New 2023 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL first ride review – The new benchmark…

New 2023 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL first ride review – The new benchmark in the light eMTB segment?

The new Specialized Turbo Levo SL 2023 is supposed to be more powerful, more capable and even more fun than its predecessor. The latest iteration of the SL dynasty rolls into the new season with a more powerful motor, more travel and, above all, with one clear intention: snatching the “ultimate trail bike” title away from its analogue counterpart. The bar’s set high!

Back in February 2020, the Californian bike colossus caused a sensation with the launch of their very first light eMTB, the first-generation Turbo Levo SL. Although Specialized weren’t the first manufacturer to introduce such a concept, the Turbo Levo SL was the first bike that managed to break through the wall of indifference in the mountain biking world and finally put light eMTBs on the map, ushering in a whole new generation of e-mountainbikes. After a short period of inactivity – caused amongst other things by an angry bat – more and more light motor systems were introduced onto the market, with several manufacturers jumping on the light eMTB wagon and releasing a number of different concepts. While most brands are still busy addressing a number of teething problems with their first generation of light eMTBs – you can read everything about it in our latest ENDURO light eMTB group test – Specialized are several steps ahead, and just unveiled the second generation of the Levo SL.

Specialized had one goal when developing the new 2023 Turbo Levo SL: delivering a fun, lively ride, while at the same time guaranteeing capability and versatility. First off, only a handful of eMTBers are actually racing, and if they do, they won’t do it astride a light eMTB. As a logical consequence, there was no point in designing the Levo SL for maximum speed. Instead, the new Levo SL wants to be the ultimate trail bike, and was developed around Specialized’s trail all-rounder, the analogue Stumpjumper EVO, which holds that title – at least until now! We put the Levo SL through the wringer in the Portuguese riding paradise of Sintra to see how it performs on the trail.

Following in the footsteps of Specialized’s analogue trail bruiser the Stumpjumper, the new Levo SL generates 160/150 mm of travel (f/r) and relies on the same variable geometry concept. However, the Levo SL comes standard with a mixed wheel setup, combining a 29″ front wheel and a 27.5″ wheel at the rear. The overhauled 50 Nm Turbo SL 1.2 motor system, which was developed by Specialized in close cooperation with MAHLE, generates more torque and a higher max power than the previous version, and is also meant to be quieter. Like its predecessor, the motor draws its power from a permanently integrated 320 Wh battery, which can be expanded with an optional 160 Wh range extender that fits in the bottle cage.

While they were at it, Specialized’s engineers also revised the suspension kinematics, making the new Levo SL more progressive than its predecessor. This should improve both the bike’s climbing qualities and the suspension’s mid-stroke support, without altering its excellent small bump compliance. The new Levo SL is the first bike in Specialized’s portfolio to get this update, but we’re sure that more models will soon undergo the same treatment. The spec of the new Levo SL has become more progressive too, which promises a very potent character. Despite the robust components, the € 14,000 S-Works variant manages to break under the 18 kg weight barrier.

The new 2023 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL in detail.

Yes, Specialized are known for building expensive bikes, but there are several details on this bike that justify its price tag, even though this might not be evident straight away. The carbon frame of the flagship S-Works model is built to the highest standards and topped off with sophisticated, well-thought-out details and an elegant paint finish with shimmering decals. The shock yoke with exposed carbon fibres creates a harmonious contrast with the brushed alloy link, which perfectly matches the rest of the spec.

Even when you’re stuck on the trailside with a puncture, the S-Works Turbo Levo SL puts a smile on your face, oozing painstaking attention to detail and ingenious features from all angles.

A beefy, ribbed plastic protector stretches far over the top and bottom of the chainstay, preventing chain slap and paint chips. The cables run into the frame through the head tube and are securely clamped at the ports. The latter are generously sized, making it easy to route a new cable into the frame. The unused ports are neatly sealed with plugs.

An old yet very welcome feature is the SWAT tool in the steerer tube, which comes standard with most of Specialized’s mountain bikes, and springs out from its housing as soon as you slide the cover to the side. However, Specialized take it up a notch, making sure that all the bolts can be adjusted with the tools included in the small, practical SWAT tool – they even used a bigger bolt on the grip clamp to make this possible. Awesome!

A discreet flap made of flexible plastic sits at the transition from the main frame to the swingarm, preventing dirt and stray rocks from damaging the frame and cables. A generously sized skid plate protects the frame and motor housing, and can be easily tightened or replaced. over, protective tape runs along the entire length of the down tube, shielding the most exposed part of the frame from flying debris and muck. There’s enough room in the main frame triangle for a large water bottle, or the optional range extender. However, the Levo SL doesn’t have any additional mounting points for a tool strap or similar accessories.

The Specialized Turbo SL 1.2 motor system.

Specialized are known for employing countless in-house parts on their bikes. Alongside the frames, they also design and develop their own components and even the motor systems of their electric bikes, which obviously offers many advantages. We had the exclusive opportunity to take a look behind the scenes at Specialized’s ebike development centre, the Turbo Unit in Switzerland, which played a crucial role in the development of the Specialized Turbo SL 1.2 motor system.

