Vado SL: EQ or Not

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
Today was a big day. I got approved to post in the EBR forum - and I just pulled the trigger on a Vado SL 5.0 EQ step through
The decision process was pretty drawn out - made easier by you guys - particularly rochrunner who mirrored a lot of my issues.
I've been riding a traditional carbon dropbar road bike for a while (BLUE NX), but as my flexibility has decreased, it got to the point that I spent most of my rides looking at my front wheel because picking up my head was too painful. Finally went backwards to my Specialized Sequoia Elite which I bought in 2003. (Your old bike, Rochrunner?) I'm 73, with other issues, and between the bike and me, there was no group ride so large I couldn't be last. And I wound up not doing the rides which involved a lot of climbing and distance.

My bike buddies pushed for me to get an ebike so I could keep riding. I rented one in Alaska last month and road the Tony Knowles trail - about 38 miles round trip - on a rented Aventon Pace 500. I think it is a Class 1 with a thumb throttle and 3 or 4 settings. Probably weighed 60 pounds - and was a hoot to ride. Had to stop for moose on the trail (they have the right of weight). Lots of power on the bike - although it tended to run away when you engaged the motor. And it was fun.

After much lurking here and elsewhere, and a lot of thought, I decided I wasn't looking for a moped - just a bicycle that I would ride and enjoy and still get some excercise. So the criteria boiled down to a bike I could pick up and a step-through frame. (I still get on and off my road bike - but my execution is getting less elegant as my flexibility goes south.) And enough of an assist to keep doing the rides I have been doing and enjoying them more.

My expectation with the SL is that I will still be riding a bike and won't be flying up steep hills - but I will get over them. And maybe keeping up with my buddies. And that's what I want.

Looked hard at the 4.0 - initially worried about the gearing - the ones available anywhere near me had a 46T chain ring. And harsh ride. And EQ vs. non EQ. And do the SLs have enough power.
Test drove a 4.0 SL (not step through) - then rode the same hills with my Specialized - just to verify the power assist was significant. (I had also looked at the Como which had the most comfortable saddle I ever used!). Looked at the Trek equivalents - but picking them up to put in the SUV might be possible now, but maybe not in a couple of years.

And nothing was available locally in a step-through.

And after all the test rides, and the reviews, and studying specs, and lurking in forums, I put a deposit down on a 5.0 with a local dealer. (I would have bought the 4.0 if I could have found it in town.) And then realized the bike not be available any time in the near or maybe distant future. So I found one out of town and bought it on the phone. Should have it next week I think. Very excited.

Anyway - thanks for all he help you didn't know you were giving me!

(I'll report back after I get the bike and try it on a group ride.)

Jay
Congratulations! Welcome to the club!
 

VoltMan99

Well-Known Member
Region
Asia
City
Tokyo
I just pulled the trigger on a Vado SL 5.0 EQ
Congratulations! I’m on a Vado SL 5 and found I can now go up hills I couldn’t make before on an analog bike with a mask on. Even passing much younger roadies with no masks haha. Also if you have an SUV, consider a climber’s rope pulley hoist to get the bike into the back should it start getting difficult. Easy to tie off a hinge or a roof rack and turns you into Superman again. I’ve used that technique to lift my 34kg telescope mount on occasion.
 

kahn

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
northWET washington
Congratulations! I’m on a Vado SL 5 and found I can now go up hills I couldn’t make before on an analog bike with a mask on. Even passing much younger roadies with no masks haha. Also if you have an SUV, consider a climber’s rope pulley hoist to get the bike into the back should it start getting difficult. Easy to tie off a hinge or a roof rack and turns you into Superman again. I’ve used that technique to lift my 34kg telescope mount on occasion.
I have been thinking of a pulley system to get my Creo further into my car. I can get it so far but then it can get hung up on the "seams" and "hinges" where the back seat has been lowered. Being able to "lift" it from above just slightly would make moving it fully into the rear easier. An anchor point would be the issue, possibly the overhead grab bar above the window.
 

