Specialized Turbo Vado SL 5.0 EQ 1st Ride Review

Marci jo

Well-Known Member
Recreational group riding is a lot of fun and a great way to build riding skills. You will meet people and ride routes you may not otherwise know about. Some routes are safer with a group than solo. These are not "paceline" rides but with a recommended spacing of at least a bike length or two to allow reaction time for road hazzards, braking and etc. Even though you may be able to go faster, it's unlikely you really have the skills to with the speed at full gas. One inept rider can bring down a group of riders with injuries which is probably what the "hot shots" were worried about. If it was just their ego's they probably would not be polite. Our club allows and welcomes ebikes on the moderate and slower ride groups.

Well said, and now that I've been riding the ebikes for a couple seasons, I always stay in the middle or back of the pack. Those people are way more fun. They talk more instead of the leaders who are deprived of oxygen from their aggressive pace.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Ha Ha! May Jacek now wants to borrow the Vado? Don't let him, you may not get it back---just joking, I'm sure he would return it. :)😆

What did Piotr think of your Giant Trance? Maybe he might get one?
First of all, Jacek turned the Lovelec into a luxury e-bike now. Rock Shox air fork, new fenders, the Ergotec stem is what I bought and he installed. He'd be using the bike by the end of this month for his daily commutes to work. Meanwhile, he would give servicing to his car (he does it himself). Our plan for one of the coming weekends is to drive to Suwałki Land for group rides with friends. That is one of the most gorgeous and pretty wild touring areas of Poland with riding on dirt and with hills. (The area borders with Belarus, Lithuania and the Russian enclave of Koenigsberg/Kaliningrad). The offroad requires thick tyres. I'm going to ride the Trance and Jacek might indeed ride the Vado with panniers, in very low power mode, as my Vado sports 2" tyres ;)

Piotr hasn't reached the age of 50 yet. He rides a brand new MTB and he's just bought a light motorcycle for his daily commutes so I think it is too early for him to get an e-bike :)
 

WA.Rider

New Member
Well it's been a while since I last posted, back on page one. Currently things have settled so below is my riding impressions on my Turbo Vado SL 5.0 EQ:


I've picked up my Turbo Vado SL 5.0 EQ from the Ebike store in Portland OR. June 5th. There was a slight miscommunication regarding my order. I was purchasing tires, (Schwalbe EPlus's 700X35c) Seat, (Power Arc Expert 143mm) and Range Extender/Cable. I was working with Bryon, Jeff, and eventually the owner Wake.

They are a class act, with customer service as a focal point, and I had an experience that went beyond my expectations. Bravo to the E-Bike Store in Portland (on Rosa Parks Way). I would highly recommend buying from them to anyone, and I would buy again from them.

Well, as soon as I purchased the bike I took it for a short ride on one of my hill courses, then I had to load it in a mini SUV and head over to Kalispell Montana to visit my brother. While in Montana I rode on a Rails to Trail paved path from Kalispell to Somers. Round trip was 36 miles. I used the range extender (RE) and when I was done I only had 25% left from 150% (100% stock batter, plus 50% RE). The path was somewhat flat, some very gradual inclines and declines, but the wind was in my face going to Somers the whole way. I rode in Eco and Sport, mostly Sport (about 80 minute to get to Somers) averaging about 17 mph. On the way back I was in a hurry, wind to my back, in Sport and Turbo averaging about 24 mph and it took me only about 45 minutes. I did stop on the way there because I lost the trail, met some nice folks from Eastern Michigan, she had a nice Specialized Road Bike so I thought they would know about where the trail went.

It surprised me how much the battery decreased for such a short trip, I guess the wind, and my mode choices had their effect. Though on my next ride to Whitefish and around Whitefish lake (about 2/3 around the lake and back because that's where there's pavement). After the first longer ride to Somers (Tuesday) and around the neighborhood (Wednesday) I did drain the battery down to one bar like Bryon recommended, then recharged both bike battery and RE to full. (futures rides I plan to keep in between 20-80 percent?). So with full batteries I set out to Whitefish on Thursday.

