Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Carbon Review
words by Jamie Edwards / photos by Dave Price
We’ve had the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Carbon eBike for a good old while now and it’s well overdue a review.
With summer in full swing and the eBike miles clocking into the thousands it’s time to share some thoughts on this big-wheel, big-travel, mid-spec eMountainbike from the Big S. Here goes!
- Carbon frame with alloy rear triangle
- 29″ wheels with 2.6″ tyres
- 150mm travel
- Specialized 2.1, custom Rx Trail-tuned motor
- Fully integrated Turbo M2-500 battery
Introducing the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Carbon…
I’m going to start by acknowledging that the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Carbon isn’t perfect. Sorry Spesh!
I’ve trashed the back wheel, the fork isn’t great, the rear shock is a pea-shooter, the SWAT thing rattles, the tyres are a pain. I think the fork has an odd creak. It’s pricey. The motor is quite noisy. Normal bikes now feel less fun. My beer belly isn’t getting smaller. The last two are my fault, I admit.
Despite that not insubstantial list I’m still going to pin my colours to the mast and say that I’ve had an absolutely ridiculous amount of fun on this thing.
Should I ever have the money to drop on an eBike (I don’t and I probably won’t) I’d buy it in a bloody heartbeat.
And the details
The Specialized Turbo Levo Comp is a beautiful bicycle.
OK, you might argue that aesthetically, it’s a bit of a pig but look at what else is out there in the eBike game?
The Turbo Levo has smooth lines, fast-standing-still angles, a hidden-away battery, neat-and-tidy controls, no big and ugly screen that’s shouting “look at me, I’m an eBike!!”.
Disagree with me if you like, but in my book, it’s one of the best looking, least eBike looking, eBikes going.
The turbo Levo Comp is the middle-ish option in Specialized’s eBike family.
It has a carbon mainframe with an alloy rear triangle. It uses the absolutely brilliant, if a little noisy, Specialized 2.1, custom Rx Trail-tuned motor with a fully integrated Turbo M2-500 battery.
It has 29″ wheels. 4 pot SRAM Guide RE brakes. A Fox 34 Rhythm eBike fork and Fox DPS Performance shock. It has 150mm travel and uses the FSR suspension platform.
All in, it’ll cost a penny short of £6,000 here in the UK.
Am I an eBiker now?
I’ve probably had the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp a bit longer than I should.
The problem is, I’ve just had way too much fun on it. We’ve been to the Bike Park, round my local trails, on huge all-dayers getting lost in the hills.
The bike has goaded me to ride when I should otherwise be sat at home short on time or energy.
It’s allowed me to ride with guys far fitter than I’ll ever be and take that ‘one-more-run’ that was previously out of reach for granted.
Sure, that’s not a unique quality of the Specialized but I think this is the first eBike I’ve really, really been sold on. It’s a bike that keeps making me question whether I’d have more fun on the acoustic bike and why I’d bother to bring it next time.
Why so good?
Why so good then? First, it feels like Specialized have delivered a very finished, very polished, very complete package.
Almost everything Specialized has built into the bike just works well, is neat-and-tidy and does its job perfectly. The frame is, as we’ve already debated, a slick, sleek package of integrated cables, minimal controls and a hidden battery.
The top-tube mounted display is simple, subtle and easy to use. There are no annoying WO13 errors if you step on the pedals too early when you start it up.
There’s room for a bottle, the SWAT system guarantees that there’s always an Allen key to hand and works with every bolt on the bike.
The Specialized Mission Control app is by far the best eBike system I’ve experienced with its own route mapping Strava-esque system and the ability to completely tune your bike to your settings. The app works brilliantly and makes other systems look clunky and out-dated.
Even the charger is neat, with a magnetic system to help you line everything up and guarantee it’s all charging.
The Turbo Levo Comp feels like a modern iMac compared to your clunky, crappy Dell laptop from work.
