In Depth 2015 Turbo X Review

James Kohls

Active Member
So upon calling Specialized to get the warranty work done, my dealer learned that Formula has been sold to a new company as of January 1st. This new company doesn't even have any of Formula's inventory in their possession yet and it could be weeks to a month before they could get new brakes sent out. Thankfully, Specialized stepped up to the plate and said they're just going to take the brakes off one of the bike's in their warehouse and send them for replacement. Should have my bike back by the end of the week.

Hopefully nobody else here with Formula brakes has any issues that need addressing. But if you do, maybe Specialized can do the same for you.
 

James Kohls

Active Member
Well, Specialized really stepped up to the plate on this one. My dealer says this is the fastest warranty service they've ever seen on replacement brakes in 25 years. Normally the manufacturer (Formula) want them to send the old brakes back to see if they qualify for warranty service, but since Formula was in limbo, I got my bike back today. The new brakes feel great. The rear, which had always been more problematic in terms of noise and occasional rubbing is better as well.

I forget what version of firmware I was on previously, so who knows if I'll see any improvements anywhere. No issues with the odometer, still set at its old value.

This couldn't have happened at a better time Monday-Wednesday were snowy messes with lots of frozen/icy snow everywhere. Next week temps are crawling out of the sub-zeros and climbing near 40! Woohoo!
 

Runnermann

New Member
Hello James... Great write up and review and a great thanks for taking the time and effort to put this together. I bought a turbo in January of 2016 and took a vow to ride it for a year. Like you I have been itching to find a way to ditch my car and be car free. I paid $3200 including tax and accessories and gave it a try for a month. My commuting ranges between 140 - 220 miles a week depending on how many trips I make. My long rides are 25 miles with a steep ascent on each end and several smaller hills towards the north. I carry about an extra 15 lbs of stuff I need for work. Books, the large charger and my laptop all go with me. I'm a bit different. I usually ride the entire distance on full turbo with exception to a few flat areas and the down hill area's where I use regen and get 2% back. On the majority of days it is no problem maintaining 25 mph with a fair amount of effort. With traffic my commute time is generally about 1:15 but there are several long lights with a heavy amount of traffic through them. After the first month of grocery shopping and commuting to meet up with friends and to work, I found that ridding the Specialized Turbo was easy. I was confident that the technology wasn't going to let me down so I ditched the vehicle and sold it on CraigsList. I've put roughly 7000 miles on it and it's been a blast.

Here are a few tips that may help out anyone else looking to buy an ebike and is what I used to make my decisions with in January 2016. I'm in San Diego so I'm not worried about snow, but this is an el ninõ year and we've gotten some pretty intense storms that I've been surprised by. There were several models that I looked at trying to find an inexpensive bike. All of the lower end bikes that were sold by the local electric bike company were not well integrated. I don't like to be stranded so I looked for a bike that didn't have a lot of wires taped together. Lithium batteries are extremely volatile if they get too hot. A short with a lithium battery can cause some real problems. I've seen them go off including exploding or simply burning. A poorly integrated bike that has wires taped together is a hazard in wet environments. Specialized is a large bike company and put a lot of effort into their design. It's well integrated. Like the majority of their work it is very detailed. The connections are water proof. There is very little chance of water getting into the connectors or wires touching metal or aluminum. The pedal integration is great! As I tried other bikes some were purely a throttle switch or a rotary switch that didn't work well with hand brakes and switching gears. One bike even required contortionist moves to angle your hand correctly in order to engage the powered drive. The specialized turbo feels nearly natural, but it's a lot easier if your a novice, and still easier if your an experienced cyclist. Admittedly however, when I ride my road bike on a commute with just a pair of jeans, t-shirt, and shoes in a small pack I generally average about 22-23 mph moving speed so I'm not an amateur. The motor makes it much easier to ride these distances week after week. It would be impossible to maintain any cognizance needed for my job at that distance on my road bike. I'd like to buy the engineers a beer for their work.

I did get a few flat tires. I learned a trick from mtbers and filled the tubes with green stuff. It works. I have pulled thorns and screws out of my tires since then and kept on ridding without loosing much air. The battery did cause me some problems but I took it into the LBS and they updated the software and made a few adjustments. Since then there hasn't been any problems. I've noticed that the bike isn't quite as fast as it was when I first bought it, but I haven't seen the degradation that everyone is concerned about. Typically I charge the battery twice a day four days a week and generally from the 20% battery cut off back up to full. Charging with the large charger is much faster, although it is a beast to carry back and forth.

In previous years I generally averaged about 15000 miles of driving. Ditching the car was a real adjustment and I had to plan my day out a little better and I dropped some of my activities. In inclement weather I used uber and lyft and occasionally I used public transportation. I estimated that the vehicle, even though it was paid for cost an average of $400 a month including insurance , fuel, maintenance, and the occasional ticket for being a gringo who pays his bills. The car payments on the vehicle, when I was paying for it were $460 a month. The savings alone, if you can do it makes it worth it. The physical fitness, weight loss, is going to help if your not already in shape. And for the believers, if you drive roughly 1000 miles a month at 24 mpg you produce nearly 1200 lbs of CO2. That's a lot of weight in ghg's over a year.

