Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0 EQ Review

Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Electric Bike Review
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Battery Charging Port On Frame
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Sl 1 1 Mid Drive Motor 35nm Torque
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Handlebar Ergonomic Locking Grips Bell
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Right Grip With Shimano Trigger Shfiters And Optical Gear Window
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Turbo Connect Unit Button Pad 10 Led Charge Level Indicator
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Alloy Fork 110mm Boost Hub Spacing 12mm Thru Axle
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Tektro 160mm Hydraulic Disc Brakes Fork Rack Bosses
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq.jpg Lezyne Ebike Hecto Headlight
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Button Pad With S Plus Minus And Walk Mode
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Bridge Sport Saddle
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Praxis Cranks Custom Plastic Platform Pedals
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq 10 Speed Shimano Deore 11 42 Tooth Cassette
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Kickstand Rear Rack Alloy Fenders
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Lezyne 2 Led Rear Light On Drytech Fender
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Rear Wheel Speed Sensor Magnet
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Electric Bike
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq.jpg Electric Bike Battery Charger
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq.jpg 48 Volt 3 Amp Ebike Charger
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Stock High Step Navy White Mountains
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Electric Bike Review
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Battery Charging Port On Frame
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Sl 1 1 Mid Drive Motor 35nm Torque
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Handlebar Ergonomic Locking Grips Bell
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Right Grip With Shimano Trigger Shfiters And Optical Gear Window
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Turbo Connect Unit Button Pad 10 Led Charge Level Indicator
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Alloy Fork 110mm Boost Hub Spacing 12mm Thru Axle
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Tektro 160mm Hydraulic Disc Brakes Fork Rack Bosses
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq.jpg Lezyne Ebike Hecto Headlight
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Button Pad With S Plus Minus And Walk Mode
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Bridge Sport Saddle
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Praxis Cranks Custom Plastic Platform Pedals
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq 10 Speed Shimano Deore 11 42 Tooth Cassette
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Kickstand Rear Rack Alloy Fenders
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Lezyne 2 Led Rear Light On Drytech Fender
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Rear Wheel Speed Sensor Magnet
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Electric Bike
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq.jpg Electric Bike Battery Charger
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq.jpg 48 Volt 3 Amp Ebike Charger
Specialized Turbo Vado Sl 4 0 Eq Stock High Step Navy White Mountains

Summary

  • One of the best ebikes I've ever reviewed. Relatively light weight at 36.9lbs including integrated lights, a rear rack, and custom designed tubular fenders with extra long rubberized flaps to keep your feet dry. Reasonably priced for outstanding motor and battery technology. Class 3 speed-pedelec performance offers 28mph (45km/h) assisted speeds for fun, respect from automobiles, and overall faster commutes
  • Boost hub spacing provides sturdier spoke bracing angle, 12mm thru-axles provide stiffness and control at speed, excellent weight distribution (low, centered, balanced front to rear). Decent hydraulic disc brakes from Tektro with sturdy 160mm rotors. Practical Shimano drivetrain with 10-gears, wide 11-42 tooth cassette, stiff derailleur, and versatile shifter mechanism
  • Internal battery offers modest capacity but weighs under 4lbs and provides impressive range. Additional Range Extender bottle-shaped batteries are easy to use, quiet, and beautiful. The bike is satisfying to pedal, even without assist from the motor. Reflective stickers and accents on the fenders, frame, and tires help keep you safe. Two color options, comfortable saddle and grips, useful smartphone app and wireless heart rate monitor integration
  • Only available in a high-step frame at the moment, no step-thru. The range Extender 160wh battery pack costs extra and the primary battery is on the small side. Since the primary battery is not easily removable, you may need to store the entire bike inside, away from extreme heat or cold, and near a charging port. Kickstand pokes into soft terrain, no USB charging ports, limited readouts on the TCU display and the TCD costs extra, no suspension elements on the 4.0 version of this bike and the all-aluminum frame could be jarring at high speed with high tire pressure

Video Review

Introduction

Make:

Specialized

Model:

Turbo Vado SL 4.0 EQ

Price:

$3,500

Body Position:

Forward

Suggested Use:

Neighborhood, Urban, Road

Electric Bike Class:

Speed Pedelec (Class 3)
Learn more about Ebike classes

Warranty:

2 Year Comprehensive, Lifetime Frame and Fork

Availability:

Canada, Europe, United States

Model Year:

2020

Bicycle Details

Total Weight:

36.9 lbs (16.73 kg)

Battery Weight:

3.96 lbs (1.79 kg)

Motor Weight:

4.29 lbs (1.94 kg)

Frame Material:

E5 Aluminum Alloy

Frame Sizes:

16.33 in (41.47 cm)17.57 in (44.62 cm)19.46 in (49.42 cm)21.06 in (53.49 cm)

Geometry Measurements:

Large 494.5mm Measurements: 19.5" Seat Tube Length, 23.25" Reach, 31" Stand Over, 33.25" Minimum Saddle Height, 27.25" Width, 73.25" Length, 45" Wheelbase

Frame Types:

High-Step

Frame Colors:

Dove Gray with Acid Lava and Cast Black Reflective Accents

Frame Fork Details:

Rigid Aluminum Alloy, Boost 110mm Hub Spacing, 12mm Thru-Axle with 6mm Hex Bolt

Frame Rear Details:

148mm Hub Spacing, 12mm Thru-Axle with 6mm Hex Bolt

Attachment Points:

Two Bottle Cage Mounts, Rear Rack Mounts, Front Rack Mounts, Fender Mounts

Gearing Details:

10 Speed 1x10 Shimano Deore 11-42 Tooth Cassette, Shimano Deore Shadow Plus GS Cage Derailleur with One-Way Clutch

Shifter Details:

Shimano RapidFire Plus Trigger Shifters with Optical Gear Display on Right (Two-Way High, Three-Shift Low)

Cranks:

Praxis, Forged Aluminum Alloy, M30 Spindle Splines, Custom Offset, 170mm Length for Small 172.5mm Length for Medium and Large and 175mm Length for Extra Large, Aluminum Alloy 44 Tooth Chainring with Plastic Guard, 104 BCD Spider, 181mm Q-Factor, ISIS Splined

Pedals:

Specialized Body Geometry Fitness with Varus Wedge (Aligns the Knee, Increases Comfort and Efficiency, Reduces Injury), Plastic Platform with Nubs and Reflectors

Headset:

Threadless, Cartridge Bearings, Tapered 1-1/ 8" to 1-1/ 2"

Stem:

Specialized Stealth Stem, Aluminum Alloy, 14° Rise, 70mm to 100mm Length, 31.8mm Clamp Diameter, TCD-W Mount for Optional Cycle Computer, One 25mm Tapered Base Spacer, Three 10mm Spacers, One 5mm Spacer

Handlebar:

Stout Mini Rise, Aluminum Alloy, 9-Degree Backsweep, 15mm Rise, 690mm Width

Brake Details:

Tektro HD-R290, Hydraulic Disc with 160mm Rotors, Dual-Piston Calipers, Tektro Three-Finger Levers with Adjustable Reach

Grips:

Specialized Body Geometry Targa, Ergonomic, Rubber, Locking

Saddle:

Specialized Bridge Sport, Body Geometry, Steel Rails, 143mm to 155mm Length

Seat Post:

Specialized, Aluminum Alloy, Dual-Bolt, 25mm Offset

Seat Post Length:

350 mm

Seat Post Diameter:

27.2 mm

Rims:

Specialized Branded, Aluminum Alloy, Mid-Dish 700C Disc, ETRTO 622x21, 22mm Rim Depth, 21mm Internal Width, Specialized Sealed Cartridge Bearings, Center Lock, Front Hub: 12x110mm, 24 Hole, Rear Hub: 12x148mm, 28 Hole

Spokes:

DT Swiss Industry, Stainless Steel, 15 Gauge, Black with Nipples

Tire Brand:

Specialized Nimbus II Sport Reflect, 700x38c (38-622)

Wheel Sizes:

28 in (71.12cm)

Tire Details:

50 to 80 PSI, 3.5 to 5.5 BAR, Blackbelt Puncture Protection, Reflective Sidewall Stripes

Tube Details:

Presta Valve (48mm)

Accessories:

Lezyne Ebike Hecto STVZO E65 Integrated Headlight (210 Lumens, 12 Volt), Lezyne Ebike Rear Fender STVZO Integrated Rear Light (2 LED, 30 Lumens, 12 Volt), Specialized Custom Dry-Tech Tubular Alloy Fenders (Extra-Long Flextender Multi-Plastic Lower Piece, 40mm Width, Reflective Stickers), Specialized Kickstand (40mm Mount, Plastic Tip), Specialized Turbo SL Bolt-On Rear Rack (Closed Platform, Direct Fender Mount, Racktime SnapIT Compatible, 15kg 33lb Max Weight), Simple Bell, Clear Plastic Slap Guard Sticker, Optional Range Extender Battery Pack ($450, 46.8 Volts, 3.35 Amp Hours, 160 Watt Hours, 2.3lbs 1.04kg) Range Extender Cable ($45) SLY Charging Split Cable ($65), Replacement Charger ($200), Optional Replacement Battery ($700), Optional TCD LCD Display ($90, Battery Percentage, Pedal Cadence, Speed, Distance, Trip Time, Odometer, Calories, Pedal Watts, Time)

Other:

Downtube-Integrated Battery Pack (Removable with Tools, 3.96lb), 1.9lb 54.6 Volt 3.0 Amp Charger, 181mm Q-Factor, KMC e10S Chain with Missing Link, Maximum Motor RPM Support 120, IP67 Rated Against Water and Dust (Main Battery, Range Extender Battery, SL 1.1 Motor, TCU Display)

Electronic Details

Motor Brand:

Specialized SL 1.1 (MAHLE GmbH German Manufacturer)

Motor Type:

Mid-Mounted Geared Motor
Learn more about Ebike motors

Motor Nominal Output:

240 watts

Motor Peak Output:

240 watts

Motor Torque:

35 Newton meters

Battery Brand:

Specialized SL1-320, Panasonic, LG, or Samsung, 5,000 mAh 2,170 Cells

Battery Voltage:

48 volts

Battery Amp Hours:

6.9 ah

Battery Watt Hours:

331.2 wh

Battery Chemistry:

Lithium-ion

Charge Time:

2.5 hours (7 Hours with Optional Travel Charger)

Estimated Min Range:

35 miles (56 km)

Estimated Max Range:

75 miles (121 km)

Display Type:

Turbo Connect Unit (TCU), Rubberized LED Console on Top Tube (10 Blue and Green LEDs), Buttons: Power, S Button (Hold S for No Assist)

Readouts:

Battery Charge Level (10 Bars Total, 5 Bars for Range Extender Battery), Assist Level (0-3)

Display Accessories:

Independent Button Pad Near Left Grip, Buttons: S, +, -, Walk Mode, (Pressing S Jumps to Highest Assist Level), Mission Control App (Bluetooth, iOS and Android, Can Turn Off LEDs), ANT+ Wireless (For Heart Rate Monitors)

Drive Mode:

Advanced Pedal Assist (Measures Rear Wheel Speed, Pedal Cadence, and Pedal Torque over 1,000 Times per Second, Offers 180% Peak Multiplication Force of Rider Input)

Top Speed:

28 mph (45 kph)


Written Review

To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I regularly charge a universal service fee for my reviews (not this one). This in-depth review was not sponsored by Specialized. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased with you, this video and writeup are not meant to be an endorsement of Specialized products or Cit-E-Cycles… I covered it for the sake of variety and based on interest from site visitors! I welcome your corrections, additions, and feedback in the comments below and the Specialized electric bike forums.

Observations:

  • The new Specialized SL (Super Light) 1.1 motor system is very impressive… not only is it compact and lightweight at just 4.3lbs, it actually provides good torque and satisfying power. It can operate above 120 RPM so you can pedal fast in low gears without losing support, and it functions as a Class 3 motor supporting top speeds of 28mph. It fades out smoothly and does not introduce drag if the bike is pedaled in zero mode or above 28mph (45km/h)
  • The main battery can be removed with help from your local shop, so the bike could technically be ridden non-electric and weigh just 32.9lbs. With the main battery removed, you can ship the bicycle on airplanes, and since the Range Extenders are just 160 watt hours, most airlines will let you carry them onto the plane. The bike can then run solely off of a range-extender when you arrive at your destination (Specialized estimates you can get up to 40 miles (64.3 kilometers) with the range extender… probably in the lowest level of assist, unmodified by the app)
  • The Turbo Vado SL comes in four different skews including 4.0 for $3,350 and 4.0 EQ for $3,500, 5.0 for $4,350 and 5.0 EQ for $4,500 with the EQ standing for “equipped”. The fully equipped bikes cost $150 extra but include some of the best fenders I’ve tested, along with a streamlined rear rack. These bikes come in four frame sizes at each level, and several skews offer two color choices (including the 4.0 EQ from in this review)
  • The biggest differences when going from 4.0 to 5.0 include a carbon fiber fork vs. aluminum alloy, the Future Shock 1.5 suspension stem vs. a standard rigid stem, and a drivetrain upgrade from a 10-speed Shimano Deore derailleur with 11-42 tooth cassette to a 12-speed Shimano Deore XT derailleur with 10-45 tooth cassette
  • The bike comes with a manual that shows the bluetooth password for you to use for the Mission Control app when connecting an iOS or Android smartphone device. If you somehow misplace or lose this code, I believe you can unscrew the TCU rubberized button pad on the top tube to get to a label inside that has the password written again. Perhaps work with your shop to do this so as not to loosen wires.

Pros:

  • Very few compromises with the Vado SL models, I love that the frame has provisions for two bottle cages on the downtube and seat tube, that they come with lights standard (whether you get the EQ “equipped” model or not), that they used custom tubular fenders with “flextender” ends to keep you dry, that you get a decent rear rack with standard gauge tubing Racktime compatibility and bungee loops, and that there are even mounting points on the fork for a front rack!
  • This electric bike doesn’t weight a lot! Even with the fenders, rear rack, lights, and optional TCD computer on my test unit, it came in at just 36.9lbs (16.73kg). Specialized says their SL models are roughly 40% lighter than comparable ebikes… and I believe them based on all of the reviews I’ve done. This means it’s easier to lift onto car and bus racks, easier to perform maintenance, and much easier to start from standstill and pedal around without assist turned on
  • Incredibly stealthy design… this thing genuinely looks like an analog bicycle because the motor casing is so compact and the battery is completely internalized. There are no big LCD displays to distract or cause glare (unless you add the optional TCD LCD for $90), and the 10 blue/green LED readouts on the TCU interface can be disabled using the Mission Control app
  • I appreciate the addition of a remote button pad, mounted near the left grip, so you can easily raise and lower assist without taking your hands off of either grip. The interface is intuitive, responsive, and well sealed against dust and water. The walk mode button responds very quickly and the S button on top jumps you to the highest level of assist with just one press. The bike starts in the second level of assist by default, based on my experience testing the bike
  • Specialized has designed their electric bikes to utilize Ant+ wireless for heart rate monitors, they also track your pedal cadence and torque for feedback about calories burned… this is genuine exercise equipment with support for athletic training, and the smartphone app lets you program the bike to add and subtract assist support based entirely on your heart rate!
  • The smartphone “Mission Control” application is very well done. It lets you adjust the three levels of assist in many ways (start faster, provide more power etc.), spend battery power based on range time or heart rate, and it can send trip information to Strava or Kamoot!
  • Excellent weight distribution on this bike, it’s all kept low and centered on the frame. The bike balanced well when lifting from the center (as I weighed it) and handled like a non-electric bike. Note the wider Boost hub spacing (110mm front and 148mm rear) with sturdy 12mm thru-axles to manage Class 3 28mph (45km/h) top speeds and additional weight with less flex
  • Decent brake choice here, I was actually surprised to see Tektro vs. Shimano on both the 4.0 and 5.0 Vado SL models, given the Shimano drivetrain and higher brand perception of that company and the price point of this bike. Anyway, the hydraulic brakes require less hand effort than mechanical and the 160mm rotors won’t get bent out of place as easily at bike racks as 180mm. They should provide good stopping power and be reliable
  • Motor activation is fairly smooth and fluid (both powering up and cutting out), it’s a zippy noticeable feeling that beats all of the other lightweight mid-drive systems I’ve tested recently, including the Fazua mid-drive. It’s similar to a Bosch Gen 4 Speed, just a lot smaller, lighter, and less powerful for steep climbs… but it’s also quieter than that motor in my experience
  • Great drivetrain here, the 10-speed Shimano cassette offers 11-42 tooth for easy starts and climbing as well as comfortable high-speed pedaling… so the motor won’t outpace you. I love that they chose a Shimano Deore medium-cage derailleur with a one-way clutch to keep the chain tighter, and they used nicer shifters with two-way action on the high lever so you can use your thumb vs. index finger (which might be occupied with braking)
  • There’s no reduction gearing or drag with the motor when riding completely unassisted or pedaling beyond the supported 28mph (45km/h) top speed, the bikes feel really smooth and natural vs. having a big “wall” cutout feeling. I tested several models without assist and still enjoyed riding
  • Tight tolerance on the battery pack alignment and mounting systems for the main battery and Range Extender battery, you don’t hear them rattling around at higher speeds, even off-road on the gravel (which I tested on the Creo EVO model). Specialized designed a thick rubber band that surrounds the battery to secure it to a Z-Cage bottle holder. It’s a simple and lightweight solution that also blends in nicely
  • Lightweight clear stickers protect the frame paint from cable rub at the head tube and chain slaps on the right chainstay. I appreciate that this ebike is being sold in multiple colors at launch… and that they all feature lots of reflective stickers! That includes the fenders, tires, downtube, and the upper portion of the seat tube… great job all around
  • These fenders are custom designed by Specialized to be sturdy, but also functional. Note how the main body consists of tubular aluminum alloy for stiffness and strength, while the bottom portion is a flexible rubberized plastic that extends way down to keep your legs dry (and anyone riding behind you). The top of the front fender has channels that direct water out to the sides, so it doesn’t blow back towards your body and face… when riding quickly, water does indeed get pushed up and forwards inside of fenders, so this was very smart design work, and of course, they test it in their wind tunnel on site, part of what makes Specialized cool and unique ;)
  • Excellent tire choice here, the 700x38c size is a great balance between efficiency, comfort, and stability. The PSI range of 50 to 80 gives you room to lower the pressure for increased comfort (which is what I did on my test rides), and the reflective sidewall stripes and built-in Blackbelt puncture protection means you’re less likely to endure flats from thorns and glass
  • While the aluminum chainring used on the Turbo Vado SL 4.0 EQ that I reviewed did not have narrow-wide tooth pattern as I saw on some of the Creo and Levo models earlier this year, it did include a sturdy plastic guard to keep the chain from bouncing off, and to keep your pant legs from touching the chain. The space between the body of the motor appeared to be so slim that it might act as a guide on the left, so you’ve effectively got a chain guide
  • It’s awesome that Specialized has allowed you to choose which battery is drawn down first (if you’re using the optional Range Extender pack). You can drain them both in tandem, using the Mission Control app, or prioritize the Range Extender which is then removable for independent charging at work etc. Alternatively, if you choose to run off of both packs simultaneously, you won’t be cycling one battery constantly, which wears through its cycles faster
  • While aluminum alloy is not known for being the most comfortable frame material, it is extremely durable and fairly lightweight. Note the smooth welds on this frame and “E5” callout… that’s the proprietary 7075 top of the line aerospace aluminum alloy that Specialized uses. I also like how they routed most of the cables and wires through the frame
  • While we’re on the topic of comfort, I want to compliment the saddle and pedals that come stock with this ebike… they were both very comfortable and use the “Body Geometry” design work of Specialized. Seriously, for me the saddle felt softer and more comfortable than most, and the pedals provided great surface area for traction
  • A vast network of dealers makes it easier to see, touch, and get fitted on the bike, excellent two year comprehensive warranty with lifetime frame and wheelset… Specialized is now securely positioned as one of the most innovative and committed ebike makers in North America, I reviewed their first ebike product way back in 2012 and they’ve only gotten better while pushing the boundaries of speed pedelecs while other companies shied away based on European standards. Thanks for your bravery and commitment Specialized! This company is also one of the “Big 3” along with Trek and Giant, so they are a longstanding trusted high-volume brand
  • Walk mode activates very quickly, it’s also easy to use because there’s a dedicated button on the control pad near the left grip. So many other ebikes have a multi-step walk mode and they just seem slow and easily cut off. Do not however, that the bike needs to be in one of the three assist levels for walk mode to activate
  • One highlight for the Vado SL 4.0 models vs. the 5.0 is that their aluminum alloy fork has rack bosses, while the upgraded carbon fiber forks do not. This is an important consideration if you’re planning to use the bike for touring or need that extra cargo carrying capacity on the front of the bike

Cons:

  • The positioning of the kickstand is pretty good, it’s far enough back so as not to create pedal lock when moving the bike and it’s in a good spot to manage cargo loaded on the rear rack. However, the kickstand does not offer adjustable length and the pointy tip easily sinks into soft terrain (as shown in the video review above)
  • The bike is very sleek and aerodynamic, with the shim-style seat post clamp and narrow rack, but the limited weight capacity of just 15kg (33lbs) is disappointing. Most bicycle and electric bike racks I see are rated at 25kg (55lbs) which might be necessary for a child seat. Because the bicycle frame does not include rear rack bosses on the seat stays, it could be difficult to find a sturdier aftermarket rack that will work here… you could use a saddle clamp mount, but the unique shim style saddle clamp that’s included means you’ll basically be mounting above the seat tube – directly to the seat post, so the rack positioning will get changed anytime you raise or lower the seat post. Considering that the fork has bosses for adding a rack system, there are decent options for storage, but the child seat limitation is a disappointment that two seat stay bosses could have resolved without adding too much weight or compromising the stock streamlined rack and fender combo
  • With four different versions of this ebike available at launch (4.0 standard and EQ, 5.0 standard and EQ), four frame sizes for each, and several color options being produced… I noticed that Specialized is not yet offering a step-thru frame. I wish they would have prioritized that, because I feel that this is one of the best products of the year, and not everyone can handle the higher minimum standover and saddle height from a diamond frame setup. Yes, this is a more active ebike in general, but it’s less sporty than the Creo and Levo models (the only others utilizing the SL motor system right now). For people who are petite or have limited mobility, a high quality light weight ebike like this is perfect, except for the tall frame
  • While I do see a lot of value in the price point that Specialized was able to hit with these Vado SL models (especially the 4.0) they do charge a lot for accessories. The removable grayscale LCD shown in the video review only comes standard with the 5.0 models and costs $90 otherwise. The range extender battery is $450 and requires an additional $45 cable (Specialized said they sell the pack and cable separately because many owners will opt for multiple range extenders, and they didn’t want to create waste). The charging splig cable (to fill the bike and range extender simultaneously) is another $65. If you ever need to replace the main battery pack, that’s $700, and replacement chargers are $200
  • In a perfect world, the battery charging port would be up high on the right side of the frame, so you wouldn’t have to lean down and tuck under the bike frame to plug it in. Where it’s situated now, the charging port also puts the cable in the path of the left crank arm, which could cause a snag if the pedals get turned or you back the bike up while plugged in. The original Turbo models from Specialized used a magnetic plug that would simply pop off without causing damage if tripped over, but the new ones are a round friction fit
  • Take extra care when unplugging the range extender cable from the bike, because there’s a twist lock feature that might be engaged and you could crack the plastic if you don’t check for it. I saw several charge cable ends with chips and cracks in the port plug while reviewing products at a demo event for Specialized, though it did not seem to affect their ability to function properly
  • Since the primary battery pack is built into the bike frame, it cannot easily be removed to reduce the weight of the bike (during transport), to get closer to a wall outlet to charge, or to keep it from getting super hot or cold. Extreme heat can degrade lithium-ion cells over time and cold will stunt your range temporarily. At least you can get the range extender packs and store them separately… I’ve even been told that dealers can remove the main battery and you can operate the bike entirely off of a range extender, making the bike easier to ship via air or ride as an analog bicycle (non-electric)
  • The rear wheel speed sensor is built into the disc brake rotor mount, so it’s very tucked away and durable compared to spoke-mounted magnets on most other ebikes. One consideration here it that over time the brake pad and rotor filings could stick to the magnet and cause a read error. This may also happen if you lay the bike down in sand or other soil conditions. Keep it in mind if you ever see a read error on the bike
  • I lowered the tire pressure a bit during my test rides, because I have a sensitive back, neck, shoulders, and wrists. The Vado 4.0 SL models use an aluminum fork and rigid stem vs. carbon fiber fork and Future Shock 1.5 stem on the Vado 5.0 SL. These parts would be expensive and difficult to upgrade post-purchase. All things considered, I would be willing to pay the extra $1k for the 5.0 model because this is a speed pedelec and I could see myself using it for lots of errands, commuting, and fun rides… and comfort is very important to me
  • I was surprised that none of the Turbo Vado SL models appear to come with a carbon fiber seatpost (to reduce weight and dampen vibration). I might consider the addition of a 27.2mm carbon fiber suspension seatpost from Kinekt or the Specialized Cobble Gobbler product
  • This ebike does utilize a brand new motor system from an unproven German manufacturer. I was told by a shop owner that he’s been testing the motor for nearly two years (at the time of this review) and really put it through its paces without issue, but it’s still new and somewhat unknown as of 2019/2020
  • Be sure that you purchase a left-entry Specialized Z-Cage bottle holder if you buy the Range Extender battery pack, because the cable comes out of the left side of the battery and the security notch will then be aligned with the front of the battery… we had a right-entry Z-Cage on one of the demo bikes and as a result, the battery didn’t seat quite right
  • The TCU LED console on the top tube is pretty decent, but it’s positioned pretty low compared to most other ebike displays (which sit on the stem or handlebar), it doesn’t show your current speed, max speed, trip distance, range, or any other interesting stats… but at least it does offer 10 bars to indicate battery charge level vs. just 5 on many competing products. It’s nice that Specialized has that optional TCD (LCD display) for $90 and a free smartphone app for iOS and Android, offering more feedback. It would be useful to somehow charge your phone off of the main ebike battery using a USB charging port or wireless charging mount. As it stands, there are no USB charging ports on the bike
  • There’s no shift sensing built into the Specialized motor controllers, and this can lead to increased chain and sprocket wear if you don’t back off a bit on your pedaling while shifting… though it wasn’t a big issue for me during the test rides, the lower powered 35 newton meter torque rating of the motor and multi-sensing controller means you shouldn’t cause as much drivetrain damage from poor shifts
  • I was a little bit surprised that the bike didn’t have a multi-tool built into the frame somewhere. I saw these on both the Creo SL and Levo SL models tested earlier this year, and they are very handy if you get a flat tire because both axles use 6mm hex bolts vs. quick release along with the seat post clamp (I think that one is 4mm)
  • This isn’t exactly a con, but the Q-Factor of the bottom bracket is slightly wider than non-electric bikes at 181mm vs. 175mm. I asked a Specialized engineer about this, and he said they focused on durability and water resistant design, using battery washers and seals… and that’s why the BB ended up 6mm wider (which is on-par with many of the mid-drive motors I’ve covered over the years)
  • This is a very minor thing, but the chain does not appear to cycle backwards through the drivetrain if you pedal backwards. Some other ebike mid-drive motors perform this way as well, and it makes servicing the drivetrain a bit more tricky if you don’t have a bike stand or handlebar cradle/jacks available. However, I appreciate that there’s some resistance built in, so the cranks won’t just spin backwards out of control if your foot slides off while riding

Useful Resources:

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  • MSRP: $9,025
  • MODEL YEAR: 2020

One of the most satisfying lightweight full suspension electric mountain bikes available... just 38.8lbs total! Uses a proprietary mid-drive motor and downtube-integrated battery pack that weigh under 8.3lbs combined. Optional range extender bottle-shaped batteries weigh 2.3lbs, are easy to use, and the control system allows for simultaneous or independent drawdown. You can even remove the downtube battery and rely solely on the range extender packs, which may be eligible for commercial air travel. Boost hub spacing for strength, varied front and rear tire for improved handling and traction,…...

Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO Review

  • MSRP: $6,500
  • MODEL YEAR: 2020

A lightweight gravel grinder road ebike with flared handlebars, wide treaded tires, a seat post dropper, and unique Future Shock 2.0 steer tube suspension. Available in six frame sizes, sold through a vast network of dealers with professional fitting systems, solid two-year comprehensive warranty. The frame offers provisions for two bottle cages, fenders, and a rear rack, wide range of color options. Boost hub spacing with sturdy 12mm thru-axles provide stiffness and control at higher speeds, sturdier…...

Specialized Turbo S-Works Levo SL Review

  • MSRP: $13,525
  • MODEL YEAR: 2020

Extremely lightweight and satisfying. The S-WORKS Levo SL is the most premium offering in the Levo SL lineup, featuring more lightweight carbon fiber and titanium hardware (crank arms, derailleur cage plate, handlebar, saddle rails). It comes with an electronic dropper post, gold colored 12-speed SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain, and Fox Factory Kashima coated 150mm suspension. Weighs just ~38lbs, uses a proprietary mid-drive motor and downtube-integrated battery pack that weigh under 8.3lbs combined. Optional range extender bottle-shaped batteries weigh 2.3lbs. You can even remove the downtube battery and rely solely on the range extender packs, which may be eligible for commercial air travel. Boost hub spacing for strength, varied front and rear tire for improved handling and traction,…...

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 Review

  • MSRP: $5,150
  • MODEL YEAR: 2020

A high-speed, feature-complete, urban electric bike with unique tubular fenders that have flexible extensions and water routing system to keep your legs, back and face dry, integrated lights and a tight modern rack. Available in 6 sizes including high-step and mid-step frame styles with gender-specific saddle and grips,…...

Specialized Turbo Como 5.0 Review

  • MSRP: $4,150
  • MODEL YEAR: 2020

A great top of the line model for Specialized, starts at $4,150 and has relaxed cruiser riding position, hydraulic brakes, front rack, a smooth mid-drive motor, 28mph top speed, and a lot of great little features. Features a custom Brose S ALU mid-drive motor that was tuned just for Specialized, high…...

Specialized Turbo Como 4.0 Review

  • MSRP: $3,350
  • MODEL YEAR: 2020

A great mid point for Specialized, starts at $3,350 and has relaxed cruiser riding position, hydraulic brakes, a smooth mid-drive motor, 28mph top speed, and a lot of great little features. Features a custom Brose T mid-drive motor that was tuned just for Specialized, 36v 14ah…...

Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert Review

  • MSRP: $7,550
  • MODEL YEAR: 2019

A purpose built, strong and sturdy, full suspension, all mountain with some enduro, agile and balanced with it’s 50/50 weight distribution, smooth and powerful mid-drive electric mountain bike. This is an extremely sturdy and overbuilt setup, thanks to points of interest like this…...

Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 Review

  • MSRP: $3,550
  • MODEL YEAR: 2020

A high-speed, feature-complete, urban electric bike with unique tubular fenders that have flexible extensions and water routing system to keep your legs, back and face dry, integrated lights and a tight modern rack. Available in 6 sizes including high-step and mid-step frame styles with gender-specific saddle and grips,…...

Specialized Turbo Como 3.0 Review

  • MSRP: $2,950
  • MODEL YEAR: 2020

A great entry point for Specialized, starts at $2,949 and has relaxed cruiser riding position, hydraulic brakes, a smooth mid-drive motor, and a lot of great little features. Features a custom Brose CB mid-drive motor that was tuned just for Specialized, 36v 12.8ah…...

Specialized Turbo Levo Expert Review

  • MSRP: $8,250
  • MODEL YEAR: 2019

A lighter, stiffer, even more powerful second generation Turbo Levo platform, custom side-arm rear suspension design improves cable routing, tubeless ready rims and tires, unique hidden SWAT multi-tool under stem cap. 29er wheel size with narrower 2.6" tires reduce friction and improve steering precision, new battery…...

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Fat Review

  • MSRP: $5,000
  • MODEL YEAR: 2017

A hardtail, fat tire electric bike with high-volume 4.6" tires, four frame size choices, and an extensive network of dealers in the United States. Sturdy thru-axles provide stiffness and strength, the RockShox Bluto air fork provides comfort with lots…...

Specialized Turbo Como 2.0 Low-Entry 650b Review

  • MSRP: $2,600
  • MODEL YEAR: 2018

A comfortable, stable, quiet, and efficient electric bike made in two frame sizes and colors, well-suited to neighborhood riding and cruising. Relatively lightweight at ~48 lbs, in part because it comes without lights or fenders, you…...

Specialized Turbo Vado 6.0 Review

  • MSRP: $4,800
  • MODEL YEAR: 2017

A high-speed, feature-complete, urban electric bike with unique tubular fenders that have flexible extensions and water routing system to keep your legs, back and face dry, integrated lights and a tight modern rack. Available in four sizes including high-step and mid-step frame styles with gender-specific saddle and grips,…...

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 Review

  • MSRP: $4,600
  • MODEL YEAR: 2017

A high-speed urban electric bike with premium tubular fenders, minimalist rack with integrated light, 600 Lumen headlight, reflective stickers on fenders and rims. Available in four frame sizes but only one style (high-step), rigid alloy fork and thru-axles…...

Specialized Turbo Vado 3.0 Review

  • MSRP: $3,200
  • MODEL YEAR: 2017

A feature-complete urban electric bike with premium tubular-alloy fenders, integrated rack and lights, rims and tires as well as a suspension fork with 50 mm travel. Available in four frame sizes and two styles (high-step or mid-step), rigid thru-axles improve handling,…...

Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Expert 6Fattie Review

  • MSRP: $7,500
  • MODEL YEAR: 2016, 2017

One of the stealthiest electric mountain bikes around with integrated battery and motor technology from Brose, available to demo and buy from a wide network of shops. Responsive and zippy without producing a lot of noise, you don't get shift detection here…...

Specialized Turbo Levo Hardtail Comp 6Fattie Review

  • MSRP: $4,000
  • MODEL YEAR: 2016, 2017

The lowest priced Turbo Levo eMountain bike model from Specialized, it's a hardtail with 10 gears, an air fork and the Brose drive system. You get a slightly smaller battery capacity here but the same beautiful integration into the…...

Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie Review

  • MSRP: $5,500
  • MODEL YEAR: 2016

A full suspension electric mountain bike with 650b plus "six fatty" tires for improved traction, handling and comfort. Seamlessly integrated Brose motor and downtube battery pack, completely purpose built frame available in two…...

Specialized Turbo S Review

  • MSRP: $7,000
  • MODEL YEAR: 2016

An extremely fast, quiet and stiff electric bike with premium drivetrain and brake components and sleek integrated lights, available in four frame sizes for improved fit. Beautifully integrated battery pack, it matches the frame perfectly and even features a bottle cage…...

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo FSR 6Fattie Review

  • MSRP: $9,000
  • MODEL YEAR: 2016

The highest level full suspension e-mountain bike from Specialized, purpose built frame incorporates battery and motor seamlessly. Premium suspension from RockShox Pike RCT3 and Fox Float with Autosag, 11 speed SRAM XX1…...

Specialized Turbo Review

  • MSRP: $3,800
  • MODEL YEAR: 2015

Completely purpose built with integrated lights, in-frame cabling and downtube mounted battery pack that blends in. Available in four frame sizes for improved fit, optional city kit with fenders and rear…...

Specialized Turbo X Review

  • MSRP: $4,000
  • MODEL YEAR: 2015, 2016

Stealth appearance with integrated battery pack and near-silent motor helps it blend in like a "normal bike". Excellent weight distribution, responsive hydraulic disc brakes, integrated LED lights, rack and fender mounts, nice…...

2014 Specialized Turbo S Review

  • MSRP: $6,000
  • MODEL YEAR: 2014, 2015

One of the fastest, quietest and sturdiest road-style electric bikes around, extremely refined. Solid 15mm thru-axles, tapered head tube and alloy frame for efficient power transfer and high…...

2013 Specialized Turbo Review

  • MSRP: $5,900
  • MODEL YEAR: 2013

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…...


Comments (67) YouTube Comments

Allan
7 months ago

Hey Court, if you come to Vancouver again to review a bike would it be possible to meet? I’d love to come meet you if possible. I would love to go on a ride together, and could take either my Creo or Juiced CCS.

btw – Love that Specialized created a Vado SL. It might be what we get for my wife, though I’ve been also considering the Giant Thrive E+ – if you ever have a chance to review that bike I’d be really interested in that review.

  Reply
Court
7 months ago

Hi Allan! Great request, I would love to cover more Giant ebikes and there’s a store nearby (I think it has been appointment only lately though). I live in Vancouver, so let’s definitely get together for a ride and some chats, maybe an interview about your bikes or something! My number is 650.930.0342 so just text me and we’ll go from there :D

  Reply
AlanK
7 months ago

Court — As usual, thanks for such a thorough, honest review. This does seem like a practical, well-thought bike. For me there are two crucial shortcomings: 1) The battery can only be shop removed; 2) Low capacity rack.

I understand these are probably a consequence of designing an e-bike that also rides well without power. It’s especially unfortunate that higher capacity racks probably won’t fit either. For me the unremovable battery is a fairly significant shortcoming since it greatly limits charging options. If I bike to, say, a movie theater (hopefully they’ll reopen eventually) and need to recharge while there I obviously need to remove the battery and with this bike I can’t.

Overall though I think this bike is practical for and will appeal to many commuters and recreational riders. For those of us considering a bike as a full-on car replacement it’s probably not the best option.

  Reply
Court
7 months ago

You hit the nail on the head… the semi-permanent main battery creates some storage and charging compromises for sure, but their range extender batteries offer a pretty good solution, just costs more money. The rack seems like a big miss to me, and I explained this pretty vocally to the Specialized rep I spoke with (he was actually an engineer and very knowledgeable and supportive). Overall, I still really like the bike, but there are so many great products to choose from now. I hope they introduce a mid-step or step-thru and I hope they upgrade the rack ;)

  Reply
Barry Cohen
6 months ago

Your reviews and enthusiasm convinced me that the Vado SL could be the answer to my complex and often contradictory purchase criteria.

So, I took a ride with my buddy Saturday to a local shop (22 miles total) and got a test ride. I was going to compare to regular Vado 4, but just handling that in the shop convinced me it would be too heavy for my needs and strength. I bought a Vado 4 SL and will be picking it up later this weekend.

Thanks to your detailed review of the SL and other bikes plus the forums, I was able to ask the right questions to clarify my choice.

