The Specialized Como SL is part of Specialized's family of Super Light eBikes, which were created to dispel the notion that if you want an ebike, you have to accept that you're going to have to deal with a heavy bike. They've released many sport oriented SL models in the past couple years but this, alongside the Vado SL were their first step into the realm of lightweight commuter bikes. But how does this model compare to the Vado SL and is it powerful enough to get you up the hills? Find out in the full review below.
WHAT'S IT MADE FOR?
The Como SL was made first and foremost for urban transport, and many details across it's design reflect this. It's the perfect bike for running errands or commuting into work and will especially appeal to riders who appreciate a lightweight, responsive ride experience.
The selection of components mean it's ready to go straight out of the box, and is packed with features that make it extremely practical for daily use. It comes with all the usual ebike features that we like to see: lights, pannier rack and fenders and also some other unique features which we'll cover a bit later.
On top of this, the SL Motor provides assistance up to 45km/h to make every ride fast and fun. It's also made with portability in mind, as its light weight and smart design make it one of the easiest ebikes that we've carried. This is especially helpful if you have a set of tricky stairs at home, as many Wellington homes do.
HOW DOES IT RIDE?
The defining characteristic of Specialized's SL line of bikes is the ride quality, and the Como SL is no exception to this rule. If you're familiar with the old Como you may have assumed that this bike would offer a similar experience, but this isn't the case. This bike, as well as the recently released full-powered Como, have been completely redesigned from their older sibling. You get the same relaxed, upright riding position and a similar low-step entry point. However, due to the integration of the SL motor system, you get a much more engaged, active ride quality than you would find on either of the regular Como's. Despite not being as powerful, this model still offers smooth assistance up to 45km/h and is noticeably easier to ride than a regular push bike, especially when having a crack at a hill or headwind at the higher assistance levels, so still greatly benefits from it's electrical system. I also really enjoyed the tyres and saddle fitted on this bike, as I found they both really helped to create a nice, supple ride for a bike that otherwise has no suspension.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
There are lots of bikes designed for the same reasons as this one, however there are also lots of things that make this bike unique.
Let's start with the obvious - a few companies have tried their hands at creating a lightweight yet practical ebike, but Specialized's implementation of their SL Motor system here is the best we've ever ridden. It's a great balance between power and weight, and it's power delivery is one of the most seamless we've witnessed as well.
If you've read other reviews on our blog then you'll notice that there is one feature that we're always happy to find on our bikes, and that's a frame mounted front rack. This is the first bike by Specialized to have this feature and we've very happy to see it, as having a stable way to carry loads on the front of a bike is something that we consider a must for a transport bike. Specialized's execution of this is also quite nicely done, and their basket and bungee system is very slick looking in our eyes.
Another feature that we consider very important is an internally geared hub. This is a common feature on many of our commuter push bikes and premium transport ebikes and offers a lower maintenance than a regular derailleur gear system, at the cost of a little more weight. We've also heard rumour of a belt drive variant of this model which would offer ultimate longevity - but are yet to see this one here on our shores.
Beyond these points, to put it simply - it's a beautiful bike. The design of it is unlike anything else, and the attention to detail here is really impressive. You can see it in the elegant handlebar design, clean integration of the lights, rear rack and fenders, and the handy handle on the frame which makes the bike easy to carry up any flight of stairs. I would even go as far to say that it's one of the best looking commuter bike that I've ever seen and ridden - but that's just me.
HOW DOES IT STACK UP?
When you combine all of the above, you end up with a bike that is beautiful, practical and comfortable - which are some of the most important things to look for in a commuter bike. This bike makes cycling a joy, and offers pretty much everything you could ask for in a lightweight package. The SL motor won't be for everyone, especially if you're looking for a bike to do all the work after a long day, but that's why Specialized also has their full-power Como as well. This bike instead offers an enhanced, fun and fast riding experience that you really need to try to understand. If you like what you're hearing, then pop over to the bikery and test it out for yourself!