Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy review. Specialized levo ebike

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy review

Specialized’s newest Turbo Levo received a lot of good press when it was launched, including a near-perfect review of the S-Works version written by me.

The Turbo Levo Comp Alloy is at the more affordable end of the spectrum compared to the S–Works bike, coming in at £6,750, but with the intention of retaining the magic of the carbon-framed version that was such a resounding success. Thanks to 150mm of rear-wheel travel, mullet wheels (29in front, 27.5in rear) and highly adjustable geometry, the Turbo Levo comfortably straddles the trail and enduro categories with total confidence.

Keeping down the asking price of this model sees Fox’s 160mm-travel 36 Rhythm electric bike fork mated to a Fox Float X Performance shock. It uses SRAM’s GX Eagle drivetrain, but is fitted with a host of Specialized and Roval-branded parts. Specialized’s 2.2 motor co-developed with Brose and 700Wh capacity provide the assistance and power, boasting 90Nm of torque and 565 peak watts.

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy frame and suspension

The alloy version of the Turbo Levo still features the main frame’s sidearm strut. Andy Lloyd / Our Media

The Turbo Levo Comp Alloy’s frame is made from Specialized’s M5 premium alloy, featuring internally routed cables, integrated chain-slap protection and enough space beneath the shock for a 625ml water bottle. Now synonymous with Specialized bikes, the Sidearm strut that spans the length of the rear shock between the top and seat tubes is present and is claimed to tune the frame’s stiffness.

Suspension kinematics

The 150mm of rear-wheel travel has been given Specialized’s Rx Tune, where the kinematics, leverage curve, damper tunes and spring rates have all been designed to work together to provide the best on-trail feel. According to Specialized’s own leverage-rate data, the Turbo Levo is 22 per cent progressive through its travel, making it one of the more linear bikes in this test. However, with the adjustable-volume air-spring shock, more progression can be added. Specialized states it has a rearward axle path up to 65mm into its travel, moving just under 5.6mm rearwards at its maximum point, then finishing 4mm further forward than full extension once it hits bottom-out.

Although that sounds impressive, its axle path is similar to most traditional low-pivot bikes, rather than being innovative. The brand makes no claims about anti-rise or anti-squat, but according to Linkage Design, at sag in the easiest gear it has 120 per cent anti-squat, which should cause the suspension to resist pedal-induced bob. With anti-rise numbers that range from 58 per cent at full travel to just over 50 per cent at bottom-out, it should be supple while braking, because braking forces are trying to extend the suspension in its travel.

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy battery and motor

Fitted with the updated Turbo Full Power System 2.2 motor, the Turbo Levo offers 90Nm of peak torque, beating both Bosch and Shimano motors by 5Nm. Specialized claims the 2.2 version of the motor received a host of updates to improve reliability, and my extensive testing on the S-Works Turbo Levo has so far proven those claims. The Comp Alloy is fitted with the largest 700Wh battery, but doesn’t have the MasterMind TCU with in-built display. Instead, it has a 10-LED battery indicator and three-LED mode display. Unfortunately, that means micro-mode adjustments, where assist levels can be adjusted in 10 per cent increments, aren’t available. However, the motor does have ANT and Bluetooth connectivity, and each of its three modes can be modified in the Mission Control smartphone app.

specialized, turbo, levo, comp, alloy

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy geometry

Like other Specialized bikes, the Turbo Levo Alloy uses the brand’s S-sizing, where the FOCUS isn’t on seat-tube lengths dictating what size bike a rider should select. Andy Lloyd / Our Media

Super-customisable geometry helps give the Turbo Levo its category-defying handling. Thanks to a Horst-link pivot flip chip and three head-angle positions, its geometry can be morphed from sedate trail bike to raked-out enduro rig. Like other Specialized bikes, the Turbo Levo Alloy uses the brand’s S-sizing, where the FOCUS isn’t on seat-tube lengths dictating what size bike a rider should select. Rather, seat-tube lengths are kept short across the six-size range (from 380 to 465mm) so riders can size up (or down) from their recommended bike to have a more nimble or more stable ride. For my 178cm height, I chose to test the S4 bike that has a 477mm reach. Head angles can be set anywhere from 65.5 degrees down to 63 degrees, and bottom-bracket heights change by 7mm depending on setting. In the low and slack setting, the wheelbase is 1,268mm, the chainstay 447mm and the bottom bracket sits 342mm above the ground. The Turbo Levo’s geometry makes it a trail bike like no other.

Seat angle (degrees) 78 77.2 76.7 76.2 76.2 76.2
Head angle (degrees) 64.5 64.5 64.5 64.5 64.5 64.5
Chainstay (mm) 442 442 442 442 442 442
Front centre (mm) 738 760 784 814 843 878
Seat tube (mm) 380 390 405 425 445 465
Head tube (mm) 105 105 115 125 135 145
Bottom bracket drop (mm) 25 27 27 27 27 27
Bottom bracket height (mm) 352 350 350 350 350 350
Wheelbase (mm) 1,179 1,200 1,225 1,255 1,284 1,318
Standover (mm) 752 776 783 787 788 790
Stack (mm) 605 617 626 635 644 653
Reach (mm) 412 432 452 477 502 532

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy specifications

Specialized hasn’t compromised on motor or battery specifications for this Alloy version, so to keep the price down certain parts have been downgraded from the S-Works model. Up front, we see a Fox 36 Rhythm ebike fork with 160mm of travel. This ebike version has thicker stanchions compared to standard EVOL 36s, and means the air spring has a lower volume.

