Specialized have made sure they're ahead of the crowd with their all-new Turbo Levo eMTB that has just been released.
The Specialized Turbo Levo has set a high water mark for many eMTB fans, thanks to its range, 90Nm torque, very smooth power delivery, ride quality and neat design for a 150mm 29" wheeled package. But, if you've kept abreast of changes to the Specialized range, you would have assumed that were would have been a new Turbo Levo in the works. With Specialized redesigning the Stumpjumper and Enduro in recent years, plus the Epic and of course introducing the Levo SL, the new Turbo Levo is set to marry so many popular innovations from those models into one do it all trail eMTB.
The stats on the new Specialized Turbo Levo
For the fact finders out there, the important details are that this is a 150mm full suspension bike frame with 160mm travel forks (150mm on S1 sizes), using a 29er front wheel and a 27.5" wheel in the back (more on that later). Specialized deliver 90Nm of torque and 565 bonus Watts via their 2.2 motor, and the frames use S sizing based on reach for sizing. There are 6 sizes. There are also 6 geometry adjustment options on each bike, thanks to the adjustments in the Horst Link and headset - just like on the Stumpjumper EVO range. That emans you're looking at head angles from 63 to 65.5 degrees, with a variation of 7mm in bottom bracket height.
Battery sizes are 700Wh, but the range is controlled Smart Control so you can tell your bike how far you need to go, without blowing juice when you don't need to. The 700Wh battery will take 5h 15min to charge, and can run as long as 5.5 hours. So go knock out plenty of self-shuttled descents and push the bike hard!
As for pricing, the the Specialized Turbo Levo Pro sells for $19800, while the S Works model will ring up $23700 at the register.
The ride on the new Specialized Turbo Levo
We've been told there is a test bike on the water for us to test, but otherwise we haven't ridden one - yet. But the ride quality was a key area that the big wigs at Specialized wanted to work on. And within a week of launching the last Levo in late 2018, they were relaxing at Verbier, riding all sorts of eMTBs from the Specialized stable and their competitors, working hard to make the bike that has just launched. What could they improve - where could they innovate?
One of the big goals was a balanced ride, and the spreadsheet fans out there will notice a very close correlation between the geometry of the Specialized Stumpjumper EVO and the new Turbo Levo. Specialized made the Stumpjumper range to be a do it all trail bike, with geometry adjustment to make it suit riders in any location - and that's why you see those same characteristics move across to the Turbo Levo.
The mixed wheel size is a notable change, in a time where Specialized have often lead the way with 29" wheels. It wasn't an automatic decision, but after making up test mules with lots of wheel size options, everyone was in agreement that the 29" front and 27.5" rear wheel size was the best outcome. The 29" test rig they made wasn't bad, but the 'mullet' setup allowed them to have a chain stay that is 14mm shorter, reducing the overall wheelbase length. The feedback was that the bike remained stable, while still being flickable and fun. And no, you can't run a 29" wheel in the back, and 2.6" is the maximum size tyre.
The suspension is also closely matched to the Stumpjumper EVO in terms of ride dynamics. Of course, each Specialized bike gets an Rx Tune (that is, suspension specifically tuned for that model) and a step here is a move to shocks with external reservoirs, so they operate better on longer descents where the damping fluid runs hot. Along with 38mm legged forks, these are two things Specialized noted their customers were doing right from the dealer - so they built around it. The shock doesn't stop you fitting a bottle inside the main triangle either!
The leverage curve is reasonably linear, following on from the acclaimed Stumpjumper EVO but tuned for an eMTB. The axle path goes rearward in the first part of its travel, to reduce hang up, hten shifts forward when deeper into travel. While that would typically be assosicated with more pedal feedback, at more than halfway into the travel, this is a point where very few people would be pedalling. Instead, it allows the suspension to access buttery smooth travel that moves into the last progressive part of the RX tuned shock's stroke.
