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Specialized Vado long term thoughts.

Old 10-15-20, 03:49 PM
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restlessswind
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Specialized Vado long term thoughts.

I bought a 2020 Vado 3 middle of last year. I now have over 4000 miles. I can say I'm not at all impressed with the way the drive drain wears. It wears out quick! I suggest a new chain every 800-900 miles. I've broken and worn cassette teeth. I've worn the chain ring to the point where the chain sticks (chain suck). I think a belt drive and an IGH would be a better alternative for the future. I ride at 20-24 mph most of the time, and I only use the bike to commute (35 mi RT)
I just brought it to the local dealer for a creak. Turns out the rear rim has several cracks, chain is worn again, cassette is worn again, chainring bolts were loose. Hmmmm....

LBS is getting the wheel replaced under warranty. Just saying that the wear is much more than would have ever suspected it to be.

On the other hand, the electric motor and battery have been flawless. The brakes and suspension forks are solid. Good bike, just fast wear and tear.
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Old 10-16-20, 05:22 AM
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Wow. Sorry to hear. Shouldn't be having that much trouble with that few miles, motor or not.

I looked up the specs on that bike. Are they really 28 spoke wheels? Not sure how big you are but even if they replace your rear wheel under warranty I wouldn't run that. Upgrade to a stronger 36 spoke rear wheel. I recently bought a complete rear wheel with a 36 spoke Velocity No BS rim for $100. That sucker is about as strong as a wheel can get.

As for drivetrain wear, keep your chain clean, well lubed and whatever you do don't ride with a worn chain. Nothing wears out gears like a worn chain. Chain gauges are cheap, use one regularly. You might want to start checking the chainring bolts more regularly. Hopefully yours are steel and not alloy. Alloy doesn't hold up.

I also wonder what the chain line looks like on that model. Sometimes mid drives put the front ring in a bad spot causing constant cross chaining. That wears out everything, if that is the case there is not much you can do about it.

The other issue might be the 10 speed drive train. 8 speed chains are stronger (and cheaper) than the 10 speed units.

Have to wonder what Specialized was thinking when they went with 10 speed drivetrain and 28 spoke rear wheel on an ebike. Pandering to market desires? Or maybe with such a low power motor they figured it would hold up?

Last edited by Pop N Wood; 10-16-20 at 05:28 AM.
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Old 10-16-20, 09:27 AM
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It's possible to increase the life of a drivetrain by replacing the chain when it has 50% of it's life remaining. At this point the cassette and chainrings aren't worn significantly and the system will still shift properly. So, for the extra cost of a chain you double the effective life of your system. I did it once or twice, but am usually too lazy. Years ago a friend, who rode significant off road miles every morning, used a three-chain system. Every day he would alternate one of three chains. He'd clean the one he used that day and replace it with one of the others.

Last edited by 2old; 10-16-20 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 10-16-20, 09:58 AM
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Mid drive ebikes do that. I wore out chain and disc brake pads in 300 miles right off. Put on better pads and rotors and it's better.
You need to be ready and aware that this is part of the cost when owning mid drive ebikes.
No-name pinned rims on a hardtail ebike... that's a lot of weight and watts banging away on those rims.
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Old 10-16-20, 03:02 PM
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If you are putting a lot of miles in that Vado 3.0 is not a good reliable companion. It is in their lower tier and uses cheaper parts. Fine enough for the occasional rider but not so good for those riding a bunch and especially terrible for commuters. Deore is the lowest level of MTB components I would want on a commuter e-bike.

The Vado 4.0 and 5.0 would be the way to go for commuting if I wanted chain and cassette. Beyond that a belt drive with Rohloff E-14 would be the other option. The problem with mechanically shifted IGHs is they require you to stop pedaling, shift and then start pedaling again and the Shimano Alfine Di2 cannot handle much torque (unless things have changed) . Enviolo/Nuvinci is cool but I think best for the more casual rider not for a commuter and regular rider but maybe the iterations I have seen were just using the wrong hubs?

In terms of wheels if you are a heavier rider their wheels may not make as much sense though it sounds like a warranty issue, we don't really have to replace spokes often on Specialized bikes even with larger riders so they are fairly stout wheels but certainly a 32h wheelset that is handbuilt with quality components will last a lot longer.
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Old 10-16-20, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by restlessswind View Post
I bought a 2020 Vado 3 middle of last year. I now have over 4000 miles. I can say I'm not at all impressed with the way the drive drain wears. It wears out quick! I suggest a new chain every 800-900 miles. I've broken and worn cassette teeth. I've worn the chain ring to the point where the chain sticks (chain suck). I think a belt drive and an IGH would be a better alternative for the future. I ride at 20-24 mph most of the time, and I only use the bike to commute (35 mi RT)
Riding at that speed puts a lot of extra wear on the drivetrain. You're realistically running 300-400W through the drivetrain, compared to the 100-150W that a normal rider would put out. So 800 mi is probably closer to 2000 mi, which would be a fairly normal chain replacement interval. Lube the chain weekly, and check it regularly.
Yes, you're going to go through chains.
Several manufacturers are making ebike specific chains to address the wear issue.

SRAM also has an 8-speed groupset designed for ebikes.
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Old 10-16-20, 04:49 PM
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Love all the feedback! I believe I have 32 spoke wheels. It is a 9 speed drive train. The Alivio derailleur is working well. It's the cogs that wear, especially the hi gears, as well as ring gear. I've had to change the 11t cog with every chain so far. (about 800 mi) I also switched the tires to Schwable marathon Plus 47c and they are lasting and ride much smoother (with no [knock on wood] flats with 1000 miles)
Chainline seems to be good. I keep the chain clean and dry-lubed at least every 4 or 5 trips.
I still think an IGH may be the way to go, belt or chain. The SS chains are bigger and cheaper

I still need to pause pedaling while changing gears. The torque is intense on even a slightly pedaled crank. The motor continues to turn about one revolution when pedaling stops, and that is the best point to shift. (like a positron)

As for being a commuter. This bike still breaks the bank at $2700 + tax.. When I ride casually, I ride my Surly. I prefer the nimbleness of a light, strong bike for day to day riding, but I need to get to work fast with a load. and not be beat to hell on a ride home in 100+ temps.

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Old 10-16-20, 07:24 PM
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You do realize you will need a new frame with a split rear stay to go belt drive?

If your 32 spoke wheel packed it in after 4000 miles I would unquestionably upgrade to a stronger 36 spoke wheel.
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Old 10-16-20, 07:58 PM
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It sounds like you are forgetting to shift. One of the biggest things I see is people just stick to the smaller cogs and use more power instead of using less power and shifting up.
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Old 10-17-20, 11:48 AM
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Ya, you shouldn't be in the 11t that much. It's easy to do on an ebike..... leave it in a high gear and let the motor do the work, but you should be shifting down to a lower gear and spinning it out more.
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Old 10-20-20, 12:49 PM
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Um, I wasn't talking about updating this bike. I am speaking of my next bike.
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Old 10-20-20, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Pop N Wood View Post
You do realize you will need a new frame with a split rear stay to go belt drive?

If your 32 spoke wheel packed it in after 4000 miles I would unquestionably upgrade to a stronger 36 spoke wheel.

Um, I wasn't talking about updating this bike. I am speaking of my next bike.
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Old 10-20-20, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
Ya, you shouldn't be in the 11t that much. It's easy to do on an ebike..... leave it in a high gear and let the motor do the work, but you should be shifting down to a lower gear and spinning it out more.
Then I will not go 24 mph. That's the goal...to go fast
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Old 10-20-20, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
It sounds like you are forgetting to shift. One of the biggest things I see is people just stick to the smaller cogs and use more power instead of using less power and shifting up.

I shift all the time. I get up to speed and cruise 24mph, no need to downshift on a flat ride.
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Old 10-20-20, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by restlessswind View Post
Then I will not go 24 mph. That's the goal...to go fast
You have class 3 ebike? Top assist to 28 mph?

Your top gearing is 99 inches.
Spinning the crank in 11 cog at 90 rpm you would be going 28 mph.
Spinning the crank in 11 cog at 80 rpm you would be going 24 mph.
Practice in lower gearing to spin higher rpm.
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Old 11-30-20, 07:16 AM
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I posted this in another thread but it's relevant here. I have a theory on "motor failures", based on what I've observed in terms of the habits of e-bike riders, many of which are new to the Cycling Industrial Complex.

in conventional, lightweight bikes, a skilled rider uses the gears to match their effort, fitness and cadence to the terrain.

what I have observed with many ebike riders is that they are riding in impossibly high gears, and on the highest assist level.

my ebike (Spec Vado 5) has about 2000 miles on it and I've had zero problems with it - I ride it like a road bike, I change down to low gears for hills, and usually on the "low" assist. Maybe bump it up to "2" if I am climbing a hill with a couple wine bottles in the panniers.

My theory is that if you always ride at the highest assist level on the controller, and especially at low pedal RPM, you're exposing the gear train to the highest loads and the motor windings are seeing very close to a dead short. So, poorer battery life and accelerated wear on drivetrain components will result.

the nearest and best analogy I can think of is "lugging the engine". altho I do agree that things "should be" designed to accomodate any possible condition the rider encounters, if my theory is true, than rider habits (maybe lack of knowledge) are contributing to early motor failures.

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Old 12-02-20, 02:57 PM
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I'm contemplating an ebike and am definitely leaning toward belt drive. My bikes are used for daily commuting and I grew to hate the ongoing maintenance of chains, rings, and cassettes. So both my bikes are now belt drives. There are downsides to IGHs (weight, cost) but, for me, the "set it and forget it" aspect in most weather overwhelms the negatives.
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Old 12-02-20, 03:06 PM
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not sure why you are getting so little life out of the drive train. even when i was really sick and using turbo on my bosch speed I got 1200 miles from the first chain. the last chain I got 3000 miles out of., I keep my rpm around 80 constantly shift to keep my cadence lube the chain every 100 miles use a dry lube. in 6500 miles I am on my 3rd chain.
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Old 12-03-20, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by restlessswind View Post
Love all the feedback! I believe I have 32 spoke wheels. It is a 9 speed drive train. The Alivio derailleur is working well. It's the cogs that wear, especially the hi gears, as well as ring gear. I've had to change the 11t cog with every chain so far. (about 800 mi) I also switched the tires to Schwable marathon Plus 47c and they are lasting and ride much smoother (with no [knock on wood] flats with 1000 miles)
Chainline seems to be good. I keep the chain clean and dry-lubed at least every 4 or 5 trips.
I still think an IGH may be the way to go, belt or chain. The SS chains are bigger and cheaper

I still need to pause pedaling while changing gears. The torque is intense on even a slightly pedaled crank. The motor continues to turn about one revolution when pedaling stops, and that is the best point to shift. (like a positron)

As for being a commuter. This bike still breaks the bank at $2700 + tax.. When I ride casually, I ride my Surly. I prefer the nimbleness of a light, strong bike for day to day riding, but I need to get to work fast with a load. and not be beat to hell on a ride home in 100+ temps.

Bummer!

Well, that chain wear is not too abnormal, but certainly keep it lubed regularly, and use a chain checker (they are cheap to buy). Your worn chain will destroy your gears as you described.

I give people grief about using an 11T all the time. Its too small to be running significant power through. I wouldn't go below 14T myself.

Personally, when built my bike
- I wanted a strong chain, so I used one speed 1/8 inch chain. (like you said, not much need for shifting if its flat). (Doesn't help you)
- my gearing is 53T x 16T for 25mph
- I use a hub motor to minimize the wear on my chain. (Doesn't help you)

So for you, put a HUGE chainring on that thing, let it spin at a good cadence and practice good chain maintenance.
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