Further Troubleshooting the Turbo S & Other Fun Things

Well, I had two choices when I got home from the shop.  The first was to update my recently built cyclocross bike with some newly acquired 10 speed 105 and Ultegra (along with two nice red Specialized rib cages).  The second was two write a new article on first thoughts with the newest edition of the Turbo, which has split into several more models and options and really continues to develop the lower price point and affordability.  So, thus, I am writing the article (mainly because I don’t really care about 9 versus 10 speeds for a few more days of riding around in dirt and gravel.  Pretty sure it is working quite well).  In addition, I have come across some good troubleshooting problems and solutions (particularly the first gen Turbo S from 2013-14).  In fact, the solution for the issues in diagnosis are still in the process of being resolved.  However, due to some great communication with the lead Turbo experts over at Specialized, we have a solid direction toward fixing the issue and this will really mark the first time since they’ve arrived on the market that one can assess the long term durability and dependability.  I will go ahead and say that I certainly think it is worth it and, if you ride regularly (or wish to) year round, it’s a far better bargain (particularly in the DC metropolitan area) that sitting in traffic all the time with a car.  Let’s dig in!

First, I had a new customer stop through recently with an amazing modification of a 2015 Turbo S that made my eyes pop thinking about future possibilities with ebikes.  Her name was Marissa Muller and her website is http://www.marrissamuller.com.  Her Turbo had not only a aero wind shield, but could run indefinitely with the solar panel she attached to her Burley bike trailer.  Unbelievable!  Using extension wires with Rosenberger connection plugs (the same kind on the Turbo), she outfitted it so the Turbo could keep charging at a rate slightly more than the rate of battery discharge from riding it.  Essentially, it charged faster than you could deplete it!  Carrying an extra battery (which apparently wasn’t needed), this woman rode cross-country on an ebike pretty much without ever plugging it in.  Think if the frame was covered in super efficient solar panels.  Never charge the bike.  Use the free energy of the sun.  It’s both a noble concept and challenge to make it happen.  Unfortunately, adding this technology directly into the bike now would make the price skyrocket to a likely 15k or more.  So, rigs like these now are proven for the meantime and is a great way to tour the country without fear of running out of battery power.  Here are some photos of the setup!

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She was super nice and had a great knowledge base to understand how the setup worked.  With extension Rosenberger connectors, she was able to route a cable from the solar panel to a the front of the Turbo into the charging port.  It was by far the best mods I have seen yet on an ebike.

Concerning the troubleshooting, I had a customer come in from visiting other shops with unsuccessful results in need of service with his Turbo S (first gen).  When the battery was started up, it’s on-board diagnostic LEDs showed errors for the motor, light, and remote.  The battery would finish the diagnostic and then immediately shut down.  This is a first for me.  After speaking with some of the experts at Specialized on this case, they suggested I take a look at all of the connections to make sure they were tight and not discolored.  Apparently, while a rare case, some of the Rosenberger connections would have one of the two pins discolored dark, which would mean it somehow went bad.  This was not the case as you can see in the photos.

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I even removed the central core of the wiring harness at the top of the downtube to check for bad connections and/or frayed wires.  As you can see, there were none that stood out as bad.  I triple checked the regular connections of wires at the front of the bike (where the motor disengage connects to the remote and mode wires, and then into the bike).  The connection for the light was not quite tight and when tightened, it responded well by turning on correctly, though it still read as a fault in the system.

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After inspecting everything and also trying to remove and reinstall the battery several times (and unplugging the motor connection near the non-drive side rear dropout and cleaning it with electronic component cleaner), I am of the assumption at this point (along with the guys at Specialized) that the wire harness may indeed be worn out.  In an effort to fully check this before replacing, I will be performing a diagnostic of the ebike with the newest edition of the software.  Once this has been confirmed, I will update the article accordingly and link this one to the other articles I have on the Turbo.  It is reasonable that the wire harness is worn out for a three year old bike, but maybe not since this one was purchased only about a year ago.  Either way, it seems to be solvable issue.  If the wire harness does need replacement, this is an extensive installation that will require quite a bit of time.  I plan to record this process with my GoPro and will post it here with the conclusion of the article.

On a side note, the battery error report showed some irregular data as well as the absence of data regarding some controls of the motor and battery cells.  For instance, there is a field of data readings that mention a note every time a permanent failure occurs and this data was completely gone from the report.  Anyways, once the issue is resolved, the Turbo should be back up and running.  I also used a different battery from a brand new Turbo with the same exact error LEDs, so this is also why I believe the issue is not the battery itself, but the communication between it and the other components.

Me working on fixing these ebikes...

 

Congratulations to Peter Sagan today on winning the UCI World Road Championship.  It was such an epic win and was smartly finished by attacking on the cobblestones.  It was the type of race where perseverance and smart racing skills took the field.  Let’s look forward to some special edition painted Specialized bike for him winning.  Thanks for tuning in!

 

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