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

jodi2

Active Member
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 would be less afraid with the alloy Creo, but the carbon versions are allowed for a rack as well. I asked my LBS for the Specialized adapter on the seat post clamp to fix a rack there. To be safe he asked Specialized and they gave green light. But I would keep in mind the maximium weight limit of the bike. Here in Europa it's 109kg for driver+bags without bike. In my case with 100kg naked driver, not much left for the rack, maybe 5kg for the bags. A few miles I would also carry more, but before I start a long trip with 15kg bags on the rack I definitely have to loose some weight first...
If you have 85kg or less, don't worry and go ahead!
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
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.
That's a pet peeve of mine. Of course, someone can throw a bike in the back and drive off. But if you can't unlock it without destroying it (internal lock), who is going to buy a stolen bike?
 

Oberst

Well-Known Member
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.
I have a Racktime rack on my Creo Carbon Evo but have not yet loaded it up. It does have mounts at the dropouts but you need a new seatclamp collar to mount the upper.
 

kahn

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
northWET washington
That's a pet peeve of mine. Of course, someone can throw a bike in the back and drive off. But if you can't unlock it without destroying it (internal lock), who is going to buy a stolen bike?
You have a point. Just one more thing to dissuade a thief and move to an easier target. But then I get my paranoia up and think that if the thief can't have it, will they purposefully damage the bike so that the owner can't enjoy it either! No perfect solutions in this imperfect world. I've been thinking of those wheel locks that they use in the Netherlands - just a quick deterrent. Or a disc brake lock. But then, if the thief does not notice it, they might accidentally damage the spokes or disc rotor.

Currently, if I'm alone, I don't leave the bike. If with others, we take turns watching at the coffee shop or restroom.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
Certainly could happen, and has happened before. But if there isn't any profit in it, bike theft would probably vanish. And a commuter can't always watch their bike.
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
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.
On the 11.4 mile route back from that supermarket there are 3 big hills each 20% plus a few more around 10-15%. It's Dartmoor, it's ALL hills here. I was talking about a weekly shop for the family, the full trolley kind so not sure the ride would be very comfortable or the motor happy even if I could figure how to attach enough panniers and racks! How would a wheeled trailer work on such steep roads I wonder?!
Liking the look of that small wheeled Cube with powerful Bosch motor, seems to have good reviews. Or the various US brands with small fat wheels like Rad that we don't see much over here. Anyway that's in the future - but the great thing about e bikes is once tried you can then see what other uses they could do in your life. From a fitness bike to now thinking about a cargo bike...
 

jodi2

Active Member
I see or hear people quite often talking about 20 or more percent and this is mostly nonsense in Germany. If this gradients exist, they are 20m long and it's a dead end where only the forester lives...
But if we talk about England/Wales/Cornwall, I believe you everything! I was cycling there for 2 months in 2001 and it was frustrating. Today I wouldn't go there without a motor...

But back to the SL: For really heavy load or trailers (some neighbours already asked us, what about a kids trailer with SL) I would say it depends. If you have to carry your kids in the trailer every day for 30 miles and you live in Dartmoor any other similar crazy britisch regions, stay out of SL/take a more powerful/normal motor.
But if you do it only once every two weeks and maybe just three miles from the supermarkt back home the SL bikes are still great ebikes which offer you much more joy all the rest of your rides.
And if you are able to do the hill alone (without load or children) you will always make that hill also with the cargo and SL drive. Even at 20% uphill you can still carry more than 40kg extra before you equal the 240W of the Sl drive.
 

Rincon

Well-Known Member
12v might also enable me to use a high decibel motorcycle horn - then I can chase the joggers off the bike path!
The Airzound will do that. I use it for cars and trucks. Makes inattentive drivers jump out of their skins. They think a train has left the tracks and is about to mow them down. Always fun. I should make a video.
 
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Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
On the 11.4 mile route back from that supermarket there are 3 big hills each 20% plus a few more around 10-15%. It's Dartmoor, it's ALL hills here. I was talking about a weekly shop for the family, the full trolley kind so not sure the ride would be very comfortable or the motor happy even if I could figure how to attach enough panniers and racks! How would a wheeled trailer work on such steep roads I wonder?!
Liking the look of that small wheeled Cube with powerful Bosch motor, seems to have good reviews. Or the various US brands with small fat wheels like Rad that we don't see much over here. Anyway that's in the future - but the great thing about e bikes is once tried you can then see what other uses they could do in your life. From a fitness bike to now thinking about a cargo bike...
I think you would be making a point only, not enjoying it. Especially if you spill a week's groceries.
 

kahn

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
northWET washington
I think this thread has possibly convinced me to try out one of the more HEAVY but POWERFUL models. But then the power might spoil me but the weight might deter me. With luck the local shop won't have any in to test ride. And then the question would be if the Creo Aluminum and Range Extender got me 53 very hilly miles, would the more powerful actually do that or deplete the battery faster? On the Creo, while I did the ride, there were times I really was mashing the pedals to achieve the hill(s).