Atlgaga

Member
Region
USA
Congratulations! I’m on a Vado SL 5 and found I can now go up hills I couldn’t make before on an analog bike with a mask on. Even passing much younger roadies with no masks haha. Also if you have an SUV, consider a climber’s rope pulley hoist to get the bike into the back should it start getting difficult. Easy to tie off a hinge or a roof rack and turns you into Superman again. I’ve used that technique to lift my 34kg telescope mount on occasion.
Thanks! Hopefully my days of doing group rides alone are numbered.
 

VoltMan99

Well-Known Member
Region
Asia
City
Tokyo
I have been thinking of a pulley system to get my Creo further into my car. I can get it so far but then it can get hung up on the "seams" and "hinges" where the back seat has been lowered. Being able to "lift" it from above just slightly would make moving it fully into the rear easier. An anchor point would be the issue, possibly the overhead grab bar above the window.
Search for “Car Clothes Bar” on Amazon- distributes the load across 2 handles. Remember the handles are made of plastic!

Goodfellas would’ve loved this kind of thing 🤣

Also for the seat hinges and incline it’s handy to lay down a thick pvc sheet as a runway for things to slide across. Some folks use plywood. People with big telescopes learn these things early on.
 

rochrunner

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Rochester Hills
@Atlgaga Congratulations on your new SL 5.0! So if I get this right, you used my post as inspiration and then you beat me to getting your bike?? Hardly seems fair... :D

But in all seriousness, you are close to where I am as I'll be turning 75 in a couple months. My riding this year on my non-e-bikes has actually exceeded my expectation considering where I thought I was a year ago with a potentially serious back issue. However, ever since my back cleared up last November it hasn't given me any further trouble at all, although I am very careful as to how I move -- especially bending down -- and try not to lift as much weight as I used to (i.e., no longer hesitant to ask for help). So at this point, I'm back to being one of the stronger riders in our regular group of old guys (average age ~70 I would guess), and in fact a couple of them asked why I would "need" an e-bike when the subject was recently raised (I don't ride mine on the group rides since we usually go just 20-30 flat miles). My answer at the time was that I liked it for longer distance rides or multi-day tours.

By the way, we really like our Thule EZ-Fold carrier that comes with a ramp that I've used a few times when my wife wasn't available to help lift the heavy e-bikes on.

I don't have a deposit down on my 5.0 quite yet but am considering doing that at two different dealers since the availability even for next year is so unpredictable. I really want to have it by next season since I see it as my ticket to doing a couple more of the multi-day fully supported tours that I've enjoyed so much in the past (such as with Carolina Tailwinds) but have had to skip the last two years. It took a little while, but they're now accepting e-bikes on most tours and besides, the SL is not that more difficult to handle than a regular hybrid can be (they often carry the bikes on the roof of a van and it's hard to lift a 60lb bike up there easily and safely).

Good luck with your bike and I'll be anxious to read your riding impressions!
 

Atlgaga

Member
Region
USA
@Atlgaga Congratulations on your new SL 5.0! So if I get this right, you used my post as inspiration and then you beat me to getting your bike?? Hardly seems fair... :D

But in all seriousness, you are close to where I am as I'll be turning 75 in a couple months. My riding this year on my non-e-bikes has actually exceeded my expectation considering where I thought I was a year ago with a potentially serious back issue. However, ever since my back cleared up last November it hasn't given me any further trouble at all, although I am very careful as to how I move -- especially bending down -- and try not to lift as much weight as I used to (i.e., no longer hesitant to ask for help). So at this point, I'm back to being one of the stronger riders in our regular group of old guys (average age ~70 I would guess), and in fact a couple of them asked why I would "need" an e-bike when the subject was recently raised (I don't ride mine on the group rides since we usually go just 20-30 flat miles). My answer at the time was that I liked it for longer distance rides or multi-day tours.

By the way, we really like our Thule EZ-Fold carrier that comes with a ramp that I've used a few times when my wife wasn't available to help lift the heavy e-bikes on.

