Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 SL EQ

Kris Mason

Member
Region
Australia
Hi Everyone,

Nice to meet you I am new to ebikes and exploring I’ve gone from $3k to $4k and now nearly $6k AUD whilst exploring models! Eeek. Now I’m getting cold feet. I’ve been reading lots, watching lots and reading heaps on here.

I rode a Merida heavier and more classic ebike style commuter (it was a hit dorky) it wasn’t for me, I rode a Orbea Vibe which I liked but it was one of the first ebikes I’d ridden so it was a great experience but I wondered what else is out there? It was also at 4K+ but when you added genuine Orbea rack and mud guards genuine it was 6 which puts it into completion with Specilaized.

A serious rider I know highly recommended specialized to me so here we are! And then another colleague has just bought the new 2022 Vado SL 4 EQ and has not yet had it long but is happy. I’ve also looked (online only) at Lekker but have concerns about buying a non big brand bike and at about 5k for a envolio GT Amsterdam.

I have a 12 year old Giant hybrid no suspension and disc brakes that cost $600-$700 about 12 years ago! Which still remarkably rides well. So why am I after an ebike?

I have a very young kid so looking at an ebike to reduce commute time as she goes to bed earlier (ride is approx 18kms) and to improve my fitness (in time that I currently spend to and from station and on train) I’m on the heavier side and keen to improve my health I’m in my late 30s, my commute now can vary but takes 45-55 mins each way on average.

I test rode this commute for the first time on my normal bike over the weekend and it was 2 hours and 15 mins round trip given I wasn’t always 100% sure where I was going (navigating) we rode 37kms.

My ride only has hills of any significance for the last 1km which are OK on a non ebike but would be a breeze I’m sure on any bike. Of course a push along with wind etc would always be nice - it’s cold, wet and dark here in the autumn/winter period.

Otherwise the ride is along loose gravel and through side tracks (poorly lit and sometimes narrow) for probably the first 8kms and then onto a normal bike path in Melbourne Australia beside a freeway for the last 10 which chops and changes a bit. On the ride we did our best to battle the traffic on the bike path and avoid roads (not keen don’t tray trucks, buses etc).

My questions are

- am I over committing is a 6k bike worth it? Will it really shave that much time of my commute ride or should I just try some rides (probably one way to start) on my normal bike to get a feel for it all and build up my fitness (probably the wrong forum to ask this on)!

- I have concerns about it getting stolen I’ve reached out to my insurance to see if they’ll cover it - it’s hard because I can keep it secure at work/home but may be to scared to ride it elsewhere

- should I be looking at more powerful bikes? That are bigger and heavier? I like the guards, and think I’ll use the rack for a pannier

- I have a Thule ride along like this one https://www.99bikes.com.au/baby-seat-thule-ridealong-dark-grey - I would love to throw my daughter in this from time to time but not sure if it will work with the rack being where it is?

- the bike is really unchanged from the 2020 model compared to the 2022 from what I can see - I reached out to Specilaized about the bike not having any security features that other bikes they have 3 years on they replied with “Our SL range of bikes are still in their first generation of the system. This new Mastmind TCU came along with the new generation 3 Levo bikes. As the SL range has not moved towards the second generation of the design yet, it still is using parts designed for the generation 1 system.” The said the only ones with security are “ The TCU 2 or also known as Mastermind TCU is our new display designed for our newer generation of turbo bikes that has a screen and a lot more built-in features.” When I asked about a firmware upgrade to get the security “This would require a new TCU unit to be developed, as well as firmware to make the new Mastermind TCU work with these bikes that utilise the first generation TCU.” Are they developing this bike series, Or is just that good they are content? I’d of thought a 6k bike would have some security but guess the extra weight of the other control system must be a deal breaker?

The tips I’ve had from another friend is buy a known brand (warranty, parts supply, serviceability) and from a shop near home so you can easily get it there if somethings up - which should be less of an issue with this bike.

I went to on bike shop and rode the bike (they had it built) tried the medium and large and it rode great - but I’m still worried I don’t know what I don’t know (what else is out there) they didn’t have any of the Vado 3.0 available to try. (It’s close to work) they were very friendly.

Another bike much closer to home has one in stock in a box. But today I’ve come across a shop who will soon no longer be a specialized dealer with one they expect will arrive tomorrow for $5600 (5%ish off) where the other shops say they each only have one and they are impossible to get buy quickly… I don’t want to rush and regret - are there other bikes I should be looking at? I’m worried I’m perhaps rushing into it due to the lack of supply which we all know about (thanks Covid) but at this time of year (cold wet dark) and this price point they aren’t flying off the shelves!

