Turbo Vado 5.0 Three-year review

Camasonian

Active Member
Region
USA
After much research I purchased my Turbo Vado 5.0 in the fall of 2021 when the new/current version had just come out. They were rare as hens teeth back during the heart of the pandemic but here in the greater Portland metro I was able to find one e-bike store that had one in my size on order that I was able to put money down on to reserve. I specifically wanted the new version due to several improvements to the rack and lighting that were important to me.

This bike is strictly a year-round commuter machine for me. I use it for nothing else. I have high-end road and mountain bikes that I use for all my recreational riding. So 99% of the miles I have put on my Vado are daily commuting miles. I'm a teacher and my commute is 13 miles each way diagonally across the Vancouver WA metro area from Camas up to Orchards (for those who know the area). 90% of it is on suburban street with ordinary bike lanes but there is one nasty stretch I can't avoid where it is narrow with no bike lane that is just grit your teeth and get through. There isn't a viable alternative route. Also since I have summers off, most of the riding is fall/winter/spring when it is often dark, cold, and drizzly here in the Pacific Northwest. From Nov-Jan I'm usually riding in the dark to get to work. Often cold, rainy dark.

Bottom line? this bike has turned out to be nearly perfect for my fairly narrow purpose. I very much enjoy it and there is very little I would change. For my riding, a Class 3 motor is adequate. cruising at 20-25 mph on dark suburban streets is fast enough with all the turn lanes, cross walks, school kids in the street and waiting for the bus, etc. Any faster and I should be out in the lane of traffic. So I'm happy with the power and speed and see no need for anything faster frankly. I have also learned over the past 3 years that e-biking is distinctly different than regular biking and the features and techniques you might have learned from years of cycling on regular bikes do not necessarily translate to e-biking.

WHAT I LIKE

The integrated lights are superb. I like the rear LED integrated into the rack. It is highly visible. Although I also have a big LED flasher on my seat post so that I light up like a Christmas tree from the rear which is where I'm mainly worried about getting hit. During dark commutes I also wear high-vis clothing and a flashing LED vest. If I ever get struck from behind it won't be for lack of visibility. The mounting of the front light on the fork crown is also a good choice by Specialized. Older models mount the front light on the handlebar. Putting the front light on the fork crown allows one to install a front handlebar bag without blocking the front headlight which was impossible on older Vado models and a lot of other models I see for sale. This is a big deal because it is not easy to move these sorts of accessories around on an e-bike where they are hard-wired into the bike. I always use a front handlebar bag and would not buy a bike with handlebar mounted lights, period.

The componentry is decent and appropriate for this level of bike. The hydraulic brakes are important on an e-bike because you are both faster and heavier. And these work nicely but you go through brake pads. The wheels are still true and everything is still working nicely. The gearing and gear range is appropriate for my usage. Sometimes I might like a slightly higher top gear but that is mainly because I like to ride a fairly slow cadence.

I like the rear radar. Once you turn off the annoying beep it is very useful and I have gotten very good at interpreting the radar display when riding in traffic.

The fenders are also nice and high quality and do a good job riding on wet streets which we get much of the fall/winter/spring here in the PNW.

I'm 5'9" and have a size M. It fits me well and gives me a very comfortable and stable riding position for long commutes. I didn't have to do much of any fussing with the fit to make it comfortable.

WHAT I WOULD CHANGE

Knowing what I know now, I would have bought the IGH model. I have no problem with the SRAM derailleur system. It works fine. But what I have discovered in 3 years of e-bike commuting is that you have to do a LOT more downshifting on a e-bike commuter than you do on a recreational bike. I cruise at between 20-25 mph but have maybe 30 stop lights and various turning circles and 4-way stop signs on the route. Often I find myself braking rather suddenly coming up to a stop light or stop sign where there is cross traffic that forces me to stop rather than rolling through. On a regular analog bike in the same situation I might be riding at 10 mph and that means dropping down just a gear or two in order to be ready to start from stopped. But with an e-bike riding at 25 mph I have to drop 3-4 gears to be ready to start from stopped with the green light or stop sign. If I forget to downshift or just don't have time before I stop I'm stuck in high gear and with a derailleur you can't downshift will stopped. That is the main advantage of an IGH hub. You can down and upshift while stopped and I think this would be a highly useful feature for a commuter bike that does lots of stopping and starting. You just brake to a stop and then while waiting for the green light shift to the correct starting gear while stationary. For that reason alone if I ever replace this e-bike it will be for one with an IGH. Which I think is more useful on an e-bike than analog bike for that reason.