At first glance the Turbo Levo SL 1.2 motor looks a lot like its predecessor, the SL 1.1, maintaining the same basic shape and, at approximately 1.9 kg, a similar weight. This puts the Specialized SL 1.2 motor in the same weight category as the TQ HPR 50 and FAZUA Ride 60 drive systems. Compared to its predecessor, however, which delivered a maximum torque output of only 35 Nm, the new Levo SL 1.2 motor combines 50 Nm torque with 320 watts maximal nominal output. That’s 33% more power and 43% more torque!

The SL 1.2 motor still draws its power from an internal 320 Wh battery, which is integrated into the down tube. While the integrated design allows for a slimmer, lighter frame, it also means that you’ll have to schlepp your bike upstairs for charging if you live in a flat without a basement or garage. However, you can expand the battery with a 160 Wh range extender, which fits in the bottle cage and can be easily plugged into the bike’s main charging port. The range extender has remained unchanged, which means that the previous variant is compatible with the new Specialized SL motor.

The rest of the hardware, including the charging port, remote and MasterMind TCU display, consists of proven components taken from current Turbo models, which makes it easier to source spares and service the bike. The charging port is located above the bottom bracket and protected by a spring-loaded cover that can be operated easily with just one hand. However, with the charging cable plugged in, you should be careful not to yank it out of the magnetic connector when spinning the cranks. While this isn’t too much of an issue per se, it could potentially damage the charging port in the long run. The Levo SL also employs the same compact, minimalistic remote as all other Turbo models, which can be installed on either side of the handlebars depending on your needs and preferences. There are three buttons, allowing you to switch between assistance levels and use the walk assist mode, with intuitive pictograms to remind you which one is which. Overall, the remote offers excellent ergonomics and good haptic feedback.

One of the new additions is the MasterMind TCU display, which is integrated into the top tube of the bike and is already in use on the latest Levo and Kenevo models. Unlike the old 3-LED display of the previous Levo SL, the latest MasterMind colour display allows you to access a wide range of riding and motor data. Furthermore, using Specialized’s proprietary Control app, you can fine-tune the support levels and personalise the layout of the TCU display. Among other things, this allows you to reconfigure the standard data fields – battery charge status in %, support level, riding speed and time – and replace them with other data, like the total distance and accumulated elevation. You can also use the app to track a ride or, for example, to record your airtime data using the Jump Stats function – that said, the function can be easily tricked with good manual skills

Specialized also release over-the-air software updates on a regular basis, which allow you to expand the range of functions and improve existing features. Just recently, they’ve added the System Lock function, which lets you lock the motor system via the app. While this doesn’t prevent your bike from getting stolen, it renders the motor system useless and triggers an alarm, which could be a tad louder but definitely doesn’t go unnoticed. In a nutshell, you can now lean back and relax while sipping your Spritz-Aperol even if you leaned your bike against the wall unlocked a few metres away. Another recent update included the micro-adjust function, which lets you adjust the intensity of the motor assistance in 10% increments. Especially with SL models, this makes perfect sense, because it allows you to both save battery and adjust the support according to the conditions and desired assistance.

The spec of the 2023 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL.

For our first ride review, we tested the Specialized Levo SL S-Works model in size S5, which retails at € 14,000 and tips the scales at 17.7 kg – more than reasonable considering the spec and size. In direct comparison, the light eMTBs in our latest group test weighed an average of 18.6 kg, despite offering less travel overall and only having slightly more battery capacity. The range extender of the Levo SL, which is included in the price with the S-Works model, weighs an additional 1.2 kg including the cable.

Specifications

Motor Specialized Turbo SL 1.2 50 NmBattery Specialized 320 WhDisplay Specialized MasterMind TCUFork FOX 36 GRIP2 Factory 160 mmRear Shock FOX FLOAT X Factory 150 mmSeatpost RockShox Reverb AXS 170 mmBrakes SRAM CODE Stealth Ultimate 200/200 mmDrivetrain SRAM Eagle Transmission XX 1x12Stem DEITY Copperhead 35 mmHandlebar Roval Traverse SL Carbon 800 mmWheelset Roval Traverse Carbon 29/27,5Tires Specialized Butcher GRID Trail T9 / Eliminator GRID Trail T7 2,5/2,4

Technical Data

Size S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 Weight 17,7 kgPerm. total weight 127 kgMax. payload (rider/equipment) 109 kgTrailer approval neinKickstand mount nein

Specific Features

For our first ride review, we tested the Specialized Levo SL S-Works model in size S5, which retails at € 14,000 and tips the scales at 17.7 kg – more than reasonable considering the spec and size. In direct comparison, the light eMTBs in our latest group test weighed an average of 18.6 kg, despite offering less travel overall and only having slightly more battery capacity. The range extender of the Levo SL, which is included in the price with the S-Works model, weighs an additional 1.2 kg including the cable.

The suspension of the Levo SL S-Works consists of a FOX Factory 36 GRIP2 fork and matching FOX Factory FLOAT X air shock, generating 160/150 mm of travel at the front and rear, respectively. Both offer countless adjustment options, allowing you to fine tune the suspension to suit your needs and riding style. A brand new SRAM Eagle Transmission XX wireless electronic drivetrain ensures smooth and precise shifting. The rear derailleur mounts directly to the thru axle via a hangerless UDH interface, and is paired with a 12 speed cassette with 520% gear range. The only drawback is the position of the new shift paddles – also known as pods – which are attached to the brake lever via a matchmaker clamp. If, like us, you prefer a flatter brake level setup (/- 35°), the clamp positions the pods far away from the thumb, making them hard to reach. However, SRAM also sell their own Infinity clamps, which allow you to mount the Pod in a wide array of different positions, independently of the brake lever.

