Anyone looking for a great all-round electric bike that comes with the benefit of a superior powered system will find much to like about the Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 (2022). It comes with the 4X You drive system, meaning it’s got plenty of power to tap into thanks to the 250W motor and 710Wh battery. Even without power assistance, the 11-speed SRAM gearing system is a treat to use on its own.
The Turbo Vado 4.0 isn’t designed around the most delicate of frames, but that's a small sacrifice to make for its sheer practicality. It's one of those e-bikes you can just hop on and hop off again, using the power as and when you need it.
At the same time, it boasts impressive range and bristles with lots of top tech, including the brilliant MasterMind bike computer, neat security options, and a rock-solid supporting app. This is an expensive bike, but the look, feel and riding experience all help to reassure you that you’ve made the right choice.
Price and release date
The Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 (2022) was unveiled in September 2021, and is available to buy right now direct from Specialized, or from authorized resellers.
It starts at $4,000 / £3,900 / AU$5,000 (at the time of writing, some sizes are discounted), which is towards the higher end of the price bracket for an everyday e-bike. For context, the Cowboy 4, which sat at the top of our roundup of the best e-bikes for many months, is priced at £2,490 (about $3,400 / AU$4,700).
Our current top-rated folding e-bike, the Gocycle G4, is a little more expensive at $4,999 / £3,999 (about AU$7,000). This is expected for a folding bike due to the complexity of the engineering.
Specialized also sent us the new Align II helmet to try with this bike. Both have clever design as their central theme, with quality not far behind. While the helmet proved to be more than acceptable to wear and is purely functional, the Turbo Vado 4.0 (2022) is a real thing of beauty. The frame is dominated by a bulky front downtube, which houses the battery, but aside from this the Vado 4.0 looks like a solid, everyday cruiser that is suited to a variety of cycling requirements.
It’s not a flashy bike. In fact, the look of the Vado is decidedly low key especially in the White Mountains/Black Reflective colorway we tested. There’s a zingier Red Tint/Silver Reflective finish if you prefer something more vibrant, while the Cast Black/Silver Reflective model is dark and moody if that’s more your thing. The paint is thoughtfully chosen too, with reflective qualities that should make you easier to see on the road.
Whatever color combination you plump for, the Specialized Turbo Vado 4 is a step up from the earlier model, the Specialized Turbo Vado SL, that we got to love over an extended loan period in 2020. That bike proved perfect as a daily rider, especially for quick flits to the shops.
The Turbo Vado 4.0 is quite a chunky bike, and weighs in at 24kg - much more than the 14.9kg SL (Super Light) model. Somehow though it doesn’t feel that bulky when you’re using it though, which we’ll explain shortly.
The Turbo Vado certainly has all the features you'd expect from a high-end e-bike. A major improvement is the bike’s computer. Dubbed the MasterMind, this is a fully customizable unit, which features a crisp and clear display that employs solid, blocky fonts that are easy to read in all conditions. The color and fresh feel of its display is really good on the eyes.
Everything can be adjusted by the supplementary Mission Control app, which enables quick and easy adaptation of the control options, as well as providing comprehensive information on your rides over time. Specialized also offers over-the-air software updates, much like modern cars, meaning the Vado 4.0 is reasonably future-proof and you don't need to take it to a service center to get important patches and new features.
Specialized has also paid close attention to the bike’s security options. The app can be used to disable the bike with a PIN needed to reactivate it. The Vado’s battery is lockable and can be easily removed altogether as an added bonus.
There are integrated front and rear lights. The taillight is actually a neat wraparound LED strip, a rear rack as standard, plus those all-important Drytech mudguards, which are essential for taming any spray or mud that flies up from the fairly beefy Pathfinder 650b x 2.3-inch tires.
These also do a great job of soaking up bumps in the road, as do the Suntour front forks that can travel 80mm and take on potholes with ease. Specialized has ensured that the latest design will work with through-axle trailers and children’s seats too, which has obvious benefits if you’re planning on using it for family adventures.
Elsewhere, and as you’d expect from this premium brand, the essentials are top-notch including a frame constructed from E5 aluminium, Specialized’s own alloy handlebars with super comfy grips, a Rivo Sport saddle and no-fuss flat pedals. Crucially, there’s a SRAM 11-speed derailleur that proves to be a dream to use. Changing gears is a piece of cake too, with a large lever for the ‘easy gear’ selections and a small button for heading up through to the top gears.
This is backed up by the Turbo Full Power Motor, which is built into the bottom of the downtube. Power deliver is slick and smooth. Stopping comes courtesy of SRAM discs front and rear. As a complete package the bike really looks the part and, while that explains why it’s pretty pricey, the Vado is also subdued enough to not appear really stealable.
One of the big differences between the lighter Vado SL and this Vado is range. This e-bike can cover less at 144.8km (almost 90 miles) compared to the SL’s 195km (around 121 miles), but the figure is still respectable enough, especially when you consider the weight of the bike itself. In fact, unless you’re really putting in the cycling hours that should be more than enough for most needs over the course of a few days.
There’s a lot to like about the new Vado 4.0, as we discovered over a prolonged period of use. It’s one of those hugely useful cycles that you can just jump on when you need it. The e-bike can be powered up in an instant by pushing the power button on the handlebar-mounted computer. Simply select one of the modes – Eco, Sport or Turbo – and you’re ready to go.
Those oversized tires feel great on the road and prove very grippy when you really get going. They’re less impressive if you hit a muddy trail as we found out in wet conditions. You’ll need to have a foot ready to put down if you overdo the power settings, pedal too hard and experience a whiff of wheelspin, but this adds a touch of fun to proceedings if you’re in need of a little adrenalin buzz.
On regular roads though, the Vado 4.0 kills it, with the power delivery proving perfectly balanced, dynamic and always there when you need it. The gearing is brilliant too, with the up and down levers on the handlebars allowing for slick changes. This is an e-bike that Specialized seems to have got spot on in that respect. Overall, this incarnation of the Specialized Vado 4.0 is the best one we’ve tried to date.
First reviewed February 2022
Buy it if
You want an e-bike to eat up the miles
The available power and its delivery are second to none, making light work of journeys.
Comfort comes first
The latest Vado is a dream to ride, with a comfy upright riding position complemented by the great saddle, handlebars and grips.
Tech is a priority
The MasterMind computer is excellent, which works brilliantly alongside the supporting app.
Don't buy it if
You’re not into upright, commuter-style bikes
This isn’t a racing bike; it's more of a cruiser, although the motor and battery combo give it plenty of beef all the same.
You can’t justify the expense
You can get cheaper e-bikes, but the quality, looks and performance here is hard to better.
You’re going off-road
The Vado can handle muddy trails with ease, but those road tires can catch you out on slick and slippery surfaces.