The Specialized S-Works Turbo Creo SL is here. With the launch of the E-road bike, a new era begins for the American brand. Bridge technology or true technical innovation? There is a lot at stake! Here you will find everything you need to know about the latest Specialized bike.
Many of you will associate the American brand Specialized primarily with high-performance road bikes such as the S-Works Tarmac SL6 or the aerodynamic Venge. While ride comfort was an important aspect in the development of both bikes, it was even further emphasized for the concept of the new Roubaix. Comfort and compliance for more performance – so far so good. But what about the ever-growing market for E-road bikes? Since today we know that the Turbo-designers of the “big S” have not been idly watching the topic in recent years. In this context, it should be said that “Turbo” does not mean that the developers are particularly fast cyclists (OK, frankly they are), but that Turbo is a Specialized owned brand, that deals exclusively with the development of e-bikes. The Switzerland-based development team led by Jan Talavasek has made a name for itself with Specialized’s E-MTB fleet in the past – as shown by numerous test wins in our sister magazine E-MOUNTAINBIKE. Specialized now wants to combine this know-how for e-bikes and the brand-typical performance promise into one bike, the S-Works Turbo Creo SL.
creō [Lat. creāre] – (to) create
The concept behind the Turbo Creo SL
When we arrived at the product launch in Cham, Switzerland, we are left with a burning question: How does a company which’s Friday lunch rides are almost on a Pro Tour race-level interpret an E-road bike? Sportive aspects definitely seem to been a priority for Specialized in the development of their E-road bike. After all, everyone at the launch speaks of a “completely new sport”. Consequently, the thesis of the Americans seems as bold as clear: “With the Creo, we do not present a bike of an existing category – a suitable category does not currently exist,” said Specialized. The development of the new Turbo concept is the largest investment in the company’s history: 37 R&D employees in the Turbo department alone, 3,250 test hours, 70,000 km of field testing around the globe. In contrast, the 5,000 test kilometres for the recently introduced Roubaix and its Future Shock 2.0 system pale at these numbers.
The driving force behind the development of the Creo is one motto: Riding faster is fun for everyone! So the new Specialized should feel like a conventional road bike, but also have the additional support of an electric motor. Built for the performance road rider who wants to ride faster regardless of the tour’s profile. When designing the frame made of FACT 11r Carbon, the goal was clear: to realize a playful and agile riding experience, as known from bikes like the Tarmac. For more control, the Future Shock 2.0 system should provide adjustable damping. The combination of all these factors should prevent fatigue and provide a significant increase in average speed for everyone.
How much support does the Specialized SL 1.1 motor deliver in the Turbo Creo SL?
According to the manufacturer, the SL 1.1 mid-engine motor weighs in at 1.95 kg and offers four modes: Off, Eco, Sport and Turbo. The support ranges from 0%, 30%, 60% to 100% depending on the selected level. That means the SL 1.1 motor doubles your muscle power in “Turbo” mode. The maximum support amounts to 240 Watts or 35 Nm both for peak and continuous power. By comparison, in the E-Mountain Bike segment, motors such as Bosch or Brose deliver over 300% of support, more than 500 Watts and 70-90 Nm of torque. So one thing is clear: Specialized wants to achieve a much more subtle support and a corresponding riding experience with the Turbo Creo SL. The full pedalling assistance should, according to Specialized, be available over an unusually large cadence bandwidth of 60 to 110 rpm.
The linear modulation and the smooth transition at the 25 km/h speed limit prescribed by law in Europe should ensure a particularly natural riding experience. Once the engine stops at the speed limit, it should not cause any additional pedalling resistance – a feature the designers have spent a long time fiddling with. Here, a sophisticated balance between the bearings and sealing of the engine is crucial. After all, the engine should not only run smoothly but also be watertight (which it is, rated at IP67). The Q-factor of the SL 1.1 system, at 181 mm, is slightly wider than conventional road bikes whose dimensions are usually between 150 and 160 mm. Unlike previous Specialized Turbo engines, the system’s voltage has been increased from 36V to 48V, which – according to the manufacturer – promises greater efficiency and hence greater range. The SL 1.1 engine is used in identical tunes and configuration in all Turbo Creo SL models.
