2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

The all-new 2017 Specialized Turbo Vado is their next generation of pedal assist e-bike. The original Turbo S started development in 2010. It was introduced in 2012 and changed the perception of what e-bikes could (should) look like. It did this by integrating the battery and motor, and that racing red paint scheme didn’t hurt either. Then it came to the U.S., and then it got upgraded. Most recently, in 2015, they introduced the Turbo Levo e-mountain bike, which we had way more fun on than expected.

Now, they’ve built off everything they’ve learned from those two bikes to create the Turbo Vado line…

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

The idea is that it’s a bike first, it just happens to have a motor to help you cover more ground and maybe do that a little faster and a little easier. They wanted something that handled and rode well, where the assistance, motor and battery disappeared underneath you, and you just have fun riding a bike.

It’s designed around urban riding, commuting and fitness. Geometry is based on their Body Geometry fit data accumulated over more than a decade of research. The numbers lay out to make it very stable and comfortable, aided by a full suite of Body Geometry touchpoints spec. The motor and battery are kept as low as possible to further improve stability and optimize the weight balance and center of gravity.

What’s New

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado womens step-thru commuter e-bike

For the first time, they’re offering a step-thru frame for women. It gets female-specific Body Geometry saddle, grips and other parts. They wanted to maintain the ability to remove the battery so you could keep it safe or just lighten it up for carrying up stairs. This required a new battery-to-frame interface that lets the battery pull out at a 45º angle. It comes with an Abus-designed lock-and-key to secure the battery into the frame.

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

The biggest structural difference is the switch to a “mid engine” design. The motor moves from the rear hub to the bottom bracket, which lets them use a standard rear wheel and cleans up the appearance quite a bit.

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

Because it’s fully integrated, they designed air ducts into the shell, which channels air over the motor to cool it, then vents it out the back.

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

You have control over the system via their BLOKS cycling computer. Two versions will be offered, a standard LCD and a higher end TFT touch screen version. It slots into a wired connection to link it into the bike’s electronics, but uses Bluetooth to connect with the Turbo Vado Mission Control App on your phone.

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

It also connects to a smaller handlebar remote for quick changes in the assist level. The top models replace the bell with a hidden electric horn, which is awesome.

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

A new headlight uses an aspherical lens to cast a broad, even beam pattern. Designed in conjunction with a motorcycle headlight manufacturer, it comes in 300 and 600 lumen options depending on which model Vado you buy.

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

Out back, the tail light is integrated into the rear rack and is ultra sleek. On the top two models, it’s tied into the brake levers, too, acting as a brake light when you’re slowing or stopping. The base level Vado 2.0 will have a light built into the saddle since it doesn’t get the rack.

Overall, the Vado is lighter by about 1.5kg (3.3lb). They actually saved more than that by switching to larger battery cells, which meant they could use fewer total cells, and optimizing the frame design to pull out weight. But, the tires are wider and meatier, which adds a little weight back. A fully equipped top of the line Vado 6.0 comes in around 51.8lb (23.5kg).

What’s Standard

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

Full coverage fenders front and rear with integrated rear rack, integrated head and tail lights, and full custom electronics, battery and motor system. The fenders are shaped not just for maximum water protection, they’re also shaped to optimize aerodynamics. Yes, they took them (and some water) into the Win Tunnel to see how they would block water at speed:

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

The lower section of the front fender is flexible (called a Flextender) so it can bend if you drop off a curb and hit it, but not so floppy that it moves when you’re riding fast. Even better? They added a rubberized “dam” to the underside of front fender’s nose. Why? Because the wheel’s rotational direction tends to want to shoot water off the front, which then sprays up into your face. With the dam, as water runs up the inside of the fender, it hits the dam and is pushed out to the sides. Simple, brilliant.

The rear fender and rack were created together, and the fender is a structural element that gives the rack a 20kg (44lb).

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

The frame is made of their E5 alloy custom shaped to integrate all of the electronics. It incorporates additional mounts on the rear triangle and the fork to accommodate most any type of bag or rack system you want to add. There’s also water bottle cage mounts on the top of the battery case, plus an additional set of cage mounts under the top tube on the standard frame…which, technically, are there to mount a lock to. The battery is not a structural element, but the motor case is…which is a little different than what you find on frames using 3rd party bolt-on motor systems. So, they don’t need to over build the frame then add a motor’s weight, it can all be created together to save weight and make it look better.

