Updated: 7th December 2017
Giving you the power to ride more trails, the Specialized Turbo Levo is an electric mountain bike that opens up new riding horizons. On its launch, the Turbo Levo immediately set the benchmark for electric trail mountain bikes, and the 2018 models we review here offer simple upgrades that deliver an even more refined ride. The best aspects of the Turbo Levo remain unchanged, with the seamless motor and battery integration offering a low centre of gravity. This combines with the dialled trail geometry to offer an incredibly stable ride.
The Specialized Turbo Levo range includes hardtail and full suspension mountain eBikes, with both unisex and women’s specific models available. You can choose between Carbon fibre composite and Aluminium frames with the Levo. Each model features the powerful yet quiet Brose motor, with the custom battery pack tucked neatly into the downtube.
For 2018, the Specialized Turbo Levo range features Carbon fibre as well as Aluminium alloy frames. Both frame options feature the same dialled geometry, so you will get a similar riding experience on all models. At 500 grams less than the Aluminium frame, the weight saving of the carbon frame is significant, even on an eBike. The Carbon frame is also stiffer, so these models will feel more assured when you are pushing the limits on the trail. On all models, the battery slots neatly into the down tube and cam style fixings mean that, unlike most other eBikes, there is no rattle . The motor is also positioned low down but both units are well protected from rock strikes.
It is the fact that the extra weight of the motor and battery are slung so low on the frame that greatly improves the quality of the ride. This helps to keep the Turbo Levo relatively nimble in tight turns despite the long (compared to regular MTBs) chainstays. This longer chainstay length does have its advantages, and the Levo climbs the very steepest trails with the assurance of a mountain goat. Featuring both hardtail and full suspension models, the Turbo Levo is available with both unisex and women’s specific frames.
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
The mark of a great eBike is that it simply lets you forget you are on an eBike and concentrate on the trail ahead. Dirt Magazine
While the suspension is modelled on the Stumpjumper 29, the performance is actually better in many respects. This is mostly down to the extra weight, which changes the ratio of sprung to unsprung mass to give a more assured ride. The Turbo Levo feels much more confident on fast rough trails compared to an equivalent trail bike. Most models get capable RockShox forks and rear shocks while the top two models feature the much sought after Öhlins dampers.
For 2018 the Turbo Levo sees the introduction of a longer travel 150mm fork on the unisex FSR models. This is mostly to account for the slight difference in ride height caused by switching to slightly smaller 2.8” tyres on these bikes. At 135mm, the rear travel remains the same as the previous models. At 120mm front and rear, the Women’s Turbo Levo gets slightly less suspension travel in order to offer the best fit with the plus sized tyres.
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.
The 2018 Turbo Levo models all get a new version of the 250w Brose pedal assist motor. Combined with revisions to the software the Turbo 1.3 drive unit now offers 15% more power with more consistent performance, especially on long climbs. The Brose motor was already one of the quietest on the market and these new improvements reduce the motor noise to a whisper. As with all road legal eBikes, the motor will only assist you up to 15mph. The motor now fully disengages for easier pedalling when you are riding faster than this limit.
The power delivery is also more refined. Updates to the Specialized Mission Control smart phone app give you even more scope to customise the way that the Levo boosts your natural pedalling power. This means that you can dial in the modes to strike the perfect balance between power and battery life. While the 460Wh or 504Wh battery capacity is the same as the original Levo, the improved efficiency of the motor will see the battery charge lasting even longer than before.
Keeping things simple, a neat switch unit on the handlebars allows you to select the power modes – Turbo, Trail, Eco and walk-assist – without taking your hands off the bars.
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 1x11 speed SRAM or Shimano drivetrains on all models, you get a wide range of gears and secure running on rough terrain. With the electric boost, the gear range is easily wide enough to get you up even the very steepest of climbs. The shifters on the SRAM groupsets have borrowed technology from the EX drivetrain, with both up and down shifts limited to one click at a time. This is to counter the negative effect that the motor can have on shifting and should mean that your drivetrain will last longer.
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 (180mm rear on the hardtails). The top three models all get larger SRAM Code callipers for even stronger braking performance.
The Turbo Levo rolls on 650b wheels with high volume 6Fattie (27.5”+) tyres. These 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 are ideal, as they give you the extra cushioning you need along with more grip. The wide 38mm Roval Traverse rims offer great support for the 6Fattie tyres. As you go up through the range, the wheel build gets lighter and stronger. The S-Works bike features carbon rimmed wheels.
For 2018 the Turbo Levo FSR models feature more aggressive 2.8” Specialized Butcher tyres that offer improved grip in slippery conditions. The hardtail models get higher volume 3.0” Purgatory tyres. These offer more float which adds some natural suspension to soak up more of the bumps on the trail.
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 great thing about the Turbo Levo is that it 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 mountain biker 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.