I don't have a deposit down on my 5.0 quite yet but am considering doing that at two different dealers since the availability even for next year is so unpredictable. I really want to have it by next season since I see it as my ticket to doing a couple more of the multi-day fully supported tours that I've enjoyed so much in the past (such as with Carolina Tailwinds) but have had to skip the last two years. It took a little while, but they're now accepting e-bikes on most tours and besides, the SL is not that more difficult to handle than a regular hybrid can be (they often carry the bikes on the roof of a van and it's hard to lift a 60lb bike up there easily and safely).

Good luck with your bike and I'll be anxious to read your riding impressions!
Hi Stefan,
I was looking for the step-through. There were seven available in the country. Now there are six! So if that is what you want, let me know and I'll walk you through how I found it. I might have waited, if I had any idea how long it would be. But my ride today convinced me it can't come soon enough. Might be here on Thursday.... and I'm hanging out waiting like a kid watching for Santa.

Don't know about the Carolina Tailwinds - but I did Cycle North Carolina (mountain to sea over 7 days) a few years ago. Western NC is magnificent country to ride in. Didn't quite have the catering Carolina Tailwinds does - but Bubba's Pampered Peddlers and the ride organizers made it pretty nice.

I figure that I might be slow in my group - but the fact that I am out there riding puts me ahead of most of my peers. Getting older is absolutely great when you consider the alternatives.

Hoping to have a bike I can plug in soon!!

Best,

Jay
 

Atlgaga

Member
Region
USA
Hi Stefan,
I was looking for the step-through. There were seven available in the country. Now there are six! So if that is what you want, let me know and I'll walk you through how I found it. I might have waited, if I had any idea how long it would be. But my ride today convinced me it can't come soon enough. Might be here on Thursday.... and I'm hanging out waiting like a kid watching for Santa.

Don't know about the Carolina Tailwinds - but I did Cycle North Carolina (mountain to sea over 7 days) a few years ago. Western NC is magnificent country to ride in. Didn't quite have the catering Carolina Tailwinds does - but Bubba's Pampered Peddlers and the ride organizers made it pretty nice.

I figure that I might be slow in my group - but the fact that I am out there riding puts me ahead of most of my peers. Getting older is absolutely great when you consider the alternatives.

Hoping to have a bike I can plug in soon!!

Best,

Jay
Not Stefan....Rochrunner!
 

rochrunner

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Rochester Hills
Don't know about the Carolina Tailwinds - but I did Cycle North Carolina (mountain to sea over 7 days) a few years ago. Western NC is magnificent country to ride in. Didn't quite have the catering Carolina Tailwinds does - but Bubba's Pampered Peddlers and the ride organizers made it pretty nice.
Bubba is great! I went with him back in 2009 and 2010 for the Michigander and Shoreline West, which are the best-known rides of that type in Michigan. But when I started getting old enough that I had to get up in the night to relieve myself, climbing out of the tent and stumbling in the dark to the nearest porta-potty while trying not to trip over tent stays, etc., I knew that my days of camping were over. :D A private hot shower and soft bed do wonders for one's state of mind on a long tour...
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
Bubba is great! I went with him back in 2009 and 2010 for the Michigander and Shoreline West, which are the best-known rides of that type in Michigan. But when I started getting old enough that I had to get up in the night to relieve myself, climbing out of the tent and stumbling in the dark to the nearest porta-potty while trying not to trip over tent stays, etc., I knew that my days of camping were over. :D A private hot shower and soft bed do wonders for one's state of mind on a long tour...
At a certain age, roughing it includes a warm shower, a cold beer, a hot meal, and a soft bed. With age comes wisdom.
 

