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New York City is home to enthusiasts of just about every niche hobby and subculture imaginable (we see you Gowanus Canal canoe club and Central Park LARPers) and the same is true for cycling. Gravel grinders, roadies, even mountain bikers all thrive in and around our hometown. But it’s not easy. And access is uneven. Despite the city’s reputation as one of the few major American cities where car ownership is optional, getting out for a long ride means putting in some serious miles to get north of the city and onto quieter roads—one can only spin so many laps in Prospect and Central Park before starting to feel like you’re in an endless crit race littered with hot dog carts, errant frisbees, and the AirPod-addled pedestrians.
In short you’ve gotta hustle for your rides in the city and then do it all over again to get home. But there’s a better way. A new way. One that’s both absolutely beautiful and genuinely innovative. Enter the Specialized Turbo Creo SL electric lineup of dream machines. E-bikes? Technically yes, but they are so much more than a bike with a motor slapped on. At every turn the Turbo Creo SL line defies category. To the point that one can’t help but wonder: does the Creo mark the start of a new sport altogether? We think so. Here’s why.
The Bikes: The Turbo Creo SL for the road and the Turbo Creo SL Evo for gravel (and more)
As with every other category of cycling, the Turbo Creo SL and its many impressive iterations offer no shortage of specs, features, and proprietary design details to pour over. In short, the Turbo Creo SL, a road bike that can go off, and Turbo Creo SL EVO, a gravel bike capable of burning roadies too, are truly a gear-obsessed cyclist’s dream. Specialized has a reputation for completely developing and building its own components, rather than pulling existing parts from other brands—and ending with some of the very best results available as a result. For its electric program, the company went so far as to establish an R&D center in Switzerland to design and construct its own motors. The results speak for themselves when it comes to weight, power, and range.
The Creo line features a Swiss-made 240-watt Specialized SL 1.1 motor that delivers pedal-assist power up to 28 miles per hour, doubling rider output with a range of roughly 120 miles. (That’s with the optional range extender. The built-in battery alone will get you closer to 80 miles, which is still plenty impressive.) Designed with complete efficiency in mind, the motor gives full power when the rider’s pedaling cadence is at its most efficient rate—between 60 and 100 revolutions per minute—and offers zero resistance once the battery is depleted.
The motor is so light and quiet, and augments the riding experience so subtly, that you quickly forget it’s there and instead believe you’ve acquired some kind of super strength just by swinging your leg over the carbon frame.
While Specialized’s Swiss facility tackles the electric wizardry neatly housed inside the Creo frame, the company’s Morgan Hill facility makes sure the riding experience translates seamlessly, too. Weighing in around ~27 lbs, the Turbo Creo SL Evo and Turbo Creo SL each feature Specialized’s FACT 11r carbon build, Open Road Geometry, and the highly useful and fully integrated Future Shock 2.0 suspension system. The main differences with the gravel-focused Creo SL Evo are a wider tire clearance, dropper post for rowdy descents, plus flared out handlebars and smaller chainrings—all essential for pushing the limit on rough roads, steeper climbs, and flowy single track.
The Experience: Go Further, Faster, Every Ride
Now, we’ll acknowledge that electric bikes are a hot topic in the cycling world. From trail access controversies to cheating concerns at all levels of competitive riding, there’s a never-ending back and forth concerning e-bikes. While the Turbo Creo SL lineup doesn’t seek to put an end to the debate, it does make the case for an electric riding experience that does justice to the feeling of pure freedom bikes offer. Built to allow the rider to go further, faster, and with less energy spent, it transcends the bullshit and simply embraces more fun. And what’s not to love about that?
For this reason—and the many, many design innovations housed within the bike itself—the Specialized Turbo Creo SL line represents a major step into the future for e-bikes, if you can even call them that. They’re built with the cyclist in mind who simply wants to ride.
The pedal-assist is so smooth and the engine so quiet you really do forget it’s there—until you clock your mileage. What would normally be reserved for an epic weekender becomes possible after work. Or even during lunch hour. Best of all, you can crush a favorite long route (and new ones you’d normally save for a big mission) and get a proper workout while doing so, without returning home completely depleted, a shell of your former self.
The Specialized Turbo Creo SL and Turbo Creo SL EVO start at $6,000 and $7,250, respectively, and work their way considerably higher towards the top dog S-Works models chilling comfortably in the nice used car cost range.
Innovation, quality and design might not come cheap, but the experiences you’ll enjoy on these electrified shredders are hard to put a price tag on. Think of it like going on a mini adventure vacation every time you take a ride. Or that you’re riding a bike from the future. If you can’t tell, we’re talking ourselves into it as much as we are you…