There are no other major changes I'd make and would be happy to get the same bike again (but in the IGH model) if I had to replace this one.

WHAT I HAVE MODIFIED/ACCESSORIZED

I swapped out the stock saddle for a Berthould Aubisque leather saddle which is their model for more upright riding. https://berthoudcycles.fr/en/1370-leather-saddle-aubisque-black.html After a couple of weeks it broke in to be an incredibly comfortable saddle for long commutes in an upright riding position. Brooks makes a similar model.

I swapped out the pedals for Shimano SPD pedals since I do all my ebike and regular riding with SPD shoes. I bought the model that is flat on one side and has the SPD cleats on the other thinking I might be using this bike more casually. But I don't so if I were to do it again, I'd just put the full SPD pedals on. https://ride.shimano.com/collections/pedals-spd/products/pd-t8000

I installed a large motorcycle rear view mirror on the left side handlebar. This particular one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074T612KL/ I like the large rear view mirror for riding in traffic, especially when I have to swing out and take the lane when approaching intersections with a right turn lane to the right of the bike lane. Or where I need to cross traffic to make a left turn.

I installed a bell which I don't use much but it is nice to have: https://rockbrosbike.us/products/ro...ells-for-road-mountain-bike-handlebars-adults

I installed Ortlieb front bag and expedition roll-up panniers. They stay on the bike. In the handlebar bag I keep my tools, gloves, sunglasses, spare tube, CO2 cartridges, spare phone battery, kleenex, first aid, etc. I swap it onto my road bike when I do recreational riding. The rear panniers take my work backpack on one side. I slip it right into the pannier so my laptop and papers are double protected by both the backpack and pannier and after a wet dirty ride my backpack is pristine clean for using at work. On the other side go my change of work clothes, also in another bag. I wear cycling clothes for commuting and change at work so I always have dry clean clothes to change into. I also keep my raingear permanently in one of the panniers. If I'm riding home and need to stop at the grocery this lets me pull out my work backpack and fill the pannier with groceries and then wear the backpack the rest of the way home so I have instant cargo space. Plus I can bungie more stuff to the top of the rack if I want.

I bought a second charger and keep one at home and at work. I burn through about 40% of my charge on my 13 mile commute which I ride entirely in Turbo mode so I can technically do the round trip without charging at work. When the bike was new the charge would be at about 67% when I got to work. Today it is between 60-62% when I get to work so I've lot about 5% after 2.5 years of daily riding. Which I find satisfactory and better than I was expecting frankly. While I wouldn't need to charge at work, having a charger at work has saved my butt several times. Because once in a while I forget to charge or the charger doesn't quite connect properly and I find myself jumping on a half-charged bike. If I have a charge at work then I know I'm fine if I jump on the bike in the morning and see that I forgot to charge it and I'm at 60%. If I didn't have a charger at work I'd be screwed. So if you have a long commute it is probably worth it to have a charger at both ends simply in the event that you miss a charge.

Locks: I just have a robust u-lock that I keep in the handlebar bag. Since I'm a teacher I can bring the bike into my classroom and park it in the back so no need to lock it at work and I don't lock it in my suburban garage. So the only time I ever use a lock is for infrequent stops at the grocery store on the way home. I pass by a nice suburban grocery near my home on the ride home that has racks in front that are right in front of the self checkout so when I'm waiting in line at the checkout I can actually see my bike. It isn't a high theft area, people don't tend to bike to this little grocery store strip mall so I doubt professional thieves are patrolling the area. If I were locking the bike outside at work, or riding in higher theft areas I'd be much more deliberate about locking. But for quick in-and-out to a grocery store where I can see the bike from inside the store this is fine. I lock the frame to the bike rack so it is pretty secure. And then set the computer to lock.

