Specialized overhauled its e-MTBs last year, so the chassis and motor here are bang up to date. It also tweaked some component choices to improve the ride, so this base model (which didn’t even have a dropper last year) now sports a 150mm TranzX post and some better kit for 2020.
Specialized Turbo Levo frame
Lengthened, slackened and with serious weight lost, the latest Levo represents a big engineering leap. One of the most advanced ebike chassis on the market, the alloy frame used here is lighter than the old S-Works carbon model.
Made from Spesh’s M5 tubing, it follows the same lines as its pricier composite siblings, with a four-bar Horst link suspension design that delivers 150mm of rear wheel travel.
The Levo uses the all-new 2.1 motor – a quiet, belt-driven unit, housed in a lightweight magnesium casing. This is paired with a slickly-integrated (and removable) 500Wh battery, with equivalent power to others that were also on test.
There’s a neat power and mode display on the top tube. A wavy rubber protector on the driveside chainstay works with the internal cabling to ensure a clatter-free ride.
Made from Specialized’s premium M5 alloy, the frame is superbly engineered with excellent attention to detail. Mick Kirkman
Specialized Turbo Levo kit
As the cheapest bike in the range, there are inevitably some spec compromises on the Levo. RockShox’ Deluxe air shock suits the bike fine and is supportive and fluid over repeated bumps, but the brand’s new 35 fork uses an old-style Motion Control damper and its function is a bit basic.
SRAM’s Level XC/trail brakes can’t really hack it on a heavy ebike and, weirdly, are set up with a four-pot caliper up front but only two pistons out back, where I wanted more power on descents.
Spesh has been saving the pennies with the slow-shifting 1×11 drivetrain too, with its basic Praxis cranks and heavy SRAM NX cassette.
The extra ebike weight emphasises the tendency of the Butcher GRID front tyre to roll and flex. This isn’t helped by the Roval wheelset, which has an ambitiously low spoke count (28), given how ebikes encourage you to smash through stuff. At least the shift to 29in wheels (from 650b+) makes the bike feel sharper.
The 150mm post and sorted cockpit are good too, and I like details such as the bottle cage with SWAT multi-tool, which can be used to remove the battery.
I’d expect a better drivetrain and cranks on a £4k e-MTB. Mick Kirkman
Specialized Turbo Levo ride impressions
With a nimble feel on the trail, the Turbo Levo is one of a few new ebikes that ride so close to a ‘normal’ bike you could forget you’re being assisted by an extra 250W.
The rider position is nicely centred and it pedals well without much bobbing, seated or standing. Spesh’s latest motor is smooth and quiet, with natural-feeling assistance that’s not too jerky when you’re hunting for traction.
Despite the slacker angles, the handling is neutral and it’s easy to steer, although it comes over more ‘trail bike’ than ‘DH bomber’.
The 28-spoke Roval wheels may weigh less, but aren’t as strong as equivalents with more spokes. Mick Kirkman
This can be a real asset when you’re eating up trail centre loops or sat down pedalling through twisty singletrack, especially when the terrain is undulating.
In my experience, the carbon Levos feel a bit tauter, but even with an aluminium frame, this model rides lighter than the scales suggest and is a cinch to swing from side to side through tight trees and between linked corners.
When you do let loose on the fastest tracks, you reach certain limits quickly. The brakes simply aren’t powerful enough to kill speed on an ebike on steep trails. This doesn’t bolster confidence and neither does the squirmy front tyre, which isn’t stable enough under heavy sideloads when cornering hard.
The RockShox 35 fork can feel uncontrolled compared to the rear end when you’re hammering down the steeps too, amplifying the diminished shred factor.
There’s a fantastic ebike lurking somewhere here, but some sub-par components dilute the experience. That’s understandable for the price, but unfortunately, the next model up costs a whopping £1,250 more.
Specialized Turbo Levo geometry
- Sizes (* tested): S, M, L*, XL
Seat angle: 74.5 degrees
Head angle: 66 degrees
Chainstay: 17.91in / 45.5cm
Seat tube: 17.91in / 45.5cm
Top tube: 24.84in / 63.1cm
Head tube: 4.92in / 12.5cm
Fork offset: 2.01in / 5.1cm
Trail: 4.37in / 11.1cm
Bottom bracket drop: 1.06in / 2.7cm
Bottom bracket height: 13.68in / 34.75
Wheelbase: 48.62in / 1,235mm
Reach: 17.91in / 45.5cm
How we tested
This bike was tested as part of a four-bike grouptest of power-assisted e-MTBs for £5,000 or less.
They’re all quality machines with the latest in battery/motor tech and geometry but which is worth your hard-earned cash? We put them to the test.
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