Specialized have unveiled their all new Vado SL e-bike, tipping the scales at just 14.9kg and featuring their own super lightweight mid-motor system. With flat bars, chunky tyres and the brand's Future Shock 1.5 micro suspension system up front, it's designed for commuters and fitness riders in a more affordable and accessible package than their wallet-busting Turbo Creo e-road bike, boldly described as an "electric revolution" by The Big S themselves.
Vado means 'I Go' and SL is short for 'super light' say Specialized; and with the bike coming in nearly 9kg lighter than the Shimano-equipped Vado model we reviewed in 2018 it's a pretty accurate description, with Specialized claiming it's around 40% lighter than the average 'traditional' e-bike. They say that an e-bike built for transport and not just for fitness "presents the future", with the current pandemic making it increasingly apparent that bikes are needed to get us around just as much as they are useful for making us sweat.
The SL 1.1 System features Specialized' own proprietary mid-motor and 320wh battery, with a range extender available to boost the claimed range from a maximum of 130km up to 195km - they say the supplied internal battery can be fully charged from 3% to 100% in just 2hrs 35mins.
The motor weighs just 1.95kg, and although the nominal and peak wattage is 240 watts rather than the 250 watt EU limit, Specialized say the motor can sustain peak wattage 'indefinitely' without damage or overheating; so in theory, you shouldn't miss the extra 10 watts.
The motor has a clutch system that decouples from the crank to prevent drag while you're freewheeling above the 25km/h top assisted speed, so unassisted riding should be free from any extra resistance.
Both the SL 4.0 and SL 5.0 specs feature a single-ring chainset, 38mm tyres and a Specialized E5 aluminium frame, plus lights and a display system. The eco, sport and turbo assistance modes can be switched via the button on the top tube, and all settings can be customised on the free 'Mission Control' Bluetooth app. On this you can perform diagnostics, check battery life and alter your modes, offering you the ability to fine-tune assistance levels on the three modes.
The Future Shock 1.5 system offers a small amount of suspension above the headtube via a small cartridge, to cushion lumps and bumps on the road for a more comfortable ride. Specialized say the lightness of the motor and its super low placement lowers the centre of gravity to make the bike handle well and feel light and nimble to turn in the city.
The prices start at £2,499 for the Vado SL 4.0 with Shimano Deore 10 speed shifting, going up to £3,299 for the Vado SL 5.0 with 12 speed Shimano SLX gearing with an XT rear derailleur. Versions equipped with mudguards and a luggage rack will be available later in the year, priced at £2,699 and £3,499 for the SL 4.0 and SL 5.0 versions respectively. More info and buying options can be found on the Specialized website.