Vado SL 4.0 Motor suddenly not working!

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
That is the simplest way to describe what's happened. I've contacted the bike shop and will take it back next week for diagnostics.

So what happened - was riding on a hill outside my gate, I'd adjusted something (just hand positions nothing electrical related) on the bars and was just riding up the hill to test hand position. The bike gave the 'beep' it does when you press the button to change assist levels, but I hadn't pressed anything and suddenly I had no power. The blue battery lights on the TCU were still on but the lights in a circle for eco, sport & turbo were now off. Pressing the buttons did nothing. I got it home and tried a few things:

Plugged in battery. Turned on Mission Control App. Then as per manual did a factory reset. The reset brought back lights and power. So I rode it around the garden checking the various assist levels. All back working. Then I hopped off and checked Mission Control and saw a System Alert saying water ingress and an error code. When I looked back at the bike I saw that it had again switched itself off, though the battery indicator lights are still on. And this is still the situation - battery lights on but no power.

Very puzzling. It is winter and last few months I've encountered mud and floods and rain, but last few weeks has actually been very dry.

I unscrewed the TCU as per Bike Shop suggestion to see if it was damp in there with the electrical contacts, but it felt bone dry. I am not in any way technical with electrics so did not go further then that. Anyway when I get over to them next week they said they'll plug it in, run diagnostics and send findings to Specialized. Said more then likely S will replace the TCU unit. He didn't have any easy answers, as in, I wondered if this was a common problem? But said that recently they've been getting a few problems with Specialized bikes and wondered out loud if the cold & wet conditions are part of the issue. Hope not! They are a reputable bike shop chain and main Specialized dealer with a good customer reputation so keeping fingers crossed this gets sorted efficiently.

If it is water then it would make sense in the behaviour; when I press the on button, the blue indicator battery lights turn on as normal- on then off then on and stay on. The eco and sport lights come on, as they should, but almost immediately turn off and it beeps - like a deliberate cut off. So something is triggering that seems to me, perhaps as a protective cut off. And also to turn off the battery lights (and main lights front & rear) you have to hold the off button for several seconds. Thats unusual. But how did the water get in?

Bought the bike in October, been riding all winter with zero issues up until now. Hey ho. Lets see. Anybody have this happen to them?
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
So an update to my TCU issue. Managed to get over to the bike shop today to drop off the bike. They'll get in touch with Specialized and then...? A big shrug really as it's a warranty issue so up to Specialized now. Bike shop said they'd be in touch in a few days, but I think it might be a bit longer - from the vagueness of their response and with Covid etc.

I'm expecting Specialized to fix the problem, the bike shop suggested they'll replace the TCU. I mean the bike is only 4 and a half months old, so it wasn't until the drive home today that the uneasy idea crossed my mind that this might get complicated. No actual reason for it to be, but just that worry that my pride and joy has left my sight and now it's all a bit unsure. Like when the car breaks down or the computer. Having cycled mechanical bikes all my life and knowing, if not always being able to fix, mechanical issues, now not knowing/understanding/having a clue what is broken with electrical parts is a concern.

What I want - ideally - is the TCU replaced & bike good as new (if that proves to be the problem, it's the most likely apparently) but also an explanation for why this happened. I think that's really important - what happened? Was it something I did (riding in wet winter conditions for eg?) The Mission Control 'water ingress' error messages are the worry. No sign of any water I could see but after all I live in rainy England so this should not be an issue! And if they don't know why it happened when they hand back the bike then of course I'll be uneasy whenever I go out on it. It had no problems in the 4+ months, not even a puncture. Did about 800 miles I think, in all conditions.

- I'll keep updating this until end of the saga in case anyone else suddenly has this same issue. Might be helpful down the line.
 

Amoto65

Member
There are a few cases of the SL motors going faulty that I know of in England, My friend is a Specialized dealer and has had a few back and says Specialized have been pretty quick and efficient in getting them sorted.
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Two ideas. 1) Post photos of the new handlebar position. You may have pinched a wire, hence the short, which acts the same as water to the circuits. 2) Motors create heat. Extreme Freeze/Thaw swings are not good for motors and electronics. Particularly if you are also also washing the bike amid the temperature swings, such as after a ride. Internal condensation occurs as the temperature drops after a ride and the air pressure drops inside components and housings, sucking in moist ambient air after a wash. These bikes are not polar diving watches.
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
There are a few cases of the SL motors going faulty that I know of in England, My friend is a Specialized dealer and has had a few back and says Specialized have been pretty quick and efficient in getting them sorted.
Oh ok that's interesting Amoto. Bad batch maybe. Fingers crossed then that they are efficient. The bike shop Bicycle Chain have a very good rep & a long history with bikes apparently.
Two ideas. 1) Post photos of the new handlebar position. You may have pinched a wire, hence the short, which acts the same as water to the circuits. 2) Motors create heat. Extreme Freeze/Thaw swings are not good for motors and electronics. Particularly if you are also also washing the bike amid the temperature swings, such as after a ride. Internal condensation occurs as the temperature drops after a ride and the air pressure drops inside components and housings, sucking in moist ambient air after a wash. These bikes are not polar diving watches.
Thanks for these PedalUma. I don't think it could be the handlebars. I wasn't adjusting the handlebars, just the bar ends or inner horns I have on inside all the controls, and these were already on the bars from a while back, the day the problems arose I was just adjusting their position and not close to the motor controls on the bars so it's unlikely. The change of temperature - possibly something there. It is winter and though temps have not gone up and down dramatically I did wonder about condensation inside the frame. I never know how hot the motor gets on a ride and how it cools. I'm hoping Sp. will let me know if this or something like this is the cause.
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
Oh ok that's interesting Amoto. Bad batch maybe. Fingers crossed then that they are efficient. The bike shop Bicycle Chain have a very good rep & a long history with bikes apparently.

