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Specialized brings Turbo e-bike stateside

Published April 26, 2013
Specialized Turbo e-bike

MORGAN HILL, CA (BRAIN) — With the U.S. launch of its Turbo electric bike this week, Specialized joins the small list of brands that are looking to carve out space at the upper end of the market.

E-bike buyers are typically older Baby Boomers, but Specialized is taking aim at a younger demographic with the Turbo, particularly focusing on locations where cycling commuting is popular.

“For people who ride — maybe competitively, maybe aggressively, maybe recreationally — as part of their lifestyle, we think it will be a good opportunity to introduce them to cycle commuting,” said Dan Quick, U.S. business specialist for Specialized. “And for people who already are cycle commuting, it may be a nice upgrade for them as well.”

Its suggested retail price of $5,900 puts the Turbo at the upper end of the category, joining bikes like Stromer’s ST1 and the Currie eFlow, which retail for up to $3,999.

Specialized had a press launch Thursday in San Francisco that generated online buzz. It also hosted events for retailers and shop employees this week in Morgan Hill, California, Denver, Colorado, and Miami, Florida. The Turbo has been on the market in some European countries since last year.

Quick said Specialized wanted its Turbo retailers to undergo special training, since e-bikes have unique components and handling characteristics.

He said Turbos should be in stock at participating retailers by the end of next week. Specialized expects to update its website by Monday to show which retailers are stocking the Turbo.

“The frame design and the integration of the battery and all the moving parts looks beautiful,” said Alex Jacobson, manager of Bicycle Habitat in New York City. “This is going to be our urban commuter bike.”

Jacobson said the Turbo would be the first e-bike the store has stocked, although it does conversions and special orders certain e-bike models.

“We’re not intimidated by the price point,” he added. “The quality of the bike speaks to that price level.”

Specialized went for speed and style with the Turbo. It comes only as a pedal assist and has no throttle option. The Turbo’s 250-watt motor allows for a top speed of 28 mph. Cables are routed in the frame, and its 342Wh lithium ion battery integrates smoothly with the downtube.

At about 50 pounds, the Turbo is heavier than a traditional bike but is on the light side for e-bikes.

“It looks fun. It looks cool. It goes faster than anyone really expects once they hop on it,” Quick said.

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