Specialized officially entered the e-road and e-gravel segments today – with a single new bike offering. Called the Turbo Creo SL, the new bike has wide tire clearance to tackle a variety of terrain, along with the Future Shock 2.0 suspension system. The motor and battery system have been designed from the ground up for an ultra compact design and light weight – and surprisingly long range. The new frame also uses Boost spacing for road, a new standard that might take hold for future e-road and e-gravel bikes.

Specialized Turbo Creo SL road and gravel e-bike

Specialized is no stranger to e-bikes, and teased us just a few days ago about a potential new e-road offering. Today it became official, with the announcement of the all-new Turbo Creo SL. The new bike is made for both road and gravel riding, using a motor and battery system that was completely developed in-house at the Specialized e-bike facility in Switzerland. We attended the official launch in Santa Cruz, CA, where we got the full download and two days of intense riding on and off-road.

At first glance, it’s hard to tell that you’re even looking at an e-bike. The downtube is about the same diameter as an old fat-tubed aluminum Cannondale, which houses the 320Wh internal battery pack.

The internal battery is shown above (right), along with a great new option that Specialzed just introduced – a 160Wh Range Extender battery that mounts into any standard bottle cage and weighs 1kg. The obvious benefit is that this increases battery life by 50%, and allows you to swap out Range Extenders for effectively unlimited ride distance. The Mission Control App allows you to control multiple battery modes, so you can pull from both batteries simultaneously, or one at a time.

The range extender plugs in to a port in the seat tube, allowing for battery swapping in less than 30 seconds. The added bonus is that the Range Extender battery solves a huge issue for e-bikes – the fact that you can’t fly with them due to battery size limitations. The Range Extender is small enough to comply with the flight regulations, so all you need to do is remove the downtube battery (at a Specialized dealer) and pack a couple Extenders for your trip.

Note: You can carry two extenders on the bike at one time, but only one may be plugged in at a time. Also – the new motor system is 48 volt vs 36 volt for previous Specialized e-bikes, meaning that the Range Extender is not backwards-compatible.

The motor is an all-new unit developed by Specialized in their Swiss e-bike facility. Called the SL 1.1 motor, it features a magnesium housing and weighs 1.95 kilos (4.3 pounds), placing it at the top of the heap for e-bike motor weight. It provides up to 240 watts of assist and 35NM of torque. The Creo is classified in the US as a Class-3 pedal-assist bike, providing motor power up to 28mph.

The motor has four modes: Off, Eco, Sport, and Turbo. Eco matches your effort at up to 30% of the motor’s power, Sport matches up to 60%, and Turbo matches up to 100% (240w). It’s worth noting that this tuning choice and the motor’s torque output are quite a bit different than some of the competition. For example, the Turbo mode from Specialized feels roughly equivalent to the Eco mode used in the Shimano STEPS E8000 system aboard the BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road (which gives a 300% assist in Boost mode). We’ll get into more detail in our forthcoming ride review, but the short version is that the two systems feel very different.

With the motor turned off, the internal drive system is completely decoupled, resulting in a claim of zero motor drag.

The graph above shows the motor tuning of the new SL 1.1 system. This requires some technical explanation, and is a key part of the Specialized philosophy on e-bikes.

According to Specialized, while you can do some tuning of the motor’s behavior via software in the Mission Control app, the motor design itself is the primary driver for how it behaves. In short, the manufacturer has to decide what cadences they want to optimize for – and they can’t optimize for everything. Specialized made the decision to tune the power curve for maximum efficiency of the motor and to be “in tune with a natural cadence”… meaning that the full power doesn’t come on until you reach higher RPMs. In contrast, the Shimano STEPS system targets a lower RPM range for max output, resulting in a noticeably different feel.

Using the latest Mission Control 2.0 App, you can fine tune the power feel, diagnose problems, and even get real-time power output from the rider (i.e. the motor has a power meter integrated into it).

There is also a feature called Smart Control for the battery system, eliminating the dreaded Battery Anxiety Syndrome that affects e-bike riders worldwide. Will my battery last the whole ride? How do I know if I’ll make it home in time for reruns of Cheers? All you do is type in your ride distance before you start, and it recalculates every 10 seconds during your ride to ensure that you have enough juice to get home. Specialized says you can expect up to 130k (80 miles) of range in ECO mode, and a Range Extender battery adds another 65k (40 miles).

