Specialized Turbo Launch

Well, I am pleased to be back with some spare time to post on the blog and interest you in an event I was at yesterday for the Specialized Turbo electric bike launch and certification.  It was a one day training session and test ride experience in South Beach Miami.  In a quick word of summary — this is the first bike I can correctly term “fast.”  With moderate exertion, we were quickly flying around the city streets with ease and style at 30 mph.

Here are a few photos I took throughout the day.  Below the slideshow is the review of the components so you’ll be more familiar with what they look like and how they function.  It is quite an all-inclusive package with sleek sexy accents and smart technology that flows right in sync with today’s popular commitment to helping the environment and being productive with technology.

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The day started with a quick summary of how to operate the controls and what to expect.  Then, we rode!  SRAM 1×10 configuration with some incredibly robust Armadillo Elite Electrak tires.  In the “most fun” mode, or full active mode, the bike can attain a speed of 45 kph (30 mph) for an entire hour!  This means, of course, that I could make the 25 mile commute to my work using the pedal assist motor to give the bike double the watts I push into the pedals and make it there in under an hour.  That’s fast.  That’s the Specialized Turbo.

I am really convinced that this design and research has led to a frontier of true “hybrid” bicycles that can realistically be used by anyone and eliminates gas usage and adds great daily exercise.  What about group rides?  Never wanted to join because of the “fast pace” and limitations of keeping up?  This bike allows you to join even an A group ride.  From every other electric bike so far, we’ve seen many drawback, problems, and general “clunkiness.”  This bike specs out at 50 lbs, which is about ten pounds lighter than previous electric-assist bicycles.

The battery is probably the most innovative of all the electric bikes out there.  instead of it being bulky and oddly placed into a rack or after-market mounted to the frame, it integrates directly into the downtube.  This means it becomes part of the bike, with an adjustable cushioning plate to take up small bits of play, which enables easy installation/removal.  The Lithium ion battery is custom designed by Swiss manufacturing and features a unique cell holding grid for the battery so vibrations, bumps, and weather do not impact the performance.  It can operate down to almost 4 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  With a built-in diagnostic tool that indicates successfully test and operation of the individual components of the electric motor system.  It also can be used for a rough battery meter indicator — secondary to the much more accurate meter displayed on the integrated computer.  You might be getting the feeling that this bike sports a lot of integration and ergonomic design.  You would be right.

The computer is the central unit for displaying important information about the status of the bike.  it can tell you the normal things a cycling Speedzone computer can from Specialized like temperature, time, speed, and distance.  It also, as aforementioned, displays battery life and modes the bike can run in.  From full active power, which adds the same watts as you input (ex, 200 watts = 400 watts total) to “eco” mode (adds 30 percent of the power you input) to no assist to regenerative mode (recharges the battery), there is a variety of function and usefulness to appropriate your battery life for just about any reasonable commute (anything under about 30 miles).  The eco mode will allow the rider to push their own way with a little support on the parts of riding that need more torque.

A brushless DC motor operates the propulsion of the added power with no moving parts inside and was custom designed from the ground up by the Swiss motor company Go Swiss Motor.  In conjunction with Specialized’s headquarters for the Turbo project in Switzerland, they made a slightly smaller motor than most that exist on electric bikes today and encased it in silicon to make it weatherproof and immersible.  So, a slightly heavy battery, a heavy motor, a rider, and added robust frame design are adding up in weight, which increases the power needed to stop — particularly when you are flying 30 mph down the road.

That leads to the brakes.  Magura MT-8 disc brakes are installed on the Turbo which have incredible stopping power and work great with 160mm rotors front and rear.  A quick side note is that, on the rear wheel disc rotor mount, the rotor bolts used need to be a bit shorter than standard ones.  They use an M5x7mm bolt rather than the normal M5x10mm bolts.  This means either shorter normal ones properly or order sets for spare parts. The most creative aspect of the brake system is the connection to the motor to disengage when the lever is actuation (pulled).  That means braking under just the weight of the bicycle and you rather than that and working against the motor.  Some electric bikes out there have this feature.  However, Specialized took it a step further.  they included the system to be able to regenerate the motor every time you actuate the brake lever.  Even if the pads don’t fully stop the wheel or even make full contact with the rotor, the regeneration mode engages, slowly building and conserving battery life.

In addition to all of this, the bike has integrated lights in front and rear that makes night commuting and riding a breeze.  They work off of the battery to a nominal degree and can be turned on at the light or on the integrated Speedzone ANT+ computer.

This bike really is it for the “car replacement” category of cycling as well as the elite tech savvy crowd interested in the futuristic design and seamless technology interface.  30+ mile rides, 30+ mph speeds, stable flat-protected tires, innovative and pleasing design meant for ease and efficiency, and simply a thrill to ride, the Specialized Turbo was everything I expected it to be and being trained on the servicing and operation by the individuals who actually designed the bike made it a memorable and focused learning experience that will certainly propel my shop to promote its use.  I am sure you’ll be asking one question throughout this whole review.  How much is it?  They retail out at $5,900 dollars.  That’s more expensive than many used cars out there.  It’s tough to justify the expense.  So, I calculated the cost of what a car costs a year paid for and what it cost the average driver in a car with payments.

25 Mile commute -One full tank of gas every two weeks = $52.00 x 26 fill ups a year =  $1352.00
Car insurance payment = $75.00 x 12 months a year = $900.00
Standard maintenance factor = $300.00
Personal Property Tax = $200.00

Grand Total = $2752.00
Now add in 12 months of a $250.00 car payment.  That then equates to $5752 per year.  That’s basically the same as the price of the bike.  And, it will certainly last you more than a year.  From the robust construction, I would guess the bike will ride great with very basic mechanical maintenance for several years before even the battery would need replacing.  Consider the benefits.  I hope you enjoyed a review of the Turbo.  It was really an awesome bike to ride and we will have them in our shops very soon so you can stop by and test ride one yourself.  I guarantee you’ll step back into the shop afterward grinning from ear to ear.  Feel free to email me or comment with questions.  I would be more than happy to answer them or find it out.

– SNC

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