Out back is a Fox Float X Performance shock with low-speed rebound adjustment and a two-position lockout. It’s specced with SRAM’s GX Eagle drivetrain and Code R brakes with a 220mm front rotor and 200mm rear.

There are a host of Specialized components, including bar, stem, saddle, grips, and wheels wrapped in Specialized Butcher front and Eliminator rear GRID TRAIL casing rubber, while the X-Fusion Manic dropper has 175mm of travel (S4). Without pedals, my S4 test bike weighed 24.02kg on my scales.

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy ride impressions

The Turbo Levo Alloy Comp has the potential to be as magical as the S-Works bike. Andy Lloyd / Our Media

I tested the Turbo Levo in Scotland’s Tweed Valley, home to the UK’s round of the Enduro World Series and legendary Glentress trail centre. During the test period, conditions ranged from mid-winter wet and snow through to dry and dusty warm spring conditions. The Turbo Levo got a true workout on a wide range of trails.

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy setup

As the only bike in this category with Fox’s 36 ebike-specific fork and Float X shock, setup compared to the other bikes was different. Thanks to the 36 Rhythm ebike fork’s lower-volume air spring, I had to run less spring pressure than I was used to. After starting with 93psi, where there was some harshness, I lowered it to 80psi and installed three volume-reducer spacers. This gave me 35mm/21.8 per cent sag. I set the rebound to taste, and the GRIP damper’s compression lever was set to fully open.

The Float X came installed with a yellow 0.2in cubed volume-reducer spacer and needed 190psi of pressure to stop excessive bottoming, but this sacrificed small-bump compliance. I installed a larger 0.4in cubed spacer and reduced pressure to 180psi. This reduced bottom-outs, improved sensitivity and gave the bike 16mm/29 per cent sag. I set the rebound adjuster to fully open. After testing the bike in multiple geometry configurations, I settled on the slackest, lowest and longest settings. I adjusted the tyre pressures according to trail conditions, but compared to thicker-casing tyres, the thin GRID TRAIL versions meant higher pressures were needed to protect against punctures and provide good carcass stability.

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy climbing performance

On the climbs, the Turbo Levo’s chassis and motor work in harmony to provide a powerful, comfortable and fluid experience. The motor’s natural, discreet but strong assistance defines a large part of the ride. Its progressive nature, where it tapers both on and off in the same way a rider’s natural inputs would, make it exceptionally easy to control. Wheelspins are irregular and traction on soft, wet ground is impressively easy to control. It’s backed up by the well-balanced climbing position, where my body’s weight felt centralised over the middle of the bike.

The generous 447mm chainstays and long 821mm front centre (the distance between the bottom bracket and front wheel axle) combine with the steep seat-tube angle and relatively stout top tube to give a fairly upright seated riding position. This makes keeping the front wheel glued to the ground or feeding in traction to the rear wheel much easier than a bike with geometry that stretches a rider out over the front, or positions them a long way over the back wheel. Hand and arm fatigue was also reduced, thanks to most of my weight going through my sit bones rather than into my hands.

The Turbo Levo’s seat tube angle positioned my hips over the bottom bracket rather than behind it, improving seated climbing comfort and efficiency compared to a bike that encourages a more stretched position. To boot, the soft Specialized Trail Grips and Bridge Comp saddle further boosted comfort; both are some of the most luxurious-feeling on the market. Fox’s Float X shock isn’t as supple and active as the X2 fitted to the S-Works version of this bike. This reduces traction and limits comfort on small bumps frequently found on worn-out trail centre surfaces, where the rear suspension feels harsh at the start of its travel. Many factors are at play here, but the negative air chamber size and need for increased spring pressure over other shocks were the biggest contributors.

Battery life

We managed to exceed 2,000m of climbing on a single charge in the lower assistance modes. Andy Lloyd / Our Media

Thanks to the 700Wh battery, the Turbo Levo can easily exceed 2,000m of climbing on a single charge if assistance levels are kept low. In trail, that figure is between 1,700m and 1,900m, and in turbo it drops to 1,500m. Battery life is akin to Bosch- and Shimano-powered bikes fitted with the smaller 625Wh and 630Wh batteries, meaning the Turbo Levo is less efficient with how it uses its power. Compared to the Yamaha-driven Giant Reign E 1, the Turbo Levo is much more efficient and easier to control. The basic TCU display is a significant downgrade from the MasterMind version, where adjusting assistance in 10 per cent increments is a dearly missed feature. As is an accurate battery life percentage. That said, the LED battery and mode indicators are logical and clear to read.

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy descending performance

Undeniably, the magic of the carbon-framed S-Works Turbo Levo is still present with the alloy version, or at least it could be unleashed with a few component upgrades. The chassis’ sizing and front-to-rear-centre ratio, plus the hand-to-feet relationship, the bottom-bracket height, and reach and stack figures made me feel like I was riding in the bike, rather than on top of it. That connection helped it feel amazing in the turns, where it was easy to lean over and commit, the bike augmenting rider inputs by just the right amount. Equally, when charging down a flat-out straight, it was possible to sense the chassis contributing to overall stability. This made committing to high lines into turns or charging across cambers an efficient and rewarding way to ride. Despite its weight being one of the lowest of our bikes in this category, it frequently overwhelmed the trail-focused damper. At the lower pressures required to improve comfort and traction, it struggled to provide enough support in its mid-stroke to truly complement the frame’s capabilities.

