Specialized Turbo Creo E-road bike – first look
Specialized recently launched the all-new Turbo Creo e-road bike. With a 480WH battery and the new lightweight SL 1.1 motor designed specifically for the Creo putting out a maximum of 240W, the Turbo Creo is a revolutionary new breed of machine.
What is it for??
Let’s address the elephant in the room first. Who and what is it for? Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 3 or 4 years, you’ll know that e-bikes are getting more and more popular. There are two main use cases for modern e-bikes – utilitarian (commuting, cargo bikes etc.) and pleasure (e-mtbs). The Turbo Creo falls squarely into the latter ‘pleasure’ category. Though it could easily be used as a commuter, that isn’t it’s primary intention.
Until recently, mountain bikes were the only e-bikes to really fall into the pleasure category, but why? Road cycling is fun too, right? Well, as it turns out, designing an e-road bike that’s actually still fun to ride like a regular road bike is no mean feat. E-road bikes have been around for a couple of seasons now, but haven’t gained a whole lot of traction. Meanwhile, Specialized have been taking their time to perfect the design of the Turbo Creo so that they get it right the first time around. And boy did they get it right!
Specialized’s tag-line is “you, only faster”, and I get it. Without the assist, it isn’t hard to ride at all – it feels like a planted road bike, with no drag from the motor when turned off. It’s also not like an e-mtb that gives you buckets of power. It’s smooth and organic feeling; it gives just a slight assist when you need it, giving you that extra push to conquer a steep climb, or to keep up with your buddies on the bigger rides.
All the current Creo models have Specialized’s FACT 11R carbon frame – the same that they use in all of their high-end S-Works bikes. Coupled with the lightweight motor and battery, this means that our SL Expert model in store weighs in at 27.7lbs without pedals. Now that’s light! Built in is the Future Shock 2.0 damper for comfort. The spec on the SL Expert model includes Ultegra DI2 drivetrain with XT derailleur and a wide range 1x drivetrain running an 11-42t cassette. Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes take the stopping duties, and Roval C38 carbon wheels keep you rolling. It’s a sweet build with everything you need, and nothing you don’t.
This build is road specific, however the bike shares the same frame with the Creo SL Expert Evo – their gravel specific build. All it would really take is a change of tires to set the regular SL Expert up for gravel, as the rims are plenty wide, and the frame has clearance for massive gravel tires and is dropper-post compatible.
All of Specialized’s Turbo models are compatible with Mission Control – their bluetooth app. The app is super useful and really unlocks the potential to these bikes in a way that you can’t with many other e-bikes. You can tune the power delivery and modes and much more in a way that suits you, putting you in control of the way the bike rides. You can also monitor things like cadence, battery level, assist etc. so you can get the most out of the bike every ride, and use it for mapping, diagnosing errors etc.
Riding the Turbo Creo
While we haven’t spent a ton of time aboard the Creo, it didn’t take long to get to grips with it. It’s a comfortable bike with a nicely compliant yet snappy frame, and the Future Shock helps to take any road buzz out. The Geometry is based on that of the Tarmac – it’s designed to feel like a fast, racy bike, not a lazy e-bike, and that it does. The low, central weight of the motor and battery and legitimately aggressive geometry make the bike feel quick and reactive. When you consider what this bike really is – not just a road bike but an e-road bike, it really puts this bike head and shoulders above the competitors.
While 1x drivetrains are still not exactly commonplace on road bikes, the range offered by the 11-42t cassette felt adequate for the majority of situations. While the bike is a little heavier than your standard road bike, the brakes were plenty powerful enough to slow it down with no trouble.
The real killer feature of this bike is of course the motor. The fact that it doesn’t put out tons of power and torque is a big part of what has enabled Specialized to keep the weight low – it doesn’t need a huge battery to power the motor, which helps with the handling, but the power delivery is truly spectacular. Often you can barely feel the motor kicking in, giving the bike a much smoother, more natural feel to it. The biggest problem (I feel) with many e-bikes is that the massive boost in power means that once you hit the top speed limit, the bike actually feels like it’s slowing you down. On the Creo it turns the power down gradually so that you don’t actually feel it dropping out, and rather than feeling like you’re being held back, the low weight and rolling resistance mean that you can just keep on riding through and above it.
E-bikes are a divisive topic still, and it’s clear that they’re not for everyone, and that’s perfectly okay. The Turbo Creo at first seems to blur the lines between a commuter style e-bike and a road bike and at first glance it might appear difficult to define it’s purpose. Take a closer look though and it quickly becomes clear that Specialized were extremely purposeful in the way that they designed the Creo. It’s designed for fun, to help cyclists enjoy their ride and to make the most of every time they get out. It doesn’t get a whole lot clearer than that!