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Cycling for fun and sanity.

1st time on an E-Bike: Testing the Specialized Turbo Creo SL EVO in the field

I still remember Jana one day telling her mother on the phone that I now own a new bike and her mother asked “An e-bike?” At that moment I looked at Jana with outrage: ” Excuse me? Is she trying to insult me? Tz!” After all, I had only been riding my fixed gear bikes for the last 8 or even more years. Me…? An E-Bike? never!

So, when Concept Cycles Hamburg recently invited us to test the new Specialized Turbo Creo SL EVO for a weekend, we said yes, after all. However, we were actually quite curious about such an E-Bike. On Friday evening, after Jana’s work day in the agency had finished, we picked up the bikes at the agency at Concept Cycles Hamburg. The two Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVOs were already waiting for us, fully charged and ready for the ride at sunrise on Saturday morning.

However, before we begin to tell you about the ride and our impressions of the bike, let’s have a few details about the bike itself…

Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO in the field

The Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO in detail

The Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO is based on the same frame set as the Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon E-road bike and comes in two different finishes: Satin Sage Green/Black and Gloss Navy/White Mountains. Our favorite clearly is the green bike and luckily we had this one for testing. The heart of the Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO is the SL 1.1-E motor with a maximum support of 240W, powered by the 320Wh battery located in the down tube. Specialized states the maximum range at 120km, but this can be extended by another 60km with an optional range extender.

Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO
Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO Engine Control Panel

The Comp Carbon version of the bike is equipped with a 1×11 Shimano GRX 810 group set and brakes, I am already familiar with this group from my Canyon Grail CF SL and like it a lot. Specialized has installed Praxis cranks.

Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO Praxis Cranks

Integrated in the steering-tube is the Future Shock 2.0 system, it is adjustable in the intensity of its damping by a knob on the stem and offers 20 mm “spring travel”.

Wahoo Elmnt Roam mounted on a Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO

Specialized has also equipped the Turbo Creo SL EVO with a X-Fusion Manic dropper post with 50 mm travel.

Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO and its X-Fusion Manic Dropper Post

Standard equipment includes 700 x 38 C Pathfinder Pro tires on DT Swiss R470 Boost wheels. The front axle is 110mm wide and the rear axle is 148mm wide. The frame allows maximum tire widths of 700 x 42C and 650b x 50 respectively.

DT SWISS R470 wheels on a Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO

The Specialized Turbo Creo SL EVO in the wild

The alarm rang at 6am on Saturday morning and after coffee and some banana with peanut butter and pretzel sticks we left home. We had recently been allowed to discover the Himmelmoor on another ride and wanted to return there again. Because we absolutely wanted to be there in time for sunrise (which we still couldn’t do because we just dawdle sometimes), we didn’t change the pedals as planned. (Never say “Oh it will be alright !!!). So we were on the probably simplest flat pedals that Specialized has to offer. A dream, if you are riding with click shoes on them. Well, next time we know we’ll finish it in the evening for sure.

One thing we noticed right away on Friday evening: the Specialized Turbo Creo SL EVO is really light for an E-Bike. We couldn’t find exact information about the weight, but carrying the bike to the 4th floor was no problem at all. This was also our impression again on Saturday morning.

Sunrise ride on the Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO

At first we rode on level 1 (of 3 available levels) of support by the internal engine. This can be controlled either by app (which we didn’t try) or by a panel embedded in the top tube. Visually very well solved, but if you ride faster and don’t want to take your hand off the handlebars, it would be really great to have the controls on the handlebars in some way.

But since level 1 wasn’t that special yet, we quickly switched to level 2 and the assistance by the engine was more noticeable. However, the transition from pure muscle power to support remains feeling very natural. At level 3, however, Jana felt slowed down from 25 km/h on, so there you could feel the difference a little bit. We didn’t find it really disturbing though.

A cow and a female cyclist on a Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO

The support was not so spectacular on the road, but away from tarmac the support was more noticeable in my opinion, as usually you would need a lot more power from your legs to reach the speed on gravel. I can’t say it wasn’t fun to whip around that way.

female cyclist on a Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO

Once we arrived in the moor, we were rewarded with beautiful light and sunshine, first a quick snack, a few photos and then onwards. Here we already noticed, the bike attracts attention. And with reason. It is truly a beautiful bike and the greatest thing about it is that it doesn’t scream E-Bike at the very first glance. Until one notices or hears the engine. It is noticeable, but not disturbing.Since this was our first time on an e-bike, we lack the comparison to other engines out there.

Jana, who usually rides a Specialized Diverge Base Carbon with Future Shock 1.5, was very impressed with the adjustability of the Future Shock 2.0 while riding, the suspension was noticeable on cobblestones and on bumps and helped to make the ride more comfortable.

Riding the Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO

I was very impressed by the quiet and direct shifting, maybe I should readjust mine on my Grail.

Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO in the woods
Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO in the wild

Needless to say, we couldn’t be spared a flat tire, but thanks to the thru axles the replacement of the inner tube was done quickly. It is hard to judge if this is a direct argument against the tires or if Jana just had bad luck. On her Diverge equipped with Pathfinder tires she had no flat tire so far.

Fixing a flat tire on a Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO

Let us now come to…

Conclusions

The Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO is a bike which, albeit an E-bike, is a lot of fun. It makes you feel comfortable on the bike at all times, whether you’re cruising the gravel roads in a relaxed way or riding through the forest in a more aggressive way. The bike always feels well-balanced and responsive.

Female Cyclist and a Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO

We are not quite sure what the purpose of the Specialized Turbo Creo SL EVO would be for us. For a moment I had the thought that I could enjoy the bike for bike packing tours, but it lacks mounting points, because apart from two bottle cages and fenders nothing else can be mounted. I am familiar with this from my Canyon Grail CF SL, but the dropper post takes away the option of a saddlebag as well. In addition to that there is the range of 120km, so if I want to ride longer distances, I have to add the extender and thereby lose one of the two locations for water bottles.




Taking a rest during a ride on a Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO

Jana already mentioned during the ride that the bike is fun for her, but could never replace the feeling she has when she is riding a bike using solely her own power. At least not as long as she is still fit enough for it.

// Björn

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