The Rhythm fork features a low-volume air spring which made setting them up to be both supple yet supportive tricky. Andy Lloyd / Our Media

Increasing the size of volume-reducer spacer helped, but only really reduced bottom-outs rather than improving mid-stroke performance. In this respect, the Fox X2 fitted to the higher-end Turbo Levo bikes is much better suited to the bike’s performance potential. It was a similar story with the fork. Thanks to the reduced-volume air spring at the higher pressures needed to provide bottom-out resistance and mid-stroke support, it felt harsh at the start of its travel. This gave the front end a perceptible pinginess on small, chattery bumps, which reduced grip and control. It compromised comfort and increased hand fatigue, too. Reducing air pressure and increasing the number of tokens helped improve the fork’s performance, but compared to the larger air springs found on Fox’s EVOL forks, it was still compromised enough to reduce the Turbo Levo’s overall ride quality. However, the Fox 36 chassis had plenty of stiffness to handle higher speeds, and I had no complaints about the GRIP damper in terms of control.

We would have preferred Gravity casing tyres rather than the puncture-prone Trail versions. Andy Lloyd / Our Media

Adding to the underperforming suspension was Specialized’s high-volume GRID TRAIL casing tyres. The increased pressures required to maintain carcass stability accentuated the harshness of the fork and under-damped feel of the rear shock. It was possible to run lower pressures on tame terrain, and this certainly improved composure, but on more rocky or faster trails, we experienced plenty of punctures. For the sake of a few grams, fitting thicker-casing tyres would significantly improve performance.

How does the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy compare?

Saracen’s Ariel 50E Elite is the brand’s only electric mountain bike and is aimed squarely at the all-mountain and enduro categories. Andy Lloyd / Our Media

In terms of geometry, the Turbo Levo is still one of the discipline’s greats. It manages to balance stability and control without needing immense amounts of commitment to get it to hook turns or stick lines. It is much easier to ride than the Mondraker Level R, Whyte E-180 RS v3 and Giant Reign E 1, and is more stable than the Saracen Ariel 50E Elite and YT Decoy Core 4, beating both those bikes in terms of potential on the descents and performance and comfort on the climbs. Arguably, though, its dampers and air springs limit how quickly, comfortably, or easily it can be ridden on gnarlier terrain, something Fox 38 and X2 or DHX2-equipped bikes don’t suffer from. The frame’s potential is there, however, it just needs better components to tap into it.

The motor and battery life are up there with the best of them, giving the Bosch and Shimano units a run for their money. Riders won’t be disappointed with the power of the Turbo Levo and how it’s delivered.

Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Alloy bottom line

The Turbo Levo Comp Alloy has plenty of potential and shares the incredible geometry of its more expensive sibling. Andy Lloyd / Our Media

This alloy-framed version of the Turbo Levo has the potential to be as good as the S-Works bike. It uses the same motor, geometry and suspension system, and in changing the frame’s material, Specialized hasn’t compromised on feel. However, the fork and shock, when coupled with the thin-casing tyres on this model, negatively impact control, smoothness and capability when the trails get rough and raw, which are the exact conditions the S-Works Turbo Levo excelled in.

Unlocking the magical ride quality of the S-Works bike would be possible with fork and damper upgrades, but also a costly thing to do. In my eyes, the Turbo Levo Comp Alloy doesn’t offer performance equivalent to its asking price, despite the potential being there.

How we tested

Despite this being the inaugural edition of eMTB Bike of the Year test, we’ve had plenty of experience testing ebikes to their absolute limits. That means finding out which of these eight bikes is the best electric mountain bike currently on sale was made a little easier. Although that’s not say our job was simple, and choosing a winner came down to the wire where the second and first place bikes swapped positions more times than we checked our tyre and shock pressures. The majority of the ebike testing happened in Scotland’s Tweed Valley, home to the legendary Glentress trail centre, Golfie enduro tracks and Innerleithen downhill runs. The terrain we tested the bikes on, therefore, was wide in scope and representative of what a modern enduro bike should be able to handle, whether that was gravity-fuelled laps on the DH tracks, epic enduro missions with long descents or gruelling trail rides with hours in the saddle. To win this year’s test, we were looking for a bike that offered the best all round package with fewest compromises and was able to perform on every type of riding we could throw at it. In an ode to a bike tester’s cliché, it had to descend like a downhill bike, pedal and climb like a cross country bike and be as comfortable to ride as an enduro bike.

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Review: First Look at the New Trail Bike

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What’s quieter than an owl in flight and lighter than some non-e-bikes? The new Specialized Levo SL. This is Specialized’s lightest, most nimble eMTB and for 2023 the Turbo Levo SL Gen 2 has been reimagined to be more powerful and quieter, in an effort to make the e-part of the eMTB blend as seamlessly with the rider experience as possible.

This is an eMTB aimed squarely at mountain bikers who were reluctant to give up their lightweight mountain bikes for something that weighed 20 lbs. more. The Specialized Turbo Levo SL is designed to give trail riders everything they love about mountain biking in a package that makes them feel like a superhero, not a cyborg.

The Electric Bike Report team scoured all the details on the latest eMTB contender. See all our thoughts down below from our first look review of the Specialized Turbo Levo SL.

Specialized Turbo Levo SL: Bike Overview

Let’s begin with the basics. The Specialized Turbo Levo SL is based on the Specialized Stumpjumper EVO, one of the best-reviewed mountain bikes on the market; its accolades read like Michael Jordan’s career. So, this is an eMTB with 160mm of travel in the fork and 150mm of travel in the rear suspension, which is a bit less than we are seeing from many bike companies that offer but one eMTB. As Specialized makes six different families of eMTB, they have longer-travel models available.

