Smart Control or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying (and Love My Vado)

Nxkharra

Well-Known Member
I was inspired by this thread to test Smart Control on my regular short ride today. (About 5.5 miles, several long shallow hills, MUP, higher intensity - for me.) There was a 10+ mph head wind going out. I used the distance option, setting for 5 miles, 150 feet climb, speed 15 mph (my past analog hard ride speed) 10% battery left. I was down to 28% battery when I was getting ready, but by the time I left it had gone down to 26 due to chatting with neighbors with the power on.

It started me off at 35% assist, but as I went up the first hill assist rose to 40% pretty quickly. I had down shifted and was peddling a bit hard. As I went along, peddling hard in progressively higher gears, the assist went up. For t(e last mile and a half or so I was at 100% assist and was going pretty fast. When I got close to home power was down to 12% and assist lowered. When and I still had 12% charge.

Stats for the actual ride were 5.5 miles, 162‘ elevation gain, and an average speed of 14.9 mph. Very close to my estimates when setting up.

I will definitely need to do some more testing on longer, more challenging rides, but it does seem to work. it can definitely help if you forgot to charge and need to tax the capacity to get home. Fun idea.
88% battery usage for 5 miles??
 

BEC111

Active Member
88% battery usage for 5 miles??
Yup, 14%. Based on other riding, that’s still a lot, but with the parameters I’d set assist ended up much higher than I’d have set manually. I generally do the route at level 1, but for much of the ride I was in what would be full Turbo - 100%.
We’re in a intermit rain shower pattern for the next few days so I won’t really get the chance for more tests for a while.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Yup, 14%. Based on other riding, that’s still a lot, but with the parameters I’d set assist ended up much higher than I’d have set manually. I generally do the route at level 1, but for much of the ride I was in what would be full Turbo - 100%.
We’re in a intermit rain shower pattern for the next few days so I won’t really get the chance for more tests for a while.
So you intended to run the battery down? Is that correct ?
 

Nubnub

Member
I've tried out smart control as well. A couple things I don't like and hope there is some setting or workaround to address them.

First, there doesn't seem to be a way to override the smart control. I can turn it off but pressing the remote will only re-enable it.

Secondly and related to the first it doesn't seem to provide the boost when I want it - hence the reason for turning it off. Could be that my phone is not reporting the elevation correctly. I notice there is a caveat in mission control about this. My Rides consistently underreport elevation gain compared to my garmin as well as offline viewing of elevation profiles in google maps. I've set climb response to 0 feet but smart control seems to give too much assist on the flats and not as much as I'd like on steeper grades.

I've been setting ride duration or distance and elevation. The I play around with % battery left setting to adjust what the support level will be. If I go for maximum support (battery left 10%) it gives way too much boost on the flats and not enough on climbs. If i adjust battery left to higher levels to lower the support level indicated on smart control, it stills gives too much boost on the flat and even less (it seems) on the climbs. Again I wonder if it is a problem with my phone - it's a google pixel 3a XL.

I'll probably just get a phone mount and play around with the tuning parameters then stick to manual control

I did notice that smart control was very conservative on remaining battery and I always end up with more than I set it up for. But I think I can do as well with manual remote control as well as shutting off assist if needed.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
I've tried out smart control as well. A couple things I don't like and hope there is some setting or workaround to address them.

First, there doesn't seem to be a way to override the smart control. I can turn it off but pressing the remote will only re-enable it.

Secondly and related to the first it doesn't seem to provide the boost when I want it - hence the reason for turning it off. Could be that my phone is not reporting the elevation correctly. I notice there is a caveat in mission control about this. My Rides consistently underreport elevation gain compared to my garmin as well as offline viewing of elevation profiles in google maps. I've set climb response to 0 feet but smart control seems to give too much assist on the flats and not as much as I'd like on steeper grades.

I've been setting ride duration or distance and elevation. The I play around with % battery left setting to adjust what the support level will be. If I go for maximum support (battery left 10%) it gives way too much boost on the flats and not enough on climbs. If i adjust battery left to higher levels to lower the support level indicated on smart control, it stills gives too much boost on the flat and even less (it seems) on the climbs. Again I wonder if it is a problem with my phone - it's a google pixel 3a XL.

I'll probably just get a phone mount and play around with the tuning parameters then stick to manual control

I did notice that smart control was very conservative on remaining battery and I always end up with more than I set it up for. But I think I can do as well with manual remote control as well as shutting off assist if needed.
Your observations must be correct. My rides are in the flatland so I didn't notice the issues with the hills. Indeed, a possibility to override Smart Control would be nice.
 

jwehman

Member
Your observations must be correct. My rides are in the flatland so I didn't notice the issues with the hills. Indeed, a possibility to override Smart Control would be nice.

