Faster, stronger, better. The new Specialized Turbo Creo 2 aims to take e-gravel bikes to a new level. What have Specialized been up to during the past four years? We spoke to the Turbo development team and put the Creo 2 to the test on the trails surrounding Lisbon. Read on to find out what’s behind the matt black façade.
The performance-oriented e-road bike, the Turbo Creo SL and its gravel counterpart, the Turbo Creo SL Expert EVO from 2019 are entering their second generation. The new Creo 2 relies on the brand new Specialized SL 1.2 motor – as in the Specialized Turbo Levo SL mountain bike – the new Future Shock 3.0 shock – as on the recently unveiled Roubaix SL8 – and ample tire clearance of over 55 mm. That’s enough room for 29×2.2″ mountain bike tires. These three key specs give you an idea of the terrain on which the new Turbo Creo 2 is now capable of excelling: steep, chunky gravel. Fittingly, we took Specialized to the mountains of Sintra on the Portuguese coast and pushed the € 8,500 Specialized Turbo Creo Expert to its limits, both up- and downhill. Read on to find out how the 13.96 kg e-gravel bike fared on up to 28% inclines and rocky descents.
The new SL 1.2 motor system
The most exciting innovation on the Creo 2 is the new lightweight motor. Specialized have spent the past few years redesigning the previous SL 1.1 system from the ground up. Externally, the motor has remained largely unchanged and it weighs almost the same as its predecessor at about 1.9 kg – but as we all know, it’s the internal values count, and they’re impressive. The new Levo SL 1.2 motor delivers 50 Nm of torque – instead of the previous 35 Nm – and has a maximum power output of 320 watts. That is 33% more power and 43% more torque. In addition, it’s also claimed to be 40% quieter than its predecessor, which is achieved by a honeycomb structure on the inside of the motor, among other things. The torque sensor in the SL 1.2 motor also promises to render an additional power metre superfluous. That way, you can always keep an eye on how much work the motor is doing and how much power is coming from your legs.
The new motor is paired with a 320 Wh battery, integrated into the down tube. Unfortunately, it cannot be removed for external charging, but it can be expanded by 160 Wh with the help of a bottle-shaped range extender if required. The new Specialized app also allows you to set which of the two batteries should get tapped first.
The newly developed app offers a wide range of functions, such as tracking and analysing your rides, adjusting the motor assistance, and a remote motor locking function via the app. You can expect the introduction of additional features thanks to continuous, over-the-air updates.
The MasterMind TCU in the top tube serves as the on-board display. It provides the most important data at a glance and allows you to scroll through several pages, the various data fields of which can also be configured easily via the app. If you want to get rid of all distractions or just fly under the radar, you can switch to Stealth Mode via the app, which darkens the display completely.
To control the motor, you’ve got small, freely configurable remote buttons. The so-called Specialized Blips are included with every Turbo Creo 2, though not yet permanently fitted. Their positions can be adapted to your preferences and will be finalised by the dealer. They can be used to adjust the support modes and scroll through the pages on the TCU display. In addition, the Blips allow you to adjust the support in 10% increments via the micro-adjust function.
The Specialized Turbo Creo 2 Expert in detail
The design of the Turbo Creo 2 has evolved and now looks more than capable of venturing off-road. The FACT 11r carbon frame has also become 120 g lighter. Despite this, the fork looks much sturdier, and the massive 55 mm tire clearance, or 29×2.2″ in mountain bike jargon, offers tons of off-road capability.
The new Creo 2 Expert comes fitted with 47 mm Specialized Tracer gravel tires. The tires are fitted to Roval Terra C carbon rims with an internal width of 25 mm, laced to DT-Swiss 370 hubs. Almost all remaining components are also sourced in-house. These include the saddle, 50 mm travel Trans-X dropper post, Future Stem Pro stem, and the gravel-specific Adventure Gear Hover handlebar with 12º flare. For shifting and braking, the Specialized Turbo Creo 2 Expert relies entirely on SRAM. The SRAM mullet setup is a combination of Rival eTap AXS and GX Eagle AXS components, featuring an 11–50 t cassette and 44 t chainring, thereby ensuring plenty of reserves on the climbs. Unfortunately, the AXS derailleur isn’t powered directly by the bike’s internal battery, but at least you can check the battery level via the TCU display. You won’t find a UDH derailleur hanger on the new Specialized Turbo Creo, so there’s no option of upgrading to the SRAM Transmission.
Specialized Turbo Creo 2 2024
Seatpost Trans-X Droppe 50mm
Brakes SRAM Rival eTAP AXS
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle AXS 1x12
Stem Future Stem Pro
Handlebar Specialized Adventure Gear Hover
Wheelset Roval Terra C
Tires Tracer Pro 700 x 47c
Cranks SRAM Alloy DUB
Cassette SRAM PG1230 11-50T
Size 49 52 54 56 58 61
Weight 13.96 kg
The geometry of the Specialized Turbo Creo 2
The geometry of the Specialized Turbo Creo has also been updated. It is now significantly more progressive, the head angle is slacker, the seat tube angle steeper. The result is more composed handling and improved control, especially off the beaten track and on relaxed climbs. It should still be fun and playful, nonetheless. Smaller riders will benefit from the lower Q factor, which is 12 mm narrower than its predecessor. With sufficient mounting points for mudguards and racks etc., it’s versatile enough for day to day use, too. This is underlined by the relatively high maximum permissible weight limit of 125 kg. In total, the size 56 Specialized Turbo Creo 2 Expert weighs in at 13.96 kg, and is available from your local dealer for € 8,500.