The Turbo Levo SL rolls on a mullet setup, which is a 29 front wheel and a 27.5-in. wheel in the rear. Running two different wheel sizes makes the e-bike a bit more nimble, without giving up the ability to roll up and over obstacles. Riders who prefer 29-in. wheels front and rear can adjust the rear suspension to work with a 29-in. wheel.

The difference between the standard Turbo Levo and the Turbo Levo SL comes down to the motor and battery. Where the Turbo Levo is reported to offer riders up to four times (4x) the power they can generate, the Turbo Levo SL offers riders double (2x) the power they generate on their own.

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Review: Specs and Features

Motor and battery

Previously, Specialized’s SL 1.1 motor produced 240W nominally and 35Nm of torque. Those numbers may seem modest, but the goal of Turbo Levo SL was to offer athletic riders a boost, not afterburners. The new SL 1.2 motor sees an increase of overall power by 35 percent and an increase in torque by 43 percent. What that means is that the new motor produces 320W and 50Nm of torque, putting in striking distance of most existing mid-drive e-bike motors found on eMTBs.

Considering that part of the appeal of mountain biking is to be out in nature away from the proverbial “it all,” Specialized also brought overall noise down in the new SL 1.2 motor. Depending on which PAS level a rider chooses, noise has dropped by 35-44 percent.

Specialized says that with the integrated 320Wh battery riders can explore for up to five hours in Eco mode, and if that’s not enough, or they would prefer to stay in Turbo mode, they can add Specialized’s 160Wh range-extender battery.

So how does this stack up range-wise?

Battery Eco (35% of total power) Trail (75% of total power) Turbo (100% of power)
Internal 320Wh 3:30-4:30 hrs. 28-35 Mi. 6550-7550 ft. climbing 1:30-2:00 hrs. 12-18 Mi. 2625-2950 ft. climbing 1:15-1:30 hrs. 12-15 Mi. 2450-2800 ft. climbing
Internal 320Wh Range extender 160Wh 5:15-7:00 hrs. 42-51 mil. 9850-11,300 ft. 2:15-3:00 hrs. 18-28 Mi. 3925-4425 ft. 1:45-2:15 hrs. 18-23 Mi. 3600-4250 ft.

Frame

If the new Turbo Levo SL is like the previous one, then Specialized will produce this e-bike with three different frames. There will be a carbon fiber edition, as well as one with an aluminum frame in order to hit a more affordable price point.

Specialized makes each of the different versions of the Turbo Levo SL frame in a whopping six sizes. Not only can they accommodate riders from as short as 4 feet 11 inches up to 6 feet 8 inches, most riders can choose between two or more sizes, depending on the fit and handling they want; some riders may want the nimble handling that comes with the shorter wheelbase found in a smaller size, while some riders may want the calm nature that comes with a longer wheelbase. The point is, there’s room for choice.

Similarly, as we mentioned above, the choice of either a 27.5-in. or a 29-in. rear wheel will affect how quickly the Turbo Levo SL handles. And in a move that may be unique among the big brands, Specialized gives riders the ability to adjust the head tube angle by changes to the headset (the bearings that allow the fork to turn). While these headsets have been available aftermarket, no one has spec’d one before. Riders can choose between head tube angles of 63, 64.25 and 65.5 degrees, allowing someone to dial the handling to their particular riding terrain. Someone with fast fire roads who spends a lot of time in the air will love the 63-degree angle, while a rider on twistier terrain who stays on the ground is likely to prefer the 65.5-degree option.

Components

As one of the two biggest bike companies in the universe, Specialized isn’t content to make an e-bike and be done with it. They recognize that people have differing budgets and as a result, they will produce a number of different variants.

Currently, the Turbo Levo SL comes in four different versions, as well as the option to purchase the top-shelf S-Works frameset. As this is meant to be ridden on technical terrain that can be difficult to hike, each version is equipped with a 12-speed drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes.

Electronics

From what we’ve seen so far, Specialized offers one of the most interesting and complete combinations of controller and smartphone app on the market. Riders can make adjustments of /- 10 percent on power on the fly, giving them finer control of the assistance they receive than by switching between the three PAS levels of Eco, Trail and Turbo.

The Mission Control app grants riders an unprecedented level of control over their eMTB. Not only can they adjust both nominal and peak wattage in each PAS level, they can adjust other performance dimensions like acceleration response. The app also gives riders security features like the ability to disable the motor so that would-be bike thieves can’t pedal it.

One remarkable feature of Mission Control is the riders can program in how long a ride is anticipated to be and Smart Control will manage power usage to make sure the battery is budgeted to finish the ride.

EBR’s take on the new Turbo Levo SL:

The crew here at EBR are, first and foremost, e-bike nerds. We love a well-made e-bike and many of us rode regular bikes before taking up e-bikes. Some of us here have been riding Specialized mountain bikes since the 1980s. Their mountain bikes have always been at the head of the class for handling and the Stumpjumper EVO is a standard by which many other mountain bikes are judged. Srsly, some of the best praise a mountain bike can receive is to have someone say, “I’d put it up against a Stumpy EVO.”

The Specialized Turbo Levo SL serves as a kind of missing link between a regular mountain bike and an eMTB. It’s an in-between solution.

So why would Specialized make an eMTB that gives up range and power? For riders who have been pedaling regular mountain bikes that might weigh on the order of 30-35 lbs., making the transition to a 50-lb. eMTB can be harder than we might guess. The balance is different and a rider has to work harder to get the front wheel up and that’s a bigger deal than it seems because muscle memory is what we work from in the moment. Currently, the Turbo Levo SL Comp—the heaviest version of this eMTB (thanks in part to its aluminum frame) weighs only 42.7 lbs.; the S-Works weighs 38 lbs.

