Skip to main content

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH review

The Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH is a premium electric bike that’s comfortable going just about anywhere

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH in street
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Powerful and capable of multi-surface riding, the comfortable Turbo Vado feels like a premium do-it-all ebike…and you’ll pay a premium for it.

Pros

  • +

    Smooth, powerful motor

  • +

    Comfortable ride

  • +

    Bright, clear display

  • +

    Easy to use controls

Cons

  • -

    Wish there was a manual gear shifting option

  • -

    Very expensive

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH: Specs

Weight: Not advertised
Motor: Specialized 2.2, 90Nm torque, 250W nominal
Max assist speed: 28mph
Battery: Specialized U2-710, Li-Ion, alloy casing, 710Wh, removable
Max advertised range: N/A
Charge time: 4-5 hours
Drivetrain: Gates Carbon Drive CDX, Enviolo Automatiq Pro Shifting
Suspension: Rockshox Recon Silver RL fork, 80mm travel

It’s clear from first sight that the Specialized Turbo Vado aims to please an audience in search of top of the line performance. It’s a good-looking bike, but more importantly, it all but screams capability with its suspension fork and seatpost. Turn on the head unit and see the full-color display, and you’ll know you’re looking at a premium vehicle.

The price tag too will give it away. The Turbo Vado is an expensive bike with lots of bells and whistles, like a rear-facing radar that alerts the rider to approaching car traffic. The belt-drive system is super-quiet, and the Enviolo drivetrain does all the shifting for you. When it comes to the best electric bikes, this is the complete package.

But don’t let the bells and whistles distract you from the ride itself, which is comfortable, fun, and versatile. You’ll pay a lot for the privilege, but Specialized has created a worthwhile package for the price. 

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH review: Price and availability

The Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH costs $5,500 and is available in a step-over and step-through design, and comes with your choice of a black, red, or off-white frame.

If the Turbo Vado 5.0 is too rich for your blood, Specialized also sells the Turbo Vado 3.0 (starting at $3,250) and Turbo Vado 4.0 (starting at $4,000). We wouldn’t call them cheap, but they are somewhat more affordable.

All models are available for purchase directly through Specialized’s website. You can also purchase the bike through local dealers. Specialized has a dealer locator integrated into its website so you can find a bike in stock locally. 

You can also apply for financing through Klarna by clicking on the link on the product page.

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 review: Design

The Turbo Vado looks and feels like a super-commuter ready for all-conditions city riding and more. It comes stock with front and rear fenders, and a rear cargo rack. There are also integrated front and rear lights (the front light is made by Lezyne and offers 310 lumens). 

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH headlight

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The aluminum frame mates to a RockShox Recon Silver RL suspension fork with 80mm of travel. This pairs nicely with a spring suspension seatpost that offers 40mm of cushion. 

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH seat

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Stopping power — and lots of it — comes courtesy of the SRAM G2 RS 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes. The Turbo Vado rolls on 650b wheels, which are outfitted with wide, 2.3-inch tires. 

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH disc brakes

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

And the drivetrain features an ultra-quiet Gates Carbon Drive belt drive system. The belt drive connects to the Enviolo Automatiq internally geared hub that shifts gears automatically based on your pedaling pace. That means you don’t have to do any shifting manually; the bike will do the hard work for you. 

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH pedals

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Specialized mid-drive motor offers 90Nm of torque and offers assist up to 28mph. You can easily control the assist level using the handlebar-mounted buttons, which are positioned close to the left-side handlebar grip. 

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH throttle

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A Garmin rear-facing radar is an interesting addition to the commuter package. The radar sends signals to the cockpit display to inform the rider of approaching cars. The radar can sense cars up to 460 feet (140 meters) away, and using a combination of visual, audio, and haptic indicators, alerts the rider to the car’s distance and approaching speed. 

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH rear Garmin radar

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The cockpit display, dubbed MasterMind by Specialized, can pair with the Mission Control app, which gives you the option to customize your bike even further. Of course, without diving into the app, you will still get plenty of information on the Mastermind unit, including your speed, battery life, assist mode, and more. 

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH display

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you do choose to dive into the app features, be sure to check out the Turbo System Lock. You can disable the motor and set a motion sensor alarm if you’ll be leaving your bike in a public space. The motor can’t be re-enabled except by the owner.

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 review: Performance

The Turbo Vado feels like a high-end pickup truck. It’s the kind of bike that feels like it could haul a lot of cargo easily with the right accessories, but it’s also got some premium touches that make it a pleasure to pilot. 

For starters, the RockShox suspension fork and the suspension seatpost offer plenty of cushion to make the road all but disappear beneath you. Couple that with the wide tires and you won’t get any road vibration transferred to your body until the going gets really rough.

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH in street

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Turbo Vado doesn’t feel as lithe or as quick-handling as something more purpose-built for going fast — like Momentum’s Voya e+ 3, for example. But it does feel stable and planted. This again could be attributed to the wide tires, which offer lots of stability. They also add some versatility; you could easily take the Turbo Vado off-road onto dirt roads and very light singletrack with confidence that the tires and suspension will be up to the task. 

