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Specialized Vado SL Review

November 23, 2021

The Specialized Vado has been a long standing commuter favourite. It has now been completely redesigned to accommodate their new Super Light motor system, and is also now available in a lower step through package. 

Read our full review on this bike below, where we go over what makes this bike special in the landscape of commuter ebikes and who we recommend this bike for. 

 

WHAT'S IT MADE FOR?

This bike is made for fast, speedy commutes both long and short. It's a bike made for speed and is ideal for people who are already capable cyclists, who are looking to cut a bit of time off their commute. It's also made for people who need their ebike to be as light as possible, whether you've got a flight of steps to get your bike up at work, or simply need the option to throw the bike on a regular bike rack.

 

HOW DOES IT RIDE?

In many ways, this bikes' appearance gives away its ride quality. Like much of Specialized's commuter range, this bike puts you in an active, natural riding position, and is designed to to make commuting as efficient and easy as possible. This design intention is seen throughout other parts of the bike, such as the relatively thin tyres, lightweight aluminium frame and components and it's streamlined form.

Specialized's Super Light motor system is a core part of the ride quality of this bike, and really differentiates it from the competition. It gives this bike a good amount of seamless pedal assistance, whilst keeping the weight down, making the bike feel very responsive. More than any other ebike, the Vado SL really does feel like you're riding with a constant tailwind, as the assistance is extremely well tuned for a very natural ride quality, with no surges or delays from the motor. This pairs very well with the light weight of the bike, making it a sporty and exciting ride, that can easily be ridden just like a regular bike. It also makes this bike especially fun to ride fast, as the 45km/h speed limit meant the bike kept providing assistance no matter how much I pushed it.

 

WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?

This bike has a range of things that make it special, but its defining feature is how light this bike is compared to other ebikes. The SL motor system may offer less assistance than it's full power counterparts, but still offers enough to making riding significantly easier, and is plenty for riders who are already commuting on regular push bikes. This is even more impressive considering the fact it weighs around 15kg, making this bike is not far off the weight of many regular commuter bikes that have no electric assistance! Without closer inspection it could easily be mistaken for one, due to how well the battery and motor system are integrated into the frame. The low weight also mean it's very practical for day to day use, whether you're wanting to carry it, squeeze it into a car, get it in an elevator or run it up some stairs.

Essentially, all of this means is that if you enjoy the ride quality, weight and aesthetics of your commuter bike, you won't have to give any of these up to go electric.  

 

 

Beyond this, the bike comes with a range of other nice features. The integrated top tube display and the bar mounted assistance controller are both intuitive and simple to use. It also seamlessly integrates all the core commuter bike accessories which come with the bike, such as battery-powered front and rear lights, kickstand, full-length front and rear fenders and rear pannier rack. If you're after more range than the 320Wh battery supplies, you can increase your battery capacity by a further 50% with the additional SL Range-Extender, which fits tidily into a bottle cage.

The higher spec 5.0 version has even more features, such as a dedicated full-size display on the handlebars, a carbon fork to lighten things up even more, and Specialized's own 'Future Shock', which is a lightweight, short travel headset suspension system, designed to take the edge off rougher roads. 

 

HOW DOES IT STACK UP?

All of these points stack up to make this an exceptional commuter bike for riders with a good level of fitness or simply an appreciation for a refined, lightweight ride quality. It's also an extremely practical bike for people who want the flexibility of electric, but need a bike that's still lightweight. However, if you aren't a cyclist and are wanting a bike that offers a more relaxed riding position, as well as a bit more cushion and assistance, we have some other bikes that may be better suited for you.

If you're already a keen cyclist but you're looking for that extra kick of assistance, or are simply looking for a bike you can carry up your steps without requiring a trip to the chiropractor, then this is a great bike to consider. You can check these bikes out as well as the other SL models we have to offer using the button below.