At the heart of the range of electrically assisted bicycles from the American manufacturer Specialized, the Turbo Vado is transformed in its 2022 version. Design, on-board computer, engine, transmission, wheels and fork: “Spé” has changed everything, for the better.
Difficult to renew a bike as popular as the Turbo Vado. And yet, Specialized did not cut corners by completely transforming its Vado 2022. The most versatile of the electric-assisted bicycles in the Active range of the North American manufacturer is modernized by adopting in particular the MasterMind on-board computer introduced in first place by Specialized in its mountain bikes, for even more possibilities and connectivity.
If it retains its DNA, the new generation Turbo Vado is also more dynamic, in particular with a new, more modern geometry and smaller diameter wheels. It does not forget the comfort, however, opting for wide tires and a fork with the greatest travel.
Following the trend of “always more”, the Turbo Vado 2022 also opts for a larger 710 Wh battery (4.0 and 5.0 versions), against 500 or 600 Wh previously, without however going overboard on the engine side with new engines designed primarily to promote smooth, silent and natural pedaling.
The price positioning certainly remains high-end, hardly helped by the general increase observed since 2020 in the cycle universe. Our test copy, the Turbo Vado 4.0, is thus displayed at no less than 4100 € with its Sram NX transmission, a Suntour Mobie A32 fork and the Specialized 2.0 engine developing a torque of 70 Nm. That's 500 € more than the previous generation Turbo Vado.
The higher version 5.0 culminates in turn at 5200 €, with the key a fork (Rockshox Recon Silver RL) and a transmission (Sram GX) higher, as well as a more torquey engine (Specialized 2.2, 90 Nm) and even a more efficient braking (Sram G2 RS with four pistons).
On the other hand, the entry ticket starts at 3400 € with the Turbo Vado 3.0, which must be satisfied with an entry-level transmission (Shimano Alivio), a less efficient engine (Specialized 2.0E, 50 Nm) and a smaller battery (530 Wh).
Revised from top to bottom, the Turbo Vado 2022 is based on a completely redesigned frame for a more modern geometry and a less massive and more modern design. Finished, the diagonal tube flared up to the engine, gives way to a more classic tube which better hugs the battery and gives a thinner profile to the bike.
Specialized's low-frame Turbo Vado 4.0, 2022 release.
Already typed sloping in its high frame version, that is to say with a top tube inclined from the stem to the saddle, the frame of the new Vado is even more so. This is reflected in its low-frame version which is the subject of this test. Thanks to the smaller downtube at the engine and the new geometry of the bike, the top tube drops lower, making it easier to step over and still stiffer than the urban Turbo Como model with a neck frame. – totally open swan.
Although we did occasionally rub our soles on the frame, it was more from inattention and getting off the bike than from difficulty getting into the saddle. Rather welcoming at this level, the Turbo Vado 2022 is just as welcoming in its driving position, thanks to slightly higher handlebars and a longer distance between the crank axle and the top of the steering sleeve. We have space, without finding ourselves leaning too far forward. Those who swear by a Dutch bike type position, more raised bust, will remain focused on the Turbo Como, but this Vado offers a good compromise between comfort and dynamism in the driving position. Its handlebar offers just enough curvature to feel comfortable, the hands benefiting from ergonomic handles, allowing long journeys without suffering unduly.
The same cannot be said of the saddle… Well profiled and ergonomic, it is very firm. A little more softness would not have been refused. Fortunately, it is fixed on a suspended rod responsible for absorbing the biggest shocks that the tires do not necessarily filter. However, the latter provide the essentials thanks to their 2.3-inch section which provides them with a large volume of air. The Turbo Vado 2022 thus gives the impression of being able to ride everywhere, all the better since it is equipped with a quality suspension fork, the Suntour Mobie A32 with 80 mm of travel.
The fork is lockable with a small blue lever.
In terms of protection for the cyclist, we appreciate the long front mudguard which goes very low and thus prevents any projection on the shoes, even when riding in large puddles of water.
An aluminum mudguard that goes very low thanks to a long plastic flap. Be careful all the same when climbing certain sidewalks so as not to rub.
A chainring cover and a chain guard come to protect our bottom of pants.
This attention to detail can be found everywhere on the machine, from the passage of the sheaths in the frame, with an exit just at the level of the derailleur and the rear brake, to the nicely integrated kickstand, not to mention the superb integrated Spanninga Commuter Glow XE rear light to the luggage rack. The frame finishes are of the same ilk, namely neat with well-made welds – although we would have liked them invisible – and a pretty lacquered paint.
A rear light of the most beautiful effect.
Unlike the rear light, the front light is only partially integrated – in the fork crown – and we won't complain about it, because it remains easily adjustable and replaceable. Emitting 210 lumens, this Lezyne Ebike Hecto E65 headlight produces a beam intense enough, wide and deep enough to ride without worry out of town.
From the first laps of the pedals, the Turbo Vado 2022 impresses with its stability mixed with softness. It must be said that with its large 2.3-inch tires and a certain overweight, this bike seems made to swallow everything that comes in front of it. It nevertheless remains quite agile thanks to the choice of 27.5-inch tires (650B) and its geometry which promotes a dynamic position and ease of pedaling.
The Specialized 2.0 engine has response.
Weighed at 28 kg, it is a beautiful baby who must necessarily rely on its motorization so as not to appear clumsy. And that's what it does perfectly well, its in-house Specialized 2.0 engine – developed with Brose – immediately making you forget all those kilograms that you would have heavily suffered otherwise.
Activated in Sport assistance mode by default at start-up, it then shows itself to be voluntary while maintaining appreciable progressiveness and silence. We very quickly reach the limit of 25 km/h beyond which the assistance decreases, then ceases to act. However, the engine continues to lightly relieve the pedaling so as not to have the brutal sensation of losing all the assistance ex abrupto. In fact, we therefore find ourselves easily maintaining a speed of between 24 and 27 km/h, the slightest descent, even slight, giving the opportunity to pick up speed, driven by the inertia of the vehicle and the very rolling tires on the asphalt. The latter indeed incorporate a wide central tread which ensures good performance, despite their width which could suggest the opposite.
Homemade Pathfinder Sport tires offering a fairly wide central tread.
If we want to work our muscles a little more, the Eco assistance mode is available to us, limiting the maximum assistance and power to 35% of the engine capacity (compared to 60% assistance in Sport mode ). A mode quite pleasant to use and which is of course more energy efficient. We will therefore not hesitate to use it if time is not pressing or if we have enough sharp legs to enjoy it without sweating too much, for example.
Conversely, the Turbo mode propels us almost effortlessly and allows us to swallow any climb without question. So much so that it does not encourage you to change gear when you come to a stop. Restarting such a heavy bike is not a piece of cake, however, if you also stop on a climb: it is therefore better not to forget that this Turbo Vado 4.0 is equipped with a derailleur transmission and not hub with integrated gears, which requires a minimum of anticipation to ride with the right gear.
An 11-speed Sram NX drivetrain.
As it is a more road and all-road bike than the very urban Turbo Como, we will not hold it against it, the range of development and the versatility of such a transmission being perfectly suited to the program of the bike. The 11-speed Sram NX group is also pleasant to use and rather responsive. The most urban cyclists can always turn to the versions with Shimano Nexus hubs which allow them to change gears even when stationary.
However, if the settings of the assistance modes offered by Specialized do not suit us, it is possible to use a fourth manual mode offering a variation of the assistance in steps of 10%. Eco, Sport and Turbo modes can also be configured via the Mission Control app, for example to make Eco mode a little more voluntary or, on the contrary, to reduce the power of Sport and Turbo modes. These very simple settings have the advantage of letting us choose the assistance we prefer, which will particularly appeal to those who find the Turbo Vado a little too assisted.
However, Specialized encourages you to make good use of your bike's assistance by displaying the pedaling rate on the on-board computer screen. You know at a glance if you are pedaling too slowly, that is to say under 70 rpm. In this case, it is better to reduce the gear ratio, because too low a pedaling rate leads to a drop in performance and overconsumption of the motor. Harmful for autonomy.
The only real lack on this bike, in our opinion, is a more progressive automatic assistance mode, such as the Tour+ and the eMTB from Bosch or even the automatic mode from Yamaha, for example.
We can deplore the surge in battery capacity for purely urban bicycles which thereby become increasingly heavy even though they often only travel over short distances, but a large battery remains an asset for bicycles designed to swallow the miles. Specialized thus equips its Turbo Vado 4.0 with a 710 Wh battery which should ensure record autonomy. And this is indeed the case, since it will have made us drive 72 km in Turbo mode before its battery drops below 5%, triggering the shutdown of the assistance to preserve the operation of the computer from board and lighting.
The Turbo Vado 4.0 will have made us see the country.
We see a first drop in performance when we go below 20% battery, and even more so below 10%. Even in Turbo mode, the climbs then become difficult. Count all the same more than 50 km of autonomy with optimal performance in Turbo mode. A distance that can easily be doubled by being content with Sport mode, while the use of Eco mode ensures in principle to exceed 100 km.
Specialized provides a 4A charger with its bike for a full battery charge in 5h 10min.
Flexible and discreet motorization.
Complete and connected MasterMind on-board computer.
How does grading work?
A true everyday bike, the Turbo Vado is improved in this completely revised 2022 version. Its engine delivers assistance that is both gentle and powerful, contributing to the driving pleasure of a machine that gains in dynamism despite its heavy weight. We will not hesitate to take it out both to get to work and to go for a walk on the weekend, its autonomy also allowing it to face long distances.