2020 Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 Review


Technical Specs & Ratings



Turbo Vado 5.0


Class 3


Front Suspension



Hydraulic Disc



604.8 Wh

604.8 Wh

52.6 lbs / 23.88 kgs



Frame Details

E5 Aluminum Alloy, Hydroformed with Smooth Welds


Front Suspension


SR Suntour NCX E25 Spring Suspension with Multi-Circuit Damping (MCD), 50 mm Travel, 44 mm Offset, Compression Clicker, Preload Adjust, Rebound Adjust, 32 mm Black Anodized Stanchions, 100 mm Hub Spacing 15 mm Thru-Axle with 5 mm Hex Key

Aluminum Alloy, Double-Wall, 32 mm Outer Width, 28 Hole, Reinforcement Eyelets, Reflective Stickers | Spokes: DT Swiss, Stainless Steel, 15 Gauge, Black with Nipples

Specialized Trigger Sport, 28" x 1.85" (700 x 47c) (47-622), 50 to 75 PSI, 3.4 to 5.0 BAR, Reflective Sidewall Stripes, Blackbelt Puncture Protection


FSA, Alloy Steerer, Cartridge Bearings, Internal Cups, Tapered 1-1/8" to 1-1/2"

Aluminum Alloy, 20° Rise, Length: 60 mm (S) / 70 mm (M) / 80 mm (L) / 90 mm (XL), Two 5 mm Spacers, 31.8 mm Clamp Diameter

Aluminum Alloy, 680 mm Length, 9° Backsweep, 4° Upsweep, 15 mm Rise

Gender Specific, Specialized Body Geometry Contour, Ergonomic, Rubber, Locking

Forged Aluminum Alloy, Punched Out for Weight Savings, Single-Bolt Clamp, 21 mm Offset, Micro Adjust


Gender Specific, Canopy Comp, Hollow Cr-Mo Rails

Custom Specialized Fitness, Nylon Platform with Grip Traction

Hydraulic Disc

Shimano Deore XT BRM8000 Hydraulic Disc with 180 mm ICE-Tech Rotor Front and 160 mm ICE-Tech Rotor Rear, Dual-Piston Calipers, Shimano Two-Finger Levers with Tool-Free Adjustable Reach

Ebike Systems

Class 3


Brose S ALU, (Specialized Turbo 1.3), 120 RPM Max Support


Turbo Connect Display Wired (TCD-W), Fixed 2.2" Backlit LCD, Buttons: Left, Right, (Press Left or Right to Navigate Readouts, Hold Left for Settings: [Time & Date, Units, Pairing to Heart Rate Monitor], Press Left and Right to Select a Setting to Adjust)

Mission Control App (Bluetooth, iOS and Android)

604.8 Wh

604.8 Wh

Sony, LG, Samsung, 20700 Cells 36 Volt, Lithium-ion, 16.8 Amp Hrs, 7.7 lbs

More Details

Urban, Commuting, Touring

United States, Europe

2 Year Comprehensive, Lifetime Frame

7.7 lbs (3.49 kg)

7.5 lbs (3.4 kg)

15.74 in (39.97 cm)17.71 in (44.98 cm)19.09 in (48.48 cm)19.68 in (49.98 cm)21.06 in (53.49 cm)21.65 in (54.99 cm)

Medium High-Step 45cm Measurements: 17.75" Seat Tube Length, 22.25" Reach, 29.5" Stand Over Height, 31.75" Minimum Saddle Height, 27.5" Width, 74.25" Length, Large High-Step 50cm Measurements: 17.75" Seat Tube Length, 23.25" Reach, 31" Stand Over Height, 34.25" Minimum Saddle Height, 27.5" Width, 74.25" Length

Black Liquid Silver

148mm Hub Spacing, 12mm Thru-Axle with 5mm Hex Key

Fender Bosses, Rear Rack Bosses, Rear Frame Lock Bosses, Bottle Cage Bosses

Racktime Bolt-On Rear Rack (20kg / 44lb Max Load), Custom Dry-Tech Tubular Alloy Fenders (Extra-Long Flextender Multi-Plastic Lower Piece, 58mm Width, Reflective Stickers), Supernova V521s Integrated Headlight with Alloy Housing (205 Lumens), Supernova E3 Integrated Rear Light (3-LED, 250° Visibility), Transparent Slap Guard Sticker, Adjustable Rear-Mount Kickstand (40mm Bolt Spacing), Optional Replacement Battery Pack 604 Watt Hour ($900)