This ride I rode from Kalispell to Whitefish then 2/3 around Whitefish lake back to Kalispell, about 44 miles total. This ride had the best views, this Thursday it was clear, in the 70's, and one could see the surrounding mountain ranges with some snow still. It was spectacular. Starting out with 150% I finished with 75% left! That surprised me. If I knew I'd have that much left in the tank I think I would have rode up to Big Mt. (Whitefish Ski Resort). Maybe having that much left in the batteries had to do with draining the batters down that first trip before recharging?

The Whitefish trip I did keep it in Eco most of the way there and back only switching to Sport when climbing the long gradual hills on Hwy 93 and alone the lake. Though the last 3 miles I kept it in Sport mode. My average speed was around 18 mph and took me about 2:45 minutes with stops for water and an apple.

I'm glad I bought the Power Arc Expert, I recently had a bike fitter recommend it for my road bike so I bought one for my Vado SL and I didn't have any numbness with the saddle. Though I tried raising the seat post 3 mm and did get numbness after about a hour riding. Dropped it back to 7.5 on the seat post markings and numbness went away and hasn't come back. Weird how 3 mm can make a difference. In the future I'll make a fitting appointment for this bike, I want to get a better feel for the bike first.

One of the things that stuck out the most about the bike is the comfort of the grips. I usually ride a Giant Defy 2 with mechanical disc brakes 2016 model I believe, with spongy bar tape. The Defy I ride on the hoods primary and with my Vado SL flat bars with ergo grips makes a big difference. Much better, those grips are really comfortable. Though I think I need to adjust them slightly rotating them back so my weight is evenly distributed throughout the grip.

One goal riding my Ebike was so I could ride to the grocery store in street clothe and not get sweaty. I think I can do this easily. Plus when I want to get a workout I can defiantly do that too, by riding in Eco or Off and going longer or faster.

I'm enjoying the bike and look forward to more rides, and experimenting with mission control. So far I haven't made any custom adjustments (I like the TCD screens like they are, though now I have to wear glasses to see the details.) I've only ridden on the Marathon E-Pluses a couple miles so haven't got an impression yet. They do seem to roll with less resistance. Of course I'm riding on 35mm's vs the stock 38mm's and at a high tire pressure.

Cheers.

PS. I'm 5'8", 147 lbs, and 58 years old just in case that matters.
 

Marci jo

Well-Known Member
Well it's been a while since I last posted, back on page one. Currently things have settled so below is my riding impressions on my Turbo Vado SL 5.0 EQ:


I've picked up my Turbo Vado SL 5.0 EQ from the Ebike store in Portland OR. June 5th. There was a slight miscommunication regarding my order. I was purchasing tires, (Schwalbe EPlus's 700X35c) Seat, (Power Arc Expert 143mm) and Range Extender/Cable. I was working with Bryon, Jeff, and eventually the owner Wake.

They are a class act, with customer service as a focal point, and I had an experience that went beyond my expectations. Bravo to the E-Bike Store in Portland (on Rosa Parks Way). I would highly recommend buying from them to anyone, and I would buy again from them.

Well, as soon as I purchased the bike I took it for a short ride on one of my hill courses, then I had to load it in a mini SUV and head over to Kalispell Montana to visit my brother. While in Montana I rode on a Rails to Trail paved path from Kalispell to Somers. Round trip was 36 miles. I used the range extender (RE) and when I was done I only had 25% left from 150% (100% stock batter, plus 50% RE). The path was somewhat flat, some very gradual inclines and declines, but the wind was in my face going to Somers the whole way. I rode in Eco and Sport, mostly Sport (about 80 minute to get to Somers) averaging about 17 mph. On the way back I was in a hurry, wind to my back, in Sport and Turbo averaging about 24 mph and it took me only about 45 minutes. I did stop on the way there because I lost the trail, met some nice folks from Eastern Michigan, she had a nice Specialized Road Bike so I thought they would know about where the trail went.