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

Like the original Turbo, they developed the entire power system in house because they wanted complete control over the design. This not only let them fully integrate it into the bike’s sleek design, it also let them customize the function. It’s quiet, very smooth, and it decouples when you’re pedaling faster than it’s helping. This last part is important because it means if you’re not using the assist (or you run the battery dry), you’re not pushing against any resistance from the motor. So, it’ll feel like you’re pedaling a regular bike if you want…or if you’re pedaling it faster than the system’s top speed.

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

It comes in four versions, two each with the two different motor-and-battery combos, offering up to 320% support with up to 90Nm torque. The motor itself is the same as what’s in the Levo, but the software is retuned for street riding. The 250 watt Turbo 1.2 Motor goes in bikes that top out at 20mph, and the 350 watt Turbo 1.2 S gets to a 28mph top speed. The level of assist for each setting (Eco, Sport, Turbo) can be customized via their Mission Control mobile app. The App also ives you motor and battery diagnostics, lets you update the firmware, and more. Smart Control, which came out with the Levo, will be coming soon and let you set your ride time or distance and let the bike figure out how much assist to provide such that the battery lasts for the duration of your ride. Range anxiety? Gone. Mission Control is available for iOS and Android and should hit both app stores just before the bike starts shipping on June 1.

They considered using the app to add theft deterrence, but decided against letting the app lock the motor and shut the bike down. Why? Because your phone battery could die, servers can crash, or other bugs can prevent it from working correctly, which would leave you stranded. However, you can let the app know if the bike has been stolen and it will help you locate it. The app will also be adding navigation soon, letting you type in the destination, and then the TFT BLOKS cycling computer will offer turn-by-turn directions.

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

The battery has a custom power management software system to maximize its performance and lifespan. The coding for this was done by some of the same minds behind Apple computer power management. It uses 40 custom Li-Ion cells that provide up to 41 miles of range in Sport mode (28 miles on the 28mph Class 3 Vado 3.0/5.0/6.0 models, and 41 miles for the 20mph Class 1 Vado 2.0). Use a lower assistance level and you can more than double that range. Or get the higher end bikes with the 604Wh battery and you’ll get even more. Start out with the base model’s 460Wh battery and you can upgrade later, too. Charge times are about 4-6 hours, depending on battery model.

2017 Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike for urban city bicycle commuters

The bikes will get Specialized Electrak tires with Gripton rubber and Armadillo casings for both puncture protection and support to handle the extra weight. The bike can fit up to a 52mm wide tire with the fenders attached. Or remove the fenders and go a little bigger or add some knobbies to take it off the pavement. Brakes are TRP; cassette, rear derailleur and shifters are Shimano. Look for a later post with full spec lists and model details.

Market & Legality

From a federal standpoint, both the Class 1 E-Bike (20mph max assist) and Class 3 E-Bike (28mph max assist) are legal and considered a bicycle, so long as you have to pedal for the motor to kick in. AKA, “pedal assist”. But then you’ve got state and city laws that might vary. Some places restrict the top assist speed, and some restrict where you can ride it. Specialized is working with the industry to more clearly define what types of e-bikes there are (a Class 2 E-Bike has a 20mph max assist, but has a throttle and doesn’t require any pedaling). For now, local laws are going to vary, but rest easy knowing that the industry is working hard to provide standardized guidelines. You can keep up with the latest legislation and see charts showing the wheres, whats and hows at PeopleForBikes.org. As far as Specialized’s opinion goes, they’re bicycles, and they say there seeing a lot of very positive momentum in most every state…and even in New York City, which currently bans any sort of e-bike.

Stay tuned for video coverage of the bike and a complete spec/model list.



  1. Tyler,
    No matter how much you are getting paid to advertise these motorcycles on this “bike” website, we are not interested and do not appreciate this being here.

    Just have them buy an ad and stick it on the side like the rest.

      • Me too.

        Regarding fenders, I’ve seen images in which Brits suspend a nylon bristled brush on the back side of the tire to “peel” the water off the tire before it gets carried & flung upwards.

    • Then take one of these to a motorcycle rally and see how hardcore all the bikers think you are. Some of us actually care about upcoming bicycle news and models, including e-bikes. You don’t? Don’t read it.