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT E-BIKE COMMUTING AND HOW IT IS DIFFERENT

The first thing I have learned is that the higher speed of e-bike riding changes a lot of things. It is almost more like motorcycle riding in some ways. Your hands get colder, your ears colder, your feet colder, and your head colder when you are going 25 mph instead of 10. And eye protection is much more necessary, especially when riding in the dark when there are insects about. The bugs are coming at your face 2-3 times faster on an e-bike. I had to find some light colored bike glasses for early morning riding in the dark when sunglasses are too dark. After trying a few different options including safety glasses from Home Depot I found that these Rock Bro work nicely for that purpose: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08V93LS1J/

I used to commute year-round on a regular road bike and never needed to do much with respect to dealing with the cold. But I have found that riding at 25 mph in the dark when it is 20 degrees in December gets you really cold. I had to put a gore tex cover on my helmet to keep the air from coming into the helmet vents and freezing my head. And I had to find good ear muffs to keep my ears from freezing. Next winter I think I'm going to investigate various motorcycle and ski helmets to see if I can find a good light warm one for winter cycling that covers my ears and then maybe switch to ski goggles for cold weather riding. I think this is what lots of riders in Scandinavia do. I also found that using gore-tex bootie covers for my shoes do a good job of keeping my feet warm, even if it isn't raining. So I use those on cold days as well. And, of course use full finger wind-stop style gloves rather than bike gloves.

I was getting lots of flats the first year because I ride over lots of road debris and broken glass on these suburban/urban streets. I finally solved that problem by installing Tannus Armor inserts which are expensive but have all but eliminated road flats. I have only gotten one flat since that was a huge nail I picked up riding through a construction site. They are so big you need to downsize your tubes but they are effective: https://tannusamerica.com/products/armour-inserts

I've also learned that doing e-biking, trying to go lightweight like you do on regular bikes is pointless. With a heavy battery and motor you are going to be heavy no matter what. So it is pointless to fuss with lightweight racing type gear. Especially the tires and wheels. I right pretty lightweight tires and wheels on my road bike. But don't want them for commuting on an e-bike. Riding in the dark at 25 mph I end up riding over a lot of broken pavement and debris at pretty high speed and can't always dodge every item on the road. So you need pretty heavy wide tires and front suspension to just blast through the mess that you encounter commuting. Vancouver has LOTS and LOTS of street trees so after every rainstorm there is always tree debris in the bike lane that I often just have to ride over. Heavy tires makes this easier and gives you a more stable platform than skittish racing tires. I'm still on the original tires but they need replacement this summer and I'm not sure what I'll go with since the stock tires are proprietary specialized tires that I doubt the local shops will have in stock.

I've also learned that you go through brake pads and chains about 3x faster than on regular bikes. Braking to a stop when you are going 2x faster on a heavier bike really wears down the pads fast. And the combined force of your legs and the motor wears out chains much faster. So you pretty much just have to replace them on a regular basis which is something I never bother to do on my road bikes.

Happy answer any questions.

Bottom line? I'd happily buy the same bike again but in the IGH model.
 

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Very impressive! How many miles total?

And I agree that for commuting the IGH is perfect- I have the Vado 5 IGH. I often catch red lights while heading up steep hills, and not worrying about shifting while stopping and pulling away definitely makes it easier to focus on not getting run over…
 
When I first purchased my vado and como about the same time I changed the rotors out for 200mm units. One of the best upgrades along with changing the 48t ring out for the 36t.

Thanks for the detailed report. How many miles total?
 
Very impressive! How many miles total?

And I agree that for commuting the IGH is perfect- I have the Vado 5 IGH. I often catch red lights while heading up steep hills, and not worrying about shifting while stopping and pulling away definitely makes it easier to focus on not getting run over…
I'm guessing between 6K and 7K miles. I had work done on the motor last fall at the local specialized shop and they reset the mileage back to zero. It's only showing about 2.8K right now. I put on approximately 26 miles per day when I commute by bike. There are 180 days in the school year and I probably ride 90% of them and commute the rest with my wife who works not far away.
 
After much research I purchased my Turbo Vado 5.0 in the fall of 2021 when the new/current version had just come out. They were rare as hens teeth back during the heart of the pandemic but here in the greater Portland metro I was able to find one e-bike store that had one in my size on order that I was able to put money down on to reserve. I specifically wanted the new version due to several improvements to the rack and lighting that were important to me.

This bike is strictly a year-round commuter machine for me. I use it for nothing else. I have high-end road and mountain bikes that I use for all my recreational riding. So 99% of the miles I have put on my Vado are daily commuting miles. I'm a teacher and my commute is 13 miles each way diagonally across the Vancouver WA metro area from Camas up to Orchards (for those who know the area). 90% of it is on suburban street with ordinary bike lanes but there is one nasty stretch I can't avoid where it is narrow with no bike lane that is just grit your teeth and get through. There isn't a viable alternative route. Also since I have summers off, most of the riding is fall/winter/spring when it is often dark, cold, and drizzly here in the Pacific Northwest. From Nov-Jan I'm usually riding in the dark to get to work. Often cold, rainy dark.

Bottom line? this bike has turned out to be nearly perfect for my fairly narrow purpose. I very much enjoy it and there is very little I would change. For my riding, a Class 3 motor is adequate. cruising at 20-25 mph on dark suburban streets is fast enough with all the turn lanes, cross walks, school kids in the street and waiting for the bus, etc. Any faster and I should be out in the lane of traffic. So I'm happy with the power and speed and see no need for anything faster frankly. I have also learned over the past 3 years that e-biking is distinctly different than regular biking and the features and techniques you might have learned from years of cycling on regular bikes do not necessarily translate to e-biking.

WHAT I LIKE

The integrated lights are superb. I like the rear LED integrated into the rack. It is highly visible. Although I also have a big LED flasher on my seat post so that I light up like a Christmas tree from the rear which is where I'm mainly worried about getting hit. During dark commutes I also wear high-vis clothing and a flashing LED vest. If I ever get struck from behind it won't be for lack of visibility. The mounting of the front light on the fork crown is also a good choice by Specialized. Older models mount the front light on the handlebar. Putting the front light on the fork crown allows one to install a front handlebar bag without blocking the front headlight which was impossible on older Vado models and a lot of other models I see for sale. This is a big deal because it is not easy to move these sorts of accessories around on an e-bike where they are hard-wired into the bike. I always use a front handlebar bag and would not buy a bike with handlebar mounted lights, period.

The componentry is decent and appropriate for this level of bike. The hydraulic brakes are important on an e-bike because you are both faster and heavier. And these work nicely but you go through brake pads. The wheels are still true and everything is still working nicely. The gearing and gear range is appropriate for my usage. Sometimes I might like a slightly higher top gear but that is mainly because I like to ride a fairly slow cadence.

I like the rear radar. Once you turn off the annoying beep it is very useful and I have gotten very good at interpreting the radar display when riding in traffic.

The fenders are also nice and high quality and do a good job riding on wet streets which we get much of the fall/winter/spring here in the PNW.

I'm 5'9" and have a size M. It fits me well and gives me a very comfortable and stable riding position for long commutes. I didn't have to do much of any fussing with the fit to make it comfortable.

WHAT I WOULD CHANGE

Knowing what I know now, I would have bought the IGH model. I have no problem with the SRAM derailleur system. It works fine. But what I have discovered in 3 years of e-bike commuting is that you have to do a LOT more downshifting on a e-bike commuter than you do on a recreational bike. I cruise at between 20-25 mph but have maybe 30 stop lights and various turning circles and 4-way stop signs on the route. Often I find myself braking rather suddenly coming up to a stop light or stop sign where there is cross traffic that forces me to stop rather than rolling through. On a regular analog bike in the same situation I might be riding at 10 mph and that means dropping down just a gear or two in order to be ready to start from stopped. But with an e-bike riding at 25 mph I have to drop 3-4 gears to be ready to start from stopped with the green light or stop sign. If I forget to downshift or just don't have time before I stop I'm stuck in high gear and with a derailleur you can't downshift will stopped. That is the main advantage of an IGH hub. You can down and upshift while stopped and I think this would be a highly useful feature for a commuter bike that does lots of stopping and starting. You just brake to a stop and then while waiting for the green light shift to the correct starting gear while stationary. For that reason alone if I ever replace this e-bike it will be for one with an IGH. Which I think is more useful on an e-bike than analog bike for that reason.

There are no other major changes I'd make and would be happy to get the same bike again (but in the IGH model) if I had to replace this one.

WHAT I HAVE MODIFIED/ACCESSORIZED

I swapped out the stock saddle for a Berthould Aubisque leather saddle which is their model for more upright riding. https://berthoudcycles.fr/en/1370-leather-saddle-aubisque-black.html After a couple of weeks it broke in to be an incredibly comfortable saddle for long commutes in an upright riding position. Brooks makes a similar model.

I swapped out the pedals for Shimano SPD pedals since I do all my ebike and regular riding with SPD shoes. I bought the model that is flat on one side and has the SPD cleats on the other thinking I might be using this bike more casually. But I don't so if I were to do it again, I'd just put the full SPD pedals on. https://ride.shimano.com/collections/pedals-spd/products/pd-t8000

I installed a large motorcycle rear view mirror on the left side handlebar. This particular one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074T612KL/ I like the large rear view mirror for riding in traffic, especially when I have to swing out and take the lane when approaching intersections with a right turn lane to the right of the bike lane. Or where I need to cross traffic to make a left turn.

