2013 Specialized Turbo Review

Specialized Turbo Electric Bike Review 1
Specialized Turbo
Specialized Turbo Disc Brakes
Specialized Turbo Battery Water Bottle
Specialized Turbo Lcd Computer
Specialized Turbo Light
Specialized Turbo Kickstand
Specialized Turbo Rear Cassette
Specialized Turbo Battery Compartment
Specialized Turbo Electric Bike Review 1
Specialized Turbo
Specialized Turbo Disc Brakes
Specialized Turbo Battery Water Bottle
Specialized Turbo Lcd Computer
Specialized Turbo Light
Specialized Turbo Kickstand
Specialized Turbo Rear Cassette
Specialized Turbo Battery Compartment

Summary

  • One of the fastest and priciest electric bikes around, Top speed 45kph (27.96mph) at $5,900 USD
  • Clean aesthetic with internally routed cables, integrated lithium ion battery pack and built in LED lights
  • Sturdy aluminum frame with oversized-thru axles on front and rear to manage high speed performance

Video Review

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Introduction

Make:

Specialized

Model:

Turbo

Price:

$5,900 USD

Body Position:

Forward Aggressive

Suggested Use:

Road, Urban

Electric Bike Class:

Speed Pedelec (Class 3)
Learn more about Ebike classes

Warranty:

Lifetime Frame, 2 Year Motor and Battery

Availability:

United States, Australia

Model Year:

2013

Bicycle Details

Total Weight:

47.5 lbs (21.54 kg)

Battery Weight:

7.5 lbs (3.4 kg)

Frame Material:

Aluminum Alloy

Frame Sizes:

16.53 in (41.98 cm)18.11 in (45.99 cm)19.68 in (49.98 cm)21.25 in (53.97 cm)

Frame Types:

High-Step

Frame Colors:

Red with Black Accents

Frame Fork Details:

Aluminum Alloy with X12 Thru Axle, Fender Eyelets, Low Rider Mounts

Frame Rear Details:

X12 Thru Axle

Attachment Points:

Rear Rack Bosses, Fender Bosses

Gearing Details:

10 Speed 1x10 SRAM XO Long Cage Derailleur 48/36

Shifter Details:

Trigger Shifter on Right Bar

Stem:

Aluminum Alloy, Fixed

Brake Details:

Magura MT Carbon Hydraulic with 180 mm Rotors

Tire Brand:

Specialized Electrak Armadillo, 60TPI, Wire Bead, 700 x 45c

Wheel Sizes:

28 in (71.12cm)

Tube Details:

Presta Valve

Accessories:

Chain Guide on Front Ring, Integrated LED Lights, Optional City Kit with Fenders and Rack

Other:

Removable Battery Pack Locks to Frame, Magnetic EnergyBus Charging Port

Electronic Details

Motor Brand:

Go SwissDrive

Motor Type:

Rear-Mounted Gearless Direct Drive Hub
Learn more about Ebike motors

Motor Nominal Output:

250 watts

Motor Peak Output:

750 watts

Motor Torque:

40 Newton meters

Battery Voltage:

36 volts

Battery Amp Hours:

9 ah

Battery Watt Hours:

324 wh

Battery Chemistry:

Lithium-ion, High C Rating

Charge Time:

2.5 hours

Estimated Min Range:

25 miles (40 km)

Estimated Max Range:

45 miles (72 km)

Display Type:

Backlit LCD

Readouts:

Assist Level (3 Modes), Battery Status, Lights on/off, Speed, Time, Distance

Display Accessories:

Independent Button Pad on Right

Drive Mode:

Advanced Pedal Assist, Trigger Throttle

Top Speed:

28 mph (45 kph)

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Written Review

This review is for the prototype and 2013 version of the Specialized Turbo electric bike. In 2014 a new model was introduced with improved battery range, display mount and lighting.

