4,000 for a kids’ ebike? Designed for MTB use, the Specialized Turbo Levo SL Kids has a cool look, a high-quality motor, and kid-friendly features. But can kids really benefit from the ebike, or is it a typical case of over-engineering? Our test ride shows that high performance and high price are not always the answer!
Specialized are one of the biggest players in the bike world and known for their innovative and well-thought-out designs. Just recently, the Californians launched their latest lightweight eMTB, the Levo SL, with the all-new Specialized SL 1.2 drive. Now they have released its mini-me: the Turbo Levo SL Kids with the same motor and battery concept.
The Specialized Turbo Levo SL Kids eMTB comes with a hefty price tag of € 4,000 and weighs 16.6 kg. Quite an investment for a kids’ ebike. The aluminium hardtail rolls on 24-inch tires and, according to Specialized, is suitable for children between the ages of six and eleven and a height of 125 to 145 cm. But what is on offer from the competition in the kids’ ebike segment? The Ben-E-Bike TWENTYFOUR-SIX E-POWER FS for € 2,899 is a full suspension ebike with a rear hub motor weighing in at just 14 kg, which makes it 2.6 kg lighter – despite its full suspension. The Woom UP 5 e-mountain bike with FAZUA Evation drive, priced at € 2,996, is a kids’ ebike weighing 15.8kg. It’s slightly lighter than the Specialized Turbo Levo SL Kids and even another 3.3 kg lighter when the battery is removed. This means that the Specialized is still by far the most expensive ebike. Rightly so? We’ll find out in our test!
This time it wasn’t us who tested the bike for you, but Nelson and Ruben. Nelson, who is at the upper end of Specialized’s age range, is 140 cm tall and weighs 31 kg. His little brother Ruben, who is at the lower end of the bike’s age range, is 120 cm tall and weighs around 18 kg. Both are experienced young bikers who enjoy participating in mountain bike races for fun and are skilled at handling smaller jumps.
The bike and its parts: Specialized Turbo Levo SL ebike for kids
Like father, like son: in terms of design language and colour scheme, the Specialized Turbo Levo SL Kids is definitely an eye-catcher! It’s available in three colours but the bright orange clear coat with speckled effect on our test bike is the one that looks most like a kids’ bike. The other two colour variants, metallic dark green and matt black, echo the rest of the bike’s design with the look of an adults’ mountain bike. Specialized set themselves apart from some other ebike manufacturers in the children’s segment by not trying to look like a toy in a Happy Meal. With the exception of the smaller wheels and shrunken frame, the kids’ ebike looks like an off-road bike and in this respect is almost indistinguishable from Specialized’s bikes for adults.
To design an ebike specifically for children, the Specialized team worked with the Retül bike fitting team. All contact points have been adapted for young riders. This includes a thin saddle, a narrow handlebar with 660 mm and short 155 mm cranks. The lever width of the SRAM Level T disc brakes for adults is adjustable and can therefore be adapted for children. However, we would have preferred specific brake levers, similar to those on the Woom UP. The dropper post with 80 mm travel is also found on kids’ bikes from other manufacturers.
The RockShox Reba 26 is a remarkably lightweight entry-level suspension fork originally designed for 26″ wheels. To ensure optimal responsiveness and ease of use for young riders, a special damping tune from RockShox has been incorporated, specifically designed for very light riders. Although 100 mm of travel may not sound like much, it’s more than enough for kids due to their lighter weight. As the children grow, it is possible to retrofit 26″ wheels instead of the standard 24″ wheels.You can also convert the bike to a mullet setup: 26″ front and 24″ rear.
The bike’s weight of 16.6 kg is pretty substantial. For comparison, the new Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL in size S5 (L/XL), the inspiration behind the Levo SL Kids motor, weighs just under a kilo more. Of course, unlike the junior version, the adult eMTB, which costs more than 3.5 times as much, features high-end carbon and lightweight components.
If the child is in the upper age range, he or she will certainly be able to handle the weight of the Turbo Levo SL Kids. But for the six-year-olds Specialized are also targeting, it might be a little too heavy for easy handling. Fortunately, the push assist can be activated to provide some relief if pushing the bike gets too hard. However, it does require a little more understanding on the part of the child and if a tree trunk suddenly gets in the way or the bike falls over, mum or dad still might have to lend a helping hand.
Compared to the adult eMTB market, the motor on the Turbo Levo SL Kids is at the lower end of the power spectrum. However, for the target age group of 6 to 11 year-olds, the 50 Nm torque and 320 watts of maximum power feel like a rocket. Adjusting the motor assistance with the remote is easy peasy and quickly understood by the young riders. The MasterMind TCU display is loaded with tons of data, which adds a fun element for the kids.
While the 320 Wh battery in the adults’ Specialized Turbo Levo SL may be limiting for long rides (requiring a range extender), the 320 Wh in the Specialized ebike for kids is more than enough. It’s important to consider that the weight of the eMTB plays a significant role in its range, and children are less likely to reach maximum power compared to adults, who also provide more rider input. As a result, especially for younger children, the distances the Turbo Levo SL Kids can cover are often beyond their limits. It’s essential to keep an eye on your child’s stamina and their enjoyment level (the “funometer”) rather than focusing solely on the battery, ensuring they can make it back home comfortably.
