Specialized has released its latest e-bike, and the UK and US trade press got to see it up close and personal at a launch event held in Germany last week. BikeBiz – that’ll be me – and Bicycle Retailer – that’ll be Val Vanderpool – were equipped with bright red Turbo Vado pedelecs and, instead of being shuttled by van, we travelled everywhere by bike. The bikes performed flawlessly, including on a 40-mile ride between Düsseldorf and Köln. (I used “eco” mode most of the way and, after the end of the ride, still had three-quarters of a battery left.)
Turbo is Specialized’s name for its pedal-assist e-bike line, and the Vado is the US company’s flat-bar, mid-drive urban-focussed e-bike. In marketing literature, and in the video below, it’s pitched as a car replacement with the tagline: “busy lives call for faster bikes.”
Val Vanderpool riding beside the Rhine with Specialized PR James Nixon
The aluminium Vado, available in men’s and women’s versions, has integrated aspheric lens front and rack-mounted rear lights, a rear rack by Racktime (lots of modular attachments are available) and a detachable, lockable, 504Wh battery.
The attention to detail on this bike is impressive: take the Dry Tech mudguards. They are much longer than usual and have interior channels for catching and deflecting road-water – they were designed with the aid of Specialized’s Californian HQ wind-tunnel, with water thrown into the mix to simulate Euro-style weather.
And it’s not the only thing about the bike that’s Euro – Specialized’s e-bike R&D division is located not in Morgan Hill but in Switzerland. Dominek Geyer, Specialized's Head of Brand for the Turbo line, talks about the Vado in the Spokesmen podcast which I recorded at the launch event.
The Vado's belt-driven motor – and behind – the cells inside the 45-degree detachable battery
The Vado’s 250-watt mid motor is a custom-tuned Brose unit, the output of which can be (somewhat) modified by the company’s Mission Control smartphone app. As well as a standard LCD handlebar display there’s a TFT screen with routing and maps.
There are four Vado models. The cheapest, at $2,700, is naked: no mudguards, rack or lights, and the top-of-the-range bike is a 28-mph speed-pedelec that, in Europe, will require taxing, registration (with a number plate) and riders will have to wear helmets, too.
The Vado's clever mudguard and Racktime rack
Forgot your lights? Not with the Vado – they're integrated
We made it the 40 miles to the Dom in Köln with ease