E-MTB pioneers Specialized are launching the Turbo Levo SL – a lightweight e-bike which seeks to handle like a bike without power.
Specialized was early to the e-MTB market, recognising the potential sales and even going so far as to help lobby for increased access right for e-MTBs to help grow the market. It was one of the first companies to integrate the battery into the down tube, and its use of the Brose motor system has allowed it to tune the performance of the motor to the specific needs of its mountain bike designs. It’s perhaps no surprise then that with such forward thinking designs, it has just launched what may well be the lightest full suspension e-MTB on the market: the Specialized Levo SL.
The Levo SL makes use of the Specialized 1.1 motor system, already in use on the Creo range of e-road and gravel bikes. This version of the 1.1 motor does however have additional features, such as walk assist, to make it more suitable for a mountain bike. With a smaller, lighter motor and battery, Specialized aims to bring the handling of a standard trail bike to one with e-assist.
Specialized Levo SL Key Features
- Specialized 1.1 motor
- 4kg weight reduction over equivalent Levo model
- Top end S-Works model weighs just 17.3kg
- Range extender battery option
The existing Turbo Kenevo and Turbo Levo remain in Specialized’s e-MTB ‘Turbo’ line up, with the Levo SL completing the picture and offering another option that will likely appeal to another group of riders – namely those who value handling and agility, but still appreciate a little assist.
The Levo SL replicates the geometry of the Levo, with the exception of the chainstays. The smaller Specialized 1.1 motor makes room for shorter chainstays, making for even more nimble handling. Combined with the 4kg weight saving over comparable Levo models, this promises a very different sort of ride. Head over here for Mark’s first ride review of the Specialized Turbo Levo SL.
As well as the handling benefits, we can think of a couple of practical reasons why the lightweight Specialized Levo SL might be worth considering. At under 18kg, those of you who need to be able to get your bike on the roof of your car may well find this puts an e-assist MTB within your reach. Also, adventurous types in Scotland and beyond who have the benefit of open access laws will likely appreciate being able to get over a stile without needing a crane.
Specialized is keen for riders to note that the Levo SL is an addition to the line up – not a replacement for an existing model – with characteristics designed to attract riders not catered for by the existing Levo and Kenevo. With pricing comparable across the Levo and Levo SL models, it’s not a case of picking a bike at the price point for you: it’s a case of picking the bike that is right for you.
The Levo SL might offer more agile handling and a lighter bike, but there is a trade off in the assist given. With a smaller battery, if you like to stick your e-MTB into Turbo and blast up every hill, then this probably isn’t the model for you. However, if you’d just like a bit of help on the climbs and don’t mind topping up the Eco assist with your own leg power, the Levo SL will help you seek out more climbs – and more descents – in the time available to you. With its 320wh battery the Levo SL is well suited to shorter rides of up to 3 or 3.5 hours, with prudent battery use. Want to ride all day? Then, look to the Levo, or buy the Levo SL’s range extender, which increases power available to 480wh or about 5 hours’ worth of riding.
The range extender is an additional battery available as an optional extra for £300, or as standard with the S-Works model. It sits inside your bottle cage, and using the Mission Control app you can choose to run down both battery and extender at the same time, or to use up all of the extender first, then the on board battery
The Mission Control app is the same as on other bikes in the Specialized Turbo range, and allows you to tailor the assist and response of the motor to how you ride. You can also do a whole bunch of other things, like track your ride, or make sure the power available is matched to your ride length. Perhaps of particular use given the fixed battery of the Levo SL is the ability to check remotely whether your battery has finished charging – no need to run out to the shed in your slippers to check.
The Specialized Levo SL will be available in four models:
- S-Works Levo SL – £11,000
- Expert Levo SL – £7,500
- Comp Carbon Levo SL – £6,000
- Comp Alloy Levo SL – £5,000
Mountain bikes fall into all kinds of different niches and use categories, so why shouldn’t e-MTBs be the same? If you’re the type of rider that enjoys the opportunity to ride a bit further that e-assist can offer, but has felt that existing e-MTBs offer more power, more battery life, and more oomph than you really need, the Levo SL will likely appeal.