Installing and Troubleshooting the Turbo S Wiring Harness

It’s been a little time since I had a good update of info and experience with working on the Specialized Turbo S (in this case, the first gen version) and have had notable experiences that deserve to be logged and written about.  So, here goes.

In my last post, I was working with a Turbo S that had error code LEDs for the 1st, third, and fourth on the battery and would subsequently turn off after about five seconds of turning it on.  I have been working constantly with Specialized on this one and the valuable experience I have gained will be explained below.  In the end of my discussions with the Turbo experts at Specialized, it was determined that the wiring harness was malfunctioning and needed to be replaced.  It was estimated at about a two hour job, uninterrupted and I think that accurately reflects the time it takes for someone familiar with the Turbo.  Below, I will run through the process and how to do it with advice on what to avoid doing or what helps the install go more smoothly.  As of now, this is the first coverage I can find anywhere on the Internet on how to do this, so I hope the documentation is thorough and helpful.

After swapping several of the components with new ones from a known working 2013 Turbo S, I encountered the same errors on a consistent basis (even with two other batteries).  When the wiring harness came last week, I was psyched and ready to dive in.  I took photos of the whole process so you can visually compare when working on this project yourself.

The first part of the project involves removing the old wiring harness first.  This is literally every wire that runs from the handlebar connectors (the brake motor disengage, the mode selector, and the control interface) to the back of the bike.  First, remove the small 2.5mm hex bolts that attach the frame stops/guides for the wires on both side of the frame where the downtube meets the headtube.

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Once this is done (by the way, put these tiny screws in a magnetic parts bowl, because you WILL LOSE THEM OTHERWISE), remove the anchor bolt on the non-drive side of the bike (which holds the main part of the wire harness in place).  It is a 6mm bolt that uses blue loctite.  In addition, this is a great time to replace the rear derailleur cable as the housing where it fits into the rear derailleur housing stop usually is bent and stretched.  Clip the housing on each end clean.  Any exposed housing casing will cause friction in the cable and affect shifting.  In the fourth photo, you will see a tiny 2mm screw right in front of the wire harness in the battery compartment.  You MUST remove this screw (which holds the brake housing securely under the downtube).  More photos below and then the next step.

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When doing this project, I suggest removal of the crank.  While the bottom bracket isn’t necessary to remove, uninstalling the crank is a good idea so you have better angles of working with the bottom bracket access point on the frame.  It’ll make your life a whole lot easier.  I also discovered that you only need to loosen the two hex bolts (5mm) inside the bottom bracket access point in order to successfully route the harness.  Each individual wire (3 of them, black, red, and orange) is easiest to pass through the routing individually.  When pulling the wiring harness center out of the frame, it’s a good idea to take a nice flat tip screwdriver and carefully pry the rubber casing on the harness wires going down the battery compartment before pulling out the main unit.  The connection plug to the front wiring (7th and 8th photos) must be routed through the frame.  Allow some slack ont he wire from the frame stop and push the frame stop perpendicular to it’s mounting position through to the inside of the frame and then the wire connector itself.

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Take a good look at the above photos and then I will explain them.  At this point the bulk of the wiring harness from the front of the bike should be ready to remove.  Now, we take a look at the progression of the wires through the bottom bracket and out to the hub motor and the rear taillight.  The rear wires are encased in  “Chinese finger trap” style mesh once they exit the frame to the hub motor.  As you compress its length, it widens and allows removal.  The new harness came with heat shrink tubing to cover the connections and the mesh harness is used again to protect the wires running into the frame.  The fittings for the red, black, and orange wires are compression fittings into the plastic plug that connect to the motor.  It takes a significant amount of pulling force to remove these, but they do so without much of a problem.  The key is installing the new connectors back into the plug, which  I will cover shortly.  The next few step include literally pulling on the old wires to get them to exit under the pressure plate (the motor and communication wires) and the seatpost light wires (through the seatpost and then through the seat tube).  By the way, I think one of the hardest part of the install is the installation of the seatpost light.  However, that is a sweet feature of the bike and requires considerable attention.  i show a decent way to do it, though I think there might be an even better way.  Here is the next series of photos.