Locking Removable Downtube-Integrated Battery Pack with ABUS Locking Core (Plus Code Card), 1.9lb 42 Volt 4 Amp Charger with Rosenberger Plug (Magnetic EnergyBus Standard), Optional 1.3lb Portable 2 Amp Travel Charger, IP67 Water and Dust Protection Rating on Battery Pack, IP56 Water and Dust Protection Rating on Motor, Battery Stops with 4% at Top and Bottom to Avoid Straining Cells, Internal Cable Routing, KMC X10eT Chain with Missing Link

Independent Button Pad on Left, Buttons: Set, +, -, Lights, (Press Set to Cycle Menus [Trip Distance, State of Charge, Ride Time, Odometer], Hold + for Walk Mode, Hold - for Trip Reset), Mission Control App (Bluetooth, iOS and Android), ANT+ Wireless (For Heart Rate Monitors)

Assist Level (3 Bars), Clock, Battery Infographic (10 Bars), Page 1: Current Speed, Trip Distance, Battery Percentage, Page 2: Average Speed, Timer, Cadence, Page 3: Heart Rate, Power Watts, Page 4: KCAL, Page 5: Max Speed

Advanced Pedal Assist (Measures Rear Wheel Speed, Pedal Cadence, and Pedal Torque, 380% Peak Multiplication Force of Rider Input)

28 mph (45 kph)

Video Reviews

Written Reviews

To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This review was sponsored by Specialized. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased, this video and written review are not meant to be an endorsement of Specialized products.

There has been some updates in the Specialized lineup and today we are taking a look at the Turbo Vado 5.0. The Vado 5.0 is the top of the line model and an efficient and almost purist 28mph pedelec with a smooth Brose S ALU mid-drive, hydraulic brakes, and many commuter amenities. If you read my review on the other Vado lineup, there may be some parallel information here, but there are a few upgrades here and there. The bike comes in 1 color (black), 2 frame styles (a high-step and a mid-step-through), and 6 individual frame sizes between the 2 frames. Today we are checking out the large size high-step. There is so much to cover overall, so I will just kind of talk about the whole package, then dive deeper into the specs. The frame as a whole feels tight and rigid in a very good way…there is no real frame flex of any kind. There is quite a bit of comfort too, which I will get into, but it has a speedy and assertive feel to it from this leaned forward geometry and flat aggressive handlebar. From the frame integrated color matched battery, internally routed cables, and small TCD display, the bike gives off a presence of minimalism. In addition to that, the weight is nice and centered, as well as being low… giving it a great feel when you ride. So let’s look at some of the finer components to see what attributes to that. In the front you have a suspension fork with 50mm of travel, this is purposely limited travel, since its for the street, and it does quite well. This is an SR SunTour Ebike rated fork with a compression clicker, rebound adjust on the bottom, preload adjust, lot of adjustment here… this much adjustment is usually something you only see in air suspension forks. The tires are in-house Specialized brand ‘Trigger” tires. These are 700x47c, so roughly 28” in diameter. That means they are a little wider, have a lower attack angle, and fairly high volume. These are really comfortable tires rated for 50-75psi. The tread itself has some vibration dampening qualities while being efficient with the thin center crown. There is reflective sidewall striping here as well as Black Belt puncture protection, so really great in rough terrain also. The wheels are attached in a rigid sort of way, with a 15mm through-axle in the front and 12mm through-axle in the back. They both have 148mm hub spacing. To me this is pretty much boost hub-spacing, maybe to fit that wider 10 sprocket cassette…definitely a good choice. Commuters here are rewarded with a battery integrated headlight and rear light. The headlight is an alloy encased adjustable Super Nova light that is extremely bright. In the rear, you get a 3 LED Super Nova light as well. The included rack in the back is more of a narrow setup, but is perfect for panniers. The bike also has included fenders, but they go much more beyond your typical fenders. They are extra long aluminum alloy and they have reflective stickers. Additionally, they have been wind-tunnel tested and engineered to really keep you clean. There is a plastic channel on the bottom side of the front fender that pushes debris to the side, and the extra long rubber piece keeps your shoes clean more than most any other fenders out there. All around the bike, there is Specialized branding everywhere, like the ergonomic locking grips, plastic sandpaper grips pedals, and nice saddle (30.9mm seat post by the way, if you want to swap that out). I love that there is not 1, but 2 bottle cage boss mountings! There is also some seat stay bosses for a frame lock or cafe lock. The saddle is a gender specific saddle from Canopy, Specialized is really good and dialing in rider geometry and fit, so this is a great addition. Other features include a clear plastic slap guard, custom adjustable kickstand, and integrated bell. Really just a lot going on here so the fact that cost $5,149 make this a very reasonable offering, especially given the upgraded drivetrain and brakes that we will get into next.

