Updated: 21st November 2016
With its fully integrated electric drive unit combined with dialled trail geometry and 140mm of full suspension travel the Specialized Turbo Levo is an electric bike with impeccable trail manners. By positioning the battery and motor low down on the frame Specialized have kept the centre of gravity as low as possible which translates into an incredibly stable ride. The controls are much simpler to use than most eBikes and while the lack of display on the handlebars may seem like an oversight it is actually an advantage as you have more control over the drive unit through the Mission Control smart phone app and there is less to break in case of a crash.
The Turbo Levo range includes hardtail and full suspension bikes with both unisex and women’s specific models available across most of the range. Each model features the same Brose motor with the battery pack tucked neatly into the downtube. Other than the entry level hardtail 29er the Levo’s feature plus sized 6fattie wheels that offer extra grip and float.
One of the most striking things about the Turbo Levo is its unassuming looks. The fact that it doesn’t shout eBike like most electric machines is down to the clever way that Specialized have incorporated the drive unit into the aluminium alloy frame. The battery slots neatly into the down tube and cam style fixings mean that, unlike most others, there is no rattle from this eBike. The motor is also positioned low down but both units are well protected from rock strikes.
The fact that the extra weight of the motor and battery are slung so low on the frame greatly improves the quality of the ride and helps to keep the Levo nimble in tight turns. The other advantage of the Turbo Levo’s design is the fact that you can still fit a bottle cage inside the front triangle. The Turbo Levo is available with both Unisex and Women’s specific frames.
The dialled trail geometry is very similar to the Stumpjumper FSR 29 and combined with the low centre of gravity makes the Turbo Levo a very capable performer on MTB trails.
Using the Levo is slightly different to some electric bikes I’ve ridden previously in that the motor doesn’t interfere with your flow on descents. This is a good thing. Dirt Magazine
With the notable exception of the short Travel Women’s Turbo Levo FSR (120mm of suspension travel), the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR models all offer 140mm of plush suspension travel front and rear with a stiffer suspension tune to take account of the extra weight.
Up front the S-Works and Expert models feature the ultra-capable RockShox Pike while Comp gets the equally stiff but slightly less refined damping of the Rock Shox Yari. The RockShox Revelation on the entry level FSR 6Fattie offers capable damping but isn’t quite as stiff. All of the Turbo Levo FSR’s feature a Fox Float DPS shock for plush rear suspension. You get a Factory unit on the S-Works & Elite with Performance shocks on the other eBikes.
The hardtail Turbo Levo HT’s all feature a RockShox fork with 120mm (100mm on Small size) of suspension travel.
As soon as you turn the pedals the electric motor kicks in to add up to 90Nm of torque to your natural leg power. The more effort you put in the more power the drive unit adds so you can go as fast or as slow as you like. As with all road legal eBikes the motor will only assist you up to 15mph but this isn’t an issue off road as gravity usually helps when you ride faster than this.
While there is no screen on the bike you can delve deeper into the controls of the motor through the Mission Control smart phone app. Here you can fine tune the way the power is delivered as well as the amount of assist offered by the different power modes. You can even set the distance and elevation of your ride and let the bike manage the battery charge so that it lasts the whole ride.
Keeping things simple all the control you need on the trail are found on the side of the battery with a neat LED display that shows the amount of charge left in the battery. Three power modes - Turbo, Trail & Eco – allow you to choose the amount of electric assist.
Thanks to the boost offered by the electric motor, the ‘one by’ drivetrain easily gives you enough gears to get up the steepest of climbs, even with the bigger wheels.
With a ‘one by’ drivetrain on all models you get a wide range of gears with secure running. You get 10 speed on the hardtails and 11 speed on the full susser FSR's. With the electric boost the gear range is easily wide enough to get you up even the very steepest of climbs.
Most models feature SRAM running gear that offer the secure shifting you need in difficult conditions. Once gravity takes over the hydraulic disc brakes take control of the extra weight of the battery and motor with oversized 200mm rotors front and rear.
The higher volume 27.5+ (6Fattie) tyres offer extra float to help you glide over the roots and rocks on the trail. With the extra weight of the motor and battery these big tyres give you the extra cushioning you need along with more grip. The hand built Roval Traverse wheels feature 38mm rims that offer great support for the 3.0” tyres.
You also get the option of running 29” hoops with a simple wheel upgrade. The S-Works runs on lighter carbon rims with alloy rims on all the other models. The entry level Turbo Levo Hardtail is supplied with 29” wheels but has enough tyre clearance for a future upgrade to 6Fatties.
You can choose to run any Turbo Levo with either 27.5+ (6Fattie) or 29” wheels as both will fit in every frame size.
The beautiful thing about the Turbo Levo is that is gives you the ability to ride more trails. This is true whatever your fitness level. When climbing you can either choose to ride faster or use less energy, either way this gives you the opportunity to spend more time on the trails and have more fun.
Riders recovering from illness and injury, those who are losing a bit of their fitness edge or those who are building up their stamina, will benefit most from riding a Turbo Levo. However, even the very fittest MTBer will not fail to appreciate the way that this eBike allows you to save your energy for the most rewarding trail sections while making the boring ones a lot more fun to ride.