Finished in a matte, ‘Satin Redwood’ paint job, the clean and relatively slender lines of the latest Turbo Levo are a sight to behold. It is a real head turner of a bike that backs up its looks with stellar performance wherever and however you ride it.
The frame is a full carbon affair, made with Specialized’s own FACT 11m carbon and features full internal routing, sealed cartridge bearings and two points of geometry adjustment, at the head tube and Horst link. Combined, they give you six possible combinations of head tube angle, seat angle and bottom bracket drop, allowing you to tune for your local trails and riding style. The bike comes with a SWAT multi tool in the steerer as standard, as well as a side loading bottle cage.
Specialized offer the Turbo Levo in six sizes, labelled, S1 all the way to the largest, S6. At 177cm tall (5’10”) I could realistically ride the S3 or S4 bike, but I chose to go with the S3 with its 452mm reach as I wanted to a more lively and manoeuvrable ride. Across all sizes, the chain stays are 442mm which worked really well for the S3, although I suspect would feel a bit short for the huge, S6 with its 532mm reach.
At the heart of the bike is the electronics, motor and battery that make it such a potent all rounder. Everything is custom, developed by Specialized and unavailable on other brands. The motor is their new Full Power System 2.2, controlled by their MasterMind TCU display that is mounted on the top tube, just behind the headset. You can switch between riding modes with a small and ergonomic switch that mounts just inside the left grip. The battery is a whopping 700Wh and integrates nicely into the downtube.
The TCU display is very intuitive to use and can be set up exactly how you want, using Specialized’s Mission Control app. One nice feature is the battery power being shown as a percentage, rather than using bars to display how much juice you have left. Along with a projected remaining range, it leaves you in little doubt about how much battery you have left and how far you can ride.
Being a £10k+ bike, the Levo is dripping with top end parts, including full Fox Factory suspension, Roval Traverse carbon wheels and bars, a SRAM X01 12-speed groupset and Code RSC 4-pot brakes complete with 200mm discs. Size S4 to S6 bike get 220mm front discs to deal with the added weight and energy of larger riders. An interesting spec choice is the Praxis 160mm long M3 Carbon cranks. Lots of bikes are coming with shorter cranks these days, allowing greater pedal clearance with low BBs, but 160mm is particularly short. Interestingly I had not noticed the short cranks whilst riding the bike, and felt no lack of power when pedalling, or balance when standing, and looking back, I can’t think of a single pedal strike even whilst doing tech, rooty climbs.
I have never ridden a better performing ebike when it comes to climbing and racking up big distances. The Levo simply feels faster than any bike I have ridden and the way it delivers its power feels natural and well timed, letting me scramble up impossible lines, buzz up long fire roads and basically get maximum descending time on every ride.
The climbing position is bang on, with its 76.2 degree seat angle (same across all sizes) keeping me over the bottom bracket, and the ratio of front to rear centre keeping me centred over the bike with both wheels weighted. The only limitation in stock form was the thin casing Specialized GRID TRAIL Eliminator rear tyre that needed pumping up towards 30 psi to prevent rolling or to reduce the risk of pinching it. This meant that it lacked some outright grip over loose and slimy sections of trail.
In terms of range, you can basically go as far as you like on the Levo. I never ran the battery out. The longest ride I did was just under 50km and 1200m of climbing using a mixture of Eco and Trail modes and I still had over 20% battery remaining. I would expect a full charge and only using Eco mode to get me around 65km depending on trail conditions and how much climbing. This is impressive stuff and it opens up huge possibilities when planning rides.
When it comes to powering up a short, punchy climb, flicking into Turbo mode you are instantly rewarded with up to 565W of peak power and 90Nm of torque, all delivered by their algorithm in a way that maximises grip and gives you the best possible chance of cleaning the climb.
As a complete package, the Turbo Levo so super capable, everything working together to make it an absolute slayer on pretty much anything I rode. What used to be more progressive enduro bike geometry has now trickled into the trail bike world, including ebikes, with the Levo sporting a 64.5 degree head angle in the middle setting that I rode. Short seat tube lengths and long post insertions mean that you can run long travel dropper posts and the low standover helps to keep things agile, despite the weight.
There isn’t much that hasn’t been written about the Fox 38 FLOAT Factory fork and Float X2 Factory shock. They are both class acts, that when set up correctly will give you as much grip as you want, whilst holding you up in the mid stroke of the travel. With the low, central weight of the motor and battery helping to break the initial stiction of air suspension, you get a super supple ride that feels planted and stable, but with enough pop to keep things fun.
‘Balanced,’ is a word I keep coming back to when I think about the Turbo Levo Pro. Whether it is a flat turn, a berm, or sending through rocky chunder, it feels totally composed and balanced. The only let down in stock form was the light weight tyres as mentioned before. They just can’t handle what this bike is capable of, so I raided the parts drawer and ran a set of Michelin DH22’s which were total game changers in terms of support and confidence. Those tyres were mounted on a set of Specialized’s Roval Traverse Carbon rims which stayed tight, true and in one piece throughout the test, without feeling harsh in any way, rather like a set of Santa Cruz’s excellent Reverse carbon rims.
This bike was seriously fast everywhere I rode it and I would be interested to see it against a top enduro bike in a race where there is no pedalling. I honestly think the balance, weight, grip and stability would make this bike faster down hill than most enduro race bikes.
Although I keep on talking about stability, don’t take that for meaning this bike is boring. This bike is a lot of fun, especially if you add a couple of psi in the suspension and go for a more lively, less grippy setup, that is still fast, but more agile, opening up line changes and gaps wherever you go.
The test was cut short by a week or two as the Fox X2 rear shock developed an air leak. This would require the being sent off for a repair at a Fox service centre and mean a week or so off the bike. The rest of the bike was rock solid, including the motor and electronics that have previously been a weak point for Specialized in terms of reliability.
The obvious comparison is with the Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 that I reviewed earlier this year. It comes in at about the same price and has a similar parts list and intentions. The motor and battery on the Levo outperform the Shimano EP8 unit on the Santa Cruz in every area, including having a larger, (700 vs 630Wh) battery capacity. Both bikes are crazy fast, but where the Bullit needs a bit more muscle, the Levo responds to lighter, more subtle inputs and is a bit more nimble. Out the box, the Santa Cruz comes with top quality Maxxis tyres that are totally up to the job where the Levo needs an immediate upgrade in this area.
Forced to chose between both bikes, I would err towards the Turbo Levo Pro, partly due to the motor and partly as it felt a bit more useable in more situations where the Bullit feels like it needs more serious terrain.
What do we think?
Expensive, beautiful, and very capable, the 2022 Levo is as good as it gets right now.
It simply does everything, really well.
Could Do Better:
Light tyres need changing out at purchase.
You can check out the 2022 Specialized Turbo Levo Pro on their website here.