Testing the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp e-MTB
Words: Tim Bardsley-Smith
It’s no secret that Specialized has been at the forefront of eMTB development pushing the boundaries since the first Levo was released in 2015. No matter what bike or product the “big S” is producing, integration is where its sets itself apart and the Turbo Levo especially so. Over the years Specialized have taken the German made Brose pedal assist motor and used clever Swiss design to really make it their own. Specialized have integrated the motor it into the frame design perfectly, to make it easily one of the most aesthetically appealing eMTB frames in the world.
The new Turbo Levo has now taken that to a whole new level. With both the carbon and aluminium frames offering super sleek internal batteries with internal control units built into the top tube. With the backing of a new incredibly powerful and simple to use smart phone app, it makes it the most fully-featured system on the planet. Now as with most things well-designed, and especially done so in Switzerland, there is a considerable price tag that comes with it. But no matter which model you get the only difference is frame material, parts and battery capacity. So, no matter whether you want to spend an eye-watering $18,000 on an S-works model, or the much more palatable $6,600.00 for the base Levo, you get the exact same system.
Tester: Tim Bardsley-Smith
Riding Experience: Cycling industry photographer and over 20 years on mountain bikes, riding and travelling the globe. With Tim’s line of work he’s lucky enough to ride many different bikes in all the best locations.
Generally Rides: Merida e160 eMTB , Surly Karate Monkey, Cannondale Super X
Bike Test Track: Linga Longa Bike Park, Kalamunda Camel Farm and Pemberton in WA.
The new magnesium Brose motor is much lighter and smaller helping with the massive weight savings over the older models. It’s also increased the ever-important torque to 90Nm but power which is governed by legal requirements is still at 250W. They have implemented a double freewheel design which should eliminate much of the draggy feeling once the motor is no longer assisting you. While the new Levo system and motor is this bike’s biggest selling point, it would be near useless if it wasn’t built into a bike that had amazing ride qualities. Luckily the Levo is built using many of the numbers from their highly regarded Stumpjumper chassis, with 150mm of travel front and rear, super stiff asymmetrical design, short rear stays, low slung bottom bracker and slack head angles and flip chip adjustability. Ride quality and capability is every bit as important to Specialized on their eMTBs as the rest of the range.
For the purposes of our review we were handed the Bluetooth code of a Turbo Levo
Comp, an aluminium framed model with a quite capable build kit. Nothing fancy, but everything to a level an advanced mountain biker would probably need and nothing they didn’t. To put it into perspective the retail pricing still sits at the $9,000 mark.
Probably the biggest reason to jump up to the Comp from any of the lower models would be the mind blowing 700Wh battery. It’s the largest capacity battery from any of the main manufacturers in the industry. This gives you a longer lasting ride again and again. The biggest reason we all look to eMTBs is to ride more. The aluminium frame might jump out to some as a compromise, but I really don’t think it is. Weight on an eMTB is far less of an issue as percentage wise the weight saving you would gain going carbon is not all that much.
Like I explained earlier, integration is everything on the Levo and one of the smallest details yet one I love is the integrated speed sensor. With the magnet on the rotor bolts and the sensor on the axle it’s locked in solid. Almost eliminating any of the sensor issues you get with many of the other eMTB systems that use the traditional spoke magnet and chain stay sensor. Cable routing is also next level convenient, that will appease many of the most OCD mechanics out there. The battery is easily accessible and removable making charging or travelling simple and easy no matter what the scenario is.
The Specialized Mission Control App is awesome, whilst you may not use it every ride. It is very easy to set up everything the way you want. Tuning the max and minimum power per mode, diagnosing issues or even the automated battery power management feature to make sure you get through that next epic ride. You can even set the power delivery and assistance levels for how it suits your riding and trails via the app.