The electronic components together with the new Stealth brakes and matchmakers ensure a tidy cockpit. This consists of a 35 mm DEITY stem and Specialized’s 800 mm Roval Traverse SL carbon handlebars. The Californian brand also relies on their in-house components for the wheels, combining a Roval Traverse carbon wheelset and Specialized tires, with a 2.5″ Butcher in the soft T9 rubber compound at the front and 2.4″ Eliminator in the harder T7 rubber compound at the rear. This combo makes perfect sense, because it offers better grip at the front and more durability at the rear. Both tires come in the GRID Trail casing, which ensures sufficient puncture protection for most riders. Aggressive riders and those spending most of their time on rocky trails, should consider upgrading the tires to a more robust casing – like Specialized’s GRID GRAVITY – to protect the expensive carbon rims.

spec variants of the Specialized Turbo Levo SL 2023

Alongside the 2023 Turbo Levo SL S-Works flagship model, Specialized have also released a Pro and Comp variant as well as a frame kit. While all models share the same carbon frame, the shock yoke of the Comp variant is made of alloy rather than carbon. There are different paint finishes to choose from: the S-Works and Comp are available in two colours each and the Pro adds a fifth colour option to the Levo SL line-up. range between € 7,900 and € 15,000. The Pro and Comp models use the same motor system, software and frame details as the flagship model, including the ribbed chainstay protector and SWAT tool. Needless to say, the main thing that differentiates the different models is the spec and weight. Although the new Levo SL isn’t available in an alloy version yet, its predecessor was, which makes us hope that an alloy version of the second-generation Levo SL is in the pipeline.

The geometry of the 2023 Specialized Turbo Levo SL

Specialized have been using their proprietary S-sizing system for a few years now. This includes a total of 6 sizes, S1 to S6, and allows you to choose your frame size based on your desired reach and riding characteristics. For example, if you’re looking for composure, you can pick a longer reach, while a shorter frame will get you a livelier character. Most importantly, the seat tube is short across the board, ensuring a low standover height despite the longer reach. Specialized got this right across the entire size range with the new Levo SL, even with our test bike in size S5, which combines 495 mm reach and a short 445 mm seat tube. over, the seatpost can be fully inserted into the frame.

Chainstay length is 432 mm across the board and doesn’t grow with the frame size, which in theory could lead to unbalanced handling. In practice, however, we didn’t have any problems and comparing the bike’s handling qualities in all frame sizes is almost impossible. The Levo SL features some different geometry-altering wizardries that allow you to adapt the bike to your needs and area of application. These include a flip chip in the shock yoke that lets you change the BB height by /- 5 mm, and a second flip chip on the chainstay that lets you adapt the geometry of the rear end in case you want to run a 29″ rear wheel – yes, that’s an option! Furthermore, you can change the head tube angle by up to 2.5° by rotating or swapping the headset cups. We rode the Levo SL primarily in the medium setting with a 64.25° head angle and low BB setting.

The geometry of the 2023 Specialized Turbo Levo SL (Mullet | Nominal HTA | Low BB )

The 2023 Specialized Turbo Levo SL S-Works in review.

Before you set off on the trails, you should connect the 2023 Specialized Turbo Levo with the Mission Control app to fine-tune the motor settings to match your riding style and preferences. We recommend doing this, because both the maximum power output and the intensity of the support have a big influence on the motor characteristics.

As soon as you swing your leg over the saddle, the Levo SL places you in a comfortable riding position and makes you feel at ease even after a long day in the saddle. Riding uphill, the front wheel remains planted on the ground without having to actively shift your weight, allowing you to commit to your line with great precision, The rear suspension is pleasantly active and generates enough traction even in slippery conditions, transferring the power of the SL motor efficiently to the trail. Even on long, smooth climbs, we didn’t have to activate the climb switch.

The Specialized SL 1.2 motor provides assistance naturally without engaging or disengaging abruptly, even in the most powerful Turbo mode. At the same time, it pushes you uphill eagerly, taking over most of the hard work without feeling overly intrusive – provided you use the right cadence. However, you shouldn’t use the Levo SL as a shuttle replacement like you might do with a full power eMTB. Speaking of cadence: when pedalling at around 80 RPM, you’ll reach the sweet spot between the highest power output and lowest battery consumption. Even when pedalling at low cadences, for example when hitting an unexpected climb, the SL motor delivers enough power to keep you going. over, the 80 RPM cadence also matches the sporty character of the Levo SL rather well, requiring a certain amount of physical effort and thus providing a decent training effect despite the motor support. The SL motor works discreetly in the background and is significantly quieter than its predecessor. Only the HPR 50 motor is quieter, which is mainly due to TQ’s Harmonic Pin Ring technology. Not only is the motor quieter, but the noise is much more pleasant than it used to be, with a low-pitched humming noise replacing the previous high-pitched buzzing. However, the volume changes depending on the cadence and support level you ride with.