Rixtory

New Member
Region
USA
All, I picked up my 5.0 SL EQ last December and after 140 miles in the first 3 weeks of 0-10 degree weather, ended up having heart surgery and didn't get discharged until the end of April (4th sternotomy). So now I am off and riding again as of last month. I've put about 75 miles on since. I love this bike and it sure is helping with the heart surgery recovery especially on hills.
Here is my question - Has anyone charged their battery from an auto AC inverter outlet. I was trying to find what the battery draws while charging, but haven't found anything yet and I am not electrical enough to fully understand amps, volts and watts and how they work together. I was thinking the worst that could happen was blow the fuse in the jeep, but then I thought "Could it damage the battery?" I am asking because I will be out with my jeep for a few days , but no AC power except my Grand Cherokee factory AC inverter . TIA
Rick
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
All, I picked up my 5.0 SL EQ last December and after 140 miles in the first 3 weeks of 0-10 degree weather, ended up having heart surgery and didn't get discharged until the end of April (4th sternotomy). So now I am off and riding again as of last month. I've put about 75 miles on since. I love this bike and it sure is helping with the heart surgery recovery especially on hills.
Here is my question - Has anyone charged their battery from an auto AC inverter outlet. I was trying to find what the battery draws while charging, but haven't found anything yet and I am not electrical enough to fully understand amps, volts and watts and how they work together. I was thinking the worst that could happen was blow the fuse in the jeep, but then I thought "Could it damage the battery?" I am asking because I will be out with my jeep for a few days , but no AC power except my Grand Cherokee factory AC inverter . TIA
Rick
Charging from the vehicle battery is a big" it depends". Some cigarette lighters can provide enough power but most can not, same thing with starter battery... some are deep cycle and can take it, most cannot. You will at least have to install an inverter or more. It's not plug and play.
I can't link but search for Charging on the Road thread and ask there with your specific bike and starter battery. A good question.
 

rochrunner

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Rochester Hills
Charging from the vehicle battery is a big" it depends". Some cigarette lighters can provide enough power but most can not, same thing with starter battery... some are deep cycle and can take it, most cannot. You will at least have to install an inverter or more. It's not plug and play.
I can't link but search for Charging on the Road thread and ask there with your specific bike and starter battery. A good question.
He said that his Cherokee has a factory built-in inverter as most pickups and such come with these days. Since it is undoubtedly a high-end device I would think that the bike charger would be OK on it.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
He said that his Cherokee has a factory built-in inverter as most pickups and such come with these days. Since it is undoubtedly a high-end device I would think that the bike charger would be OK on it.
Apparently they vary a lot. Check with a multimeter at least. My Sprinter came with one in the front that would work and one in the back that would not.
Edit it's 12 years old...
 

Rixtory

New Member
Region
USA
Apparently they vary a lot. Check with a multimeter at least. My Sprinter came with one in the front that would work and one in the back that would not.
Edit it's 12 years old...
Thanks all. I tested it out. My factory inverter is 30 amp fuse, so roughly 300watts max. The battery started to charge but then after about 1 minute started blinking red and green intermittently and the LED on my jeep AC outlet changed from green to yellow. This was with the jeep running. The fuse in the jeep did not blow and the battery charger is charging the bike now from the house 110-120 AC outlet so appears no damage there (hopefully)... At least Iknow that I will either need a stronger converter or a small honda-like generator. But I will search for charging on the road forums for other ideas.
 

VoltMan99

Well-Known Member
Region
Asia
City
Tokyo
Thanks all. I tested it out. My factory inverter is 30 amp fuse, so roughly 300watts max. The battery started to charge but then after about 1 minute started blinking red and green intermittently and the LED on my jeep AC outlet changed from green to yellow. This was with the jeep running. The fuse in the jeep did not blow and the battery charger is charging the bike now from the house 110-120 AC outlet so appears no damage there (hopefully)... At least Iknow that I will either need a stronger converter or a small honda-like generator. But I will search for charging on the road forums for other ideas.
Many DC-AC inverters are modified sine wave output meaning the output appears more as a chopped square wave to the AC load. Ok for light bulbs and AC syn motors, touch and go with switching power supplies like your bike charger or high power laptop AC adapters. You should try a pure sine wave inverter. A bit more expensive but less susceptible to noise and harmonic distortion. I would also recommend overrating the power by at least 2x - perhaps 1000W.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
Thanks all. I tested it out. My factory inverter is 30 amp fuse, so roughly 300watts max. The battery started to charge but then after about 1 minute started blinking red and green intermittently and the LED on my jeep AC outlet changed from green to yellow. This was with the jeep running. The fuse in the jeep did not blow and the battery charger is charging the bike now from the house 110-120 AC outlet so appears no damage there (hopefully)... At least Iknow that I will either need a stronger converter or a small honda-like generator. But I will search for charging on the road forums for other ideas.
Couple of threads to check
 

