tire tracks left by cars. If you've never ridden on studded tires before, the first things you'll notice is they are loud on dry pavement. It sounds like riding on a road covered in Rice Crispies. I find this somewhat beneficial as you can hear when your tires is gripping well. If the noise goes away, you are probably floating on top of the snow. Watch at 1m48s in my video and try to listen to the crackle sounds as they disappear when hitting a patch of snow.

On the deeper snow, I did have to watch my speed to prevent fish-tailing. When the tires would lose grip, it was the back end that slipped. It was a bit nerve-racking at first, but I quickly became accustomed to it. Using both my eyes and my ears (to listen for the noise to go away), I could both reduce speed in advance and be prepared for critical points when slips were more likely.


In my review, I mentioned how happy I was about how far you could lean a Turbo before you felt the weight. This knowledge gives me added confidence about how far of a lean will require foot intervention. I am still a bit uncertain how this will translate once I encounter ice (which could be in a few days). Thus, the decision to buy a nice pair of high-end studded tires. Without studs, I think tipping past the weight balance point would be catastrophic.

I'm also thinking icy conditions may be the perfect use for those lower Eco %'s when slower speeds and lower gears are safer. This would also make starts a lot safer as well.

I still want a dedicated winter bike, but won't be buying anything until at least next fall.
 
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James Kohls

Active Member
@Douglas Ruby hah hero? For a being a little bit crazy?

@reoutput I love riding in the rain! Seriously love it! Three times now, I've gone out in a torrential downpour with no particular place to go (proving my crazy demeanor here). Just a a few weeks ago I rode home in a thunderstorm when the temp was 40 degrees. Waterproof clothing from head to toe, a little Rain-X and Cat Crap on the glasses or goggles and I'm a happy camper. Maybe I should move to Seattle.
 

jamesthewright

New Member
Great stuff!

That comment from the bus driver is all I ever get. I have taken it on the bus nearly a hundred times and no one has ever said anything, other than the similar, nice bike, or that's a "tank".
Also, I take mine in our elevator, and people are often like, what do you put in their, pointing to the battery or simply say, that a sweet bike!

Regarding the battery meter, I used black electrical take to cover it with a piece of light plastic between the button and tape to keep it from getting gunky/stuck.
I did this since I park the bike at racks daily and don't need people pushing the button... It does scream push me!! Also makes it more stealth, not like it needs it!
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Cheers!
 

James Kohls

Active Member
That's an interesting note about people possibly just walking up and turning your bike on. Personally, I never really leave my bike anyplace for an extended period of time. I am very lucky and get to take my bike inside with me to work.
 

jamesthewright

New Member
For work, we have an indoor rack as well, but I go lots of places other than work. Generally I don't leave it out longer than an hour or two, but it does make it even more discrete and give me some peace of mind.
 

James Kohls

Active Member
Having passed 1,000 miles, I performed a comprehensive tuneup on my bike today. Took off the wheels, checked torque on brake rotors, checked spokes (2 loose on rear, 3 on front), took off tire, cleaned out rim, checked liner. and felt for any burrs. Checked torque on all accessory bolts, brake calipers, replaced worn brake pads in front, degreased and lightly sanded rear pads. Removed chain and brush cleaned chain ring and cassette. Soaked chain in degreaser, found a number of small rust spots—I remove/clean/lube my chain at least weekly and after all snowy rides.

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Being from Minnesota, this weather forecast is par for the course. These days I can be found wearing three layers of pants (base, thermal, and water/windproof), four layers of shirts (base, fitted, loose and water/windproof), two pairs of socks, wool neck gaiter, thermal skull cap, ski goggles, and gloves that would make a bear question the size of his paws.

The new 45NRTH Gravdal tires are doing great. I've hit a number of ice patches and just rode right over them. As expected for any 38c tire, they aren't great on fluffy powder, but that's fat-bike territory—maybe next year. The lower eco levels on the turbo are coming in real handy, helping me set off at a slower pace. Un-powered coasting and fast starts are more dangerous in the freezing cold, so I've found eco 40 keeps my speed down, while maintaining a good cadence in a lower gear. 26MPH days are behind me, for now.

