Move Electric rating: four stars out of five
What does it cost?
What is it?
According to Specialized's marketing copy, The Turbo Vado 3.0 is 'an electric bike for life', and I'm inclined to agree. It's an urban electric bike but capable of so much more. Running to the shops, riding to work, hitting the towpath for a family bike ride, it can handle a lot and at a not particularly terrifying price, too.
I tested the Specialized Turbo Vado 3.0 2022 model which has seen some big improvements from the 2021 version. New 650b wheels rather than 700c, a completely redesigned frame, and more carrying capacity are just some of the new features for this year.
The Vado 3.0 is the entry-level bike of the Vado range, but to be honest, there's nothing entry-level about it. The frames remain the same throughout the range, with only the motor, battery and drivetrains changing. Unlike other 'bottom of the pile' models, I still felt like this was a premium option and didn't feel like there was anything I'd instantly want to upgrade.
What is it like?
The Specialized Turbo Vado 3.0 is one of the most adept electric bikes I've ridden. The ride is super smooth, with 80mm travel in the forks and the frame redesign. It's compliant, but it handles well. However, it is a big bike and you are reminded of that when you bring it to a stop. It weighs around 24.9kg but you don't feel the weight at all once you're moving.
The motor is a proprietary system from Specialized called the Specialized 2.0E. It's mid-drive and provides up to 50Nm of torque which is impressive for an urban bike. The more expensive models have more torque, but I never felt like it was lacking any, particularly for its designed purpose. While I was riding against the various storms we've seen lately, the bike held its own and the only time I heard the motor under any kind of strain was up a steep incline. Otherwise, most of the noise you hear is from the rather wide tyres – although great for bridleway and towpath confidence, I'm not entirely convinced it needed them.
The assist levels can all be controlled through the MasterMind Turbo Connect Display, via a small handlebar attached remote (see images) which I thought was brilliant. It's intuitive, shows you all the data you need including battery life, ride length, and even tells you what cadence you should be doing to get the most out of the battery range. It also has Bluetooth compatibility so you can connect the bike to Specialized's Mission Control app. This has plenty of features that helps you to feel like you can customise your bike to your riding, and some impressive safety characteristics, too.
For example, the Turbo System Lock allows you to disable your bike's motor and implement a motion detection alarm. It doesn't stop the bike from being able to be ridden, however, so it's not a replacement for a physical lock, but the alarm might be enough to deter would-be thieves.
From the Connect Display, you can also control the integrated lights, which along with the rear MIK rack, mudguards, chain cover and kickstand are the main included accessories that really help make this bike worth the money. Additionally, Specialized has pledged to keep parts available for this bike and others in the Turbo range for 10 years, which is great to see in an industry where model after model is often churned out year on year without much thought to maintenance or repair.
The Vado 3.0 has a mid-range Shimano Alivio 9-speed drivetrain which is reliable and robust enough for a heavy use bike. The hydraulic disc brakes come with 180mm rotors which help to provide excellent stopping power – even in the wet.
This bike didn't skip a beat, even with loaded pannier bags. The battery range was great too, even with the incessant wind. I managed to get just under 55 miles out of one charge on the Sport and Turbo settings (second-highest and highest) on rolling terrain.
Of course, I can understand some trepidation about the cost – and this is the cheaper model in the range – but you do get a lot of value for your money. If you spend a bit more you can get a higher spec groupset and motor on the 4.0 and 5.0 models, but I think the components on the 3.0 are well suited to its designed purpose.
Where can I buy it?
You can buy the Turbo Vado 3.0 from Specialized Concept Stores online and across the country and in other bike shops.
How does it arrive?
Mostly built, simply adjust the saddle height and handlebars and fit the pedals to get riding.
Comfortable, versatile and with everything you want from an electric bike. Using it purely as a short trip vehicle almost seems like it’s a waste on such an enjoyable bike, but whatever you use it for, you’ll have fun.
Specialized Turbo Vado 3.0 2022
Frame size tested
Shimano Alivio 9-speed mix
Shimano BR-MT200, hydraulic disc, 180mm
Pathfinder Sport Reflect, 650Bx2.3 tyres
Specialized 2.0E, 50Nm torque, custom-tuned motor, 250W nominal
Specialized U2-530, 530Wh
Up to 144km (89 miles)
Three: Eco, Sport and Turbo
Rear rack (MIK)