Specialized Turbo Vado SL 5.0 EQ 1st Ride Review

Recontra

Member
5.0 Turbo Vado SL EQ First Ride Impressions. OMG, please somebody wipe this annoying smile off my face!! 1st ever e-bike purchase. 1st ever real e-bike ride as well. Sorry if this forum thread Reply is long, but this 6’ 1 3/4” 57-year old 260 pound fat guy is a cyclist again!! Just got home from a fairly hilly 1st ride on my my brand spanking new Turbo Vado SL 5.0, and I am absolutely jacked and stoked!! Yup, I gained 30 lbs. during this Covid crisis—but also obviously wasn’t exactly slim to start with. But after watching Court’s video reviews (of many bikes), researching, reading this forum and this thread and all of your posts in particular (and after repeatedly riding—trying to ride more like it—a 15 mile loop thru my South Salem, Oregon hills on my 17-year old size XL Giant Cypress with a buddy who has a newer Class 1 Trek, and after painfully huffing and puffing to keep up with him—even walking the tips of a couple of the steeps—he‘s a good friend, he walked and talked with me—I decided I really needed an e-bike if I were going to be a cyclist again. But not just any e-bike. I needed a real bike. So, I made a deal after some protracted and intense (sometimes playfully brutal) negotiations with that woman who has been the true head of my household for the past 23 years (my best friend, who am I kidding? I got the better end of that whole exchange of rings deal). If I agreed to deposit 5k into her checking account with no strings attached, then I could go guilt free buy me a Specialized Turbo Vado SL 5.0. It was a fricking no-brainer!! And oh, my God did I ever get the better end of that deal as well!! I feel like a 6th grader again who just endured a month‘s worth of strawberry picking to buy a $120.00 yellow 42 lb. Schwinn Varsity 10 speed, a real boys bike! Same smile on my face, too.

BUYING EXPERIENCE: Local Specialized shop in Salem, Oregon has no bikes (same local shop where I bought my Giant 17+ years ago—they sold Specialized then, too, but that new dad of 2 infant sons simply couldn’t afford a Specialized bike and a used Burley trailer to haul those 2 sons up those hills back then, so he bought a Giant to go with the trailer). This weekend, I found The e-bike Store (www.ebikestore.com) in Portland, Oregon, and they had both an XL and Large 5.0 in stock. Can’t say enough good things about those guys—definitely worth the trip to North Portland. Brian, Jeff, and the owner Wake. Met them all, they are a Class Act from start to finish. Being a tweener at 6’ 1+”, over the phone Brian thought I’d best fit in a Large, so they assembled one for my Covid-19 appointment later Monday, and I sent them the coin sight unseen (they would have taken a deposit, but I wasn’t taking any chances the bike wouldn't be there). They also let me know they had an already assembled XL with about 7 miles on it, and if it was still there when I got there, that would also be an option. I rode the Large around north Portland. It was stupendous. And I would have been very happy with it for another 17 years until I bought my next bike at age 74. The Large did feel a bit upright, even a tiny bit cramped, but it was still a dream to ride. I then tried the XL just for sheets and giggles before closing the deal. OMG, Specialized custom made that that XL for my body and how I like to ride—a little forward but not road bike forward. Bam! Little longer wheelbase, little longer top tube, plus the steering tube is extended a few centimeters which permits me a bit more forward posture—not quite drop tube’ish, but more so than the Large. I still quivered awhile and sought advice and input from Brian and Jeff between the Large and XL. My hesitancy? The top tube is high. I have a 32” inseam, long thighs, long arms. Standing over the top tube on the XL at the lowest point, I can lift the wheel only a couple of inches—some concern. More groin clearance with the Large. But the rest of that XL just felt batting glove right.