But I'm not sure that taking the weigh off of me, is practical at this point.
 

Law

Active Member
That's a pet peeve of mine. Of course, someone can throw a bike in the back and drive off. But if you can't unlock it without destroying it (internal lock), who is going to buy a stolen bike?
Bike manufacturers still are reticent to include anti theft measure. But think about it, If the bike is stolen guess what you were going to do?

I remember when the iPhone finally included technology that could track the phone and thefts in New York dropped 70%. I’ve got the airtag stuffed way up in a tube, good luck stealing it.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
Bike manufacturers still are reticent to include anti theft measure. But think about it, If the bike is stolen guess what you were going to do?

I remember when the iPhone finally included technology that could track the phone and thefts in New York dropped 70%. I’ve got the airtag stuffed way up in a tube, good luck stealing it.
I had never heard of either of those tracking apps before. Almost makes me want an Apple product....Nope, not yet...well, maybe....
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
The Airzound will do that. I use it for cars and trucks. Makes inattentive drivers jump out of their skins. They think a train has left the tracks and is about to mow them down. Always fun. I should make a video.
Please do. An air horn could be a wonderful thing.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
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.
Scott: As an (already) seasoned e-biker, I got used to harsh ride and any forms of bike suspension matter less and less to me. Although I have tried and accept the benefits from going tubeless, I now prefer staying with tubed setup. Better lights? I own two sets of high performance portable lamps. And -- although @jodi2 would hate me for saying that: I don't want to hear about any carbon-fibre component on my e-bike :)

The 5.0 is too expensive as for the improvements the price difference introduces. At least for me.

Ras: I have found the main reason for me to carry a pannier on a recreation ride is to carry a spare battery :) Otherwise, an Ortlieb Vario backpack is good enough for me (and there is nothing like "spare battery" in the SL: the Range Extender can be carried on the bike).

My main problem with the SL is it does not provide the performance and/or speed I could achieve on group rides with able cyclists. My ill legs would prevent me from participation, where full power Vado just shines there. I and brother were on a group ride with a female traditional cyclist on Sunday. It was 130 km (80 miles) at average speed of 24.4 km/h. To cope with Justyna upwind, I had to use 60% of full power of Vado and two 600 Wh batteries (and I was not limited to 25 km/h!) If I bought an SL, that would only be my private toy for own (single) riding.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
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! ... 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.
Nice write-up Stefan. Yes, I'd agree the Vado SL feels like a regular bike. I just sold my only non-electric bike because I was looking at it next to the Vado SL and telling myself "well, they are almost the same weight, similar geometry and I can ride the Vado SL with or without power" ... so the non-electric was collecting dust and it pained me to see it not being used. The Vado SL killed my non-electric bike. But better than riding the Vado SL unassisted, is to use Mission Control to set at least a minimal amount of assist - just enough to provide some help off the line and to power the lights for example - and at that minimal level of assist, the battery will provide a lot of mileage. For example, I set a custom ride mode for riding with my wife - she is pretty slow - of 5% and 10% (10% max output). It isn't really enough to feel any assist but at riding at less than 10% average assist I am around 1000 miles of estimated range. So yes, I can ride unassisted but I can also ride with just a little assist and that battery just goes and goes. I think Specialized did a really good job with the bike and credit Mahle for the motor. It handles well, the power delivery is smooth and consistent, it is customizable and - the big selling point - it is really light for an e-bike.

Per my ride data, riding at around 5% assist I'm at a 1000 miles for estimated range. At 15% assist, I'm over 200 miles of estimated range (flats of course). I've found the front light on the 5.0 EQ to be pretty powerful. The taillight isn't great. I use a lot of supplemental USB-rechargeable lighting.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
200 miles range is a full tank of gas/petrol in a sports car...
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
I see or hear people quite often talking about 20 or more percent and this is mostly nonsense in Germany. If this gradients exist, they are 20m long and it's a dead end where only the forester lives...
But if we talk about England/Wales/Cornwall, I believe you everything! I was cycling there for 2 months in 2001 and it was frustrating. Today I wouldn't go there without a motor...

