Specialized's $16,500 carbon e-bike is a gorgeous glimpse at an electrified cycling future
The e-bikes are coming and it's safe to say most will be a whole lot heavier than what cyclists are used to, especially those plying their trade on lightweight road frames. In no small way, Specialized is looking to close the gap with its new S-Works Turbo Creo SL Founders Edition, which packs 240 W of pedal assistance power into a beautifully (and very expensively) engineered full carbon frame.
At just 11.9 kg (26.2 lb), the Turbo Creo SL Founders Edition is going to be heavier than a typical road bike, but not overly so, and certainly falling at the ultra-light end of the scale when we're talking bikes with batteries stuffed into them.
In this case, Specialized has built a 380-Wh battery into the down tube, which it says packs enough juice for 80 miles (128 km) of assisted pedaling. Also, 160-Wh range extenders can be latched onto the bike to stretch that range out by 40 mi (64 km) apiece, with two thrown in as part of the Turbo Creo SL Founders Edition package.
The bike is powered by Specialized's own, in-house-built SL 1.1 motor, which outputs up to 240 watts in response to the rider's own torque curve and is claimed to create zero drag when riding without assistance.
A power meter is integrated into the top tube, while its distribution can be managed through the Mission Control smartphone app. Here, users can choose from Eco, Sport and Turbo assist modes and tweak where the power tops outs and how much support they want along the way.
Other features include hydraulic disc brakes, an 11-speed Shimano Dura-Ace groupset and a Custom Roval CLX 50 wheelset dressed in 28-mm tires. The Turbo Creo SL Founders Edition also comes with Specialized's latest bump-absorbing headset, the Future Shock 2.0, which offers 20 mm of vertical movement to help smooth out trips over uneven terrain.
The Turbo Creo SL Founders Edition is the range-topping model of Specialized's new Creo family of e-bikes, so less expensive versions are available but even these won't come cheap. They are a little heavier and use less sophisticated parts, with the Turbo Creo SL Expert carrying a price tag of $9,000 and the S-Works Turbo Creo SL priced at $13,500. The Turbo Creo SL Expert EVO, comes with 38-mm tires for off-road adventure and is priced at $9,000.
But if you've come this far then you may well be tempted by the stunning, statement-making Founders Edition, which is adorned with gold foil logos, highlights and gold ceramic pulley wheels. Significantly, Specialized will be making just 250 of them, so if you're after exclusivity and extra layers of envy as you breeze past sweaty, traditional cyclists on your way up the mountain, then this could be the horse for your course.