In 2009 a team of Specialized engineers in Switzerland began work on what would eventually become the Turbo. On March 28, 2012 it was revealed publicly and began testing in select markets across Europe including Spain. A refined version of the bike was showcased at Interbike 2013 with launch plans tentatively scheduled in the US for Q1 2014. The Specialized Turbo is a feature rich offering designed to captivate and push the limits of what electric bikes can do, specifically around top speed. The Turbo melds state of the art technology with sophisticated, proven Specialized design techniques… and marketing ;)

The Turbo is beautiful with its integrated battery pack, concealed cables, small backlit control unit, magnetic EnergyBus connectors on the battery and motor (like your Apple laptop) and carbon fiber accents on the brake levers, clamps and kickstand. It features regenerative braking for increased range and reduced wear on disc brake rotors. It utilizes oversized thru-axles to stabilize riding at high speeds which also make wheel removal and alignment easier. For safety, the bike features built in front and rear LED lights that continue to run even if the battery is fully drained, leveraging a capacitor and current from the hub motor. The LCD unit is even designed to work with third party ANT+ compatible electronics such as heart rate monitors. The list of features is immense, but so is the price point at $5,900 USD (and that’s way down from $7,255 which was shared in 2012).

So how does the Turbo compare with other currently available electric bikes? In my opinion it’s more polished than the Stromer ebikes but offers a very similar drive package. It accelerates more smoothly and looks cooler… but of course it costs more. The motor driving the Turbo is a seemingly-small 250 watt gearless design running off a 36 vot 9 amp hour Lithium-ion battery pack. These numbers sound average when compared with other mainstream ebikes but the specs are misleading. Even though the Turbo advertises 250 watts, the continuous output is closer to 500 with a peak of ~700 and because it primarily offers pedal assist mode and uses firm smooth tires, like a road bike, it feels very responsive. Also, the battery chemistry was chosen to optimize charge and discharge rates giving it added torque at takeoff.

The Specialized Turbo is light enough to lift (barely) and the frame and tires are fairly standard in size and orientation so it works well on car and bus racks. It wouldn’t be ideal for someone who lived up or down stairs due to the 21.54kg weight (47.5lbs) but it’s better than a lot of other ebikes. Also, because the battery pack is removable you can get it down to ~40 pounds when you do have to lift it. As mentioned earlier, part of what makes this bike feel so great is the battery pack position (low and centered) stiff frame and firm tires. It rides like a road bike and the electric drive only heightens the feeling of speed and control. I’m also a big fan of the double tap trigger shifter that only uses one lever and is positioned on the right side of the handle bar. The cockpit is clean, intuitive and easy to engage with.

Imagine riding around the streets of San Francisco nonstop for one hour. It feels like a normal bike, maneuverable and responsive, but you’re passing cars going uphill! You can cut across parks and never have to think about parking as you would with a vehicle or motorbike yet you won’t get sweaty either… unless you choose to dial down the power assist. It’s the best of both worlds, you lift the bike onto a rack at the front of a bus and zip across the Golden Gate Bridge then carry it up the stairs to your apartment for safe keeping. To see this dream fully realized, check out the commercial below shot in San Francisco with pro road cyclist Daniel Velasco on the Turbo.

So what about speed? The Turbo went through testing in Spain while Specialized and other bike manufacturers worked with the US government to find a solution that would allow ebikes to reach higher top speeds. The result is a whole range of ebikes that now reach 28 miles per hour in pedal assist mode. Two of my favorites are the Easy Motion Neo bikes by BH and the E3 Dash by IZIP coming in 2014.

What does this bike mean to the industry? Well, Specialized already has an amazing network of dealers in the US who can show, demo, sell and service this bike. It means more people will get exposed to ebikes and that’s a great thing for traffic, parking and the environment. To me the Specialized Turbo signals an inflection point in the world of transportation for Western markets. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent by Specialized to enter the ebike scene and gauge interest. Can ebikes be cool and fun? Will people be willing to pay for them and change their lifestyles with the changing economic and environmental times? Can cities and governments adapt as market forces drive interest in new kinds of high performance vehicles? I sure hopes so…

If you don’t mind paying extra for a bike that looks awesome, demonstrates high performance and is easy to mount onto most car racks and bike racks, the Specialized Turbo could be a great fit. It’s the Tesla of electric bikes for now (high style, performance and price) and just like many high end sports car it’s not the most comfortable ride. Keep this in mind if you aren’t used to riding road bikes with stiffer tires and frames. The Turbo comes from one of the largest, most trusted brands in the world of bicycling and leverages proven technology designed to perform under high stress, high speed situations. While it does offer a limited throttle mode (activate by holding the + button down for two seconds on the button pad, then use the + button again to engage at will) it’s designed to be ridden in pedal assist mode and uses high-sensitivity torque sensing technology to be responsive and smooth. Everything from the frame and drive system are dialed in for maximum efficiency and it really shows. Heck, it even has a water bottle cage mount built into the top of the battery pack. That’s attention to detail.