As for the rack issue, I was concerned about size too. I have a Topeak rack on my analog bike and some bags. I was annoyed that I’d have to buy new bags, but Topeak makes an adapter that allows use of their accessories on a Racktime rack. I need to confirm it will work and the weight limit might become a problem, but with a bit of luck it’ll work out.

Thanks for a terrific site.

Rick53
6 months ago

Alank, you can remove the battery yourself, should you need to. We’ve had the casing off, it’s simple, it’s just not something the average non-mechanical person should mess with, mainly for the fear of the unknown. It is however more then doable should someone want to remove the battery for winter storage.

  Reply
AlanK
6 months ago

What about removing and recharging the battery while it’s off the bike? That’s really my major concern. As I wrote, if I’m away from home for the day and need to recharge or partially recharge the battery while I’m at a restaurant, coffee shop, library, theater, etc, is that an option? If not, that seems like a significant disadvantage.

Rick 53
6 months ago

Alank, no you can’t charge it off bike because the inlet for charging is frame mounted. If you remove the battery you wouldn’t be able to charge it. Also, please understand, when I said it was easy I guess I should have clarified easy vs. fast. It’s not a 2 minute job, There’s a video in the forum on how to remove the Specialized Turbo SL battery. You’ll see while it’s not major. It’s not a convenient thing to do. Here’s the link for a Levo SL video which is essentially the same process.

Ray
6 months ago

Hi, Court, “….there are so many great products to choose from now….” What are other options that offer low overall weight, dual battery option, removable batteries, and a strong rack? Thanks.

  Reply
Court
6 months ago

Hi Ray! None that fit all of the parameters you described. I’ve seen some Trek models with dual battery option from Bosch, same for Riese & Müller, but they aren’t as lightweight. DOST is a newer company that offers dual battery setup and throttle, but again, not as lightweight. None of these products have the unique fenders that Specialized has developed :)

  Reply
Randy Stortroen
6 months ago

Somebody predicted we would start to see 35 lb ebikes once the name companies started to get onboard. I think it was Hannes Neupert. Good to see Specialized keeping pace – their headquarters is less than an hour from me. That’s in Morgan Hill, by the way.

  Reply
Court
6 months ago

Oh yeah! Morgan Hill is awesome, what a great place to live :D I’ve been so excited to see these lighter weight ebikes, props to Specialized for making it happen sooner rather than later ;) I’ve got a Cannondale to cover soon that is also very lightweight. Keep an eye out!

  Reply
Randy Stortroen
6 months ago

Interesting angle for you to take up with Specialized: a German company makes the low-power 240w nominal motor but it’s 48v. 48v is rare for eurospec ebikes. Continental was going that way but they bailed out of their ebike project late last year. Might be returning, though, since auto industry in for secular recession.

I think this bike might have been the result of Specialized’s new base in Switzerland. European names (Colnago, Pinarello, Bianchi, et al.) are 10lbs lighter but carbon and twice as much money. They obviously made some new hires from that scene. $3500 is a great price point for 36.4lb bike with a lot of trimmings but a series comparing high end US spec and eurospec bikes is overdue if the latter are selling anywhere this side of the pond.

PS I just checked and Ebikemotion has a number of European names in their stable. Ebikemotion and Mahle are the same company with maybe some differentiation between hub and mid-drive units. I wouldn’t want to second-guess their manufacturing skills.

Bryan
6 months ago

Great review Court! Between the Vado 5.0 and the Vado SL EQ 5.0, which do you feel would be better as an all-around ebike for light commuting but also occasionally getting off the beaten path for a pleasure ride? I love the weight of this Vado SL, but wonder if I would miss the power and comfort of the Vado. Thanks!

Bryan

  Reply
Court
6 months ago

Hi Bryan! Glad you enjoyed the review. I would choose the Vado SL 5.0 EQ, even though it lacks a full sized suspension fork. The Future Shock 1.5 provides a lot of comfort, and the lighter frame is just more enjoyable and nimble for me. Keep in mind, I’m 5’9″ weighing 135lbs. I thought that the original Vado was ugly, and even though it has a very quiet and awesome Brose motor, I feel that the SL is also very capable and love how they offer the range extender batteries now. For me, no question the SL models are the best… and I do think that they would be capable off-road and up steeper hills. That said, I’m very fit and very light myself :)

  Reply
Bryan
6 months ago

Thank you for the quick reply! That really helps. I’m 5’9″ and 150lbs. and fit as well so the SL sounds like the way to go! Now if I can just find one…

Marshall Meyer
6 months ago

Nice review, Court. Turbo Vado 5.0 SL (non EQ) dazzles. And moves, much faster and much stronger than anticipated. A couple of minor points:

  1. Tires. You feel the aluminum frame at 80 psi even with Future Shock 1.5. Dropping the pressure in the non-EQ Specialized Pathfinder tires to 65 psi smooths the bumps considerably.
  2. Brakes. I don’t understand how the 160mm Tektro HD-R510 brakes do it, but they stop the TV 5.0 SL as fast as the 200/180mm Shimanos on my Specialized Camber carbon mountain bike. The HD-R510s are an upgrade from the HD-R290s in the 4.0 SL.
  3. The carbon fork, Future Shock, extra stopping power, and enhanced gear range on the 5.0 seem well worth the $1k increment over the 4.0–but keep in mind that I’ll be 78 y/o in three weeks.
  Reply
Court
6 months ago

Hey Marshall! Great feedback, thanks for the technical comparison of the brakes on your Specialized Camber Carbon. Yeah, the Turbo Vado SL models are very fun, and you know that I agree about the $1k upgrade. Sounds like you’ve lived an amazing life and are still staying active! Good for you, thanks for sharing some of your learnings here and you’re welcome back anytime. Enjoy the ride out there, stay healthy :D

  Reply
Gavin
6 months ago

Hi Court – This is a great review. I really like this bike and would like the Vado 5 SL, but then i see the Turbo Creo SL E5 or maybe step the base carbo fiber version. I am looking to use it for a long commute. Are these bikes comparable or are they completely different bike classes?

  Reply
Court
6 months ago

Hey Gavin! Sorry for the slow reply here. I also love the Creo models… they’re just so light and fast, the drop bars make them feel like race cars! That said, the more upright geometry of the Vado models is appealing for everyday (repetitive) use in the city. Imagine parking outside at a bike rack and getting a scratch… Aluminum Alloy just seems tougher. Having the great fenders and integrated rack and lights… I just feel like the Vado is made for commutes, but you definitely could make the Creo models work. I covered a couple of them and noticed that the wider tires and flared drop bars on the EVO models improved comfort. It does offer bottle cage bosses, fender bosses, and rear rack bosses ;)

  Reply
Gavin
6 months ago

Hi Court – This is a great review. I really like this bike and would like the Vado 5 SL, but I also see the Turbo Creo SL E5 or maybe step the base carbo fiber version could be interesting. I am looking to use it for a long commute, up to 180 miles per week. Would either of these bikes work, or are they completely different bike classes? Also I am over 200 pounds, will carbon fiber really make a difference?

  Reply
Court
6 months ago

Hi Gavin! Yeah, I think that either bike would work great… and you could always purchase Range Extender batteries for the longer rides. My choice would be the Vado SL because of the wider tires, great fenders, and rack. If you’re into drop bars, I think the Creo SL models could work well too. It’s basically using the same battery and motor… even the Future Shock 1.5 headset/stem. As someone who prefers a more upright and comfortable ride, especially if it’s a daily ride over a long distance, I’d focus in on the Vado SL :)

  Reply
Jerry
6 months ago

Hi Court. If we go with the 5.0 as you recommend, to get the integrated front suspension, we are up to $4,500. My question to you is this… is there any other ebike for that money you would consider over the Turbo Vado 5.0 SL? Thanks.

Great review, by the way, thorough and informative as always.