Thanks for these PedalUma. I don't think it could be the handlebars. I wasn't adjusting the handlebars, just the bar ends or inner horns I have on inside all the controls, and these were already on the bars from a while back, the day the problems arose I was just adjusting their position and not close to the motor controls on the bars so it's unlikely. The change of temperature - possibly something there. It is winter and though temps have not gone up and down dramatically I did wonder about condensation inside the frame. I never know how hot the motor gets on a ride and how it cools. I'm hoping Sp. will let me know if this or something like this is the cause.
should read the bike shop has a long history with e-bikes!
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
I know! Great as a bike shop they have a long history with bikes. Good of them to care.
IDK about other places, but there aren't many of us riding where I live, and the shops really care about their reputation. One unhappy customer can cost them many sales.
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
Today was the first time in a bike shop since October when I bought the bike so not sure. I live quite remote. But I would say from all accounts there has been a big increase in cycling over the lockdown. How that has been over the last few winter months I don't know. Plus of course any shortage of new bikes and parts in the shops would effect them. I would say bike shops seem much better today then years ago. Less snobby. But with a wider range of styles of bikes from road, mtb to e bikes and just fitness, it's in their own interest to be responsive to a wider range of customers and I of course they seem much more aware of social media/trip advisor type bad reviews.
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
So I rang the bike shop to see what was happening. They said they are waiting for Specialized to send a new TCU unit. I asked if they can contact Specialized to find out why there was that Mission Control error message about water ingress - for peace of mind - and to know what caused the TCU to break on a 4 month old bike in the first place. I don't know if they'll know, or even tell me. Will see. Also bike shop said normally they would expect the TCU unit to arrive in 48 hours but this year it could be 2 weeks. Annoying, eager to get back riding in dry Spring weather.
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
Went to collect the beastie last Friday. Had rung the day before & to my surprise they had received the new TCU unit from Specialized UK and were fitting it. When I got to the bike shop I chatted to the guy who brought my bike over to me - due to Covid lockdown you can only go inside door - a bit annoying as while I waited I wanted to have a look at all the lovely new bikes inside! Starved of actual browsing and contact with real bikes... anyway as I suspected the LBS were given no explanation by Specialized to what went wrong. Thats what usually happens he said. He understood my unease in case this broke again on say, a long ride, not knowing what caused it to die in first place. But at least with an SL I should be able to limp home ok.

I had to ask if they had got any of the new S Works Levos in - he said they only heard about it on social media, were surprised that Specialized hadn't notified them but that more and more the big companies are releasing info this way (They also stock Treks) but that one of the staff actually rides for Specialized so he was testing the new bike & had brought it in so they all had a look. He did say if I wanted a new master TCU they could probably get one for me. When they get stock in.

I told him thanks but no thanks - having one TCU break down on me, getting another one stuffed with even more electronics right now wasn't that appealing to me. Nice guys though & very efficient service. I guess the up side of the new sexy TCUs is that people might be eager to change up and we might see a load of old TCUs appear on ebay. Be handy to have a spare.

I've had a couple of rides since - the weather here is absolutely beautiful - and no issues. Though it's the kind of thing will be working fine one minute then not. Great to have the Beastie back. I've really missed it.
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Went to collect the beastie last Friday. Had rung the day before & to my surprise they had received the new TCU unit from Specialized UK and were fitting it. When I got to the bike shop I chatted to the guy who brought my bike over to me - due to Covid lockdown you can only go inside door - a bit annoying as while I waited I wanted to have a look at all the lovely new bikes inside! Starved of actual browsing and contact with real bikes... anyway as I suspected the LBS were given no explanation by Specialized to what went wrong. Thats what usually happens he said. He understood my unease in case this broke again on say, a long ride, not knowing what caused it to die in first place. But at least with an SL I should be able to limp home ok.

I had to ask if they had got any of the new S Works Levos in - he said they only heard about it on social media, were surprised that Specialized hadn't notified them but that more and more the big companies are releasing info this way (They also stock Treks) but that one of the staff actually rides for Specialized so he was testing the new bike & had brought it in so they all had a look. He did say if I wanted a new master TCU they could probably get one for me. When they get stock in.

I told him thanks but no thanks - having one TCU break down on me, getting another one stuffed with even more electronics right now wasn't that appealing to me. Nice guys though & very efficient service. I guess the up side of the new sexy TCUs is that people might be eager to change up and we might see a load of old TCUs appear on ebay. Be handy to have a spare.

I've had a couple of rides since - the weather here is absolutely beautiful - and no issues. Though it's the kind of thing will be working fine one minute then not. Great to have the Beastie back. I've really missed it.
Probably smart to avoid the new TCU until they’ve been out there a while. Let others be the guinea pigs.
 

BEC111

Well-Known Member
Probably smart to avoid the new TCU until they’ve been out there a while. Let others be the guinea pigs.
This assumes that the new one will be compatible or even fit in older bikes. I hope it would as that might eliminate the need for a computer or phone on the handlebars.