Specialized have unveiled their new performance road e-bike, and it's a very interesting proposition. Here Dave Arthur takes a look at the range, and the rationale behind it. We've also had a chance to experience the new bike first hand - don't miss our First Look blog here.
This is the future of performance road
That's the bold statement by Specialized for its brand new Turbo Creo SL, the US company's very first e-road bike. A full carbon frame with wide tyre clearance and Future Shock 2.0 disguises a brand new battery and motor providing three levels of assistance and a range of up to 195km, using the optional 65km Range Extender to increase the range of the 130km internal battery.
Specialized developed its first e-bike seven years ago and in recent years its e-mtbs have been really well received in the mountain bike community. It is now bringing this expertise to the road bike market, and the result of three years development is a brand new motor and battery designed to meet the specific goals of road cyclists and so seamlessly integrated into the carbon frame that I walked straight past it in the showroom when when I visited Specialized UK to see and ride the new bike!
There's lots to get through, let's start with the motor and battery. The Specialized SL 1.1 motor is brand new and hidden down at the bottom bracket for a low centre of gravity. The 240 watt motor is brushless, has sealed bottom bracket bearings and is connected to a 320Wh battery concealed inside the down tube. It's charged via a port near the bottom bracket and as it's integrated into the frame you'll need to keep it close to a power source for charging, which takes 2hr 35min.
Specialized says the goal with the new motor and battery was not about providing the most possible power, but providing the right amount of power to match the riding in every situation. The motor has been tuned to provide smooth and seamless power delivery, to give a constant and strong support across a wide range of cadences. It's about providing a riding experience that is natural and similar to a regular road bike. Enhancing rather than compromising your enjoyment of cycling.
For epic distance rides you can add a Range Extender. This 160Wh battery is half the size of the main internal battery and provides another 65km of range. It's carried inside the seat tube bottle cage and connects to the recharge port. It's sold with the S-Works model or an optional extra on all other models.
The Turbo Creo SL dispenses its assistance via three modes: eco, sport and turbo. Eco matches your power up to 30% of the motor's power, sport raises that to 60% and Turbo goes all the way to 100%.
A small LED control panel located on the top tube provides easy access to these modes as well as the remaining battery life. An optional computer can be used or you can pair the Creo SL to a smartphone and use the Mission Control app to dive deeper into the details of the motor and battery where you can personalise the power levels and do much more.
The most exciting feature is probably Smart Control. It lets you input the distance of your planned ride and the bike will work out how much power you need in order to finish the ride before you exhaust the battery. We can see this being a very popular mode as it takes the guesswork out of juggling the different assistance modes during the course of a ride to prevent running out of juice before the finish.
You can also ride the Turbo Creo SL with the motor turned off. Specialized has worked hard to ensure there's no resistance in the cranks when it's switched off, and that along with the low weight means you can ride the Creo SL unassisted. That'll be useful for saving battery on flatter sections of a route, and also ensuring if you run the battery flat before the finish you'll still be able to pedal the bike home.
above: A lot of tech packed into a very small area, the frame is remarkably 'normal' looking, and light
The SL in the name obviously stands for super light. And weighing 12.2kg, this range-topping S-Works model with Dura-Ace and XTR Di2 certainly is one of the lightest e-road bikes you can currently buy. The low weight is helped by the FACT 11r carbon fibre frame, but so too the motor which weighs 1.95kg thanks to its diminutive size and magnesium casing. The battery also keeps the weight down at 1.8kg.
More on the Turbo Creo SL:
Specialized has taken a few lessons from bikes elsewhere in its range. The geometry is largely modelled on the Diverge adventure bike, albeit it with longer chainstays, due to the motor, and a more relaxed head angle intended to improve the stability. There will be six sizes to choose from.
A familiar feature is the new Future Shock 2.0 from the Roubaix, an internal spring providing 20mm of bump-taming suspension with a lockout dial. Dropped seatstays echo the Roubaix and Tarmac, providing increased comfort at the saddle. There's a simple external seat clamp and mudguards, racks and lights can be fitted for year-round versatility.
above: The SL Expert EVO comes complete with 38mm tyres and dropper post
Tyre clearance is generous, space for up to a 42mm tyre on a 700c wheel, or 47mm on a 650b wheel. That provides lots of options to build the bike to suit a wide range of riding duties, from long distance road rides to off-road gravel adventures. With two sets of wheels you could do very long commutes during the week, then go gravel adventuring at the weekend. I can personally see the gravel flavoured Expert Evo being highly suited to my very hilly and extremely tough Cotswolds off-road adventures.
One intriguing detail is the adoption of wider Boost axles. Largely commonplace in the mountain bike world, the increased axle spacing improves stiffness for better handling. That means a 110mm front axle and 148mm rear axle spacing, compared to 100 and 142mm of regular disc-equipped road bikes. The 12mm thru-axle diameter is the same.
above: The flagship S-Works model
The range of bikes is spearheaded by the S-Works Turbo Creo SL costing £10,999. It's specced with a Shimano Dura-Ace and XTR Di2 groupset, Roval CLX50 carbon wheels with 28mm wide S-Works Turbo tyres, a Power saddle and carbon Hover handlebar. The asking price includes the Range Extender battery.
Below that are two bikes each costing £7,499, the Expert and EVO. They are essentially the same bikes in frameset and gruppo level, but the road-focused Expert has slick 28mm tyres with a mixture of Shimano Ultegra and XT Di2, whilst the more 'adventurous' EVO gets chunkier 38mm Pathfinder Pro gravel tyres, a dropper post and flared handlebars.
There will also be a Founder's Edition costing £13,499 limited to just 250 bikes worldwide. It's the same frame and motor but with some custom components to make it a bit more special.
The first Turbo Creo bikes will be hitting the stores soon. We'll be taking a closer look at these intriguingly different e-bikes over the coming months.
As always, when you order from Bespoke you can be sure of the perfect fit. Meanwhile if you have any questions about the new models, just get in touch.
We take the Specialized Turbo Creo SL for a spin up Box Hill, to see how this intriguing new e-bike works for a serious road cyclist.Read more