Had my first flat of the winter too, with an 8 deg. F. windchill. I'm glad I've had plenty of flat repair practice. Now that I've added fenders to my bike, it did take more time getting the wheel on and off, but I'll get the hang of that too. This latest flat was a pinch flat after hitting a utility cover that was sunk too far in the ground. I've mis-judge the minimum pressure I can put in my new tires with the bulky weight of the Turbo-X. The Gravdals are rated for 35-75 and I was sitting at 45. Will see how 55 suits me. In sub-freezing weather, it is a hard call as to which is worse: changing a flat or losing grip and falling.

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James Kohls

Active Member
1200 Miles and counting.

Being winter, I've stopped my long 8-15 mile morning rides and just circle around the local 1-mile lake a few times. When the temps are below zero and the wind chill is arctic, the desire to ride far dwindles.

Latest Problem
Brakes have gone squishy. Not sure if this has to do with so many cold weather rides, but my hydraulic Formula C1 brakes are going squishy. Thinking air bubbles—no signs of a leak. The rear brake pulls awful close to the grip now and the front brake touches the grip and has reduced stopping power. Taking it into the shop tomorrow for assessment and probably a full bleed. Tried working the pistons in and out, but they just don't have the pressure they used to. I have never had disc brakes before, let alone hydraulics, so I'm just not setup at home to do that kind of work.

Hopefully the shop will be impressed with how squeaky clean I've kept the drive train through my winter travels. I recently purchased a Park Tool PCS-10 work stand which really helps get to the under spots. The chain is starting to show some signs of rust in the skinny portion of the links. Cogs are still looking shiny and silver, derailleur gears are still spinning nice, tips of the chain ring are showing some wear, but nothing severe. Indexing is still spot on. Wheels are still spinning true, no loose or broken spokes and loving the 45NRTH Gravdal studded tires. Had a lot of ice so far this winter here and they've been a real confidence booster.

Here is some intentional ice road riding. The skidding sounds are me intentionally over powering the wheels and testing braking.


Overall, I'm still really impressed with this bike, minus the brakes, which I've complained about from the start. Still debating whether to just get rid of them and install some quality Shimano parts this spring. If the brakes go squishy again once I get them repaired, it will probably be a no-brainer.
 

reoutput

Member
I wouldn't be surprised if your pads are almost gone. I changed mine at around the same mileage and switched to semi metallic jagwire pads. Less noise for me and more or less the same performance in the dry. In the wet, the first pull makes for heart stopping scenarios so I keep them a little warm with a little pull every so often.

I guess new pads won't get rid of the squishy feel though :(
 

James Kohls

Active Member
Hey @reoutput. I just replaced the pads less than 200 miles ago. Checked them and they're still fine. It does feel like there is either air or lack of fluid in the lines. The change in squeezing pressure dropped fairly rapidly over the last few days. Will see what the shop says and report hack. I'm using Kool Stop semi-metallic. Only my rear brake still squeaks when dirty—which doesn't take long when it is cold.
 

reoutput

Member
Oh, I actually forgot to add that my rear brake was replaced! Fluid was leaking from the lever at the connection and the brake eventually failed. Hope you get your bike soon!
 

James Kohls

Active Member
Brought the bike in and their feeling is the pistons in the levers are failing. They're going to call Specialized on Monday and see if they can get it covered under warranty. They'll also be updating the firmware.

Sadly this means no Turbo for a while. it has been 15 minutes and I already miss it :(. I could take my folding bike to work, but Monday-Wednesday next week all call for snow.

@reoutput I haven't seen any signs of leaks and I'm pretty good at cleaning/inspecting my bike after every ride, so you'd think I'd notice something like that. Who knows. It is going to get fixed.

Can't wait until next winter when I'll finally be able to get a dedicated winter fat bike. Then my Turbo will serve nicely as a backup.