The Specialized Turbo Tero X 5.0 is unusual among e-bikes because it excels at two things, not one. As a commuter, its Class 3 performance will make short work of the ride to work. And because it simultaneously serves a capable eMTB, the 130mm-travel fork and 120mm-travel rear suspension, and the 200mm dropper post—a range that puts it firmly in the “trail” category—mean it will soak up rocks and bumps like any capable eMTB should. That travel also means that a work commute will be more comfortable than most other Class 3 commuters. Compared to other Specialized e-bikes we’ve reviewed, at 60 lbs., the Turbo Tero X 5.0 is rather heavy, but with the suspension set up correctly, and the help of the 2.0’s motor, the rider really won’t feel that weight except in tight turns. Some of that extra weight comes in accessories that the rider focused on off-road use can remove if necessary: fenders, rear rack and kickstand.
The fact that the Turbo Tero X 5.0 features two different wheel sizes may find this surprising, but there’s a reason for it. The setup, which involves a 29-in. wheel in front and a 27.5-in. wheel in the rear—which is called a mullet. This setup gives riders the advantage that comes with 29-in. wheels enjoy for riding over obstacles, while not sacrificing all of the maneuverability that comes with a 27.5-in. wheel.
Explaining the difference between the handling of the Turbo Tero X 5.0 as compared to the fat-tire e-bikes that typically split the difference between commuting and off-road exploration is like trying to explain green to someone who is colorblind. Specialized has long held a reputation for mountain bikes and eMTBs that handle in a way that makes the machine feel like an extension of the rider. They’ve pulled off that most difficult of tricks—making an e-bike that is nimble without being nervous. The Turbo Tero X handles more technical terrain pretty well, albeit not in the same league as its sibling the Turbo Levo.
While Specialized doesn’t offer the Turbo Tero X 5.0 in the six sizes they produce their high-end eMTBs in, they do offer it in four distinct sizes, which should give a comfortable fit to riders from 5 feet 1 up to 6 feet 5.
The Turbo Tero X 5.0 is spec’d with an alloy bar—not the carbon fiber found on some of their high-end eMTBs. This adds an extra dollop of both weight and durability, while helping to prevent this e-bike from growing too expensive. The lock-on grips are of excellent quality and comfortable enough to ride without gloves. The Turbo Connect Display features a full-color LCD display mounted at the stem. The numbers are large enough to be easy to read, even by people who need glasses.
The Specialized Bridge Sport saddle may look rather minimal to riders accustomed to the larger seats found on many e-bikes, but Specialized has made good saddle design a priority for more than 20 years at this point. This is a saddle that offers terrific support while not restricting the rider’s pedal stroke. Commuters will find the dropper seatpost to be a surprising benefit. After rolling up to a light, simply lower the saddle and the rider can place both feet flat on the ground and then raise the saddle as they pedal away from the signal.
The fenders don’t offer much clearance over the tires. In dry or wet conditions, that won’t be a problem, but for off-road riding in mud, we anticipate that these fenders will pack up with mud in a hurry – and if there is anything Specialized can do to make them quicker and easier to put on and off that would make us ecstatic.
The rear rack is ideal for adding a pannier (saddle bag) to keep from wearing a backpack for a work commute. Or for lugging around more than a backpack alone can accomodate.
We found the pedals to be perfect for city riding where handling isn’t critical, but for off-road riding, we didn’t think they offered enough grip and swapped them with a different set for our excursions on the trails.
One benefit of buying a Specialized e-bike is their smartphone app, Mission Control. MC allows riders to adjust a number of motor performance parameters, giving riders an e-bike that better responds to their riding style, but the app’s greatest strength is the security it offers riders. It allows GPS tracking of the e-bike’s location and the e-bike’s owner can even disable the motor should thieves do the unthinkable. Because the Turbo Tero X 5.0 features a mid-drive motor, disabling the motor disables the e-bike; the pedals will spin, but they won’t turn the chainring, eliminating the chance for a speedy getaway.