It surprised me how much the battery decreased for such a short trip, I guess the wind, and my mode choices had their effect. Though on my next ride to Whitefish and around Whitefish lake (about 2/3 around the lake and back because that's where there's pavement). After the first longer ride to Somers (Tuesday) and around the neighborhood (Wednesday) I did drain the battery down to one bar like Bryon recommended, then recharged both bike battery and RE to full. (futures rides I plan to keep in between 20-80 percent?). So with full batteries I set out to Whitefish on Thursday.

This ride I rode from Kalispell to Whitefish then 2/3 around Whitefish lake back to Kalispell, about 44 miles total. This ride had the best views, this Thursday it was clear, in the 70's, and one could see the surrounding mountain ranges with some snow still. It was spectacular. Starting out with 150% I finished with 75% left! That surprised me. If I knew I'd have that much left in the tank I think I would have rode up to Big Mt. (Whitefish Ski Resort). Maybe having that much left in the batteries had to do with draining the batters down that first trip before recharging?

The Whitefish trip I did keep it in Eco most of the way there and back only switching to Sport when climbing the long gradual hills on Hwy 93 and alone the lake. Though the last 3 miles I kept it in Sport mode. My average speed was around 18 mph and took me about 2:45 minutes with stops for water and an apple.

I'm glad I bought the Power Arc Expert, I recently had a bike fitter recommend it for my road bike so I bought one for my Vado SL and I didn't have any numbness with the saddle. Though I tried raising the seat post 3 mm and did get numbness after about a hour riding. Dropped it back to 7.5 on the seat post markings and numbness went away and hasn't come back. Weird how 3 mm can make a difference. In the future I'll make a fitting appointment for this bike, I want to get a better feel for the bike first.

One of the things that stuck out the most about the bike is the comfort of the grips. I usually ride a Giant Defy 2 with mechanical disc brakes 2016 model I believe, with spongy bar tape. The Defy I ride on the hoods primary and with my Vado SL flat bars with ergo grips makes a big difference. Much better, those grips are really comfortable. Though I think I need to adjust them slightly rotating them back so my weight is evenly distributed throughout the grip.

One goal riding my Ebike was so I could ride to the grocery store in street clothe and not get sweaty. I think I can do this easily. Plus when I want to get a workout I can defiantly do that too, by riding in Eco or Off and going longer or faster.

I'm enjoying the bike and look forward to more rides, and experimenting with mission control. So far I haven't made any custom adjustments (I like the TCD screens like they are, though now I have to wear glasses to see the details.) I've only ridden on the Marathon E-Pluses a couple miles so haven't got an impression yet. They do seem to roll with less resistance. Of course I'm riding on 35mm's vs the stock 38mm's and at a high tire pressure.

Cheers.

PS. I'm 5'8", 147 lbs, and 58 years old just in case that matters.

WA.Rider,
Thanks for posting you experiences on you new Vado SL.
Agreed, headwinds are nasty. They're invisible, can only be felt, and are very sneaky. They seem to drain the electrons out of our batteries like a big magnet.
What did you think of the motor? Any other ebikes that you have to compare?
 

WA.Rider

New Member
Hi Marci Jo. Sorry to say I bought this bike only after research on the internet. Not having ridden any other ebike so I can't compare it to an ebike that would have more power like 250 WHs nominal/500 WHs peak, or 35 newtons vs 65-70 newtons. I just knew that I liked the light weight of the ebike, the looks, and felt like 2 X Me would be plenty vs. 4 X Me. Eco was like having a very light acoustic bike or a nice gentle tail wind. Sport mode I could definitely feel the assist and riding was easy to go faster than my normal acoustic bike (cruising at 16 mph with my acoustic bike vs cruising 19 mph assisted). Turbo was great for my hill course that I normally ride, though I need to use Turbo more to get a better feel of how it assists. Coming back from Somers with a tail wind I did get above 28 mph. I looked down at my speedometer and I was going 29.5 mph and I was amazed at how I didn't detect the motor cutting out (Wait, what, I'm not being assisted right now!). So much so that I slowed down and sped up past 28 mph again watching the speedo and trying to detect the motor cutoff.....I couldn't do it (after one try). So I was impressed. I'll have to try again to satisfy my curiosity.