Your information can be displayed in several ways – through the Mission Control App, your Garmin, or the Specialized Turbo Connect display unit, which was released about six months ago. The top tube control unit also displays battery life via small LED lights, in case you want to ride without any head unit or cell phone (but you lose features like Smart Control).

Frame Construction, Standards & Geometry

The frame of the Turbo Creo SL is made of Fact 11R carbon, with all models using an identical layup. The front end uses the Future Shock 2.0 suspension system, providing 20mm of travel to take the edge off of rough roads and trails.

The frame uses flat mount disc brakes with 160mm stock rotors, along with what might be the next change in axle standards – Road Boost. The system uses 12x110mm front and 12x148mm rear axles, along with new Roval hubs made specifically for the task. Specialized representatives told us that the bump in rear end width was necessary due to the motor width and chainline, and front hub width was modified to stay consistent with Boost.

Focus is also in the Road Boost game, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see this spread in the next 12 months.

Tire clearance is a whopping 700 x 42mm (38mm with fenders) or 650b x 47mm. Road builds come stock with 28mm tires, while the gravel-focused EVO build has the 38mm Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss Ready (shown above). Note that Specialized doesn’t have any road-boost-compatible 650b wheels yet, so you’d need to run something sold for mountain bikes.

All models of the Turbo Creo SL come with a mixed Shimano drivetrain using road shifters and a mountain bike rear derailleur for extended 1x gear range. Cranks are from Praxis using a 46t ring (carbon or alloy arms depending on the spec level), with an 11-42 cassette.

The frame uses a 27.2mm diameter seat post, with an X-Fusion Manic dropper post spec’ced on the EVO gravel model. It has 50mm of travel and features a thumb toggle near the left brake lever (shown above).

The frame comes in six sizes, all using 700c wheels (XS geometry information is not yet available). In a new development, the sizing system is called “Beyond Gender”, which eliminates men’s and women’s-specific geometry in favor of one that caters to everyone.

The overall Turbo Creo SL geometry is similar to the Diverge, with the Large size featuring the same stack and reach as a 56cm Diverge. The bottom bracket is higher than the Diverge, with overall BB height being affected by tire size (i.e. gravel tires will raise the BB relative to the ground). Also note that the new frame does not adhere to UCI regulations, with larger sizes using a longer wheelbase for improved handling.

Build Specs, Pricing, and Availability

Four levels of the Turbo Creo SL will be available, all with the same frame, fork, motor, internal battery, and geometry. It will not be released as a frameset at this time.

The Turbo Creo SL Expert ($9,000) has a mix of Shimano Ultegra and XT, Praxis alloy crank arms, and Roval C 38 Disc carbon wheels. Complete weight is 12.8 kg (28.2 lbs).

The Turbo Creo SL Expert EVO ($9,000) is the gravel build, using 38mm Pathfinder Pro tires. It has an Ultegra/XT mix, along with alloy Praxis cranks and Roval C 38 Disc wheels. Gravel-specific upgrades include the X-Fusion dropper post and wider flared Adventure Gear Hover bars. Complete weight is 13.5 kg (29.7 lbs).

The S-Works Turbo Creo SL ($14,000) upgrades to a Dura Ace / XTR build (with an XT cassette), carbon Praxis cranks, and Roval CLX 50 Disc carbon wheels. It also includes one Range Extender battery. Complete weight (sans Extender) is 12.2 kg (26.8 lbs).

Finally, there is a limited run of 250 S-Works Turbo Creo SL Founder’s Edition bikes being made, at the special request of Mike Sinyard. They cost a whopping $17,000, and shave every last gram, bringing the total build weight to 11.9 kg (26.2 lbs).

Key upgrades on the Founder’s Edition include a full XTR cassette, Turbo Cotton 28mm tires, and custom gold-anodized lightweight derailleur pulleys, bolt-on thru axles, and even gold wheel decals. The Founder’s Edition also includes two Range Extender batteries, so you can ride with boost for a long, long time. You even get a Custom SL Kit in the size of your choosing, along with no-charge changes to the touch points to ensure a perfect fit.

The Specialized Turbo Creo SL will be available in bike shops starting late August 2019. The Founder’s Edition can be pre-ordered beginning July 16th, with a 10% deposit due up-front to your Specialized dealer (and product delivery in late 2019).

Stay tuned for our initial ride report after two days of tearing up the roads and trails near Specialized HQ in California.

Specialized.com

40 COMMENTS

  1. Marketing: Hey we need a name, do you have an idea that sounds tech-y and cool?
    Engineering: (Can design a beautiful bike but has no name ideas) Why don’t you just name it for the CREO CAD software we designed on?