But back to the SL: For really heavy load or trailers (some neighbours already asked us, what about a kids trailer with SL) I would say it depends. If you have to carry your kids in the trailer every day for 30 miles and you live in Dartmoor any other similar crazy britisch regions, stay out of SL/take a more powerful/normal motor.
But if you do it only once every two weeks and maybe just three miles from the supermarkt back home the SL bikes are still great ebikes which offer you much more joy all the rest of your rides.
And if you are able to do the hill alone (without load or children) you will always make that hill also with the cargo and SL drive. Even at 20% uphill you can still carry more than 40kg extra before you equal the 240W of the Sl drive.
"Even at 20% uphill you can still carry more than 40kg extra before you equal the 240W of the Sl drive."

Well... The motor may be up for it, but my legs, my fitness probably is not! Before I got the SL I would need to stop (frequently) to admire the view going up these hills. It was a revelation getting to the top without having to stop once I tried them on the SL. Looking back on that moment, it was incredible. That classic e bike grin moment for sure. Justified the high e bike price, far more then I've ever paid for a bike and a purchase I questioned guiltily as a probable stupid mid life crises, like the dusty golf clubs or unused indoor gym of my parents generation. But it was worth it. Now suddenly this beautiful hilly region opened up - hills became an interesting challenge, not a painful barrier to cycling. But even with the motor it was taking me to the very edge on the steep ramps. Any myth of e bikes 'cheating' - just watch me panting out of breath with my legs screaming as I veer up the slopes. And if that sounds like the SL is too weak a motor, for me, knowing I could never get up these hills at all unassisted, I think the motor is remarkable. My fitness has really improved and The smaller (38T) chainring I bought improved matters more and now on a lot of the steep hills I can get over them comfortably on Sport (set to 70%) but there are still some hills, must be 20%++ that take Turbo 100% and every gear just to keep moving. Difference is, I scour maps looking for hills like these to test myself & SL on! Enjoying conquering them. My version of Everesting. On those b**stards, I'll need my fitness to improve yet more to be able to haul anything up other then a bedraggled kitten!

- I avoid bigger roads when I can because without hard shoulders I think these busy A roads with a lot of trucks are deadly dangerous for cyclists. But when I have to venture onto them I find the hills are longer but with easier gradients. First time I went up a hill on roads like this on the Vado SL, it was a local hill I feared, one I'd only driven up but knew and expected it to be tough. But because the gradient was much less, maybe 8% the SL flew up it in Sport. The bike seemed to be almost singing.

The map below is a screen grab from the OS (Ordinance Survey) map of Dartmoor. It's just a sample to show the kind of terrain. Those black v lines intersecting the yellow roads designate gradient; 1 v means 14% to 20%. 2 v's means steeper then 20%. I've already had to change brake pads and will do again soon! Also the green broken lines are byways - rights of way paths. You can cycle on some of them, the longer green dashes are bridleways for walking, horse riding or cycling. But just because it's legal doesn't mean it's possible!! I now check the contours very carefully as some are unrideable. It's great to explore though. I have the OS map app on my phone and use it all the time when exploring. The detail is incredible.
 

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Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
I have added this text to the review:

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.

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?
Yes, I noticed that. Be aware 210 lumens of high-beam is not adequate for night riding. 400 lm is what you use as addition to street lighting, 800 lm is adequate for slow riding in the darkness, 1100 or more is what you need in the forest at night.
 

jodi2

Active Member
I think the owners of Vado SL or Creo are simply unaware how quiet these motors are compared to other makes.
No, the SL is one of the noisest middle motors (also different Bosch, Yamaha, Fazua) I've ever riden. But I don't know Shimano and Brose yet. And I had sometime company from friends with a very noisy shimano motors, but I don't know which ones. And even if I find the motor relatively loud while riding my Creo, I don't hear much/almost nothing when my wife rides next to me with her Vado SL.
I think it's also something psychologial. If I ride a cheap Bosch or Yamaha ebike, I don't care much about the noise. But my first ride on a Creo was an a 8500 € Creo Expert and the noise did not seem to fit to a bike that expensive and that nice and with such an unvisible and (according to weight/handling) unfeelable motor.
On a 1500 € bike with a ugly big motor the same noise may have disturbed me less...