But the Turbo Vado probably isn’t the right choice if you’re looking to do a workout or go fast consistently on pavement. It feels a bit too upright and cushy for that. 

And while the Enviolo Automatiq shifting system works wonderfully for most users who want an automatic-everything experience, it’s not appropriate for tailoring your pedaling cadence whenever you want to. 

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH rear hub

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Enviolo system automatically adjusts the pedaling resistance levels as you pedal. You can adjust this to a certain extent using the control buttons mounted on the handlebar (after you navigate to the appropriate screen), but I found that the cadence was to my liking only about 80% of the time, regardless of what mode I adjusted to.

Still, if you just want to pedal and not think about much else, the Automatiq system works like a charm. And it’s paired with the Turbo Vado’s mid-drive motor that feels quite powerful, even on the lower assist modes. I was able to start easily from a dead stop, even on steep hills. 

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH hub motor

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The head unit’s control buttons are conveniently located and easy to operate. And navigating the various menus is easy. There are a lot of options here, so your best bet is to play with the head unit a bit before you ride and figure out what data and options you need, and which ones you don’t.

The Garmin radar system alerts you to car traffic approaching from behind. I’ve used this system before on other bikes (the $199 Garmin Varia system does the same thing, but as a non-integrated option) and largely I find it more anxiety-inducing than helpful. It’s nice to know when cars are behind you, but the constant alerts caused me to look down at my head unit more often than I otherwise would. It was a distraction I could have done without. 

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 review: Battery life and range

The Turbo Vado’s removable lithium-ion battery is integrated into the bike’s down tube. You can use the included keys to unlock the battery, and the battery release lever to pop the battery out. You can charge the battery without removing it from the bike.

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH battery lock

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Specialized does not advertise a maximum range for the Turbo Vado. Instead, there’s a nifty range calculator on the Specialized website. You input your height, weight, average speed, mode, frequency of stops, and terrain to get a sense of how long you can expect the battery to last in real-world conditions. 

I forgot to charge the Turbo Vado before my first ride, and the battery was already down to less than 25% charge, according to the display. By the time I had gone 5 miles using mostly the sport mode setting, the battery was down to 6% charge. 

That may not seem like a lot, but it actually seems in keeping with what you would expect from an e-bike in this price range. With a full charge, a 40-50 mile range in sport mode seems like a reasonable claim. And that’s right on par with other bikes with similar builds and designs. 

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 review: Accessories

There are about a dozen Turbo-specific accessories on the Specialized website. They are mostly replacement parts and cables. You can also buy replacement fenders or even a replacement head unit. 

There are also pages upon pages of accessories that aren’t specific to the Turbo lineup. Everything from tools, bags, helmets, clothing, and much more is available directly through the Specialized website or at a local Specialized dealer. 

You won’t need one of the best bike lights, but before you go riding, make sure you’re wearing one of the best bike helmets.

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 review: The competition

The Turbo Vado fits into the category of multi-surface, flat-bar bikes with suspension. A close competitor is the Trek Allant + 7s, which costs $4,050. Both bikes feature assist speeds up to 28mph, integrated lights, a suspension fork, and disc brakes.

But the Turbo Vado’s belt drive and Enviolo shifting system are drastic departures from the more traditional chain and derailleur system on the Trek. Giant offers the Explore E+ 2 GTS for $3,450. It features front suspension as well, but the parts package and overall look and feel are less premium than the Turbo Vado.

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 IGH in street

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

And Cannondale makes the Tesoro NEO X1 for $4,600. It also features a chain and derailleur drivetrain — this time a Shimano 12-speed Deore package, which is a nice inclusion — and a Bosch Performance Line CX motor. It is positioned as a touring bike, which means it’s built for both on- and off-road use. 

Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 review: Verdict

The Turbo Vado has lots of bells and whistles, which add to the overall premium feel of the bike. But beneath all that, the Turbo Vado is a stable, strong, and powerful e-bike. 

It’s made for a rider who wants to tackle multi-surface rides, not just pavement. And it’s designed to make riding as easy as possible. The Enviolo Automatiq system does the shifting for you, the motor adds plenty of assist — even on steep hills — and the suspension makes the ride super-smooth. 

The Turbo Vado is a deluxe package, so you’ll pay a premium. But you won’t be disappointed in the ride quality, convenience, and extras that come with it.

Dan Cavallari is the former technical editor for VeloNews Magazine. In addition to VeloNews, his work has appeared in Triathlete Magazine, Rouleur Magazine, CyclingTips.com, Road Bike Action, Mountain Bike Action, CycleVolta.com, Tomsguide.com, and much more. He lives outside of Denver, Colorado with his family.

  • Pieter-Jan
    Specialized’s bike weights are advertised on their website: https://www.specialized.com/us/en/electric-bikes
    Also: The Garmin Radar audio alert can be turned off to reduce the distraction and increase safety.
    Reply