Vado SL 4.0 - How much off road?

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
As I said above the problem is the seat stay bridge clearance. It's pretty tight there but I haven't tried 47mm. I did look into getting 650b wheels and contacted Specialized UK they replied that it wasn't advised as it would lower the BB. But I think the larger (47mm) tyres I was planing to fit would compensate for the smaller rim size and so should be similiar overall dimension to 700c with 38/40mm tyre. It seemed a good solution to fitting wider tyres. Anyway I found the 27.5/650b wheels available at the time to be expensive so I didn't take the risk & fitted the WTB Nano 40mm/700c tyres instead.
 

Rook

Member
Region
USA
As I said above the problem is the seat stay bridge clearance. It's pretty tight there but I haven't tried 47mm. I did look into getting 650b wheels and contacted Specialized UK they replied that it wasn't advised as it would lower the BB. But I think the larger (47mm) tyres I was planing to fit would compensate for the smaller rim size and so should be similiar overall dimension to 700c with 38/40mm tyre. It seemed a good solution to fitting wider tyres. Anyway I found the 27.5/650b wheels available at the time to be expensive so I didn't take the risk & fitted the WTB Nano 40mm/700c tyres instead.
How much difference in ride quality is there with those tires vs the stock pathfinder 38s? I was looking last night at a couple of 42s, the WTB Resolute or the Continental AT Ride.
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
A lot. At first when I put them on, I was disappointed because they actually looked a fraction narrower then the Pathfinder 38s. But then I noticed they were taller & so contain a larger air cushion. That combined with the extra grip means they feel much better on rough roads - feel lively and more responsive then the Pathfinders which always felt a bit numbing. Also if I tried the Pathfinders with lower pressure they felt really sluggish, the Nanos don't have this problem. I mean don't expect miracles but there was a noticeable difference in comfort and I don't notice them being much slower on tarmac.

You should fit 42s ok I think, depending on the tyre profile. I should add that I have the Nano's on with mudguards - not the Specialized but that there is just about enough clearance on the seat stays for the tall 40s & guard. Mudguards in rainy UK are essential! You might not have that issue.

One other thought about a half way point between the Vado SL & Powerfly- have you access to BMC bikes where you are? The BMC alpenchallenge amp Cross One looks a good light weight gravel e bike with flat bars and a bit more uumph with a Shimano Steps 6100 motor & bigger battery. In Europe it goes for around 2,999 euros so close to Vado SL pricing:


I'm sure there are US posters with this bike on here who'll know more but it looks great.
 

Rook

Member
Region
USA
I think my issue is trying to convert a road bike into a eMTB, or an eMTB into a road bike. I'm not sure I'm sold on the powerfly and the weight of it. I'm sure I'd want to switch out the fork as the suspension wasn't great, in fact I was originally steered away from a Trek Dual Sport by the LBS because they said the suspension is base quality. Yet, it's virtually the same suspension on the Powerfly they are trying to sell me.

I'm leaning to get the Vado for the bulk of my riding, and an analog MTB for play time. I do have a 20 year old schwin MTB with no suspension that my son uses. I can try my hand on some light trails with that before deciding on a MTB. If I thought I'd be going on actual MTB trails then the Powerfly FS would be a good idea, albeit $1,000 more. I think if I upgrade the tires, get a suspension seat post and better seat, and possibly a suspension stem at some point it would do well of most of my needs. I like the smooth, fast feeling of it. It would be better if it came with a suspension fork, or if I could add a suspension fork with a lock out.

When I started looking for a new bike, I was looking between the Canyon Pathlite or the Canyon Exceed CF 7. Then I went to try some e-bikes for my wife ....
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
Just looked at the Pathlite: ON 6 - in uk £2899 so equiv to Vado SL. Looks a v good deal, Deore XT and Shimano brakes over plain Jane Deore & Tektro on the SL. It is about 10 pounds heavier then Vado SL, but for that you get suspension fork, wider tyres 50+mm, bigger battery 500 and powerful Bosch motor. On paper it looks a good halfway house. Good for road and off road. Reminds me of the Cube trekking e bikes but lighter I think. Nice. It's getting to the point that everytime someone mentions a new bike that I didn't know about I get new ebike envy straight away! I love my Vado SL, but dammit I want to try out ALL these bikes. Too many delicious looking bikes & these days everything is so well equipped.
 

jodi2

Active Member
@Rook I still do not understand why you still switch between light assit drive ebikes and heavy normal ebikes and classical LBS brands and of all things Canyon (which do great bikes for the money but service/warranty cases ar terrible, even in Germany where Canyon is located, I guess even more in other countries).
You should first be clear what you really want and what bikes can offer this and then decide which brand and where/how to buy.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
1620641193938.png