How much range does the new Specialized Turbo Creo SL have?
All models use not only the same SL1.1 motor but also an identical internal 320 Wh battery, which weighs in at 1.8 kg. The lithium-ion battery is firmly installed in the closed down tube and can only be removed or replaced by official dealers. Specialized provides a warranty of 2 years or 300 charging cycles for the battery. If the battery is worn out, it can be disposed of at any recycling station or in any Specialized shop. Any recycling fees will be covered by Specialized for all buyers in the EU or North America. The range varies according to use and is stated at 130 km from the manufacturer. Specialized claims an average 2:35 h recharge cycle for a 3% to 100% cycle.
With a range extender, which is available as an accessory and is not included with most models, another 160 Wh or 65 km of range can be added. A complete charge cycle of the range extender lasts 3 hours 20 minutes according to Specialized. With its weight of 1,087g, it fits into a regular bottle cage. However, the manufacturer recommends using the Specialized Z-Cage with the included strap in order to keep the additional battery firmly in place. Important to note: The battery of the Shimano Di2 groupset has its own electrical circuit and therefore has to be charged separately.
What’s the Specialized Turbo Connect Unit (TCU)?
The Turbo Connect unit is the control unit of the electric drive system and is located in the front area of the top tube. It has two buttons and a battery level indicator: the lower button is used to turn on the Creo while the upper button is used to select one of the three levels of assistance. By briefly pressing the upper button, you can navigate through the individual modes: 1/3 blue circle for Eco, 2/3 blue circle for sport and full blue circle for Turbo. If you keep the upper button pressed until all blue lights turn off, you’ll find yourself riding without assistance. The TCU is compatible with ANT+ and Bluetooth standards. Pssst: For those who do not want to tell their fellow riders what level of assistance they are currently riding, there is a “stealth” mode that can be activated via the Mission Control app.
Legal tuning for the Specialized Turbo Creo SL: the Mission Control App and Smart Control
The Mission Control app allows the rider to tailor both peak performance and levels of support to their own preferences. In addition, with the “Smart Control” function, you can not only see the charge status of your battery, but also ensure that you don’t run out of juice mid-ride. You just have to specify how long or how far you want to go and the app regulates the support and the energy consumption of the system accordingly. In addition, the Mission Control App can record rides and upload them to third-party providers such as e.g. Strava. The app has an integrated power meter that can send the performance data to an ANT+ main unit. The use of the Mission Control App is optional: The Turbo Connect Unit on the top tube offers all the functions you need while riding, even without an app.
Which Specialized Turbo Creo SL models are available?
All models of the Turbo Creo are based on the same frameset and are available immediately. With fairly compact 425mm long chainstays, a tire clearance of up to 700x42C or 650bx50, Thru Axles in 12×110 at the front and 12x148mm at the rear and compatibility with dropper seatposts, the Creo has numerous features that can be found on a modern road/all-road/Gravel bike. With a price of € 12,499, the S-Works Turbo Creo SL is the top of the range model. It comes with a mixed 1×11 groupset consisting of Shimano DURA-ACE Di2 and XTR Di2, Roval CLX 50 Disc wheels and Turbo Cotton tires in 700 x 28C. Our test bike in size L tips the scale with said spec at a respectable 12.28 kg.
Drivetrain Shimano XTR M9050 Di2 with DURA-ACE Di2 shifters, 1×11, 46T
Cassette Shimano XT, 11-42T
Brakes Shimano DURA-ACE R9170 160/160 mm
Wheels Roval CLX 50 Disc Carbon
Tires S-Works Turbo, 700 x 28C
Seatpost S-Works Fact Carbon, 20 mm offset
Handlebar Specialized Hover Carbon
Stem S-Works Future Stem with GPS-Mount
Weight 12.28 kg in size L
Price € 12,499 €
Size S, M, L, XL, XXL; test size: L
Color Gloss Supernova Chameleon (best color code ever)
Available from today
The cheaper road model, the Turbo Creo SL EXPERT, has a groupset with Shimano ULTEGRA R8070 Di2 and XT Di2 components, Roval C38 Disc wheels and Specialized Turbo Pro tires in 700 x 28 C. As already touched upon, the Turbo Creo SL Expert shares the same frameset, Future Shock 2.0 system and SL 1.1 motor with its more expensive brother. At this spec level, you’ll have to save up € 8,499.
