Best Bicycle Reviews
Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon
By Randy Archer
Creo SL Bike Review
Specialized has a long history of developing the world's highest performing road bikes. Tarmac, Venge, Roubaix, Allez, Diverge—each one dominates their respective category, featuring the best technologies in the industry. And, while that's a tough palmarès to follow, the Turbo Creo SL redefines e-road bike performance. It's lightweight, smooth, capable, and lively—all with the power to flatten mountains, laugh at headwinds, and go farther than you ever thought possible. It's you, only faster.
48v - 240w motor - 320Wh battery - 28mph assist
FACT 11r carbon frame - Super lightweight (26.8Lbs)
Future Stem Pro, 20mm shock - Delivers a smoother, more comfortable ride
Super range - Up to 80 miles on a charge, plus add a range extender for 40 more
Specialized craftsmanship - Amazing fit and finish
Specialized SL 1.1 motor - Whisper quiet and lighter than any other brand
Shimano GRX 810 brakes - Wow! 'Nuf said
Turbos are smart bikes that connect your bike via ANT+ and/or Bluetooth® to our very own Mission Control App, Turbo Connect Display (TCD), or your other favorite third-party displays, devices, or apps. With Specialized's superior connectivity solutions, it’s up to you to decide how you want to ride. Better yet, for the minimalist, no display is needed to operate the bike, giving you a clean perch.
As with every e-bike I test ride, the first thing I do is ride without any assist. On downhill and flats, the Creo rides and handles like a regular pedal bike. Climbing does make you notice the added weight, but it's not profound. Most e-bikes really make you work with the motor off. Most, do not completely decouple. Not the Specialized SL 1.1 motor. When it's off, it's not holding you back.
After a bit of fun, I turned on the power. The SL 1.1 is so smooth and silent, you barely notice it's even turned on. On the lowest power level, assist is applied in a very subtle and linear manner. There is no surge and not even a hint of whine. On high, there is loads of power, but still the bike exhibits a natural acceleration. On a particularly steep climb, approaching Saguaro Lake, power was distributed cleanly, no matter the gear I chose. Standing - it supports the torque. Seated and spinning, it just flattens the grade. On my return, the transition where assist levels off (over 28mph), I felt no change in the forward motion of my descent. In the corners, it felt like a regular bike. No frame flex. In the headwind - wow did I enjoy the extra boost!
Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO - A more gravel approach
I did challenge the Creo SL comp in the dirt. The canal comes up to Bush Highway, at the end of Power Road. I have taken the Turbo Vado on this segment before and figured I'd give the Creo a go at it. At higher speeds, the Future Stem performs great. And, with the tire pressure set a bit lower (more appropriate for a gravel ride), it did well soaking up the chop. Stock, this model comes with 28mm tires, but the Creo SL Comp Carbon EVO, comes with 38mm tires and a wider rim. The Comp did great, but I'm certain the EVO would do even better.
Specialized Turbo S-Works Creo SL - Best of the Best
If you've got funds and want the best, naturally, Specialized offers the Creo SL in an S-Works version. As always, the S-Works bikes are unquestionably the best made bikes on the planet.
Copyright 2020 ©
Specialized Turbo Levo Expert Carbon
By Randy Archer
Could this be the ultimate e-MTB?
The 29" tire is back. Combine the Specialized Butcher 2.6, tubeless mounted 29" tire, with 150mm of travel, and the magic Gripton® rubber, and you get a remarkable combination of confidence inspiring ride and handling. The center of mass is low, providing fantastic balance and control. This is trail geometry at its best. The Levo picks its way through slow technical trail sections, with few pedal strikes, like a ninja. On the open trail, fast sweeping flowing trails are exhilarating. Balance in the air is perfection, launching off ledges like they aren't even there. For the biggest challenge, downhill handling over technical terrain, the 29" wheels change direction, while staying stuck to the ground, without a hint of under steer.
I rode this dream bike around under various conditions. Power application on the lowest Eco setting, is smooth and responsive. In fact, I rode mostly with the power on low. On steep, loose, technical climbs, I raised the power to medium, Trail mode. Climbing step-ups became manageable and my heart rate never spiked, leaving me in full control for the entire hill. On a few flowing uphill climbs, I set the power on high. It was effortless and exhilarating. The coolest feature was being able to adjust the motor power setting from the Mission Control App on my phone. I'd say that after SAG setup, fine tuning power is the second most important step in preparing your ride. Mostly though, I enjoyed Eco mode, giving me a good workout and extending my day. At the end of a long ride of 45 miles, I still had power to ride the rest of the way back home.