Although all of these benefits are great. I really did this because of something much simpler. Something I've dreamed of doing for a long time. San Diego is for the most part a great place to travel by bike and it was one of the reasons I picked it. There's nearly 1500 miles of bike lanes and bike paths and people are friendly towards cyclists. The greatest benefit of all though is being outside and free of traffic, getting to meet and socialize with happy people, and enjoying something I love nearly every day.

Cheers James. Hope to see you out there someday.

Runnermann
 

bazzapage

Active Member
Great story @Runnermann ! I love stories like this. Do you mind if I repost on my Blog electricbikesnz.com? FWIW I have two fast chargers and just leave one at work. The newer of the two (it was a warranty replacement when my original travel charger blew) is the one sold with the newer gen bikes and the Levos. It's a lot smaller and lighter.
 

Runnermann

New Member
Great story @Runnermann ! I love stories like this. Do you mind if I repost on my Blog electricbikesnz.com? FWIW I have two fast chargers and just leave one at work. The newer of the two (it was a warranty replacement when my original travel charger blew) is the one sold with the newer gen bikes and the Levos. It's a lot smaller and lighter.
@bazzapage Thanks for the tip. I will look into the smaller chargers and thanks about the post to your site. By doing this for a year I wanted to prove it could be done and write about how to do it for the sake of others. It helps to know in advance how to avoid problems that could leave you stranded in BFE so I appreciate the comments from others. So far, I'm strandings free. Please repost my post. Cheers!
 

James Kohls

Active Member
Hello James...

Hey @Runnermann thanks for the feedback. I too have been really impressed with the Turbo in terms of being a reliable means of transportation. Even with the brake problems and minor electrical bug, my confidence that the Turbo will get me there is still in tact. I actually get sad when I have to take my car somewhere due to weather or recently when I took my bike in to get the brakes fixed. Once I get a bike that will get me through the wintery conditions my current bike cannot, I will have no problems sidelining the car permanently.

I've pretty much solved all of my issues regarding hauling gear, groceries, and other stuff around. I even have a place about 2 miles away that I can rent a pickup truck to get really big and heavy items. I've got year round clothing covered down to serious negative temps; good sets of winter and summer tires; and a growing infrastructure with cities who are on a strong path to make more and more improvements to cycling amenities. All the cards are falling into place. The biggest question I had before starting this endeavor was whether or not I could make cycling more attractive than driving 365 days a year. I now know what I need to achieve that.

I completely agree about the benefits you mentioned in switching to a bicycle. Especially the connection with people around you. I love how riding at a slower pace compare to a car lets you experience your surrounding so much better. The number of times I've caught myself saying "Hey, I never saw that before" on routes I've taken for decades still astonishes me. Specific to having an e-bike, I've found so many new places as well that were just out of range for me on my pedal bike. I venture so much farther from home than I ever have on a bike and there are so many new places yet to ride.

As I've said many times before, e-bikes break down barriers.
 

mattbytes

Member
Newbie here ... Great thread. I joined the world of electric bikes with a closeout 2015 Turbo X. I have commuted to work a few times already and fixed some minor issues myself such as a squeaky rear brake. I had a quick question for anyone with this same bike. On open paths, I can reach 20-22 mph with relative ease but it seems to be a struggle to reach and maintain speeds closer to 26 mph. i'm about 5'8" and 175lbs. Do I need to get this checked out or does this seem about normal?
 

James Kohls

Active Member
Newbie here ... Great thread. I joined the world of electric bikes with a closeout 2015 Turbo X. I have commuted to work a few times already and fixed some minor issues myself such as a squeaky rear brake. I had a quick question for anyone with this same bike. On open paths, I can reach 20-22 mph with relative ease but it seems to be a struggle to reach and maintain speeds closer to 26 mph. i'm about 5'8" and 175lbs. Do I need to get this checked out or does this seem about normal?

20-22 is an easily achievable speed on that bike. You are correct...faster than that requires much more effort to maintain. 26MPH is quite a workout. 20MPH is sort of a magic spot on bike where wind resistance become much more difficult to overcome. Nothing wrong with your bike. Keep your head low to help with those 20+ speeds.
 

