Specialized market the Turbo Vado 5 as a bike for all occasions, which is underpinned by the powerful motor and extensive list of accessories. Among other things, you even get a radar that observes the traffic approaching from behind. Have Specialized succeeded in creating a bike that leaves nothing to be desired?
Let’s be honest, we want to have it all, and all at once. In the case of ebikes, this can be summarised as follows: a super powerful motor that’s still sensitive, combined with a battery that never runs out. You also want all the practical accessories, though without ruining the bike’s cool and sporty look. Of course, the bike should weigh virtually nothing to keep the handling agile and fast! However, unless you’ve lost touch with reality, you’ll know all too well that this is nothing more than a fantasy, a bike that you’ll only find in your dreams. So, let’s get back to reality!
The 2022 Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 at a glance
In this guise, the Vado looks rather big and bulky in contrast to the slender and elegant frame of the Vado SL, especially the massive down tube, which is due to the 710 Wh capacity battery housed inside it. However, the integration is neat and the battery is removable. The Specialized 2.2 motor is based on a Brose model and provides a maximum torque output of 90 Nm. It isn’t the slenderest with its large, black plastic cover, but thanks to the test bike’s black finish, it doesn’t stick out too much.
The rest of the components are just as conspicuously inconspicuous: the suspension fork on the front of the Vado and all other components are kept black, including the mudguards. Speaking of which, these aren’t just noteworthy for their width, but above all for their length, reaching far down to keep your shoes as clean as possible in wet weather – whether it’s your casual sneakers or patent leather loafers! The display on the cockpit is centrally positioned, providing all the necessary information in a pleasantly large colour format. It also offers a convenient USB charging socket for your smartphone. On the other hand, the externally routed cables leave a somewhat chaotic impression. A modern, internally routed solution via the stem would certainly have been more elegant. At least the frame itself features internal cable routing.
At first glance, the luggage rack doesn’t look to be anything out of the ordinary, but closer inspection reveals a seamlessly integrated taillight, which gets illuminated via a band of red LEDs. Style? Check! With a maximum payload of 27 kg, the luggage rack is compatible with a child seat too! The factory fitted stand keeps the bike stable when loading and offloading your child or goods. Although you can’t adjust its length, it features a one-piece construction, making it nice and sturdy.
Everything in and on it – the components of the Specialized Vado 5.0
This brings us to the components, the heart of which must be the motor. With a torque output of 90 Nm, it’s one of the most powerful models currently available in the ebike segment. Powering it is a battery with a capacity of 710 Wh. This, too, is an impressively big number, which should give you enough range for long tours. Note: for all those who suffer from range anxiety, even the largest battery can be drained very quickly if you use the wrong gear, have the wrong tire pressure, only ride in turbo mode or do a lot of climbing! In short, your riding style and the complete system weight, including the rider and all the gear, have an enormous influence on the range. With an energy-saving riding style at the optimal pedalling cadence, on the other hand, you can extend the range significantly. So, don’t be fooled into buying yourselves the biggest battery just because you’ve heard that more is always better! If you’re interested in the complexities of range, we recommend reading “The truth about lab tests” in our sister magazine E-MOUNTAINBIKE.
The battery is removable, making it easy to charge even if you don’t have a power outlet within reach of your bike parking spot. The motor is operated via a thumb remote on the handlebar, which can be used to set the various support modes. You can also adjust the support in 10% increments to suit your personal preference, which is a great option to have. Thanks to the noticeable vibration when using the remote, the haptic feedback is good too.
The central display is easy to read even in direct sunlight thanks to its brightness and contrast, providing all the data you need. In addition to the speed, battery status and support level, it displays the information supplied by the radar. Radar? That’s correct. The Vado 5.0 comes with a Garmin radar, which scans for traffic approaching from the rear. As a vehicle approaches, it gets displayed as a small dot, indicating its distance to the Vado in real-time. However, we still recommend glancing over your shoulder before turning – even if the radar correctly displayed an approaching vehicle 9 out of 10 times during our tests.