Pros:

  • Reasonable weight, balanced design with low center of gravity
  • Wirless computer and control switch, easy to access next to the right grip
  • Regenerative braking and negative-mode for downhill charging
  • Full fender and rack mount eyelets
  • Battery pack locks to bike, battery can be charged on or off frame
  • Battery charger is silent, no fans required
  • Battery pack charges in under 2.5 hours and has a higher discharge rate for increased acceleration
  • Battery pack has threaded holes built right in for mounting a bottle cage
  • Built in front and rear LED lights with capacitor for use when battery is completely empty
  • High end components that will last, support and service available through vast network of dealers

Cons:

  • No shock absorbers (though Specialized has a proprietary seat post shock called the CobL GobL-R and any currently-available Thud Buster would smooth things out)
  • Very expensive at $5,900 USD, but considering the S-Works bikes and other high end non-powered offerings from Specialized, this makes sense
  • Primarily setup for pedal assist only, limited throttle functionality

Resources:

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Comments (23) YouTube Comments

Joe Simsic
6 years ago

Where can I purchase one. I live in Redondo Beach California. – Joe

  Reply
Court
6 years ago

Hi Joe! I recommend checking Specialized dealers near you. Their website has a great tool for this at http://www.specialized.com/us/en/dealer-locator and then you can call the shops and ask to have one ordered. The great thing about ordering one directly from a shop is they will be able to service it.

  Reply
Tom Greene
6 years ago

What is your opinion on how the Turbo compares to the BH Neo Race? The Turbo looks more integrated / better designed, but the Race is lighter and seems (to me) to ride more like a ‘real’ road bike (once you replace its cheesy tires).

  Reply
Court
6 years ago

Hi Tom!, the Turbo feels larger and sturdier (thru axle design helps) and the electronics are super well integrated… Remember, this also runs on a gearless hub motor so it’s quieter and smoother. That said, the Race is an amazing bike weighing 5 pounds less and costing half as much. It has narrower tires than the Turbo and no shock so keep that in mind, I like the Neo Cross or Jumper personally :)

  Reply
Vern
6 years ago

Have you tried the neo carbon. The one at my local dealer in laguna beach has one with a front shock. Seems nice and he is offering it at 3100. Also any reviews on prodeco bikes. They are my second choice. Great value for their new phantom x3. Thoughts? I love you website btw

  Reply
Terrill
6 years ago

I read the owners manual on-line and it stated that the Specialized Turbo has a throttle mode, in all the reviews I’ve read I’ve never saw that mentioned. The manual states to enter throttle mode all you have to do is hold the + button on the handle bar for 2 seconds or more and then the + button will act as a throttle accelerating the bike forward as long as you hold the + button down. To exit throttle mode all you have to do is pull the right brake lever or hit the – button then you’ll be taken back to turbo mode. A hidden throttle mode is the deciding factor for me in strongly considering the Turbo as my next purchase, as the Stromer Platinum doesn’t have this feature among other things. Although the price is high, I feel it is worth it.

  Reply
Court
6 years ago

Thanks for the input Terrill! I can’t confirm the throttle mode you describe but it sounds legit and really adds a neat dimension to this bike. I wonder if the throttle mode cuts out at 20 miles per hour or is capable of going faster… I was under the impression that ebikes could only go up to 28 miles per hour if under pedal assist.

  Reply
Terrill
6 years ago

I got my information from the online owners manual http://turbo.specialized.com/media/assets/locale/en_us/en-turbo-manual.pdf chapter 12. User Interface (D) Motor/Support. I was reading the owners manual looking for information on the motor when I read on how to put the Specialized Turbo in throttle mode, funny I’ve never heard mention of it anywhere but in the owners manual and the information is rather detailed so although I haven’t had a chance to test it either, (something I’ll do once I take one for a test ride) I’m sure it exist. The speed in throttle mode is rather tame as it says, its able to attain speeds of up to 20 km/h. Not even half the speed its able to in Turbo mode but still nice to have there even if only cruise speed.

