Ben was lucky enough to get a chance to ride the new Specialized Turbo Levo SL Comp Carbon before it was released to the public.
Specialized have launched an eMTB based on their ever popular Stumpjumper platform, in the form of the Turbo Levo SL. Ben was lucky enough to test the one up from the base spec, the Specialized Turbo Levo SL Comp Carbon.
What does just shy of six thousand pounds get you in the Specialized eMTB stable?
FACT 11m full carbon frame
29 ” wheels
Fox Rhythm 34 FLOAT 29 150mm Boost fork
Fox Float DPS Performance shock
SRAM Guide R brakes
SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed drive
Specialized SL 1.1, custom lightweight motor
Specialized SL1-320, fully integrated battery
The Levo SL is touted as a light weight and agile, trail focussed E-Bike with less power and battery capacity than its Levo big brother. I got to squeeze a couple of rides in on the Comp Carbon model before the launch to find out if eMTB ‘lite’ is going to be the next big thing.
At a glance it is instantly recogniseable as an eMTB, albeit with a modern and sleek carbon aesthetic that does a good job of hiding the battery and motor. This is party due to the fact that both units are smaller than on most mainstream eMTBs. The battery is only 320WH compared to 500WH on all the other EMTBs I have ridden, with many modern bikes now coming with 600-700WH batteries as standard.
The motor itself is also smaller, weighing 1.1kg (2.42lb) less than on the Specialized Levo or Kenevo. As well as being lighter, the motor actually puts out less power too. Where the bigger bikes can sustain 250W of power the Levo SL can only sustain 240W.
The real difference in power is the so called ‘Max Motor Power’ which is basically what the motor can surge to the cranks for a split moment when you suddenly ask for acceleration. The Levo and Kenevo can both give you 656W of near instant assistance to the SL’s 240W.
The Levo SL is based on the iconic Stumpjumper trail bike, trying to capture its energy and liveliness whilst adding the assistance and weight that an eMTB brings. With 150mm of travel at each end and 29” wheels, the sub 20kg Comp Carbon model tested here feels light and energetic and you can sense the Stumpy’s DNA from the first time you drop into some sweet trails.
The build kit on the £6k Comp Carbon model is all solid stuff. Nothing fancy, but all perfectly good and after a couple of rides there is nothing bad to report. The SRAM Eagle NX groupset shifts well and the SRAM Guide R brakes do a great job on my local tracks although I wonder why they didn’t spec Codes for bigger hills and long descents. Much of the finishing kit is from Specialized, including the aluminium wheels and cockpit which are not flashy but perfectly decent.
If you want to go even lighter and fancier whilst spending more money then the next model up is the Expert at £7499 and then the S-Works model comes in at an eye-watering £10999, including carbon wheels and a claimed weight of just 17.35kg which is only 38lbs.
On the climbs the lack of ‘Max Motor Power’ was not really noticeable to me and it basically felt like a nimble and fast climbing eMTB with a sorted riding position. It is my first time on a Specialized eMTB and the power delivery and intuitive way it works with the rider is second to none. You can easily switch between modes whilst riding and the bike is very easy to set up and tune to your needs thanks to the Mission Control app which is absolutely packed full of features.
One unique feature of this bike is the option to add a Range Extender 160WH battery that is available after market from your Specialized dealer. It sits in the bike’s bottle cage and plugs into the charging socket on the base of the frame. It does appear to be exposed to the elements, however it appears well sealed and very solid in its construction. With that installed you should be able to achieve some all day epics with the limited max power and light weight contributing to extended range and more fun.
I have spent about 4 hours on the bike in total, split over 2 muddy, and very slippy rides. If you could somehow blindfold me and get me to ride down the trail on this bike I would really struggle to say whether it was an eMTB or a normal MTB. It lives up to its Stumpjumper cousin’s reputation and delivers an engaging and dynamic ride with a nice mixture of planted grip and trail bike pop.
The first ride was on hard tyres and inner tubes and things were certainly a bit wild, but I could still feel the poise and balance of the bike and it was easy to centre myself despite the slightly conservative 455mm reach on the large.
It’s nice to see Specialized clipping their usually long seat tube lengths, making the more conservative reach less of an issue by being able to move around a bit more without the saddle getting in the way. Head tube angle with the 150mm Fox Rhythm comes in at 66 degrees, while the seat tube angle is size specific, in the case of the size Large, it’s 74.6.
The second ride was even more slippery but I was at least set up tubeless with lower pressures to give me a fighting chance. Despite the lack of grip, it can be flicked from side to side quickly and without the sluggish feeling of heavier more damped eMTBs. On my local trails I did find the rear Specialized Eliminator tyre got clogged up quickly, but other than that the bike was bang on and I was up to speed after a couple of runs.
As well as being a really fun bike to ride it is by far the easiest to manual eMTB that I have ever ridden. On that note it is also the easiest to bunny hop (properly on flat pedals, not pulling on SPDs) over trail obstacles as it has a progressive suspension tune and generally lively feel.
Over the coming months I am looking forward to seeing just what this little ripper of a bike can do, especially on the steep and rough tracks of South Wales. How hard can it climb, how fast can it descend? Will the reduced weight and power offset the small battery in terms of range capabilities? And of course, how does it fare on a ride with other full power E-Bikes? Will I get a beasting riding with big bikes or can it hold its own?
You can check out the full Specialized Turbo Levo SL Comp Carbon and the rest of the Turbo Levo SL range on Specialized’s website here.
Keep your eyes peeled for a full review of the Specialized Turbo Levo SL Comp Carbon on our Bike Reviews page here.