RIDE: OMG! This is still a bike. It is solid and stable. My hilly curvy loop which took me 2+ hours the other day on my Giant Cypress (with some embarrassing walking) took me less than an hour this evening. And I was riding, not fighting. I actually went a bit further, because I wanted to see how the bike (and my 5.0 compression carbon forks) handled on steep downhill curvy rutted gravel. And the forks get an A+! The bike itself and tires get a gravel score of B from me, because it got a bit squirrelly over 15 mph, and I had to ride the brakes to keep my speed down. But it was new spring gravel over steep lateral ruts, and my bike was bouncing pretty severely, but I felt no discomfort, zero harshness, and never felt like I was losing steering, even if the bike itself wasn’t ripping thru that gravel. The fork was awesome! But overall gravel performance, it felt like skiing a steep spring mogul run—always just on the verge of losing control in bad snow, having to brake. My Giant and Urban RockShox would have ripped it (and have many times). Nicely dampened. That’s the word I would use to describe my 5.0 carbon forks on rutted gravel. Definitely worth the upgrade from the 4.0. I did get thru the gravel, and the rest of the ride . . . OMG! The downhills were a grin. I kept it on level 1 ECO instead of off, and the downhill curves wouldn‘t let me comfortably get much above 36 mph, but the bike was solid. While I had to take my eyes off the ride computer after hitting 36 (to avoid free falling off a ravine and into an old growth Douglas Fir—would have scratched my new paint), I was in 11th gear, peddling, and I still had power left in 11th gear. The bike was balanced and solid at that speed. I would have been braking on my Giant Cypress to control my speed. Not on this bike. I never once felt I was close to the edge on paved curves at speed (unlike the downhill gravel experience—but in all fairness, that gravel chute is challenging even on my analog Giant, a bike I intimately know after 17 years). I got down to the Willamette River bottom and rode probably 3 miles on rolling farm road flats in level 1. Peddled pretty workout hard, but not straining, and comfortably kept a speed in 7th-9th gear of 18.2-19.5 mph. I could have turned the battery off on the rolling flats, but I really liked the smoothness and sense of increased control running on ECO level 1. As others have said, this motor likes cadence. You can feel it. This bike also gives feedback. That may sound cheesy, but it really does. The other thing is that the 5.0 derailleur is a dream. I was constantly shifting up and down to maintain constant speed and cadence. I’ve never been able to do that before on a bike. Shifting was smooth and instant. I‘ve never experienced a quality derailleur before. And I like it.

WHAT ABOUT TURBO AND 2 TIMES YOU? Yup! That‘s the answer. I was biking. I went up those same steeps I had to walk up the other day after losing momentum in 1st gear, but on the Vado, I stayed in 2nd-3rd gear and comfortably maintained 6-8 mph with some effort, but zero strain. The bike didn’t get me up those hills. I got me and my bike up those hills. But there was most definitely no huffing, puffing, pain, or cramping, and the Turbo was my helper. They were hills. And I climbed them. On my bike. God, I love this bike, and I’ve only ridden it once. As soon as I crested each of those hills in Turbo, I went back to ECO level 1.

WHAT ABOUT THAT SMALL BATTERY? Fearful of being on the wrong side of a hill with no juice, I purchased the auxiliary battery. Glad I did. But I’m also taking it off for any 1-2 hour hard ride. Don’t need it. After about an hour-long fairly hard ride using Turbo on several fairly long hills (and draining the main and auxiliary battery equally), I clicked below 8 of 10 bars of power about 1/2 mile from my house.

GENERAL OVERALL IMPRESSION: Holy Crap!! :)
 

Deenice

New Member
Great review! Do you notice any resistance? How does it ride with power off? I have my 4.0 ‘Black Beauty’ arriving next week.
 

Recontra

Member
I didn't notice any resistance with power off, and I also noticed no resistance or change when I exceeded 28 mph several times on the downhills and the motor shut down. It was smooth. One thing I did notice that is kind of like resistance was that sometimes while not peddling and then lowering the power or turning it off (say I were coasting after cresting a hill and turning off Turbo), there is a resistance while initially pedaling. It's like the motor is still engaged, but no power is going to it, but after a couple of peddle strokes, the resistance is gone. It's kind of like switching out of 4 wheel drive on a truck while stopped. When you initially start back up, it's kind of like the 4 wheel drive is still engaged when it really isn't, but that resistance quickly goes away. Whenever I lowered the power or even turned it off completely while pedaling, I didn't feel that "resistance" if that's what it is. I'm thinking maybe I need to increase/decrease power while pedaling, and not while coasting. But I'm just guessing on that. Whatever that feeling is, it only lasted a stroke or two. Is there a clutch like thing in there? I don't know.
 

Recontra

Member
Still giddy! Can't wait to get home to go ride. As soon as my Racktime bag arrives, I can ride on my way home.