  Reply
JAMES ROBERTS
6 years ago

Hi Court,
I’ve test ridden the Stromer Platinum and quite liked the ride but am concerned about what seem to me to be
rather average components. Stromer or Specialized Turbo in your view?

thanks!

  Reply
Court
6 years ago

Hi James, I would absolutely choose a Specialized Turbo over a Stromer (if money weren’t an option). You’ll get better performance, more features, a tighter overall package and wonderful support from a vast network of Specialized dealers across the country. I also prefer the look of the turbo (though it’s only available in red at the moment).

With Stromer you’ll pay less and get a solid bike, it just isn’t as high quality as the Turbo. The motor on the Turbo is amazing by the way, it offers way more than 250 watts of power, I’d say the peak output is closer to 1,000 and I think it uses transverse flux technology to offer higher torque even though it’s gearless.

  Reply
Captain Ron McKinney
6 years ago

Court, thank you for suggesting your customers and public that view your web site donate their old bikes to The Salvation Army Denver ARC. It is appreciated.

  Reply
Albert Wiese
5 years ago

Onde posso compra em Paraguay este Bike. Muito obrigado pela atencao. Albert Wiese

  Reply
Court
5 years ago

Olá Albert, infelizmente eu não tenho nenhuma idéia de onde encontrar esta moto elétrica no Paraguai. Especializada foi rolando devagar para os principais países do mundo, incluindo os EUA ea Austrália . Você pode ter que esperar um pouco , encontrar outro ebike ou ter um enviado de os EUA para o local usando uma loja como Long Island Electric Bikes ou Electric Cyclery.

  Reply
Mario Gonzalez
4 years ago

Hi Court, If I wanted to compare this bike vs the haibike xduro rx 27.5 that has a bosch 350 watt mid drive going on an uphill, which one do you think that it will perform better? or in other words which one will require less effort going uphill. Thanks.

  Reply
Court
4 years ago

The Haibike would require less effort in most cases but especially if you chose a lower gear. in my experience the Bosch system is very responsive and powerful in the higher assist levels. The Specialized Turbo requires a bit more pedaling force but feels more natural and fluid (it is also highly adjustable). Both climb fairly well but the Haibike would climb with less effort, especially off-road.

  Reply
Pedro
4 years ago

I’m in the market for a turbo my local bike shop has 2016 turbo for 3000 or 2013 turbo s demo for 3500 what would be a better buy you think

  Reply
Court
4 years ago

Great question, I believe the 2016 Turbo S is like $7,000+ because it can hit and maintain higher top speeds (technically I believe they can all go to ~28 mph but the S model has more copper winding in the motor and perhaps a higher amp controller so it’s easier). The big trade-off here is that the older demo model might not have as large of a battery as the new models and it has been sitting around for quite a while and being cycled through charges which can slowly degrade cells. It’s a tough call, I’d probably ride each one and see if the power/speed difference is noticeable. All of the Turbo models are fast, solid feeling and come with a good warranty (which might be something else to check on for the older demo model) so I think you’d be happy with either. Color might be another factor, is the 2016 base model Turbo silver vs. the 2013 demo Turbo S which is probably red?

  Reply
Pedro
4 years ago

Thanks that’s good to know probably go test them out and ask about warranty to

  Reply
Ahmad
4 years ago

Where can I purchase one. I live in malaysia !

  Reply
Court
4 years ago

Great question Ahmad… I have no idea! Some shops in the US might be able to ship overseas to you but it will be expensive :/ maybe someone else will chime in here to help you. I believe Australia is carrying Specialized electric bikes but they limit the power and speed due to laws there… the US bikes are the fastest ;)

  Reply
Pedro
4 years ago

I went back to the bike shop to ride the turbo s and base model was there a big difference between the two didn’t seem to see a big difference on the base model they want 2900 and they will give me 300 in store credit

  Reply
Court
4 years ago

That sounds pretty sweet… I’ve had a blast with all of the Turbo models to be honest. They are faster, more solid feeling and more refined than other ebikes (generally speaking). I’ve got question marks on the new LEVO series due to lack of shift sensing but that’s based on the new mid-drive design. The standard Turbo line for city and road cycling use hub motors that work great. I’d say go for it if you enjoyed the ride and are getting that sweet price :)

  Reply
Pedro
4 years ago

That’s probably what I’ll do its a good price thanks for your help

  Reply

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