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Specialized Just Solved the Commuter E-Bike’s Biggest Problem

E-bike make riding around town and commuting to and from work a breeze, but they’re heavy, bulky and hard to manage.

E-bikes aren’t without controversy. With e-mountain bikes, the safety of their speed on mixed-use trails is a common concern, while the debate over e-road bikes is more about whether they bastardize the experience of self-powered movement. But though transportation authorities might find them vexing (they’re coming around), nobody argues with the fact that an e-bike makes a damn good commuter bike.

The best argument against riding an e-bike as a way to get around town might be that they can weigh 50 pounds, and that’s a lot to heft up and down the stairs if you live on the third floor. That’s what makes Specialized’s new Vado SL so amazing; it weighs just 33 pounds — 40 percent lighter than the average e-bike, according to Specialized — yet can cruise at 28 miles per hour for up to 80 miles (or 120 with a range extender, that bottle-sized battery in the image below). Charging on the go is manageable too: its battery goes from empty to full in less than three hours.


The Vado SL comes in four builds — the 4.0, 5.0, and EQ versions of each. EQ is short for “equipped,” meaning add-ons like fenders, an integrated taillight, a rear rack and a kickstand. Every build comes with disc brakes and a 1x drivetrain. The 5.0 models see the addition of Specialized’s Future Shock tech, which puts an ultralight suspension in the fork for handling bumpy roads, a feature drawn into the commuter e-bike format from the company’s cutting-edge road bikes.

It’s hard to argue with a faster, less sweaty way to get around town. And if it is a matter of ruining the spirit or the form of the bicycle, Specialized’s Vado SL addresses that too — it’s the closest an e-bike has come to looking like it doesn’t have a motor or a battery at all. Plus, the motor doesn’t produce any drag, so when it’s off, you can simply pedal normally, as if it were just a regular bike.

Pricing for the Vado SL starts at $3,350 and tops out at $4,500.

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