If I were king of the universe, one of my first edicts, and arguably the most unpopular, would be to prohibit all use of the car other than for transportation, commercial, or long-distance purposes.
Going from four-wheel mobility to two benefits us financially, biologically and ecologically.
And with products like the Specialized Turbo Vado available for purchase, there’s really no excuse for relying on a two-ton power chair to get you from A to B.
If you’re not ready to build muscle at all, then opting for an e-bike is a great way to get around, shop or go on a date.
This aluminum-framed bike from Specialized has a 250W motor and 710Wh battery that keeps you going. Although e-bikes are limited by law in the UK to 15.5mph, I was able to get the Turbo Vado – with a little extra effort – up to 25mph on a flat surface.
Let’s do the downside first: it’s an expensive machine. Prices for the 4.0 model that Specialized loaned me to test are £4,300. For a top tier e-bike that will last for years, that’s pretty reasonable. But there’s no getting around that with the cost of living still biting, that’s a lot of money.
But part of the appeal of this bike, at least for me, is the amount of tech that comes with the ride.
It has a companion app (called “Mission Control”) that lets you disable the engine as an anti-theft device. There’s a built-in, handlebar-mounted Garmin Radar device that will detect cars up to 140 meters behind you and show you their position on the screen.
Naturally, real-time driving information is also available there, such as speed, distance and current battery level.
The on-board computer is mounted directly in the center of the handlebars and is easy to see at a glance. You can control the level of motor assistance with two buttons on the left grip that switch you to ‘Eco’, ‘Sport’ or ‘Turbo’ mode.
During your ride, you will see as much or as little information as you want. However, the computer has a habit of beeping you, which might distract some riders.
Once you’ve started, it takes a fraction of a second for the pedal assist to kick in and help you. Even if you’re not a natural cyclist, you can reach a decent cruising speed very quickly. Getting away from the lights with a burst of acceleration is extremely smooth, and there’s no jerking or jerking when the engine starts.
In fact, riding a bike is a very comfortable experience thanks to the 80mm front suspension fork and high volume tires. During my trial period, I never really took this bike off-road—for me, it became a commuter vehicle. But given the speed bumps, potholes and uneven tarmac, I was very grateful for the suspension engineering and molded saddle that provided a smooth ride.
There’s an 11-speed SRAM derailleur system consisting of a single ring up front and super-wide gears out back.
In line with this bike’s technological prowess, no manual shifting is necessary – it does everything automatically and lets you focus on pedaling harder or softer as needed.
As with any e-bike, range will be a key issue. Fortunately, the Turbo Vado delivers in spades. You’ll get a massive 90 miles of range on a single heavy battery charge. And, at any time, you can turn off the electricity and pedal as nature intended to save battery power.
If you intend to use it as a commuter bike, a very practical rear rack is pre-installed and can support up to 27 kg of weight. There are also built-in lights which – what else – turn on automatically when it gets dark.
This will obviously save you from having to remember to charge external lights, but it also comes with an overabundance of security. I was thrilled to see the lights come on even in the middle of the day when I pulled into a dimly lit underground parking lot.
Given the size and shape of this bike, it’s not really the best option for sport zooming or off-road exploration. In my opinion, it’s the perfect commuter vehicle or downtown runabout that will get you to the shops or the office without breaking a sweat.
However, it’s important to note that this bike doesn’t fold – so you may run into some restrictions if you want to take it on a train during peak hours.
It’s also quite heavy at 24kg (and that’s before you’ve loaded your luggage in the back), so opt for the lift if you’re going up and down a train platform. But let’s just take a minute to appreciate the built-in Drytech mud flaps that do a pretty good job of keeping the spray from soaking your clothes.
Finally, the Turbo Vado’s excellent disc brakes allow you to stop in an instant without any problem.
There is a school of thought that riding an e-bike is somehow “cheating” and it doesn’t count as proper exercise. This idea misses the basic point that people use bikes for more than exercise. And while I wouldn’t consider the Turbo Vado a way to burn off excess calories, I’ve never known a more pleasant way to get around town.
If you can overcome the initial price hurdle and view this machine as an investment, there is almost no downside. While some may need a foldable bike for storage/training reasons, those looking for a standard e-bike will be well rewarded with the Turbo Vado.
It’s well-built, comfortable to ride, packed with technology and safety features, and reasonably upgradable. If I were to become the ultimate ruler of humanity and move everyone from the comfort of their car, I would also want to make sure each of them had one to ride on.
Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0: the details
Last name: Specialized Turbo Vado
- Smooth and comfortable driving experience
- Battery life
- Lots of information in real time
What is bad :
- Too heavy to lift comfortably
Where can I buy one? Straight from Specialized here or Evans Cycles here.
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