2021 Specialised Turbo Vado SL Assessment

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Specialised has been making electrical bikes longer than most producers and has a reasonably bewildering vary when you begin poring over the assorted fashions inside every vary. The Turbo Vado SL 5.Zero EQ, to present this specific bike its full title, is one seemingly designed for individuals who undoubtedly don’t need an electrical bike.

Permit me to elucidate. As an alternative of shows, apps and visual batteries, you’ll be able to soar on the Vado SL and trip precisely as you’d a conventional bike. It has 12 gears (10 on the 4.0), hydraulic disc brakes and – for those who choose the EQ mannequin – mudguards, a kickstand and a rear service.

The non-EQ mannequin weighs slightly below 15kg (the SL stands for super-light), which makes it really feel little completely different from an ordinary bike, and it’s definitely one thing most individuals can carry up a flight of steps.

And because the motor is mounted by the crank, relatively than within the entrance or rear wheel hub, you’ll be able to take away a wheel to repair a puncture, or make the bike smaller for transport, similar to a daily bike. Just about all of the wires are routed internally, so it is quite a bit neater than some electrical bikes.


Being electrical, although, the Turbo Vado SL presents the advantages of motor help which you’ll properly determine to make use of on a regular basis. There are three preset ranges: Eco, Sport and Turbo and you’ll configure how a lot help the motor offers you in every mode utilizing the Mission Management app (sure, there may be an app, however you don’t have to make use of it past preliminary setup).

By default, they’re set to 35%, 60% and 100%, which I didn’t really feel wanted adjusting.

You toggle between these utilizing the handlebar-mounted buttons + and – buttons, and there’s a Turbo button which allows Turbo mode straight. A walk-assist button helps you push the bike up slopes, however there’s no throttle or VanMoof-style ‘Enhance’ button to get the Vado as much as its prime assisted velocity of 15.5mph.

In most conditions that’s no problem in any respect because the 240W motor, working at 100% energy, will get you as much as that velocity with minimal effort. You simply have to recollect to pick out a low gear earlier than coming to a cease, in any other case your legs need to put in additional energy to get the bike transferring.

Regardless of this being peak energy, and with solely 35Nm of torque, it doesn’t really feel a lot much less highly effective than bike with twice that quantity. The one time you’ll need for extra is when biking up lengthy, steep hills – particularly for those who’re a heavier rider.

On my normal check route, the Vado SL 5.Zero had no issues getting me to the highest of my greatest native hill however did so at a a lot slower tempo than, say, the VanMoof S3. And I weigh solely 65kg.

Vary & charging

In some ways this slower tempo is by design: the SL 1.1 motor (custom-designed by Specialised) is light-weight, as is the 320Wh battery that’s hid within the down tube. The specs would counsel that’s not going to supply passable vary, however the decrease weight means you’ll be able to rise up to 80 miles out of the system – albeit in superb circumstances and in Eco mode.

In case you want extra vary, you’ll be able to plug an 160Wh vary extender battery into the ‘rest room seat’ charging port (which is how Specialised affectionately refers back to the flap).

This brings us to the niggle with the Turbo Vado SL: the battery isn’t detachable, so that you’ll need to carry the bike close to to a mains socket. Specialised says it’s not an issue to maintain the bike in a chilly shed, as long as you retain the battery topped as much as between 50 and 70%.

In fact, it means no-one can steal the battery both, nevertheless it’s value noting that in contrast to some rivals, the Turbo Vado SL doesn’t have any type of GPS or Bluetooth monitoring system. Insurance coverage and a few top-quality bike locks are important for those who’re going to go away the bike wherever in public.

Construct & efficiency

As you’d anticipate for the worth, the parts and construct high quality are glorious. There are solely a few noticeable welds (at every finish of the down tube) and the gradient paint finishes look nice.

The stopping energy of the Tektro hydraulic brakes is extraordinarily reassuring, and the Shimano shifter and derallieur mix to make for slick gear adjustments.

There’s a useful quad-lock (TCD) mount on the stem which you can use for a Garmin, or just to mount your cellphone when you’ve put it in an acceptable quad-lock case. You would possibly need to do the latter for navigation, or to view the dashboard throughout the Mission Management app.

Some Turbo Vado fashions use the mount for a show.

Although I’ve already talked in regards to the motor, it’s value going into extra element about what it’s prefer to trip. Not like lesser programs which use a cadence sensor as an alternative of torque and, presumably, an inferior controller, Specialised’s is elegant.

There’s no jerk once you start to pedal, and no worry that the bike goes to throw you off when performing tight low-speed turns. The motor itself is extraordinarily quiet and is simply audible when underneath load (similar to a standing begin in Turbo mode, or when climbing a steep hill).

Though there’s a bit resistance when rotating the crank backwards, you’ll be able to’t really feel it when using the Vado SL underneath your individual energy: there’s no penalty for turning off the ability.

Value & availability

The 2021 Turbo Vado SL vary begins with the £2600/$3350 4.Zero and goes as much as the £3600/$4500 5.Zero EQ reviewed right here. There isn’t a complete lot of distinction between the 2 fashions: the 4.Zero doesn’t have the suspension, carbon fork, mudguards, service or kickstand of the 5.Zero EQ.

If you’d like the vary extender battery, that prices a whopping £320/$450 from Specialised.

You should purchase a 2021 Turbo Vado SL from Evans Cycles within the UK, and discover a retailer close to you within the US on Specialised’s web site.

There are different variations, together with better-spec Shimano and Tektro equipment and a 12-speed cassette on the 5.0. However the motor and battery are the identical throughout the vary.

There’s a alternative of 4 body sizes suiting these from about 5ft (153cm) as much as 6ft5 (195cm), however color choices range from mannequin to mannequin.


In case you’re pondering that the 2021 Turbo Vado SL is on the costly aspect, there’s little doubt that it’s. Nevertheless it’s the identical distinction for those who in contrast a Kia to a Mercedes: you should buy the cheaper automotive or you’ll be able to go for luxurious.

The one a part of the Vado SL that may’t be described as luxurious is the onerous, unforgiving saddle, however that’s simply changed.

If even the Vado SL 4.Zero is out of your worth vary, try alternate options in our roundup of one of the best electrical bikes.

In the end, this can be a top-notch electrical bike which ought to attraction to anybody who desires to trip on the highway for leisure or to commute (the entire method) to work. Because it doesn’t fold, it’s not superb for taking up public transport.

Associated: Finest electrical scooters

Specialised Turbo Vado SL 4.0: Specs

Motor: 240W (35Nm)

Max Velocity: Assisted Motor Velocity: 15.5 mph (EU) / 20 mph (US)

Location of Motor: Crank
LED show exhibiting battery energy, mode

Body: Aluminium

Weight: approx 14.9Kg

Body sizes: S, M, L, XL

Wheel Dimension: 700C

Wheels: Specialised

Tyres: Nimbus II Sport Replicate

Seat & seatpost: Customized one-piece design

Gears: Shimano Deore, 10-speed 11-42t

Brakes: Tektro hydraulic discs

Lights: LED Entrance, rear solely on EQ fashions

Entrance Fork: Specialised aluminium (carbon on 5.0)

Handlebars: Stout Mini Rise, alloy, 9-degree backsweep, 15mm rise, 31.8mm
Battery Sort: Specialised SL1-320, absolutely built-in, 320Wh

Distance: As much as 80 miles (129km)

Cost Time: Approx 2.5 hours (50% cost in 80 minutes)
Guarantee: 2 years


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About the author: SubSellKaro

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