By far the best thing about the Turbo Levo is the battery, which just keeps pumping all day long. I often ride with two other fitter, lighter guys on Shimano Steps equipped bikes and am still punching out climbs in Boost mode when they’re pushing their flat batteries back to the car.
If you don’t ride like a lunatic you’ll easily get a hard day of steep, rough 40km climbs (and their accompanying descents) in the bag.
On the trail
I often hear people bitching about how crap eBikes are on descents. Invariably, it’s folk who’ve never actually swung a leg over one.
The Turbo Levo Comp is possibly the fastest, certainly the most confidence-boosting, bike in my garage right now.
The weight gives the bike a very planted, very aggressive, very steady feeling that makes me want to push it harder and hit rocks like a rider I wish I was. It rarely does anything weird, bounces out of shape or gets kicked and the 150mm travel and 29” wheels roll through rough, rocky, choppy terrain nicely.
I’m also really impressed with Specialized’s choice of 2.6” tyres, rather than the usual eBike approach of big, balloon 2.8”ers. They make the Levo feel way more like a ‘normal’ bike, feel aggressive and easy to throw around without any of the crap tendencies of plus-ish sizes.
The Guide RE brakes have also been cracking. I’ve had no problems whatsoever and plenty of power. Thanks for speccing a 4-pot brake Spec, appreciate it!
What’s not so good?
There’s a tipping point though and some cost-cutting of components tends to wind in my enthusiasm.
First, the Fox 34 Rhythm fork is a real let down. The fork is Fox’s eBike specific and budget version of a 34 and behaves badly in rough, choppy trails at speed.
The rebound seems to give up, it moves out of sync with the rear of the bike and – simply put – it feels sketchy and makes me slow down.
The rear-shock oppositely, a Fox DPS Performance, is surprisingly good for a small shock without a piggyback and I’ve had no real problems with it whatsoever.
The tyres and wheels have also caused me some annoyance. I’d heard great things about Specialized’s own Butcher Grid tyres with Gripton compound but, for some reason, these didn’t live up to the hype. At sub-20 psi they squirm and roll easily giving the bike a washy, out-of-control feel.
Firmer pressures work well but, who wants to be limited when other tyres will give you that flexibility of low psi’s? Similarly frustrating are the side-walls, which haven’t been sturdy enough to withstand a beating on our dry, fast, rough, summer trails.
The rear-wheel has also taken a pounding under less abuse than I’d hoped and won’t tubeless. You can read Ben’s review of the Specialized Roval wheelset here.
Reliability and maintenance (AKA things getting hammered and falling off)
I hear a lot of chat about eBikes being hard on components but, in terms of reliability, the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp has been almost flawless.
I’ve tightened up a few linkage bolts here and there. The headset came loose and I tightened it. The rear axle works itself looks regularly.
All of those fixes are a breeze with the SWAT stored multi-tool that’s hidden in the top cap ready for action.
Whilst the components have had some niggles, the frame itself has had no significant bother whatsoever. The SRAM GX drive train has kept cranking, the motor has kept punching out juice and I’ve had no mechanical or electrical bother of any kind.
It’s reassuring to know that if any bother did crop up there are plenty of Specialized Concept Stores around to help sort them out.
What do we think?
A few dicky components aside, the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Carbon is an absolute cracker.
As a complete packed it works really nicely on the trail and is bags of fun up, along and down. The FSR linkage and aggressive geometry mean that it’s really, really fun to ride and doesn’t feel like a compromise compared to your acoustic bike. The motor and battery work really well and long battery life means no hassle on big days out.
There are certainly cheaper eBikes out there and certainly similarly priced options with better specs. However, we haven’t seen many that offer such a complete, polished package that’s backed up with great local bike shop support.
- Great geometry that gives loads of confidence
- Specialized’s motor and battery are our new favourite
- A very well-finished, complete package
Could do better
- Specialized tyres feel under-gunned
- Specialized Roval wheelset could be tougher
- The Fox 34 Rhythm fork lets the bike down