  Reply
Court
6 months ago

Hi Jerry! Great question, I realize that the Turbo Vado SL 4.0 can get pretty expensive. Depending on your needs, yes, I do recommend other ebikes for sure. If your aim is commuting, check out this page. If you’re more into saving money, check out these bikes. There are so many factors that come into choosing. I personally love the new Specialized SL models because they’re so lightweight! It just fits my ride style, and the bikes are done very well… Here’s my full list of top-rated ebikes that have been recently covered on the site, spanning many categories. You can start with this and then dig in further. Still, for me, The Specialized, Trek, and Rad Power Bikes are all stand-outs as brands :)

  Reply
Patrick
6 months ago

Hi Court. Excited that I purchased the Turbo Vado SL 4.0 EQ mostly based on your review and the need for a bike that could perform as a daily driver w/out pedal assist (great job btw!). You weren’t kidding about the extras for this Turbo Vado SL 4.0 EQ. Everything is extra including a multi-tool just to perform routine maintenance.

You were incorrect regarding the price for the Specialized Turbo Connect Display (TCD). It does cost $90 but its another $25 for the mount… ;)

  Reply
Court
5 months ago

Oh man Patrick!! That’s incredible. Seems like they are really “Nickel and Diming” with the accessories to keep the bike price in that sweet spot. Thanks for sharing this little bit of information. I’ll update the review to include it :D

  Reply
Patrick
5 months ago

Hey Court – FYI. I just received the Specialized Turbo Connect Display today (06/29) from Specialized. I opened the box and as I mentioned I purchased the display and a $25 mount. However, when I opened the ship box only the display was sent. Thinking it was a partial shipment, I opened the display box and inside were two mounts! I suppose Specialized is selling the mounts separately in case you lost/broke the original that was shipped with the unit. My bad…

Tyler
5 months ago

Thanks for the informative review. Stellar machines! Might also be worth noting that the non-EQ version doesn’t come with the kickstand either. So in addition to the fenders and rack there are a few other adds that I’ve noticed on the EQ version. Worth the extra money for the EQ if you want those options, and if you can find one. I personally like the sportier look of the non-EQ (and live in a dry climate) so went with the standard SL 4.0, but did purchase a few accessories so far. I do wish it would have come with the display like most of the other models instead of a $90 add-on. But all minor complaints as you mentioned and a great bike. Stay safe!

  Reply
Court
5 months ago

Oh wow! I didn’t realize they charged extra for the kickstand on standard SL 4.0 models… Thanks for the heads up! I agree that the naked version of the bike looks light and clean, how much extra is a kickstand from them?

  Reply
Mark
5 months ago

Great review! Thanks. What do you think about the Vado SL 4.0 vs. the Trek Allant+ 7S? Both are class 3. Vado SL 4.0 seems to have slightly better components (rack is not as heavy duty) and is lighter. The Trek is much heavier but seems to have more flexibility given the wider tires, suspension fork, and removable battery. Need an expert opinion to help me decide.

  Reply
Court
5 months ago

Hi Mark! Sorry for the slow reply here… I covered the Trek Allant+ 7 a while back, and I really liked it. If you care more about power (like you climb a lot or weigh more or carry bigger loads) then it could be the winner. For me, I’m a lightweight guy who isn’t super strong, and I want an ebike that I can still toss around and feel like I’m in control. This is why I like the Specialized SL products so much. For me, even without suspension fork, the SL is great (especially the 5.0 because of their suspension stem Future Shock 1.5 system). Bosch makes great motors and is very proven, MAHLE (which Specialized uses) is a great brand too, but they aren’t as proven in the ebike space yet. I hope this helps you narrow things down ;)

  Reply
Catherine
5 months ago

I’m very interested to purchase a Vado SL. But the small size have a 770mm stand-over heigh. My crotch height is 780mm (with my shoes). I think it’s too tall for me! But sellers just said “take small”. Really? I did not find information on web about this. Specialized web site recommend me to take medium (I think the web site is making mistake).

Thank you!!!

  Reply
Court
5 months ago

Hi Catherine! Thanks for the feedback. Standover height is an interesting topic because, as you said, shoes come into play. I’m always surprised how tall some of the saddles are for bikes when I ride… way taller than my inseam! I learned to jump forward and put one foot on a pedal and then bend over to put one foot down on the ground. It can be done, but it takes some balance and practice. It’s nice that Specialized has dealers where you can go try the bikes and actually see how it feels to mount and pedal. I wish you luck!

  Reply
Bob
4 months ago

Nice review! How well does this bike pedal with assist turned off compared to other e-bikes? Does it feel like a regular bike?

  Reply
Court
4 months ago

Hi Bob, yeah! It feels much more like a regular bicycle because it’s so light and ergonomically it’s set up well. There’s no drag from the motor or anything like that to worry about either :)

  Reply
Kives
4 months ago

Prospective first time e bike buyer, Really love the review, but my balky knees leans (age 71) towards getting the Aventon Level so I can get a Throttle and pedal assist. Am I being a scaredy cat?

  Reply
Court
4 months ago

Hi Knives! No, that totally makes sense. I also like the option for using a throttle and Aventon has some great products at great prices. I do prefer the Specialized Turbo Vado SL for how light and responsive it is, and I do have knee pain of my own (mostly addressed by pedal assist) but I’m only 36 years old. I have enjoyed the throttle on Pedego, Easy Motion, and other ebikes that I owned several years back (that I commuted with daily). I think you’ll enjoy either way, and I welcome your input in the future. The biggest difference might be how smooth and dynamic pedal assist is for the Specialized vs. Aventon. It might feel more on/off vs. smooth and natural… but not that much, still very fun :)

  Reply
Kives
4 months ago

Swimming with the wolves – tehe – laid down my deposit on a Vado SL 5.0 EQ. (test drove one today) all doubts are gone.

Kivies
4 months ago

Whoa! Am I getting this? There is no battery key, so you better have a good lock (which I do). I am thinking this as a convenience, yes?

  Reply
Court
3 months ago

Well, the battery is secured inside the frame by the motor interface. Someone would need to disassemble the bottom bracket and have space to lift the bike to then slide the pack out. It seems like that would take a lot of time and effort, and the battery for this ebike is lower capacity and only works with Specialized SL models, so it probably doesn’t have a high street value. The bottle cage batteries would be much easier to steal, and they don’t lock either. The best way to protect them would be to carry them along with you vs. leaving on the bike. The good part about them is that you can easily charge them inside while the bike is parked outside. You could even semi-permanently remove the main ebike frame battery to reduce bike weight and ONLY run the bike off of the bottle batteries!

  Reply
Robert Shanbrom
3 months ago

Maybe I missed it somewhere but what sort of rider input is necessary to get the motor to put out the full 240w? What would the resulting speed be, assuming typical conditions and rider weight? Thank you.

  Reply
Court
3 months ago

Hi Robert! I think you’ll receive full power when using the highest level of assist and pedaling with medium effort. The highest supported speed is 45km/h (28mph), which is the maximum legal limit for a Class 3 ebike :)

  Reply
Robert Shanbrom
3 months ago

Thank you, Court. What sort of a rider are you and what speed are you able to maintain on, say, a 20-mile trip? I checked a bike calculator and it computed 24.8 mph for a 154-pound rider putting out 140w. That’s the rider input necessary to max out the motor’s 240w, as the literature says it assists at 180%. Would you say that 25mph is the max assisted speed in realtime usage?

Kives
3 months ago

Getting a Specialized Vado SL 5.0. The battery, for all practical purposes, is not coming off the bike (in the down tube). So, I will be charging the battery from the bike itself. That means when I am not riding it will reside in my garage (the bike in the living room days are long over). Here I am reading that batteries should come in at night for climate control. I live in South Hot Hot Florida. Garage stays in the 80’s most of the time. Am I ok or do I have to ask the Mrs. if the bike can sleep inside the air conditioned house?