The upshot is that this will be an unusually nimble eMTB and considering there can be settings in which Turbo mode on a more powerful eMTB can be overkill, the Turbo Levo SL is unlikely to ever seem like too much e-bike. We did think that the original Turbo Levo SL was shy in the torque department, so upping the torque from 35Nm to 50Nm overcomes that eMTB’s one real weakness.

To fully appreciate what an alternative the Turbo Levo SL is, we should take a moment to stop and say that of the “full power” eMTBs, the Levo is one of the best, if not the very best eMTB on the market, and it’s arguable that no company has been more aggressive in its pursuit of advancing what an eMTB can be. Specialized may not have invented the eMTB but they did ask everyone else to hold their beer.

With an eMTB in which the motor and battery are small enough to be missed by the casual observer, the Turbo Levo SL holds the tantalizing potential of offering 80 percent of the performance of other eMTBs at 60 percent of the weight. This is a fresh take on what an eMTB can be.

It’s our belief that the Specialized Turbo Levo SL will find a ready audience among riders like some of us here in the EBR offices who aren’t as quick as we were in our 30s. An eMTB that weighs less than 45 lbs., can go for five hours, produces 320W and can muscle the chain to the tune of 50Nm of torque is enough to make anyone feel like a superhero. The only thing the Specialized Turbo Levo SL doesn’t come with is a cape.

SpeedFun Ribelle for Specialized Turbo Levo, Turbo Kenevo and Turbo Tero

SpeedFun Ribelle is a ebike tuning for Specialized ebike with Brose motor that allows you to remove the speed block at 25 kmH and increase its active assistance up to 60 KmH by taking full advantage of the motor’s potential.

This speed release device is compatible only and exclusively with Specialized Turbo Levo and Turbo Kenevo equipped with Brose engine (officially “Turbo 2.1” and “Turbo Full Power System 2.2”) and with TCU (CTU1), MasterMind TCU (TCU2) and MasterMind TCD.

The Ribelle for Specialized ebike tuning device always shows real speed and mileage on the display.

SKU RIB_BRO_SPECIALIZED_2.0 Categories For Specialized, Ribelle

What is the Ribelle SpeedFun tuning for Specialized Turbo Levo and Turbo Kenevo?

SpeedFun Ribelle is a ebike tuning for Specialized ebike that allows you to increase the speed of the ebike by removing the block set at 25 kmH. With SpeedFun Ribelle installed, active assistance is increased up to 60 km/h (info).

This speed release device is compatible only and exclusively with Specialized 2.1 and 2.2 engines (officially “Turbo 2.1” and “Turbo Full Power System 2.2”) mounted on Turbo Levo and Turbo Kenevo e-bikes equipped with TCU (code TCU01) or MasterMind TCU (code TCU02), MasterMind TCD.

The Specialized Ribelle ebike tuning device always shows real speed and mileage on the display, if any, or app. It can be activated or deactivated by pressing a simple sequence of keys directly from the ebike handlebar control. The activation and deactivation of the device is reported on the TCU.

SpeedFun Ribelle is a very small device, measuring only 49 x 16,5 x 7,5 mm. It is equipped with original connectors thanks to which no physical modification of the ebike is necessary and do not alter the characteristics of electrical resistance and water tightness. The SpeedFun speed release, specifically designed to be installed under the TCU, makes installation quick and easy without having to work in the motor area.

specialized, turbo, levo, comp, alloy

SpeedFun Ribelle for Specialzied thanks to its particular operating algorithm comes into operation when 16 km/h is reached without the cyclist noticing any difference in assistance. It does not intervene in any way at low speeds. This important precaution has been implemented to avoid power losses, failures or “hiccup” operations.

Specialized Ebike with 2.1 and 2.2 motord where the Ribelle device was successfully installed

(this list is illustrative and not exhaustive)

– Specizlied Turbo Kenevo Expert – Specizlied Turbo Kenevo Comp – Specizlied Turbo Levo Hardtail Comp M5 – Specialized Turbo Levo Hardtail M5 – Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo – Specialized Turbo Levo Pro

– Specialized Turbo Levo Expert – Specialized Turbo Levo Comp M5 – Specialized Turbo Levo M5 – Specialized Turbo Tero 5.0 – Specialized Turbo Tero 4.0 EQ – Specialized Turbo Tero 4.0 – Specialized Turbo Tero 3.0 – Specialized Turbo Tero 3.0 Step-Through

Additional information

Internal (totally invisible from the outside)

Equipped with original and/or compatible connectors (does not require any physical modification to the ebike wiring)

Brose motors used on Specialized ebike (called by Specialized “Turbo 2.1” and “Turbo Full Power System 2.2”)

Specialized TCU (CTU1), Specialized MasterMind TCU (TCU2), Specialized MasterMind TCD

specialized, turbo, levo, comp, alloy

No external power supply required

The New Specialized Levo SL V2 Is a Great Trail Bike—with a Motor

The Takeaway: The new, second-generation, Specialized Levo SL is superb. Though a bit heavier than the V1, it is a better-built bike with a more powerful motor. It features class-leading handling and rear suspension performance and is one of the best-executed e-bike systems available.