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The next part is great.  This is where the skill comes into play.  Before the installation of the new wiring harness, I suggest using an air compressor with a ‘crack pipe’ disc adaptor to clean out the frame of the dust from usage and age.  My buddy, Curtis, photobombed the second photo pretty well and helps me keep focus during these diagnoses.  To loosen the battery pressure plate mounts so you can route the wires, use a long L-hex 5mm to turn them counterclockwise until you can move the plate from the battery compartment with your hand a decent amount.  Note that the frame routing for the rear chainstay motor wires is quite small.  I suggest you route each under the pressure plate and the chainstay separately.   Route each under the pressure plate and then each through the chainstay (check the last photo above for the entrance point).  The wires are pretty stiff and pass through the frame relatively well.  Once you see each (with a nice flashlight), use a pokey tool to route them out of the chainstay. At this point, slide the mesh protector onto the wires and the shrink wrap from the earlier photos.  This will make your life easier in the next few steps. Apply a tiny tiny tiny amount of  dielectric grease to the brass collars of each wire before pushing into the original plastic plug.  This will help seat each wire in the plug a little easier.  It is tough to push them through.  Use a small blunt pokey tool to push from the rear of the plug.  I did it successfully on the second attempt.   Then I I hit the shrink wrap material with a lighter and tightened to the connector and wires.

 

Once this is done, it’s a matter of connecting everything.  To route the seatpost light wire, I ran a brake wire cable through the tubes and out the seapost drilled hole, taping the connectors in a row to minimize diameter of the hole it had to exit through.

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Once I had done this, I realized the new harness use d a male and female connector for the rear taillight. Well, I rewired the old connector so it fit, and it worked flawlessly. 🙂

Here is the last of the install photos.

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I also realized that the control unit docking station wire was malfunctioning, so I replaced that as well from a known working Turbo S in the shop.  Other than a small few inconsistencies in startup, the firmware was updated successfully as well as the battery communication issue software.  I am still waiting to hear back on the error reports from Specialized.  Bike performs successfully 90% of the time, but a final confirmation from them is necessary.  Thanks for tuning in.  More to come.  I am compiling a great Campagnolo EPS diagnosis article that should be up in the next few days.

 

SNC, David Polk

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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!

 

  • SNC

2015 Turbo and Turbo X Preview / First Thoughts

The 2015 Turbos have arrived! I was psyched on Friday to see the truck roll up with four brand new Turbos and 1 new Turbo X (with a  suspension fork and knobbier tires).  We had been expecting them and I started the builds right away.  I documented the process of unpacking and setting up the bike and the pros and cons of that and exploration of the features as a quick first look.  I am sure we will be seeing them find homes shortly and will continually add summary progress in a troubleshooting article that will build with time.

They were the middle range motor/battery option which seemed to top out at around 21 mph with moderate effort.  Both models feature some great new tech options and builds upon prior years’ success.  They substituted their own branded stem on both models this year instead of the Crank Brothers model from prior years.  The key and battery lock look like a different make and the disc brakes are Formula C1 models.  Much of the rest of the bike is the same.  The Turbo X front light mounts on the handlebar, which I prefer over the Turbo mount at the crown of the fork.  The Rock Shox Paragon 50mm (regular QR) air fork with remote cable lockout is a nice touch on the Turbo X. It is also spec’d with Trigger tires, which I believe might be better suited to substitute Electrak tires.  The first nine photos are of the Turbo X and the rest are of the Turbo and its accessories.  The LCD controller looks the same and mounts in conjunction with the shifter and brake lever.

Update and The Ridge

So, the Turbo wheel was sent back to Specialized for recalibration of the motor. When it came back, it was an entirely new wheel. While the defective motor was replaced, the newly installed one worked perfectly and has since been performing without flaw. It was a pretty quick turn around (about a week).