I installed a bell which I don't use much but it is nice to have: https://rockbrosbike.us/products/ro...ells-for-road-mountain-bike-handlebars-adults

I installed Ortlieb front bag and expedition roll-up panniers. They stay on the bike. In the handlebar bag I keep my tools, gloves, sunglasses, spare tube, CO2 cartridges, spare phone battery, kleenex, first aid, etc. I swap it onto my road bike when I do recreational riding. The rear panniers take my work backpack on one side. I slip it right into the pannier so my laptop and papers are double protected by both the backpack and pannier and after a wet dirty ride my backpack is pristine clean for using at work. On the other side go my change of work clothes, also in another bag. I wear cycling clothes for commuting and change at work so I always have dry clean clothes to change into. I also keep my raingear permanently in one of the panniers. If I'm riding home and need to stop at the grocery this lets me pull out my work backpack and fill the pannier with groceries and then wear the backpack the rest of the way home so I have instant cargo space. Plus I can bungie more stuff to the top of the rack if I want.

I bought a second charger and keep one at home and at work. I burn through about 40% of my charge on my 13 mile commute which I ride entirely in Turbo mode so I can technically do the round trip without charging at work. When the bike was new the charge would be at about 67% when I got to work. Today it is between 60-62% when I get to work so I've lot about 5% after 2.5 years of daily riding. Which I find satisfactory and better than I was expecting frankly. While I wouldn't need to charge at work, having a charger at work has saved my butt several times. Because once in a while I forget to charge or the charger doesn't quite connect properly and I find myself jumping on a half-charged bike. If I have a charge at work then I know I'm fine if I jump on the bike in the morning and see that I forgot to charge it and I'm at 60%. If I didn't have a charger at work I'd be screwed. So if you have a long commute it is probably worth it to have a charger at both ends simply in the event that you miss a charge.

Locks: I just have a robust u-lock that I keep in the handlebar bag. Since I'm a teacher I can bring the bike into my classroom and park it in the back so no need to lock it at work and I don't lock it in my suburban garage. So the only time I ever use a lock is for infrequent stops at the grocery store on the way home. I pass by a nice suburban grocery near my home on the ride home that has racks in front that are right in front of the self checkout so when I'm waiting in line at the checkout I can actually see my bike. It isn't a high theft area, people don't tend to bike to this little grocery store strip mall so I doubt professional thieves are patrolling the area. If I were locking the bike outside at work, or riding in higher theft areas I'd be much more deliberate about locking. But for quick in-and-out to a grocery store where I can see the bike from inside the store this is fine. I lock the frame to the bike rack so it is pretty secure. And then set the computer to lock.

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT E-BIKE COMMUTING AND HOW IT IS DIFFERENT

The first thing I have learned is that the higher speed of e-bike riding changes a lot of things. It is almost more like motorcycle riding in some ways. Your hands get colder, your ears colder, your feet colder, and your head colder when you are going 25 mph instead of 10. And eye protection is much more necessary, especially when riding in the dark when there are insects about. The bugs are coming at your face 2-3 times faster on an e-bike. I had to find some light colored bike glasses for early morning riding in the dark when sunglasses are too dark. After trying a few different options including safety glasses from Home Depot I found that these Rock Bro work nicely for that purpose: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08V93LS1J/

I used to commute year-round on a regular road bike and never needed to do much with respect to dealing with the cold. But I have found that riding at 25 mph in the dark when it is 20 degrees in December gets you really cold. I had to put a gore tex cover on my helmet to keep the air from coming into the helmet vents and freezing my head. And I had to find good ear muffs to keep my ears from freezing. Next winter I think I'm going to investigate various motorcycle and ski helmets to see if I can find a good light warm one for winter cycling that covers my ears and then maybe switch to ski goggles for cold weather riding. I think this is what lots of riders in Scandinavia do. I also found that using gore-tex bootie covers for my shoes do a good job of keeping my feet warm, even if it isn't raining. So I use those on cold days as well. And, of course use full finger wind-stop style gloves rather than bike gloves.