  • SL 1.2 motor is more powerful: 50Nm of torque, 320 watts of peak power
  • Up to 45 percent quieter than the previous generation’s motor
  • Mixed wheel platform from the factory, but able to fit a 29-inch rear wheel
  • Beefier build than V1 Levo SL: Now with larger diameter 160mm forks, piggyback shocks, more powerful brakes, and tougher tires
  • Priced from 8,000 (Comp Carbon) to 15,000 (S-Works LTD)

Price: 14,000 (S-Works, tested)Weight: 38.9 lb. (S3)

Specialized typically has one of the most aggressive model redesign timelines in the bicycle industry. I usually assume about two to three years between model refreshes, especially if it is a halo product.

Related Story

The first generation of the brand’s lightweight e-mountain bike, the Levo SL, was arguably a bike that helped popularize the e-light segment. While full-power e-mountain bikes remain the most popular, the e-light category is growing and occupied by exciting bikes like the Trek Fuel EXe, Pivot Shuttle SL, Orbea Rise, Scott Lumen, and BMC Fourstroke AMP LT.

Considering its significance, Specialized took an unusually long time (for Specialized) to refresh the Levo SL, which debuted in early February 2020. But for Star Wars Day 2023, Specialized finally debuts the second generation Levo SL.

What’s New

No minor refresh, the Levo SL V2 is an all-new bike, and one hews a bit closer to a full-power Specialized Levo than the Levo SL V1.

That’s obvious with a check of the V2’s build. While the V1 had a Fox 34 fork, an inline shock, and SRAM G2 brakes, the V2 has a Fox 36 (with 160mm travel, 10mm more travel than the V1) a reservoir shock, and SRAM Code brakes. The V2 also gets mixed wheel sizes from the factory (V1 was 29/29), and a stronger rear tire with a gravity casing. Most of these updates do add weight, so the V2 SL is a bit heavier: In my preferred S3 size, the V2 weighed 38.9lb on my scale up from the V1’s sub-37-pound weight (size medium, on my scale). But the V1 SL was arguably underbuilt in its quest to realize its low weight.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL

The SL 1.2 motor looks identical to the V1’s SL 1.1 motor from the outside, but it is all new inside. It’s quieter—the V1 was known for its prominent whine—with Specialized claiming a, “perceived noise reduction of 34 to 45 percent,” thanks, in part, to baffles inside the housing. It’s also significantly more powerful: Torque jumps from 35Nm to 50Nm, with peak power jumping from 240 watts to 320 watts.

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Although it is more powerful, Specialized claims the 1.2 motor is 10 percent more efficient than the 1.1. So even though there’s no change to the battery spec—320Wh in-frame battery with an optional 160Wh range extender (the V1 and V2 SLs use the same range extenders)—the claimed range is about the same.

Specialized claims that, using just the in-frame battery, the average run time (for USA models with 20mph/32kph max assist speed) is about 210 minutes (3.5 hours) in Eco mode or around 60 minutes in Turbo mode. Adding the range extender adds more run time: Maximum claimed range with range extender (for U.S. models with 20mph/32kph max assist speed) is about 378 minutes in Eco mode, 162 minutes in Trail mode, and 121 minutes in Turbo mode.

One note on range and modes: From the factory, Specialized sets the SL’s Turbo mode to 80 percent peak power, and that setting is the basis for their Turbo mode range claims. Changing the Turbo mode’s peak power to 100 percent will reduce the range.

Those run times are short, but a smaller battery is one of the tradeoffs necessary to make a lighter e-bike. But Specialized defends its choice by pointing to the data they’ve collected from its e-bikes in the field via its Mission Control app.

A Specialized representative told me that data suggests the new SL’s range from the in-frame battery is adequate for 75 percent of rides the riders are undertaking on their Levos. Batteries are heavy and expensive, so adding more range increases the weight and cost of the bike. Specialized’s 16oWh range extender, for example, weighs almost four pounds (1.8 kg) and costs 450.

A representative from the e-bike team explained Specialized’s rationale this way, “Why penalize all the riders out there with an unnecessarily big battery out of the gate? You’re penalizing them from a cost perspective, as well as weight and handling. We serve the majority with the internal battery and then we offer the range extender for the other 30 percent that want to for longer rides. You let them choose; you enable them to optimize their ride experience.”

The V2 Levo SL also gets an overhaul of its suspension. Though they’re relying on the brand’s familiar and trusty Horst-Link four-bar, it gets a more rearward axle path—a philosophy they debuted with the 2020 Enduro—to help it flow through square-edged hits more efficiently. This detail is especially important: Specialized equips the Levo SL with a 27.5-inch rear wheel, which doesn’t roll as efficiently over bumps as a larger 29er wheel.

Beyond wheel path, the Levo SL is the first model with what they describe as a “new kinematic philosophy” that will likely find its way into future models and updates. This is how they describe it: “A flatted leverage curve along with a more rearward defined axle path ensure peppy pedaling and climbing behavior, and a lower overall leverage ratio equates to improved small-bump and mid-stroke sensitivity while still providing plenty of progression to smash big hits with intent.”

Geometry

The Levo SL arrives in six sizes and now employs the company’s S-sizing scheme (instead of the V1 Levo SL’s t-shirt sizing).

Like the V1 Levo SL, the V2 Levo SL’s geometry borrows heavily from an existing Specialized Trail bike. For V2, Specialized dips into the Stumpjumper Evo’s geometry bin. And that means not just the numbers, but also the SJ Evo’s extensive geometry adjustments.

Specialized sent me an Excel spreadsheet with 12 different tables for the different configurations. I’m not posting those here—you can find them on the Levo SL’s product page—but I’ve posted the “stock” geometry settings, and will discuss a few highlights.