I’ll be back to posting on both some technical articles and a few on the biking culture in general. With the season slowing down a bit, I now have better time to devote. Also, concerning biking culture and news, I have been in the heart of the situation of cyclists being called terrorists in Washington D.C. and have been listening to many sides of the story as it has resurfaced a couple days ago on the Kojo Nnamdi show on NPR. Both sides have strong opinion and reasons for concern and I think it’s a good time to highlight some of it from a practical standpoint.

Also, the new Danny Macaskill video, “The Ridge” is quite amazing and you should watch it immediately.

Specialized Turbo S Troubleshooting and Diagnosis Pt.1

Welcome to Part 2 of 3 in my Specialized Turbo S Long Term Review.  I feel like this is some of the most essential information that I can apply in one place that will keep Turbo pedalelecs running beautifully.  However, I do feel that there is a “low-ceiling” limit to the depth that the Turbo can be maintained — even by an experienced and well-equipped shop.  In certain instances, the bike may have to be sent to the factory.  I am of the belief that this is being addressed and the bike will become even more modular and accessible.  That being said, there is a ton that will be covered here and includes several years of work and knowledge.  While I will be mostly highlighting troubled issues, the Turbo overall has been very trouble free and generally without issue.  This just compiles issues from many Turbos I have serviced since their release.

Onward.

 

So, I turned on my Turbo and started pedaling and the motor did not kick in as expected in Full Active and Eco modes.  What’s up with that?

I am starting with this problem because I think it has occurred more than any other issue.  There are a number of symptoms that cause it to happen and a number of solutions.  First, the battery is nearly dead.  Charge it up and try again.  The next thing I would try is to simply turn it off and turn it on again to try it.  This occurrence has spanned several Turbo S bikes on a rare occasion and has been remedied every time in the shop.  The next reason it might not turn on is that the battery may not have been installed properly or the pressure plate at the bottom of the battery “hanger” is not correctly adjusted.

With the battery pressure plate, I have found it to be different on each bike and definitely has a “correct” pressure for the Turbo to function right.  On the bottom of the bike behind the bottom bracket is an access plate that is secured by small 2mm bolts.  Remove these and set aside in a magnetic parts tray so they don’t end up lost on the ground.  Once the anchor plate has been removed, look inside and you’ll see wires, a couple hex bolts, and the shell of the bottom bracket.  Locate the 5mm hex bolt right in the center anchored into a flat plate.  This is an adjustment bolt for moving the battery up and down within the battery dock.  It provides pressure against the battery so vibrations do not disrupt the connection at the opposite end of the down tube.  To be noted, one would likely expect the phrase, “Why not just crank that thing down and really lock it in there?”  Well, here’s why.  If the motor does not seem to be engaging as aforementioned, this same issue can occur if the battery is adjusted to tightly in the dock.  Just as the battery has a little “wiggle” room, so does the connection to the battery inside the frame at the top tube and head tube junction.  If you remove the battery and look at the top of the battery dock, you’ll see where it plugs in.  With your fingers or a scribe, you can definitely see gaskets on the side of the connection and its ability to move slightly up, down, left, or right with a small amount of push.  The general rule is to begin tightening the pressure plate while using your free hand to try and move the battery up and down in the frame.  If you hear any sharp noises when it contacts the top or bottom, continue tightening.  Once there is little movement (0.25-0.5mm), stop tightening and use the key to remove the battery.  If it is too tight, it will be difficult to get the battery out.  I have found that each Turbo is slightly different, which is a great reason to have the plate for adjustment.

Another item to check is the connections between the brake and the control unit and the connection to the wire coming out of the frame.  Also, as a measure of being thorough, there is an additional connection inside the frame at the head tube where the light plugs into a parallel connector with the control unit (Several times, fault signals on the battery will indicate the light and control unit both having an issue when it is mostly one or the other).  By checking these connections, I imply:  Are they tight and correctly aligned for the individual connector pins? Have you applied a tiny amount of dielectric grease to the threads of the connectors? Are the connections and wires constantly rattling or loose?  Try checking each of these regularly when servicing as a quick way of eliminating them in the event of an issue.