I was getting lots of flats the first year because I ride over lots of road debris and broken glass on these suburban/urban streets. I finally solved that problem by installing Tannus Armor inserts which are expensive but have all but eliminated road flats. I have only gotten one flat since that was a huge nail I picked up riding through a construction site. They are so big you need to downsize your tubes but they are effective: https://tannusamerica.com/products/armour-inserts

I've also learned that doing e-biking, trying to go lightweight like you do on regular bikes is pointless. With a heavy battery and motor you are going to be heavy no matter what. So it is pointless to fuss with lightweight racing type gear. Especially the tires and wheels. I right pretty lightweight tires and wheels on my road bike. But don't want them for commuting on an e-bike. Riding in the dark at 25 mph I end up riding over a lot of broken pavement and debris at pretty high speed and can't always dodge every item on the road. So you need pretty heavy wide tires and front suspension to just blast through the mess that you encounter commuting. Vancouver has LOTS and LOTS of street trees so after every rainstorm there is always tree debris in the bike lane that I often just have to ride over. Heavy tires makes this easier and gives you a more stable platform than skittish racing tires. I'm still on the original tires but they need replacement this summer and I'm not sure what I'll go with since the stock tires are proprietary specialized tires that I doubt the local shops will have in stock.

I've also learned that you go through brake pads and chains about 3x faster than on regular bikes. Braking to a stop when you are going 2x faster on a heavier bike really wears down the pads fast. And the combined force of your legs and the motor wears out chains much faster. So you pretty much just have to replace them on a regular basis which is something I never bother to do on my road bikes.

Happy answer any questions.

Bottom line? I'd happily buy the same bike again but in the IGH model.
Did you ever consider a suspension seatpost?
 
For replacement tires consider Schwalbe Jonny Watts. Use to run Big Bens with no problems then got 3 punctures over few months. 10,000kms between 2 bikes on JW 27.5x2.35 and no punctures. I bought them because needed extra offroad traction for weekend rides but never felt they were compromise when commuting. Still quiet tire and built to take those big hits from unseen potholes.
 
After much research I purchased my Turbo Vado 5.0 in the fall of 2021 when the new/current version had just come out. They were rare as hens teeth back during the heart of the pandemic but here in the greater Portland metro I was able to find one e-bike store that had one in my size on order that I was able to put money down on to reserve. I specifically wanted the new version due to several improvements to the rack and lighting that were important to me.

This bike is strictly a year-round commuter machine for me. I use it for nothing else. I have high-end road and mountain bikes that I use for all my recreational riding. So 99% of the miles I have put on my Vado are daily commuting miles. I'm a teacher and my commute is 13 miles each way diagonally across the Vancouver WA metro area from Camas up to Orchards (for those who know the area). 90% of it is on suburban street with ordinary bike lanes but there is one nasty stretch I can't avoid where it is narrow with no bike lane that is just grit your teeth and get through. There isn't a viable alternative route. Also since I have summers off, most of the riding is fall/winter/spring when it is often dark, cold, and drizzly here in the Pacific Northwest. From Nov-Jan I'm usually riding in the dark to get to work. Often cold, rainy dark.

Bottom line? this bike has turned out to be nearly perfect for my fairly narrow purpose. I very much enjoy it and there is very little I would change. For my riding, a Class 3 motor is adequate. cruising at 20-25 mph on dark suburban streets is fast enough with all the turn lanes, cross walks, school kids in the street and waiting for the bus, etc. Any faster and I should be out in the lane of traffic. So I'm happy with the power and speed and see no need for anything faster frankly. I have also learned over the past 3 years that e-biking is distinctly different than regular biking and the features and techniques you might have learned from years of cycling on regular bikes do not necessarily translate to e-biking.

WHAT I LIKE

The integrated lights are superb. I like the rear LED integrated into the rack. It is highly visible. Although I also have a big LED flasher on my seat post so that I light up like a Christmas tree from the rear which is where I'm mainly worried about getting hit. During dark commutes I also wear high-vis clothing and a flashing LED vest. If I ever get struck from behind it won't be for lack of visibility. The mounting of the front light on the fork crown is also a good choice by Specialized. Older models mount the front light on the handlebar. Putting the front light on the fork crown allows one to install a front handlebar bag without blocking the front headlight which was impossible on older Vado models and a lot of other models I see for sale. This is a big deal because it is not easy to move these sorts of accessories around on an e-bike where they are hard-wired into the bike. I always use a front handlebar bag and would not buy a bike with handlebar mounted lights, period.

