Tested: Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 E-bike

Well Designed, Practical, and Feature Packed Update to Specialized's Commuter E-bike Range

specialized turbo vado 4 tested
Trevor Raab

Takeaway: The Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 e-bike has beautiful design, useful integration, and features ideal for commuting and city riding. The Turbo Power 2.0 motor is tuned for everyday use, with a refined and natural ride feel. While the mid-drive motor only puts out 470 Watts of power, do not be mislead by that number alone as the Turbo Vado has plenty of pep and is fun to ride. The well thought out parts spec, simple interface, clutter free appearance, full fenders, rear rack, and lighting combine into a highly refined e-bike for commuting, city riding, or everyday transportation.

  • Natural and intuitive ride feel.
  • Turbo 2.0 motor provides ample power for commuting use.
  • Full fenders, rear rack, and lights come stock.
  • SRAM NX 11-speed drivetrain & Level hydraulic disc brakes.
  • SR Suntour Mobie 75mm travel suspension fork, with lockout.

    Price: $4,000
    Weight: 57.5lbs (Large)

    Turbo Vado 4.0
    Specialized specialized.com

    • Extremely functional and well thought-out e-bike.
    • Specialized Turbo 2.0 motor is powerful, smooth, and natural feeling.
    • Metal fenders, rack, and lights standard.

    • A pricey bike to ride in a busy city.

    Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 Build Details

    Style: Commuter e-bike
    Material: 6061-T6 Aluminium
    Wheel Size: 650b
    Fork: SR Suntour Mobie A32, 75mm travel, thru-axle, with lockout
    Turbo Full Power 2.0 motor, mid motor, 470W/70Nm, 28mph max speed
    Fully Integrated Removable and Lockable Downtube Battery, 710Wh
    Drivetrain: SRAM NX, 11-speed
    Crank: Forged Alloy, w/ Praxis 48T chainring
    Pedals: Specialized Commuter w/ grip tape & reflectors
    Rear Cassette: SRAM PG-1130, 11-speed, 11-42t
    Brakes: SRAM Level, 2-piston caliper, hydraulic disc, 180mm 6-bolt rotor (front & rear)
    Wheels: Double wall pinned aluminum rims, 32H (front & rear)
    Tires: Pathfinder Sport Reflect, 650Bx2.3
    Saddle: Rivo Sport, steel rails, 155mm
    Seatpost: Spring suspension, alloy, 40mm travel, 30.9mm, 2-bolt clamp
    Handlebar: Specialized, alloy, 15-degree backsweep, 46mm rise, 31.8mm
    Stem: Specialized Flowset, 3D-forged alloy, 20-degree rise, 31.8mm clamp
    Other: Specialized Drytech metal fenders (front & rear), rear rack, front & rear lights, bell, kickstand

    As a cyclist, there are few feelings better than a ride on a new bike where everything just feels 'right'. That, in a word, best describes almost everything about Specialized's new Turbo Vado; it just feels right. From the motor, to the interface, to the aesthetic design, to the parts spec, to the ride quality; the Turbo Vado 4.0 is a bike where the details have all been thoroughly thought through to perform as an almost seamless package. This is a rare quality which anyone—be they a lifelong cyclist or the person getting their first e-bike—can benefit from and enjoy.

    One of the most ubiquitous brands in cycling, Specialized makes a breadth and depth of bicycle products few other companies can match. Specialized sponsored teams are some of the best in the sport; winning stages of the Tour de France and mountain bike World Cups, and with athletes like Justin Williams bringing important change to American racing. The Morgan Hill, California headquartered brand puts a considerable amount of resources into developing some of the best performing bikes and cycling equipment on the market today.

    specialized turbo vado 40
    Trevor Raab

    Specialized's investment in continual development, design, and engineering extends far beyond only making bikes that carry professional athletes to the top step of podiums around the world. As shown with the 2022 Turbo Vado range, they utilized those product development and engineering skills to make bikes that carry you around town or to work with aplomb and with style.