        • 1. Don’t read them. It’s fairly easy.
          2. Create competing product (website) to one’s liking and aligned with one’s ideals.

        • it’s cool to hate e-bikes because you want people to think e-bikes are a threat to your precious, perfect, unalterable traditional bicycle, when in fact you just come off as a petty and pedantic nerd

        • Does your mouse have a scroll wheel? If so, scroll past articles that upset you. If your mouse doesn’t have a scroll wheel, don’t click the left button on your mouse when you’re cursor is hovering over the title of an article that upsets you. Those steps are guaranteed to work every time.

    • Why the hate? Bikes are about more than just Strava. Bikes, including e-bikes, are also a means of transportation, utility and just plain fun, and should be accessible to all, not just the typical cyclist. I don’t own an e-bike, but I’d love to ditch the car and commute by e-bike.

    • Speak for yourself. Even though I can ride faster on my teammachine I’d never take it to run errands in town. I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.

    • Hehe, as-car, came here looking for support, left realizing how the internet works.

      Careful with “we’s” and “us’s” brosky, might not grow your team as fast as expected. Plus, wow, bikes are fun; and stuff that plugs in is near-o.

    • speak for yourself dude, i dig all kinds of bikes, well maybe except unicycles because i know for a fact i couldn’t ride one

    • These stories will never go away. It’s the only articles that get comments (clicks), besides Disc Brake Wars, and Stupid Kickstarter Ideas.

      • ^Flux gets it. They will always run e-bike stories. Most clicks hands down.

        FWIW, e-bikes in the commuter spectrum make a ton of sense, and will be interesting to a wider audience. No issue at all with this sort of coverage.

    • No matter how much you feel like expressing your personal opinion on this website, we are not interested, but are quite happy to read about the fastest growing category in the bike industry. But hey, thanks for your troll-like input.

    • E-bikes are great. The more of them we get on the road, the more authorities have to start creating infrastructure to support them, and standard cyclists as well. If E-bikes get the not quite fit out onto bike paths that will increase the number of riders, and commuters.
      And there is an added training bonus of being able to draft behind an e-bike at 40kph on the way to work; or an ego bonus in being able to pass an e-bike and leave them behind.

    • Completely disagree. Pedal assist bikes like the specialized are really great advancement in “Bicycle” technology. Unless you have ridden one of these you have no idea! I have a 2015 Specialized Turbo X with near 5k miles on it. As a daily commuter I think you should open your mind. Also remember, you don’t have to buy it, but no one likes a hater.


    • I have a bunch of motorcycles, and trust me, an eBike is nothing like a motorcycle. I think these bikes have a place in the garage, whether for commuting, running errands when you don’t want to go anaerobic or riding with a spouse that does not like to suffer as much as you do. They will never replace traditional bikes.

  2. Please don’t presume to speak on behalf of all the site’s reader, ascarlarkinyar. I prefer to pedal myself, and probably won’t buy one, but I enjoy reading about them and I think e-bikes are great.

    If it gets more people riding and exercising, then it’s fantastic in my book.

  3. Love it and ordering one for my commute, thanks for the update. Having ridden the old turbo, it is still a bicycle, the levo tops out at 20, I can ride my road bike faster then that, but the 28mph Vado will make my commute a breeze

  4. I know they will make tons of cash for bike companies but it makes common sense to just treat them like other motor vehicles. Keep electric mopeds and motorcycles off of bike lanes and bike paths. I don’t want to get killed by one of these things.

  5. In 1967, a humble stripe was painted down a street in Davis, California. That bike lane was America’s first bicycle infrastructure. It goes without saying that more was to come.

    A half-century later, the bike industry wants to fill that infrastructure with unregulated mopeds capable of 45 km/h. I don’t think that was the plan 50 years ago, but given a growth category with high ASPs, you’ve got to “buy in,” as they say in the industry Newspeak.

    • e-bikes get people in cars off the road who wouldn’t otherwise ride traditional bicycles, they save resources, and cause less pollution. but you’re right, we should reject them because we’re currently unable to categorize them. and they’re “unregulated”, i guess that’s bad somehow?

      • They put mopeds and motorbikes onto bike paths; not safe. Because they are E and not G powered, somehow they are different and should not be regulated?

