Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp e-MTB review

Stealthy, user-friendly take on powered riding

BikeRadar score3.5/5

It’s not just the hidden battery and lack of a head unit that set the Levo FSR apart — Specialized’s latest Turbo trail bike is a subtle, silent but seriously fun and well-packaged ride.

The Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp has a cunning integration of battery and Brose motor, with the battery (which can be charged in situ) held in securely and silently with fork-style 15mm thru-axles. While the Comp gets a smaller-capacity cell than the Expert (460 vs. 504Wh), battery management is a strong point.

Specialized’s classic ‘FSR’ four-bar linkage suspension is carried over, complete with custom-tuned Fox Float shock with ‘Autosag’ for easy set-up. Apart from 25mm longer stays and a slightly slacker head angle, the geometry is within a few millimetres of the human-powered Stumpjumper FSR 6Fattie.

You get the same stout-legged RockShox Yari RC fork too, but with 140mm instead of 150mm of travel, SRAM GX 1x11 gears and Guide R brakes (biting onto 200mm rotors front and rear).

Specialized provides the finishing kit — a 750mm bar, 60mm stem, multi-position Command Post IRcc dropper and Henge saddle. The broad-rimmed plus wheels are from Specialized’s Roval brand, and they even get oversize ‘Torque Caps’ on the front hub for max fork/wheel stiffness.

Even at full power the belt-driven Brose motor is almost silent
Even at full power the belt-driven Brose motor is almost silent

Unusually for an e-bike, there’s no display on the bar, which leaves you free to fit lights, GPS units, etc. You can buy an add-on wireless controller for £50 or slave it to a Garmin Edge GPS computer, but otherwise you’ll need to use the basic +/- power mode control switch fitted to the side of the battery, within easy reach. A ring of LEDs around it shows remaining battery life/charge status.

Or, you can control power levels and speed of power delivery via sliders on Spesh's free ‘Mission Control’ smartphone app. This even lets you enter your planned ride distance or time, so the controller can pace the power it uses, and it has navigation and Strava-linked ride data features too. I did have occasional connection and location glitches, but overall the adjustability is a bonus.

The experience of the ride

The test bike had the latest firmware, which addresses the slow, low-powered pick-up complaints levelled at previous Turbo Levos. However, the wheels are heavy, which dulls acceleration.

The Brose motor has a broad bandwidth, which makes it more usable on technical climbs or first-time trails. While the slight run-on after you stop pedalling can catch you out, it’s great for surging up steps without clobbering your pedals.

Praxis Works’ Cadet crank arms are much stiffer and stronger than the city-bike offerings generally found on e-bikes. The full-size 30t chainring also reduces chain wear. Specialized’s app lets you tune the different power levels to your taste rather than relying on presets. A 75 percent ‘Trail’ setting became my favourite set-up, with a decent battery life and power balance plus a top note of ‘Turbo’ when needed.

A smart app offers custom tuning of the motor
A smart app offers custom tuning of the motor

Even at full power the belt-driven Brose motor is almost silent. There’s little trace of the motor and battery weight in the handling, too. Good weighting at the front end and cockpit means there’s no trouble slamming it into corners or holding it straight through rock gardens.

The 3-inch tyres sit on broad rims too, so there’s plenty of side-load support and security when things get silly. The heavy-duty ‘Grid’ carcass means you can drop tyre pressures low to offset an otherwise wooden ride feel.

All but the most aggressive riders will want to remove one or two of the three volume spacers in the Yari fork to stop it feeling spiky through big hits. Conversely, I’d suggest running the rear shock slightly higher than the recommended Autosag pressure or adding volume spacers to stop it running out of travel with a thump once you really start ragging the Levo.

Otherwise, while it’s not the liveliest bike, the ‘RX Trail Tune’ of the shock and the big tyres create a smooth well-connected rear end that carries speed over the roughest terrain.

Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp specs

  • Frame: ‘M5’ aluminium, 140mm (5.5in) travel
  • Motor: 250W Brose w/ 460Wh battery w/ integrated display
  • Fork: RockShox Yari RC Boost, 140mm (5.5in) travel
  • Shock: Fox Float Performance DPS w/ RX Trail Tune and Autosag
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX w/ Praxis Works Cadet cranks (1x11)
  • Wheelset: Roval Boost wheels
  • Tyres: Specialized Purgatory Grid 27.5x3.0in
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide R, 200mm rotors
  • Bar: Specialized, 750mm
  • Stem: Specialized Trail, 60mm
  • Seatpost: Specialized Command Post IRcc 125mm dropper
  • Saddle: Specialized BG Henge Comp
  • Weight: 23.58kg (51.99lb)

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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