I like that the bike didn’t “fall of a wall” when I hit 25kms and just kept on - gearing felt great - my wife and I often say pay a bit more, go without other things and have something of quality.

If you’ve made it this far - thanks a million.

Thanks (please help)

Kris
 
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1. Specialized have replied and advised that their bikes do not support frame mounted children's seats "Our frames are not designed to support seat tube clamping child seats or racks."

2. I have found the 6k bike that all local shops if they are lucky might have one of in one colour at a dealer that will soon no longer be a dealer for $500 AUD off - $5,500 - the sales pressure!

3. Still not sure if I should consider another brand, another price point or model (more power) Turbo Vado 3, Tubro Vado 4 (non SL's) for the bigger motor/battery

4. Seems that the lack of changes from 2020/2021/2022 is an approach to the bike being successful in its current format and a continuation of this.
 
I've found loads on rear racks that even clamp to a 6 cm wide frame yoke (that comes with a rim brake) slip from side to side & rub the tire. A rack that clamped to the seat post or even the fender on some brands, would be that much worse. Children grow, and a rack that would be marginally acceptable this year would be overridden next year.
My bike shown in avatar is designed for child seats, with a welded rear rack that doesn't shift anywhere. There are lots of 5mm tapped holes to mount things permanently. Rack capacity is 110 kg, 20 behind the axle. You need to look for a model that has that feature. I don't know the Australian market, but probably radwagon & pedego stretch could be bought there. My bike is a yuba bodaboda, now discontinued. Furthermore, yuba & rad sold padded shelves with perimeter bars around them for when the child outgrew child seats. My yuba has a spoke guard to prevent pinched fingers between the spokes and the frame. Yuba sold an auxillary handlebar that bolted behind the driver seat for children 7-10 that had outgrown the perimeter bars. Rad had 377 more posts on the "known problems and solutions" thread than yuba last time I looked. The premium bike in the stretch frame market is Reiss & Mueller. Replacement batteries for stolen ones from Bosch (R&M) cost >$1000.
Furthermore if you want serious protection while parking, two 2 m 13 mm alloy chains or 13 mm SS slings to lock the bike to a power pole, gas meter, or live conduit make your bike harder to steal than the next one down the block. That could be 20 kg of iron in high security motorcycle chain. That weight needs to be carried in panniers, low down on the foot rests. My yuba bodaboda has the footrests. Most bikes do not. Electronic lockout does not prevent van owners from carrying the whole bike off & breaking it up for parts. One alloy chain costs thieves 10 minutes, two chains cost them 20 minutes of sparks and noise. U-locks & fold-bars that engage toy "bike tethers" cities install just encourage the thief to cut the tether in 1 minute. If he doesn't unbolt a tether from the pavement in 20 seconds.
Stretch frame bikes bias the rider's weight to the front tire, giving more weight capacity on the rear tire for security and the child. Plus my yuba could be bought with a non-steering front basket, for the diaper bag or whatever accessories were necessary to maintain the child. I think Rad had one too. See cargo bike category for a more complete lists of bikes available on the US market. Probably different than what is available there. One model that may sell there is Momentum, a specialty brand of Giant.
 
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Thanks so much for your reply a particularly about the security I think I just may stick with my non ebike for towing the little one on the Thule and re-evaluate it’s a small use case less than 1% anyway
 
Checkout Cube, Norco and Merida range at 99BIKES, their webpage has huge range. Moustache Xroads are worth look, I have Xroad 5 stepthrough and can vouch for them. Also Gazelle and Kalhkoff.
Don't discount stepthrough and Trapez, easier to keep you bike stable when stopped with heavy kid on back.

With 25kmhr cutoff and mainly flat ride, not likely to save much time over normal bike. But you will get to work sweat free.
 
What about ebike kit for your existing bike.
Do you have any links you could share? I worry about the extra weight - It’s this $600-$700 giant hybrid bike from 11 years ago nothing wrong with it
3786120C-89E5-45B0-8633-EED5CA654355.jpeg
 
I prefer the extra weight on the front, to hold the front wheel from snapping sideways on bumps, ridges, or sticks. Don't use front power on ice, wet rock, wet steel plates, or wet lumber decks. I ride my bike at 43 kg with panniers, motor, 17.5 AH battery, tool set, 3 tubes, 1.5 L water, rain gear. I ride unpowered 80% of the time and ride off the cell phone net.
That is a ****ese vendor, so use a throwaway credit card instead of your real one. You may find equivalent products in country from ebay or amazon.
Watch the wattage; Australia has rediculous limits and may confiscate a high power motor at customs.
Instead of a battery bag hung from the top tube, I bolted my battery in an aluminum cage to the front basket mount of my bike. 18 screws with elastic stop nuts. Thieves had a go twice while the bike was locked up at the grocery. Backed off a couple of nuts 2 or 3 turns, but not the whole 12 to 18 turns. Elastic stop nuts require a wrench the whole way off. SS is a ***** to cut with a grinder. Your typical thief doesn't carry a 10mm deep socket for his impact driver.
 