It just occurred to me now that I have two bikes in the garage, I can burn 400-600 calories an hour going 8-12 miles and hour, or burn those same calories going 16-24 miles an hour, and seeing twice as much stuff. The choice is mine. LOL. ©

Wonder which I'll choose to do :)
 

Recontra

Member
Internal battery observations.

I promise I’ll eventually get around to stop talking about myself and my bike, but before that happens, I wanted to share some anecdotal comments on internal battery usage, because that was a concern of mine, and was a concern expressed on the other thread by some of you. Had to ride alone tonight, because my buddy hurt his good knee (not the one he replaced), so now his good knee is his bad knee, and his bad knee is now his good knee. You probably have to be 55+ to understand exactly what he was saying and chuckle because you know exactly what he was saying. :)

12.2 miles in 45 minutes, including a few traffic lights, and about a mile on a public biking/walking path where I had to go slow. 1/3 downhill, 1/3 rolling flats, 1/3 gradual but consistent uphill (but nothing severe). Average speed 16.27 miles per hour. 2/3‘s power level ECO 1, 1/3 power level 2, 300 feet turbo level 3 (out of my home street). I rode exercise workout level hard (I was riding for exercise). I still had 8 out of 10 bars of battery power showing when I got home, but the bike‘s ride computer said I had 73% left (forgot to check if it said 100% when I started, but I’ll assume it did and go with the 73%). At that level of riding and battery usage, I’d get 45.19 miles out of a single main battery charge (if I drained it which I don’t plan on doing except rarely and intentionally to prolong battery life). I weigh 260 lbs. and can most definitely live with that mileage. Top speed was 39.6 miles per hour, and I could tell I was riding close to if not just past the bike‘s safety zone. I would not have wanted to have to maneuver at that speed. Perhaps if my individual bike/rider package didn’t have such a high center of gravity, I would have continued pedaling, but I let up before I hit 40 mph (my “swing thought” as I approached what I knew was my and my bike’s limit was “Boy, this is really going to hurt if I bite it here“). Which leads me back to my initial observation that this bike gives feedback.

As far as power levels, this bike rides just fine on flats or downhill with the motor off. I have just fallen in love with ECO level 1, even downhill. Not only is it more fun (loads more!), but it feels safer. Having power to spare and readily available gives me so many more options if a surprise happens. I also could have ridden the gentle several mile uphill leg home in ECO level 1 without any strain whatsoever. But I was on a 35 mph 4-lane major artery in South Salem, and level 2 let me bike much faster with the same effort, and it just felt safer (and loads more fun :).

OK. I’m done! For now. LOL

Mike
e-Bike Nube


Is the bike worth the price?? You‘d be asking a guy who spent every penny he earned in little over a month of strawberry, bean, and cherry picking to buy his 1st 10 speed at age 12. Can’t swear to it, because I have no photos. But I’m guessing I have exactly the same smile on my face riding both bikes. Which is/was funner? All I know is that it‘s been a very long time since I felt so much joy riding a bicycle.
 
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Captain Slow

Well-Known Member
You don't need to apologize for talking about yourself and the bike. In fact that's why people are here, to read about your experience with the bike and yourself. If they didn't want to read it, they'd skip this thread.

I always like to read the experiences of others so I appreciate the detail you've provided.

You mentioned you weigh 260 lbs. - I'd love to know what you'll weigh at the end of August. I'm guessing you'll lose weight and gain range.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
12.2 miles in 45 minutes, including a few traffic lights, and about a mile on a public biking/walking path where I had to go slow. 1/3 downhill, 1/3 rolling flats, 1/3 gradual but consistent uphill (but nothing severe). Average speed 16.27 miles per hour. 2/3‘s power level ECO 1, 1/3 power level 2, 300 feet turbo level 3 (out of my home street). I rode exercise workout level hard (I was riding for exercise). I still had 8 out of 10 bars of battery power showing when I got home, but the bike‘s ride computer said I had 73% left (forgot to check if it said 100% when I started, but I’ll assume it did and go with the 73%). At that level of riding and battery usage, I’d get 45.19 miles out of a single main battery charge (if I drained it which I don’t plan on doing except rarely and intentionally to prolong battery life). I weigh 260 lbs. and can most definitely live with that mileage. Top speed was 39.6 miles per hour, and I could tell I was riding close to if not just past the bike‘s safety zone. I would not have wanted to have to maneuver at that speed. Perhaps if my individual bike/rider package didn’t have such a high center of gravity, I would have continued pedaling, but I let up before I hit 40 mph (my “swing thought” as I approached what I knew was my and my bike’s limit was “Boy, this is really going to hurt if I bite it here“). Which leads me back to my initial observation that this bike gives feedback.
It all sounds legit. Be, however, conservative with the battery range estimates. The last 5% of the battery is practically unusable. There might be headwind, too. If you say the range estimate is 45 miles, make it 40 miles for your peace of mind and no "range anxiety". If you go for a 40 mile ride (that would happen very soon, trust me!) and there is still significant battery charge left, get on Turbo and enjoy easy ride for the last miles!

