Specialized Turbo Vado SL: An Incredible E-Bike (User Club)

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
I had never believed in the whole Specialized SL thing until I could ride an SL myself. My ill legs can deliver 70-80 W on average (with short burst of far more if I have to). I have got used to the "full power" modern e-bikes, the 24 kg (or heavier), mid-motor, and integrated removable battery machines that I can (yes) lift upstairs but never raise any of them to the shoulder level. Yes, full power e-bikes can travel fast (especially S-Pedelecs or derestricted ones), can climb very steep hills too but it is hardly possible to pedal them unassisted or past the limiter. And they eat the battery at the rate that forces me to carry a spare for any long (read: 80 km or above) trip. The Warsaw Specialized Brand Store signed a rental agreement with me on last Saturday, charged the rental fee (28 EUR or 34 US$ equivalent), and let me ride a Vado SL 4.0 non-EQ size L for a day.

Sizing
Vado SL Step-Over is a tall bike. My own "standover height" is 78 cm (30.7"). With the M frame, I could straddle the top tube with safe clearance but I was actually touching it with my private parts for size L. I'd love the reach of the size M; I was leaning over the handlebars a little too much to my liking but, interestingly, too large frame didn't compromise ride safety or comfort for me. I was genuinely surprised with that! (The store had the non-EQ size L Vado SL as the only available demo option for Saturday so I had to take it or leave it; the size M 4.0 EQ e-bike was on display for sale).

Motor Noise
As I hear some complaints of SL e-bikes related to the SL 1.1 motor noise, here is my observation:
  • The SL 1.1 motor is indeed audible. In default Eco mode, the noise is very soft, chirpy. The more support is provided, the louder the motor gets but it never becomes annoying.
  • By comparison, the Specialized 1.2e, 1.2, and 1.2s motors are virtually silent except 100% Turbo mode under very high load; still, that noise is barely audible. Heavily loaded 1.2 motors just want to whisper to you "Hey... I'm here!" I have never tried the 1.3 motor but it is reportedly barely louder under loading.
  • SyncDrive Pro (Yamaha PW-X2) is noisy, with constant whining, still that noise is manageable.
I think the owners of Vado SL or Creo are simply unaware how quiet these motors are compared to other makes.

Riding Unassisted
Nothing different to any 15 kg (33 lb) traditional bike. No "motor drag". I would be able to pedal the Vado SL easily in flat battery situation without suffering (albeit rather slowly). I'm sure any healthy cyclist could ride the SL with the assistance OFF as the primary riding mode on flats and in absence of headwind. Vado SL feels a traditional bike in any aspect!

Riding Assisted
ECO mode feels the most logical assistance level to ride Vado SL, especially for the European 25 km/h version. It was just enough for me to feel a 25-yo again riding a traditional bike (I have never been a strong person). The feeling how lightweight the SL is, is incredible. The pedalling experience is so natural that you never even think you are on e-bike! There is excellent acceleration property: just push pedals stronger and you start moving fast! The SL was the first e-bike I could ride where staying in Eco mode on the flat felt fantastic, without the need of even thinking of going for more support. Also, I could use the derailleur sparingly. In full power heavier e-bikes, I utilize the derailleur in wide range from low gears to start the ride to high gears to move fast. Vado SL moves so easily from the cold start that I only used the derailleur to maintain my favourite cadence but not to make the cold start easier, for one.

Sport mode: Ideal to ride soft inclines, and to counter moderate headwind. I hardly ever used the Sport mode for the demo ride.

Turbo mode: Very useful! In urban environment, it allows climbing obstacles such us overpass without even increasing your heart-rate. I found the Turbo mode useful in countering storm headwind (very very strong!) I experienced on my route. Not sure how good the SL would be in real hilly environment though.

Full-power e-bikes give the edge when you really need tons of power; the SL is decidedly not as powerful. It is a very natural bike instead, helping you ride under circumstances that would turn your trip into nightmare on a traditional bike.

Riding past the speed limiter
That was a hilarious experience! If that's the 25 km/h limiter then you hit the speed limit very quickly. What happens next? Just pedal and ride faster on your leg power! On a full power e-bike, riding past the speed limiter means "hitting the wall". It is not so with Vado SL. Yes, you can feel it is harder to pedal (because you have lost good watts that had assisted you) but it is just like riding a traditional bike! Nothing different!