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Checkout Cube, Norco and Merida range at 99BIKES, their webpage has huge range. Moustache Xroads are worth look, I have Xroad 5 stepthrough and can vouch for them. Also Gazelle and Kalhkoff.
Don't discount stepthrough and Trapez, easier to keep you bike stable when stopped with heavy kid on back.

With 25kmhr cutoff and mainly flat ride, not likely to save much time over normal bike. But you will get to work sweat free.
Thanks 🙏
 
The kit and cheaper ebikes tend to have cadence sensing instead of torque sensing on typical middrive motor. Cadence sensing has magnets on crank to detect if pedaling, power settings tend to be more of speed setting eg 1=10kmh, 2=15kmh. Turn pedals and control will apply full power to motor until speed reached. Some of kit controllers can be set to current mode. Eg 1=50w of assist, 2=100W, speed is capped at 25kmh. This is more like Torque sensing. If looking at kits see if controller supports this feature.
 
Kris,
As I own both Vado and Vado SL, let me share some of my experiences.

Indeed, Vado SL is a lovely e-bike but I am not sure if it meets all your criteria. What is true, the e-bike is a great fitness bike. It is capable to ride gravel (especially if you use proper tyres). It is lightweight. Now...
  • If you say you rode for 37 km in 2 1/4 h then your average speed was 16.4 km/h. I regularly get 21 km/h average speed on my Vado SL rides. Even if there is the 25 km/h cut-off, I am able to make the 37 km in 1 h 45 min (net moving time). I'm 61, weigh 96 kg now, and have bad legs. Note: For rides as long as 110 km, my net average speed is 19 km/h when riding Vado SL. (You are only in your 30s so you could probably pedal past the 25 km/h under good conditions unassisted).
  • You won't be able to carry your kid on the rear rack: the rack's too weak. (Or, I believe so even if I used to carry up to 20 kg of groceries in panniers not one time).
  • There is no bike/e-bike that cannot be stolen.
  • Don't get too excited to get the latest Mastermind TCU version. It is not as valuable as you think; and the rest of the system is same as in the older SL e-bikes.
The full power Vado is:
  • Very powerful. In most of cases you would be riding at 25 km/h, often hitting the speed restriction. Soon, you would start thinking of derestricting it to increase the commuter value of the e-bike.
  • Not giving you too much of exercise. (My own contribution to Vado SL rides is 50%, while it is 25% on the big Vado)
  • Capable to carry the kid in a kid seat. (Specialized confirms it)
  • Heavy, which is not really pleasant. (As I love my big Vado for demanding rides, I use it only on weekends or vacation).
  • Not too great for riding the gravel. The heavy weight of that e-bike makes loose gravel rides shaky, and the suspension fork won't help (you'd need to ride on lowly inflated tyres).
As you can see, the main positive features of the "big" Vado are you come to work with no sweat on, and you could carry your daughter. Otherwise, Vado SL wins here. Any chance for a demo ride?

A little remark: I could read comments of other Forum members above. I think you should listen to Specialized e-bike owners not to general opinions. And... Australia is pretty "European" in many ways. The American opinions do not matter very much here. (You would be getting a Euro Specialized e-bike anyway, only adjusted to the left-hand side traffic).

1654148485169.png

The proof of the Vado SL 4.0 EQ capabilities. See my low leg power. (Note: The pre-Mastermind version will let you use an excellent app by name BLEvo. The Mastermind version of Vado SL makes the BLEvo useless).

1654147531237.png

A demo ride on the SL 4.0 non-EQ made me buy a 4.0 EQ almost instantly.
 
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I love my Turbo Vado SL EQ. I prefer to pedal all the time and don't need a throttle function. Plus, it is LIGHT. Easy to lift up. I just throw it into the back of my Mazda 6 - take off the front wheel and I can bring it anywhere. Good to lift up stairs too. A lot of fun and great handling.
 
@Stefan Mikes
Kris,
As I own both Vado and Vado SL, let me share some of my experiences.