I too have noticed that the hill response is fairly underperforming. My hill response is also set to 0 ft and yet I struggle up my rather steep hills without any seeming boost in assist during the hills. I can override the SC by hitting the turbo mode key (clicking up one on the handlebar control) and that allows me some amount of assist but then SC takes over again after some (seemingly arbitrary) amount of time (10-30 seconds) while still pedaling uphill. This requires me to continuously override until I’m at the top.
 

BEC111

Active Member
So you intended to run the battery down? Is that correct ?
Yes, part of the charm of Smart Control is the ability to automate assist levels to manage battery life. They use a pretty basic algorithm, similar to the solver add-in in Excel (my geek is showing), so I’m not expecting perfection. More testing and sharing of experiences are needed.

I agree that the ability to override the ”control” is an important upgrade.

As I’ve said elsewhere, Specialized needs to realize that their ebikes are computers on two wheels and that they need to act on that understanding.
 

jwehman

Member
I just wanted to show a real-world Smart Control-affected ride from today. The settings I used are shown in the picture. Using RidewithGPS I plotted a 25 mile course and saw that it had appx 1700 ft elevation gain. So I used the settings show, and didn't care about the battery left over. I just wanted 10% left if I needed some spare. I am including the data from the "Ride" portion of Mission Control showing that after 22.62 miles (the actual distance) and actual elevation gained of 1666 ft, the battery wh used was 357wh, meaning I used appx 71% of the battery. Avg level of support was 223.51%.

This time I didn't touch any turbo settings...just left them alone, even on the climbs. I just geared down and plodded along where necessary. This ride had some pretty significant climbs, especially at the turn-around point (appx 750ft climb in about 1 mile).

I have to say, I was pleased with the way the computer handled the power settings and changes in support used. I averaged about 20mph for the ride, which is probably about 2x the speed I would normally have hit on my regular bike and I was very comfortable on the ride the whole time.

What a great way to go out, enjoy the scenery (one pic of the hills attached at the turn-around point) and not have to truly "work out" to get this amazing ride in.
 

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Captain Slow

Well-Known Member
The motor doubled your speed???? Wow, that's a big difference. Are you rounding at all? I mean, double is a lot, does anyone else see that much of a difference?
 

jwehman

Member
The motor doubled your speed???? Wow, that's a big difference. Are you rounding at all? I mean, double is a lot, does anyone else see that much of a difference?

Yeah, you're right. I was taking a swag. Looking back at the same ride from last year, it was 15mph avg vs 20mph, so a 33% increase. Not 100% :)
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
My latest experiences with the Smart Control are as follows:
  1. SC takes conservative approach regarding the range, preferring lower assistance to increase the battery range
  2. In case you exit SC during your ride, the display stats are being reset
  3. It looks the manual override of SC works, read below.
ad 1. If I say I want to ride for 60 km (around 40 miles) with 500 m elevation gain (circa 1500 ft) and with 10% battery left, the pedal assistance works in the Eco range. Actual range achieved might easily be 100 km (around 60 miles) if you continue with Smart Control. The good thing SC taught me is I could actually ride for some 40 km at low assistance level (but rather slowly) and then my tired legs ask for more support. Overall, using Smart Control (and switching to higher manual support level past the 40th km) allowed me to ride for the first 70 km on a single battery, while it was some 55 km before I got the lesson.

ad 2. Unluckily, deciding to quit SC resets your stats to zero. Not a good thing if you need to keep your ride stats in the display.

ad 3. In case you need more support (approaching a hill) while riding with the SC, pushing the + button overrides the SC putting you into the Turbo mode. However -- as you people properly noticed -- SC overtakes the control very soon. Just push the + button again (perhaps twice) and the bike stays in Turbo mode until you hit the - button; at that moment SC takes the command over.

Riding with the SC taught me several things: especially how to adjust the Manual modes for my specific needs on the ride. As I need to keep the display stats, I don't use the Smart Control anymore but only manual modes:
  • When planning a long ride, especially by bike paths, on the flat, downwind or windless, I am happy with the 35/35% support. It gives me good exercise and increases the battery range significantly
  • Past the 40th kilometre, I'm going into the 50/50% Sport mode. The two modes combined make me sure I can ride for 70 km on a single battery
  • While riding in a hilly terrain (and possibly upwind at the same time), I set: Eco 50/50, Sport 70/70, Turbo 100/100. Depending on the situation, I choose the mode that makes me comfortable.
My situation is easy because I can always carry a spare battery. The benefit I got from using Smart Control is I can understand how to effectively manipulate the manual assistance modes for better range and less fatigue :)
 
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