Atlgaga

Member
Region
USA
Today was a big day. I got approved to post in the EBR forum - and I just pulled the trigger on a Vado SL 5.0 EQ step through
The decision process was pretty drawn out - made easier by you guys - particularly rochrunner who mirrored a lot of my issues.
I've been riding a traditional carbon dropbar road bike for a while (BLUE NX), but as my flexibility has decreased, it got to the point that I spent most of my rides looking at my front wheel because picking up my head was too painful. Finally went backwards to my Specialized Sequoia Elite which I bought in 2003. (Your old bike, Rochrunner?) I'm 73, with other issues, and between the bike and me, there was no group ride so large I couldn't be last. And I wound up not doing the rides which involved a lot of climbing and distance.

My bike buddies pushed for me to get an ebike so I could keep riding. I rented one in Alaska last month and road the Tony Knowles trail - about 38 miles round trip - on a rented Aventon Pace 500. I think it is a Class 1 with a thumb throttle and 3 or 4 settings. Probably weighed 60 pounds - and was a hoot to ride. Had to stop for moose on the trail (they have the right of weight). Lots of power on the bike - although it tended to run away when you engaged the motor. And it was fun.

After much lurking here and elsewhere, and a lot of thought, I decided I wasn't looking for a moped - just a bicycle that I would ride and enjoy and still get some excercise. So the criteria boiled down to a bike I could pick up and a step-through frame. (I still get on and off my road bike - but my execution is getting less elegant as my flexibility goes south.) And enough of an assist to keep doing the rides I have been doing and enjoying them more.

My expectation with the SL is that I will still be riding a bike and won't be flying up steep hills - but I will get over them. And maybe keeping up with my buddies. And that's what I want.

Looked hard at the 4.0 - initially worried about the gearing - the ones available anywhere near me had a 46T chain ring. And harsh ride. And EQ vs. non EQ. And do the SLs have enough power.
Test drove a 4.0 SL (not step through) - then rode the same hills with my Specialized - just to verify the power assist was significant. (I had also looked at the Como which had the most comfortable saddle I ever used!). Looked at the Trek equivalents - but picking them up to put in the SUV might be possible now, but maybe not in a couple of years.

And nothing was available locally in a step-through.

And after all the test rides, and the reviews, and studying specs, and lurking in forums, I put a deposit down on a 5.0 with a local dealer. (I would have bought the 4.0 if I could have found it in town.) And then realized the bike not be available any time in the near or maybe distant future. So I found one out of town and bought it on the phone. Should have it next week I think. Very excited.

Anyway - thanks for all he help you didn't know you were giving me!

(I'll report back after I get the bike and try it on a group ride.)

Jay
Update - bike is here

My Vado 5.0 SL EQ Step-through arrived last Thursday - so as promised, here's my initial report.

Short version: LOVE IT!! I am satisfied I got exactly the right bike.

Long version - which I share because the stories people told here helped me pick out this bike and make the decision to pull the trigger. But this is long and drawn out and probably should be skipped entirely. But it might help someone going through this process.

