The Specialized Women’s Turbo Vado 4.0 is a cool, chic, city commuter that will get you smoothly to your destination. The Brose motor makes light work of the streets, which coupled with a great build quality and comfortable riding position make this bike a winner.
We tested the women’s version Turbo Vado 4.0 but it’s also available as a men’s bike with higher standover in the same spec for the same money. The Turbo Vado 4.0 provides the ability to soak up small bumps with the 50mm travel on the Suntour NCX forks, whilst 700cc wheels and 47mm tyres do the rest to smooth out the cobbles.
The 11-speed drivetrain comes in a mix of Shimano SLX and XT kit alongside Shimano Deore M506 hydraulic brakes. The cockpit and contact points are all Specialized branded and female specific where it matters – the grips and saddle. The Turbo Vado also sports full mudguards front and rear which provide great coverage, essential for winter commuting. This, along with the motor and battery all adds up to 23.5kg without pedals. Although the geometry between the men’s and women’s bikes are almost identical, interestingly the head tube on the women’s bike is also 10mm taller across the size range when compared to the men’s bike, resulting in a rather upright riding position, one apt for the city lifestyle this bike will encounter though. If you are, however, looking to push hard on the commute then the tall seated position might not be for you.
Turbo Vado lights are toggled on by a button on the handlebars and whilst they only transmit one solid beam (no flashing mode) they are brighter than the average ‘to be seen with’ light for daytime or lit streets. The rear light is integrated to the rear rack so just make sure you don’t cover it up with panniers or other bags. Our front light did come loose periodically, something which needed an Allen key to tighten again.
The £3,200 price tag isn’t too bad either, if a low step through and a quality build are high on your ‘must have’ list then you will struggle to find a similar bike elsewhere. Other bikes on the fringes of comparison with the women’s Turbo Vado 4.0 are either a great deal cheaper and therefore use less expensive components or they’ll cost you a lot more dollar and won’t provide the step though, for example the Trek Super Commuter 8 here at £3,800 versus the Liv Amiti E+ at £2,499.
On with the important things, our bike features Specialized’s custom 250-watt motor made by Brose and 504Wh battery that are both fully integrated with the bike. The battery and motor were designed by Specialized in conjunction with Brose in order to create an integrated system of their own avoiding the ugly bolt-on batteries you so often find elsewhere, it’s a looker that’s for sure, a spaceship comes to mind. The battery is easily removed for charging with just a twist of a key. It does take a little while though to charge fully: you are best leaving it on charge overnight, after which a full battery will saw me do around 35 miles in turbo mode, depending on other variables including weight carried and incline.
The motor is tuned for city riding and reacts to the force of pedalling, so the harder you pedal the more power it delivers. There are three modes of assistance available – Eco, Sport and Turbo – providing 20%, 50% and 100% support respectively. The bike is also Bluetooth compatible to allow riders to utilise the Turbo Vado Mission Control App. The app allows riders to toggle with battery modes, tune settings (motor characteristics) and power modes. Available on Android or Apple this will help you to determine a journey range and adapt the power output and acceleration response of the bike to personal preferences or to suit that journey – neat.
Swing a leg through the frame and the Turbo Vado is a smooth operator, the motor producing a quiet and level power offering. Buttons on the left side of the bars allow you to toggle between the power modes and we found Sport and Turbo to be the most abundantly used modes. Set in turbo mode the Specialized produces 100% pedal assist in response to the efforts. Let’s face it: if I’m riding an e-bike I want to be able to feel the benefits, in turbo mode I turned up at my destination quickly and sweat free. If you do want to work a little harder though, the Eco mode is there to provide smaller amounts of assistance. In fact, once at top speed in turbo (26km/h) I dropped the power down to Eco if on the flat in order to sustain the speed but with less noticeable surges of power as the speed dropped to 25km/h and the motor kicked in to push me back up to 26km/h. I found this surge slightly disconcerting but I guess it's good to know it’s on the ball and keeping me ploughing along. I did notice, however, that if you turn the motor off, when operating it again the Turbo Vado needed to be cycled through the modes once in order to get the power to be delivered once again.
Backing off the pedal strokes and the Turbo Vado freewheels and backpedals without any resistance, the motor pick up is pretty quick and smooth too once you start pedalling again, like a steady push of assistance growing to full power efficiently. I rode the Turbo Vado on a mixture of uban and countryside environments with a few muddy towpaths thrown in too. My commute home takes in all of the above but it was in town that the bike really came into its own, the geometry and power delivery of the Turbo Vado are designed for short hops between shops and cafes rather than settling in for a lengthy commute.
The Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 is a treat around the city streets. It’s quiet and responsive, the integrated battery doesn’t shout e-bike at you and the build kit features reliable gear that will no doubt go on for quite some time, a good thing at this price!