The Levo SL gets a 27.5-inch rear wheel with a 29-inch front wheel from the factory. That smaller rear wheel is one reason for the Levo SL’s impressively short, for an e-bike, 432mm chainstays. Specialized representatives stated that while developing the new Levo SL they experimented with both 29/29 and mixed setups and ultimately decided to ship the bike with mixed because it offered, “The most fun feel.”

However, Specialized did make the SL able to accommodate a 29-inch rear wheel if the rider prefers. This requires switching a chip in the chainstays and results in 442mm length stays. But that is the only change: Nothing else changes when swapping wheel size.

The head angle from the factory is 64.6 degrees with the headtube cups in the middle (nominal) position. Swapping to the slack cup results in a 63.8-degree head angle, while the steep cup results in a 65.2- degree head angle. The seat angle is 75.8 degrees from the factory.

The third geometry adjustment is a bottom bracket height adjuster in the clevis. In the factory set low position (with mixed wheels), the BB center sits 348mm from the ground, while in the high position, it sits at 353mm. However, the BB height adjuster also affects head and seat angles: Switching to the high setting increases head and seat angle by 0.4 degrees.

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I’m surprised that Specialized does not adjust the chainstay length per frame size. This seems like an uncommon miss for a company that’s usually so on top of trends. Specialized does size-adjust the actual seat angle, so the effective seat angle is 75.8 degrees at an average saddle height for each frame size. On the S3 size I ride, the effective seat angle measures 75.8° at a 735mm saddle height, while on a larger S4 frame size, 75.8° is realized at a 780mm saddle height.

And while I’m personally relieved that the seat angle hovers around 76 degrees (even so, I moved the saddle back on its rails), I can already hear the chorus of screams proclaiming it is too slack. And it may be if every bit of your climbing is consistently very steep. But in my opinion, a seat angle like 76-degree is better than an even steeper seat angle for a wider variety of pitches and pedaling on flatter terrain.

Models and Prices

At launch, riders in the U.S. have three purchasing options.

At the high end are two S-Works options: the S-Works Levo SL LTD (15,000) and the S-Works Levo SL (14,000) that I tested. Both come with the range extender included.

The distinguishing factor between the S-Works models is the suspension. The LTD gets Rockshox Flight Attendant suspension, while the standard S-Works model runs Fox Factory bits.

The cough “cheap” option is the Levo SL Comp Carbon which sells for 8,000. Another way to spend 8,000 is to buy the S-Works Levo SL Frameset and handle the rest of the parts yourself.

The crazy thing is that the 8,000 frame is almost identical to the frame used to build the 8,000 complete bike. The S-Works frame has a fancy carbon shock extender while the Comp Carbon has an aluminum shock extender: that’s the only frame difference. The rest of the “FACT 11m carbon” frame, as well as the motor, battery, and display, are identical.

At some point in the future, a Levo SL Expert will arrive, though that model’s price is not yet set.

Familiar Specialized Horst Link suspension with a new kinematic philosophy results in a beautiful ride.

Ride Impressions

Specialized makes very good mountain bikes. Specialized makes very good e-bikes. And Specialized makes very good e-mountain bikes. Say what you will about the company’s marketing or public persona: When it comes to the equipment, Specialized rarely misses.

The V1 Levo SL wasn’t a miss, but e-MTB light was a nascent segment when it debuted. And the parameters of what riders wanted from a bike in the category—motor assist, range, and acceptable bike weight—were still largely unknown. Specialized shot their shot, opting for lower power and a lighter bike. But as other e-MTB lights arrived and began to firm up the boundaries of the category, the V1 SL started to look like a scalpel in a dagger fight.

Levo SL V2 is a much better bike than the V1 and more in line with competitors’ bikes. Yes, it gained some weight, but it’s better for it. One example: switching from the V1’s 150mm Fox 34 to the far sturdier Fox 36 on the V2. The 36 improves the ride experience exponentially and is more appropriate for a 150mm trail bike, especially one that weighs 40 pounds.

As a result of the sturdier fork and all the other changes, the Levo SL V2 is the kind of bike you’d expect to get from Specialized: Superb.

I’ll start with my favorite thing about this bike: The handling. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a bike that made me shout, “Wow!” a few turns into a descent, but that’s what happened on this bike. I can’t say exactly why this Levo SL handles so well: There’s nothing in the numbers that jumps out, a reminder that a head angle or any other number(s) on a geometry table says very little about how a bike handles on the trail.

Whatever the reasons, the Levo SL is one of the best-handling mountain bikes I’ve ever ridden. When I dropped it into a corner, I felt like it was pivoting around a stake in the ground connected to my hip bone: The front end carved through the corner while I felt the rear tire clawing the soil as it arced a tighter line. It took me a bit to reorient my lines through corners, as I could take them faster on the Levo SL than any bike in recent memory.

Essentially, the Levo SL handles like it has a short wheelbase: In a good way. The bike feels light on its tires, changes direction easily, and responds intuitively. For long portions of descents aboard the Levo SL, I forgot I was riding an e-bike because it feels so lively and tossable.

The rear center is short—432mm with the stock 27.5-inch rear wheel—and the resulting 1,206mm wheelbase (in the from-the-factory geometry setting) is on the lower end of the scale for a bike with the Levo SL’s travel. I vibed with the bike’s stock geometry setting on my home terrain. The SL is short enough and the handling reactive enough that riders who live in regions with super-fast descents will want to set up this bike to its slackest position (and perhaps fit it with a 29er rear wheel), especially if said descents are rough and rowdy.