„With its sporty character, the Specialized Turbo Levo SL 2023 gets you to the top of the mountain, supporting you discreetly and just the way you want.“

We mainly used the Micro Adjust function to adapt the support intensity to our needs, depending on the terrain and conditions we would encounter each day. However, making a blanket statement about the Levo SL’s range would be totally pointless and, quite frankly, rather unprofessional, because this is heavily dependent on countless factors including rider weight, the choice of tires and air pressure, the terrain, external temperature and much more. That said, from our extensive experience with light eMTBs, we can tell you that the Levo SL is relatively thrifty, allowing you to embark on longer tours. At 100 kg, our fully kitted test rider covered over 50 kilometres with approximately 1,800 m elevation gain, with the help of the range extender battery. You should bear in mind that lower power output also translates into less energy consumption, meaning that a light eMTB with a smaller battery could easily achieve a similar range as an eMTB all-rounder with a bigger motor and battery. And while you might be able to cover a similar distance, it will take you longer and require more physical effort.

As soon as you drop into a trail, you’re welcomed onboard by Specialized’s trademark “feel-good” feeling. The Levo SL places you in a central, well balanced riding position, and inspires tons of confidence from the get-go. Want to plough through a rock garden at Mach 10 or pop off a ledge to collect some air miles? The new SL has your back! The Specialized strikes an excellent balance between composure and agility, without overdoing it either way, while at the same time delivering shed loads of fun on different trails – from fast flow lines to nasty rock gardens and sketchy transitions. The new, more progressive rear suspension has a great influence on the Levo SL’s handling, following impulses with great eagerness and transferring them to the trail without swallowing up the rider’s input like a sandbag. This allows you to spontaneously change your line and to pump through narrow rollers and berms. At the same time, the rear suspension generates good traction, both in corners and under braking, and never reaches its limits too suddenly, even with big jumps and botched landings. Overall, the Levo SL makes you feel as if you had more travel at your disposal, encouraging you to open the tap just a little bit more. As our jump stats suggest, the Levo SL is very keen on rolling on its rear wheel and literally begs you to roll to the pub with a big, fat manual after a long day of trail shenanigans

Who should take a closer look at the 2023 Specialized Turbo Levo SL?

The concept of the 2023 Specialized Turbo Levo SL 2023 is a keeper! With its refined character and additional torque, the motor is a perfect match for the potent spec and progressive trail performance, which all make the new SL a trusted companion for all kinds of eMTB adventures. Of course, it will make you sweat a little, but in return you’ll get a decent workout, while the modular battery concept provides enough juice to embark on epic backcountry expeditions. The Levo’s software interface is intuitive to use and adds cool, practical features to your trail life without forcing you to schlepp around a massive display or ten thousand cables. On the trail, the Levo opens a wealth of opportunities… errr, new lines, regardless of whether you’re a newbie or seasoned trail veteran, slapping a massive grin on your face with its intuitive handling, high feel-good factor and versatile suspension, while delivering a stupid amount of fun in the process! As a result, it skilfully snatches the “ultimate trail bike” title away from its analogue sibling – we don’t think you will be disappointed by the new Levo SL if you’re looking for a fun yet efficient trail all-rounder.

Review: 2021 Specialized Turbo Levo – big rides, actual weight tech details

The new Specialized Turbo Levo v3 e-mountain bike is an absolute ripper, perfectly at home on gnarly singletrack, groomed flow trail, and everything in between. It maintains composure and kept me in control on some incredibly technical sections, while turning formerly soul-sucking climbs into a damn good time.

I’ve been riding this bike for about a month, with trips to Wilkesboro’s Dark Mountain trails and Hendersonville’s Kanuga Bike Park to put all the suspension to the test. Here’s a video overview with riding impressions and a closeup look at the fantastic new Mastermind control system…

2023, specialized, s-works, turbo

21 Specialized Turbo Levo video review

What’s impressive about this bike is how well all of the different improvements and features, not to mention those tires, all come together to provide a killer ride up and down the mountain, performing equally well over technical terrain and flow trail. Our launch coverage covers the geometry, pricing, and specs in its tech overview, but there were a few features their PR didn’t fully show, so let’s take a closer look…

Closeup details on the new Turbo Levo eMTB

Here’s the bike in stock form, with the adjustable headset cup in its center position and the rear flip chip in High mode. And here it is with the rear shock fully compressed. It gets low, but short 160mm crank arms provide decent ground clearance. Specialized made a big deal out of the new frame design allowing a bigger rear shock with external reservoir and still fitting a full size water bottle. Above, the shock shown fully extended, and below fully compressed: If anything, space inside the front triangle increases during compression. As long as you’re running a side-entry water bottle cage, you should be able to get a full-size bottle in there…at least in the larger frames like this one. But definitely a normal-sized bottle in every frame size.