Driving the bike is a compact mid-motor from Brose called the S ALU for aluminum. This is quite an upgrade for the 5.0. However, it didn’t get the lighter-weight S MAG (magnesium motor) which would have had the weight dropped from 7.5lbs to 6.39lbs. But you still get a very narrow Q Factor, optimal spindle placement (to reduce chain stay length for snappier turns and a shorter overall frame length), and excellent ground clearance. This motor is compact and the weight that is there is fully balanced to the bike. There’s a sturdy plastic skid plate below, in case you do take a rock or log strike with the suspension fully compressed on a drop. Note that the crank arms are 165mm vs. 170mm to reduce pedal strikes. So, the motor unit is small, but it really packs a punch. You get 250 to 560 watts of power output with up to 90 newton meters of torque! That’s extremely high for a mid-drive unit. Power is delivered based on your rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal pressure. These signals can be adjusted in the optional smartphone app called Mission Control. If you do want to spin, the Brose motors all support 120+ pedal RPM. This means it won’t drop out on you while downshifting on approach to a big hill. Moreso than many other competing products, the Brose motor really hangs in there at high pedal speeds. The S ALU is still light, powerful, and quiet and smooth because it contains a Gates Carbon belt drive that transitions from gears to spindle output. This reduces vibration and provides an organic feeling to the pedal experience that I can vouch for. The older Drive S was my favorite between Bosch, Shimano, and Yamaha for this reason, and Brose is expanding its support and presence in North America. There’s no pedal drag if you do choose to pedal unassisted (no reduction gearing) and the motor is decoupled from pedal strokes beyond the maximum supported speed of 32km/h (20mph). It’s an outstanding drive system and it really rounds off this high end bike well. Mechanically, they went for Shimano Deore 11-speed cassette here (with great 11-42 tooth spread) and a 48 tooth chain ring with a narrow wide pattern. This is a fantastic setup for the higher power motor and it handles the higher speeds well. For stopping power, the 5.0 gets ICE-tech hydraulic brakes with 180mm rotors in the front and 160mm rotor in the rear, both with dual pistons.

Powering the bike is a 36v 16.8ah battery, so about 604 watt hours total. This is the highest battery available for the Vado lineup. You could use the other Vado batteries here, however, the batteries are so integrated into the frame that you really need to make sure you get the one that is color matched to your bike if you want it to keep that streamlined look. I am told you can also do this by replacing the plastic cover that bolts on over the battery itself. This one weighs about 7.5lbs and a replacement is $900, so make sure to take proper care of the one you have. Luckily, the bike comes with an Abus card so you can get your locks “key to like”, meaning that your battery key can be the same key that you might use for an Abus lock or a cafe lock, so really a great way to keep it protected. Charging is done through a 1.9lb compact 4amp charger with a magnetic Rosenburg EnergyBus charger. 4amps means the charging will happen a little quicker here than some other bikes out there. The battery can be charged on or off the bike and has this neat little magnetic door with a leash and I love that its nice and high away from the crank arm when locked onto the bike. Careful when clicking the battery into place, one of my grips about this bike is that it can be tricky getting the battery in just right, especially on a model not worn-in yet. Sometimes you will get a click and it will still be a bit loose. They call this a ‘phantom click’ so make sure to give it a good wiggle to make sure its secure. To really care for this and other lithium-ion packs, I have heard that storing in a cool dry location vs. extreme heat or cold will extend the life and try to keep it about 50% full when not using for long periods so you won’t stress the cells. Try not to let it run down to zero, because that’s really hard on the cell chemistry.