    The newly launched 2022 Turbo Vado platform has three models (Vado 3.0, Vado 4.o, and Vado 5.0) ranging in price from $3,250 to $5,500. These three models are each available in standard or step-thru frame variants, come in four frame sizes (S, M, L, and XL), and three color choices (Cast Black, Red Tint, and White Mountains). The Turbo Vado 3.0 and Turbo Vado 5.0 are also available with enviolo step-less internal gear rear hubs with a Gates belt drive.

    specialized turbo vado
    Specialized Turbo Vado Lineup

    The Turbo Vado 4.0 model we tested comes in at $4,000. Our White Mountains color test bike weighed in at 57.5 lbs. for a size large, standard style frame.

    specialized turbo vado 40
    Trevor Raab

    A class-3 e-bike, the Turbo Vado 4.0 has a maximum pedal-assisted speed of 28 mph. Unlike some other popular commuter e-bikes currently on the market, the Vado does not have a throttle to get you up to speed. While this feature can come in handy at times on other e-bikes (and truthfully is needed in many situations on some designs), there were not many times while riding the Vado that I felt as if a throttle was urgently needed or would have significantly improved my riding experience. However, if you have long, steep climbs on your regular rides, are carrying heavier cargo, or are unable to continuously pedal even with assist, the Vado might not be your best option.

    The Turbo 2.o motor delivers power to the pedals in a quick and seamless fashion. The lag is barely noticeable, and you do not even think about it while riding. The best way to describe this feeling to someone who has not tried a Specialized Turbo e-bike before is "natural and intuitive". Riding the Turbo Vado often feels like riding a non-assist bike, just with the slightest sound of motor "whir" and with a whole lot of extra confidence that you'll make it to work without getting all sweaty or up that hill on the ride home .

    specialized turbo vado 40
    Specialized Turbo 2.0 motor
    Trevor Raab

    While the Turbo 2.0 motor on the Vado 4.0 only puts out a claimed 470 Watts power (250 Watts nominal) and 70Nm of torque, don't let these numbers confuse you when comparing it to other city or commuter e-bikes claiming 500 or 750 Watt power numbers. Some of this is due to the motor's mid-drive positioning (located at the center of the crank arms), but a lot of this also comes down to the tuning work done by the team at Specialized.

    A 710 Watt hour rechargeable battery powers the Vado's motor, housed very cleanly inside the Vado's downtube. The battery is removable for charging and locks to deter theft.

    specialized turbo vado 40
    The Vado’s oversize downtube hide a 710Wh battery
    Trevor Raab

    The Turbo Vado's head unit displays all of the vital bicycle metrics such as speed, power assist, and battery power level. It is simple, clean, and easy to see in both bright light and after dusk on dimly lit bike paths. The three power control settings (Eco, Sport, and Turbo) dictate the amount of power assist served up by the motor. You can fine tune the amount of power assist for each of the three settings in Specialized's Mission Control phone app.

    specialized turbo vado 40
    The Vado’s power assist settings are easy to change on the left hand controller.
    Trevor Raab

    Speaking of the Mission control app, I used the iPhone version of the app and found it to be straightforward to use, with a clean and simple layout. With the app you can update motor firmware, tune motor power assist levels, send diagnostic info on your bike to Specialized, and plan out your rides to ensure you will have enough charge left in the battery to get you home.

    specialized mission control app
    Use the Mission Control app to tune settings
    Tara Seplavy
    specialized mission control app
    Wirelessly update your bike’s firmware
    Tara Seplavy

    Like with any e-bike, the more power assist you use, the faster your battery will drain down, thus decreasing the bike's range. For most rides on the Vado, I found the Sport mode to provide a good balance of power assist and range. For a zippier ride, or for heading up hills, I could easily switch the power assist into Turbo mode.

    When you have such a good motor and interface on an e-bike, the other component parts that make up a bike can easily be overlooked. Luckily, the product developers at Specialized also did a great job on the Turbo Vado 4.0's component spec, building out an e-bike where the parts all blend together functionally and aesthetically.