  2. Wondering what the reception will be for the first person to show up on the weekend ride or grand fondo with one of these?

    • We’ve got a couple guys on our group ride on eBikes. We’re happy they’re out riding with us, because due to health issues, they couldn’t keep up a couple years ago. They’d get blown out the back, or worse, try to hang on for too long and start to get sketchy because they were riding at 10/10 all the time and getting tunnel vision. High-end eBikes like these are helping stop people from aging out of group road rides. They’re getting an extra decade on the group ride thanks to their eBikes, and now we’ve got another couple riders who can take their pulls all the way back to the coffee shop without having to worry about a visit to the cardiologist afterwards. Nobody’s negatively impacted by the presence of the bikes or their owners.

      Now, if you wanted to be a dingus and show up with one of these, drive the pace straight up to 28mph, gutter everyone, and hold it there trying to shell as many people as possible, that’s a different story, but I don’t imagine that’s what most people will use them for and it’s not what I’m currently seeing happen out on the road.

      • Very well said. This is the exact reason my Dad recently bought an e-bike and our rides together have never been more fun.

      • @Andrew I agree, very well said. e-bikes are going to keep ppl on bikes that wouldn’t otherwise be able to ride and that’s good for EVERYONE. It will also bring in ppl that wouldn’t ride a bike at all and some of those ppl will become life-long cyclists.

      • oh i’m fine with E-bikes, i’m just wondering what the point of having e-bikerumor.com is? This is clearly an E-bikerumor.com article. They haven’t updated the site since May. Its not because of content to share.

    • Seems like every day there is a new e-bike article on bikerumor, despite their clam to keep them on e-bike rumor. Probably paid advertising.

      • @greg We do continue to write about the most important, innovative & influential e-bikes here, because they continue to grow as a major element of the current cycling industry. Generally, we go into more depth over at e-BR, and cover a broader range of e-bikes there. Our mission has always been to keep our readers informed here so e-coverage will continue.

        With that said, NO paid advertising on Bikerumor influences our editorial content in ANY way! Yes, our salaries come from ad revenue. But what we write & what we write about is editorially independent.

        Your continued readership & engagement is what influences companies to advertise with us. And anytime we do accept payment in connection with a story, we are completely open & transparent with it – like with our recent series breaking down saddles, which although not brand specific, was supported by a saddle maker.

      • @Greg, we must have missed that check in the mail… or maybe the mailman stole a box of $100 bills from Specialized HQ! If this article looks like a paid ad, I don’t know what to tell you. We’re reporting on the facts and giving our input where necessary (i.e. the range extender battery IS a wonderful idea, though I’ll never own one of these bikes because I can’t afford it… time to go look through the mail again for that missing check). Go read my ride review of this bike and you’ll see that I’m way more critical of many aspects compared to reviews from other publications. You can sleep well knowing that being a cycling editor is not a high paying gig.

  3. is anyone floored at the base cost of these things? I know there is a bunch of tech there, but people spending this kind of money on bikes are usu under their own power. Still not on board with these things. I definitely see the benefit for commuting and recreational riding. And if it gets people riding that wouldn’t normally then great.

    • I agree the focus should be on getting new people riding. I can get on board with that too. Unfortunately, models like this on clearly aimed at an aging demographic that has been riding for some time. Just another toy to keep the baby boomer generation entertained. I can’t see any new rider interested in cycling paying 9k for a performance racing e-bike with “blinding speed” Its sad that an industry giant like Specialized is taking this approach. There is actual opportunity to draw new riders, change the commuting habits in our country and open new recreational doors for thousands of people with e-bikes. However Specialized continues to take the “I’m getting old but still want to ride like a twenty year old” approach. Case in point, Founders Edition for Sinyard

  4. I am all for e-bikes. When I am an old man and can’t put out the watts anymore, I WILL own one of these things. But I gotta say, I don’t understand why you would pair the motor with the highest end carbon everything, and drive the price that high. Perhaps they’ll later cater to the market with a modestly priced yet capable bike. After all, when you have a 200+ watt motor, light weight and aero doesn’t seem quite so important.

  5. “10 seconds during your ride to ensure that you have enough juice to get home”, love how a bicycle can give someone range anxiety. It’s a bike! If the battery goes dead, assuming you can decouple the motor still, you still have what I believe is the original motor… you.