Captain Slow - Good questions. Yes the LEDs do tell you how much is left (and even better the TCD displays digital percentages) and when I got back to my brothers house there was ~75% left (I didn't write it down so I'm going by memory, it was either 70% or 80%. If I had to bet money on it...I think there was 80% left). Additionally when I decided to head back home I wasn't sure if I'd ride back using mainly Eco mode and Sport only for the Hills. After all when I went home from Somers I used Sport and Turbo mainly. Ultimately I did use mainly Eco and Sport sparingly back from Whitefish that's why I ended up with ~75% left of the original 150%. I have a little regret for not attempting the ~7 mile climb to the ski resort.

I hope I answered your questions Captain Slow and Marci Jo. Thank you for asking.

I'm looking forward to testing out my E-Plus tires in 35 mm.

I also need to decide if I'm always going to have the Range Extender attached or just when I do longer rides. I think I'll just have it connected for longer rides. This will mean my built in 320 WH battery will eventually wear down first, and I'll only need to replace it. Verses always use the RE and a charge will last longer cycling the battery less, but eventually having to replace both batteries. Beside the RE is an additional kilogram. Food for thought. Any opinions?
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
First of all @WA.Rider, congratulations for getting that beauty e-bike!

Don't be surprised with the battery consumption. The SL is designed for fit people who can give a lot of input with their legs. Secondly, mid-drive motors are electron-hungry because they are invulnerable to headwind or climbs at the cost of the battery charge. Let me give you some advice:
  • Use the Mission Control app and reduce the Max Motor Power for all assist modes except of Turbo (and use Turbo only in emergency or when you have a lot of juice in the battery and a short distance to cover). The Max Motor Power is to control the power surges that happen, for example, when you accelerate. Reducing Max Motor Power will make your SL somewhat sluggish but that will be great on the range achieved.

    or

  • Use Smart Control in the Mission Control app. Enter the distance to be covered, the predicted sum of all ascents on your route, and define you would like to keep 20% battery left after the ride (the safety margin for unpredictable situations). Smart Control is indeed smart and using it results in unbelievably economical use of the battery.
Don't worry about the battery lifetime. They don't wear as quickly as you may think.
 

Nubnub

Member
I also need to decide if I'm always going to have the Range Extender attached or just when I do longer rides. I think I'll just have it connected for longer rides. This will mean my built in 320 WH battery will eventually wear down first, and I'll only need to replace it. Verses always use the RE and a charge will last longer cycling the battery less, but eventually having to replace both batteries. Beside the RE is an additional kilogram. Food for thought. Any opinions?

I was thinking of getting a range extender as well to preserve the built in battery. In one of the SBCU videos it mentioned 300 charge cycles as the spec tho I think that might have been for the regular Vado/Levo batteries. I'm sure (hope) the usable number of charge cycles will be much more. What is the highest number of charge cycles anyone has seen for the SL batteries? Also, when you look at the number of charge cycles in Mission Control, does it include cycles for the range extender?
 

Allan47.7339

Active Member
First of all @WA.Rider, congratulations for getting that beauty e-bike!


Don't worry about the battery lifetime. They don't wear as quickly as you may think.

This has been my experience with the Turbo S. Everything else will wear out before the batteries. I think the 300 cycles was mentioned in the warranty but it is not the finite life. If you run it down to 5 or 10% every time then you are putting in a lot of miles or time on the bike when you get to 300 cycles. After that it just means the capacity may be reduced and you may get a few less miles per charge. The charging software built into the Specialized system seems to be set to balanced charging time and maximum battery life.
 

WA.Rider

New Member
Stefan - Thank you for the advice on Mission Control. I've read the manual, but I haven't played around with the settings or Smart Control. They look like they have lots of options. I like the Eco 35/35, Sport 60/60, and Turbo 100/100 settings. This by default only gives Turbo mode the ability to really drain the battery fast, but like you said if one only uses it in a limited fashion battery life will be extended before needing to refill.