My second favorite thing about the Levo SL is the rear suspension. Specialized stated that the Levo SL employs a new rear suspension tune philosophy. And I think it’s a step forward. This bike’s rear end felt much smoother and more sensitive than the Stumpjumper EVO I rode last year. Plush is not a word I use to describe suspension much anymore, but that’s the word that came to mind when riding the Levo SL. There’s excellent rear wheel traction for climbs, especially in corners: I think the early suppleness of the rear travel plays a role in its superb cornering manners.

And it’s plush without the downsides: Somehow, the suspension is supportive too. The Levo holds well in high-g corners, and it doesn’t overtravel and get upset when pumping through rollers or slamming g-outs. At the end of its travel, Levo SL has a smooth ramp and is not aggressively progressive. It was adequate for the terrain I hit on my test rides thus far. But due to snowmelt, I haven’t yet hit my rowdiest trails on this bike. Based on how often I’ve used full travel so far (quite often), I need to reduce the shock’s air volume a bit—aggressive riders and those who frequent rowdier terrain will probably want to do the same.

And, oh yeah, the motor—I often forget the Levo SL is an e-bike. The most notable improvement to the SL’s motor is the noise. Though nowhere near as quiet as the TQ HPR50 in the Trek Fuel EXe (and others), the new SL motor is much quieter than the previous generation. The 1.2 motor’s noise is in line with, and maybe slightly quieter than, Shimano’s EP8.

There’s no question that the Levo SL’s motor has less kick than that of a full-power e-bike. A similar-weight friend glided away from me on a climb aboard his EP8-equipped Santa Cruz Heckler, but I could at least keep him in sight, something that wasn’t possible with the V1s lower-powered motor.

But while it’s not as powerful as a full-power e-bike, the V2’s support—the torque and watts—feel in line with other motors I’ve sampled in this category (TQ and Fazua’s Ride 60) and bring the Levo SL into the fight.

The motor’s tune is very good, which I expect from Specialized. The power rolls on and off smoothly and naturally, and its nuances quickly become intuitive. So intuitive that, as I said before, I’d forget that I was riding an e-bike if it wasn’t for the motor’s whine breaking through the wind noise now and again.

Like the full-power Levo, the appeal here is not so much the motor’s power or delivery—which both are very good, but not notably better than the competition—but that Specialized has such a clean and well-executed system. The system’s remote is tidy, the in-frame Master Mind TCU display is easy to read, and the whole system is customizable, tunable, and easily updated through the Specialized Mission control app. And if you want more data, the bike uses the ANT LEV protocol and easily pairs with many GPS cycling computers.

Given my limited time on the bike—about two weeks ahead of this launch—coupled with closures due to a bigger-than-usual snow year, I haven’t had an opportunity to do a real range test on the Levo SL. Based on battery consumptions I saw on my, shorter, rides so far, Specialized’s claims—3.5 hours in Eco mode, 1.5 hours in Trail, and one hour in Turbo from in-frame battery only—seem about right.

However, Specialized runs one of the smallest in-frame batteries in this class at 320Wh. Trek’s EXe has a 360Wh battery, Pivot has a 430Wh battery in its Pivot SL, and Orbea offers a 360Wh or 540Wh battery in the Rise. However, battery size is one thing and motor efficiency is another. If Specialized has a particularly efficient motor range should be competitive and the smaller (lighter) battery won’t matter.

On a positive note, a smaller batter means shorter charge times. I haven’t timed a full charge yet—I will when I do my range tests—but I’d throw the battery on the charger when I got home from an hour or so ride and, on several occasions, I remember being surprised by how quickly the display showed the battery back to 100%.

As for components, SRAM’s Transmission is extra-great on an e-bike. Its smooth and seamless shifting is even more beneficial, and I was happy to have Code brakes with 200mm SRAM HS2 rotors front and rear. However, I am somewhat wary of the superlight Roval Traverse SL wheels. Nothing happened to my wheels so far, but experience hints that a 1,250-ish gram wheelset on a 40-pound e-bike with 150/160mm travel might be asking for trouble.

The Specialized Levo SL is a superb trail bike that happens to be an e-bike. It’s also up against some stiff competition, particularly the Trek Fuel EXe—my favorite mountain bike (e-assisted or muscle-assisted) of 2022. A head-to-head is in the works—I hope to add a third head in the form of the Pivot Shuttle SL—between these incredibly wonderful and compelling e-bikes. So far, I like the Levo SL’s handling and rear suspension slightly more than the Trek’s, but I like the Trek’s motor a bit more than the Specialized. But, damn, they’re both great bikes.

It took Specialized a little longer than usual to overhaul the Levo SL. I have it on good authority it was somewhat close to launching it about a year ago, but it was pulled back because the crew behind it felt they needed more time to get it right. It seems well worth it because it is a very dialed machine, abounding with highlights. The handling, the rear suspension, and the motor system are all extremely refined and perform brilliantly. The first generation Levo SL helped create the e-light category, and the second generation sets the bar.

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A gear editor for his entire career, Matt’s journey to becoming a leading cycling tech journalist started in 1995, and he’s been at it ever since; likely riding more cycling equipment than anyone on the planet along the way. Previous to his time with Bicycling, Matt worked in bike shops as a service manager, mechanic, and sales person. Based in Durango, Colorado, he enjoys riding and testing any and all kinds of bikes, so you’re just as likely to see him on a road bike dressed in Lycra at a Tuesday night worlds ride as you are to find him dressed in a full face helmet and pads riding a bike park on an enduro bike. He doesn’t race often, but he’s game for anything; having entered road races, criteriums, trials competitions, dual slalom, downhill races, enduros, stage races, short track, time trials, and gran fondos. Next up on his to-do list: a multi day bikepacking trip, and an e-bike race.

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