The componentry is decent and appropriate for this level of bike. The hydraulic brakes are important on an e-bike because you are both faster and heavier. And these work nicely but you go through brake pads. The wheels are still true and everything is still working nicely. The gearing and gear range is appropriate for my usage. Sometimes I might like a slightly higher top gear but that is mainly because I like to ride a fairly slow cadence.

I like the rear radar. Once you turn off the annoying beep it is very useful and I have gotten very good at interpreting the radar display when riding in traffic.

The fenders are also nice and high quality and do a good job riding on wet streets which we get much of the fall/winter/spring here in the PNW.

I'm 5'9" and have a size M. It fits me well and gives me a very comfortable and stable riding position for long commutes. I didn't have to do much of any fussing with the fit to make it comfortable.

WHAT I WOULD CHANGE

Knowing what I know now, I would have bought the IGH model. I have no problem with the SRAM derailleur system. It works fine. But what I have discovered in 3 years of e-bike commuting is that you have to do a LOT more downshifting on a e-bike commuter than you do on a recreational bike. I cruise at between 20-25 mph but have maybe 30 stop lights and various turning circles and 4-way stop signs on the route. Often I find myself braking rather suddenly coming up to a stop light or stop sign where there is cross traffic that forces me to stop rather than rolling through. On a regular analog bike in the same situation I might be riding at 10 mph and that means dropping down just a gear or two in order to be ready to start from stopped. But with an e-bike riding at 25 mph I have to drop 3-4 gears to be ready to start from stopped with the green light or stop sign. If I forget to downshift or just don't have time before I stop I'm stuck in high gear and with a derailleur you can't downshift will stopped. That is the main advantage of an IGH hub. You can down and upshift while stopped and I think this would be a highly useful feature for a commuter bike that does lots of stopping and starting. You just brake to a stop and then while waiting for the green light shift to the correct starting gear while stationary. For that reason alone if I ever replace this e-bike it will be for one with an IGH. Which I think is more useful on an e-bike than analog bike for that reason.

There are no other major changes I'd make and would be happy to get the same bike again (but in the IGH model) if I had to replace this one.

WHAT I HAVE MODIFIED/ACCESSORIZED

I swapped out the stock saddle for a Berthould Aubisque leather saddle which is their model for more upright riding. https://berthoudcycles.fr/en/1370-leather-saddle-aubisque-black.html After a couple of weeks it broke in to be an incredibly comfortable saddle for long commutes in an upright riding position. Brooks makes a similar model.

I swapped out the pedals for Shimano SPD pedals since I do all my ebike and regular riding with SPD shoes. I bought the model that is flat on one side and has the SPD cleats on the other thinking I might be using this bike more casually. But I don't so if I were to do it again, I'd just put the full SPD pedals on. https://ride.shimano.com/collections/pedals-spd/products/pd-t8000

I installed a large motorcycle rear view mirror on the left side handlebar. This particular one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074T612KL/ I like the large rear view mirror for riding in traffic, especially when I have to swing out and take the lane when approaching intersections with a right turn lane to the right of the bike lane. Or where I need to cross traffic to make a left turn.

I installed a bell which I don't use much but it is nice to have: https://rockbrosbike.us/products/ro...ells-for-road-mountain-bike-handlebars-adults

I installed Ortlieb front bag and expedition roll-up panniers. They stay on the bike. In the handlebar bag I keep my tools, gloves, sunglasses, spare tube, CO2 cartridges, spare phone battery, kleenex, first aid, etc. I swap it onto my road bike when I do recreational riding. The rear panniers take my work backpack on one side. I slip it right into the pannier so my laptop and papers are double protected by both the backpack and pannier and after a wet dirty ride my backpack is pristine clean for using at work. On the other side go my change of work clothes, also in another bag. I wear cycling clothes for commuting and change at work so I always have dry clean clothes to change into. I also keep my raingear permanently in one of the panniers. If I'm riding home and need to stop at the grocery this lets me pull out my work backpack and fill the pannier with groceries and then wear the backpack the rest of the way home so I have instant cargo space. Plus I can bungie more stuff to the top of the rack if I want.

I bought a second charger and keep one at home and at work. I burn through about 40% of my charge on my 13 mile commute which I ride entirely in Turbo mode so I can technically do the round trip without charging at work. When the bike was new the charge would be at about 67% when I got to work. Today it is between 60-62% when I get to work so I've lot about 5% after 2.5 years of daily riding. Which I find satisfactory and better than I was expecting frankly. While I wouldn't need to charge at work, having a charger at work has saved my butt several times. Because once in a while I forget to charge or the charger doesn't quite connect properly and I find myself jumping on a half-charged bike. If I have a charge at work then I know I'm fine if I jump on the bike in the morning and see that I forgot to charge it and I'm at 60%. If I didn't have a charger at work I'd be screwed. So if you have a long commute it is probably worth it to have a charger at both ends simply in the event that you miss a charge.