No clutter here. The super clean perch is a standout. With the battery display on the top tube, and a neatly designed power selector on the bars, the cockpit is simple, with easy access to the controls. When you combine the elegance of the bar arrangement, with the engineering of the motor and battery integration, and the super quiet Specialized 2.1 motor, you will blend into the landscape like any other mountain bike.
It's incredible to believe that Specialized reduced motor weight and size by over 11%, increased battery capacity by 40%, and still managed to keep the bike light and nimble. The Roval wheels work perfectly with the carbon fiber chassis to delivery a stiff and responsive ride. On the trail, I never felt like the bike was hard to change course or was pushing the corners. Handling was plush, yet predictable, on slow technical sections, as well as high speed drops. Primarily an all-mountain setup, performance was outstanding on tight, slow climbs, but still felt refined and very stable on fast flowing downhill runs. Coming off ledges, catching a little air, let me feel how balanced the bike was when not in contact with the ground. The center of gravity is close, making the bike feel flickable and light, even in the air. In no case did the Levo ever feel heavy or sluggish. It hits the motor assist limit of 20mph smoothly, disengaging completely, allowing a natural transition to higher speeds.
Don't care for 29" wheels? The Levo Expert comes with a Flip Chip, letting you easily change the bottom bracket height and angles for different riding styles or wheel/tire size changes. Changing the geometry is subtle, but effective. It's a great feature for the intermediate to expert level rider who wants to fine tune his/her ride.
The 2019 Specialized Turbo Levo Expert is a remarkable and beautiful machine. It's fun, stylish, modern and the epitome of engineering perfection. Visit our shop today to find out more or test ride any of the great Levo mountain bikes available from Specialized.
- 150mm travel front and rear
- Flip chip to change geometry to fit different wheel or tire setups
- Mission Control Blue Tooth interface to map your ride, change motor settings, and more
- Extra capacity 700Wh battery
- Super quiet torque from industry leading Specialized 2.1 motor
- SRAM X1 10-42 11-speed shifting
- New TCU remote battery and power controller mounted on the top tube to help eliminate clutter
- Convenient minimalist, bar mounted, remote power switch, for changing power levels instantly
- 160mm Specialized Command Post with indexing for precision seat height on the fly
- Walk assist mode to get out of tight climbs
- 780mm bars
- SRAM Code R, 4-piston caliper, hydraulic disc, 200mm
- Low and tight center of mass, improving handling under all conditions
Copyright 2019 ©
By Randy Archer
I have ridden most of the Pivot top-line mountain bikes. I have also had the opportunity to ride many other brands of pedal and electric mountain bikes. Without question, Pivot makes some of the very best mountain bikes in the world. I expected the best when I first put the Shuttle together at the shop. Right out of the box, what struck me was the attention to detail, right down to the packaging. The fit and finish is remarkable. Since I’m going to ride this bike for my own, I went over the component specs very carefully. I was delighted to find the Shuttle equipped exactly as I would have built it myself.
Before venturing out, I set the SAG, adjusted the perch and started at a baseline air pressure. On the trail, I further refined the compression and rebound and tweaked the air pressure. I did remove the air chamber volume spacers because I don’t weigh a lot and do like a plush ride (slower, technical). Setup guides are included with the bike. I chose 25% SAG in front and 28% in back. It’s a little less than I would use on a pedal bike (30%) due to the increased weight of the bike itself. At this setting, I experienced no bottoming out, few pedal strikes and a good mid-stoke ride, while holding up in the stroke under demanding terrain. Naturally, this is exactly what I expected from the Fox Elite setup.
Weight & Handling. Sure, a carbon fiber frame can make a lightweight bike. The Shuttle is light: under 45 pounds. The lightest Class 1 e-MTB made. But light cannot come at the price of lateral and torsional stiffness. A flexible frame feels unpredictable under stress and very unnerving in corners; a big problem with aluminum frames. The carbon layup and design must consider tremendous forces that twist the frame in unusual ways – especially when adding the weight of a motor and battery. Fortunately, Pivot is world renown for exquisite carbon fiber design. The Shuttle performs like any world-class, conventional mountain bike, despite the added weight. On the trail, I drove the bike hard into corners, landed off some big ledges and dropped down some technical rock falls. In every case, the bike felt predictable and not different from my Pivot Mach 4 carbon. The geometry and travel make the Shuttle at ease on any fast, technical trail and really shine on more technical sections, both up and down (thanks to the pedal assist).