History - me

I am now 73 - been riding a road bike for a few decades - and I had been riding an 18# carbon fiber Blue NX with Durace wheels. But it had become so uncomfortable, that a year ago or so I broke out my 20 year old 25# Specialized Sequoia Elite, a more upright dropbar bike with a triple and an extra set of brake levers on the top of the bar. But I'm 73, and my flexibility has decreased and my cardiac capacity diminished. So even with the old bike, I couldn't keep up with my group rides, cut many short, and wound up stopping the harder rides entirely. And the bike was still uncomfortable - I would spend most of the time looking at the front wheel as riding with my head forward was too painful. And just getting on and off the bike was doable - but inelegant.

I really wanted to keep riding and stay with my friends. And I was done with drop bar bikes. I needed something more upright, that was still a bike I could ride for recreation and exercise. And it needed to be comfortable.

History bike choice

Early on in the process I decided I had bought my last drop-bar bike. I wanted something more upright - something I could ride for the foreseeable future. And that would be comfortable in the present! I test road a few bikes - including a Como 650B. It was the most comfortable bike I had ever been on. (I've seen criticism of the cup saddle on the forum - but I loved it!). Just a brief ride in the shop parking lot. And I liked the way the motor kicked in. But the bike looked like a beach cruiser - and weighed as much as a tank. And while the assist was lots of fun - it seemed overpowered. I kept looking. I looked at the Trek Alant+ and Verve+ - rode both out of the bike shop. I wasn't happy with how the assist started - seemed jerky and obvious. And when I opened the back of my SUV to see how hard they would be to pick up..... the answer for me was virtually impossible.

I went to Alaska this summer and rented an E-Bike to ride the Tony Knowles trail. I think it was a 22 mile round trip (slower than it needed to because I had to stop for two moose). With some reasonably hilly parts. Nothing I could not have done with an analog bike - though the hills would have gotten my attention. The bike was an Aventon Pace 500 - Step-through. It is a class 3 bike - I think. But has a throttle. And was a blast to ride. But more amusement ride than recreational bike ride. But getting on and off that bike convinced me that I wanted a step-through. (And contributing to that decision was a long thread in these forums about how aging riders were managing to get on and off their bikes.)

So my criteria became:
  • comfort - upright, preferably step-through
  • be able to ride with the groups I ride with, and the routes I would like to do
  • still be a "road bike" - one I could get a decent workout on
  • fun
  • a bike I could pick up and put in the back of an SUV.
So continued looking and the Specialized site had a bike series they advertised as Super Light that included the Como and the Vado. (Though I suspected that SL might be for "slow" rather than "light" as 35 pounds was still twice my Blue!). I rode the Como SL - did not like the power nor the ride. Rode the Vado SL - and liked both!

Looked at the various models - the price difference in the 4.0 and the 5.0 is substantial. But in the end I liked the idea of the fork suspension. And the upgraded drive train. And the wider gear range. My Sequoia has a triple with my lowest gear being a 30/28 - and that really isn't' enough for me any longer. And I kept my last bikes over 15 years each - so the 5.0 was the decision. The EQ because ALWAYS ride with lights anyway, liked the idea of a rack I will probably never use, and didn't like the idea of having to rewire the bike to change the seat.

I went again to a local shop - and test rode a 4.0 SL EQ up and down a short relatively steep hill (just a few blocks). Thought it would do the job, but it wasn't a ride I was familiar with. Went back with my old bike and rode the same hill - oh yeah - much better - and still a bike ride rather than a moped excursion. They didn't have the bike I wanted, but I put a down payment on one they had on order since February! I asked them if I found a bike at another dealer, if they could transfer it and sell it to me - no they couldn't.

Began realizing that the bike "on order" might not arrive for a very long time if ever. Specialized shows it out of stock - and only seven at other dealers around the country in my size. So I cancelled the order and bought one out of town - 400+ miles away.

