Specialized Turbo Vado 2.0 – Electric Bike Review

Specialized Turbo Vado 2.0 – Electric Bike

All of the pedal-assist features you need at a price that lets you keep your daily cappuccino ritual. That’s what Specialized promises with the Vado 2.0. Featuring many of the same characteristics as its more expensive siblings, albeit with a little less roar to its motor, the Vado 2.0 is intended as a transportation tool for everything from grocery runs to commutes.

First impressions

Looking like the sort of machine aboard which an eco­ conscious Imperial Stormtrooper might make his daily commute to the Death Star, the Vado powers on with a pulse of flashing lights. A versatile bike featuring big tyres and a suspension fork, it looks as if it could prove a bit of a slog on the tarmac without the addition of a motor. Lucky, then, that it’s got a whopping great one buried within its frame. This addition means all the Vado’s extra brawn can be conveyed without additional sweat on the part of the rider.

On the road

With chunky tyres and large 700c wheels, the Vado is well-equipped to take on a range of terrains and happy to be put to a number of different uses. The Specialized 1.2 motor powering it uses an internal belt-drive. Made by Brose, it’s quieter and smoother than average, which combined with the lack of resistance when backpedalling lends a very natural feeling to the Vado’s progress. It provides three assistance modes – Eco, Sport, and Turbo – which are accessible via a two-button switch on the left hand of the bars. All the key metrics are then displayed on a 2.2 in. Bloks LCD display.

Clear and minimalist looking, in theory, it can also pair with Specialized’s Mission Control phone app to let you customize the motor features, even allowing you to tailor the assistance level so as to complete your ride without prematurely draining the battery. However, as of writing, this feature hasn’t been rolled out onto the Vado models. Looking to the non-electric components, the groupset might only have nine gears but when backed by the motor this is plenty, even given its narrow range. The brakes are also more than adequate to stop the Vado’s not insignificant weight.

Handling

Tending towards the versatile, the Vado is quite a robust beast. Upfront the SR Suntour NCX fork provides 50mm of travel. This is enough to smooth over most bumps and helps impart some all-terrain ability. Easily tunable, if you decide you’d rather do without, it can be made rigid with the flick of a switch. This quality is furthered by large volume semi-slick tyres which are also happy to head off-road.

With the bike’s motor being every bit as capable away from the tarmac, and the fact that its 15 mph limit feels alot faster on bumpy ground, the temptation is always to take the route less travelled. This is not a bike you’d want to ride with a flat battery, but while these additions might slow progress slightly on the road, stay below the motor assist limit and this is largely irrelevant. With the motor and battery sitting low between the wheels, the Vado’s handling is exceptionally planted. With a long wheelbase and slack head angle, it won’t throw up any surprises, and it’s only when you do something silly, like trying a bunny hop, that you notice the extra weight.

The frame

The Vado’s frame is its biggest selling point. Home to the motor, battery, and all the other electric gubbins, these are integrated with scene-stealing slickness. The battery, which remains entirely shielded on one side, disappears into the huge hydro formed down tube, while the central motor is also largely hidden away from view. With a button to turn on the motor sitting atop the battery pack, on the side is a key port with which to secure it and a charging port featuring a magnetic cover.

All the cables for both mechanical and electronic appendages disappear neatly into a single slot in the head tube. Emerging from the frame just before they’re needed, the effect is a slick looking bike along with less chance of them getting damaged. Equally neat are the hidden mounts that can fit mudguards, or a proprietary design rear rack. Both front and back, the Vado benefits from stiff and strong bolt-through axles. Given its stretched-out footprint and extra weight, these help keep it in line, even when mucking about off-road. Similarly, the huge profile tubing and oversize head tube banish any modicum of flex.

Groupset

Using mainly Shimano Alivio parts for its 9-speed drivetrain, the Vado lags slightly behind the competition. Its derailleur comes with Shimano’s slick-shifting Shadow design but does without a clutch mechanism to keep the chain in line when the bike starts bouncing about. This is a shame, as with its suspension fork it’s otherwise a lot of fun to clatter over cobbles or down unmade paths. You also get one gear less than you might hope for- although this is less crucial with an e-bike than when the rider is the bike’s sole power source. Similarly, the Tektro HD-T285 hydraulic disc brakes aren’t quite as nice as the models on some of the Vado’s peers. A little less powerful, and with a little less modulation, they’ll still easily stop the bike and should prove low-maintenance.

Finishing kit

The medium-density Specialized Canopy saddle is an easeful place to park your bottom, thanks to its ergonomic shape and decent, but not excessive, width. Holding it is a stout and readily adjustable twin-bolt seatpost that’s unlikely to cause you grief either. The medium-width bars and short stem are both good for creating a comfortable riding posture and enhancing control of the bike. The teardrop profile grips aim to impart extra support and prevent numb hands. While they might not be a hit with every rider, we quite liked them.

Wheels

With just 28 spokes, Specialized don’t appear to have beefed up the wheels on the Vado to account for its extra weight, although under normal conditions this isn’t likely to be a problem. More robust is their bolt-through fixing mechanism. Slotting through the hub and bolting into the fork or frame, their sizable axles should keep the whole bike nice and stiff. With a good reputation for shrugging off punctures, the own-brand Trigger Sport tyres also feature a reflective strip to add side-on visibility. Wide at 47mm, they help support the bike’s extra weight and sport a slick center tread with raised knobbles at the edges. On the road or trail this translates into an easy rolling performance yet still provides extra cornering grip in loose conditions.

Specs

Frame: Aluminium, integrated battery and motor, SR Suntour NCX E25 fork

Groupset: Shimano Alivio, 9-speed

Brakes: TektroHD-T285, hydraulic disc

Chainset: Custom alloy crankarms

Cassette: Shimano Acera, 9-speed,11-36t

Bars: Specialized, alloy, 680mm width

Stem: Alloy w/ light mount, 31.8mm

Saddle: Specialized Canopy Sport

Seatpost: Specialized 2-bolt head 30.9mm

Wheels: Specialized 28h, 700c

Tyres: Trigger Sport Reflective 47mm

Geometry

Size tested: MWeight: 22.5 kg
Top tube (TT): 575 mmSeat tube (ST): 450 mm
Stacks (S): 619 mmReach (R): 406 mm
Chainstays (C): 478 mmHead angle (HA): 70°
Seat angle (SA): 72°Wheelbase (WB): 1124 mm
BB drop (BB): 71 mm 

Rating 8/10

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