The brand new Specialized Turbo Levo Expert promises to be as versatile as its predecessor while offering increased agility to make it handle more like it’s non-motorised counterpart. With a more powerful motor, larger battery, new carbon frame and countless improvements, has it reached the next level of eMTBs?

Specialized Turbo Levo Expert FSR | 150/150 mm (f/r) | € 8,199

After riding the new Levo at the press launch in Croatia, we took it home for an extensive review, where it had to face rough, rocky descents as well as flow- trails and long rides.

The Specialized Turbo Levo Expert’s componentry

At € 8,199 the Specialized Turbo Levo Expert Carbon is the second most expen- sive Levo model available and weighs in at 21.45 Kg. You get is a lightweight carbon front triangle combined with an aluminium rear end. The new frame has been designed around 29” wheels. Specialized’s 2.1 motor is based on the Brose Drive S Mag and offers up to 410% support with up to 90 Nm torque. With the top S-Works and Expert models, the motor’s electricity is supplied by a 700 Wh battery, whereas the more affordable Specialized Levo models come with a 500 Wh battery. The suspension, consisting of a RockShox PIKE fork and a custom tuned RockShox Deluxe RT3 shock, offers 150 mm of travel at the front and rear. Sadly, Specialized’s Autosag valve is no longer present and will likely be missed, particularly by the less tech-savvy among us, who will now have to consider suspension setup in more detail. To our surprise, Specialized specced the proven SRAM X1 11-speed drivetrain instead of the newer 12-speed SRAM Eagle. That helps save a lot of weight and, thanks to the powerful motor, offers all the range you’ll need on the trail.

Fork RockShox PIKE RC 150 mm
Shock RockShox Deluxe RT3 150 mm
Motor/Battery Custom Specialized 2.1 Brose Drive S Mag/700 Wh Turbo M2
Drivetrain SRAM X1
Brakes SRAM CODE R 200/200 mm
Seat post Specialized Command Post 160 mm
Stem Specialized Trail 40/50 mm
Handlebar Specialized Trail Alu 780 mm
Wheelset Roval Traverse 29
Tires Specialized Butcher GRID 29″ x 2.6″
Price € 8,199

The RockShox Deluxe RT3 shock controls the rear end of the Levo with ease
SRAM CODE R with 200 mm rotors front and rear provide decent deceleration
The Specialized Butcher digs well into loose ground. But aggressive riders will want a tougher casing.
Only 11 gears? We got along well with the gearing on the first test ride.

The seating position on the Specialized Turbo Levo

“The power to ride more trails” has long been the motto of the Specialized Levo. With the new 700-Wh battery, you can ride even longer. The geometry of the new Levo is anything but extreme – sitting in the saddle, you’re slightly stretched but relaxed. Although the seat tube angle is not particularly steep at around 75°, pedalling remains easy and efficient. One reason for this certainly is thanks to the shock tune which keeps the Levo high in its travel.

Climbing with the Specialized Turbo Levo

Climbing, the new Specialized Levo convinces with its natural riding feel. The fact that a whole team of software engineers has been involved in the develop- ment of the circuits controlling the motor is evident within a rotation of the cranks. At the medium support level, the assistance of Specialized’s 2.1 motor sets in immediately and smoothly. The new Levo’s motor has become very unin- trusive, evenwhen pushing its way up steep slopes or on technical climbs. It also provides enough power to conquer the steepest sections even at a low cadence. However, as the gradient kicks up the Levo does requires some physical effort from the rider to keep the front wheel on the ground. The rear linkage of the Levo efficiently irons out bumps, keeping the rear tyre to stuck to the ground. The result: grip, no matter how loose and steep the terrain.

At the highest support level, the new motor delivers a previously unimagined amount of power, but it keeps going a little too long after you stop pedalling, making it better suited to forest roads than trails. If you want an even more re- laxed ride to the summit, you can activate shuttle mode, which calls up the full 410% support with less physical effort. Thus, the motor will almost “push” you and your bike up the climb, nearing the 25 km/h cutout. However, using this feature comes at the cost of the natural riding feel and a lot of battery power.

The Specialized Turbo Levo Expert FSR on the trail

In terms of handling, the Specialized Levo is the new benchmark to beat. The steering is extremely agile and precise, despite the weight of the battery, which translates into a lot of fun on the trail. Just like the seated climbing position, your position on the bike when descending is very balanced. With the new Levo, the American brand hasn’t created a super long, cumbersome downhill mon- ster. Nevertheless, you still feel very integrated when you’re on the bike. The low bottom bracket places your weight centrally, while the low top tube gives you enough freedom to move about. The suspension offers a lot of support, every root and rock inviting you to play with the terrain. However, the RockShox PIKE lacks some stiffness on harder hits – in our opinion the extra weight of a LYRIK would be absolutely justified here.

If you prefer to roll over obstacles instead of jumping over them, you won’t be disappointed by the new Specialized Levo either. The Levo feels much more po- tent than its predecessor, especially on fast consecutive hits. The rear end is tuned so that it recovers from bumps as quickly as possible, keeping the Levo high in its travel. But it won’t swallow everything in its path entirely; it keeps the rider informed about what’s happening on the trail beneath, absorbing large hits in a controlled manner.

Unfortunately, the Grid casing of the Specialized Butcher tyre offers little in the way of puncture protection on rough and rocky trails, resulting in puncture prone tyres. Nevertheless, in cooperation with the suspension, they provide a lot of traction on loose ground. The change from 27.5+ to 29” x 2.6” tyres has paid off, particularly in cornering and for experienced riders, as they make the handling of the Levo much more precise while requiring less physical input. Only in off camber sections will you notice that they offer less grip than 27.5+ tyres. Not least thanks to the large wheels, the Levo holds its speed no matter how rough the trail, so that when the motor smoothly cuts out at the 25 km/h threshold, you’ll hardly notice. Even at speed, the new Specialized Levo re- mains composed and on track. The Levo will instil you with confidence on even the steepest terrain.

Conclusion

With the new Specialized Levo, the American brand has further improved the bike that we previously announced as the best eMTB of 2018. Despite having 29” wheels, a powerful but smooth motor and a huge battery for even more range, the agile handling of the bike is second to none. Compared to its prede- cessor and most other eMTBs, the Levo is next level!

On the next page, you find an overview of all new Specialized Turbo Levo models at a glance

About the author

Felix Stix

Felix is chief of testing and undoubtedly one of the best test riders in the world. With a degree in sports engineering, excellent mountain bike skills, his love of technology and as a certified bike guide, Felix has everything it takes to make comprehensive and fair assessments of bikes. His legendary group tests are internationally known and feared, though they tend to be a bit longer due to his love of detail and technical deep dives. Every year, he reviews around 100 bikes, specialising in the subject of tires, motors and suspension, before putting on his skis come winter! His know-how is incorporated into each of our reviews, ensuring the quality of our work stays high!