Indeed, Vado SL is a lovely e-bike but I am not sure if it meets all your criteria. What is true, the e-bike is a great fitness bike. It is capable to ride gravel (especially if you use proper tyres). It is lightweight. Now...
  • If you say you rode for 37 km in 2 1/4 h then your average speed was 16.4 km/h. I regularly get 21 km/h average speed on my Vado SL rides. Even if there is the 25 km/h cut-off, I am able to make the 37 km in 1 h 45 min (net moving time). I'm 61, weigh 96 kg now, and have bad legs. Note: For rides as long as 110 km, my net average speed is 19 km/h when riding Vado SL. (You are only in your 30s so you could probably pedal past the 25 km/h under good conditions unassisted).
  • You won't be able to carry your kid on the rear rack: the rack's too weak. (Or, I believe so even if I used to carry up to 20 kg of groceries in panniers not one time).
  • There is no bike/e-bike that cannot be stolen.
  • Don't get too excited to get the latest Mastermind TCU version. It is not as valuable as you think; and the rest of the system is same as in the older SL e-bikes.
The full power Vado is:
  • Very powerful. In most of cases you would be riding at 25 km/h, often hitting the speed restriction. Soon, you would start thinking of derestricting it to increase the commuter value of the e-bike.
  • Not giving you too much of exercise. (My own contribution to Vado SL rides is 50%, while it is 25% on the big Vado)
  • Capable to carry the kid in a kid seat. (Specialized confirms it)
  • Heavy, which is not really pleasant. (As I love my big Vado for demanding rides, I use it only on weekends or vacation).
  • Not too great for riding the gravel. The heavy weight of that e-bike makes loose gravel rides shaky, and the suspension fork won't help (you'd need to ride on lowly inflated tyres).
As you can see, the main positive features of the "big" Vado are you come to work with no sweat on, and you could carry your daughter. Otherwise, Vado SL wins here. Any chance for a demo ride?

A little remark: I could read comments of other Forum members above. I think you should listen to Specialized e-bike owners not to general opinions. And... Australia is pretty "European" in many ways. The American opinions do not matter very much here. (You would be getting a Euro Specialized e-bike anyway, only adjusted to the left-hand side traffic).

View attachment 125008
The proof of the Vado SL 4.0 EQ capabilities. See my low leg power. (Note: The pre-Mastermind version will let you use an excellent app by name BLEvo. The Mastermind version of Vado SL makes the BLEvo useless).

View attachment 125004
A demo ride on the SL 4.0 non-EQ made me buy a 4.0 EQ almost instantly.
Thanks so much again for your very detailed reply which is most helpful.
I did the ride to work again yesterday on my non ebike - route there is great, route home is constant incline - last 5kms inclines about 80m quite aggressively - very big challenge at the end of the day! Tired, not yet fit enough - some elevation from strata attached

How are the lights in super dark conditions?

Only 3 bike shops in my state each have one bike - I can take for a 10 min test ride only which I’ve done (and enjoyed) but think I’ll do again

Three other items

1 - hire of similar bike - im thinking of hiring a Lekker x for a week to try a few more ride but thus bike is 21kg, front drive motor and will cost about $149 to hire for the week vs $6000 - do you think this is a good idea? https://www.lekkerbikes.com.au/product/lekker-x-ebike/

2 - update on carrying my daughter - worked with Specilaized the bike can carry the bike can carry children on seats that use the MIK HD system - Thule have one I’ve found and I’ve confirmed as long as me + daughter + seat 5kg is under 136kg I’m fine! Hooray! This required loads of persistence but I got there!

3 - how much time do you think I’ll save/improve on the ebike? The trip there is great - descending the whole way 17.55kms, I averaged 20.5kms on my heavy hybrid bike and strata says I was “moving” for 51:23. On the way home I was moving for 1:01 (I was fatigued) and the last 5kms became very dark on back trails and i learned my lights are not sufficient but I averaged 17.2kmh.

Thanks again

Kris
 

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How are the lights in super dark conditions?
Hard to say regarding the standard headlight. If I am in the need for super bright light for riding in absolute darkness, it is a separate Li-Ion rechargeable battery CatEye Volt 1700. Or, many other alternatives could be found.
 
Hard to say regarding the standard headlight. If I am in the need for super bright light for riding in absolute darkness, it is a separate Li-Ion rechargeable battery CatEye Volt 1700. Or, many other alternatives could be found.
Thanks @Stefan Mikes of course first 10kms of my commute when there is still some daylight it’s brighter and is very well lit - the last 7 really none at all and it’s dark winter here at the moment
 
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