  Reply
Court
3 months ago

Hey Kives! Happy wife, happy… well, I’m sure you know the rest of the saying ;)

The cool thing about the SL models from Specialized is that they have the external battery pack things. I feel like 80-degrees is going to be alright, it’s not the end of the world. Specialized is a big company and they seem to be committing to this new motor+battery design, so worst case is that you go through the battery a year early and buy a replacement for $800 and then ask the Mrs. how your shared budget is looking. Or, just buy a bottle battery to extend the rides as the main battery draws down. I’m being a little extreme here with my estimates because it’s very hard to say what the impact of heat will be. I am not an engineer and am simply repeating what I’ve read and heard from those who I trust. Extreme heat is hard on lithium-ion batteries… shrug. This is why I consider the non-removability of the main pack to be a con for this ebike. To go one step deeper… what if you’re climbing a big hill and it’s very hot out?! That’s probably worse than the 80-degree storage, and Specialized knows this and designs the battery to withstand “regular” use like this I’m guessing. I think the biggest concern for me would be leaving an ebike battery inside a very hot car in a parking lot. Just like mobile phones, the battery could overheat and create a fire hazard. I hope this help, it sounds like your options are limited here so just go with it, or put down a towel and gently place the bike inside somewhere. There are nice looking neoprene bike covers that could help it blend in if you think that would help ;)

  Reply
Gary Pool
3 months ago

Court,

Thanks for the wonderful review. As I am between the Vado 4.0 and Vado 4.0 SL for a commuting bike I have two questions?

  1. I live in flat Indiana and am in decent shape, 6’3″ weigh 180. I would like to do a 10 mile commute to work at 24-28 mph and not be sweating. Can the SL do that or will I need the 4.0’s power?
  2. I have a family and would like them to use the cool bike. I am 6’3″ wife 5’7″. Which bike and size do you feel (I know it’s subjective) might be a good compromise on size? Medium or Large frame.

Thanks,
Gary

  Reply
Court
3 months ago

Hi Gary, I’m excited for you! This is going to be a subjective answer with a few options. My personal choice would be the large Vado 4.0 SL because it’s light but still really fast. However, when we start thinking about sharing… things get tricky. I don’t think Specialized offers a step-thru SL model, so the stand-over height and large size might be uncomfortable for your 5’7″ wife. That’s a bummer because in my experience, my Mom and girlfriend always want lightweight ebikes to ride. A large step-thru would be a great compromise of approachability and lighter manageability for them and fit/comfort for you. Perhaps this brings us back to the regular Vado, if you can get a large step-thru? If you’re going with high-step regardless, then I’d aim for the SL because in my experience it’s still very capable of high-speeds on flat terrain. The final question here is whether you can even find an SL model for sale. I’m under the impression that they are sold out or limited at this time. I think you’ll be happy with either and one of my friends just bought a Vado 5.0 for himself and loves it…

  Reply
Shawn
3 months ago

Hi Court,

I am wondering how you acquired the Vado SL 4.0 EQ version in Canada. Let me know.

Thanks!

  Reply
Court
3 months ago

Hi Shawn, these companies ship me bikes to review (or send them to shops like Cit-E-Cycles, which deals with Specialized). Sometimes I assemble and other times I’ll get some help and pay a shop. Still other times, I’ll just meet with an owner and get their real world feedback or find someone selling a bike on Craigslist and meetup with them for a quick borrow/pay arrangement to do a review ;) in this case, Specialized shipped to me and I got some help with assembly.

  Reply
Michael L.
3 months ago

Hi Court – What an informative and detailed review! As someone who loves riding but is out of my depth with technical stuff, you’re a true natural resource! I am about to put down a deposit of a 4.0 SL EQ. I’m 65 years old, 5′ 9″, 31′ inseam, 190 Lbs., creaky knees but still able to ride my non-electric Marin flat or small incline, and my Bion-X powered Marin on big inclines, and I live in hilly Port Townsend, WA.

  1. Do you think this bike will suit the likes of me? and…
  2. I’m thinking the ‘Medium’, because I don’t like very upright, but don’t want to be too forward leaning.

I appreciate your view on this. Thanks, Michael

  Reply
Court
3 months ago

Hi Michael! It sounds like we have very similar stats… I’m 5’9″ with 31ish inseam and would also choose the Medium. As for the bike itself, this is one of my favorite models for 2020! It sounds like you’ve already got a decent ebike with a heavier drive system, so this one will feel more like your non-electric and probably wow you in how dynamic the power output is. The SL motor is so good, but BionX isn’t bad either ;) do you think you’ll keep it? Great job staying active, enjoy the ride my friend :D

  Reply
Michael L.
3 months ago

Thank you, Court, for your quick reply and sound advice. You have helped me make the decision: Medium 4.0 EQ will be ordered tomorrow! My Bion-X has been the best, even when I got it 6 years ago before electric bikes were the thing, and everyone (friends-ha!) laughed at me. On the Marin/Bion-X bike, it weighed 47#, which was light in those days. It’s on its last legs now, motor cuts out at random and I have to turn it off and back on again one to three times a ride, and sometimes it self actuates for a second without my input. New battery and controller from ebay, but parts are not readily available anymore, so I think it’s time to treat myself with a new bike! I’ll keep the Bion-X as back up, as I would feel funny about giving/selling it with a system that turns off at random!

Take care, Michael

  Reply
Court
3 months ago

Wonderful, I’m so glad I could help… and I’ve enjoyed reading your story. I got into ebikes about nine years ago, before it was cool ;) so I can relate. BionX was such a neat company. I got to visit their headquarters in Canada and see the engineering floor, very cutting edge. Their building looked like a castle, and they had connections to the automotive industry. It has been interesting seeing them fade away. Since you’re a forward looking person, perhaps you’ll enjoy this video about another technology which I believe in.

  Reply
Michael Graham
3 months ago

Hi Court. I really like the Specialized bikes and that is where I think I’m going to end up. I’m an older guy and this is my first e-bike purchase. I’m a big guy (5’9″ and 270) Is there a Specialized bike you would recommend or should I be looking elsewhere? Thanks, Mike

  Reply
Court
3 months ago

Hi Michael! I’d probably get the standard Como or Vado if I were you. The new SL models are lightweight, but that means they don’t offer as much power for starting and climbing. It worked very well for me (I weigh about 135lbs), and would be great if you have to lift the bike up stairs frequently… but my other friend just bought a standard Vado with the Brose motor and he loves it, he’s glad he got the more powerful setup :)

  Reply
James Littleton
2 months ago

Hi Court. I love all your videos and have been researching ebikes for about a year now. Im torn between getting the Vado and the Vado SL. I am 5’7″ at 155lbs. My main use will be to take me to and from a park n ride about 5 miles from my house. It has a few small hills and is “somewhat uphill” on the way back. My concern is the SL would not be able to get up the hills. Thanks, James

  Reply
Court
2 months ago

Hmm, that’s a great question James! Thanks for sharing your weight and height. We are similar, I’m 5’9″ at 135lbs. I love how light and nimble the SL models are, and I enjoy pedaling and getting a workout. For me, it’s the easy choice as I currently only ride a non electric bike for fun… so any boost is a big upgrade. My friend just bought a standard Vado (since SL was sold out) and he loves it and is happy for the extra power. It’s really difficult for me to say, but given that you have a five mile commute, I think the SL would be enough because you could downshift to climb easily. That said, it might not be as satisfying as the standard Vado (which might also be in stock). And, you might not care as much about the weight of the bike, like I do since I have stairs to bring the bike inside where I live :D

  Reply
Kives
1 month ago

Had the Vado SL 5.0 EQ for 3 weeks. Have posted about 175 miles. Go out almost every day. Heck this bike is so light and smooth that I went about 7 miles the other day before I realized that I forgot to turn on the motor!! Hells Bells!!!

  Reply
Court
1 month ago

That’s awesome! I can totally see how that would happen, given how light and fast the bike rides. Sounds like you’re loving it… I really wanted to help my Mom get one, but they are all sold out! Enjoy the ride :D

  Reply

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