Vado 4.0 vs. Vado 4.0 SL EQ (I've owned both)

Copyrider

Active Member
I live in San Francisco and commute to Oakland via the ferry. It's not a long commute, but I it has big hills and lots of city traffic, making an E-bike the best option I've found for reliably hitting the ferry schedule in a timely manner.

I recently had my 2019 Vado 4.0 stolen and vowed to replace it, as I loved the big bike for all its commuting and hill-crushing prowess. I also loved local short-medium rides, such as up to Sausalito, or along the many trails in the area. Weekends in Golden Gate Park, all along Crissy Field trails, etc. This bike literally changed my life.

I'm active, but not necessarily super fitness oriented. I'm in decent (but not great) shape, 6'2" 205 lbs. and a young-minded 51 years old. I purchased the Vado 4.0 hoping for a reliable commute solution for SF hills and to combat its crazy driving/parking issues, while offering some fitness and recreation as a bonus. The Vado delivered on all counts. I was a huge fan.

Nothing's perfect, though. Some caveats about that bike are obvious and some I had to figure out. First, the regular Vados are BIG and heavy. That's obvious. Once you're used to it though, it's a very maneuverable setup. I did have an issue or two early on, with my motor surging a bit whenI'd stop pedaling. This also caused some gear slipping and exacerbated a loose rear axle that my bike shop missed in my build. All of this was quickly fixed with a firmware update, and once they had straightened everything out and tightened it all up, the motor performed flawlessly and all issues of handling and shifting were resolved.

Hard to pin that all on the manufacturer.

With Mission Control, I had attempted to set ECO Mode to closely simulate an analogue bike in pedal effort, speed, etc. That was a fruitless pursuit. There's simply no way that big bike can feel like a regular bike. It's smooth and rideable, but it's in another category to me--in both good ways and bad. Most noticeable was that, because I always used assist and frequently used Sport or Turbo for city traffic/hills, my range seemed quite limited. That, and the boost the Vado gives, while smooth and linear and a lot of fun, is really more than I needed or actually wanted.

I did love the speed off the line, while mixing in City traffic. I loved the aggressive tire/wheel setup and the fluid, stable ride, even on broken pavement, downhill, at speed. That's a lot of SF.

I wish it had been more usable without assist, though. It honestly seemed to me that, on the few times I tried to ride it without assist, it still drained the battery as if I were using the motor. Also, the resistance through the motor without assist was as heavy as the bike itself. It also has a rather long wheelbase, which makes it smooth and stable, but difficult to manage in train station elevators (and of course, it's not really a good candidate for carrying up the escalator/stairs, either).

The 4.0 SL EQ solves nearly every small issue I had above. The lower boost is perfect for a closer "regular bike" experience, even on small inclines, where a little boost is nice. The SL power is subtle and smooth. There's still enough there for big, 28% hills though--in Granny Gear for me--but still, I have those kinds of hills and appreciate the power.

The real difference is "off" mode. This bike performs like a regular bike. Period. I can't tell you how much I love feeling like I'm riding a non ebike, whenever I want to. It looks great, too. Way more sporty/stylish than the regular Vado, in my opinion.

I love the maneuverability, riding position, control and ride of the SL a lot. It isn't as stable and smooth at speed on broken pavement as the Vado, but it's much more responsive and agile. The brakes are also much better. I will say I miss the wider tire set-up of the previous bike. The SL's look destined to be wedged in streetcar tracks. I also might regret not getting the 5.0, with the Future Shock, as the rigid forks are a little tough to get used to. I wonder if there will be an option to add this?

The range is going to be much better on the SL from my admittedly small sample size, as I will ride this much more often without assist or in lower modes. It doesn't quite bolt off the line, the way the Vado did, but it's quick to speed and just as easy to ride fast when it needs to be. The motor is slightly louder, but not a big deal. The weight is still biased to the front of the bike, but is a bit lower, making carrying the bike easy.

Overall, the SL is the perfect commuter, I think! Couldn't be happier in this price range.
 
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Scott Adams

Active Member
Well written, lots of details, based on experience with both bikes, my kind of review!

We are about the same height, what size is your SL - L or XL? Any thoughts on frame size?

Can the SL lights be turned on/off separately from the bike itself, or do they only come on when the bike is on and can't be turned off on their own?

Hope you have many miles of fun with it.
 

Copyrider

Active Member
Well written, lots of details, based on experience with both bikes, my kind of review!