The Levo Pro comes with a carbon Specialized Trail handlebar with Deity Copperhead stem and Knucklebuster grips. The bar, and the bike in general, are almost completely free of logos save for the “S” on the headtube and one single Specialized logo on the top tube’s right side. The stock upper headset cup puts the steerer in the center position. To adjust it slacker or steeper, you’ll swap that with the included offset cup. While it has /-1º printed on either end, the geo chart suggests it actually only makes it 0.5º slacker…to get the full 1º slacker head angle, you need to flip this: The lower Horst pivot uses offset bolt hardware to give you two positions. Switching from High to Low will lower the bottom bracket about 6mm, but also extend the chainstay length about 6mm. It will also make the head angle 0.5º slacker. A SRAM Eagle X01 drivetrain comes stock, with short 160mm Praxis carbon crankarms. While the S-Works model adds XX1 wireless (and 3,000 to the already high price tag…this bike runs 12,000 USD), I think there’s little reason to upgrade anything on this bike. The Turbo 2.2 motor has the same footprint as before, just with better firmware and a more durable belt driving the cranks inside it. With one single 6mm hex bolt, you can drop the battery out and swap it trailside for longer rides. That said, we were out in the woods filming for 7 hours one day, shooting tons of back and forth repeat runs, and I still had 10% battery left by the time we wrapped. And that was with a lot of Turbo use. The upgraded cable seals use one set of sealing at the actual plug, plus a door cover to keep splashes from ever touching the wire. The full power Levo is not compatible with their auxiliary battery like the SL-series bikes are. It’s a different plug and a different frequency, and you’d probably start a fire if you tried to put them together. So, just bring a full-size, full-power spare if you need more range.

The motor housing drops below the chainring, making it the first point of ground content over tall obstacles. I definitely smacked it a couple times, as you’ll see in the review video (coming soon). Fortunately, it survived, but something to be aware of if you routinely ride over big rocks. A handlebar-mounted remote gives you nearly full control over the system. The “F1” button on the top goes straight to turbo mode, and underneath the – button is a Walk Assist function that’s quite helpful on hike-a-bike sections. The /- buttons cycle through Off, Eco, Trail, and Turbo modes. Or, hold one down for a few seconds and it switches to MicroTune, which lets you change the assist level in 10% increments from 0 to 100. This is a brilliant feature that gives you much finer control over the power output without having to pull out your phone to change the preset modes via the Mission Control app. The brains of the bike is the new Mastermind display unit. Sharp resolution makes it easy to see a lot of data at once, and you can fill the screen with multiple metrics like power, speed, heart rate, battery, time of day, etc. Prior Turbo bikes used a simple bar graph to show remaining battery, but having ride speed and time of day quickly visible was super handy. Position a GoPro chest mount just right, set it to 4:3 mode, and you can likely see all the action you want and your speed on those sections in a single shot. The sidearm frame design keeps the suspension’s mounting points rock solid so the shock can work as intended. Rebound and compression adjustments are easily accessible from the non-drive side. A small mud flap keeps the lower pivot clean, and a tiny chainguide assists chain management. The bike will accommodate up to a 34-tooth chainring, but it comes with 32-tooth rings. Tire clearance with the stock 2.6″ tires is more than adequate, as is the grip from their new Butcher T9 and Eliminator T7 tires with the GRID Trail casings and rubber.

A SWAT mini tool hidden in the steerer tube is a welcome bonus. There’s no hidden storage in the downtube on this bike, so you’ll need to wear a pack or attach a pouch elsewhere for tubes, CO2, pump, etc. The Fox 38 is a good match for the bike, keeping things very stiff and the bike going where I pointed it. Just don’t forget that it has the second pinch bolt before you try removing the wheel. The Factory-level fork offers separate high- and low-speed adjustments for both compression and rebound, which I appreciate on a bike that’s capable of tackling so many different types of terrain. Huge 200mm brake rotors are basically standard equipment on e-mountain bikes, and for good reason. Specialized ups the front rotor to 220mm on the largest three frame sizes for even more stopping power. The stock SRAM Code RSC brakes worked well on long, sustained descents.

21 Specialized Levo Pro actual weight

Our size S5 (equivalent to XL) test bike with tubeless setup weighed in at 48.92lb (22.19kg) without pedals. This is with a SRAM XO1 Eagle mechanical group, Roval carbon trail wheels, Fox Factory suspension and dropper seatpost, and Specialized/Diety cockpit. Full build specs available in our launch coverage.

21 Specialized Turbo Levo v3 ride review

Now’s a good time to note that I’ve kept the bike in a stock High/Center setup so far, but will be switching things around for further testing. If Specialized’s primary goal was to create a playful bike, they’ve succeeded. For me, “playful” translates to nimble, able to flick around tight corners and pop off the little jumps. There, it succeeded, while doing all the climbing things any good e-bike should do, too. I can sum up climbing on the Levo by simply saying it’s a rocket, and it makes the climbs fun. Like, really fun if you dial it up to Turbo.

The only asterisk about its climbing performance is that it likes a higher cadence. Grinding a low cadence out of a tight corner or abrupt pitch sounded like it was straining the motor. There’s a constant low-level motor noise (as with any e-bike) during normal riding, but it becomes much louder and angrier at low cadence, high effort grunts. The solution is to simply shift to an easier gear, but until I sorted that out, I thought maybe the motor was having issues.

