The Gear Loop is supported by its readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

(The Gear Loop) - The electrification of the humble bicycle is spreading its reach well beyond the commuter as more and more riders recognise the benefit of having power, literally, behind your pedals.

While the purists will baulk at the suggestion of adding a battery and motor to a hardtail mountain bike, there's a selection of riders rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of an e-bike that can handle just about anything.

Specialized has a been working on its own formula for electric bikes for some time, applying it to gravel bikes like the Turbo Creo SL Comp, full suspension bikes like the Turbo Levo and this, the Turbo Tero.

The Gear LoopSpecialized Turbo Tero photo 4

The Turbo Tero is Specialized's entry point to electric mountain bikes. With a hardtail design, it's more appealing to those who need a bike that will do everything, from a pedal-powered commute, to hitting the trails at the weekend.

Our quick take

The Specialized Turbo Tero sits in a position in the middle of Specialized's pack. Above it are full suspension bikes that can cost a lot more; below it are commuter bikes that are only really designed to be used on the road.

The Turbo Tero sits in a great position bridging that divide - a bike that's as happy on a tow path commute as it is off the beaten track using its power to get you up forest hills.

It's a big thing: there's no denying that this a heavy bike and as a 29er, it takes up a lot of space. But that also leaves you with a great comfortable platform to ride. The Tero 5.0 version is the more pricey, however, so if you can't quite justify that outlay, it's worth considering the cheaper 3.0 or 4.0 too.

Specialized Turbo Tero review: an e-bike for all riders

Specialized Turbo Tero

4.5 stars - The Gear Loop recommended
For
  • Smooth power delivery
  • Great fun to ride
  • Comfortable and confident off-road and on
Against
  • It's a big bike
  • It's heavy
  • Expensive

squirrel_widget_6711955

In the Loop

This is everything you need to know about the Specialized Turbo Tero 5.0:

  • Aluminium hardtail design
  • Rockshock Recon Silver RL forks
  • Specialized 2.2 motor, 90Nm torque
  • 710Wh battery
  • SRAM G2 groupset
  • Stout XC29 wheels
  • TranzX dropper seatpost
The Gear LoopSpecialized Turbo Tero photo 1

Take it anywhere

There are three models in the Turbo Tero range - styled as 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0. It's the 5.0 that we have here, the top of the range bike, offering the most power, the highest battery capacity and logically, the highest price.

But all of these bikes have a typical hardtail design, with an E5 aluminium frame. It reveals its electric status thanks to that fat downtube which houses the battery and the chunky bottom bracket in which the motor sits.

Aside from the handlebar mounted controls, there's little else that gives this away as an electric bike. Turn it off and it is just a heavy mountain bike. And heavy it is, weighing in at 22.7kg.

The Gear LoopSpecialized Turbo Tero photo 2

But it has been designed for riding comfort over any terrain. The Rockshock forks offer 110mm of travel, the wide handlebars and upright seating position mean its well suited for long comfortable rides.

It is a big bike though. That's great if you want to use it as a platform for transporting stuff: there are attachment points so you can mount a rack, it will also take a child seat or accommodate a thru-axle trailer - the advantage of having a hardtail over a full suspension bike. But it's not especially nimble when you're weaving through narrow single track.

But that's only one side to the Turbo Tero's character, because it also features a dropper seatpost, so you can quickly move the saddle out of the way when you need to be agile and get on your feet. It's very much a jack of all trades.

The Gear LoopSpecialized Turbo Tero photo 8

The 29-inch wheels roll over just about anything, coming shod with fat tyres that are quick to shed mud, but offer loads of grip, meaning those disc brakes can really perform on loose surfaces. You'll get muddy, as they fling out the crud they pick up, but we feel it's better to have to put a wash on when you get home than losing grip and not going anywhere on the trails.

Turn on the power

Mounted in the centre of the handlebars is a display. It looks like a typical bike computer, but it importantly includes the power button to turn the bike on. Paired with the controller on the left-hand grip, you can manage the pedal assist power that the Tero puts down.

Like other e-bikes, you have to be pedalling to benefit from the assistance, and you're offered three settings: Eco, Trail and Turbo. You can also turn it off completely, at which point you'll feel the weight of Turbo Tero as soon as you hit the slightest slope.

The Gear LoopSpecialized Turbo Tero photo 31

Eco makes flat riding a breeze; whether you're on the road or on a nice firm trail, Eco will spirit you along taking some of the strain. It's then just a flick to Trail when you hit a hill or mud patch and you want a little more power to keep you coasting and avoiding having to hammer your legs so hard.

Of course, you have the full 11-42 gearing too, which when paired with the 36T chainring makes for ample off-road options, but with the addition of e-power, you can worry about gearing less and let the motor do more of the work.

That's really the beauty of the system. It's smooth and simple to use and you can easily adjust things along your ride to make it the experience you want. If you want to go longer, an e-bike will help you get there, if you want to ride up that hill again and again, an e-bike can help that happen without you, the rider, destroying yourself.

The Gear LoopSpecialized Turbo Tero photo 24

And that's really the point. While some will think that an e-bike is cheating (and we got no end of abuse from friends who spotted that fat downtube), we all ride for the same reason: because we love it.

If adding power means more people can ride further or on terrain they might otherwise think they're not capable of riding, then that's a good thing, surely?

One thing we're not talking about here is speed. Electric bikes have a speed assistance cap and in the UK that's 15.5 miles per hour. Once you crest that speed, it's down to your legs and the gearing of the bike to take you faster. So on the flat and downhill sections, hitting higher speeds isn't something that this big bike is good at.

The Gear LoopSpecialized Turbo Tero photo 34

But will it go faster off-road and uphill? It sure will.

Specialized says that you'll get up to 90 miles of assistance from this power arrangement. That will come down to how you ride, the modes you use and so on. That range really means you can head out for several hours without the fear that you'll be left with a flat battery. And if you are, the gearing on this bike will get you home - it will just be a lot more effort.

The battery can be removed from the frame for charging, or you can charge it in the bike and it will take a couple of hours using the bespoke charger.

The Gear LoopSpecialized Turbo Tero photo 10
To recap

The Specialized Turbo Tero sits at the entry point to Specialized's electric mountain bikes. As such, it's appealing to a wide range of riders, especially if you want a bike that will do everything. It's as happy on road as it is off, with plenty of power to extend your ride or take the pain out of your legs - and keep a smile on your face.

Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Leon Poultney.