|Top tube||531 mm||540 mm||554 mm||572 mm||590 mm||613 mm|
|Head tube||90 mm||90 mm||108 mm||120 mm||153 mm||180 mm|
|Chainstay||435 mm||435 mm||435 mm||435 mm||435 mm||435 mm|
|BB Drop||80 mm||80 mm||80 mm||80 mm||80 mm||80 mm|
|Wheelbase||1.022 mm||1.031 mm||1.046 mm||1.059 mm||1.079mm||1.097mm|
|Reach||374 mm||378 mm||388 mm||397 mm||404 mm||311 mm|
|Stack||365 mm||374 mm||383 mm||392 mm||401 mm||410 mm|
Future Shock 3.0 – The suspension on the Specialized Turbo Creo 2
As on the Specialized Roubaix SL8, the new Creo 2 relies on Specialized’s latest suspension technology: the Future Shock 3.0! It’s neatly integrated into the fork steerer and thereby prevents vibrations and impacts from being passed through the handlebar to the rider. This system has already proven to work very effectively on the Specialized Diverge STR, which is probably the craziest gravel bike we’ve reviewed to date. Due to the position and construction of the small coil shock directly under the stem, Specialized promise improved responsiveness, increased stiffness, lower weight, and better integration than comparable air suspension forks. The Holy Grail of suspension, then?
The latest iteration of the beloved shock takes things even further. Thanks to three different spring rates and additional preload-spacers, Future Shock 3.0 can be adjusted to suit any rider. Whether small and slender or big and powerful, it promises to cater to everyone on the new Specialized Creo. However, you’ll have to disassemble the front of the bike to replace the spring. It might sound like a lot of effort at first, but Specialized have designed the new Future Shock to be especially quick and easy to disassemble. And since Specialized want you to make the adjustments yourself, every Creo 2 comes included with all the coils, preload-spacers, and tools you need. The 400 g shock is backwards compatible, so the old Specialized Turbo Creo SL can also be upgraded. Although it’s now replaceable, the shock’s service life has been extended enormously thanks to its easy serviceability.
Riding the new Specialized Turbo Creo 2
The latest generation Specialized Turbo Creo is clearly much more off-road oriented and you can tell when riding the bike. On rough gravel and light trails, the Creo 2 is incredibly fun to ride, underlined by its manoeuvrability, precise steering, damping, and support on the climbs. The Future Shock 3.0 performs reliably even on trails and rough gravel, and in combination with the 47 mm Specialized Tracer tires, the bike smooths out bumps and provides plenty of control and comfort even on fast descents.
Swapping out the spring on the Future Shock 3.0 is super fast – any home mechanic should get the bike back on its wheels in less than ten minutes. The settings make a noticeable difference to the ride: the perfect setup prevents bottoming out and bobbing when you stand up to pedal, sparing you the effort of having to make any adjustments on the fly.
The new Specialized SL 1.2 motor is powerful enough to handle even the steepest climbs. However, it requires a certain amount of input from the rider. Don’t expect to just get shuttled along. That said, it will increase your own performance immensely: 28 % inlines? Several alpine passes in one day? The Creo 2 lets you do the kinds of things that sound impossible to most riders of analogue gravel bikes, even if you’re of average fitness. Thanks to the range extender, you can also go on long rides with lots of climbs. The Specialized app and the TCU display work smoothly. No annoying waiting or lost connections. The app is very clear and intuitive to use, offers many useful features and, according to Specialized, will be continuously updated with new features. Excellent! There’s nothing more annoying than immature software and connectivity issues that keep you from riding your bike.
Who is the Creo 2 for?
The new Creo 2 feels most at home on routes with lots of climbing. These allow it to take full advantage of the SL 1.2 motor on the climbs, letting you tackle longer rides with significantly more elevation gain. The Future Shock 3.0 provides plenty of control and comfort on the descents. Even light singletrack can be a lot of fun on the Creo 2. Thanks to mudguard and rack mounts, the e-gravel bike will also make for a fun everyday bike for the daily commute to work or short bikepacking adventures. If you’re looking for a versatile e-gravel bike that’s a lot of fun to ride and doesn’t stop at the occasional trail, the new Creo 2 is the perfect choice.
Tuning tip: 29″ mountain bike tire up front for more grip on the trails
Our conclusion on the new Specialized Turbo Creo 2
The Specialized Turbo Creo 2 is a lot more off-road oriented than its predecessor, and that suits it well! The new, more powerful SL 1.2 motor offers plenty of support, works quietly, and can be tuned precisely to your preferences. The Future Shock 3.0 also performs impressively with its adjustable spring rate and provides effective damping. On trails and gravel roads, the Creo 2 delivers loads of comfort, direct handling, and good times.
- high fun factor
- capable off-road performance
- dropper post length isn’t adapted to the frame size
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Words: Jan Richter Photos: Jan Richter, Specialized