I'm advising Artur (middle) to buy Vado SL. Ania his wife (front) rides Giant Explore E+ 1 Pro. Artur is a technology fan and a sporty person. His analog Kettler bike is equipped with Gates carbon belt, Super Moto X tyres, and more. He would certainly gain from riding the Vado SL so he and Ania could enjoy faster ride together (Ania can ride past the 25 km/h limiter is she needs so; I taught her the "spinning" technique of pedalling).
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
View attachment 87143

I'm advising Artur (middle) to buy Vado SL. Ania his wife (front) rides Giant Explore E+ 1 Pro. Artur is a technology fan and a sporty person. His analog Kettler bike is equipped with Gates carbon belt, Super Moto X tyres, and more. He would certainly gain from riding the Vado SL so he and Ania could enjoy faster ride together (Ania can ride past the 25 km/h limiter is she needs so; I taught her the "spinning" technique of pedalling).
Stefan, when I raced back in the 1980s as a teenager, an older club rider was teaching me to spin and explained that some decades earlier, I forget if 70s or 60s or even 50s, a Polish national team had raced in the Rás (Race in English) in Ireland, our National Tour of Ireland. The Irish cyclists had been incredulous at the high gears the Polish riders were spinning, had not seen it before, until the peloton hit the hills and the Irish riders found it hard to keep up, pushing their heavier lower gears. That changed the whole technique of Irish riders.
 

Rook

Member
Region
USA
@Rook I still do not understand why you still switch between light assit drive ebikes and heavy normal ebikes and classical LBS brands and of all things Canyon (which do great bikes for the money but service/warranty cases ar terrible, even in Germany where Canyon is located, I guess even more in other countries).
You should first be clear what you really want and what bikes can offer this and then decide which brand and where/how to buy.
Jodi, I'm not sure I'm following your advice. My goal when I started looking was to find a bike that would ride well on mostly pavement and biking trails (packed gravel and limestone), but be able to go off road onto forest roads - but not really looking at actual MTB trails. Initially I was looking at either a hybrid styles bike, like the Trek Dual Sport 4 or the Canyon Pathlite, or at faster cross country mountain bikes like the Trek X-Caliber/Pro-Caliber or the Canyon Exceed. Of course, none of the Trek's are availble until likely next spring/summer, which is why I started to look at the Canyon since I could get those quickly and other than the frame all the components are similar and serviceable locally. My friend turned me on Canyon as he wants me to go riding with him - he has a gravel bike.

As I was looking for an e-bike for my wife, who got a Trek Electra Townie Go, I started to consider an e-bike for myself, in part just for the fun of it and in part to help get up hills and help me to keep riding farther. I tried the Trek line of different e-bikes. I wasn't a big fan of the Verve. I like the Powerfly but I test road that along side the Trek Supercal. I liked the power of the Powerfly to get up a step grass hill, but all else I liked the Supercal. I think the weight of the Powerfly or maybe because I was comparing it to a bike with much better components is why I liked the Supercal better, but I'm not willing to spend the cost on the Supercal with no e-assist. At a different LBS I tried the Vado against the Vado SL. I liked the SL much much better than the Vado. It just felt more smooth, fast and controllable to ride than the Vado although the Vado has a front suspension.

I also tried a couple of gravel bikes and I just don't think I can get comfortable on the handle bar setup. So, talking to myself, I think a gravel bike, with flat handle bars and a bit more upright posture, that is smooth and fast on pavement but can handle some light off roads / forest roads, would be the target.

That leaves me (if I go e-bike) with the Vado SL vs the Powerfly. The Vado SL is light, fast, smooth and feels like a normal bike but has a minimal assist to get up those long hills; but is not great to go off on forest roads, no suspension, cannot remove the battery. The Powerfly can easily go off road, has good power to go up any hills, including dirt road hills or light MTB trails, but is heavy and slow, except under e-assist.
 

Rook

Member
Region
USA
Just to add: I'd get the Trek E-Caliber or the Specialized Levo SL - but for the price of each. $3,500-$4,000USD is about the max I'd like to spend.
 

Rook

Member
Region
USA
Update:

Thanks for all the help. I went to a LBS that had Trek and Specialized. I tried a Trek Powerfly FS4; Trek Alliant 7S; Specialized Vado; Specialized Vado SL 4.0.

I like the Powerfly, it's fun to ride the FS version had a very soft ride, in fact too soft and it needed a bit of tightening. I could see it being a lot of fun if I got into long rides on MTB trails. But, it was definitely harder to get moving on pavement between the weight and the wide aggressive tires. Locking the front suspension helped a bit.

I didn't care for the Alliant or the regular Vado as much. The suspension was helpful, but it felt as heavy and slow as the Powerfly but less agile.

I also like the Vado SL. On pavement it felt the most comfortable by far. Going up and down a bit of a steep bank of grass I can see it being able to do a bit, but not something I'd want to go looking for. The Powerfly I found myself hunting for more obstacles to go after. The Vado SL handled much better; maybe it's just perception due to the weight and size of the bikes.