So, I turned on my Turbo and everything started up, but a flashing code reading “short circuit” is displaying on the control unit?  Is that bad?

Well, it’s not necessarily good, but can be fixed easily.  Sometimes, constant vibration, continued exposure to the elements, and leaving the rubber charging cap off of the Turbo for extended amounts of time can cause an interruption in the electrical system and send a red flag to the control unit.  It’s a feature designed to override the system much like a circuit breaker so no damage occurs to vital components.  By using the Turbo diagnostic tool plugged into the frame (with battery in) and into a laptop, you can run the diagnostic software and release the hold on the circuit with a convenient button on the screen.  This software is a very important tool in confirming that the motor, battery, control unit, and lights are working properly and displays a wealth of information and reports for keeping Turbos happy and healthy.

My Turbo has gone insane and decided to run at 28mph like a throttle as soon as I hit the pedal.  I don’t even need to pedal. Glad it’s spec’d with great disc brakes.  Does it need an exorcism?

Not quite.  In the early days, Specialized might have taken this approach, but with the “Innovate or Die” theme currently in trend, we now know it’s quite real. This issue has only occurred once, yet is important enough to catalog and solve for any future happenings.  In my prior post, I detailed the symptoms of the bike while it was secured in the bike stand.  I took the opportunity to  remove and clean some of the components on the bike and the frame (After slowly and carefully removing the kickstand, I have realized that unless it is absolutely necessary, don’t ever remove it.  It is tedious because of the frame angles to loosen and tighten the 8mm hex bolt and I found that it didn’t improve access to the electronics and pressure plate under the bottom bracket.  It is a very sturdy dual kickstand that stays tight and balances great.). That being said, I removed the bottom bracket (EVO386) with a socket and outboard cup adaptor and found plenty of access points into the frame to see the wires running to the motor and seatpost LED and the hex bolt adjustment for the pressure plate (5mm) and the lock mechanism with it’s integration into the battery release.  I wiped the battery dock and the battery with isopropyl alcohol.  The terminal connections were also cleaned with isopropyl and a swab.  With some time open in the service schedule, I also decided to remove the external frame charger / battery dock connection unit from the top end of the down tube to make sure all of the connections looked secure and free of debris and moisture.  Thanks to a well-sealed compartment, everything looked great.  I took notes as well on the direction, colors, and pairing of wires that interfaced with the unit.  Red and black paired wires run directly from this to the bottom bracket shell, under the EVO386 BB, and through the non-drive chainstay to the external port near the rear wheel.  A shorter set of these two wires also connects the battery dock connection to the external charge port.  Two sets of blue and brown wires run from the unit to the headtube and into the brake / control interface and also to the bottom bracket shell and into the seat tube to connect into the wires running from the saddle’s integrated LED through the seatpost. One triple set of wires (blue/brown/green) run from the external charge port in the frame to the top of the battery dock where the battery connects to the system.  Lastly, an orange wire runs from the front light to the connection with the control interface (wired in parallel).  As a side note, this is why the diagnostic on the battery will show both the light and control interface having an issue when it could potentially only be one of them.  Good things lights are pretty easy to check.

Once I had satisfied my curiosity of understanding the Turbo S better, I moved on to reinstalling the parts and activating the wheel like before.  I let it run continually for over five minutes with no discernible change.  Continuous operation, only to be paused by giving the brake a solid squeeze.  If the wheel was touched, the throttle would pick up again.  This was also true for pressure on the pedals.  In these situations, I was lucky to have another in the store to help eliminate components.  Taking a brand new rear wheel from the second Turbo (after testing to make sure it was operational), I installed it into the first and powered the system.  No activation of Full Active or Eco modes, but No Power worked as expected and Regen mode seemed more difficult than normal as mentioned with the original wheel.  This is the only area that I am not quite sure what to think of yet.  That’s what the techs at Specialized are for. Continuing with the diagnosis, I also swapped the battery with no effect.  Reinstalling the original wheels and batteries to each Turbo, I then swapped the control interfaces.  This also did not yield any effect.  With the original wheel, the throttle accelerated as before (One thing I might try today is to try both battery, control interface, and new rear wheel from the second Turbo into the first.).  The last thing I did was to put the wheel from the service Turbo into the new Turbo.  It accelerated to 28mph.  Thus, my conclusion (though I will wait for confirmation from Specialized) is that the wheel needs to be recalibrated–specifically the motor.  If this is the case, it will go back to the factory for a quick turnaround and then I’ll have an update on a future post about the issue’s resolution.  This was a great opportunity to fully inspect the bike from top to bottom, inside and out.

