What is it?
The Turbo Levo is Specialized’s first crack at the electric mountain bike market. The Big Red S took a look at all the eMTBs out there, identified issues and opportunities, and then created the Levo based on the existing Stumpjumper 6Fattie platform.
That means a 140mm rear travel platform with 3.0” Plus tires for max stability and traction. They chose a Brose mid-motor system and mated it with a battery integrated in the downtube. Wires and electronics were minimized to make it look like a mountain bike with minimal displays and distractions. At the heart of the system is a torque-sensing electric assist motor that adds to the rider’s effort. The harder the rider pedals, the more power the motor “assists.”
Why an eBike — and why Moab?
The eBike is at the center of a brewing mountain bike storm, with riders divided by its emerging existence. Some feel it violates the purity of the sport with the introduction of electric assist and is akin to ‘cheating.’ Another big objection, especially in the U.S., is that e-bikes may harm trail access, as bicycles will become associated with motorcycles.
The proponents of electric bikes see them as enabling tools that broaden the reach of mountain bikes to older/younger riders or those dealing with injury. They’re also seen as tools to narrow the wide gap between climbing and descending time. The key for now is to ride e-bikes only where they are allowed, which means OHV trails or trails were the land managers have permitted their use.
Specialized chose Moab for this press event because contrary to conventional wisdom, there are actually a ton of excellent OHV trails to ride. Indeed, this slickrock wonderland is both a mountain biking and 4-wheel and moto Mecca. Our Levo test rides were strictly on OHV trails, which are plentiful in Moab.
First ride impressions
The bike looked clean, devoid of instrument clusters and an obtrusive battery. Usually e-bikes are easily identifiable by a big battery occupying the front triangle. But on this bike instead of a bulky battery there’s a standard water bottle cage. The battery is neatly integrated into the downtube, occupying the bottom half of the tube. That power source weighs about eight pounds and can be easily removed with an Allen wrench. The battery is not structural, so its presence or absence does not affect frame stiffness.
The only giveaway that the Levo is an e-bike is the massive bottom bracket area. The motor is cleanly integrated here, with custom brace plates designed to hide the motor and add stiffness to the bottom bracket area, which is fairly wide so the bike can only handle a single front chainring. Q-factor is wider than a normal bike.
There is no display on the handlebar to indicate vital information to the rider. Instead, those duties are performed by three buttons and 10 LEDs. It is a clean affair but not very ergonomic. One has to reach down to the side of the downtube, reach down to hit the mode buttons, and look over to check the current mode and remaining battery life. If you want better information and control, a smartphone or Garmin with Levo compatibility is required and needs to be mounted on the bars.