Love at first ride: The Specialized Turbo Creo 2 Comp gravel e-bike

AI SaaS

 The Specialized Turbo Creo 2 Comp taking a break from central Illinois gravel.
Enlarge / The Specialized Turbo Creo 2 Comp taking a break from central Illinois gravel.

Eric Bangeman

If the question is “what is the ideal number of bikes to own,” the answer is usually “n+1.” Whether you are into gravel trails, BMX, mountain biking, road biking, or cyclecross, there’s a bike for that. But after spending a couple of months riding the Specialized Turbo Creo 2 Comp, the answer could actually be n.

The $6,500 Turbo Creo 2 Comp is a gravel e-bike that Specialized calls “category defying.” It looks like the result of an illicit tryst between a gravel bike and a mountain bike. With the motor, it’s a double-duty road-plus-gravel machine—at least that’s what Specialized claims. And it turns out Specialized is on to something.

The proportions on the Creo are spot-on. You can see the charging port for the integrated battery near the bottom of the seat tube.
Enlarge / The proportions on the Creo are spot-on. You can see the charging port for the integrated battery near the bottom of the seat tube.

Eric Bangeman

The Turbo Creo 2 Comp is certainly eye-catching. Not only is the “Harvest Gold” colorway easy on the eyes, but the thickness of the downtube and tires also grab the viewer’s attention. The massive downtube is necessary because that’s where the 320 Wh integrated battery lives. The chunky, mountain-bike-appropriate 700×47 tires, however, are a statement of intent by the Creo 2 Comp, screaming, “Ride me anywhere you want—I’m up for it.”

And it is.

A big unit

The Turbo Creo 2 Comp comes with 47 mm tires that would look at home on a mountain bike. There's enough clearance for 29×2.2-inch tires.
Enlarge / The Turbo Creo 2 Comp comes with 47 mm tires that would look at home on a mountain bike. There’s enough clearance for 29×2.2-inch tires.

Eric Bangeman

Even with a carbon frame, the Creo 2 Comp is a hefty beast at nearly 32 lb (14.5 kg). A significant chunk of that comes from the battery, which powers the Specialized 1.2 SL Custom motor in the hub, which cranks out 33 percent more power and, at 53 Nm, 43 percent more torque than the previous generation. There’s a small display, the “Mastermind TCU,” built into the top tube that shows speed, boost mode, and battery level. The Creo 2 Comp also has a built-in cadence sensor and a left/right power meter. If you have a bike computer, it will pair with the bike’s built-in sensors. Alternatively, you can drop a smartphone mount on the handlebars and use the Specialized app as a bike computer. Once paired with my Garmin Edge 1030+, the Creo’s built-in sensors would automatically connect once the bike was powered on.

For the groupset, Specialized has picked and chosen from a couple of wireless SRAM drivetrain options. The rear (and only) derailleur is a SRAM X1 Eagle, which is SRAM’s mid-tier mountain bike groupset. The shift levers are from the Apex eTap AXS groupset. Like most gravel bikes with electronic groupsets, there’s a single chainring (44T in this case) in front and a SRAM PG1210 11-50T cassette—also from the mountain bike realm—in the back. The Creo 2 Comp also comes replete with a dropper post to adjust saddle height on the fly for climbs and corners.

You've got a 44T chainring in front, an 11-50T cassette in the back, and a groupset that's part gravel, part MTB.
Enlarge / You’ve got a 44T chainring in front, an 11-50T cassette in the back, and a groupset that’s part gravel, part MTB.

Eric Bangeman

If you’re wondering about compliance, take a gander at that carbon frame, the 47 mm tires, and Future Shock 3.0. Future Shock is Specialized’s front suspension system, housed below the handlebar stem and capable of 20 mm of travel. It’s the real deal on gravel and single-track paths, not to mention rough roads. I’d notice Future Shock absorbing some of the force every time I hit an exposed tree root or pothole. It’s the kind of sensation that makes you go “hell yeah” instead of “oh hell.” If I owned this bike, I’d run it tubeless and drop the tire pressure a few PSI for an even better ride. And who cares if the big tires and lower PSI slow you down—it has a motor.

The handlebar tape is extremely cool, and you can see the dropper post lever at left.
Enlarge / The handlebar tape is extremely cool, and you can see the dropper post lever at left.

Eric Bangeman

See that little nub on the handlebar opposite the brake hood? That's one of the controls for the motor, and it's not easy to reach.
Enlarge / See that little nub on the handlebar opposite the brake hood? That’s one of the controls for the motor, and it’s not easy to reach.

Eric Bangeman

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