Gravel fans should take a closer look at the Turbo Creo SL Expert EVO. The E-Gravel bike uses a nearly identical specification as the Turbo Creo SL Expert, but adds an X-Fusion Manic dropper seat post and off-road grade Pathfinder Pro tires in 700 x 38C. In addition, the paintwork of this model is not only an absolute feast for the eyes, but also unique for each bike due to the special painting process.
For those who appreciate exclusivity and the lowest possible weight, Specialized has a special treat: Strictly limited to just 250 bikes, the Turbo Creo SL Founder’s Edition can be pre-ordered for a price of € 14,499. Thanks to an optimized specification, the exclusive model should weigh only 11.9 kg. Golden graphics, as well as a numbered Founder’s Edition badge on the chainstay and a matching Founder’s Edition SL Kit, should celebrate the brand’s market entry.
The geometry of the Specialized E-Road Bike
|Seat tube||448 mm||478 mm||503 mm||528 mm||558 mm|
|Top tube||539 mm||548 mm||566 mm||581 mm||605 mm|
|Head tube||146 mm||164 mm||186 mm||217 mm||250 mm|
|Chainstay||426 mm||426 mm||427 mm||427 mm||428 mm|
|BB Height||81 mm||78 mm||78 mm||76 mm||76 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,005 mm||1,012 mm||1,020 mm||1,036 mm||1,052 mm|
|Reach||373 mm||379 mm||384 mm||391 mm||399 mm|
|Stack||575 mm||592 mm||615 mm||643 mm||675 mm|
S-Works Turbo Creo SL E-Road Bike in Test
On the first few meters with the Creo, one thing quickly becomes clear – it has not lost its sporting character. Although the additional support of the motor set in Sport and Turbo mode is noticeable, assistance remains discreetly in the background and does not force itself on the rider. To smooth the transition at 25 km/h the SL 1.1 engine reduces its support gradually as it nears 25 km/h, in all 3 support modes, the transition is extremely supple. The legal 10% speed tolerance seems to be used to its fullest and one wonders on the flats not infrequently, whether the support could not be set to US mode with a speed limit of 45 km/h. The aerodynamically optimized wheels and tube shapes are a clear advantage here. The range of the 1×11 group set is absolutely sufficient for steep climbs and high-speed sections in the flat. Although the gear jumps are slightly larger than with conventional 2×11 or 2×12 group sets, the engine’s support knows how to cleverly conceal them. Slowing down from higher speeds back into the support area of the engine, the assistance cuts in very smoothly. Only in Turbo mode it is noticeable between 26 and 25 km/h that the engine starts to provide its additional tailwind again.
When it comes to handling, the Creo SL is fairly close to the feel of the Specialized Roubaix MY2020. Here, the Creo strikes a balance between stability and cornering agility. The greatest strength of the E-road bike is to have no real weaknesses. The front is stable on the straights and is pleasantly agile in tighter hairpins. The bike’s center of gravity is central and low underneath the rider. Quick directional changes are therefore easily manageable. It is important to adjust the damping of the Future Shock 2.0 system to your own preferences. When the damping is wide open, the system deflects and thus shifts the rider’s center of gravity slightly further forward – more pressure on the front wheel = more directness in the corners. Furthermore, due to the Future Shock 2.0 system, the front end stack height is relatively high. A more relaxed endurance feeling takes priority over highly athletic agility.
When it comes to comfort, the compliance of the seatpost and the rear frame triangle harmonizes very well with fork and Future Shock. Thanks to the great tire clearance, all riders have the option to use wider tires for extra comfort – even if you’re only staying on the road.
With the S-Works Turbo Creo SL Specialized presented a very stylish E-road bike with sophisticated features. With its balanced handling and well-dosed power, it’s the right bike for increasing fun on the after-work ride, sportive commuting or for more targeted training. Rest days in the saddle despite hilly home turf? No problem! Thanks to the sensitive e-support, riding in a group works just fine, too.
For more information head to specialized.com
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Words & Photos: Benjamin Topf