Specialized Bicycles Turbo Levo SL Comp Carbon XL 2021 Mountain Bike Review

Specialized Bicycles Turbo Levo SL Comp Carbon XL 2021

Reviews / Electric Bikes

Specialized Bicycles 1,976,885

At a glance

The Specialized Turbo Levo SL Carbon has 150mm travel, 29’’ wheels and a 320Wh battery, matched to Specializeds’ ‘own’ SL1.1 motor. Kitted out with Fox 34’s, Sram Guide RE Brakes, NX Eagle drivetrain and Specialized branded cockpit, wheels and other accessories.

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About the brand

Started off by Mike Sinyard in the mid 70’s, Specialized is one of the oldest companies around, and one of the pioneers when it comes to Mountain bikes. Although the current company is far removed from what it once was, they still are on the pinnacle of integration and innovation in the bike industry.

When it comes to a sustainability policy, they strive on various goals. Responsible manufacturing, responsible designs, waste reduction & recycling and climate action programs. Sadly no big initiatives like being part of 1% for the Planet or big tree planting programs, but still good to see a big brand like Specialized is moving towards awareness and doing its part.

Read all about it here: https://www.specialized.com/us/en/sustainability 

The product

The big S is known for building high quality, extremely slick looking products. The frame design is second to none, and the integration of their electric assist is almost unnoticeable.

At just over 17kg, this bike is a true lightweight under the E-MTB’s. The main reason the Levo SL can get to this weight is of course the tiny 320Wh battery. Want to do bigger tours? There is a 160Wh range extender available, for a ‘mere’ 400 EUR extra.
Another big plus is the adjustability of the system. With the app, you are able to fully customize the support settings, making it possible to really fine tune the support you are getting.

That brings us straight to the other part of the Levo SL. The 7k price tag is just as eye watering as a high speed descent in crisp morning air. Yes, the frame is very well manufactured, but for that price you get a bike specced with just NX Eagle, Fox Elite shocks and a lot of Spesh labelled components.

Out on the trail

Setting off on the Levo SL, I immediately felt at home on the bike. Handling is easy and the riding position is very comfortable. As I head into the first climb the electric controls are very intuitive, and the motor is quite silent too. On the power end, I do notice quite a difference between the other systems from Bosch and Shimano. Both competitors have a way higher power output, and you will need to put in some extra effort to keep up if your buddies are running a different system.

Shifting is what you can expect from NX, snappy, fast and precise. The brakes are ‘ok’ but in my opinion they lack a bit of power. Something you will definitely notice on the steeper and longer descents. But as you could read in our ‘Getting Dialled’ series, this is easy to fine tune.

When it comes to the battery life, yes 320Wh is not a lot. Depending on the riders’ input, you can squeeze around 500 - 700m of ascending out of the battery. Add the range extender to that, and you’ll be around the 1000m vertical mark. Which is, let’s be fair, still a decent day out. And when the battery does run out, there is a pleasant surprise. As the bike’s weight is not that much, and the motor has very little internal friction, it is actually quite ok to pedal without the assistance.

On the climbs, it’s easy to find a comfortable position and steady pace. When the going gets steep however, you need to put a lot of weight on the front wheel to keep it to the ground. Steep Tech is not what this bike loves to do.

Once at the top, it’s time for the good bit. Whizzing down the trails, I am very pleased with the Levo’s handling. It’s agile, fun and really maneuverable. Here the lower weight of the Levo SL really shines, it feels like a non e-bike!

Verdict

The Specialized Levo SL is not a bike for everyone. The price tag, the spec and the limited support and range make this a particular bike for a particular type of rider.

If your friends all have full blown, heavy weight E Bikes, this is not the best choice for you unless you are really fit. The lack of power in the motor will definitely put you in the back of the pack when riding together with ‘full size’ E Bikes.

This is however a great bike for the rider that is looking for a little extra help to keep up with his fitter, faster analogue buddies. The Levo SL will enable you to enjoy a ride out with the young and fit crew, and still have energy for chats and fun.

Also, if you need more than 24 hours in a day to make life, work and riding fit the schedule, the Levo SL can be your ticket to more fun. The extra boost will enable you to squeeze out a quick loop here and there, and in general just pack more (s)miles per ride out.

All in all, it's an amazing ride and possible the first E-MTB out there that doesn't compromise handling for electric assistance.

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This review was in Issue 67 of IMB.

For more information visit Specialized Bicycles

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By Jarno Hoogland
Jarno's life has revolved around two wheels ever since he swung a leg over his first BMX at age 4. After a BMX and DH racing career, he moved on to work for bike shops, distributors and brands before ending up in the editors seat at IMB. Based in the ultimate testing ground in the Swiss mountains, he runs his guiding operation and makes sure every IMB issue is filled with top notch content.

Tried this? What did you think?