Locks: I just have a robust u-lock that I keep in the handlebar bag. Since I'm a teacher I can bring the bike into my classroom and park it in the back so no need to lock it at work and I don't lock it in my suburban garage. So the only time I ever use a lock is for infrequent stops at the grocery store on the way home. I pass by a nice suburban grocery near my home on the ride home that has racks in front that are right in front of the self checkout so when I'm waiting in line at the checkout I can actually see my bike. It isn't a high theft area, people don't tend to bike to this little grocery store strip mall so I doubt professional thieves are patrolling the area. If I were locking the bike outside at work, or riding in higher theft areas I'd be much more deliberate about locking. But for quick in-and-out to a grocery store where I can see the bike from inside the store this is fine. I lock the frame to the bike rack so it is pretty secure. And then set the computer to lock.

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT E-BIKE COMMUTING AND HOW IT IS DIFFERENT

The first thing I have learned is that the higher speed of e-bike riding changes a lot of things. It is almost more like motorcycle riding in some ways. Your hands get colder, your ears colder, your feet colder, and your head colder when you are going 25 mph instead of 10. And eye protection is much more necessary, especially when riding in the dark when there are insects about. The bugs are coming at your face 2-3 times faster on an e-bike. I had to find some light colored bike glasses for early morning riding in the dark when sunglasses are too dark. After trying a few different options including safety glasses from Home Depot I found that these Rock Bro work nicely for that purpose: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08V93LS1J/

I used to commute year-round on a regular road bike and never needed to do much with respect to dealing with the cold. But I have found that riding at 25 mph in the dark when it is 20 degrees in December gets you really cold. I had to put a gore tex cover on my helmet to keep the air from coming into the helmet vents and freezing my head. And I had to find good ear muffs to keep my ears from freezing. Next winter I think I'm going to investigate various motorcycle and ski helmets to see if I can find a good light warm one for winter cycling that covers my ears and then maybe switch to ski goggles for cold weather riding. I think this is what lots of riders in Scandinavia do. I also found that using gore-tex bootie covers for my shoes do a good job of keeping my feet warm, even if it isn't raining. So I use those on cold days as well. And, of course use full finger wind-stop style gloves rather than bike gloves.

I was getting lots of flats the first year because I ride over lots of road debris and broken glass on these suburban/urban streets. I finally solved that problem by installing Tannus Armor inserts which are expensive but have all but eliminated road flats. I have only gotten one flat since that was a huge nail I picked up riding through a construction site. They are so big you need to downsize your tubes but they are effective: https://tannusamerica.com/products/armour-inserts

I've also learned that doing e-biking, trying to go lightweight like you do on regular bikes is pointless. With a heavy battery and motor you are going to be heavy no matter what. So it is pointless to fuss with lightweight racing type gear. Especially the tires and wheels. I right pretty lightweight tires and wheels on my road bike. But don't want them for commuting on an e-bike. Riding in the dark at 25 mph I end up riding over a lot of broken pavement and debris at pretty high speed and can't always dodge every item on the road. So you need pretty heavy wide tires and front suspension to just blast through the mess that you encounter commuting. Vancouver has LOTS and LOTS of street trees so after every rainstorm there is always tree debris in the bike lane that I often just have to ride over. Heavy tires makes this easier and gives you a more stable platform than skittish racing tires. I'm still on the original tires but they need replacement this summer and I'm not sure what I'll go with since the stock tires are proprietary specialized tires that I doubt the local shops will have in stock.

I've also learned that you go through brake pads and chains about 3x faster than on regular bikes. Braking to a stop when you are going 2x faster on a heavier bike really wears down the pads fast. And the combined force of your legs and the motor wears out chains much faster. So you pretty much just have to replace them on a regular basis which is something I never bother to do on my road bikes.

Happy answer any questions.

Bottom line? I'd happily buy the same bike again but in the IGH model.
I'm with you on IGH. Hope I never have to go with a derailer again. (Ariel Rider C class Step thru mid motor, etc.) I have a hunch IGH is easier on the chain, because it doesn't get flexed side to side when the chain climbs up and down the pyramid of gears.
 
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