Anecdote: I was riding leisurely on a good straight asphalt road. Suddenly, a pack of three beautiful female roadies took me over at high speed. I instantly switched the Turbo mode on and started chasing the girls. What an experience! I broke past 25 km/h and pedalled unassisted with the maximum leg power burst I could manage. Strava tells me I reached 38 km/h (unassisted!) I couldn't catch up with the girls but got so close they must have heard my "WOOOOW! You're amazing, girls!" exclamation before I gave up :)

Battery consumption
The bike appears to not be eating the battery charge at all! :) Now I can believe Specialized marketing claim you could make 100 miles on a single charge (if no upwind and flat terrain). As long as I and friend rode slowly and leisurely, the 7th battery status bar with which I started the Eco mode ride didn't want to disappear for long kilometres. Of course, Sport and especially Turbo mode eat more but... I used 3 bars (of 10) for a 41 km trip, part of which was ridden in Turbo mode for emergency reasons.

Handling, comfort, brakes, gearing, equipment
Vado SL must have been designed by some geniuses. Almost every aspect of the e-bike is extremely well thought. Handling of the bike on the ride is just fantastic.

Despite of lack of any suspension on Vado SL, the e-bike is surprisingly comfortable even on surfaces far from ideal. If I bought an SL, I would probably only did these upgrades:
  • Rear-view mirror
  • TCD display, or a smartphone handlebar mount
  • Pedals of my choice
  • Better lighting. (that claim proved to be wrong)
Did you hear me saying: "suspension stem", "suspension seatpost", "better grips", "better saddle" or "better tyres"? No. I could live with stock components for a longer while. I especially liked the Specialized stock tyres, and even the saddle was not that bad!

Brakes: Reliable, performing excellently in torrential-like rain!
Gearing: Certainly ideal for flats. (Cannot say anything for riding an SL in really hilly conditions).

Lighting of Vado SL is laughable and can only serve as daily lights. The weakest point of that otherwise excellent e-bike.

EQ vs non-EQ. Step-Over vs. Step-Through
For the Poland's condition, the EQ version is the must, although one could think of fitting MTB mudguards, and the rear rack is not really necessary for fitness rides (because Vado SL is indeed a fitness e-bike). I would just feel better with proper fenders and a rack. If one plans no swapping the seat-post for a suspension one, the tail-light placement under the saddle in non-EQ is smart, and the tail-light of the non-EQ is indeed not bad!

The exciting news is the Step-Through Vado SL shall appear in our market sometime in August. I'm strongly interested in buying Vado SL 4.0 EQ ST size M, White Sage colour!

1623558564798.png

You can actually put the SL on your shoulder and carry it upstairs!

Battery charging
The only downside of the SL is the fact you have to charge the battery on the bike. Making it awkward for touring (staying in hotels).
 
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VoltMan99

Well-Known Member
Region
Asia
City
Tokyo
….Lighting of Vado SL is laughable and can only serve as daily lights. The weakest point of that otherwise excellent e-bike….

Can you be more specific about what you didn’t like about the lights? This is an important feature for me, especially up front because I need to ride at 4AM. I should do planning for parts now before the bike arrives. Thanks!

EDIT: After briefly looking at the manual for the light that specified on my bike’s order it appears to have a high and low beam mode, presumably set by the bike’s electronics. Could it be that you were in the low beam?
 
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Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
The headlamp is simply too weak to serve as proper night lighting. I would keep it (it is always on) but I would install a Li-Ion powered headlight on the handlebar. Depending on your budget, find something that produces not less than 400 lumen in low-beam and, say, 1100 lumen for high-beam. For instance, CatEye AMPP 1100 is a good compromise of light power vs battery capacity and price. One of the best headlights is CatEye Volt 1700 but it is darn expensive. You could look to CatEye Volt 800 as a good option, too. Other good headlights come from Lezyne.

The 4.0 non-EQ has a good tail-light but I cannot say anything about the EQ tail-light that is mounted on the rear fender. Again, CatEye, Lezyne or Knog offer very good portable tail-lights. Sigma Blaze tail-light even has automatic inertial STOP indicator: it is what my brother uses.
 
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VoltMan99

Well-Known Member
Region
Asia
City
Tokyo
CatEye Volt 1700

Thanks for the point! It’s expensive, but very powerful, and it can be mounted on the helmet. A no-brainer. Out of stock on American Amazon. I’ve already ordered on Japan Amazon. Now that the stock front light is redundant I’ll put that 12v to better use on a drive recorder camera!
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
Be aware Volt 1700 is a heavy lamp. I would solely mount it on the bar but not on the helmet :)
The inertial tail-light is Sigma Blaze.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
P.S. Be very careful with the high-beam mode. It is so blinding it might put drivers at serious risk!
 