You can charge the battery conveniently via the charging port above the bottom bracket. Although the system is compatible with a range extender, the generous battery capacity makes it unlikely that you will need one and it’s far more practical to use the bottle cage for your child’s water bottle.
Shared experiences with an ebike for kids: What’s possible?
Before you set off on a ride with your kids, it’s important to make sure the bike is set up properly for the young adventurers. Eleven-year-old Nelson, currently in Specialized’s target age group, finds the bike just about sufficient for his 1.45m height, but he’ll need a bigger bike next year. Ruben, on the other hand, is at the lower end of the size range at 120cm tall, and the bike is just about right for him at the moment, but will probably fit him even better next year. The higher weight of the bike was a challenge for him at first, but it hasn’t stopped him from enjoying the kids’ ebike. However, it’s important to check that your child has the necessary size and strength to ride safely before you make a purchase.
The Levo feels so intuitive to use on the trail that Ruben and Nelson immediately got the hang of it. Parents can adjust the power output individually using the Mission Control app or directly through the MasterMind Turbo Connect display. This allows for the option to reduce the speed of the kids’ ebike, helping young riders gradually adapt to the support and maintain control. Information like speed and remaining battery life is particularly intriguing for the little ones, allowing them to talk shop with the adults!
The Levo SL Kids features a progressive geometry that positions children well and centrally on the bike, offering additional downhill stability with its flat 66° steering angle. The synergy of a solid frame, sturdy components, and 2.35″ tires that absorb small bumps ensures that the Specialized ebike for kids rolls smoothly on light trails. It does require a bit more effort for jumps, though. A pump track becomes the ultimate test for the bike’s weight, as the rider needs to actively manoeuvre it over the bumps. For both Ruben and Nelson, the Specialized Turbo Levo SL Kids is a bit too heavy to fully enjoy the track. However, on regular trails, the weight is less of a consideration.
Both the kids and dad Kilian enjoyed the higher average speed provided by the electric tailwind, creating an even power balance between the three. Now, the little brother can keep up with the big one, and daddy doesn’t always have to hit the brakes. Previously, Ruben and Nelson often needed to be pushed by their parents, or they would end up completely exhausted. With the children’s ebike, everyone can now ride at a reasonable speed, and no one has to wait. Nelson and Ruben both managed distances of around 25 km without any problems, but eventually, their hands started to hurt. Child-friendly brake levers, like those on the Woom UP, could provide some relief. However, the Turbo Levo SL Kids allows the whole family to enjoy adventures together. Fun for all!
Do kids really need an ebike?
Some parents worry that ebikes will spoil their children and prevent them from learning the value of hard work. So do kids really need an ebike? We addressed this question previously and highlighted the benefits, especially for Generation Z. Ultimately, the decision depends on your family’s individual priorities. Note: Not all countries allow children to ride ebikes.
But perhaps instead of questioning the values taught by an ebike, consider what kind of rides you’d like to enjoy with your children. For occasional rides on child-friendly home trails, a traditional kids’ mountain bike is usually all you need. However, if the trailheads are a few kilometres away, an ebike can make the journey much quicker and more accessible. In mountainous areas, an ebike for children can easily handle hilly and long distances, making the whole riding experience more fun. Beautiful trailheads that require significant effort or vertical climbs to get to might discourage even adults, but an ebike can help overcome those challenges and beat the inner couch potato. Kids will also enjoy riding at a faster pace. It’s better to get kids excited about an ebike than to explain to an eight-year-old that two hours of uphill struggle will lead to a mere 15-minutes of downhill fun.
Is the Specialized Turbo Levo SL Kids worth its € 4,000 price tag?
The Turbo Levo SL Kids costs € 4,000. That’s a lot of money for an ebike for kids. Is it worth it? The Ben-E-Bike costs half as much and weighs less, despite its full suspension. Both the Ben and Woom kids’ ebikes have the advantage of allowing the battery to be removed, converting them into conventional MTBs quickly – a feature the Turbo Levo SL Kids lacks. Something that is particularly advantageous on a pump track!
Another factor contributing to the higher price of the Specialized Turbo Levo SL Kids is the sophisticated but expensive motor. It offers a higher level of tuning and quality than the Woom and Ben, but we wonder if these extra benefits are really needed and appreciated by children. For adult eMTBs, the motor is a critical component that understandably justifies a higher price. However, the need for such a motor on a children’s bike is ultimately a subjective decision.
Fact is: The battery on the Specialized Turbo Levo SL Kids is not only firmly integrated, it also has too much capacity – significantly more than the Woom and Ben-E-Bike. This adds weight and cost. Specialized have been a little too generous in this area. The extra weight could have been avoided, as children are unlikely to fully drain the battery and the range extender option is also rarely needed.
Our conclusion on the Specialized Turbo Levo SL Kids
The Specialized Turbo Levo SL Kids undoubtedly stands out with its cool looks, providing a genuine MTB feel and boasting some of the most trail-oriented features available on the market! However, Specialized miss the mark with the high quality motor system: not removable, too much battery capacity and features that kids may never fully use. The parts are sturdy and durable, yet the weight is quite high for a kids’ ebike. But despite the criticism: Ruben and Nelson had a blast with the bike!
- cool design with real mountain bike look
- sturdy components for good riding performance
- high weight
- high financial barrier to entrymore battery capacity than a kid normally needs
- battery not removable
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Words: Antonia Feder Photos: Jan Richter