    For the drivetrain, a SRAM NX 11-speed derailleur and trigger shifter are combined with a wide range 11-42 tooth SRAM cassette to give the Vado 4.0 a broad selection of gears. This wide gear range, paired with a 48-tooth front chainring, suits a variety of terrain. The 46T chainring keeps you from running out of gears when in Turbo mode and the low 42T rear cog helps you get up longer or unexpectedly steep hills.

    specialized turbo vado 40
    Trevor Raab

    Strong brakes are important on any e-bike and the Vado 4.0 does not disappoint here either. Stopping duties are managed by SRAM Level hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm diameter rotors. These SRAM brakes have plenty of power on hand and good modulation. An additional benefit of SRAM brakes are that small parts (such as replacement pads) are easy to track down and most good shops are capable of handling routine service (such as brake bleeds).

    specialized turbo vado 40
    Trevor Raab
    specialized turbo vado 40
    Trevor Raab

    Suspension forks on commuter bikes can be pretty hit or miss. They are often heavier than a rigid fork and underperform at soaking up bumps or potholes on the road or bike path. On e-bikes, many suspension forks come set-up too soft and will have excessive bob while riding and bottom-out under even the smallest hits. As a result, many riders just end up setting them to lock-out mode.

    The SR Suntour Mobie A32 model fork, however, performed much better than expected. The fork has a very smooth feel, and despite not having damping adjustments, remained well mannered over a variety of different sized bumps regularly encountered riding around town. It also feels laterally stiff under heavy braking; a reassuring quality on a 57 lb. e-bike with a 200 lb rider aboard.

    specialized turbo vado 40
    Quickly lockout the suspension with a turn of a knob
    Trevor Raab

    Important commuter friendly features are also well thought out on the Vado. The front and rear Specialized Drytech fenders are full metal, hug the tire closely, don't rattle around over rough pavement, and do a sufficient job of keeping road spray from damp roads off your body.

    The rear rack on the Vado isn't overly large, but it is built sturdy and is compatible with MIK accessories and with baby seats. Front and rear lights on the bike are powered off the main battery and were bright enough to illuminate the bike lane at night on the way home.

    specialized turbo vado 40
    MIK compatible rear rack
    Trevor Raab
    specialized turbo vado 40
    Front light on the Vado
    Trevor Raab

    The 650B tires on the Turbo Vado have a wide footprint that inspires confidence while riding. They have a surprising amount of grip for a commuter tire, with a smooth center for fast rolling and knurled texture to the side that provides extra grip on turns. On one ride I found a wet section of a smooth parking lot and spent time trying to find the point where the tires would break loose and send me drifting across the asphalt. Unless I was pushing the lean angle well beyond what one would ever encounter on a typical commute, the tires held traction.

    Even small features on the Vado 4.0 impressed me. An example of this are things like the cable routing and cable clips on the front of the bike that make the bike look classy and clean.

    specialized turbo vado 40
    Clean cable routing and front end on the Vado.
    Trevor Raab

    In my time on the Vado 4.0 the only two component specs with which I didn't get along were the seat and seatpost. For the seat, it just didn't fit my butt. It is wide but overly firm for me. For the seatpost, Specialized uses a suspension post on the Vado. I would have preferred to see a dropper post as standard equipment on this model. A dropper post makes getting on and off the bike easier, as well as making the bike easier to share with friends or partners.

    At 6-foot tall, I am probably at the tall end of the height spectrum for the size large frame size. If you are over 6', I would recommend checking out the XL size for a little longer seat tube and top tube lengths. I also recommend the Turbo Vado step-thru frame variants for riders who have trouble getting on or off a traditional frame bike. The top tube height of the double-diamond Vado frame is not overly tall, but step-thru frames are easier to manage on a bike of this weight, especially when you have the rear rack loaded up with a basket or groceries.

    The Turbo Vado 4.0 is an exceptionally well designed and executed bike for commuters and city riders. The only obstacle keeping many more riders from owning a Vado is the price. At $4,000, it is certainly a premium priced offering for a commuter e-bike—for this amount you could buy two Aventon Levels, and still have some money left over for accessories. However, with that higher price tag of the Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 comes a more refined and integrated riding experience, superior brakes and drivetrain, a usable suspension fork, and a global dealer network in the event your motor requires service.

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