Butcher Eliminator tires are awesome

Here’s why I like Specialized’s new mountain bike tires so much, and why I think they’re such a key piece of this bike’s spec: They work well everywhere. Click to enlarge that pic above and you’ll see how much they’re absorbing that root, yet without giving up side-loaded stability on natural terrain. That’s a tough ask for tires on a ~50lb bike that likes to go fast. These tires feel stiff to the touch when manually checking tire pressure (i.e. squeezing the tire), which can lead to underinflation if you’re not actually checking with a gauge. Fortunately, they hold their own running soft. Combined with their grippy rubber, they provide gobs of reliable traction and support on the worst terrain. As great as this was for trail riding, these lower pressures did result in squirm on hardpacked jump lines. For groomed bike park riding I’d definitely add 5-7psi to support the G-outs and landings. The suspension proved adept at all types of bumps, and even kept the tire on the ground during hard braking efforts. Despite the short cranks, there were a couple of instances where I smacked the pedals powering out of a techy section. Not often enough to really complain, but I would be more cautious if adjusting the bike to its lowest position.

Overall, it’s hard to find fault with the new Levo. It’s fast, inspires confidence, and is loaded with a ton of useful, fun technology that delivers a far more immersive e-bike experience than any other system out there. This much bike comes at a price, but there’s a customer for everything, and I suspect Specialized’s best customers will enjoy this very much (while paving the way for its technology to trickle down…quickly, I hope). Video coming soon, be sure to subscribe to the Bikerumor YouTube channel so you don’t miss it! Specialized.com

Specialized Turbo Electric Bikes It’s You, Only Faster

Specialized designs e-Bikes that are “You, Only Faster.” And they do it with a fully integrated Specialized e-Bike Technology System. Specialized e-Bikes are incredibly smooth and powerful, have near-silent motors, premium Li-Ion batteries, and superior connectivity solutions.

Seamless Assistance

Specialized motors are incredibly smooth, powerful, and quiet. They amplify your input and disengage when you’re over top speed, or in “off” mode, to create a ride that’s free of unnatural resistance. The Mission Control App also lets you fully customize motor characteristics to your personal preferences.

Ride Anywhere

With best-in-class range, all Specialized batteries feature intuitive charging solutions and an advanced Battery Management System (BMS) that ensures optimal performance for a longer battery lifetime and maximum range.

Custom Connectivity

Turbo electric bikes connect your bike via ANT and/or Bluetooth to the Specialized Mission Control App, Turbo Connect Display (TCD), or your other favorite third-party displays, devices, or apps. Get help managing your battery’s range, record rides, adjust motor output—it’s up to you to decide how you want to ride.

Road Gravel Super Light E-bikes

Specialized Turbo Creo SL

Flatten your climbs and laugh in the face of headwinds with the Turbo Creo SL. This mighty cocktail of light weight, power, range, and connectivity will turn you into a monster in the saddle. Nothing else on the road comes close. This is the future of performance road. Turbo Creo SL—It’s You, Only Faster.

RIDER AMPLIFICATION: 2X YOU RANGE UP TO: 120 MILES ASSIST TO: 28 MPH WEIGHT: 26.8 LBS

with optional Range Extender

Specialized Turbo Creo SL EVO

Then Turbo Creo SL doesn’t stop being the benchmark in e-road performance just because the pavement ends. The Turbo Creo SL EVO, and its gravel-ready builds, will take you off the beaten track farther and faster than you ever imagined possible. Flatten any mountain—dirt, gravel, or tarmac.

RIDER AMPLIFICATION: 2X YOURANGE UP TO: 120 MILESASSIST TO: 28 MPHWEIGHT: 29.3 LBS

with optional Range Extender

ACTIVE FULL POWER E-BIKES

Specialized Turbo Como

Como is a laid-back, comfortable e-Bike with the power of a confident ride. Como lets you go with the flow by giving you a full-power, confidence-inspiring, utterly delightful experience on a bike that feels effortless to ride.

RIDER AMPLIFICATION: 4X YOU RANGE UP TO: 90 MILES ASSIST TO: 28 MPH WEIGHT: 62 LBS

Specialized Turbo Vado

Vado is the vehicle for everything from daily commutes to fast workouts to longer-than-planned adventures—an electric bike for life. The smoothest-riding e-Bike experience yet, Vado is designed to boldly take on the ever-changing landscape you’ll encounter as a daily rider, carry whatever you need it to, and keep you riding more often.

RIDER AMPLIFICATION: 4X YOU RANGE UP TO: 90 MILES ASSIST TO: 28 MPH WEIGHT: 55 LBS

Specialized Turbo Tero

Tero is an electric mountain bike equipped for everyday rides. A mountain bike that you can commute on. A commuter you can take touring. A touring bike that you can haul freight with. Whatever you need it to be, for wherever you want to go. A true do-it-all superhero, Tero combines adaptable utility with World Champion mountain bike DNA and category-leading electric pedal assist.

Rider Amplification: 4x You Range Up To: 6 hours Assist To: 20 mph Weight: 50 lbs

ACTIVE Super Light E-BIKES

Specialized Turbo Como SL

The Como Super Light is a low-maintenance joy machine, equipped with everything you need for spontaneous fun. Carry it down stairs, zip across town, pack it full of groceries, it’s ready to take flight. It also just so happens to double your power when you pedal—with super-smooth assistance that makes you feel like the superhero you are.

2023, specialized, s-works, turbo

RIDER AMPLIFICATION: 2X YOU RANGE UP TO: 93 MILES ASSIST TO: 28 MPH WEIGHT: 47.4 LBS

with optional Range Extender

Specialized Turbo Vado SL

Pedal then go—over hills and past traffic. You can cruise to 28 mph for up to 80 miles. And being 40% lighter than the average e-bike, it’s built to go with you. Up the stairs, down the hall—just about anywhere your life takes you.