I am going to continue this post through the weekend with some other minor issues and fixes that will keep the Turbo S running smooth and fast, but figured that it’d be good to start posting the article for any feedback or questions.

Here are photos of the above parts:

 

 

More to follow!  – SNC

Turbo Diagnosis Update

Hey everyone! The Turbo S Diagnosis and Troubleshooting article is almost complete. There has been a slight delay because of a new issue that arose within the past few days that is still in progress of being solved and fixed.

One of the 2014 black Turbo S models came in with a particular issue with the motor engaging once pressure to the pedals occurred in Full Active Mode and Eco (30%) mode. You might think, “Isn’t that what the bike is supposed to do?” Well, yes. However, with this particular one, the motor engaged to the Turbo max speed of 28mph without disengaging when the brake was pulled and acted as a throttle (no pedaling required) rather than an electric assist. This could be compared to the gas pedal on your car sticking on the floor and your car traveling at top speed until you shut it off or change gears (on the Turbo, going to No Assist mode or Regeneration mode would disengage the motor). As a side note, one the Turbo was in Regeneration mode, it was much more difficult to pedal than normal while in this mode and the wheel would take a small 1/8 to 1/4 turn backwards when the pedals stopped turning.

As you may have guessed with continual throttle at 28mph, it totally cooked the rear brake pads and most of the front.

So, I will be problem solving it for a day or two more and running several tests while collaborating with Specialized technicians to diagnosis this and of course, finish up the results in Part 2 of the Turbo Review. Thanks for being patient. I hope this gets you curious about the bike and working on it more. I still think the bike is fantastic and doesn’t normally reflect any or all of these problems. In large, it is the most trouble-free electric assist bike I have worked on out of over twenty different brands. These issues are published to conglomerate the most information possible in order to have the largest audience possible understand how to work on the them and maintain them.

– SNC

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!

 

– SNC

 

 

Specialized Turbo S Long Term Review

Welcome to the long awaited review of the Specialized Turbo S.  The “pedalelec” is an electric pedal assist bicycle for those of you not yet hip on such terminology.  From a newly updated control interface (what you use to configure the Turbo) to a more powerful battery, this bicycle can go about 40 miles at 30 miles an hour.  For locals that know the DC area, that would be like coming into the city from here:

40 miles on 66However, it certainly never takes the quoted 41 minutes by car unless it’s 11:28 pm on a Thursday night (according to googlemaps).  The great news is that you’ll never have to spend all that time sitting in traffic if you’re flying down the taxpayer supported trails of the greater Washington DC metro area or wherever you might live.  It’s a bike that leaves everyone smiling the first time they use one and was designed for commuting and recreation by some of Europe’s best bicycle experts with Specialized.  Every single person I have ever seen test ride or own one is smiling ear to ear afterward.

Group ride bikes lined up in three sizes, S, M, L
Group ride bikes lined up in three sizes, S, M, L

This review intends to convey the nature of the bicycle and how it operates as well as issues encountered from a maintenance standpoint over a long period of usage.  I would be the first to admit that, amongst a few expected difficulties, it is a machine worth the investment and is a forefront in the future of this class of bicycles.

