The Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert EVO is the gravel version of the bike we previously crowned the best E-road bike of 2019. Can this E-graveller live up to the success of its road counterpart, or is gravelling better without a motor?
Click here for an overview of the best gravel bike 2020 group test.
Based on the same frameset as the Turbo Creo SL Expert E-road bike, the Turbo Creo SL Expert EVO draws attention immediately thanks to its unique paint job. With clearances for up to 700 x 38C tires, there’s enough space for Specialized’s own Pathfinder Pro tires that promise to generate enough grip when you venture off the beaten path. The first E-gravel bike in the company’s history is equipped with a 50mm travel X-Fusion Manic dropper post, a 1×11 drivetrain consisting of a mix of Shimano XT Di2 and ULTEGRA R8070 Di2 components that uses an 11-42 t cassette and 46 t chainring, as well as the Future Shock 2.0 suspension system as found on the Specialized Roubaix 2020. The latter is integrated in the steerer tube and a small dial on the stem adjusts the damping of the 20 mm travel. At the heart of the Turbo Creo SL Expert EVO is the SL 1.1 motor which offers maximum support of 240 W and 35 Nm. It is powered by a 320 Wh battery integrated in the down tube. Our comprehensive group test of the best E-road bike of 2019 awarded this motor top marks in terms of handling and a natural ride feel. The different assistance modes can be adjusted through the top tube integrated remote, which also displays the remaining battery charge. Along with an optional 160 Wh reserve battery, you can also connect your phone via Bluetooth to get more detailed stats, track your ride and customise the assistance levels. The size L Turbo Creo SL Expert EVO weighs 13.34 kg and costs € 8,499.
The Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert EVO in detail
Drivetrain Shimano DEORE XT Di2
Gearing 46 t and 11-42 t, 1×11
Brakes Shimano ULTEGRA R8070, 160/160 mm
Handlebar Specialized Adventure Gear Hover, 410 mm
Stem Future Stem Pro, 100 mm
Seatpost X-Fusion Manic, 50 mm travel
Wheels Roval C38 Disc Carbon
Tires Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss Ready, 700 x 38C
|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|
|Chainstays||426 mm||426 mm||427 mm||427 mm||428 mm|
|BB Drop||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|
The Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert EVO in review
Thanks to the three assistance modes on offer, the SL 1.1 motor on the Specialized allows both relaxed gravelling and decisive sprints. On the flats, just like a non-powered gravel bike, it’s easy to ride above the 25 km/h motor assistance limit. The motor’s natural transition from supported ride to solely muscle power is without equal. On easy terrain, the comparatively high weight adds extra momentum on the downhills, which also means that the Expert EVO sticks to the ground and feels incredibly secure on compacted terrain. The handling of the e-bike is good-natured and well-balanced while remaining agile. However, due to its higher weight, is does tend to push you to the outside of corners at higher speeds. Once you’re used to this quirk, the handling is predictable and consistent though.
Despite its huge array of features, the Expert EVO still looks like a bike rather than a portable laboratory.
The adjustable Future Shock 2.0 suspension is a boon in undulating terrain. As things get rougher and more technical, the bike does reach its limits, especially given that the composure of the bike means you’ll have to make sure not to underestimate your speed when hitting technical tracks. The dropper post doesn’t only make downhills easier, it’s also great for mounting and dismounting the bike at traffic lights. However, it also results in a harsher ride at the rear though overall comfort is acceptable thanks to the good compliance of the frame. That’s good because the compact and central riding position is perfect for longer rides too.
The Specialized Turbo Crea SL Expert EVO will suit gravel beginners who put fun and enjoyment at the forefront of their experience and will appreciate the additional “tailwind” on offer. This is a bike that can expand your horizons and open up new paths to explore. While it reaches its limit in more technical terrain, this E-gravel bike shines on compacted surfaces with a predictable, composed and secure ride! The natural ride feel of the motor is yet to be equalled!
- hugely confidence inspiring ride
- modulation and ride feel of the motor
- if you run out of battery power, things will get tiring
- no mounting points other than for mudguards
For more info: specialized.com
Click here for an overview of the best gravel bike 2020 group test.
All bikes in test: Argon 18 Dark Matter | Cannondale Topstone Carbon Ultegra RX | Canyon Grail AL 7.0 | Cervélo Áspero | Giant Revolt Advanced Pro Force | Kona Libre AL | Liteville 4-ONE MK1 | OPEN WI.DE. | Pivot Vault Team Force | ROSE BACKROAD GRX RX810 Di2 | Santa Cruz Stigmata CC | SpecializedTurbo Creo SL Expert EVO | Standert Pfadfinder | Trek Domane SLR 9 eTap
How does the bike ride and descend? How spritely is the bike, how agile is it through corners, how much fun is it in technical sections and how quickly can it change direction?↩
Is the bike stable at high speeds? Is it easy to stay in control in demanding terrain? How composed is it on rough surfaces? Stability is a combination of balanced geometry and the right spec.↩
This is all about how balanced the bike is and particularly about how well it corners. Balanced bikes require little physical effort from the rider and are very predictable. If a bike is unbalanced, the rider has to work hard to weight the front wheel to generate enough grip. However, experienced riders can have a lot of fun even with demanding bikes.↩
Playful bikes are a real pleasure for experienced riders. Of course, beginners appreciate a lively riding experience, too – just with an extra dose of confidence. Riding pleasure is, therefore, always defined as an intersection of agility, smoothness, handling and confidence. How much pop does the bike have, does it suck up the rider’s input or is it supportive, and how agile and direct is it?↩
We don’t calculate value for money in an excel spreadsheet or based on how high-end a bike is specced. We are more concerned with how a bike performs on the road and how the bike benefits the rider. What good are the best components if the bike doesn’t perform well in real life? Expensive bikes with a lower-end spec can offer very good value for money – provided they excel where it matters. Just as supposedly cheap bikes with good components can get a bad rating if they don’t deliver during the test.↩
No, it’s not about perfect race tracks, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along high-speed passages need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret “Smooth tarmac” bikes as follows: Hard efforts at high speeds with a maximum efficient bike on a consistently well-paved road. Effort-joy ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
… also known as bike riding. Broken-up roads in the hinterland, deadlocked gravel roads, loose surfaces – sometimes muddy, sometimes bone-dry. For this, it takes bikes with super all-round, handling and wearing qualities uphill and downhill. Effort-joy ratio: 50:50↩
If you want to use your bike almost every day, you usually do not need an extremely tuned racing machine. Solid components, which are able to cope with the rigours of continuous usage in any kind of weather, are part of the basic equipment. At the same time, the bike should have practicable details: integrated fenders/assembly options, luggage racks/attachment points and a light system or at least the option of installing bike lights. The position on the bike should be rather relaxed, the overall comfort high, so that the Afterwork Ride becomes a cure and not a curse. Effort-joy ratio: 30:70↩
Words: Benjamin Topf Photos: GRAN FONDO-Team