2015 Specialized Turbo X Review


Technical Specs & Ratings


2015, 2016

Turbo X


Class 3


Front Suspension



Hydraulic Disc



468 Wh

468 Wh

49.5 lbs / 22.47 kgs


Ahead, Cartridge Bearings, Alloy Top Cap, 8 mm Cone Spacer

3D Forged Aluminum Alloy, 4-Bolt, 7-Degree Rise

Specialized Stout XC, Flat Bar, Double Butted 6061 Alloy, 9-Degree Backsweep, 4-Degree Upsweep, 31.8 mm Length

Specialized Body Geometry XCT, Dual Compound, Lock-On

Specialized, Aluminum Alloy, 2-Bolt, 12.5 mm Offset


Body Geometry Targa, Hollow Cr-Mo Rails, Integrated Backlight

Aluminum Alloy Platform

Hydraulic Disc

Formula C1 Hydraulic Disc with 180 mm Rotors, Dual Piston, Formula C1 Levers with Rubber Knubs

More Details


2 Year Battery, Motor and Fork, Lifetime Frame

United States, Europe

16.5, 18, 19.5, 21

Small 16.5" (420 mm Seat Tube Length, 746 mm Stand-Over Height, 584 Top Tube Length, 1079 mm Wheelbase, 580 mm Handlebar Width), Medium 18" (460 mm Seat Tube Length, 783 mm Stand-Over Height, 602 Top Tube Length, 1097 mm Wheelbase, 580 mm Handlebar Width), Large 19.5" (500 mm Seat Tube Length, 814 mm Stand-Over Height, 615 Top Tube Length, 1111 mm Wheelbase, 580 mm Handlebar Width), Extra Large 21" (540 mm Seat Tube Length, 847 mm Stand-Over Height, 635 Top Tube Length, 1131 mm Wheelbase, 580 mm Handlebar Width)

Satin Black

Rear Rack Bosses, Fender Bosses, Bottle Cage Bosses

Formula C1 Hydraulic Disc with 180 mm Rotors, Dual Piston, Formula C1 Levers with Rubber Knubs

Video Reviews

Written Reviews

The Turbo X is my favorite model so far in the Specialized Electric Bike lineup because it costs less than the original Turbo, rides super smooth thanks to the RockShox Paragon fork (with lockout) and looks mean in all-black matte finish (including the fork). Since late 2012 when Specialized introduced the first mainstream speed-pedelec to the United States (offering ~28 mph top speeds with rider input vs. just 20 mph) the Turbo has set the bar for what a truly purpose-built ebike can be. The battery is completely integrated into the oversized downtube and even features surface mounted bottle cage bosses! Very few other electric bikes have put this much energy into the details and three years later (today in 2015), it still feels like this bike is leading the pack. Sure, we’ve got the Stromer ST2 with some very cool technology and a couple of others that look great and go fast but given the dealer reach, reasonable price point and true “cyclist” feel of this bike, it’s an excellent choice for city riding and speedy commuting.

Driving the bike is a 200 watt nominal, 750 watt peak gearless direct drive motor called the “Go SwissDrive” from Ortlinghaus-Gruppe. It’s heavier and wider than most hub motors I see but the black finish blends well with the frame and it doesn’t seem out of place next to the 10 speed cassette and 180 mm disc brake rotor on either side. What it delivers is fluid, powerful and near silent acceleration that reaches ~26 mph and then gracefully eases off. One of the big differences between the standard Turbo and Turbo X here vs. the more expensive Turbo S is a slightly lower top speed (the S can reach ~28 mph). In my experience, both of these slower ebikes are still a very satisfying to ride and a side benefit of the speed limit is increased range. While servicing the rear wheel, you’ll benefit from a quick disconnect point at the left side of the motor and the sturdy thru-axle which is easier to align and tighten down than a skewer. You don’t get quick release here (just on the front wheel) but the Triggersport tires feature “Blackbelt” puncture protection which should help to reduce flats. The wheelset is 700c which is a larger, more efficient size used by most road and city style bikes. The tires are 700x47c sized and that’s much wider than a road bike which are often 700x23c so you get a nice cushion that compliments the suspension and ergonomic grips at higher speeds.

Powering the motor and lights… constantly, is a super high quality 36 volt 13 amp hour battery pack. This thing is one of the major highlights on the bike because it integrates so perfectly into the downtube, creating a seamless look. The battery contains Samsung cells which are packed by Simplo (this company does Apple stuff and are recognized as a quality leader in the space). You get fifty individual 18650 cells containing a Lithium-ion chemistry that’s warrantied for two years… or 300 full cycles. I was initially put off by the seemingly low number of cycles but those are “full cycles” and a year contains 365 days, so if you were riding the bike from full to empty every single day, I guess that’s a lot of miles… something like 9,000+ miles based on my battery range tests in Turbo mode. In short, the battery looks great, is well made, uses excellent cells and comes with solid support. If you do need a replacement or decide to get a second battery it will cost $800. Note that each battery pack weighs 8 pounds, so you might consider charging half way if you need increased range. Now here’s a bit of an issue I noticed, the battery charger that comes with the bike is huge and weighs ~4.5 pounds. It’s not exactly backpack friendly and while you could get the optional city kit with fenders and rear rack (or add your own stuff) it would take up a lot of room and I just wasn’t stoked on the whole thing. The upside to the stock charger is that it delivers 4 Amps of energy which will charge the 468 watt hour battery in ~3.5 hours. For an additional $120 you can grab a travel charger which is slower (1.6 Amps) but much slimmer and lighter at ~1.3 pounds. Of course, the battery can be charged off of the frame or on if you choose but I noticed that the lights come on whenever it is being charged (they shut off when it’s full). This is one of my gripes about the Turbo X, the lights are always on! When you charge and when you ride… They are really nice looking, especially the metal Supernova in the front, and I guess it keeps you safer and reduces complexity in the LCD menu system but it does get annoying. I found myself tossing a couple of shirts over the bike while charging because my room is small and the LED’s were distracting me while I typed this review :P

