Specialized Turbo Levo goes carbon! Specialized have gone big for this latest model, with benefits that go way beyond just carting fewer calories with its slick carbon frame. The revamped Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Carbon 2018 also features an all-new motor generation, new suspension and a revised spec, plus a remote control on the handlebar as standard. If that isn’t all covet-worthy enough, the S-Works model has a trick up its sleeve to really fuel the envy!

Danger, High Voltage – We took up Specialized’s invitation to join them at the Mountain Creek Bike Resort in New Jersey to test ride the new Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Carbon 2018. No lifts on this trip, we tore up the prairie and ground our way up the ascents on their newest e-powered stallion. After four days at the resort, we’re able to answer the 9 most pressing questions on the new models and tell you all you need to know about the Turbo Levo!

1. So what are the benefits of the carbon frame? How’s it different to the aluminium models?

The new Levo Carbon has exactly the same geometry as the aluminium rigs, and the differences predominantly affect the weight and stiffness. According to Specialized, the carbon frame is 20% stiffer than its aluminium counterpart. The S-Works frame is 650 g lighter than the aluminium one, while the Expert and Comp models have shaved off 500 g. All of the models use the same carbon, although the Expert and Comp employ aluminium at the rear end. The total weight of the S-Works Turbo LEvo FSR 6Fattie is 21.05 kg for the size M, while the Comp weighs in at 21.95 kg.

2. Is carbon safe?

Yes. Unlike aluminium, carbon doesn’t show damage as visibly, and it’s largely proven more capable of withstanding higher loads than aluminium. Many bike brands including Specialized are really well versed in using carbon for their mountain bikes – and even carbon downhill bikes aren’t a rarity.

3. Do I get a bigger range with a carbon model?

Yep. Although, in fairness, that’s more to do with the newest generation of the motor rather than purely the lower weight. Specialized have updated their Mission Control app, which now comes with the Infinite Tune function so that you have even more setup options to tune the motor to suit your style, optimize its efficiency and extend the range. During our time in New Jersey we weren’t able to test the updated app with Infinite Tune as it wasn’t yet available.

4. What’s the motor like on the new Levo?

The latest version of the motor (Turbo 1.3) isn’t just built around the most up-to-date hardware for the Brose Drive S, but it’s also undergone specific software revisions by Specialized. The result, is that the Turbo 1.3 has 15% more power – while we can’t evaluate the percentage, we definitely noted an improvement as it climbed the steepest sections with notably more power and speed without losing any of its natural feel.

Thanks to efforts to improve the motor’s heat management, its efficiency has been majorly boosted. In the past we’ve seen motors struggle on long climbs with issues of overheating that can lead to irregularities or even impromptu switching off. The Turbo 1.3 is now in a position to deliver full support for a much longer period of time as Specialized have invested in improvements to the heat management inside the actual motor, as well as how the heat is dissipated into the frame, and also through the software update. On the local test loop at the Specialized HQ in the Swiss Alps, the developers have been able to fine-tune, test and assert that the new Levo can climb 1,000 metres of altitude a full 12 minutes quicker, which equates to a 27% improvement.

While testing we noted significant improvements to the consistency of the power delivery and pedal-assist, plus the now much-lower acoustics. A current complaint with certain Specialized Turbo Levo riders these days is that there’s a bit of a yo-yo effect, but the good news is that Specialized have invested in ensuring that the motor is able to balance out irregularities in your pedal stroke.

Uphill flow? Well, not quite, but the new Turbo 1.3 motor can still pack a punch up the steepest climbs.

Specialized recommend 75–90 rpm for the optimal cadence, but even with a knee-breakingly slow cadence the motor now reacts more sensitively and gets you up the climbs with power. Nice!

5. Can I update the motor on my current Levo?

Yes, Specialized Turbo Levo riders can get the software on their motor updated at dealers. However, this is purely a software upgrade; the hardware improvements can’t be done retrospectively.

6. What are the changes to how it rides?

The upgrades to the motor are definitely noticeable on the trail (see point 4). However, Specialized have also made some changes to the spec, which increases the performance and therefore the rider’s confidence. With 10 mm more travel in the new 150 mm Öhlins RX36 fork, the bottom bracket has been raised. Paired with the short 165 mm Custom cranks, we were stoked to get through the hair-raisingly rocky riding in the Mountain Creek Resort with virtually no instances of catching the pedals. The new Levo is also a touch smoother and easier to ride over berms, rock gardens and jumps, which partly stems back to the new cockpit with 780 mm bars (obviously, these can be shortened if you wish). The potent Öhlins suspension on the S-Works model works superbly, giving a lot of room for individual customizing.

7. What are the highlights of the spec?

The new remote lever feels good and is intuitive to use! These Plus-/Minus buttons navigate through the three modes, plus there’s the Walk mode, and a Blitz button which launches you into the most forceful pedal-assist mode in one click.
Nope, not today: the SRAM XX1 drivetrain is arguably top-end, but it has been paired with the more standard XX1 trigger lever. Specialized have given the more affordable Levo modes a custom GX shifter, which relies on the 1X technology of the SRAM EX1 drivetrain and only permits you to shift through one gear per flick of the lever. This results in substantial increases to the longevity of the drivetrain (keyword: broken chains).
The Specialized badge on the S-Works’ headtube is a tidy bit of design!

