Stromer ST1 commute at night with the GoPro Hero4 Silver

Hey everyone!  Finally have my Youtube channel up and running, so I can embed videos now in the blog.  More review on the GoPro Hero4 Silver later, but needless to say, it is one of the coolest gadgets I have ever come across and the possibilities of its usefulness is unlimited.

Specialized Turbo Parts Installation

The Turbo S comes mostly assembled in a large sturdy box from Specialized that also has plastic support handles in lieu of simple cardboard ones since it still does weigh about 48 pounds.  The battery is separately packaged in the box in additional cardboard and usually has a decent charge right from the start.  I always un-package it and plug it into the included AC charger so it is at full charge once the bike is ready to ride.

The handlebars and stem need to be installed onto the steerer tube of the fork ) appropriately spaced with the right amount of spacers.  Once this is done, any remaining packaging is recycled and removed.

The seatpost is installed with grease (for alloy) and fiber grip paste (for carbon on the older models).  Right before install the two wires coming from the saddle’s LED need to be connected to the opposing two wires coming from the seat tube.  One of each set will have a blue line on it.  Connect those two and then connect the other two.  Coil the additional wire into the seatpost as you mount it into the frame.  Torque the seatpost binder bolt to a value of 5Nm.  Clamp the bike in the stand with moderate pressure to hold the bike firm while finishing the build and tuning.Turbo Integrated Tailight

The Turbo S uses a MegaEVO386 bottom bracket and compatible crank (30mm spindle).  I remove the crank and use a torque wrench to check the outboard bearing bottom bracket cups to 40Nm.  I then make sure to use a thicker grease on the spindle before installing it into the BB.  This helps ensure that there are no creaking or clicking issues.  Most of the time, I find that the factory build installs it correctly and I have to just double check it.EVO386 Bottom Bracket

I then take both wheels off of the bike.  The front is a thru-axle as is the rear wheel.  Both are necessary to adequately support the wheel in the frame.  After greasing the thru-axle and checking to make sure the cassette lockring is tight, I true and tension both wheels.  Nearly every time I find the wheels are already well-built and simply detension the wheel from shipping and production and lubricate the spoke nipples.Rear wheel motor specThru axle and torque spec

After getting the wheels ready, I like to take care of a few things on the bike that is easier to do without the wheels on.  I wipe the frame down with rubbing alcohol at all points of contact between parts and components. For instance, this would include crank arm pedal threads, both front and rear dropouts, all frame fitting contact points (where cable and wires enter and exit the frame), brake calipers (with pads removed), handlebars, the surface area under the grips, and the rotors on the wheels.  Then the wheels are installed and torqued to the required spec with a torque wrench.

At this point the handlebar is installed, the bottom bracket checked, the wheels checked and trued and cleaned, and the frame is prepped.  After the wheels are installed, it is time to center the brake calipers on the rotors.  At this time, it is also suggested to toque the rotor bolts to spec as well (3.5-5Nm).  Loosen the top and bottom mounting bolts for each caliper and  until they move freely back and forth.  Normally there is blue Loctite on these bolts.  If none is present, apply some.  Then, with the mounting bolts loose, use one hand to press down on the caliper body and with the other hand, squeeze the brake lever.  Slowly snug down the top and bottom mounting bolts until the body does not move easily.  Release the brake lever and place a white piece of paper below the caliper and rotor.  You should be able to easily see the space on each side of the rotor from the pad.  If it is uneven, slightly loosen each of the mounting bolts and center the pads over the rotor.  Once this is done, tighten and torque the bolts to spec and spin the wheel.  Listen for any sound of rubbing and observe that the rotor is true and straight.WP_20140515_008

Shift through the gears in the rear until the chain is positioned in the largest cog (the lowest gear).  Set the LOW limit screw so that the derailleur may very slightly go past the last cog (about a half of a millimeter).  Then, down shift and use the barrel adjuster to correct the cable tension for the smoothest shifting.  Once the chain is positioned in the smallest cog (the highest gear), adjust the HIGH limit screw so the chain is in line with the cog.WP_20140515_018

Now that the ‘bicycle’ parts have been checked and tuned, it is time to install the frame fittings the wires enter and exit.  These are small 2mm hex bolts that should have a small amount of blue Loctite on them.  If they don’t apply some.  Avoid using a ball head hex key to install or remove these as it tends to either strip the bolt head or simply not apply enough bite to turn the bolt.WP_20140515_011

Check the rubber pad in the frame slot for the battery to make sure it is flush against the base of the panel and is covering the wires that run the length of the down tube.  Then, clean the contact points at the top and bottom of the battery slot and on the battery with isopropyl alcohol and place the battery in the frame bottom side first.  When the top half connects into the frame, you should hear a distinct click, indicating the battery is installed correctly.  Attempt to wiggle the battery to ensure it is installed right and test its removal by turning the key located near the bottom bracket on the non-drive side.  Keep this key handy at all times!  It is ridiculously hard to remove the battery without the key.

With the battery installed, the Turbo is ready to rock!  Press the power button on the battery to start up the system.  Now on to the electronic parts and diagnosis!





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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.