VoltMan99

Well-Known Member
Region
Asia
City
Tokyo
P.S. Be very careful with the high-beam mode. It is so blinding it might put drivers at serious risk!

Actually I’m worried about the homeless people in the park where I ride. You never know - they may have tipped too much sake and wound up sleeping on the bike path.

Japan is infamous for bicycle liability - the mother of an elementary school boy was ordered to pay ¥98m (about $1 million US) damages after her son hit a person and they wound up in a comatose state. I have insurance that covers that, but definitely you need to take precautions. Hence the drive recorder idea. 12v might also enable me to use a high decibel motorcycle horn - then I can chase the joggers off the bike path!
 

jodi2

Active Member
Stefan encountered the SL feeling! ;-)
When a did my first SL ride 13 months ago, I was at the LBS nearby for - I don't know what, nothing important. I already had three great and expensive bikes in the garage. A good gravel bike only two years old and two good speed ebikes. I used all of them less than the years before, as after our settling to another city the distance to work was to far now for all day riding. And the hills&mountains were terrible now compared to my gravel rides before.
I saw a Creo Expert in my size in the window and they told me "Take a ride!". I saw the price tag and said to myself "This bike seems a little bit better for my actual needs. But who is stupid enough to pay this prices???". After a few seconds I pedaled the rest of the test ride with my yaw open and said to myself "I'v never riden any ebike like this, this (apart from price and sound) is what I want!" (and I've ridden owned and tested quite a few ebikes the last 10 years and many different drives).

The only downside of the SL is the fact you have to charge the battery on the bike. Making it awkward for touring (staying in hotels).
And a US version/45km/h would be great... ;-) But if you are able to do 38km/h with hormone doping, you aren't that slow over 25km/h. On a Vado SL with your weight this means at least 400 watts. Let's say the TCD ist 5-10% ahead, than it's still 320-350 watts.

The ST version may be better/more comfortable for you. But keep in mind that the frame dimensions/parameter are exatly the same for SL (diamond frame) and SL ST (stepthrough). So if you feeled that L was maybe a little bit to long/the cockpit too much in front for you, this would be exactly the same on a ST. But the length of the saddle post/seat tube looks fine on your photo, M could already be to low here. If it was just the cockpit/handle bar, the LBS could change the 75mm stem for one with 60mm.

About the front light: We had users in our german ebike forum we changed it to the quite new Busch&Müller ebike front light IQ-X E with 150 lux. More than twice as much as the 65 lux Hecto and also much more than the 115 lux Hecto on the 5.0. And as you can see also visibly more light:
https://www.pedelecforum.de/forum/index.php?threads/specialized-vado-sl.76516/page-8#post-1562599
As the Lezyne Hectos seem to have a special housing/mount for the Vado SL for the handle bar and can't be flipped to mount at he fork where my wife would want the light, I ordered one IQ-X E yesterday. It's also not expensive (here...) for a front light in top class, street prices start at 90 €. And as it's summer and sunset very late they are still available while almost any other bicycle stuff is sold out, so prepare now for winter...
I don't know the exact data of the SL "light exit", but the 115 lux Hecto already has 6 watts, the IQ-X E 7,5 watts and at least two user in that forum already use it with SL, so I hope it will work...
 

Scott Adams

Active Member
Thanks for a great report, Stefan. I like the one arm lift in your photo, sums up your post nicely.

The 5.0 SL front light (a bit brighter than the 4.0 SL) is not nearly as bright as my Niterider Race 1200, but the beam is well shaped and I found it adequate when riding at speed in full darkness, but my eyes are generally quite good (or so I'm told) at adapting to dark conditions. No doubt many people would want a brighter light, and while I too would appreciate a brighter light, I found it to be just barely adequate.

I'm a bit surprised that you aren't thinking of the SL 5.0 with the suspension stem, tubeless ready rims and brighter light and adding a Redshift or Kinekt suspension seat post, I'm too accustomed to them to go without on long rides. Somehow I think the Redshift post looks better aesthetically on the Vado SL than the Kinekt does, but I haven't ridden the Redshift myself as of yet.