We are about the same height, what size is your SL - L or XL? Any thoughts on frame size?

Can the SL lights be turned on/off separately from the bike itself, or do they only come on when the bike is on and can't be turned off on their own?

Hope you have many miles of fun with it.

Mine is a Large and is quite tall. I wouldn't want the step over height to be any higher.

For the lights--no, unlike the regular Vado, the lights are tied to the main power. It's one of the first things I noticed. On the controller switch, the button that the regular Vado used for the lights is now a walk-assist button. there's another button, too--a turbo button that instantly puts the bike in Level 3 assist.

So, provided you're okay just riding in unassisted mode, you could turn the bike all the way off and ride without lights, I suppose. That was not an option for me on the regular Vado, due to the heavy motor drag (and heavy bike). I did sometimes kill the lights when walking the bike off the ferry, though. So, I'll miss that feature.
 

Safety2nd

New Member
I live in San Francisco and commute to Oakland via the ferry. It's not a long commute, but I it has big hills and lots of city traffic, making an E-bike the best option I've found for reliably hitting the ferry schedule in a timely manner.

I recently had my 2019 Vado 4.0 stolen and vowed to replace it, as I loved the big bike for all its commuting and hill-crushing prowess. I also loved local short-medium rides, such as up to Sausalito, or along the many trails in the area. Weekends in Golden Gate Park, all along Crissy Field trails, etc. This bike literally changed my life.

I'm active, but not necessarily super fitness oriented. I'm in decent (but not great) shape, 6'2" 205 lbs. and a young-minded 51 years old. I purchased the Vado 4.0 hoping for a reliable commute solution for SF hills and to combat its crazy driving/parking issues, while offering some fitness and recreation as a bonus. The Vado delivered on all counts. I was a huge fan.

Nothing's perfect, though. Some caveats about that bike are obvious and some I had to figure out. First, the regular Vados are BIG and heavy. That's obvious. Once you're used to it though, it's a very maneuverable setup. I did have an issue or two early on, with my motor surging a bit whenI'd stop pedaling. This also caused some gear slipping and exacerbated a loose rear axle that my bike shop missed in my build. All of this was quickly fixed with a firmware update, and once they had straightened everything out and tightened it all up, the motor performed flawlessly and all issues of handling and shifting were resolved.

Hard to pin that all on the manufacturer.

With Mission Control, I had attempted to set ECO Mode to closely simulate an analogue bike in pedal effort, speed, etc. That was a fruitless pursuit. There's simply no way that big bike can feel like a regular bike. It's smooth and rideable, but it's in another category to me--in both good ways and bad. Most noticeable was that, because I always used assist and frequently used Sport or Turbo for city traffic/hills, my range seemed quite limited. That, and the boost the Vado gives, while smooth and linear and a lot of fun, is really more than I needed or actually wanted.

I did love the speed off the line, while mixing in City traffic. I loved the aggressive tire/wheel setup and the fluid, stable ride, even on broken pavement, downhill, at speed. That's a lot of SF.

I wish it had been more usable without assist, though. It honestly seemed to me that, on the few times I tried to ride it without assist, it still drained the battery as if I were using the motor. Also, the resistance through the motor without assist was as heavy as the bike itself. It also has a rather long wheelbase, which makes it smooth and stable, but difficult to manage in train station elevators (and of course, it's not really a good candidate for carrying up the escalator/stairs, either).

The 4.0 SL EQ solves nearly every small issue I had above. The lower boost is perfect for a closer "regular bike" experience, even on small inclines, where a little boost is nice. The SL power is subtle and smooth. There's still enough there for big, 28% hills though--in Granny Gear for me--but still, I have those kinds of hills and appreciate the power.

The real difference is "off" mode. This bike performs like a regular bike. Period. I can't tell you how much I love feeling like I'm riding a non ebike, whenever I want to. It looks great, too. Way more sporty/stylish than the regular Vado, in my opinion.

I love the maneuverability, riding position, control and ride of the SL a lot. It isn't as stable and smooth at speed on broken pavement as the Vado, but it's much more responsive and agile. The brakes are also much better. I will say I miss the wider tire set-up of the previous bike. The SL's look destined to be wedged in streetcar tracks. I also might regret not getting the 5.0, with the Future Shock, as the rigid forks are a little tough to get used to. I wonder if there will be an option to add this?