Building a Turbo out of the box is not altogether difficult and can be done by most shops with some attention to detail and a thorough reading of the manual.  You might recall from my original article that I attended a seminar on how to operate and work on the Specialized Turbo in Miami back in 2013 and it definitely helped to have time properly set aside to fully understand how it works and how to replace components and fix others in the past few months of research.  With a final recent repair of the regeneration mode activated hydraulic disc brakes by Magura, I felt there was sufficient photos and information to write a good “one-stop” informal manual in case you run into a similar situation.  As started, the build includes normal things like truing the wheels which are installed on the bike with thru-axles and have torque specs located right at each point on the frame and fork.  These specs are important as this bicycle will undergo higher stresses than a majority of other bicycles at higher speed.

So, all of this being said, i think that it’s clear how cool and fun these bikes are to work with and enjoy.  There are certain maintenance issues that seemed to take a fair amount of time to work out, but most of the solutions made great sense after diagnosing and repairing.  I would like to begin by saying this quick procedure, found in the manual, solves many small issues:

1.  Power off the Turbo by lightly clicking the green lit button on the battery.

2.  Turn the key included with the bike down near the bottom bracket and hold.

3.  Lift the battery out from the downtube.

4.  Wait about thirty seconds.

5.  Place the battery (bottom first) and reinstall.

6.  Turn on the Turbo.

Essentially, taking the battery (powered down) out of the Turbo resets the entire system much like unplugging your Internet router at home or work and powering it back on after a few moments.  Every time it starts up, the Turbo passes through a set of diagnostic checks that relay to four small LEDs located right below the power button on the battery.  Each LED should blink once and then remain on until all four have lit up.  Then, all four LEDs should blink together once and then resolves into a battery level meter (each LED represents 25% battery).  If the LEDs have lit up as mentioned, the system has just checked the battery status, the motor status, the control interface status, and the lighting system status.  On the current Turbo S (versus the original model), there is a front light as well as a new integrated rear set of LEDs on the back of the saddle (nice addition).

Turbo Battery

However, at times throughout the research, I would notice one or two LEDs blink twice when the Turbo was turned on and so I checked the manual and diagnostic chart from the Specialized Service website.  Any of the four LEDs blinking twice indicates that there is some sort of fault or error with the corresponding module (battery, motor, CPU, or lights).  The lights and control interface (we’ll call it the CPU) are wired in parallel and it should be mentioned that a fault (LED blinks twice) from either might mean checking both for error.  This has happened on several occasions and could always be resolved, but a check of both modules was usually necessary.  The number one thing I found helpful to do in the case of an error was to immediately check all of the wire connections on the bike to make sure they were properly tight and paired.  In some cases, I found it helpful to use a very small amount of dielectric grease to ensure that the connection was consistent.

From all of the repairs, I have installed or replaced the following: the battery (both the same unit and upgrading the original Turbo with a new unit), bottom bracket (BB386EVO), rear derailleur (SRAM X0), hydraulic brakes (Magura), and the CPU (both updating firmware and software and installing a new unit).  One thing I have never had to replace (on a Turbo) is a spoke.  The wheels were designed and built extremely well and the Specialized Electrak tires are perfect for the bike.  Many other electric bikes I have serviced have experienced spoke breakage and warping of the rim.  As a part of the bike that most people cannot repair on the road without training and tools, it’s a great confidence to know they hold up so well, even with daily commuting, running errands, and several crashes.

I am going to add links below for each section of the review (two additional parts) for ease of navigation.  Once the link is active, the post for the corresponding link will be up.  This way, it’s easier to jump to a section if you are servicing a Turbo and can read the most relevant information.

Parts Installation (Active)

Diagnosis and Troubleshooting (Active)

Wheel Truing and Specialized Turbo Long Term Review

I will be posting a short article tomorrow evening on wheel truing and will also post Part 1 of all the info and tuning/adjustments I have been through and discovered with the Specialized Turbo S Pedelec bike. I look forward to your thoughts!  Stay tuned for for great info and photos.

P.S.  I also edited the Dura-Ace 9000 front derailleur setup article after reviewing a few comments from readers and my own experiences with the setup.

 

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– SNC