Skip to main content

Specialized Turbo Tero 3.0 review

Specialized’s new Turbo Tero 3.0 is practical for shopping and the school run but will handle gentle singletrack too

Specialized Turbo Tero 3.0 review
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

Specialized’s Tero is a very promising Sports Utility E-bike with a brilliant ‘mind’, thoughtful practicality and a quiet, smooth mid-powered motor at a good price. This cheaper version struggles with real off-road riding though

For

  • - MasterMind functionality is genuinely genius
  • - Full Mission Control tuneability
  • - Quiet, smooth mid-power motor
  • - Good value componentry
  • - Decent battery range
  • - Fast on- or off-bike charging
  • - Lockable battery and motor
  • - Cargo, trailer and fender fixtures
  • - Confident steering feel
  • - Quality fast all-rounder tires

Against

  • - Limited gear range
  • - Undamped fork limits control off-road
  • - Harsh frame

Bike Perfect Verdict

Specialized’s Tero is a very promising Sports Utility E-bike with a brilliant ‘mind’, thoughtful practicality and a quiet, smooth mid-powered motor at a good price. This cheaper version struggles with real off-road riding though

Pros

  • + - MasterMind functionality is genuinely genius
  • + - Full Mission Control tuneability
  • + - Quiet, smooth mid-power motor
  • + - Good value componentry
  • + - Decent battery range
  • + - Fast on- or off-bike charging
  • + - Lockable battery and motor
  • + - Cargo, trailer and fender fixtures
  • + - Confident steering feel
  • + - Quality fast all-rounder tires

Cons

  • - - Limited gear range
  • - - Undamped fork limits control off-road
  • - - Harsh frame

Specialized’s new Turbo Tero range is listed in both its Mountain and Active E-Bike categories and it blends practical utility with MTB styling and some confidence-boosting components. The MasterMind interface and its functions are brilliant, particularly at this price too. If you're looking for the best electric mountain bike performance from the Tero, you’ll need to get the more expensive versions to fulfill its obvious off-road potential though.

Image 1 of 2

Tire clearance at the rear of the Specialized Turbo Tero 3.0

There isn't a lot of mud clearance with the stock 2.35 tires (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Image 2 of 2

Signs of rub from dirt behind the chainring on the Specialized Turbo Tero 3.0

We found the tight chainring clearance caused debris to get lodged behind it (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Design and geometry

The Tero certainly looks ready for rough terrain with a massive down tube that the custom 530Wh battery slots into from underneath. There’s a recharge socket deep inside the downtube hidden by a flip-over cover and there’s a release lever and lock for the removable battery too. The ‘Turbo Full Power 2.0’ motor sits behind plain plastic covers but clearance is tight and the chainring was starting to drag debris around and cause scuff marks as soon as we hit sticky sections.

A forged yoke starts off the very long (470mm) and deep chainstays but again the mud room is slightly tight with the 2.35in tires. Tall 3D forged dropouts carry protruding mounting points for the rear rack and/or fenders. The rear brake sits on stout pyramid post mounts and there are bolt holes for a kickstand on the offside too. The 148mm Boost bolt-through axle can be switched out for a trailer-compatible axle and dropouts are profiled for plenty of hitch clearance if you want to tow kids or cargo. There are more mounts for fenders and racks up alongside the tire and the cross brace on the tapering square section seat stays which meet the seat tube below the top tube. The sturdy back end is rated for up to 27kg load and the fully equipped Tero 4.0 EQ bikes ($TBC / £4,200) use the HIX rack system that can mount quick-release child seats and the like. There’s an accessory mount under the top tube too, while a single bottle mount sits on top of the down tube and you get the same mounts on the Step Through models if you don’t want to/can’t hoik your leg over the top tube. 

Geometry is a blend of progressive MTB and comfortable town cruising . The head angle is a confidently relaxed 66.4 degrees, stabilized further with a short 44mm offset fork. That fork sits in a tall 165mm head tube though and a 446mm reach is definitely 'old skool MTB', not a progressive stretch. Those long chainstays also shift the rider further forward in the long 1,226mm wheelbase. Then again the intended target audience will likely be more interested that you get a nice wide 155mm saddle rather than diving deep into the dynamic geometry stats.

Image 1 of 2

Shimano Alivio cassette and mech on the Specialized Turbo Tero 3.0

Shimano's Alivio drivetrain offers reliable shifting (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Image 2 of 2

Rear brake mount on the Specialized Turbo Tero 3.0

Large rotors help scrub momentum (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Components and build

Shimano stop and go kit (including hubs) are the benchmark for durability and Alivio gearing is good for the money even if the ratios restrict capability. It’s good to see larger disc rotors too, as even with a mid-sized 530Wh battery the Tero comes in at 21.6kg before you even add pedals let alone rider and 27kg of cargo. Thankfully the 750mm bar and T5 compound Ground Control 29 x 2.35in tubeless-ready tires also add control whether you’re in town or dodging trees. The 110mm travel Suntour XCM fork is good for the price and gets fender mounts too, but the 3.0 misses out on the dropper post of the more expensive Tero models. 