Riding up significant hills is accomplished well by slowing down, downshifting and using the assistance - it feels easier, but much more like riding a regular bike going up relatively long or steep hills. I also feel in my body that I got more exercise when I finish the ride.

I wonder about taking a Vado SL on longer (days to weeks) tours, it simply doesn't look as robust as I would like for serious gear haulage, but maybe that is an inaccurate impression on my part. It would be fine for credit card / hotel touring, no doubt. I would have no problems or concerns with taking it to a hotel room for charging and security once it was cleaned up at the end of the day.

There are some incredible forms to attempt to catch up to in Poland, but it might be more impressive if done unassisted.

Along those lines, the SL is like having the right relationship, it makes you work harder, but it also makes you want to work harder.

Interested readers are waiting to see where your ebike journey will take you in the coming years...

Ride on!
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
I had never believed in the whole Specialized SL thing until I could ride an SL myself. My ill legs can deliver 70-80 W on average (with short burst of far more if I have to). I have got used to the "full power" modern e-bikes, the 24 kg (or heavier), mid-motor, and integrated removable battery machines that I can (yes) lift upstairs but never raise any of them to the shoulder level. Yes, full power e-bikes can travel fast (especially S-Pedelecs or derestricted ones), can climb very steep hills too but it is hardly possible to pedal them unassisted or past the limiter. And they eat the battery at the rate that forces me to carry a spare for any long (read: 80 km or above) trip. The Warsaw Specialized Brand Store signed a rental agreement with me on last Saturday, charged the rental fee (28 EUR or 34 US$ equivalent), and let me ride a Vado SL 4.0 non-EQ size L for a day.

Sizing
Vado SL Step-Over is a tall bike. My own "standover height" is 78 cm (30.7"). With the M frame, I could straddle the top tube with safe clearance but I was actually touching it with my private parts for size L. I'd love the reach of the size M; I was leaning over the handlebars a little too much to my liking but, interestingly, too large frame didn't compromise ride safety of comfort for me. I was genuinely surprised with that! (The store had the non-EQ size L Vado SL as the only available demo option for Saturday so I had to take it or leave it; the size M 4.0 EQ e-bike was on display for sale).

Riding Unassisted
Nothing different to any 15 kg (33 lb) traditional bike. No "motor drag". I could pedal the Vado SL easily in flat battery situation without suffering (albeit rather slowly). I'm sure any healthy cyclist could ride the SL with the assistance OFF as the primary riding mode on flats and in absence of headwind. Vado SL feels a traditional bike in any aspect!

Riding Assisted
ECO mode feels the most logical assistance level to ride Vado SL, especially for the European 25 km/h version. It was just enough for me to feel a 25-yo again riding a traditional bike (I have never been a strong person). The feeling how lightweight the SL is, is incredible. The pedalling experience is so natural that you never even think you are on e-bike! There is excellent acceleration property: just push pedals stronger and you start moving fast! The SL was the first e-bike I could ride where staying in Eco mode on the flat felt fantastic, without the need of even thinking of going for more support. Also, I could use the derailleur sparingly. In full power heavier e-bikes, I utilize the derailleur in wide range from low gears to start the ride to high gears to move fast. Vado SL moves so easily from the cold start that I only used the derailleur to maintain my favourite cadence but not to make the cold start easier, for one.

Sport mode: Ideal to ride soft inclines, and to counter moderate headwind. I hardly ever used the Sport mode for the demo ride.

Turbo mode: Very useful! In urban environment, it allows climbing obstacles such us overpass without even increasing your heart-rate. I found the Turbo mode useful in countering storm headwind (very very strong!) I experienced on my route. Not sure how good the SL would be in real hilly environment though.

Full-power e-bikes give the edge when you really need tons of power; the SL is decidedly not as powerful. It is a very natural bike instead, helping you ride under circumstances that would turn your trip into nightmare on a traditional bike.

Riding past the speed limiter
That was a hilarious experience! If that's the 25 km/h limiter then you hit the speed limit very quickly. What happens next? Just pedal and ride faster on your leg power! On a full power e-bike, riding past the speed limited means "hitting the wall". It is not so with Vado SL. Yes, you can feel it is harder to pedal (because you have lost good watts that had assisted you) but it is just like riding a traditional bike! Nothing different!

Anecdote: I was riding leisurely on a good straight asphalt road. Suddenly, a pack of three beautiful female roadies took me over at high speed. I instantly switched the Turbo mode on and started chasing the girls. What an experience! I broke past 25 km/h and pedalled unassisted with the maximum leg power burst I could manage. Strava tells me I reached 38 km/h (unassisted!) I couldn't catch up with the girls but got so close they must have heard my "WOOOOW! You're amazing, girls!" exclamation before I gave up :)

Battery consumption
The bike appears to not be eating the battery charge at all! :) Now I can believe Specialized marketing claim you could make 100 miles on a single charge (if no upwind and flat terrain). As long as I and friend rode slowly and leisurely, the 7th battery status bar with which I started the Eco mode ride didn't want to disappear for long kilometres. Of course, Sport and especially Turbo mode eat more but... I used 3 bars (of 10) for a 41 km trip, part of which was ridden in Turbo mode for emergency reasons.

Handling, comfort, brakes, gearing, equipment
Vado SL must have been designed by some geniuses. Almost every aspect of the e-bike is extremely well thought. Handling of the bike on the ride is just fantastic.

Despite of lack of any suspension on Vado SL, the e-bike is surprisingly comfortable even on surfaces far from ideal. If I bought an SL, I would probably only did these upgrades:
  • Rear-view mirror
  • TCD display, or a smartphone handlebar mount
  • Pedals of my choice
  • Better lighting.
Did you hear me saying: "suspension stem", "suspension seatpost", "better grips", "better saddle" or "better tyres"? No. I could live with stock components for a longer while. I especially liked the Specialized stock tyres, and even the saddle was not that bad!

Brakes: Reliable, performing excellently in torrential-like rain!
Gearing: Certainly ideal for flats. (Cannot say anything for riding an SL in really hilly conditions).

Lighting of Vado SL is laughable and can only serve as daily lights. The weakest point of that otherwise excellent e-bike.

EQ vs non-EQ. Step-Over vs. Step-Through
For the Poland's condition, the EQ version is the must, although one could think of fitting MTB mudguards, and the rear rack is not really necessary for fitness rides (because Vado SL is indeed a fitness e-bike). I would just feel better with proper fenders and a rack. If one plans no swapping the seat-post for a suspension one, the tail-light placement under the saddle in non-EQ is smart, and the tail-light of the non-EQ is indeed not bad!

The exciting news is the Step-Through Vado SL shall appear in our market sometime in August. I'm strongly interested in buying Vado SL 4.0 EQ ST size M, White Sage colour!

View attachment 90242
You can actually put the SL on your shoulder and carry it upstairs!

Battery charging
The only downside of the SL is the fact you have to charge the battery on the bike. Making it awkward for touring (staying in hotels).
Nice write up, Stefan. It sounds like you could handle a long commute on the SL pretty happily. Maybe not while carrying a heavy load or climbing real mountains, but not many of us will really need to do that.
The pace of progress on lightweight ebikes this last year amazes me, especially since bike manufacturers have not had an easy year of it.
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
I had never believed in the whole Specialized SL thing until I could ride an SL myself. My ill legs can deliver 70-80 W on average (with short burst of far more if I have to). I have got used to the "full power" modern e-bikes, the 24 kg (or heavier), mid-motor, and integrated removable battery machines that I can (yes) lift upstairs but never raise any of them to the shoulder level. Yes, full power e-bikes can travel fast (especially S-Pedelecs or derestricted ones), can climb very steep hills too but it is hardly possible to pedal them unassisted or past the limiter. And they eat the battery at the rate that forces me to carry a spare for any long (read: 80 km or above) trip. The Warsaw Specialized Brand Store signed a rental agreement with me on last Saturday, charged the rental fee (28 EUR or 34 US$ equivalent), and let me ride a Vado SL 4.0 non-EQ size L for a day.

Sizing
Vado SL Step-Over is a tall bike. My own "standover height" is 78 cm (30.7"). With the M frame, I could straddle the top tube with safe clearance but I was actually touching it with my private parts for size L. I'd love the reach of the size M; I was leaning over the handlebars a little too much to my liking but, interestingly, too large frame didn't compromise ride safety of comfort for me. I was genuinely surprised with that! (The store had the non-EQ size L Vado SL as the only available demo option for Saturday so I had to take it or leave it; the size M 4.0 EQ e-bike was on display for sale).