The proof will be in the pudding on this, but based on how the Stumpjumper we tested last year rode - we expect big things!
Power and Control
A key metric of any eMTB isn't just power - but control. This is an area that Specialized have often lead in, with their high 90Nm of torque. But even better is how they manage it, with their Mission Control App.
What we really like here is the integration. Plenty of other leading eMTBs still have a bunch of external cables. All things to get damaged in transit, or when crashing. But Specialized designed the Turbo Levo as a whole system. And anyone who has looked even briefly at a Specialized line up of bikes will know that design and aesthetics are important to the brand.
The interface is called MasterMind, and it's got a lot going on. It allows wireless updates to the bike's software, and shows a percentage battery charge - just like your phone. No more wondering how much of that bar is actually left!
In general, MasterMind allows greater control and customisation of how your Turbo Levo works, plus it helps you get more out of your bike with displaying real time impacts on your power consumption. Pedal smoother, use less battery, go further. You can even pair a heart rate monitor to it, and see your own power data. Add in barometric elevation tracking and you can keep your bars free of a GPS device for ride data.
The new 2.2 motor
Specialized admitted their 2.1 wasn't perfect, and took aim at the belt first up, with a stiffer and sturdier belt for a longer life span. Specialized have also worked on the power delivery, to reduce wear on components and so your bike rides more naturally. This power delivery is an area where Specialized already get a lot of praise, with support building gently and not falling off a cliff at 25km/h. If they have improved that again - wow.
Specialized also improved the waterproofness. Sure, everyone says don't jetwash your eMTB. But we all do anyway - so they upped the sealing so there's not going to be a small annoyance to stop you getting out the door to ride. As that's one of the big advantages of an eMTB like the Turbo Levo - getting you out there. And by making everything work better, and having more integration, you end up with a bike that is easier to get on and ride.
The Specialized Turbo Lev Pro
As the first model in the range, this sure sin't entry level. With Fox Factory 38 forks, DHX2 shock and SRAM Eagle group set with snazzy Roval wheels, this thing is ready to go. As well it should be at close to $20000!
The full carbon frames are a rarity on eMTBs, and along with the high torque, high power, long battery life and adjustable geometry, Specialized really have put a premium offering to market - but not one that is missing anything.
Specialized Turbo Levo S Works
Ok, so the Pro model isn't wireless. This one is. If you're happy to spend a few thousand more, this is for you. At $23700 you probably won't bump into lots of people riding these, but with SRAM AXS Eagle and a dropper, and the same Fox Factory suspension, this is one smart ride.
For more details on the new Turbo Levo, head to the Specialized website or contact your local dealer.
Our take on the new Specialized Turbo Levo
There's an argument that says we are moving into the golden era for eMTBs right now. Specialized have shown they can make a light eMTB that rides with a natural feel but helps you go further, and faster. And we really loved the Specialized Levo SL when we tested it. The other side of eMTBs is where the all purpose trail bike that everyone wants will likely end up as something that has pedal assist. And that's what we are looking at here.
The new Turbo Levo takes so many of the features of the new Stumpjumper EVO and adds a new motor with greater reliability, smarter software and increased control over the power and 700Wh battery capacity. By marrying an award winning trail bike with their own eMTB system Specialized have made a trail bike that doesn't immediately look like a pedal assist bike to many. There's no excess controllers, no extra bulky data screen and external cables. It's neat, refined, and weatherproof.
This does not mean we're at the peak of eMTB design. There are huge gains to be made in battery technology to reduce the size and weight of eMTBs, but that is likjely to come from the automotive industry, and possibly not for a number of years.
But for now, Specialized have an incredible high performance eMTB to market, that offers geometry adjustment and motor customisation to really create the trail bike that you want. Run it higher for rocky trails, with punchy power for pinch climbs - or keep it low and stable with sustainable power for long climbs and blazing fast descents. It's your eMTB, and Specialized have delivered an incredibly customisable bike.