Specialized Turbo electric bicycle comes to North America

Specialized unveiled the Turbo e-Bike in March 2012 for the European market. It’s good looks made us want it here, but it’s 45km/h (about 28mph) top end speed proved to be it’s speed bump to getting into the US.

Now, finally, it’s coming stateside. Specialized’s PR man Sean Estes told us it wasn’t necessarily the top speed that kept it out of the US, just navigating our country’s regulations to verify compliance and have it considered “a bicycle” took considerable time and effort. Bringing it into the US is only the first step. Meeting federal guidelines doesn’t mean it’s legal for use in every state or municipality…local dealers or Specialized’s sales reps will need to figure that out. We’ve heard from Kreidler’s US rep, Kenny Roberts, that the blanket rule is they’re considered off-road vehicles, leaving it up to local authorities or lawmakers to decide how and where they can be used on city streets, paths or bike lanes. (Kreidler’s e-bike uses a different drivetrain layout but also tops out at about 28mph)

Regardless, we’re pretty stoked to see the e-bike market get a major brand involved here, it can only lead to good things. Hit the link above for the tech rundown.


  1. Jason on

    For those that are new to E-bikes this might look great, but from a standpoint of technology it is very lame. Just take a look at what´s already out there and what people ride in Europe and Asia……f.e. Smart, Grace, BMC-Stromer you name em…still I agree nice to see a major brand starting in the US.

  2. Mason on

    I got a chance to spend a little over an hour one one of these earlier this week. Holy crap, it was a blast. Really cool to see a major manufacturer make a cool looking, high end e-bike that a cyclist would actually want to ride. Definitely worth checking out.

  3. Robo on

    Got to ride one of these out at Specialized back in December. Man, what a blast it was! I’d definitely consider getting one for the work commute…

  4. Volagista on

    Will Specialized sue those dealers that will not sell the Turbo because their state or municipality will not allow the Turbo to be street legal ?

  5. Loyd Flanders on

    How are the fanny pack wearing crack dealers going to afford one of these, they’ll just have to stick with the modified eBay petrol bikes!

  6. Jefferson on

    Unfortunately this is not a bicycle and needs to be treated as a vehicle, and not allowed in bike lanes. Ya ya I know but here’s why. If you allow any powered bicycles of any kind no matter what the physical size or dimensions in the bike lanes or to use the term bike when considered in regards to legal issues then you have to allow any “bike” or “ebike” to have the same access to the bike lanes, including those that are really scooters with pedals.

  7. maxx on

    E-bikes are actually a good way of encouraging people to commute or ride a bike. Just that they need to come with a few pre-conditions.

    – less than 200W
    – only pedal assist, no pure electric power drive except at start-off for perhaps 3~5 seconds.
    – Speed not to exceed 25km/h on power assist mode. Exceeding that will require raw unassisted pedaling power.

    It would lesson the stigma of such bikes, keep them relatively safe and would also encourage people to go out on their bikes for some light exercise. Would be a boon for people with age and would benefit from some form of exercise.

  8. brennan on

    OK so when this was released in Europe I was hesitant (I am a member of the industry). I like turning a pedal over to propel myself…but currently being employed at one of three shops in Colorado that has access to them and having spent time on it I have been somewhat impressed.

    While the Ebike market in the United States greatly differs from that in Europe I feel this is quite an improvement for what is available in the United States. It is strictly pedal assist. The rider must be pedaling for the hub based motor to engaged. There is no “throttle” or button to utilize just the motor. Aesthetically it is much more appealing than most Ebikes as well with the battery contained within the downtube.

    It was a blast to ride and I believe can serve a great purpose in our society (within the United States) despite the steep price tag. And yes I realize BMCdid purchase Stromer and is less expensive, but seeing a major manufacturer, like the big red S, produce this is nice.

    ***I am currently employed at a shop that is a Specialized dealer( as well as C’dale, Salsa, IF, and Electra), BUT pride myself in not having consumed the red koolaid! They produce some nice stiff, but a lot of offer brands do as well!

  9. Jeb on

    Phucking Specialized, this thing is a direct copy of the Stromer. What do you want to bet the (deleted) in Morgan Hill are already looking for a way to sue BMC-Stromer.

  10. Bas Simons on

    if this is what it takes to get the US riding their bikes more and get out of their cars, I’m all for it

    any word on how specialized will be servicing / warranting these turbo’s? also, pretty tricky to let dealers handle legislation per state instead of figuring out that as a company

  11. Robo on

    I think the idea is that the local Specialized rep would be the one actually contacting the state (which “should” be a fairly easy process) to see if the product is legal for sale there. It’s really not that big of an issue.

  12. patrik on

    @Jason: “For those that are new to E-bikes this might look great…”

    You added some other nonsense after writing this opening sentence, but you hit the nail on the head in terms of what customers have been yearning for: An e-bike that doesn’t look like an e-bike.

    Specialized: Finally building the Apple of e-bikes.

  13. vectorbug on

    This would be great for my wife who wants to avoid driving to work but not end up sweaty, or another friend who also wants to ride to work but had foot surgery.

  14. Androo on

    @Jeb eh, this is just like the BMC Stromer in the same way that the Specialized Tarmac is like a Trek 2-series.

    Same basic idea, same basic architecture, just costs more and weighs less.

    Every market fills itself out in the same way. You can’t expect them to be crazy novel just for the sake of it, if a proven design works well.

  15. Ed on

    I am fairly confident most of the people that have posted comments related to fat people probably drive a vehicle regularly that consumes copious amounts of of Fossil fuels. Unless you live within 5 to 10 miles of your work location and on some very level ground, very few of you would pedal to work everyday. In addition most would not want to sit near you if you did. I agree you don’t want to have people speeding at 50MPH down bike paths, but there should be some regulations and education to control this. There are always going to be rule breakers, just like the people that drive their car after drinking. This market has actually driven a lot of local innovation. There is a web forum called http://endless-sphere.com/forums/ that includes many of these people and has been dealing with battery management issues long before Boeing had their problem with the Dreamliner using the same type of cells. I am currently building my own e-bike here in Colorado and plan on using it to drive 20 miles one way to work everyday 40miles roundtrip. This is a lot of gas I will not be burning. The argument will be then you are getting your power from dirty coal plants but this can and will be offset by wind subsidies and/or solar power which is aplenty in Colorado. Lastly, relating to the weight, I have actually dropped 10 lbs in the last couple of months in preparation for riding everyday to work; one to make the overall load lighter to increase mileage and efficiency and two to make it easy on me so I can pedal and get some exercise while having a great time.
    You may all want to give it a try before shooting it down, and you might actually learn something along the way! I can think of many worst things than this that are legal and I am not going to start naming them.


  16. Biker on

    Was thinking about getting one for commuting (15 mile one way), but after reading this review I don’t know now.
    And, this reviewer could only reach 25 mph, not 28 mph.

    “On this ride my bike used 51% of its battery on the 10 mile circuit. Out of the 30 riders, three ran out of juice before reaching the end, and had to pedal the rest of the way. This is real world ebike range being shoved in your face. You will be lucky to get 20 miles out of a small battery pack like this, if you want to run in the “turbo” mode.
    If you really milk it, you could maybe get a 30-mile range using a very moderate electric assist and pedaling a lot.”



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