The % indicator is correct; the bars are unnecessarily precise. The % readout is great in the Vados, super-lightweight or "heavy".

Your weight is 260 lbs. I ride my e-bikes at least on every second day and my rides are not short in any case. I was 236 lbs on January 1st, 2020. I was 203 lbs yesterday. Low carb diet (also eating regularly but a little) and hard workouts on my e-bikes make miracles.
 

Marci jo

Well-Known Member
Recontra,
Congrats on your new ebike and just as important, you are cycling again!
That’s a great description, ebikes make you feel like a kid again! And now you can keep up with your friend (hope he has a speedy recovery). Hint; don’t get too far ahead on a hill. Then he might get an ebike and you’re back to square one.
Love your wife’s negotiating skills.
Many great miles and smiles.
 

BEC111

Active Member
Internal battery observations.

I promise I’ll eventually get around to stop talking about myself and my bike, but before that happens, I wanted to share some anecdotal comments on internal battery usage, because that was a concern of mine, and was a concern expressed on the other thread by some of you. Had to ride alone tonight, because my buddy hurt his good knee (not the one he replaced), so now his good knee is his bad knee, and his bad knee is now his good knee. You probably have to be 55+ to understand exactly what he was saying and chuckle because you know exactly what he was saying. :)

12.2 miles in 45 minutes, including a few traffic lights, and about a mile on a public biking/walking path where I had to go slow. 1/3 downhill, 1/3 rolling flats, 1/3 gradual but consistent uphill (but nothing severe). Average speed 16.27 miles per hour. 2/3‘s power level ECO 1, 1/3 power level 2, 300 feet turbo level 3 (out of my home street). I rode exercise workout level hard (I was riding for exercise). I still had 8 out of 10 bars of battery power showing when I got home, but the bike‘s ride computer said I had 73% left (forgot to check if it said 100% when I started, but I’ll assume it did and go with the 73%). At that level of riding and battery usage, I’d get 45.19 miles out of a single main battery charge (if I drained it which I don’t plan on doing except rarely and intentionally to prolong battery life). I weigh 260 lbs. and can most definitely live with that mileage. Top speed was 39.6 miles per hour, and I could tell I was riding close to if not just past the bike‘s safety zone. I would not have wanted to have to maneuver at that speed. Perhaps if my individual bike/rider package didn’t have such a high center of gravity, I would have continued pedaling, but I let up before I hit 40 mph (my “swing thought” as I approached what I knew was my and my bike’s limit was “Boy, this is really going to hurt if I bite it here“). Which leads me back to my initial observation that this bike gives feedback.

As far as power levels, this bike rides just fine on flats or downhill with the motor off. I have just fallen in love with ECO level 1, even downhill. Not only is it more fun (loads more!), but it feels safer. Having power to spare and readily available gives me so many more options if a surprise happens. I also could have ridden the gentle several mile uphill leg home in ECO level 1 without any strain whatsoever. But I was on a 35 mph 4-lane major artery in South Salem, and level 2 let me bike much faster with the same effort, and it just felt safer (and loads more fun :).

OK. I’m done! For now. LOL

Mike
e-Bike Nube


Is the bike worth the price?? You‘d be asking a guy who spent every penny he earned in little over a month of strawberry, bean, and cherry picking to buy his 1st 10 speed at age 12. Can’t swear to it, because I have no photos. But I’m guessing I have exactly the same smile on my face riding both bikes. Which is/was funner? All I know is that it‘s been a very long time since I felt so much joy riding a bicycle.
Thanks for the details. I have a Vado 4 SL and have gone on several rides since I got it home a bit over a week ago.

