Want to play? The new Como SL invites you for a ride. You’ll notice the colour first: sun yellow. Then its looks: a clean and cool design. Thoughts of convertibles, summer breeze and balmy summer nights come to mind. Is the Como the play bike of tomorrow? We found out what it’s suited for. Put your earplugs in and start your summer playlist!
The brand new Specialized Turbo Como SL 5.0, freshly unpacked and ready to ride puts a smile on your face immediately. Inspired by the colour and look, we had the idea to celebrate this urban bike’s test accompanied by a playlist. With these songs playing in our ears, we cruised around the city and tested this next generation flower power bike extensively. Let’s play!
Song #1 California Dreamin’ – The concept of the Turbo Como SL
With the new Specialized Turbo Como SL 5.0, the Californian brand fits its performance drive used in its latest eMTB and E-road bikes in an urban ebike. Specialized want to elevate riding in the city to a new level and bring together mobility, transport and leisure into one concept. The goal was to release a new city bike that delivers plenty of fun, that can be ridden comfortably to work in the morning and that will let you relax on the way to your date after work. The fact that you can also pack everything you need for a picnic in the park, rounds things out nicely. Can the Como SL do justice to all the expectations placed on it or does it remain a pipedream of the premium Californian brand?
Song #2 Good Vibrations – The technical features of the Como SL
With just a look at the Specialized Turbo Como SL 5.0, even the Beach Boys would likely swap their surfboards for a spin on the smart-looking ebike. The cables run slickly through the frame resulting in a tidy look despite the comprehensive and practical everyday spec. The top tube is slung low, providing a comfortable step-through section. The resulting sweeping lines of the frame also result in a relaxed feel. Unfortunately, the fat welds on the down tube and around the seat tube don’t match the otherwise sleek design. Up front, the rigid aluminium fork delights with its seamless transition into the head tube, to which a front rack, which also mounts a Supernova front light, is attached.
The small and lightweight Specialized SL 1.1 motor with its magnesium housing snugs up against the bottom of the frame neatly. With maximum support of 240 Watt and 35 Nm torque in the highest of three assistance modes, it is more commonly seen fitted to Light eMTBs. Due to the reduced motor power, the ebike is particularly efficient and can eke out impressive range from the 320 Wh battery integrated into the down tube. The battery is fixed in the frame and can only be charged on the ebike. The charging port is well protected underneath a plastic cover above the motor housing. The motor can also be powered with an optional range extender via the same charging port while riding. The Range Extender has a 160 Wh capacity, costs € 379 and is held in the bottle cage on the down tube. The battery charge and currently chosen assistance mode are indicated on the minimal TCU unit on the top tube. Pressing the button on the TCU’s control panel cycles through the assistance modes and turns the ebike on and off. The Como SL doesn’t come with a bar-mounted remote, meaning there are no cables to disturb the rider’s view. Just as clever, the brake hoses have been routed through the bars where they are invisible and don’t get in the way of the basket on the front rack when steering.
The ebike rolls on voluminous 27.5 x 2.3″ Nimbus 2 Sport Reflect tires with a low-profile tread that stand out with their low rolling-resistance on asphalt. A low-maintenance GATES belt drive transmits power to the rear wheel. The rear wheel is built up around an 8-speed Shimano ALFINE hub gear which offers a gear range of 307%, making it suited for relaxed rides on flat and slightly hilly terrain. However, if you try to shift gears under load on steep hills the hub gear often ends up overwhelmed and gives up completely. Our size L test bike comes ready to ride with pedals and a basket and weighs 21.40 kg. It’s not the lightest ebike in its class but shouldn’t pose a significant challenge for most ebikers to put in their cellar or take onto the train. Overall, it’s a bike with lots of quality details and a well-considered spec that provides little room for complaint. So, motor on and enjoy the good vibrations
Specialized Turbo Como SL 5.0
Motor Specialized SL1.1 35 Nm
Battery Specialized SL1 320 Wh
Display Specialized Turbo Connect
Brakes TEKTRO TKD123 160/160 mm
Drivetrain Shimano ALFINE with GATES-Belt 1x8
Tires Specialized Nimbus 2 Sport Reflect 27.5 x 2.3”
Size S M L
Weight 21,40 kg
Perm. total weight 136 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 114,6 kg
Kickstand mount yes
optional Range Extender battery with 160 Wh
Song #3 Get the Party Started – Ride and handling of the Como SL
Even as you climb aboard you’ll be surprised. The Como SL isn’t a step-through bike, but the top tube has been slung low, making things easier when getting on, off or stopping at traffic lights. The upright and relaxed riding position, helped by the drawn-back bars creates a sofa-like feeling, leaving you not wanting to get off. Together with the high front end, it’s hard not to think of an American chopper.
