Most electric bikes are slow, heavy and look like something your gran would ride, but Specialized has just given us an exclusive blast around Valencia on its top-secret Turbo, a new high-performance ebike capable of nearly 30mph.
Packing a 250W high-torque brushless motor in the rear hub and a 36V, 324Wh li-ion battery, the Turbo is so fast Specialized has teamed up with the British Cycling Association to lobby for an increase in the UK's archaic 15mph limit on unlicensed powered transport.
Licence or not, you'd want to don a helmet because the Turbo feels much more rapid than other ebikes. The motor kicks in automatically whenever you pedal, instantly giving you Mark Cavendish-like powers of acceleration and the ability to cruise at more than 25mph without breaking a sweat.
There are four modes, controlled by a bar-mounted remote: full power, adjustable eco mode, zero assist and regenerative, which you can use on steep descents to top up the battery.
With a full charge – 2.5hrs using the home charger or 4.5hrs with the included travel charger – Specialized reckons the Turbo will give you one hour of continuous full-power riding. That means a range of roughly 30miles flat-out, but judicious use of the eco mode coupled with energy regeneration under braking and slow-moving traffic could see that figure more than double.
A thumb shifter and 10-speed SRAM XO transmission give you more options for pedalling uphill, and there's also a built-in computer. This toggles the LED lights on and off, and can display current, maximum and average speed, distance and battery info, plus your heart rate if you've got an ANT+ monitor belt.
Magura MT Carbon disc brakes and a carbon-fibre seatpost help keep the weight down to 21.5kg – light for an ebike and Specialized says about 5kg less than rivals, but still more than double that of most road bikes.
The other downside is the price – a steep £4000. But when you consider Specialized is pitching this as an alternative to cars, motorbikes and public transport, that doesn't seem quite so bad for a state-of-the-art machine that could whisk you to work in double-quick time. We're already excited about its August release.
What do you reckon? Super-fast speed machine, or an expensive toy for lazy millionaires? Let us know in the comments and see it in all its glory by watching our exclusive hands-on test ride vid. We've already bagsied the first press Turbo for a long-term test, too...
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