One other factor, this LBS shop was much less aggressive trying to get me to walk out the door with a bike. The Powerfly was only in a medium, and they told me it was definitely too small for me. I could make due with it but they didn't recommend spending that much on a bike that would not fit right. Unfortunately they didn't have any large size in any of the eMTBs, Trek or otherwise throughout their four stores. The size may be a factor in the ride feel for me as it didn't seem like it would be comfortable for 10 miles rides down the pavement trails with the Mrs.

I ended up getting a Vado SL 4.0 - non EQ as I plan to get different tires for it. They didn't have a 5.0 or I would have gotten that one (although, I may be better using that extra $1000 for upgrades vs having the future shock and the display). If after a year or so I find myself wanting to go off road more than the Vado SL can handle I'll either get a regular MBT, or upgrade into an eMBT once the new models are available.

Now ... upgrades

FYI - Per Specialized "You can replace the fork with a suspension fork. You can either buy a future shock upgrade like the Vado SL 5.0 has, or you can purchase a fork with a straight 1 1/8" steerer tube with a similar axle to crown length (you will need to measure that length on your bike)."
 
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jodi2

Active Member
Jodi, I'm not sure I'm following your advice.
This is the best you can do, make your decisions and not taking over the ones of others! ;-)

That leaves me (if I go e-bike) with the Vado SL vs the Powerfly. The Vado SL is light, fast, smooth and feels like a normal bike but has a minimal assist to get up those long hills; but is not great to go off on forest roads, no suspension, cannot remove the battery. The Powerfly can easily go off road, has good power to go up any hills, including dirt road hills or light MTB trails, but is heavy and slow, except under e-assist.
At least you already tried a Vado SL!
Of course it's not THE one ebike for everyone. But at least everyone should have tried a light ebike with assist drive before making the decision. Most people only know normale ebikes and think this is the same ore maybe even better because the light ones with assist drive lack of power or range. For some purpose they may do so, but for many others not. If you have tried it, but still like or feel the need for other ebikes with normal drives, everything ist fine!
But your only complaints about the Vado SL seem still more offroad capability and a removable battery. And I already wrote that there are other brands/models, which fulfill both things and still with a light ebike with assist drive. So no need to take a hevay e-MTB if you dont' want/need it, just because of the offroad features.
Price is another point, and you're right, that many ebikes prices are crazy and for example a Levo SL is another world as a vado SL. But there a already light MTB hardtails with assist drive up tu $4000. I myself only know the Focus Raven2 quite a few years, but I'm sure there are more today. There are also rumours that specialized will bring a SL hardtail (surely more expensive than a Vado SL, but less than a Levo SL).
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
Update:

Thanks for all the help. I went to a LBS that had Trek and Specialized. I tried a Trek Powerfly FS4; Trek Alliant 7S; Specialized Vado; Specialized Vado SL 4.0.

I like the Powerfly, it's fun to ride the FS version had a very soft ride, in fact too soft and it needed a bit of tightening. I could see it being a lot of fun if I got into long rides on MTB trails. But, it was definitely harder to get moving on pavement between the weight and the wide aggressive tires. Locking the front suspension helped a bit.

I didn't care for the Alliant or the regular Vado as much. The suspension was helpful, but it felt as heavy and slow as the Powerfly but less agile.

I also like the Vado SL. On pavement it felt the most comfortable by far. Going up and down a bit of a steep bank of grass I can see it being able to do a bit, but not something I'd want to go looking for. The Powerfly I found myself hunting for more obstacles to go after. The Vado SL handled much better; maybe it's just perception due to the weight and size of the bikes.

One other factor, this LBS shop was much less aggressive trying to get me to walk out the door with a bike. The Powerfly was only in a medium, and they told me it was definitely too small for me. I could make due with it but they didn't recommend spending that much on a bike that would not fit right. Unfortunately they didn't have any large size in any of the eMTBs, Trek or otherwise throughout their four stores. The size may be a factor in the ride feel for me as it didn't seem like it would be comfortable for 10 miles rides down the pavement trails with the Mrs.

I ended up getting a Vado SL 4.0 - non EQ as I plan to get different tires for it. They didn't have a 5.0 or I would have gotten that one (although, I may be better using that extra $1000 for upgrades vs having the future shock and the display). If after a year or so I find myself wanting to go off road more than the Vado SL can handle I'll either get a regular MBT, or upgrade into an eMBT once the new models are available.