        • They’re not somehow different, they’re completely different. An e-bike weighs 50lbs, not 250lbs. A pedal assist e-bike doesn’t go if you don’t pedal and even then, it goes no faster than a fast guy on a road bike. An accident is less likely and no more dangerous than any other bicyclist, and far less dangerous than a true motor vehicle.

          If e-bikes wind up causing problems on bike paths, it will get the attention of the authorities who can then regulate rider’s *behavior*, just like they do with reckless group riders on trails and cars on roads (that can exceed all speed limits). My guess is that’ll never happen because so far, the kind of person who would ride recklessly is completely uninterested in e-bikes.

        • How are mopeds and motorbikes going to be on bike paths because of ebikes? How are you making this assumption?

      • another note: they are regulated. EG: in cali, you can’t take the 28mph “class 3” Turbo Vado on a recreational bike only path or a class 4 protected bike lane (or ride it if you’re not 16); but you can take the “class 1” version on them.

        The class 1/2/3 definitions are federal.

        Yes, the regulations are embryonic, but well on their way.

        A great short article for reader’s edification on e-bike regulations:

    • 45+ kph requires well over 350-400 W on flat level ground on a very aero road set-up. These e-bikes will not allow the majority of commuters to steadily push 45 kph+. The point is to allow most people commute in comfort at 15-20 mph and save them from being a sweaty mess due to small hills and headwinds.

      Most commuters will not be able to sustain more than 150 W over any length of time, so this really just puts average road biker speeds at the hands of commuters.

      I routinely pass e-bikers on my commute when on my road bike. The difference is I will take a shower before work, they are enjoying a nice commute without arriving sweaty. I am often going faster than them and am technically a higher safety risk to the public, and yet e-bikers get all the flack. Ridiculous.

      • Kudos. Excellent reply JBikes!

        The upright position (and likely non-form fitting clothing choice) would require a chunk of power to be holding 20+mph on flat ground. I think they are going to make biking (as both a form of transportation and leisure) more accessible to the general public. Every trip on an e-bike instead of a vehicle is a victory.

      • While I agree with a lot of this, I wouldn’t say you’re​ necessarily a higher safety risk as 1. You’re likely a more seasoned rider at speed and 2. Your propulsion system is likely less massive.

      • I agree. I commute via e-bike a few days a week when I’d otherwise drive and not pedal in on my normal bike. I shoot for not sweating/sweating as little as possible on the way to work, which averages about 17mph. Sure, I could make it in going 17 on my road bike, but I’m going to be sweaty, especially in TX summers. On the way home, I turn the power down and get a workout in.

    • You know, you sound like the kind of guy (gal?) that would prefer there to be one little bike lane so you can feel “special” while everyone else drives.

      I won’t be needing an ebike anytime soon,, knock on wood, but if this kind of bike means fewer people driving, I’m all for it.

      Who knows, maybe if there is broad enough adoption, in a few years we’ll be talking big bike boulevards instead of dinky little “lanes” in major metropolitan areas. This could change the transportation infrastructure game completely given a few years and pro-active lobbying.

      e-mtb’s are another can of worms, for land managers to use.

      I welcome commuter e-bikes in my bike lane. America needs to stop driving so much, whatever it takes, and this is part of the solution.

  6. This and the Trek are good news for what the E-bike market in the US needs. Quality commuters from reputable companies with really nice build outs. Now if they would have focused on bikes like this first rather than eMTBs, perhaps peoples myopics views (cough, first post, cough) would be different.

    • I actually agree with this. E-commuters is where the technology should go. I’m completely opposed to e-MTB’s, but using e-bike tech on commuter bikes is exactly where it should be. We need more people out of their cages on the road, but not more on backcountry trails (with motors).

  7. You bloody yanks need to get out and see the world. Europe has embraced e-bikes by the squillions.. Theyre not being ridden by hoons on footpaths at 28mph, they’re being ridden by people who want some assistance to ride their bike, do their shopping, get fit, reduce congestion and get outdoors.

    More bums on bikes is always a good thing. Bike snobbery, particularly to generally “non cyclists’ that e-bikes are being aimed at will get all of us absolutely nowhere.