Ride, handling and performance 

Having the best e-MTB motor, battery and communication are a massive part of any e-bike experience and it’s a mixed report for the Tero 3. The Turbo Full Power 2.0E motor engages smoothly and easily from very low down in the rev range and it’s quiet too. Calling it the Full Power is misleading though as it only gives 50Nm of torque compared to the 70nm of the Tero 4 and the 90Nm of the Tero 5 ($5,000 / £4,500). In Trail or Turbo, that’s still a useful push to quickly get up to speed and a significant pace up a middling gradient. When things get steep or you’re making use of that cargo/towing capacity you’ll start to struggle though. Not least because the 9-speed gearing tops out at a 36T cog so it’s only a 1:1 ratio with the single Praxis chainring upfront. The battery capacity is also lower than the Tero 4 and 5 but as it’s got less torque it’ll likely last a similar time. It’s double the capacity of a Fazua or Mahle-powered bike too, but still recharges quickly.

Where Specialized really wins is the MasterMind display and Mission Control smartphone app. While many bike screens at this price still look like they’re from a "you know you’re an 80s kid if you recognize this" meme the MasterMind is bright, clean and multi-colored. You scroll through the multiple three-to-six cell screens using the left-hand bar remote which also toggles you up and down the three power bands or lets you change power in 10 percent increments. There’s even a haptic buzz through the left grip so you don’t have to look down to know you’ve made an adjustment. 

If you don’t like the well thought out default options, the screens can be fully customized and you can have up to 16 different presets depending on the ride ahead. It’ll tell you everything from comprehensive ride, range, power and battery stats, through to how much power you’re putting in compared to the bike. The support and max power percentage for each mode are adjustable and you can set the Tero up to guarantee you’ve still got the battery capacity to complete your planned journey. 

It can also alter assistance depending on a target heart rate from a wireless monitor and ‘Pedal Pace Coaching’ shows you when you’re pedaling most efficiently too. MasterMind can also be linked to Garmin Vario radar to give traffic warnings and the 'Turbo System Lock’ setting alerts you if your Tero gets moved, switching off the motor at the same time to stop a quick getaway and notifying dealers that it’s a stolen bike. In other words, it’s about as close to a Tesla as you’ll get while pedaling which is outstanding for the price.

Ebike system display on the Specialized Turbo Tero 3.0

The MasterMind display is really sorted, displaying a wide range of ride metrics (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

The Ground Control tires are quicker and quieter on the road than you’d expect, given their decent off-road grip. The relaxed head angle, long wheelbase and short offset fork mean you can have fun carving round corners with a lot of confidence as long as they’re smooth. While our sample needed a helping hand with WD40 to get started, Suntour’s XCM fork is normally a small bump smoother as long as you keep it clean and being able to run the tires tubeless will add more compliance. That sturdy frame with its massive downtime and load-rated rear end still make for a rough ride through feet, saddle and spine though, and the grips create their own haptics on hard surfaces too. While it’s great for cruising, viewing and hopping up curbs, the tall and short position makes it very hard to load the front wheel on steeper climbs. Once we’d got it moving the complete lack of rebound damping in the fork also makes the Tero more likely to be knocked off line if you hit a bump.

Ebike system display on the Specialized Turbo Tero 3.0

For proper off-roading the higher spec versions offer more performance (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

If you’re after a MTB-styled, around-town utility bike the Tero is very impressive for the money. The display and smart functionality of MasterMind and Mission Control are outstanding, it’s comparatively well-specced, the motor is smooth and quiet, battery range reasonable and it’s loaded with practical lifestyle potential. Basic fork, limited power, limited gears and lack of a dropper post to escape the harsh frame mean this entry-level version can’t capitalize on the off-road potential of the confident steering and usefully grippy tires. Tero 4 and 5 look genuinely off-piste ready though, if that's where you want to go. 

Tech Specs: Specialized Turbo Tero 3.0

  • Model name: Specialized Turbo Tero 3.0
  • Discipline: Utility/MTB 
  • Price: $3,250 / £2,900
  • Head angle: 66.4
  • Frame material: E5 Aluminum
  • Size: S, M, L and XL
  • Weight: 21.8kg (large without pedals)
  • Wheel size: 29x2.3in
  • Drive unit: Specialized Turbo Full Power 2.0E 250W, 50Nm motor with 530 Wh battery
  • Suspension: SR Suntour XCM32 110mm travel, 44mm offset fork
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Alivio 11-36T 9-speed gearing and shifter
  • Cranks: Custom chainset with 36T Praxis chainring
  • Brakes: Shimano MT200 brakes with 180mm rotors
  • Cockpit: Specialized Trail 750mm bar and 70mm stem
  • Wheelset: Roval Stout XC rims with DT Industry spokes and Shimano MT400 hubs
  • Tires: Specialized Ground Control, 2 Bliss 29 x 2.35in tires
  • Seatpost: Specialized alloy post
  • Saddle: Specialized Rivo Sport saddle
Guy Kesteven

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He got an archaeology degree out of Exeter University, spent a few years digging about in medieval cattle markets, working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit he’s also coughed out a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too. We trust Guy's opinion and think you should, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel Ltd MTBs, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Di2 Disc road bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg