Specialized Turbo Elite Computer Reviews

Specialized Turbo Elite Computer

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A fully-loaded computer for a fully-loaded price, the Turbo Elite is still worth it.

Jun 19, 2006
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Easily understood computer logic, large display, reliable in all conditions, wireless speed sensor, includes cadence.

Cons:Not really a negative, but it's on the expensive side for most cyclists.

The Bottom Line: My Turbo Elites have given me years of service and still work great. All the info you need in an easy to read and operate package, highly recommended!

Specialized Turbo Elite Wireless Computer
Colors: Silver, Black

Up until a couple years ago I'd always used computers by Cateye for my road and mountain bikes. When I finally broke my last Enduro 2 by tearing out the sensor wires in a crash I decided to look at a wireless model to replace it. Specialized sells many different models and styles of cyclocomputers, however the Turbo series was the only one I was interested in. Positioned at the top of the Turbo line, the Elite computer comes with everything you could want in a cyclocomputer except for heart rate readout and PC connectivity.

----- Turbo Elite features -----

For starters I was already used to the display size on my Cateye Enduro, so the larger 16mm primary readout and 8mm secondary readout was a nice step up in terms of readability. The feature list on the Elite is quite extensive and includes all the features of the Turbo Sport and Turbo Comp models as well as cadence. I'll list the features below and what they do, keep in mind most computers and the $60 price point will have comparable features.

Time: Essentially just a digital clock which allows you to see the time of day, useful if you don't ride with your watch.

Speed: Easy to read digital speedometer which can display speed as either MPH or KPH for those trips across the border.

Max Speed: This one's pretty obvious as it keeps track of your maximum recorded speed since the last time you reset your records. This can be useful if you want to see your maximum speed attained on a long, flat sprint section or if you just wonder how fast you really went down that long decent. (This function is part of the easy-reset trinity of Trip, Max, and Avg, speed.)

Average Speed: This one is a little more useful to me as it gives you an average for your whole ride and can help you train more effectively. You can really tell how much wind and weather conditions affect your ride if you do the same loop every few days. On a day with heavy winds you'll notice a distinct drop in your avg. speed over the whole ride. (This function is part of the easy-reset trinity of Trip, Max, and Avg, speed.)

Odometer: This keeps track of all mileage recorded since you installed your computer. You can adjust the mileage by going into system setup mode in order to start with the right mileage figures. This function is not affected by trip-meter resets or even system resets, you have to manually clear the odometer to return it to zero. I usually start my brand new bikes with a clear odometer so I have an idea how many miles are on my bike, this helps me keep track of maintenance and parts wear.

Trip Meter: The biggest reason to get a cyclocomputer in my opinion, the trip meter really gives you an idea how far you've ridden and lets you track your progress day by day. (This function is part of the easy-reset trinity of Trip, Max, and Avg, speed.)

Auto Timer: Essentially this is a time-corrected record of your actual riding time sans all stops and breaks. If you ride for 10 minutes, have lunch for 20, and ride for 30 more, your Auto-Timer will only show 40 minutes.

12-Lap Stopwatch: Just like a lap watch for timing runners, this allows you to check your times on a short (or long) route of your choosing. Lap times flash and display for a few seconds then move down to the secondary display while current time runs in the main window.

Interval Timer: This lets you set up your own spinning-class type workout with several short intervals for sprint work and longer intervals for climbing and distance work. The timer beeps when your interval changes. I'm not a big fan of this function but some riders may like it.

Distance Countdown: Much like the interval timer, this mode counts down distances and beeps when your goal is achieved.

Cadence Mode: Unique to the Turbo Elite are the Cadence/Max Cadence/Average Cadence modes. The cadence pickup is still a wire so you won't have a completely wireless computer, but when connected it does give steady readings and picks up cadence changes very quickly.

----- Using the Turbo Elite -----

While a wireless computer is a little more complicated to setup software-wise, installation on the bike is very easy. Install the computer mount to your handlebar using the included shims to keep it from rotating and snap on the computer to the mount. Next using a phillips screwdriver and following instructions for placement fasten the magnet to a spoke. Now simply install the batteries in the sending unit and using the included zip-ties fasten the sending unit to your front fork leg next to the magnet. Setup the computer for your correct wheel size, setup your odometer, and start riding.

The biggest reason I went with the Specialized Turbo Elite over competing products was the easy logic for mode transitions and function resets. Switching from mode to mode is easy since lesser used functions are hidden on a "2nd page" of data. When scrolling through the main functions you only see Clock, Trip, Average Speed, and Auto-Timer. To cycle between these modes you press the Mode button. To see other hidden modes such as Odometer, Max Speed, Cadence, etc, tap the set button. To reset trip, avg. and max speed, and avg. time, all you do is hold down the set button for three seconds. Other computers require to you hold down a button for 5 seconds and tap another button 3.55 times or some other multi-button nonsense pattern. When I want to reset my trip meter I want to do it as easily as possible, the Turbo Elite keeps things simple!

One last feature which is very nice for night riding is the built-in full screen backlighting included only on the Turbo Elite model. Pressing the Top button will light up the screen with a green glow for 5 seconds, pressing any other button while the screen is backlit with cause it to stay on another 5 seconds. This doesn't seem to have any effect on battery life (although I don't use backlighting all the much) since my older Turbo Elite is going on three years on its original battery.

I have one Turbo Elite on my Specialized Epic with well over 2,000 miles on it now. I also added a Turbo Elite to my Cannondale Cyclocross and I'm somewhere in the 300 mile range on that one. I'll continue to use these computers as long as they keep working, and if they break I can still get parts for them thanks to Specialized's parts supplies for old computers.

I don't need the biggest and coolest computer out there, I just wanted a reliable and easy to read computer with wireless speed pickup. The Turbo Elite is all those things and reliable as well. I've completely soaked my computer in heavy rain for hours at a time with no after effects. It's been covered in sticky mud and grit, all it needed was a wipe-down and a cleaning brush on the base. If you need a computer for your road or mountain bike I'd give the Specialized Turbo Elite a good look, it's been a workhorse for me.

NOTE: If you don't need a wireless computer or cadence functions I would skip the Specialized Turbo Comp and go right for the Sport model. At $25 it has everything you'll need in a standard computer and comes with the same easy to read display as the Turbo Elite (minus backlighting).

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Thanks for reading and feel free to comment!

© Openroad 2006

Recommend this product? Yes

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