Riding Unassisted
Nothing different to any 15 kg (33 lb) traditional bike. No "motor drag". I could pedal the Vado SL easily in flat battery situation without suffering (albeit rather slowly). I'm sure any healthy cyclist could ride the SL with the assistance OFF as the primary riding mode on flats and in absence of headwind. Vado SL feels a traditional bike in any aspect!

Riding Assisted
ECO mode feels the most logical assistance level to ride Vado SL, especially for the European 25 km/h version. It was just enough for me to feel a 25-yo again riding a traditional bike (I have never been a strong person). The feeling how lightweight the SL is, is incredible. The pedalling experience is so natural that you never even think you are on e-bike! There is excellent acceleration property: just push pedals stronger and you start moving fast! The SL was the first e-bike I could ride where staying in Eco mode on the flat felt fantastic, without the need of even thinking of going for more support. Also, I could use the derailleur sparingly. In full power heavier e-bikes, I utilize the derailleur in wide range from low gears to start the ride to high gears to move fast. Vado SL moves so easily from the cold start that I only used the derailleur to maintain my favourite cadence but not to make the cold start easier, for one.

Sport mode: Ideal to ride soft inclines, and to counter moderate headwind. I hardly ever used the Sport mode for the demo ride.

Turbo mode: Very useful! In urban environment, it allows climbing obstacles such us overpass without even increasing your heart-rate. I found the Turbo mode useful in countering storm headwind (very very strong!) I experienced on my route. Not sure how good the SL would be in real hilly environment though.

Full-power e-bikes give the edge when you really need tons of power; the SL is decidedly not as powerful. It is a very natural bike instead, helping you ride under circumstances that would turn your trip into nightmare on a traditional bike.

Riding past the speed limiter
That was a hilarious experience! If that's the 25 km/h limiter then you hit the speed limit very quickly. What happens next? Just pedal and ride faster on your leg power! On a full power e-bike, riding past the speed limited means "hitting the wall". It is not so with Vado SL. Yes, you can feel it is harder to pedal (because you have lost good watts that had assisted you) but it is just like riding a traditional bike! Nothing different!

Anecdote: I was riding leisurely on a good straight asphalt road. Suddenly, a pack of three beautiful female roadies took me over at high speed. I instantly switched the Turbo mode on and started chasing the girls. What an experience! I broke past 25 km/h and pedalled unassisted with the maximum leg power burst I could manage. Strava tells me I reached 38 km/h (unassisted!) I couldn't catch up with the girls but got so close they must have heard my "WOOOOW! You're amazing, girls!" exclamation before I gave up :)

Battery consumption
The bike appears to not be eating the battery charge at all! :) Now I can believe Specialized marketing claim you could make 100 miles on a single charge (if no upwind and flat terrain). As long as I and friend rode slowly and leisurely, the 7th battery status bar with which I started the Eco mode ride didn't want to disappear for long kilometres. Of course, Sport and especially Turbo mode eat more but... I used 3 bars (of 10) for a 41 km trip, part of which was ridden in Turbo mode for emergency reasons.

Handling, comfort, brakes, gearing, equipment
Vado SL must have been designed by some geniuses. Almost every aspect of the e-bike is extremely well thought. Handling of the bike on the ride is just fantastic.

Despite of lack of any suspension on Vado SL, the e-bike is surprisingly comfortable even on surfaces far from ideal. If I bought an SL, I would probably only did these upgrades:
  • Rear-view mirror
  • TCD display, or a smartphone handlebar mount
  • Pedals of my choice
  • Better lighting.
Did you hear me saying: "suspension stem", "suspension seatpost", "better grips", "better saddle" or "better tyres"? No. I could live with stock components for a longer while. I especially liked the Specialized stock tyres, and even the saddle was not that bad!

Brakes: Reliable, performing excellently in torrential-like rain!
Gearing: Certainly ideal for flats. (Cannot say anything for riding an SL in really hilly conditions).

Lighting of Vado SL is laughable and can only serve as daily lights. The weakest point of that otherwise excellent e-bike.

EQ vs non-EQ. Step-Over vs. Step-Through
For the Poland's condition, the EQ version is the must, although one could think of fitting MTB mudguards, and the rear rack is not really necessary for fitness rides (because Vado SL is indeed a fitness e-bike). I would just feel better with proper fenders and a rack. If one plans no swapping the seat-post for a suspension one, the tail-light placement under the saddle in non-EQ is smart, and the tail-light of the non-EQ is indeed not bad!

The exciting news is the Step-Through Vado SL shall appear in our market sometime in August. I'm strongly interested in buying Vado SL 4.0 EQ ST size M, White Sage colour!

View attachment 90242
You can actually put the SL on your shoulder and carry it upstairs!

Battery charging
The only downside of the SL is the fact you have to charge the battery on the bike. Making it awkward for touring (staying in hotels).
Delighted you finally got to test an SL Stefan! And pleased you liked it - great review as well. I'd been curious what it would be like there - diametrically opposed to the nothing-but-hills of my locale! I think you are right, eco on the flat should work very well apart from the stormy headwind days - tailwinds are a blast! I think you'll make good use out of an SL. Perhaps it can be your summer bike, saving the beast for the hard days or long days exploring hillier regions.

It is a fitness bike as you say, and exactly why I bought it. It can do steep hills but only as good as the rider. I'm fitter now then when I got it and so the hills are a bit easier. The 38T chainwheel had a dramatic effect as well. Made it feel I'd suddenly got a much powerful motor. SL1.1 motor likes a fast cadence on steep gradients, responds really well. I also adjusted the assist levels on Mission Control - eco is now max 45%, Sport 70% and this suits the steep hills near me - eco on 30% was no good at all! Turbo I just dab on when on rough gravel/dirt/rocky paths that are also very steep. I think you might find yourself experimenting with reducing eco level& sport level to give yourself more battery for long loops, especially if on the flat you are are dealing with 50% tailwind/headwind on rides out & back - less eco needed with tailwind, saving battery for headwind parts.
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
Thanks for a great report, Stefan. I like the one arm lift in your photo, sums up your post nicely.

The 5.0 SL front light (a bit brighter than the 4.0 SL) is not nearly as bright as my Niterider Race 1200, but the beam is well shaped and I found it adequate when riding at speed in full darkness, but my eyes are generally quite good (or so I'm told) at adapting to dark conditions. No doubt many people would want a brighter light, and while I too would appreciate a brighter light, I found it to be just barely adequate.

I'm a bit surprised that you aren't thinking of the SL 5.0 with the suspension stem, tubeless ready rims and brighter light and adding a Redshift or Kinekt suspension seat post, I'm too accustomed to them to go without on long rides. Somehow I think the Redshift post looks better aesthetically on the Vado SL than the Kinekt does, but I haven't ridden the Redshift myself as of yet.

Riding up significant hills is accomplished well by slowing down, downshifting and using the assistance - it feels easier, but much more like riding a regular bike going up relatively long or steep hills. I also feel in my body that I got more exercise when I finish the ride.

I wonder about taking a Vado SL on longer (days to weeks) tours, it simply doesn't look as robust as I would like for serious gear haulage, but maybe that is an inaccurate impression on my part. It would be fine for credit card / hotel touring, no doubt. I would have no problems or concerns with taking it to a hotel room for charging and security once it was cleaned up at the end of the day.

There are some incredible forms to attempt to catch up to in Poland, but it might be more impressive if done unassisted.

Along those lines, the SL is like having the right relationship, it makes you work harder, but it also makes you want to work harder.

Interested readers are waiting to see where your ebike journey will take you in the coming years...

Ride on!
I think the SL is robust enough to hang bags on - frame etc, feels very tough to me, but I would agree the extra weight will nullify the power of the motor. Especially on hills. I have a supermarket about a 20 mile round trip away that I use the car for. I often ride past the supermarket on the SL but haven't attempted a weekly shop with panniers etc because I doubt I'd get over the steep hills on way home! If I get a second bike, I'll definitely look for something that can haul a heavy load. Love your analogy:

the SL is like having the right relationship, it makes you work harder, but it also makes you want to work harder.

That's exactly it! For fitness, at first I would use the lowest assist I could bear. But now I realise I'm always pushing, so if on a hill I go up to Sport and my cadence improves, I'll keep pushing to go faster and faster. And this is much more fun as well.
 

Deacon Blues

Well-Known Member
I really like the light e-commuter bike concept. I test rode a Creo (aluminum version) a while back and was very impressed with the bike. I did think it could have used a bit more power on a really short, steep hill I climbed up, but that was when I was 43 pounds heavier than I am now. 🥳

The SL 5.0 EQ is very similar to the aluminum Creo and I like that it comes with fenders, rack, and a kick stand.

Where I live (British Columbia, Canada) the aluminum Creo and Vado SL 5.0 EQ are the same price ($6750.00 Cad).
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
I really like the light e-commuter bike concept. I test rode a Creo (aluminum version) a while back and was very impressed with the bike. I did think it could have used a bit more power on a really short, steep hill I climbed up, but that was when I was 43 pounds heavier than I am now. 🥳

The SL 5.0 EQ is very similar to the aluminum Creo and I like that it comes with fenders, rack, and a kick stand.

Where I live (British Columbia, Canada) the aluminum Creo and Vado SL 5.0 EQ are the same price ($6750.00 Cad).
Canadian prices are also pretty amazing.
 

kahn

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
northWET washington
Nice write up, Stefan. It sounds like you could handle a long commute on the SL pretty happily. Maybe not while carrying a heavy load or climbing real mountains, but not many of us will really need to do that.
The pace of progress on lightweight ebikes this last year amazes me, especially since bike manufacturers have not had an easy year of it.
That is the issue - technology changes and what will Specialized introduce next? Same weight but stronger motor or longer day of battery power? Well, my financial planner (and very close friend (g)) has given me permission to upgrade to the "next great step" as long as I sell off the current stock! I've got the Creo Aluminum and on our Seattle hills I could probably use a bit more oomph. But I guess I do get to work harder which might be okay.

Great REVIEW, Stefan.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
That is the issue - technology changes and what will Specialized introduce next? Same weight but stronger motor or longer day of battery power? Well, my financial planner (and very close friend (g)) has given me permission to upgrade to the "next great step" as long as I sell off the current stock! I've got the Creo Aluminum and on our Seattle hills I could probably use a bit more oomph. But I guess I do get to work harder which might be okay.

Great REVIEW, Stefan.
Next up ... a lightweight internal fork / wheel lock so you don't need 33 pounds of locks and chains on a 33 pound bike.
 

kahn

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
northWET washington
Next up ... a lightweight internal fork / wheel lock so you don't need 33 pounds of locks and chains on a 33 pound bike.
I'm still not sure why these rather expensive bikes don't have some locking mechanism built-in*. Of course, here in the States, large vehicles accommodate grabbing a "locked" bike and tossing it into the bed of a pickup or the rear of a van or SUV. (Especially since Stefan demonstrated how easy it is to lift one of these light weight bikes :))

* Maybe there is collusion between bike manufacturers and lock makers so that we need to buy huge locks and multiple locks to protect our investments.
 

jodi2

Active Member
I think the SL is robust enough to hang bags on - frame etc, feels very tough to me, but I would agree the extra weight will nullify the power of the motor. Especially on hills. I have a supermarket about a 20 mile round trip away that I use the car for. I often ride past the supermarket on the SL but haven't attempted a weekly shop with panniers etc because I doubt I'd get over the steep hills on way home!
You seem to buy a lot and heavy stuff... ;-)
For a hill of 10% gradient you need about 50-60kg extra weight ot nullify the 240W of the SL motor. On a 5% gradient about twice that weight.
Of course you need a better carrier rack (not only with 50-60kg more..) if you ride frequently with a lot of heavy luggage.
 

kahn

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
northWET washington
You seem to buy a lot and heavy stuff... ;-)
For a hill of 10% gradient you need about 50-60kg extra weight ot nullify the 240W of the SL motor. On a 5% gradient about twice that weight.
Of course you need a better carrier rack (not only with 50-60kg more..) if you ride frequently with a lot of heavy luggage.
I posted a similar question elsewhere but it might have gotten lost. Can the Carbon Fiber versions of the various Specialized models (Creo, Vado, Como) take racks and carry weight like panniers? I recall Trek warning me not to add racks to my Madonne and limited any seat post mounted rack to not more than ten pounds (4.5kg). That was one of the reasons (besides price) that I went with the Aluminum Creo.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
I really like the light e-commuter bike concept. I test rode a Creo (aluminum version) a while back and was very impressed with the bike. I did think it could have used a bit more power on a really short, steep hill I climbed up, but that was when I was 43 pounds heavier than I am now. 🥳

The SL 5.0 EQ is very similar to the aluminum Creo and I like that it comes with fenders, rack, and a kick stand.

Where I live (British Columbia, Canada) the aluminum Creo and Vado SL 5.0 EQ are the same price ($6750.00 Cad).
It wasn't all that long ago( 1or 2 years) when you tested the Creo, and you've lost 43 lbs ? Indeed, you are doing better than the manufacturers. Congratulations!