If I was up on using Smart Control, it would have been good for my Whitefish ride, I would have been comfortable riding to Big Mt. All good advice, thank you Stafan.

NubNub - Mission Control just has a label/title "Charge Cycles:" then a number "2". So it doesn't look like it distinguishes between the Stock battery, and the optional RE. So yeah, one thing I could do is keep a log of the number of times I charge the RE. I believe I read that Yamaha batteries on their CrossConnect and CrossCore etc...advertise 1000 charge cycles. They're all using lithium battery technology. Maybe approximately the first 300 cycles are close to full charge cycles, then when one gets to about 1000 charge cycles it's time to replace them. With 300 to 1000 being slightly more and more degraded charge cycles.

Allan - Yes I read that in the User Manual regarding the Charging Software maximizing battery life. Great comment. Oh and thank you, I love the bike. In fact it made me decide to sale my scooter (Kymco People S 250). Odd thing is back in 2007 when I bought the scooter I paid the same price for it that I paid for the Vado SL!
 

PFM

New Member
Thanks for all the interesting comments about the E-Vado. I am taking delivery of a Vado 5.0 SL EQ this Friday.

As part of the EQ package, the model comes with Dry-Tech Fenders, which are pretty much panned at the Specialized website.

What is your experience was with the fenders and do you think the 700 x 38 tires were a tight fit?
I am interested in getting a larger tire, a 42, but I am afraid the tire might be rub.
Perhaps I am better off removing the fenders and going with a wider tire.

Any thoughts? Thank you.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
What is your experience was with the fenders and do you think the 700 x 38 tires were a tight fit?
I am interested in getting a larger tire, a 42, but I am afraid the tire might be rub...

I thought one of the videos or reviews I watched said you could go up to 42 before you have to drop to 650b wheels (then I think you can go to 47). So I assumed the fenders would have clearance at least for 42. But that is an assumption and not verified. I too wanted to move up to 700x42c but haven't found a good tire option. I'm leaning towards staying at 700x38c but switching to the Schwalbe Marathon E-Plus tires.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Thanks for all the interesting comments about the E-Vado. I am taking delivery of a Vado 5.0 SL EQ this Friday.

As part of the EQ package, the model comes with Dry-Tech Fenders, which are pretty much panned at the Specialized website.

What is your experience was with the fenders and do you think the 700 x 38 tires were a tight fit?
I am interested in getting a larger tire, a 42, but I am afraid the tire might be rub.
Perhaps I am better off removing the fenders and going with a wider tire.

Any thoughts? Thank you.
If you live in the area when it sometimes rains, for any sake keep the Dry-Tech fenders on the bike. These are designed the way they protect the motor chamber against rainwater. And it really works!
 
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PFM

New Member
I thought one of the videos or reviews I watched said you could go up to 42 before you have to drop to 650b wheels (then I think you can go to 47). So I assumed the fenders would have clearance at least for 42. But that is an assumption and not verified. I too wanted to move up to 700x42c but haven't found a good tire option. I'm leaning towards staying at 700x38c but switching to the Schwalbe Marathon E-Plus tires.

My bike tech owns a similar ebike. He said the 42 will fit, but it will be very tight.

He also said in the event that I really wanted the 42’s, I’d have to remove the fenders. I would also have to rewIre the rear light as a wire runs inside the fender to it. Also, the rack attaches to the fender so a support bracket will have to added. Both fixes are easy as very doable.

I put fenders on my Trek FX6S and it was a bad experience, way too tight. I removed the and put some 40’s on it and it rides great.

The tech informed me they are looking at late August deliveries
 
Last edited:

Nubnub

Member
NubNub - Mission Control just has a label/title "Charge Cycles:" then a number "2". S

Thanks. I guess that must be just cycles for the built in battery. Does 2 seem right for you for just that battery. On reflection, unless you get the y charging cable, the range extender would be charged off the bike so I guess Mission Control would have no way of knowing.