Anti-squat is important for a longer travel bike. Bobbing while climbing is annoying and makes technical climbs more difficult. The DW-Link, and 140mm rear travel, make climbs crisp and controlled. When paired with the Fox Elite DPX2 shock and Fox 36 Elite fork, technical climbs are a snap. Overall, the effects of added static weight are minimized, especially once under way.
Motor. I have had the chance to ride most of the e-bike motors out today. Everything from high powered hub drive and mid drive, to economical low power assist units. I also ride a Honda CRF450X in the desert – so am accustomed to a motorcycle. On Class 1 e-MTBs the motor is designed to help pedaling effort, mostly on climbs, subtly on the flats and minimally on decent. It is not a motorcycle. You must pedal. Given this backdrop, a good e-MTB motor should integrate fluidly and smoothly, providing a sublime, seamless assist experience. Best in class motors are lightweight, have a narrow profile (less than 174mm Q-factor), are stingy on power consumption, have strong torque on demand and an effective application of power over a broad RPM range. Shimano provides this and more. The E8000 is firmly positioned as a best-in-class motor.
Shimano provides fine tuning of performance, and easy downloads of firmware updates, on their e-Tube app. This means you can update and control your motor’s action, right from your own cell phone, over Bluetooth. It’s integrated with the Di2 derailleur, with an easy-to-read perch-mounted display. With minimal motor whine, the E-8000 is not the quietest, but nonetheless, stealthy. Using three power assist modes, and mostly settling on eco mode, I was able to ride a comfortable 50-miles, with power to spare at the end of my ride. Shimano’s 70Nm of torque is more than ample for even the most demanding climbs. Programming is excellent, providing a very smooth application of power, based on demand. Even the roll off transition of assist decoupling, after 20mph, is not abrupt. The E8000 is one of the best, if not the best, motor available.
Components. Shimano XT, 4-piston brakes, mounted on 180mm rear and 203mm front discs, are phenomenal. I tried my best to overheat these and could not. The Di2 rear derailleur is mounted to an 11-46 tooth, 11-speed cassette, providing superior range. The 150mm Fox Transfer dropper post is very smooth and adjustable on the fly. All this is attached to controls that are easily adjusted on the 760mm carbon bars, making an enjoyable interface with critical components, positioned exactly how I like them.
The DT Swiss EB1550 40mm rims are mounted on a Super Boost Plus, 147mm rear axle, and 110mm front axle. This construction is strong, light and very stiff when leaning into corners. Rubber on the bike is provided by Maxxis. Pivot chose the Minion in front and the Rekon in back, both 27.5 X 2.8, tubeless. I usually run lower pressures up front, but the unique combination of tires accomplishes the same result, with better control. Nice. Driving the wheels hard on corners and sharp rock edges, I experienced no flex, but still a very light, flickable, feel. Even at 17psi, there was no rolling, burping or pinching. This exemplifies Pivot’s superior engineering and keen understanding of total bike design.
Attention to the smallest details are seen on the chain stay protector, integrated bash guard, and the DW-Link debris cover. Not that I am a fan of falling, but the Shimano control interface is tucked away between the bar and the stem, lending a very protected nook in the event of unintended dismount. I really like the paint scheme, which makes the bike disappear, like a stealth fighter, on the trail. It does not look like an e-bike.
Having ridden and raced for some time, and enjoying the added benefit of pedal assist, extending my ability to keep riding, I appreciate the perfection found on the Shuttle. No matter your age or skill level, there is no better choice to experience high-level engineering and technology on the trail. No, it’s not cheap, so not everyone can afford this delightful ride. But, if you can, there is no better build and geometry to be found than the Pivot Shuttle.
Like the Shuttle, but can't afford it? Read further down for the Haro Shift i/O 9. Similar setup on and aluminum frame, Di2, and the Shimano E-8000 motor.
Copyright 2018 ©
Classic Masi Gran Criterium Moderno
By Randy Archer
The transcendent beauty of this classic, steel icon remains unrivaled. The Gran Criterium positioned Masi USA as a force in the emerging ten-speed scene in the early 1970's, to become our flagship model for many years to come. The timeless formula of Columbus steel and investment cast lugs combine to recreate a stunning vintage racer with a modern-day twist. Campagnolo’s 11-speed Potenza group honors the relationship between three great Italian bicycle institutions, while a Brev.M 3D cockpit completes the retro package.