Your experience mirrors mine. I weigh a hundred pounds less than you, so it’s great to see your mileage. I’ve yet to run the battery down below 50%, but had gotten about 40 miles leaving 52%. Given our weight difference our ranges would seem to be in alignment.

As for performance, I’m not as strong a rider as you, needing more assistance on the many hills on the trail I ride (W&OD in Northern Virginia). I also am happy to average about 15 MPH, though it’s fun to crank it up when I can, though I’ve never gotten faster than 25, mostly due to traffic on the trail. However, I’ve been working on riding mode in Eco, if nothing else to preserve battery life. One of my purchase criteria was enough range to ride at least 40 miles on a charge with life remaining. Seems to be working as advertised.

Your original question was whether the bike is worth the money. On the basis of riding pleasure and the illusion of taking 20:years off my legs: definitely.
 

WA.Rider

New Member
Hi Recontra,

On May 16th I bought a Turbo Vado SL 5.0 EQ from the ebike store in Portland from Bryon (my local bike store didn't have any). I talked to Jeff on the phone once, but bought from Bryon. I bought a size Medium. I was waiting for a seat to arrive before picking it up. Ultimately I found the seat I was looking for from another specialized dealer in Portland, so am going to pick it up today.

I like you had been researching ebikes for the past couple months, then when I watched Corts review it sold me on the Turbo Vado SL 5.0 EQ. That's when I called the ebike store and bought over the phone, not ever having rode an ebike before.

I was worried that since my bike has been in the store since May 16th that others were test riding it. Did you hear anything about that possibly happening? Did they offer you test ride it?

I'd appreciate a reply back. I'm leaving to pick it up this afternoon around 1:45 pm my appointment is at 4 PM, but I'm stopping at River City bikes to pick up my saddle first, the Power Arc Expert 143mm.

Thanks!
 

Deacon Blues

Well-Known Member
If the bike store you bought your bike from is similar to most bike stores they've most likely let potential customers test ride your bike. I wouldn't worry about it. A short test ride isn't going to hurt the bike unless they fall off, and then you'll notice the damage.

My local bike store that sells Specialized let me test ride a $10,000 Creo, which they knew I wasn't going to buy, because I was more interested (money-wise) in the Creo Aluminum, which I also test-rode.
 

Allan47.7339

Active Member
Reply to WA.Rider, The ebike store web page has a fairly stout return policy so I doubt they would let you have the bike if they weren't confident it's ready to go. I would assume there have been test rides but I would not worry about it. eBike Store will also be your prime contact to deal with Specialized if there are any warranty issues.
 

Recontra

Member
Well that only took 4 days! I definitely took the Matrix red pill this evening, I’ve freed my mind, and I’m now an e-biker. The epiphany happened on my 21.0 mile ride today. I was riding into the wind with a storm coming in on a gentle uphill stretch riding on ECO level 1. I realized I could maintain the same body energy output and cadence and ride in Level 2—and go faster. I had plenty of battery. Why not? Bam! The true world of e-bike possibilities flashed before my eyes. I now no longer think biking in any of the power modes is cheating. It‘s cycling, and for a much less than elite cyclist like me, it might even be better cycling.

For the rest of the ride, I worked my derailleur with my right hand, and the power switch with my left. Most of the time I maintained a steady energy output with the derailleur, but several times I did it with the power button. A couple of times I worked both thumbs almost simultaneously. And it was smooth! I don’t think I’ve ever had such a consistent ride in my life, although there were several hills that took a lot of extra effort. And there was one monster steep 3/4-1 mile climb towards the end which was definitely a challenge to be conquered in turbo and in 1st-2nd gear, took everything I had in me to maintain 5.5-6.2 mph. Stretched my legs and took a drink at the summit, marveling at what I’d just accomplished. A week ago I couldn’t have done that climb on my other bike. Wouldn’t even have tried.

Still stoked! Filled out an application to join my local bike club. We’ll see if they’ll have us :) .
 

Recontra

Member
The movie, The Matrix. Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) offers Neo (Keanu Reeves) a choice between taking a red or a blue pill. Awesome Sci-Fi movie if you haven‘t seen it.
 

Captain Slow

Well-Known Member
Ok. I have seen the movie but that must have been around 25 years ago so I had long forgotten. What did the red pill do?