The display panel on the Turbo Vado is the TCD (Turbo Connect Display). I like it because it’s large, is backlit, has integration with the Specialized Mission Control app, and has a dedicated light button. Hold down left and right to enter settings, while + and – allow you to go up and down. Unfortunately, it appears that you must turn the bike on by pressing a power button on top of the battery pack vs. a button on this control ring… and that requires some reaching or planning. It’s a minor gripe, but made a little worse from the slow startup of the display. The display is not removable, but can be tilted a bit. I do like how the battery readout is in percentages here as well as a 10 bar infographic. The two buttons on the display can be cycle through pages and so can the controls on the side. You can cycle through distance, average speed, timer, pedal cadence, heart rate monitor, power levels, k-calorie, and more. There is also integration with Mission Control. This app allows you to further customize power output from the motor in each level of assist or plan rides in a way that the battery will not run out (the bike will automatically provide power based on how far you have yet to travel). It’s one of the cooler apps, but it’s completely unnecessary to just get on and ride. The setup allows for 3 levels of pedal assist as well as a 0 mode where the system is completely off.

In conclusion, there is a lot to love about the Vado series especially this 5.0. It serves as a great example of not only a great execution of an Ebike, but also a good marriage of commuting comfort and speed. There is so much to cover here that there are bound to be some tradeoffs as well. Some of those tradeoffs include the display is not removable, nor does it have a range estimator, the custom kickstand may not be good on all terrain, and there is no quick release on either wheel or even the seat post. But the biggest tradeoff here has to do with the battery. The battery can be stubborn to click into place. On the one hand you want to be delicate since it is an integral part of the setup. But on the other hand, you can get it in there and hear a phantom click, giving you a false sense of security. Really make sure to jostle it a bit after it’s in there and make sure it is secure. Honestly, these problems are not the end of the world, and for a bike that costs $5,149 with so much engineering into the front fork, rack, and event the wind tunnel tested fenders, I think it is a fast, smooth, and high quality setup. Thank you Specialized, I really enjoyed testing the Vado 5.0.

As always, I welcome questions and feedback in the comment section below. Whether you own a previous version of the bike, have taken a test ride, or are brand new to the space, my goal is to provide an objective and honest resource. You can also join the Specialized Ebike forums and share your own photos, videos, and review updates to help others! Have fun out there, and ride safe :)