In the 1970's, I raced criteriums on a Masi. Then, it came with the most modern components, including: twelve speeds (12-18), Campagnolo Super Record groupo, super light Columbus double-butted tubing, and Super Champion Arc en Ciel tubular rims. When I "clipped-in," it meant that the only way to get your foot out was to reach down and release the leather toe strap. Today, Masi has the modern version, with updated components, but maintains the old-school style. When I ride it, it always turns a lot of heads. It's very cool looking.
Naturally, I do have a new carbon Masi, with all the latest upgrades, like: tubeless carbon wheels, Di2 shifting and a Dura Ace Groupo. It climbs and accelerates like a rocket ship. However, nothing is quite like the ride of Columbus tubing. The whole riding experience is nostalgic. It's still light, not like carbon of course, but not heavy. The steel flexes differently and gives a very comfortable ride. Carbon is harsh and unyielding compared to steel. Although a bit heavier, it still feels remarkably nimble and responsive. My most startling observation is quiet. Steel and aluminum is significantly quieter than carbon, especially wheels.
The latest edition from Campagnolo, Potenza, is very crisp and responsive. I do miss the Di2, but the Potenza is in no way "old." Every aspect performs like a modern bike. Shifting is crisp and precise. The drive train is smooth, without any any annoying sounds or glitches.
With a very clean fit and finish, Masi took time to highlight the details. Chrome lugs pop, showcasing the exquisite detail of the paint and frame. I really like the detail in the chrome fork crown. Wide flange hubs, encasing precision bearings, laced to Brev. M Classic Road rims, provide a smooth, contemporary ride feel. Even the Clement Strada tire choice gives a look of the past, yet they are better handling tires than any clincher from 1970.
This is Masi!
Copyright 2018 ©
Aventon Pace 500 Review
Aventon Pace 500
By Randy Archer
In this price level, I have found no other bike to compete. The Pace 500 is fast, light and a delight to ride. In the under $1,500 price point, especially as a commuter, the Pace 500 is amazing. A very stylish bike - and surprisingly peppy - is perfect for urban riding, commuting, casual rides and is available in three frame sizes, atypical for this category where most are one-size-fits-all. Wiring is internally routed, resulting in a very clean look. The step-through model comes in two sizes, small and medium, with a height match from 4'11" to 5'10". If you are a shorter rider, you'll really appreciate the small step-through, which is one of the lowest seat-heights on an e-bike I've seen. The sloping top tube makes for great clearance on the step-over, leaving lots of clearance for every rider.
The Pace 500 is not an entry level e-bike. The 48 volt battery, combined with the powerful 500 watt hub motor, yields gobs of power for climbing hills or holding a steady pace in all conditions. The geared hub provides superior torque, revving up to a top assisted speed of 28mph. I especially liked the display and easy access to the pedal assist level control. I even rode the Pace 500 without assist and was surprised at how easy it was to pedal. Normally an electric bike is super heavy to ride without the battery. Not the Pace. It rides like a pedal bike. The key to the Pace 500's efficiency is its emphasis on a clean design, aluminum frame and ample gearing.
There are eyelets for mounting a rack, making this a versatile commuter. Sporting a very clean cockpit design means there is room for a light and your phone. No need to worry about stopping, even with a heavier load. Hydraulic disk brakes are standard, making stops smooth and easy to control. The 27.5 wheels are a perfect choice, balancing a comfortable ride and low rolling resistance.
Affordable, stylish, perfection: If you are looking for a clean, light, and competent commuter, ride the Pace 500 before you make your buying decision.
- Powerful 500W Brushless Rear Hub Motor
- 30-50 Mile Estimated Range Per Charge
- Max Assisted Speed 28mph, Class 3
- Hydraulic Disc Brakes w/ Safety Motor Cut-Off Sensor
- LCD Smart Display
- 27.5" E-Bike Rated Tires for Safety and Comfort
- 6061 Alloy Aluminum Frame
- Full Rigid Front Fork
- 27.5x1.75” Kenda Kwick-Seven Tires
- 1x8, 8-Speed Shimano Altus
- Tektro HD-T285 180mm Hydraulic Disc Brakes
- Samsung 557 WH, 12 AH, 48V, Li-Ion Battery
- 4 Hour Charge Time
- 5 Speed mode on Controller
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