The range is going to be much better on the SL from my admittedly small sample size, as I will ride this much more often without assist or in lower modes. It doesn't quite bolt off the line, the way the Vado did, but it's quick to speed and just as easy to ride fast when it needs to be. The motor is slightly louder, but not a big deal. The weight is still biased to the front of the bike, but is a bit lower, making carrying the bike easy.

Overall, the SL is the perfect commuter, I think! Couldn't be happier in this price range.

Glad you‘re enjoying the SL. I first went to my local shop with every intention of getting the SL and ended up buying the Vado 4.0. It’s solely my commuter and errands runner. I still have my analog bikes for when I want to work to get up the hills. Since I live atop one of the many hills in SF my rides always end with a pretty big climb.

It’s good that we have so many choices. I’m already starting to think about a long tail cargo bike like the Surly Big Easy or spending serious money on an R&M hauler.



PS... Who the hell commutes from SF to Oakland? Isn’t usually the other way around.
 

Copyrider

Active Member
Glad you‘re enjoying the SL. I first went to my local shop with every intention of getting the SL and ended up buying the Vado 4.0. It’s solely my commuter and errands runner. I still have my analog bikes for when I want to work to get up the hills. Since I live atop one of the many hills in SF my rides always end with a pretty big climb.

It’s good that we have so many choices. I’m already starting to think about a long tail cargo bike like the Surly Big Easy or spending serious money on an R&M hauler.



PS... Who the hell commutes from SF to Oakland? Isn’t usually the other way around.
I'm also on top of one of SF's big hills. These bikes are made for that. Enjoy!

PS- We bought a building in Oakland 2 years ago and moved from the Financial District. I used to ride a cable car to work every day. Then, I tried cable car to ferry, but that took too long and often had me missing one or the other. The Vado is the perfect solution. I ride it down to the ferry, which is mostly empty in the reverse-commute. There are 5-6 regulars and a few other randos every morning, lol. In the evenings it's a little more crowded, but not much, and I can even have a glass of wine on the way back.

I love living in SF--wouldn't trade it--the Vado means I don't have to.
 
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Copyrider

Active Member
28% grade??? Holy cow is that ever steep. That's something that the SL motor can handle 28% grades.

Glad to hear you're enjoying the bike.

To be clear, I'm still working (and sweating), but yeah, I can make it up some pretty steep hills, like those in the Russian Hill neighborhood, Telegraph Hill, etc. The regular Vado was a bit easier, but not as much as you might think. In either case, it's about selecting the right gear to find the perfect balance between torque and cadence. It's not always the lowest gear. You have to learn to optimize for the sensors.

The first few days I spent on Nob Hill (California St.) with the Vado, I thought I had made a terrible mistake in my purchase. The big, heavy bike was a nightmare. But, as I later learned to gear, shift and pedal to optimize the sensors onboard, I found the Vado (and I) had gears I didn't know existed.

Edit: The one I hit more than others is Fillmore--only a 24% grade.
 
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Johnny

Well-Known Member
Now this is a good review and comparison from someone who actually rode both bikes an extended period. Your experience is what I imagined this bike would be.

Enjoy your bike.
 
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jwehman

Member
Well written, lots of details, based on experience with both bikes, my kind of review!

We are about the same height, what size is your SL - L or XL? Any thoughts on frame size?

Can the SL lights be turned on/off separately from the bike itself, or do they only come on when the bike is on and can't be turned off on their own?

Hope you have many miles of fun with it.

I test rode a 5.0 SL, and I'm about 6'3" (maybe 6'2.5"), 200lbs and a 35"-ish inseam. I rode the SL XL and found that with the seat post raised up to "7", my fit on that bike was perfect. Very aggressive and gravel-y. If I wanted to be more "comfortable" (ie, commuting), I would expect that an L with a lower seat post might make it seem more commute-friendly.
 

markjl

New Member
Great review. Looked at the bike but the high stand over is a deal killer for me ( unfortunately alot of bikes fit this profile as I'm 5'8" and 29.5" inseam ). I demoed the Vado 3.0 in medium step through and loved it. Plan to order the Vado 5.0 in step through. But, I definitely like the looks of the SL and the idea of zero drag when not using motor.
 

rochrunner

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Rochester Hills MI
I wish it had been more usable without assist, though. It honestly seemed to me that, on the few times I tried to ride it without assist, it still drained the battery as if I were using the motor. Also, the resistance through the motor without assist was as heavy as the bike itself.
Overall a useful post, but I'm not sure what you mean here. For me, the motor does not seem to add any drag to pedaling when in the Off mode, and it's pretty much just like pedaling any other 50lb bike (such as a fully loaded touring rig from what I understand). I've had no trouble using the Off mode as long as I'm on flat surfaces, but it's definitely more effort than riding my non-e-bikes on the same terrain.
 

