I make my living coaching cyclists, and lately, the conversation of ebikes keeps coming up.  Last year I used a Specialized Turbo Vado as a professional tool.  I was able to use the ebike for recovery days, pacing fast athletes, and doing both long endurance rides, and high intensity climbing.

On the ebike, I’m still able to ride at whatever intensity I want, but I’m going faster.  I’m still applying the same level of effort to the pedals as I would on my “unplugged” bike, but I might be going 22 mph rather than 14 mph in zone 1-2.  I can also do high intensity efforts on the ebike.  I had to put out a tremendous effort to get my Turbo Vado up OLH in under 12 minutes.  I was within a few beats of my maximum heart rate during the last 5 minutes.

This past week I rode the new Specialized Creo.  Here are some observations about the Creo verses the Vado.

The Creo is more like riding a regular road bike.  If I wanted to join a group ride, but didn’t want to put in a high training load, or needed help keeping up with faster riders, I would blend in well on the Creo.  The Creo looks like a regular bike, and feels like one when pedaling.  With the motor turned off it pedals and rolls just like a regular bike.  I felt no resistance, or drag, with the motor off.  It is a bit heavier than my road bike, but isn’t very noticeable until grades get over 3%.  The range on the Creo is surprising given how light it is.  The lighter weight also makes descending feel like I’m just on a longer wheel base gravel bike.

If I wanted more of a commuter bike, the Vado comes equipped with fenders, rack, and lights.  Its really a turn key car replacement.  I used mine to get around the Peninsula to meet with clients for workouts.  Without the ebike, I would have used my van significantly more.  In fact, my weekly cycling mileage was nearly double my usual during the weeks I used the Vado.  The Vado is noticeably heavier than the Creo, and pedaling feels less smooth, but it has a lot of power.  I could blast down Foothill Expressway at 25-28 mph in zone 1-2 on the Vado.  I rode the Creo a lot with the motor off, but wouldn’t want to do that on the Vado.

I found that I needed to purchase, and carry, a second battery with the Vado if I wanted to ride more than 50 miles, with any more assist than the lowest setting offers.  I was able to get 60 miles on the Creo, with 15% of the battery left using only 50% of available power in the lowest setting.  This ride included climbing Page Mill Road 15 minutes faster than I usually do on my road bike at the same effort level.  The Creo also offers an optional extender battery (standard on the S-Works) that has a claimed added range of 40 more miles. 

I was hesitant to try ebikes, and held out until a couple of years ago.  I now find that I enjoy the ebike as much, and sometimes more, than riding my regular bikes.  I’m literally riding at the same intensity, but covering more distance, in less time.  If I want, I can drop the power assistance and work harder, or I can drop my effort and let the bike pitch in more to earn its price tag.