What about being the envy of your mates? Watch this clip!

Anchorage: SRAM Code RSC brakes with 200 mm rotors.
The new Specialized Butcher Grid measure up in 27.5 x 2.8″ size.
Öhlins RXF 36 fork with 150 mm travel and adjustable rebound and compression damping (high and low speed)

8. Why does the Levo still not have a display?

Specialized don’t want to dictate that everyone has to buy an expensive display, so they leave it up the individual: either forsake a display and rely purely on indicators on the battery, use a Garmin or another type of GPS device, or even link your smart phone. With ANT+ compatibility, there are a lot of options out there.

9. Will the updates also be available for the more affordable aluminium models?

Yes, the new version of the motor will also feature on the aluminium and shorter-travel models. In terms of performance, Specialized claim that the aluminium and the carbon models will deliver the same power, although they admit that the carbon models presented a major challenge when it came to the topic of heat dissipation. Specialized state that they’ve brought the two frame types to the same level; the complexities in the development stem back to the fact that aluminium is simply more efficient than carbon in these manners, particularly regarding the motor mount and heat dissipation. All of the carbon models come with a 504 Wh battery while the Comp is the only aluminium model to be kitted with the same size battery. The more affordable aluminium bike has a 460 Wh battery.

Specialized Geometry, Specs

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 396 mm 435 mm 468 mm 520 mm
Top tube 554 mm 581 mm 611 mm 644 mm
Head tube 95 mm 100 mm 130 mm 150 mm
Head angle 66.1 ° 66.1 ° 66.1 ° 66.1 °
Seat angle 74.2 ° 73.9 ° 73.6 ° 73.3 °
Chainstay 459 mm 459 mm 459 mm 459 mm
BB Height 340 mm 340 mm 340 mm 340 mm
Wheelbase 1157 mm 1185 mm 1215 mm 1250 mm
Reach 386 mm 411 mm 430 mm 456 mm
Stack 598 mm 603 mm 630 mm 649 mm

Men’s S-WORKS Turbo Levo FSR 6FATTIE/29

Fork Öhlins RXF36 150 mm
Rear shock Custom Öhlins STX 135 mm
Motor/Battery Turbo 1.3/504 Wh
Brakes SRAM Code RSC
Drivetrain SRAM XX1
Seatpost Command Post IRcc 100 mm / 125 mm
Stem Syntace F109
Lenker Specialized Trail Carbon 780 mm
Tires Specialized Butcher GRID 2.8″
Wheels Roval Traverse SL
Price € 9,999

Men’s Turbo Levo FSR EXPERT Carbon 6FATTIE/29

Fork Öhlins RXF36 150 mm
Rear shock RockShox Monarch RT 135 mm
Motor/Battery Turbo 1.3/504 Wh
Brakes SRAM Code R
Drivetrain SRAM X01
Seatpost Command Post IRcc 100 mm / 125 mm
Stem Specialized Trail
Handlebar Specialized Trail 780 mm
Tires Specialized Butcher GRID 2.8″
Wheels Roval Traverse Carbon
Price € 7,299

Men’s Turbo Levo FSR COMP Carbon 6FATTIE/29

Fork RockShox Relevation 150 mm
Rear shock RockShox Monarch RT 135 mm
Motor/Battery Turbo 1.3/504 Wh
Brakes SRAM Guide RE
Drivetrain SRAM GX
Seatpost Command Post IRcc 100 mm / 125 mm
Stem Specialized Trail
Lenker Specialized 780 mm
Tires Specialized Butcher GRID 2.8″
Hubs/Rims Specialized/Roval
Price € 5,999

Our thoughts: Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Carbon 2018

Specialized have made major progress with the launch of this new model and revised motor, wielding expertise to eliminate the majority of hurdles on the current Specialized Turbo Levo. Their updates to the motor were a necessary step to retain their position in the market, and ensure that the motor remains competitive in terms of its performance and power. The good news is that current Specialized Turbo Levo riders will be able to benefit from the bulk of the evolution simply by updating their software. The new Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo FSR Carbon 6Fattie represents the pinnacle of the new fleet and almost everything has the brawns and the brains for a superb performance on the trails (bar the gear shifter). Our 4 days with the new Specialized Turbo Levo Carbon in New Jersey plastered a grin on our faces that we don’t reckon has ever been so wide! Great job, Specialized!

For more information head to specialized.com

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Words & Photos: Robin Schmitt

About the author

Robin Schmitt

Robin is one of the two founders of 41 Publishing, a visionary and go-getter. While he now enjoys every second on the bike – whenever his busy schedule allows – he used to race against the clock at enduro events and a few Downhill World Cups. Besides that, Robin practises kung fu and Zen meditation, plays the cello or with his dog (which actually belongs to his girlfriend), travels abroad and still reviews numerous bikes himself. Progressive ideas, new projects and major challenges – Robin loves exploring undiscovered potential and getting to the bottom of new trends.