Copyrider

Active Member
Overall a useful post, but I'm not sure what you mean here. For me, the motor does not seem to add any drag to pedaling when in the Off mode, and it's pretty much just like pedaling any other 50lb bike (such as a fully loaded touring rig from what I understand). I've had no trouble using the Off mode as long as I'm on flat surfaces, but it's definitely more effort than riding my non-e-bikes on the same terrain.

That's interesting. Note that, early on, I took my 2019 Vado 4.0 back to the shop (they kept it for 2 days) to update firmware on the motor and battery, as I was having a bit of a surge issue when I stopped pedaling. My chainwheel would continue to drive for almost a full second after I stopped pedaling, making shifting difficult and often pushing the bike forward 2-3 feet at the top of hill ascents. I forgot to mention that I was also finding it difficult to maintain 28mph+ on the flats then, as the motor cutout was accompanied by some drag at that speed. I wonder if the new firmware update I received changed my bike in that regard?

There was a noticeable drag through the drivetrain on my regular Vado and it was exacerbated by the weight of the bike. Conversely, I live on about a 15% grade hill and yesterday I rode off, up the hill, without the SL even turned on. It felt at least as easy to pedal as the regular Vado in ECO mode, maybe easier.

For clarity, this drag was noticeable and undesirable, but not necessarily unbearable. In fact, I likened the regular Vado response with no assist more to a sense of "rolling resistance" as it felt like there was a loss of energy that I was putting into the cranks that wasn't being transferred to the chainwheel, if that clarifies it at all. There is absolutely none of that sensation in the SL.

One last point I'l make--and this one is probably less convoluted than my above theory about it being firmware related--when I felt that the motor was still engaged while pedaling in off mode on the Vado, I decided to gauge battery consumption. My Vado lost 10% of its battery charge during a period where I was riding for about 3 miles with no assist, whatsoever. That's as fast, or faster than i'd expect to lose charge with the system engaged. I attributed that to the firmware update and the tuning of the system, which I ultimately preferred over the way my bike was originally delivered, and didn't try to correct this.
 

rochrunner

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Rochester Hills MI
Isn't some of that "drag" you feel at 28+ just attributable to not having any boost from the motor? I don't know about you, but there's no way I can pedal for more than a few seconds at 28mph on my own power. So yes, I feel a sudden drag when the motor cuts off at the limit, just as switching it to the Off mode results in a sudden feeling of increased drag at any speed. Even when riding in a relaxed way, I'm typically going several mph faster on the e-bike than I would on my other bikes with the same effort, which is not surprising.
 

Johnny

Well-Known Member
That's interesting. Note that, early on, I took my 2019 Vado 4.0 back to the shop (they kept it for 2 days) to update firmware on the motor and battery, as I was having a bit of a surge issue when I stopped pedaling. My chainwheel would continue to drive for almost a full second after I stopped pedaling, making shifting difficult and often pushing the bike forward 2-3 feet at the top of hill ascents. I forgot to mention that I was also finding it difficult to maintain 28mph+ on the flats then, as the motor cutout was accompanied by some drag at that speed. I wonder if the new firmware update I received changed my bike in that regard?

There was a noticeable drag through the drivetrain on my regular Vado and it was exacerbated by the weight of the bike. Conversely, I live on about a 15% grade hill and yesterday I rode off, up the hill, without the SL even turned on. It felt at least as easy to pedal as the regular Vado in ECO mode, maybe easier.

For clarity, this drag was noticeable and undesirable, but not necessarily unbearable. In fact, I likened the regular Vado response with no assist more to a sense of "rolling resistance" as it felt like there was a loss of energy that I was putting into the cranks that wasn't being transferred to the chainwheel, if that clarifies it at all. There is absolutely none of that sensation in the SL.

One last point I'l make--and this one is probably less convoluted than my above theory about it being firmware related--when I felt that the motor was still engaged while pedaling in off mode on the Vado, I decided to gauge battery consumption. My Vado lost 10% of its battery charge during a period where I was riding for about 3 miles with no assist, whatsoever. That's as fast, or faster than i'd expect to lose charge with the system engaged. I attributed that to the firmware update and the tuning of the system, which I ultimately preferred over the way my bike was originally delivered, and didn't try to correct this.

