In the words of a specialized instagram post: gear on, screens off.
B’ys, it was a fun ol’ time hanging with Specialized Bicycles for a few days. They hosted me, along with many other more-important-than me writers that flew in from all over the USA (Men’s Health, BikeRadar, Self.com, Motor Trend) to come out to Palo Alto for a few days and test out their newest launch, the Turbo Vado pedal assist electric bike.
This sounds silly, but I feel like I’m living in a magical land of sorts living in Silicon Valley. I’m still in awe of everything I see. The other day I spotted the Netflix headquarters and was all: WHOA! Seriously. The world is changing so quickly, and now I’m on a press-trip with these magazines I’ve always seen on news stands? It’s unreal and it blows my mind.
Having no idea what to expect from an electric bike, I can tell you it’s definitely hard to get back on a regular one after using this one the past few days.
They certainly invited some fantastic people on this trip (totally not patting my back here haha!!) What a great group of press. I had the best time, the best belly laughs, high fives, and good convo’s.
Look, I’m not going to get into the technical details of the ebike because quite frankly you can find better sources out there who will get into greater detail about its construction and how it works. For me, I love telling you stories, about the adventures and the day we had on it.
A day in Silicon Valley, on the Specialized Vado.
It’s kinda weird hopping on an ebike for the first time. A little heavy feeling especially if you want to move the rear of the bike when standing around. However, pedaling you quickly get used to it, and when you hit that turbo button (there’s 4 settings: Eco, Sport, Turbo and… Off), boom you’re off light a light. Start pedaling and there you have it, you’re immediately going 3x faster than you normally would. It’s addictive, and so is the horn.
YES THE BIKE HAS A HORN.
And I might have been a little obnoxious with it, holding down the horn speeding past some of the crew and wanting to say “so long suckerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs!!!!”. One guy suggested I even head back home with it, down the road. Hey, I thought about it! Lol.
The Vado is definitely capable of serving so many riders. Firstly, you have to think of it as a bike first as it’s still a regular bike with a bit of help from the motor. It rides like a normal bike, only faster. The few hours that we were out, flew by. I didn’t break a sweat, but my arse was definitely sore. Guess it didn’t help that I’m not used to cycling more than an hour at a time, and I wore jeans, too. I have to say, spending time with such an awesome crew, and laughing totally made up for my poor butt being so sore.
The first day on the bikes we took a grand tour of what it’d be like for an average commuter to head out on their bike and head to work. 2 hours in, one journalist dude joked “are we at work yet? This is a long commute”. See what I mean? I don’t know, maybe it doesn’t come across as hilarious when I write it, but when I remember the moment I thought it was the funniest thing ever.
I totally want to go on that route again so on the ride, I was keeping a mental note in the back of my head of where we traveled all over my new home of Silicon Valley. We cycled through so many fancy neighbourhoods, from tech-hub Palo Alto, to rich-ville Los Altos, and even around the immaculately pristine gardens of Stanford campus.
Having it on turbo mode the entire time, I felt confident entering intersections as I knew I’d be through it 3x faster than I would on a regular bike. It also feels so much more stable balancing it, so you don’t have to put a foot down immediately at a red light.
What blew my mind, was that we went up a number of hills, but I was still sitting down on the bike seat, and making minimal effort to race up the hill and still maintaining a decent pace. The bike is designed with commuters in mind, for them to allow to get to work quickly without breaking a sweat. On the way home from work if you want a more athletic fitness experience, simply turn off the motor, and away you go. As Mike put it, if you’re a slow cyclists, you’ll be slow on this bike. If you’re a fast cyclist, you’ll be fast on this. Basically:
It’s you, only faster.
Some friggen fun I gotta say. On a trail up in Palo Alto we had 15 second intervals of going down the trail by ourselves (because the photographer was waiting for us, to take individual shots). I tried pedaling as fast as my legs would allow, to see how fast I could make this thing go. 40 clicks! 42km/hr is how fast I flew on the bike. Madness.
Funny story, I was a few minutes late for the product presentation and I showed up and sat in the back with the Specialized folks, rather than the journalists. A man walked in, who I hadn’t seen yet on the trip. I stood up, introduced myself:
“Hi, I’m Nancy! What’s your name?”
Still not knowing it was Specialized Founder, Mike Sinyard I then asked him if he was from around here and where he lived. He chuckled at me a bit and said Morgan Hill (where Specialized HQ is). I said “Oh cool, I’m local too in San Jose.” The convo ended and he headed up to the front to do an intro to the presentation, and low-and-behold he was introduced as CEO, of Specialized. HA!!! Isn’t that nuts? He’s such a wicked and nice guy too, and same with everyone working there regardless of their status at their job.
They definitely hired amazing staff, I tell ya. That same day, we went out on our 30 mile bike ride and at a stop sign at one point, I thought my Vado stopped working (lol) because I couldn’t move! I looked back and here was Mike holding the back of my bike. So, definitely a few jokesters in the group, including the founder.
Thanks for the fun adventure, Specialized!