Ebiketips was lucky enough to be invited to the Specialized Tero X launch at Rutland Water. The Californian brand is well-known for its performance bicycles, both electric and unassisted, but the expansion of the Tero range with the Tero X signifies a move into something more accessible and more do-it-all than their previous offerings.
So what exactly is the Tero X? Well, massive rotors, check. Front and rear suspension, check. Mullet wheels, check. Dropper post, check. But it’s not an e-MTB. It’s an ‘SUV’ of the e-bike world, as proclaimed by Specialized - the practicalities of a more utility-focused bike with regards to carrying cargo, but the capabilities of an e-MTB thanks to all of the above.
So is it utility cycling at the extreme, or just a marketing ploy? At first glance, it might just look like a full-suspension Frankenbike with full mudguards, a rear rack and built-in lights. But after an 18-mile multi-terrain test ride around Rutland Water, I’m closer to being sold on the idea.
The model range
Let’s start with the basics. The Tero X comes in three different models, the 4.0, 5.0 and 6.0 all with the same aluminium frame, and weighing within 1kg of each other (26.7kg average). It’s a beefy bike, but it should be to accommodate everything it claims it can carry. Each model has a rear rack that can handle 20kg in two pannier bags, plus a maximum trailer towing capacity of 60kg, and a front rack (sold separately) that can handle 10kg.
Prices start from £4,000 for the 4.0, £5,000 for the 5.0 and £6,000 for the 6.0. This is not insignificant, but if it can be what it claims to be - one bike that does it all - then perhaps it’s not such bad value. The groupsets also slightly differ between models. All boast 12-speed SRAM Eagle drivetrains but the 4.0 uses SX, the 5.0 GX and the 6.0 X01.
Mountain bike capabilities
Perhaps the most interesting design aspect of this bike is the similarity to a pretty decent full-suspension e-MTB. With 130mm travel up front and 120mm on the rear, it’s in cross-country territory, edging into a trail-capable machine. But Specialized was keen to point out that the full suspension isn’t just for taking it off-road, it’s about comfort in every circumstance.
Whether it’s riding over a pothole-laden street or an unkempt bridleway, the idea is that the rider doesn’t feel the need to get out of the saddle when the going gets tough. I found when I rode it that while my inner mountain biker did want to come out and use the dropper for more control, it felt just as balanced over the rough stuff if I remained seated.
The Tero X also comes with mullet wheels, which is a 29” wheel on the front and 27.5” on the rear. The small is the only size that doesn’t utilise this, and unfortunately, that’s the size I rode, so it’s hard to comment on whether that would make a difference when riding.
The dropper post is also an interesting addition to a utility bike, and the reason behind it is rider confidence. Think about when you first began riding, and the fear some of us felt at putting our feet down when we had to stop – that’s what it’s there to counter. I think a lot of us are guilty, (myself included) of forgetting what it’s like to be a less-experienced rider. While some of us are happy to track stand or balance with an arm on a railing at traffic lights, many aren’t, so it’s nice to see a big brand like Specialized take this into account. One could argue, however, that beginner cyclists are unlikely to spend £4k+ on a bike - although if you’re looking at buying an e-bike in the first place, then it’s already likely a significant investment.
The motor and battery
For such a beefy bike you’d expect a powerful motor – and that’s exactly what you get. The 5.0 uses the 2.0 motor, which provides 70Nm of torque and a max of 470W. While I can’t comment on how well it performs when there’s cargo attached, it did work rather seamlessly on my test ride.
There are three assist levels: Eco, Trail and Turbo. I spent much of my time in Trail, not feeling like Turbo was necessary. It’s quite easy to ride above the 15.5mph assist limit on the flat on the Tero X, and there’s only a slight bit of drag from the motor when above it.
The downtube battery is removable, which makes for easy charging or better security when leaving the bike parked up. The 5.0 comes with a 710Wh battery, and paired with the 2.0 motor, Specialized reckon you can get up to 85 miles on Eco mode in optimum riding conditions.
The electric system is paired with the MasterMind screen on the handlebars, which controls the assist levels and is where you can see all your riding stats. Paired with the Mission Control app and it’s at its most connected and you can even perform over-the-air updates for your firmware.
With a tagline like, ‘You’re going to need a bigger map’, I’d expect lots of mounting points and luggage carrying capacity, and it looks like Specialized has followed through. Rather than using a cactus in a pannier bag, this time they’ve gone with skis in their promo shots and a couple of bags.
As mentioned above, there’s a 20kg max weight on the rear rack, but a potential 10kg on an additional front rack if purchased separately. The 60kg trailer towing capability means it could also work for pulling the kids along the towpath or to school.
Mounting a bottle cage works on all frames, although the size that fits is reduced on the smaller frames. There’s even a mounting point for a folding lock above the bottom bracket. Specialized suggests the sizes S to XL will suit riders from 5’1” upwards.
The Tero X also features a kickstand, which is a must-have for a bike whose purpose is to carry stuff, and integrated lights. The lumens vary on the model, but the 6.0 rear light also works as a brake light, if that’s something that interests you.
My only quibble with the Tero X after getting to know it throughout 18 multi-terrain miles, would be the length of the rear mudguard. It’s a delicate balancing act between being able to get the bike on its rear wheel for ease of moving around a narrow house (ask me how I know), and good enough coverage for anyone riding behind you. As I rode perhaps a little too close to the rider in front of me during the group test ride, I experienced a mud shower (always wear your sunglasses, kids), and it didn’t come from my wheels churning up puddle water.
I do think that by calling it an ‘SUV’ Specialized has undersold the Tero X. It’s not like a Nissan Juke, say – rather large in the exterior but dinky inside and with less than exciting off-road capabilities. The Tero X is more like an Ineos Grenadier, or Land Rover Defender. It seems happy enough on the tarmac, sure, but it comes alive when you take it off the black stuff and onto the gravel or mud. That’s not to say this wouldn’t make a fantastic commuter or touring e-bike - it would - but I think its heart is off-road, whether that’s on a canal towpath or a gravel track around Rutland Water.