RIDER AMPLIFICATION: 2X YOU RANGE UP TO: 120 MILES ASSIST TO: 28 MPH WEIGHT: 33 LBS

with optional Range Extender

MOUNTAIN FULL POWER E-BIKES

Specialized Turbo Levo

The all-new Levo delivers the unbelievable power to ride more trails through an unequaled combination of ride quality, usable power, and ride anywhere range. It’s the distillation, application, and amplification of Specialized’s 40-year obsession with creating the world’s best riding mountain bikes. Since its introduction, Levo has set the bar every other e-MTB aims for, and the new Levo raises that bar again.

RIDER AMPLIFICATION: 4X YOU RANGE UP TO: 5 HRS ASSIST TO: 20 MPH WEIGHT: 47 LBS

Specialized Turbo Kenevo

The Turbo Kenevo is, hands down, the most capable e-mountain bike to hit the dirt. You’re looking at 180 millimeters of supple suspension configured around a bomber chassis and components. Kenevo takes you up the longest climbs—no shuttle or spare lung required—and delivers a stellar rip on the way back down.

RIDER AMPLIFICATION: 4X YOU RANGE UP TO: 5 HRS ASSIST TO: 20 MPH WEIGHT: 52 LBS

MOUNTAIN Super LIght E-BIKES

Specialized Turbo Levo SL

The Turbo Levo SL is the lightest e-MTB in its class thanks to its svelte-yet-stiff chassis, superlight motor, and cutting-edge power supply. End result? A veritable mountain biking unicorn that’s light and nimble, loves to get airborne, maneuvers through technical terrain with ease…and gives you the power to ride more trails.

RIDER AMPLIFICATION: 2X YOU RANGE UP TO: 4.75 HRS ASSIST TO: 20 MPH WEIGHT: 38.25 LBS

2023, specialized, s-works, turbo

Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL

Power up to trail riding’s next level and rip the biggest trails like never before. The Kenevo Super Light is a featherweight e-MTB that redefines big mountain performance with a one-of-a-kind combination of light weight, responsiveness, and capability. Ultra-responsive handling and big mountain capability amplified by the benefits of Specialized’s 240-watt Turbo Super Light system enables you to flow up, over, and through the biggest trails in ways that were previously impossible.

RIDER AMPLIFICATION: 2X YOU RANGE UP TO: 4.75 HRS ASSIST TO: 20 MPH WEIGHT: 41 LBS

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Review: This Light Weight eBike is Worth the Wait

The Ultimate Trail Bike. That’s a bold statement. Particularly if you’re lumping both e-bikes and standard mountain bikes into the same category. Hyperbolic claims aside, Specialized is committed to making the best eMTB they can, which doesn’t always come easy. They were nearly ready to launch this bike in 2022, just with a completely different motor. There was even a media launch event for the bike.

But it wasn’t “the ultimate trail bike” yet, so they went back to the drawing board. Literally.

The key to the success of the Turbo Levo SL Gen 2 lies in the motor, which is completely new from the ground up. Specialized claims that not a single bolt or part was reused from the 1.1 SL motor to create the 1.2 SL motor. Yet the all-new 1.2 is still the exact size and weight of the previous motor – just with a lot more power and torque.

Combined with the already excellent frame, would this new motor be just what the next-generation Levo SL needed? We headed to California to find out.

Setting Up the Turbo Levo SL Gen 2

Taking place the week before the Sea Otter Classic, a lot of California was still drying out (or melting out) from epic storms. Fortunately, the trails were in good shape in Temecula, so the Specialized crew packed up and headed to SoCal.

By the time we arrived, the bikes were set up and waiting for us near Greer Ranch trails in Murrieta, CA. After a quick suspension setting, there wasn’t much to do other than dial in the cockpit and check tire pressures. At 5’8″, I’m probably between an S2 and S3, but opted for the S3 and felt instantly at home.

After riding the first day, I did end up changing the shift button orientation on the AXS Transmission shifter though. I found that I’d prefer the shift order reversed, which was very easy to change with the AXS app. Once the bike is connected to the app, then select the shifter and assign the button the preferred shifting action. Once you figure out how it’s done, this can be done very quickly.

While the Specialized Mission Control app and MasterMind Total Control Unit offer immense customization options, you can basically just jump on the bike and go. A simple press of the power button wakes the system, and from there, everything can be easily controlled through the remote on the left side of the bar. The /- buttons toggle through assist modes going from off, to Eco, Trail, and Turbo. A long press of the button also allows you to enter the MicroTune setting where assist can be adjusted in 10% increments.

Turbo All the Time?

In spite of the display screen being located on the top tube instead of on the bars, it’s still very easy to see the numbers and settings as you’re riding. It’s also not distracting when you don’t need to see if you’re still in Turbo mode. All of this is to say that the system is very intuitive and easy to operate. You can really dial in your settings with the Mission Control app, but you can also just jump on the bike and ride without opening your smartphone as we did for three days.

As we were rolling out to the first trails, I got acquainted with the level of power and assist from the new motor. You can tell it’s not a full-power ebike, but that could be a good thing. Specialized’s motto is “you, only faster,” and the new Levo SL offers exactly that. Sure, you can tell you’re riding an ebike, but it feels like you’re just having your best day on the bike.