But I still had not ridden this bike over any distance or roads I was familiar with. So even though I bought the bike, I still didn't know for sure
  • would it be comfortable
  • would it keep up with my groups
  • was it enough power to get me on the rides again I used to do?
  • would it be too obnoxious riding with other people on regular bikes because it was too fast
  • was it a mistake buying the lowest powered e-bike on the market? (35nM)
  • would it still be any exercise
  • would it be fun.
The bike arrived Thursday night. Rode it in the neighborhood for four miles on Friday. Tried it on a steep road I knew. I bought it new pedals (SPD with reversible platform) and then Saturday took it for a group ride I hadn't done in a year. And found out the answers to my questions.

The Initial Ride Report

It is surely premature to evaluate a bike after one weekend - but I'm excited and wanted to share. So....

Saturday I rode the Vinings Loop (for those in Atlanta) with a group of friends with whom I've been riding this route for years. Have not been able to keep up with them or complete the entire ride for over a year. A bit over 22 miles, 1256 feet of elevation gain. Some steep hills. On Sunday did a group ride I've been doing regularly for ten plus years - only 18 miles and 908 feet of elevation gain. I've always been slower than the main group - and lately, much much slower.

Both rides were great on the SL. I was easily able to keep up. The bike was very comfortable - though I would give up the motor before I would give up the upright position! It was never overpowered. Even unassisted, it rode nicely. The 12 speed SRAM was fabulous. It was so much easier and faster to shift with the triggers than the levers that I would seamlessly change gears to maintain a cadence and it made the bike seem faster. Great gear range, and just for fun, on the steepest hills, I was able to use the 44/50 without assist and get over it easier than I could on my old bikes.

And it rides like a bike - not a motorcycle. With a wide range of gears, and a choice of assist ranging from nothing to 180, I was easily able to choose how much work I wanted to do, and push myself as much as I wanted. Starting a long climb, I found myself not using any assist, and pushing myself harder than I would have, and then adding the assist when I peaked. Hitting the assist at the lowest level was like downshift two gears. On the Sunday ride, I realized that I was using the no assist, assist levels the same way I would a set of gears. If your mindset is that real riding requires a single speed, then an ebike is not for you. On the other hand, if you ride a 20 speed bike and use the gears, riding the VADO SL isn't really that difference of a riding experience. Not if you use the assist the same way you would use your gears. You just downshift (add assist) when your current effort requires it.

And the group dynamic with only one of us on an e-bike? I haven't asked the rest of the group yet, but it felt fine. I used the level of assist and the gearing to give me the ability to keep up with the ride. And I found myself working as hard as I would have to have been left behind in the old days (last week). In the sections where the group sprints, I started with no assist, and only hit Eco/Sport or Turbo when I reached my limit - and then only enough to maintain - didn't try to show anyone up because I had a motor and they didn't. Except once...... on a long moderate slog I used to do in my granny at 6 to 8 mph until I would drop down to 4 to six. Just wanted to see what I could do. Threw it into Turbo and worked as hard as I could, kept it at 15 to 16 mph, finishing at 14 - with my heart rate as high as it ever gets. But I wasn't racing anyone, waited at the top for the rest (not that long), and never claimed any type of victory - just wanted to briefly see what we (the bike and I) could do. (and maximum speed on one downhill, where assist was beside the point - 36.6 mph - couldn't pedal any faster - and the bike was stable).

On Saturday - the first and harder ride - I kept up with friends I haven't been able to ride with. And didn't keep anyone waiting. And finished the ride feeling like a had a workout.

And Saturday being my first real test of my bike decision - I had a grin ear to ear that started almost immediately - it probably still hasn't gone away. All the anxiety about whether buying the VADO SL was the right decision went away - and I realized very quickly that the VADO SL decision was correct for me.

Initial range......

And based on very limited data....
27 miles reportedly used 51% of battery
18 miles used 21% (was more aggressive about riding with low or no assistance)

I think that easily gives me 40+ miles with no range anxiety at all, and maybe 70+ with some care, and no mountains!

CONCLUSION

Hooray.

I am very happy with having bought this bike. It does exactly what I need it to do.
And many thanks for all the input of the forum members who contributed to my process in making this decision.

Hoping it continues to hold up. And wishing everyone happy trails!