  6. Que the eBike comments!! I read bikerumor everyday and especially enjoy reading the comments…so here I go now. First off, this bike absolutely belongs on bikerumor and NOT E-Bikerumor. This is a bicycle first and foremost…with a motor, yes but…there are eBikes that are made to be electric bikes primarily and belong on E-Bikerumor and then there are eBikes that are made to be bicycles that happen to have a motor in them and belong here on regular bikerumor, like the Creo. True, there is a lot of grey area in-between these two sides of the spectrum but this bike is made to be ridden like a normal bike…yet, with a motor and a battery, it enabels the rider to go faster, further, get up steeper hills or longer climbs, or just simply enables a rider to ride at all.

    I typically ride between 5000 and 6000 miles per year. By myself, I usually can average 21-22mph on my road bike and 18-19mph on my gravel bike (oh good for me). This spring I had a major mountain biking injury and subsequent surgery that prevented me from riding a bike at all for two months. The first bike I rode outside was an eBike. For months, I dreamed of being able to ride again and at the same speed, distance and routes that I was used to riding…an eBike like the Creo enables a rider to do just that!

    Everyday I hear that eBikes are “cheating!” NO THEY AREN’T! You still have to pedal. The bike industry and Specialized don’t want to put a throttle on bikes, they are pedal assist only. So…if you are going to pedal an eBike for an hour or pedal a regular bike for an hour…you’re still pedaling a bike for a hour…you just get to potentially go twice as far, twice as fast and have twice as much fun on an eBike! eBikes are enablers. For whatever a rider’s limitations are, an eBike potentially enables a rider to overcome those limitations and obstacles. If you’re going to discourage someone from riding an eBike, you mine as well go to an airport and tell the hundreds of people in wheelchairs to just walk to their gates instead of being pushed there.

    Yes these bikes are expensive and yes you could buy a scooter or car even at these prices….BUT that is not the point! I’ve been in the industry for 19 years now and know that when big bike companies like Specialized release hot new products they do it in one of two ways…a top down approach or a bottom up approach. These S-Works Creos exemplify the top down approach aimed and marketed towards serious cyclists…which is why they had the Quick-Step team riding them yesterday. At $17K and only 250 made, they’ll be sold out by the end of the week…just like last year and their $15k limited edition Shiv TT bike. These Creos truly show how awesome, light and performance orientated an eBike can be. Yes, they will soon have less expensive versions with lower-grade carbon, alloy wheels and/or alloy frames…so hold tight.

    Personally, I work a full-time job and am a full-time husband and father (just like a lot of us here). When I get an hour to myself to ride, I ride as far and as fast as I can. I definitely take full advantage of that time, after my injury, I don’t take anything for granted! If I could now average 26-27mph on a Creo, imagine how much more ground I could cover and how much more fun I could have in that hour of riding by myself…oh, and I guarantee, I would get the same amount of a workout in too!

  7. If I have a bit of time for a workout and want to get out of the house while making riding easier, I’ll get out and do some pruning, clearing and raking of my local trails.

  8. Whats the point of getting.people who ‘normally’ wouldnt ride a bike on a bike with a motor. Theyre not going to switch to an unmotorized bicycle after they try out an ebike.
    Just not a valid point if you ask me. Ebikes can bug off until I cant pedal for myself!

  9. eRoadBikes need their own race, or maybe their own category in the RAAM. Was watching the flight of the Solar Impulse PV powered airplane the other night and wondered why eBikes don’t have their own challenge – like a RAAM, cross-country race. They’d need to bump the top speed up to 35, which may require a change in the legal environment, but coast-to-coast in 100hrs would CRUSH all existing bike records, and make the contrast in applications and technologies clear. Basically, this is the Clipper Ship vs Steam Ship debate all over again.

  10. Has anyone used the Specialized Turbo Range Calculator? I’m considering the Creo Expert for my wife. I ran the numbers and came up with a range of 35 miles. That’s using hills, and a blistering 17 mph average speed in eco mode. Last thing I would want to do is use the external battery for a few more miles. The bike looks great but I think the range will be an issue for more serious riders.

  11. As an avid lifelong cyclist and a tech hobbyist who has modified and built ebikes since 2006, I found this article to be one of the best I have ever encountered. Intelligent text addressing the important questions and illuminating photos. Thank you very much for the time and skill dedicated to creating this piece.

  12. Like Scott Adams, I found this to be one of the best e-bike articles I have ever read. I’m not in the market (yet) for an e-bike, but am nevertheless very interested in all aspects of bicycle development and it’s articles like this that keep me interested. Thank you, Greg Kopecky, for this wonderful piece of work.

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