James Kohls

Active Member
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bazzapage

Active Member
Newbie here ... Great thread. I joined the world of electric bikes with a closeout 2015 Turbo X. I have commuted to work a few times already and fixed some minor issues myself such as a squeaky rear brake. I had a quick question for anyone with this same bike. On open paths, I can reach 20-22 mph with relative ease but it seems to be a struggle to reach and maintain speeds closer to 26 mph. i'm about 5'8" and 175lbs. Do I need to get this checked out or does this seem about normal?
Assuming yours is the 200W version (SBC-M02) it cuts out at 26. With the slightly nobblier tyres on the X and higher front-end you can expect to be a bit slower than the base Turbo. I imagine that is why the 2016 version went with the 250W motor which is about 20% more powerful in reality. (sounds obvious given their ratings but often you can't trust motor power ratings).
 

James Kohls

Active Member
Nice! How is that Lumos helmet working for you @James Kohls ? I reviewed it and quite liked it.

I find the weight becomes noticeable on rides of 20+ miles. The turn signals are great tho. I don't really have a way to know that it is making my intent with drivers better known, but I have to believe it helps.
 

bazzapage

Active Member
I find the weight becomes noticeable on rides of 20+ miles. The turn signals are great tho. I don't really have a way to know that it is making my intent with drivers better known, but I have to believe it helps.
Yeah, I wish it was a bit lighter. Over 400g is a bit much if you have a forward stance on a bike. Probably just fine for a typicall city or commuter bike. The Livall Bling is much lighter but the turn signals and controls on the Bling aren't as good. I found that my intents were well noted on the Lumos - vehicles hung back a bit more - but not so much on the Bling. I did have a motorist say "Wow how did you do that" so it likely is quite visible.
 

ROJA

Active Member
I use the Light & Motion Vis 360+ on my helmet (plus F/R lights on my bike) for better visibility. The advantage is that it can be moved from helmet to helmet.

I find that I can ride at 26 or so on flat, wind-free sections on my 2016 X but I should note that I'm an avid cyclist and am working hard to do that (similar effort to cruising at ~20 mph on a road bike). @mattbytes, what is your cruising speed using similar effort on a non-e bike? That would really show you how much extra the "turbo" is getting you! And keep in mind that as you get above 20, wind resistance becomes much more significant (the additional power (effort) to go from 10-15 mph is WAY less than to go from 20-25 mph).
 

mattbytes

Member
Not an avid cyclist but I do have a flat bar Giant Escape that I use. On the same stretch of road, I noticed I averaged about 18 mph where the Turbo X was around 22 mph with the similar level of effort. I definitely feel the wind resistance when above 22mph so perhaps it is normal.
 

James Kohls

Active Member
Time for an update!

Since I received my 2015 Specialized Turbo-X at the beginning of August last year, I still love riding this bike almost every day. The only exceptions have been when it was in for service @ ~1,200 miles and had warranty work done on the brakes. That and about 5 days where snow was too deep to ride. Otherwise, I’ve ridden this bike through an entire Minnesota winter with temps dropping to -10 degrees F (-23 degrees C). It has gone through ice, all types of snow and even torrential thunderstorms.

This last Thursday, I achieved my highest mileage on the battery riding about 35 miles and getting home with 60% remaining capacity! How? For starters, this was a group ride at a pace of only 10MPH average. Speed (in particular wind resistance) is the biggest killer of battery power. The second reason, due to the slow pace, I spent much of the time switching between ECO 40 and zero-assistance mode. On flat level ground in a nice low gear, switching to zero-assistance is very manageable. Mind you, this is not powered off, but the setting just below ECO. This prevents the cogging feeling/drag the motor would exhibit if powered off.

I recently added a BodyFloat suspension seat post which really helps make this a long distance trekking machine. That and swapping out the Trigger Sports for Schwalbe Energizer Plus tires have been the two smartest investments I’ve made.

With all that being said, one might be surprised I have been saving up for another eBike.


Why?


After owning my Turbo X as a first step towards switching away from driving, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will certainly become car free in the future. My plans are still to keep my car until it dies or become unreasonably expensive to fix. With my current use, it truly costs me less than $40 a month to keep around. But I want to be prepared to say goodbye to owning an automobile when that day finally comes.

When my brakes failed on the Turbo, back in January, I came to the decision that I really want a backup bike that equals or bests my current bike. Sure, I could get a 2nd Turbo, but why not add some utility.

If money were no object (which it is), my dream would be to buy a Riese & Muller Load or Packster. But I would also like a bike that helps me achieve a true 365 day ride schedule through the worst of what Minnesota winters can throw at me. So my second thought is to buy a fat bike. I’ve found my browser navigating itself to Specialized’s Levo Comp Fat page many times. I love Specialized and having a dealer less than 3 blocks from my house, that I trust, is worth its weight in gold. Then again, I find it hard to convince myself to spend almost twice as much on a backup bike as I did on my primary commuter.

I’ve even considered just buying another commuter bike with greater range. I really like the Bulls Lacuba, the Mustache StarckBike Asphalt and the HaiBike XDURO Trekkng S. My biggest fear with this route is, what if I like it more than my Turbo!?

Regardless, I have every intention of making 2017 the year I get a second eBike. More to follow…