Maybe the best thing about the new bike is how quiet the motor is. Under most circumstances, you’ll struggle to hear anything out of the ordinary. Only on steep climbs with full Turbo power will you hear anything from the motor and even then, it’s a quiet whir – not the obnoxious whine many full-power ebikes emit. For the people who ask, “why not just get a motorcycle?” for me, the quietness is one of the main reasons. With the Levo SL, most of what you’ll hear is your tires rolling down the trail.

While we were riding at Greer, selecting Turbo mode was enough to make the steep climbs with tight switchbacks a riot. It was still a workout, but it was way more fun than it would have been climbing those same trails without assist. It was also instantly clear we were not on full-power e-bikes when a group of riders on full-power ebikes was able to catch up to us fairly quickly as we were motoring uphill.

At the top, it was time to bomb back down which is where the frame design really came into its element. Any ebike can climb fairly well with enough power, but how a bike handles while descending is the true test. Often while descending, you’re not utilizing the motor’s power so you are effectively piloting a 40lb bike downhill. If the suspension or geometry isn’t dialed, you’ll quickly find out.

Impressive Battery Life

The Levo SL Gen 2 on the other hand was begging to be pushed faster. It is a bike that is just as happy rocketing downhill as it is casually climbing back up. Throughout our time at Greer Ranch and the next day at Vailocity Bike Park, we sampled everything from XC, to flow trail, to gnarly rock gardens and fast, chunky downhills. Don’t be fooled by the ‘SL’ in the name, this bike is every bit as capable as you’d need it to be.

We were riding the bikes as they come out of the box – 29″ front, 27.5″ rear wheel, middle headset position, and the low BB position. I’d like to play around with the different settings just to see how it affects the ride, but in Temecula, it wasn’t needed. The geometry felt spot on, and despite many technical rocky sections, pedal strikes were kept to a minimum.

Given that I was riding with people better and faster than me (including Curtis Keene), I found myself mostly riding uphill in Turbo mode. Even on some descents I would keep it in Turbo, but would often drop down to Trail mode. I rarely used Eco mode, and yet the battery life was still very impressive. I never got close to draining the battery in spite of my heavy use of Turbo and a lot of steep climbs. On the second day, Specialized recharged the batteries while we had lunch to be on the safe side, but I don’t it would have been necessary for me. I covered 21 miles that day with just over 3k feet of climbing, and at lunch was still above 50% of battery life. For really big days, the range extender would take you pretty far especially if you are efficient with your assist.

SRAM Transmission Approved

This was not my first time riding SRAM Eagle Transmission, but it was my first time riding it on an ebike. I have to say that it makes even more sense on an ebike than it does on a regular bike. You can be under full Turbo power and still know that if you hit the AXS shift button, the derailleur will just slam it into gear without fuss. There was one bike in the group that was having issues with the derailleur staying put, but that seemed to be a torque issue with the mounting bolt and was eventually fixed.

I’m also still not completely satisfied with the positioning of the shifter pod after trying both the bar clamp and the SRAM Matchmaker clamps. It’s not a huge deal, but to me, it feels like the pod could use another axis of adjustment to really dial it in – like if it had a ball joint where the pod meets the bracket.

Turbo Levo SL S-Works

We were riding the S-Works build level, which includes SRAM XX Eagle Transmission, SRAM Code Stealth Ultimate brakes, Fox Factory suspension, Royal Traverse carbon wheels, and Specialized Butcher/Eliminator 29 x 2.3/27.5 x 2.3″ tires. The only change made was to add a Grid Gravity casing tire at the rear for the chunky terrain. There were no flats.

An S4 S-Works build is claimed to run about 39.6 lbs which is heavy for a trail bike, but pretty light for an ebike. It was mentioned during the trip that this is essentially an entire Aethos lighter than a full power Turbo Levo. It’s possible to make it lighter, but there’s little need to. Even at 40 lbs, the bike is impressively nimble. At times, it feels like the added weight even helps you to maintain traction on loose corners, and never feels like a handful.

I love that you can still fit a full-size water bottle in the S3 frame, though if you choose to run the battery extender you’ll have to carry water on your back (which you’d probably need to do anyway since you’re in for a big ride). Note that the battery extender cable is different than on previous models. And for quick trailside adjustments, the SWAT CC steerer tube integrated tool with a chain tool and link is a great touch.

Only seven years apart. Both rider and ebike have evolved.

It’s a bit hard to believe that the first Specialized Levo product wasn’t introduced until 2016. Starting with the Turbo Levo FSR in Moab, I’ve ridden most of the Levo generations since. Every year the bikes have gotten better, but the Levo SL Gen 2 takes things to another level entirely. This single bike seems to combine the best attributes of the various Levo platforms into one impressively capable ebike – that doesn’t really ride like an ebike.

In terms of having my own ebike to regularly ride on my home trails, I’ve been on the fence for years. But this bike changes that. I want one. Not to replace my non-ebikes, but to supplement them. The Levo SL Gen 2 feels like a bike you could ride just about anywhere, and have an absolute blast doing it. Maybe that does make it “the ultimate trail bike?”

For more details on the Specialized Levo Gen 2, check out our tech piece here.

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