The lights can also be controlled via the thumb remote and perform well: the Lezyne headlight has an output of 310 lumens, which is pleasantly bright, as is the neatly integrated taillight. However, we would have expected a high beam function considering the otherwise high-end spec. On the other hand, the Specialized Mission Control app delivers in terms of features. It doesn’t just allow you to customise the support settings of the motor, plan and record routes, and update the system firmware, but also to deactivate the motor, offering a kind of digital theft protection. The motor only comes back to life once you’ve entered your personal pin code. Of course, we still recommend using a bike lock – for which the frame has a mounting point, along with bosses for an additional water bottle.
The drivetrain of the Vado 5.0 comes from SRAM’s GX range, which is from their mountain bike line-up and provides eleven gears. It’s a robust groupset that performs well on the Vado. The fact that you can only shift one gear at a time makes sense: the motor is so powerful that the chain wouldn’t last long if you could shift several gears at a time. The chain guard also deserves to be mentioned, as it works great while dispensing with the conservative look of conventional models.
Specialized also offer the Vado with hub gears (the continuously variable Enviolo drivetrain), which is a great option for a commuter bike since it’s fully sealed and thus well protected from the elements. After all, a bike like this is meant to be ridden year-round! However, the Enviolo hub also has a few disadvantages compared to the derailleur option: on the one hand, it’s heavier, and, on the other, it has a smaller gear range, which is the more relevant concern for a bike like this. A modern derailleur reveals its strengths most clearly on the climbs, as its smallest gear is better able to ease the workload. It’s not just you that will feel it, but also the motor, allowing it to consume less battery power. Incidentally, the same also applies on flat terrain where the derailleur will let you ride faster at a slower cadence.
The 2022 Specialized Vado 5.0 in review – how the bike rides
The RockShox Recon Silver RL suspension fork provides 80 mm travel at the front of the Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0, which is paired with a 40 mm travel suspension seat post to ensure the most comfortable ride possible. However, since the seat post uses a telescoping mechanism for its suspension, the distance to the bottom bracket and thus the saddle height and effective seat tube angle change as it compresses. This takes some getting used to, though it’s an acceptable compromise for everyday use. On the upside, adjusting the seat post to suit the rider’s weight is easy. The fat 650B Specialized Pathfinder Sport Reflect tires add another level of compliance. At 2.3″ wide, they can be ridden at lower pressures, which allows them to dampen small bumps with great efficiency. Thanks to the raised and rearward bent handlebar and a rather upright posture, the riding position also contributes to the bike’s comfortable quality. However, the Vado is by no means a Dutch-style bike, striking a good compromise between comfort and sportiness. It performs equally well on short, leisurely rides to the bakery as it does on fast commutes to work.
The Specialized 2.2 motor unleashes its power in a controlled and pleasant manner. Instead of kicking in bluntly and delivering full power, it sets in very gently. The same applies to the 25 km/h limit, at which point the motor fades out almost imperceptibly. If you’re in a hurry, you can put the Vado in Turbo mode, get on the pedals and feel yourself catapulted forward with maximum power. With a large 48 t chainring up front, you can keep pedalling at high speeds, which is great on flat terrain and descents. However, you can still master the climbs without any issues thanks to the wide gear range and powerful motor.
You will learn to appreciate the powerful SRAM G2 RS brakes, which are reliable and easy to modulate thanks to the 180 mm rotors. The high-quality and appropriately selected components are sure to instil you with confidence as you ride the bike. This is underlined by the bike’s stable handling, which isn’t just due to the suspension, but also the long wheelbase. Conversely, this means that the Vado isn’t the most agile bike. It’s simply too bulky and heavy, weighing in at over 25 kg.
Our conclusion on the Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0
If you’re looking for a bike to drop your kid off at the nursery on the way to work and quickly run some errands on your way home, the Specialized Vado 5.0 is a great choice, even allowing you to take the more scenic route through the woods thanks to its comfortable ride quality. Everyday practicality? We couldn’t have done it better ourselves and award 100 points here. Regarding style and street credibility? Let’s just say it’s in the eye of the beholder. 😉
- powerful motor and large battery capacity
- very comfortable
- cable routing/integration in the front
- heavy and cumbersome
Tuning tip: high beam function for the headlight
For more information about the Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0, specialized.com
Words: Oliver Gibler Photos: Benjamin Topf