Does the drag change when you ride it turned off vs turned on without any assist?
 

Copyrider

Active Member
Does the drag change when you ride it turned off vs turned on without any assist?
A project! I like it. I'll test it and get back to you, regarding the SL. As I stated, I did not notice any drag in it, but wasn't checking if there was any difference between off and on.

I can't test the regular Vado, as it was stolen. If I catch the guy who stole it, I'll ask him, though...
 

Copyrider

Active Member
Isn't some of that "drag" you feel at 28+ just attributable to not having any boost from the motor? I don't know about you, but there's no way I can pedal for more than a few seconds at 28mph on my own power. So yes, I feel a sudden drag when the motor cuts off at the limit, just as switching it to the Off mode results in a sudden feeling of increased drag at any speed. Even when riding in a relaxed way, I'm typically going several mph faster on the e-bike than I would on my other bikes with the same effort, which is not surprising.

Please reference:

For clarity, this drag was noticeable and undesirable, but not necessarily unbearable. In fact, I likened the regular Vado response with no assist more to a sense of "rolling resistance" as it felt like there was a loss of energy that I was putting into the cranks that wasn't being transferred to the chainwheel

I liken my experience to dyno testing a car. Say, the car is rated at 350 horsepower. On the dyno, however, only 300 horsepower actually comes out to the wheels. 50 horsepower is lost in the drivetrain mechanicals. That's what I believe I was experiencing with the regular Vado. There was definitely some resistance felt in the pedals to turn the gears and belts of that motor. The energy put into that did not make it to the drive wheel.

I'm convinced, after experiencing the SL that this experience was more than just "loss of boost." I agree that the weight of the Vado, the fatter tires and the higher resistance of their tread pattern didn't do the Vado any favors, but this was more than that.

The drive train on the SL is freewheeling without boost, by comparison.
 

Deacon Blues

Well-Known Member
My Pedego RidgeRider has the top speed (powered) at 25 mph. I can hit 25 mph, but have to be pedalling hard. Sustained speed is more like 20 mph.
With a 28 mph top speed I wonder how many commuters can keep that speed for any distance.
I suspect not many.
 

Safety2nd

New Member
My Pedego RidgeRider has the top speed (powered) at 25 mph. I can hit 25 mph, but have to be pedalling hard. Sustained speed is more like 20 mph.
With a 28 mph top speed I wonder how many commuters can keep that speed for any distance.
I suspect not many.

On the flats it’s pretty easy to maintain 25-26 with my Vado 4.0 in turbo mode. I suspect that the 5.0 would make 28+ just as easy with the larger 48 tooth front sprocket.
 

Copyrider

Active Member
My Pedego RidgeRider has the top speed (powered) at 25 mph. I can hit 25 mph, but have to be pedalling hard. Sustained speed is more like 20 mph.
With a 28 mph top speed I wonder how many commuters can keep that speed for any distance.
I suspect not many.

I actually found it doable to maintain 27-28 and to go in fairly good sprints above that—all according to the Turbo Connect Display. No telling how accurate it was.

I’ll say this—after the the firmware update and tune of the drive system I got a month in, it was a much faster, better accelerating bike—again, to the point that I felt I had more boost than I wanted or needed.

is It possible the mechanic unlocked a governor or something? He did smile whenhe gave me my bike back and made a point of letting me know that, “NOW you can hit 28 with NO problem...”

I didn’t ask any questions. lol
 

Allan47.7339

Well-Known Member
My Pedego RidgeRider has the top speed (powered) at 25 mph. I can hit 25 mph, but have to be pedalling hard. Sustained speed is more like 20 mph.
With a 28 mph top speed I wonder how many commuters can keep that speed for any distance.
I suspect not many.

Similar experience, I used to commute twenty miles on a Turbo S with a 28 mph nominal top speed. I would tell people it's "real" usable top speed is about 24-25 mph (per Garmin) on the flats. As you hit the indicated 27.99 on the Turbo display the motor cuts out per programming and start this wave of faster / slower as you try to keep it close to 28.

I have Vado SL 5.0 EQ on order since I am looking for a more road bike feel without the abrupt cutoff of power and less drag if the motor is off. I had to ride the Turbo S home a couple of times because someone forgot to charge it for me and it was like riding a heavy loaded touring bike. I am looking forward to be able to use the Vado SL with the motor off some of the time.