After the first few kilometres on the new Como SL, you’ll quickly find out what it isn’t. It’s not a trekking bike that will accompany you on adventurous journeys, not being comfortable enough on potholes and uneven surfaces for that. You’ll also prefer to ride around larger kerbs to avoid the indelicate jolting around you’ll get otherwise. The Como SL isn’t a workhorse that swallows up every bump and on steep terrain, the fun quickly ends. On the other hand, it manages moderate inclines surprisingly well, especially if you switch into Turbo mode to make it easy. Overall, the Como SL is a focussed urban bike with predictable and good-natured handling. One issue is that the hub gear doesn’t like shifting under load, where it protests and often stays stuck in the gear you’re in. So, choose your gear, shift and keep on cruising. Where’s the closest party?
Song #4 Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – comfort and components of the Como SL
Even a play bike has to deliver so that you can continue to enjoy your whole ride. That’s why we wanted to find out everything the Como SL is capable of. Head to work in the morning and your clothes stay clean thanks to the gear hub and full-coverage mudguards. On the way home in the afternoon make a quick stop at the bakery and greengrocers to load up the integrated front basket, which stays fixed in position as your steer, with up to 15 kg. If you’ve shopped for even more, you can fit bags to the rear rack and load the bike up with an additional 20 kg. Head out on your date or to meet friends in the evening. No problem, the fitted Supernova lights are reliably powered by the integrated battery and will safely illuminate your way home.
Thanks to the comprehensive spec with full-coverage DRY-TECH mudguards, the lights and luggage rack, the Como SL is also ideal for shorter commutes to work. However, it has to be noted that it isn’t built for extremes. Over long distances with lots of climbs there are better options like, for example, the Turbo Como with the powerful Specialized 1.3 motor with 90 Nm of torque and a 600 Wh battery. Overall, the Como SL is perfectly suited to everyday use, remaining good-natured and uncomplicated. On top of that, it also looks damn good. Sorry boys, but the girls will want to have fun with it due to the cool design alone.
Song #5 Summer in the City – Safety and reliability of the Como SL
Fun and easy living? Of course! But only with a bike that takes care of any and all annoyances and does its work reliably in the background. Lights, reflecting elements, easy to modulate brakes, enough grip from the tires and stable handling even at high speeds – the Como SL leaves nothing to be desired in terms of safety and reliability.
If you want to fully savour the summer-in-the-city feeling, you don’t want to constantly have to spend time in the workshop and tinker. The Como SL is built to ensure that you don’t have to do much to look after it. The belt drive doesn’t require constant lubrication and the hub gears ensure that the transmission remains free of dirt – all that makes the Como SL extremely low maintenance and easy to ride. An all-around carefree package that leaves you free to dive into the city and summer.
Song #6 The Power of Love – Motor and range of the Como SL
For the motor, Specialized use their own SL1.1 model. The smaller motor was a conscious decision, only doubling the rider’s input. The result is an ebike with a very natural response and a ride that feels similar to that of a non-motorised bike. You won’t get a boot up your backside like you do with a Bosch Motor in Turbo mode and it fades away almost imperceptibly above the 25 km/h assistance limit. It’s an intuitive bike that is easy to master for anyone right off the bat. If you want chilled out flower power rather than raw motor power, you’ll be able to cruise around your neighbourhood in complete relaxation.
The integrated 320 Wh battery of the Como SL delivers a claimed range of up to 100 km in Eco mode. In all honesty, as soon as things get steeper you need more power. In the hilly terrain around Stuttgart, we spent a lot of time in Turbo mode and that inevitably eats into battery life. If you’re planning longer rides, you should make sure to get the optional Range Extender. This spare battery sits in your bottle cage on the down tube and can be easily charged and carried with you. That is claimed to extend your enjoyment a further 55 km in the lowest support mode.
Song #7 It’s So Easy To Fall In Love – Mission Control on the Como SL 5.0
If you want to concentrate completely on living your lifestyle and want to worry about as little as possible, you can configure the motor’s assistance up to the 25 km/h threshold on the Specialized Mission Control app to suit your needs. The Smart Control function lets you specify how far and how long you want to ride – the app adjusts the motor’s assistance automatically to ensure that the battery will last all the way to your destination. If you’re a technophile, you can also record rides and track your performance. Or, if you want, the Specialized Turbo Connect display on the stem can be removed completely. It’s only there to display data with the bike’s drive system controlled not through the display, but the TCU unit in the top tube. Easy, no?
Specialized Turbo Como SL 5.0 conclusion
Ready to start into the summer? The Specialized Como SL 5.0 is the ultimate fun bike for all those who are out and about in the city with only gentle inclines. Want to head off-road and cover large distances? Then keep your hands away! The Como SL isn’t made for work but pleasure, and there, it does its job extremely well. It takes as much off your hands as possible in terms of safety and comfort and looks incredibly good doing so. With the Como SL, Specialized package the lightness of being into a stylish bike, perfect for turning the city into your very own playground.
- high level of integration
- relaxed riding position
- fully-equipped, loads of up to 35 kg can be carried
- low maintenance
- shifting under load not recommended
- limited range in hilly terrain
- transmits big bumps without cushioning
For more information head to specialized.com
Words: Susanne Feddersen, Rudolf Fischer Photos: Philipp Schwab