Speaking of the display… Operating this bike is very neat and clever. Once the pack is charged and mounted to the frame, you press the metallic circular button at the top of the battery for a second and four LEDs flash on in sequence. If you see one of them flash multiple times it means that something is wrong in the system and each dot relates to a different component such as the motor, battery, display and lights. At this point, the sleek LCD unit near the right grip lights up and shows your speed, assist setting and one of three other readouts (odometer, trip odometer and battery charge percentage). The trip odometer resets when you plug the bike in or if you hold it to the right for three seconds while in trip odometer mode. The menu is really easy to navigate with the little rubber joystick thing and fairly simple to understand as long as you don’t need to do advanced stuff like disable the backlight or change from miles to kilometers… it’s all in the attached manual and involves clicking down or holding it in one direction or another. Basically you’ve got four drive modes to choose from including Turbo (which is the highest and offers full power and the 26 mph top speed), Eco mode (which is programmable between 10% and 70% output), No Assist and Regen (which turns the motor into a generator to fill the battery slowly). I really enjoyed the Eco mode and experimented with 40% and 50% output to create a slightly lighter, faster feeling “bicycle”. The Turbo is more bike-like than any other electric bike I’ve tried to date and the torque sensing motor is consistent, smooth and rarely surprising. I found myself holding the brakes while pushing down on the pedals at a stop light and unlike some other electric bikes, it didn’t try to go (even though it does not have motor inhibitors in the brake levers). I think the bike has to get going just a bit before the motor will kick in but it’s not 2 mph or anything, it’s just a little bit and it feels natural. There is a basic throttle mode built into the menus as well and you can access this by going up into Turbo mode, holding the joystick up for a few seconds until the icon flashes and then pressing and holding it up to accelerate. Note that the bike does have to be moving slightly for the throttle to kick in.

Okay, so at the end of the day this is a $4,000 electric bike that’s priced on par with other premium offerings with the Bosch or Impulse mid-drive system but it goes faster, operates much quieter and looks more normal and “stealth”. The Turbo X has that beautiful and comfortable suspension which would be a must-have for me if I was commuting 10+ miles daily and with four frame sizes to choose from and the vast network of Specialized dealers across the US it feels like an excellent choice, a true car replacer. In the video review you can see me racing cars and basically keeping up from light to light. It handled the cement riverbed near Los Angeles California very well, managed the deeper water I splashed through never made me feel uncomfortable or generated unwanted attention. It’s just a sweet looking bike. One of the hydraulic disc brakes did squeak a bit but I was using a demo bike and did go through that water. I rarely used the suspension lockout but when I did it made the bike feel tighter and faster. I also didn’t put on the mirror but it looked very nice, high quality like the locking grips and body geometry saddle. This isn’t a “do everything” electric bike but it’s a winning urban bike and would be great for commuting, especially with some fenders and a rear rack with panniers.


  • Mounting points for a bottle cage, lock or other accessory built directly into the top of the in-frame battery pack
  • Excellent weight distribution! While the bike is somewhat heavy given the large battery and motor, the mass is kept low to the ground and balanced front to rear
  • Sturdy, beautifully integrated LED lights by Supernova, the battery is designed to maintain enough capacity to run them at all times and even if it empties completely, the motor generates enough power through cogging to keep them going
  • RockShox Paragon air suspension fork significantly smooths out the ride without adding too much weight, remote lockout lets you reduce bobbing on smooth sections
  • Well positioned mounting points for adding fenders at the front and rear as well as a four-point carry rack, great for commuting
  • Ergonomic grips and active saddle by Body Geometry from Specialized help to reduce hand and butt fatigue over long distances and higher speeds
  • All-black frame, components and accessories make this a beautiful ride and it truly blends in… less pronounced as an “electric” bike than many others
  • Includes a side mirror for safer street and city riding, this is a requirement for speed pedelecs in Europe (along with the rubber brake nubs and lights)
  • Quick disconnect motor cable and thru-axle makes service easier, the quick release front wheel makes transporting more convenient


  • LCD display panel is built into the right brake lever and cannot be swiveled front to back for improved view or reduced glare
  • Center mounted kickstand makes changing the front tire easy and keeps the bike straight but feels tippy side to side, overall less stable than some other stands
  • The included battery charger is very fast but also large and heavy which makes it much more difficult to take along in your pack to charge at work etc. however, there is a small light weight travel charger available for ~$120
  • When charging the battery pack on the bike the headlight and taillight come on and seem to stay lit which can be annoying if you don’t want the extra light
  • No way to turn off the headlight and tail light while the bike is turned on (I think the Turbo S let’s you toggle them by pressing the joystick in), sometimes it’s nice to cruise without blinding friends or try to blend in more in my opinion so this would be a nice feature
  • It would be nice if in addition to the regen mode (which requires you to click down two or three times using the joystick) the Turbo X and standard Turbo offered regenerative braking so you could capture electricity and save the brake pads more seamlessly by pulling the brake levers
  • It seems like anyone could press the power button on the battery pack and tamper with the display, you don’t need the key or any kind of special fob or password to activate the bike… still, the motor won’t start without the bike rolling a little bit so if it’s chained up maybe that’s not a huge deal (aside from lights being on)


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