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Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert First Ride Review

Cycle Volta logo Cycle Volta 8/8/2022 Paul Tolme
It even looks fast, doesn’t it? © Provided by Cycle Volta It even looks fast, doesn’t it? It even looks fast, doesn’t it? (Paul Tolme/)

I don’t believe I’ve ever gone from zero to 30 faster on a bicycle than on the Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert.

Granted, I typically review much heavier transportation ebikes with racks, fenders, beefy tires, and big batteries. Transportation ebikes are designed for durability, practicality, and safety.

The Turbo Creo SL Expert? With its Fact 11r carbon frame, Roval carbon rims, plus the Class 3 Super Light 240W mid-drive motor that doubles your power up to 28 mph, this ebike is made for thrilling speed.

“The Turbo Creo SL redefines e-road bike performance,” Specialized says in its marketing copy. “It’s you, only faster.” That I can confirm.

While I’ve got some long rides planned for my full review, for this “first look” I’ve been using the Turbo Creo SL Expert for commuting to the office and blasting around Seattle and Portland. Sprinting on city streets has never felt more exciting.

Green light, go! Pedal, upshift, pedal, upshift, pedal, upshift, pedal, upshift. Outracing cars to the next red light or stop sign is a trip.

Of course, outsprinting cars and pushing hard in the big ring is likely not what Specialized has in mind for buyers of this bike. Long rides that utilize the advertised 80 miles of range is the intended use, and I have some in the offing.

In the meantime, I’m thoroughly enjoying whipping this little white pony hard on the straightaways—and exceeding Seattle’s 25 mph speed limit on arterial streets.

Lighter Than the Competition

The Creo SL Expert’s lightweight 240W mid-drive motor gets its juice from a 320Wh fully integrated battery. © Provided by Cycle Volta The Creo SL Expert’s lightweight 240W mid-drive motor gets its juice from a 320Wh fully integrated battery.

The Creo SL Expert’s lightweight 240W mid-drive motor gets its juice from a 320Wh fully integrated battery. (Specialized/)

Specialized claims the Turbo Creo SL is the lightest ebike in its class, “literally kilograms lighter than the competition.” I haven’t yet weighed it, but Specialized says the size-large 56cm bike weighs about 26.5 pounds. I’m riding a smaller frame, so the weight would logically be even lower.

The light weight comes from the use of the Specialized Super Light motor and Fact 11r carbon frame and Roval rims. The Fact 11r carbon chassis is the same one used on the even pricier S-Works model.

Carbon bikes can be chattery due to their lightness, but this bike has great road feel. Much of that fact is due to the Future Shock 2.0 front suspension with 20 millimeters of travel to damp road vibrations and reduce hand and upper-body fatigue.

The SRAM Rival eTap AXS wireless derailleur has a removable rechargeable battery. © Provided by Cycle Volta The SRAM Rival eTap AXS wireless derailleur has a removable rechargeable battery.

The SRAM Rival eTap AXS wireless derailleur has a removable rechargeable battery. (Paul Tolme/)

A knob on the Future Shock 2.0 allows you to adjust the compression from fully open to stiff. I’ve been riding it fully open. Seattle streets are lumpy, and the compression enhances safety at speed by improving control.

The spec also includes the 1-by SRAM Rival eTap AXS wireless electronic shifting on an 11-44T cassette. Shifting is precise and instantaneous with a tap on the brake lever shifters.

The Super Light Platform

“The motor’s responsive torque curve delivers power perfectly in tune with your normal riding cadence and leaves no resistance when riding unassisted,” Specialized claims. I will delve into that claim more in my long-term review.

Two buttons mounted on the underside of the bars allow you to boost or reduce the assist, turning it off or riding in Eco mode on the flats, or pumping up the assist to Sport or Turbo when necessary.

While I’ve been doing mostly fast and short rides, this ebike certainly rewards efficient spinning—especially on long rides when battery range is a factor. By downloading the Specialized Mission Control app, riders can tune the SL 1.1 motor to their riding style by adjusting the electric assist for the three levels of boost.

The display and on/off button get sleekly integrated into the frame’s toptube. © Provided by Cycle Volta The display and on/off button get sleekly integrated into the frame’s toptube.

The display and on/off button get sleekly integrated into the frame’s toptube. (Paul Tolme/)

The motor even has a built-in power meter that transmits to any ANT+ head unit.

I previously reviewed a Specialized Turbo Como SL commuter ebike, which I likewise enjoyed for its styling and performance. As on the Como, the display and on/off button embedded in the toptube of the Turbo Creo SL is minimal and elegant.

For people looking for more than 80 miles of range, Specialized sells an optional range extender with up to 40 miles of extra juice.

The Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert sells for $9,500. © Provided by Cycle Volta The Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert sells for $9,500.

The Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert sells for $9,500. (Specialized/)

Other than the $9,500 price tag, it’s difficult to find any immediate complaints with this bike. Stay tuned for my long-term review. And if my wife is reading this, Darling, I promise to be careful while riding this rocket.

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