    • Exactly. Some should also visit Tokyo too. Lots of moms carrying their kids to school or daycare on e-bikes (awesome Bridgestone/yamahas). They are riding slowly and often on the sidewalks. Allows them to commute on bike with some of the steeper hills in the area.

  8. The shops and employess that are against e-bikes are leading to the demise of the bike industry. They try to act like the sport is an exclusive club and you need to fit a certain mold or you are completely wrong. Instead, they turn a customer off to cycling, and the customers’ money and time go elsewhere. Trust me there are infinite number other activities for people to spend their money on.

    These shops are slowly bleeding money every year as they head for eventual closure. If only that would happen faster…

    • Shops that can’t evolve will get left behind. My shop has embraced ebikes and we are reaching a much broader cross section of people. It’s been refreshing to be honest.

      There are so many situations where ebikes can be applied and create new cycling opportunities for people who otherwise would never consider a bicycle an option for recreation/ fitness.

      I’m getting a Trek Super Commuter as soon as it’s available and saving my SUV for weekend Mtb road trips!!! Less gas, less traffic , more $, more fun!

    • At my shop a couple came in last week. husband was fit road biker, wife had never ridden seriously before. He wanted her to get into riding so he got her an eBike. Took her on a 50 mile road ride with his group of friends. Next week she was asking when they could go riding again. Loved it and its allowed her to socialize with her hubby and his crew of riders. They both came in stoked yesterday talking about how much fun it was to be able to share the experience even though they were at vastly different levels of fitness.

      • I’ve been a cyclist for 30+ years and work in the industry. My wife is physically unable to constantly pedal a bike due to childhood injuries and other muscular and skeletal diseases. She recently test rode a Class 2 eBike and it was a game changer for her. Once we purchase a Class 2, she & I will be able to ride together for the first time…ever. eBikes are here to stay and help put more people on bicycles. Resistance is futile.
        BTW, the 3 Class system is not Federal, it is at a state level. Thanks to PeopleForBikes and the NBDA for helping promote consistent eBike legislation.

  9. Been trying to find current info on Vado. Article mentions June 1 ship date… can’t wait! Am currently on 2016 Turbo X which has been a great ride but will trade up to Vado 5.0 SAP! Thanks for being the first to publish ship date.

  10. nice bike !
    sounds like the low power motor combined with the larger battery would yield the most range if i read that correctly

  11. I’ve been a cyclist all my life (primarily MTBing) but now my body has been going downhill from battling cancer the last 7 years.
    The thought of getting a bit of help from an ebike is very intriguing to me. I hope nobody yells at me when I’m out there

  12. Please keep bringing in these articles. 90% of us readers here enjoy hearing and reading about the latest e-bikes and technology. Great Stuff!

  13. One thing I think is that E-bikes are not so good thing for public health when compared to normal bicycles. I regularly see young men riding e-mtb’s on the streets in my local area!

      • Same here, lost LBS, lowered blood pressure, healthier because I ride every day on an e-bike. Getting people on bikes are more important. Lots of hate, not enough education. e-bikes are here to stay, so we should get use to it. In the meantime, I’ll continue to be a little smug passing all the haters on regular bikes.

  14. 62 yr old just had hip replacement yesterday, can’t wait to ride this Vado! Evens play field for us “old” farts!

  15. My parents used to ride their hybrids a lot, but they are in their 70’s now, and don’t have the same fitness as 10 years ago. These e commuters would be great for them to get back out and do some pedalling. This could also be the only way I’ll get my wife on a bike to come riding with me and my sons. More people on bikes some times means more people driving their cars with some sympathy for cyclists and infrastructure.

  16. Just over a year ago, I decided to ride again, but my fitness was not where I wanted it to be. So I decided to go and get an e-bike. Now, a year later, I am riding a traditional road bike climbing mountains with an average of 9% – 15% inclines. Thanks to my e-bike, my ftp went from 2.0w/kg to 3.2w/kg. in a year. If i needed a workout, I turn off the power and push the 50 pound e-bike on a 5% incline. On Weekends, I ride my traditional road bike pushing up bigger and longer climbs. E-bikes, at least for me, is a great workout/training tool and great way to get to work without breaking a sweat.

  17. Disregard the bike nerds…Keep the E Bike coverage coming. Been riding for 19 years. I tried one of these out last week and am totally hooked on them and just ordered one.

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