  • Interactive TCD display panel allows you to navigate menus quickly, can sync with the Mission Control smartphone app to display GPS, track routes, and record elevation, you can also engage with it using the handlebar remote to adjust assist level or cycle through standard trip stats like odometer, trip distance, ride time and range estimator
  • I love the SR SunTour Ebike rated fork with a compression clicker, rebound adjust on the bottom, and preload adjust, there is a lot of adjustment here which is usually something you only see in air suspension forks
  • Sturdy tubular fenders hug the tires to keep you dry and clean, the front fender is extra-long featuring a multi-plastic (sort of rubberized) Flextender to keep your feet and shins dry, if this portion of the fender is kicked or collides with a curb it bends naturally, Specialized calls their fenders “drytech” and has tested them in a wind tunnel to simulate how water responds at ~20 mph, the top portion of the front fender features a plastic wall to spread water to the sides vs. out to the front and up into your face… this can happen when air is pushed quickly forward at high speed
  • The fenders and rack were very quiet, even though the Flextender portion vibrated and bounced around a bit, it didn’t produce much noise at all and the custom cargo rack felt sturdy but didn’t add much width or length to the bike, I like how it’s minimalist and integrates the brake light
  • Integrated lights help you see and be seen in dark riding conditions, the headlight is mounted underneath the stem keeping the cockpit clean and points where you steer, the rear light is at the very end of the rack so it won’t get blocked by panniers or trunk bags
  • In addition to integrated LED lights, there are several reflective stickers on the fenders and rims to increase your visual footprint in dark riding conditions, the tires even have reflective sidewall striping
  • The Brose S ALU mid-drive motor is extremely compact and quiet, it has a carbon belt inside that transfers power from the planetary gear, it feels smooth and is very responsive… the base of the bottom bracket has vents to allow air to pass directly across the motor casing and cool it
  • Excellent weight distribution with both the motor and battery mounted low and center,
    the frame is totally custom so the electronics blend in and wires are internally routed, the battery doesn’t stand out thanks to a paint-matched shell
  • I like how the battery tips out towards the left side vs. going up and down because this allows the mid-step frame to have a lower top tube and will reduce frame bumps when mounting and dismounting the battery
  • All around the bike, there is Specialized branding everywhere, like the ergonomic locking grips, plastic sandpaper grips pedals, in-house tires, and nice saddle, it shows how much control the brand has over the execution of the bike, rather than have something slapped together
  • The Men’s high-step Vado frame has two sets of bottle cage bosses (in the traditional spot on top of the downtube and below the top tube) This is especially useful if you want to mount a folding lock, mini-pump or other accessories without adding panniers or a trunk bag
  • Specialized offers a solid two-year comprehensive warranty with lifetime on the frame and has a vast network of dealers who can provide expert fitting and maintenance
  • The bike frame was designed to feel stable and I was able to pedal down a hill at 40+ mph comfortably, Specialized uses Body Geometry fit data from over a decade of research and includes gender-specific Body Geometry saddle and grips for improved comfort
  • The battery pack is removable so you can store its safely and charge conveniently, I’d suggest removing the battery when carrying the bike or using walk mode to help climb stairs, the locking core is made by Abus and they can match folding locks to the same key for convenience and reduced clutter if you want
  • The charger has a magnetic interface so it won’t knock your bike over as easily if the cord gets tripped over,
    the cover for this plug on the bike is also magnetic and has a little rubber leash so it won’t get lost so easy
  • High-end drivetrain makes it easy to start and climb or maintain the ~28 mph top speed, The Shimano Deore  Shadow+ derailleur keeps the chain tight on bumps to reduce bouncing and slipping with a one-way adjustable clutch (this drivetrain has traditionally been reserved for mountain bikes), the same clutch can make removing the rear wheel easier if locked so the derailleur doesn’t spring back
  • Unlike the Specialized Turbo Levo e-mountain bikes that also use the Brose drive system, for the Vado models the battery actually locks to the frame (the mountain models just have a 15 mm thru-axle holding it in place) and the charging port has been elevated to the top of the pack to stay clear of the cranks vs. the Vado where it’s very low, basically under the bottom bracket
  • The battery mounts from the top left side so putting it on and taking it off is less likely to bang the top tube and has allowed for a lower top tube on the Women’s model
  • The drive system uses freewheels to decouple when pedaling unpowered (or above the top assisted speed) which is likely what other Brose ebikes do as I did not notice a difference… but Specialized was emphasizing this
  • This is really a great option for commuting, you get a rack, integrated lights in the front and rear, front fork, hydraulic brakes, and of course 28mph speed!
  • With great power and speed come great responsibility! and for that you get Shimano ICE-tech hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm rotors in the front and 160mm rotors in the rear
  • In addition to having a plastic chainring guard (that keeps your pants or dress clear of the front sprocket and oily chain), the sprocket itself uses a narrow wide tooth pattern that grabs the chain better to reduce drops and noise


  • Careful when clicking the battery into place, it can be tricky getting the battery in just right, especially on a model not worn-in yet, sometimes you will get a click and it will still be a bit loose, they call this a ‘phantom click’ so make sure to give it a good wiggle to make sure its secure
  • The rear rack looks sleek (with fewer support arms) but doesn’t support as much weight as most standard racks I see on other ebikes, you get 48.5 lbs (22 kg) vs. 55 lbs (25 kg) capacity
  • There is no quick release on either wheel, so do be mindful of that for maintenance, also, no quick release on the seat post
  • This doesn’t seem to be an issue for most riders who reduce pedal pressure as they shift gears (because the motor controller measures torque) but you don’t get shift sensing like Bosch and some Impulse motors which could result in more mashing if you’re not careful, I saw this happening a lot once on a media ride… people would slow down for stop signs and lights just before hills (or on hills) and then clunk the gears hard shifting down as they started from zero which is bad for the chain, sprockets and derailleur
  • If you want another battery or need a replacement, you might want to make sure you have one that is paint matched to your frame color if you want to maintain that streamlined look, I am told Specialized has a separate plastic shell you can buy apart from the battery
  • I don’t think the battery has an integrated handle, so be careful taking it off the bike and carrying it around, it’s sensitive and should be handled with care
  • The bike takes a moment to power on after pressing the on/off button at the top of the battery pack, I feel like you have to press that button for a full second and the display isn’t immediate to light up or turn off… it just feels annoying compared to some others like Bosch

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