I will probably do as you indicated and get a range extender to try to preserve the life of the built in as well as have the option for truly epic long range rides. Most of my rides so far I am using less than 150 Wh since I am mostly ECO mode or assist off. OTOH, maybe just run the builtin to the ground and when/if that happens I'll probably be ready for a new bike (tech) anyway.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
My bike tech owns a similar ebike. He said the 42 will fit, but it will be very tight.

He also said in the event that I really wanted the 42’s, I’d have to remove the fenders. I would also have to rewIre the rear light as a wire runs inside the fender to it. Also, the rack attaches to the fender so a support bracket will have to added. Both fixes are easy as very doable.

I put fenders on my Trek FX6S and it was a bad experience, way too tight. I removed the and put some 40’s on it and it rides great.

The tech informed me they are looking at late August deliveries

I think Vittoria has some touring and urban tires at 700x40c. My shop warned me away from them however. Continental didn't fare too well in comparisons of touring tires. Most of the updated Schwalbe e-bike rated models jump from 700x38c to 45c. Hence I've kind of landed on staying at 700x38c. Probably better to have the best tire on the market and give up a bit of width.

I'm hoping for my bike at end of June. I think my shop really dropped the ball on the order. The day after I laid down a deposit (a couple of weeks ago) the mediums showed up as "in stock" on the Specialized website. Lasted about 4 days until they went out-of-stock. Called my LBS and they said end June after they had originally said one week out. I think they just didn't submit their order or were perhaps waiting to order multiple bikes. When I said they were briefly "in-stock" per the Specialized site they responded "in our experience the Specialized site is usually wrong" ... ok ... I think my shop, which is one I don't have great experience with, just dropped the ball on the order ...
 

PFM

New Member
I think Vittoria has some touring and urban tires at 700x40c. My shop warned me away from them however. Continental didn't fare too well in comparisons of touring tires. Most of the updated Schwalbe e-bike rated models jump from 700x38c to 45c. Hence I've kind of landed on staying at 700x38c. Probably better to have the best tire on the market and give up a bit of width.

I'm hoping for my bike at end of June. I think my shop really dropped the ball on the order. The day after I laid down a deposit (a couple of weeks ago) the mediums showed up as "in stock" on the Specialized website. Lasted about 4 days until they went out-of-stock. Called my LBS and they said end June after they had originally said one week out. I think they just didn't submit their order or were perhaps waiting to order multiple bikes. When I said they were briefly "in-stock" per the Specialized site they responded "in our experience the Specialized site is usually wrong" ... ok ... I think my shop, which is one I don't have great experience with, just dropped the ball on the order ...

My LBS is currently operating on a half day schedule and no one is allowed in the store. Their inventory is sparse: parts, new bikes, clothing. No pedals, no gloves. They sold me the only 700x40 tires they had in the store for 20$, no name tires that were probably hanging around the shop.
The Chinese supply chain has been completely disrupted by COVID 19 and we are seeing the same thing at appliance stores , too ( I’m in New England,USA.)
I had to buy my Vado 5.0 SL at another store 25 miles from me. They had 3 e bikes, all gone instantly and no more until late summer, early fall.
 

jwehman

Member
My LBS is currently operating on a half day schedule and no one is allowed in the store. Their inventory is sparse: parts, new bikes, clothing. No pedals, no gloves. They sold me the only 700x40 tires they had in the store for 20$, no name tires that were probably hanging around the shop.
The Chinese supply chain has been completely disrupted by COVID 19 and we are seeing the same thing at appliance stores , too ( I’m in New England,USA.)
I had to buy my Vado 5.0 SL at another store 25 miles from me. They had 3 e bikes, all gone instantly and no more until late summer, early fall.
I’m guessing it’s too late, but I ordered directly from Specialized’s website for my Vado 4.0 LTD. They shipped it to the lbs and from order to delivery it was 10 days. Late summer seems really far out there. Maybe because you ordered the 5.0 SL and that’s more in-demand?