Now ... upgrades

FYI - Per Specialized "You can replace the fork with a suspension fork. You can either buy a future shock upgrade like the Vado SL 5.0 has, or you can purchase a fork with a straight 1 1/8" steerer tube with a similar axle to crown length (you will need to measure that length on your bike)."
Congratulations! It’s a great bike. Good luck with it. I’d suggest you ride it for a spell before you make any major upgrades so you can get a good feel for it, find its quirks first which will help inform any changes. Tyres obviously are an easy upgrade & even on their own will make a big difference off-road. I didn’t change the saddle even though it was a bit uncomfortable at first- because the rear light is wired into it through the frame & seat post. (Non EQ version) I now really appreciate the lights on all the time, but that’s because I cycled right through the dark winter and appreciated the extra safety on the road. I’m ok with the saddle now. You should be able to change the stem for a redshift etc and find a mount to reattach the front light- if you want to keep the lights. Anyway it’s a lot of fun to ride, you’ll have a great summer ahead!
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
This is the best you can do, make your decisions and not taking over the ones of others! ;-)


At least you already tried a Vado SL!
Of course it's not THE one ebike for everyone. But at least everyone should have tried a light ebike with assist drive before making the decision. Most people only know normale ebikes and think this is the same ore maybe even better because the light ones with assist drive lack of power or range. For some purpose they may do so, but for many others not. If you have tried it, but still like or feel the need for other ebikes with normal drives, everything ist fine!
But your only complaints about the Vado SL seem still more offroad capability and a removable battery. And I already wrote that there are other brands/models, which fulfill both things and still with a light ebike with assist drive. So no need to take a hevay e-MTB if you dont' want/need it, just because of the offroad features.
Price is another point, and you're right, that many ebikes prices are crazy and for example a Levo SL is another world as a vado SL. But there a already light MTB hardtails with assist drive up tu $4000. I myself only know the Focus Raven2 quite a few years, but I'm sure there are more today. There are also rumours that specialized will bring a SL hardtail (surely more expensive than a Vado SL, but less than a Levo SL).
Rumours of a SL hardtail? Very interesting. And I guess makes sense. But yes it will be expensive I think, for instance in UK I got my Vado SL 4 non EQ for £2599 last October, it’s now £3000 so I suspect a hardtail will be £5k - probably carbon & with great components, just annoyingly dear.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
Congratulations, Rook!

And just fancy that: I have been thinking of you when I tried my unsuspended version of full-power Vado 5.0 /EU "Class 3"/ on my Monday's forest ride...

1620689161225.png

After 10 km off-road test ride, I just deflated the front wheel down to 3 bar (43 psi) and all the future ride became soft. Note: The tyres here are Schwalbe Smart Sam 29 x 1.75" (silent on-road and grippy off-road). Kinekt 2.1 suspension post and Baramind BAM Trek suspension handlebars were the only suspension on my Vado save the deflated front tyre. Believe it or not but I rode pretty nasty terrain ranging from mud and deep puddles (I got my feet wet) to sand. Although I was only using 35% assistance, it was equivalent to 70% Vado SL assistance, and you really need torque off-road. And that 35% assistance saved my ride in any situation, including short rapid climbing on the sand. Add to it the 600 Wh battery (38% left after 36 mile ride in mostly flat terrain). Ah. I was riding paved roads, too (Vado is mostly an on-road e-bike).

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Terrain type breakdown (by Strava).

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Beginning of single trails. The thing that will make you suffer with lack of suspension is the tree-roots...


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A hiking trail. The trail was broken with mud patches and deep puddles, extending onto the whole width of the path. I had to ride through that segment anyway, with water reaching the motor cover (the motor is water-proof), and there my shoes got wet :) When I reached the exit of that trail, I could hear organ music and a priest singing: there was a church in the village. Such close neighbourhood of wild Nature and civilization made me feel surreal...

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On a fire-road. That was the nice part!

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On another trail. That one was full of sand patches. I proudly report my Vado on Smart Sams held bravely! :)

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Back to civilization, soon before sunset. Yet my GPS navigation app suggested I should re-enter forest paths, which I did!

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At the finish line. To my surprise, Sam Smart tyres could clean themselves during the last 1 km asphalt ride!

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Ride Map and Metrics.

@Rook: You've made your own choice. I think you're going to love your Vado SL. My point, however, is you shouldn't have been afraid of a full-power heavy e-bike (53 lbs) many of us ride. It is the strong motor to counter the bike weight. Still, I want to congratulate you your purchase (I still consider buying Vado SL for recreational rides with traditional cyclist friends).
 
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Rook

Member
Region
USA
Stephen.
That’s a great trip and report. Thanks.

i intend to get different tires. Specialized says 42 mm max. I may try 44-46 from Amazon to see if they will fit as I can easily return them. I’ll be running with tubes so I don’t want to go too deflated.

I’m also looking at seat posts others have discussed on various threads. That seems a sure upgrade.

I was debating getting the small display for $90. Or getting an attachment for my iPhone. Or both. I see you run both. What apps do you like to run?

I also need to find a kickstand. The LBS was out of the version that fits.