The Specialized Turbo Como SL is an e-bike that looks and feels quite special thanks to its striking aluminum frame design. It’s light enough to use without electric assistance, but works to best effect when you’re under power as this is quite a substantial two-wheeler. We loved the smooth belt drive, which beats a chain hands down, although gear changes were less impressive.
The overall quality of the design, build and selection of components on offer here is excellent. Ultimately, this is a very decent everyday cruising type of e-bike, ideally suited to anyone who wants to leave the car at home more often than they do at the moment.
The front-mounted basket is a real boon, and doesn’t move as you turn the handlebars, meaning the weight of your shopping doesn’t shift around either. We found the Specialized Turbo Como SL perfect for quick visits to the shops and back, although its imposing design might not suit everyone. A definite try-before-you-buy electric bike, we think.
Price and release date
The Specialized Turbo Como SL 4.0 costs $4,000 / £3,500 (about AU$5,400), and the Turbo Como SL 5.0 is $4,800 / £4,250 (about AU$6,500). Models began shipping in 2021.
Specilialized is well known for its colourful and innovative bike designs, like the Specialized Turbo Como SL we tested a while back. The Specialized Turbo Como SL delivers more of the same, and the 4.0 model we tried arrived resplendent in a sort of brushed stainless finish.
A wider range of colors, including a zingy yellow, are available if you plump for the 5.0 edition. Similarly, the slightly more substantial Como SL 5.0 model offers eight gears instead of five, but either way the design is very much sit-up and step-through.
Our loan model was a ‘large’, and it certainly lived up to that. This is a bike that not only looks big; it feels big when you ride it too. It’s bulky, too – although it uses a lot of lightweight components, including an aluminum frame, the overall impression you get even before riding the Turbo Como SL is one of heftiness.
Nevertheless, Specialized has packed in plenty of cool features, such as its own Super Light System 1.1 mid-drive motor, an internal gear hub, belt drive and a pair of sensible foot-friendly pedals. On a practical note, especially for a daily cruiser-style bike such as this, there’s a built-in front basket (which holds up to 15kg/33lb), rear-mounted carrier rack (to which you can fit panniers up to 20kg/44lb), mudguards, lights and a bell, all coming as part of the package.
The riding position is upright and comfy, with the Body Geometry handlebars and saddle combination making things easy on you. Accessing the electric assistance is done by pressing the button on Specialized’s own design on the frame tube, as seen on other models in the portfolio with a supplementary handlebar–mounted computer giving you all the details about your ride.
The design is rounded out by big wheels and Nimbus tires that are fat enough to absorb bumps in the road, but don’t stray into fat bike territory so the bike hints at being easier to manage on a variety of surfaces. Stopping this bulky design is done via TRP hydraulic discs, which do just that very effectively. Meanwhile, propping the bike up when we’d come to a halt was done via a very useful kickstand accessory.
We’ve enjoyed the Specialized system before and it’s essentially more of the same with the Specialized Turbo Como SL. Depending on how you ride it, and your requirements, you should get up to 62 miles in Eco mode and, naturally, less in Sport mode. If you’re looking to cover long distances, you’ll need to choose the model with the range extender pack.
Select Turbo mode and the range will drop considerably, although you will get to your destination that much quicker.
The intuitive drive system works with you, and we love the dynamic feel of the assistance, but the gear changing via the Microshift handlebar-mounted levers was less impressive. We’re not sure if it was the sample we had, but getting into top gear was vague and appeared to be slightly random.
Generally, the performance you get from the Specialized Turbo Como SL is solid, and you can rely on the power less if your cycling habits are more health-focused. The overall bulk of the bike does push you towards using the battery more rather than less, though.
When you’ve stopped there’s an integrated lifting handle in the middle of the frame, which is a neat idea, though a less realistic proposition during everyday use. Overall performance from the standard internal battery proved very respectable, living up to the figures above.
However, as mentioned earlier, if you need the bike to go further Specialized does offer a range extender battery pack, which can be managed by the accompanying Mission Control app. The trade-off to that will obviously be more weight. The Mission Control app is also a handy supplement to the standard bike, allowing you to tailor performance to suit your own riding needs and ability.
We also found that the Specialized Turbo Como SL e-bike was very capable in the wet, with a design that sits firmly on the road. Usefully, everything is suitably weather-proof too, from the belt drive and hidden battery/motor through to those big mudguards that do a sterling job of deflecting splashes from puddles.
Recharging the battery is done via a neat plug socket at the bottom of the frame, which is covered by a sprung flap to keep out the elements. The e-bike comes with a 48V charger and custom plug to make the connection, and we found a top-up from half battery power to full took a couple of hours or so.
First reviewed September 2021
Buy it if
You’re after a sedate cruiser
The Specialized Turbo Como SL is perfect for relaxed forays to the store and back.
Carrying stuff matters
Its integrated basket is fab, but you can supplement this with more load-carrying pannier accessories.
You’ve got space to store it
This e-bike isn’t exactly compact, so you’ll need decent storage facilities to keep your valuable purchase safe.
Don’t buy it if
You’re after a featherweight bike
The Specialized Turbo Como SL is quite bulky, so if lifting bikes isn’t your thing then it’s probably best avoided.
Bike apps don’t appeal
You’ll get the best from the e-bike by using its supplementary app, which means having your phone with you.
You have no need to carry things
The basket on the front of the bike is great, but some riders might find it an unnecessary distraction.