What is it
Three years ago, the Specialized Turbo Levo e-bike was introduced with 140mm of travel, plus tires, and a motor assist system that was better and more integrated than the competition. Three years later, the Turbo Levo is still very relevant — but the competition has caught up. The 2019 Specialized Turbo Levo is v2.0 of the landmark bike and it addresses three years of ideas, suggestions, and complaints about the previous model.
A team of 19 engineers worked on this project. What they came up with is a special bike. It is a 150mm travel 29er based on the new Stumpjumper. It is significantly lighter than the old Specialized Turbo Levo and has much-improved battery capacity. It also has a powerful motor with much better controls, electronics, and overall integration.
Every aspect of the Specialized Turbo Levo has been improved. Here are the highlights:
- Much lighter with lighter motor and frame
- Modern, dialed geometry now in 29er format
- New batteries with 40% more capacity with the same form factor
- New electronics and app
- Capable suspension matched for this weight
- Better aluminum options and price options
- Standard components and metric shock
Weight has been decreased significantly on all models. And the bottom bracket area of the bike lost about 800 grams of weight making the bike more nimble. With the use of higher capacity 700Wh batteries on the S-Works and Expert Carbon models, 700 grams of weight is added back to the bike. But since the batteries are exactly the same form factor, a rider can use the lighter 500Wh battery to save weight.
A key weight to note is an S-Works bike in size Large with a 500Wh battery weighs 44 lbs.
New Specialized Turbo Levo Geometry
Taking a page from the Stumpjumper, the Turbo Levo is now a fully progressive trail bike that addresses the long and slack needs of today’s riders. They’ve lengthened the reach, kept the chainstays short, and maintained a low center of gravity. Next, the head angle was slackened for more confident descents and seat angle was steepened for climbing efficiency, with the saddle getting out of the way during descents. A new 160mm dropper was added as well as a flip chip so you can adjust your bottom bracket height and head angle to accommodate preferred riding style and wheel sizes.
The new Specialized Turbo Levo offers 40% more range than the previous version. The battery is now fully encased to protect it from the elements. They also strategically placed the cells to provide the Turbo Levo with an ideal weight distribution for better handling. And the Battery Management System (BMS) regulates battery health, protects it from overcharging (or under voltage), and ensures that you get as many miles as possible during the life of your battery and maximum battery lifetime.
The lower priced Turbo Levo e-bikes will come with a 500Wh battery, while the S-Works and Expert Carbon will come with a 700Wh battery. The 700Wh has 40% more capacity but weighs 750 grams more than the 500Wh option.
The Brains and Turbo Connect
Now better placed on top of the top tube, the switch and Turbo Connect Unit sits to connect the bike (via ANT+ and Bluetooth) to both the outside world and the Mission Control App. Mission Control can now customize motor characteristics, monitor your power use, control your range, perform basic system diagnoses, record, and upload rides. The on/off switch is in a much more convenient place for better access. And the switch and the battery level lights are now away from public view.
Riding the Specialized Turbo Levo
The ride is impeccable! The descending performance is a few notches above the old Turbo Levo. First and foremost, the bike has been updated from old Stumpjumper to the 2018 Stumpjumper geometry and fit. So all the benefits experienced there carry over to this platform. Next, the platform has shifted from plus to 29er. This translates to a more planted, communicative feel in more terrain. It also opens up more options for tire brands, tread and compounds.
And finally, the weight is noticeably lighter. About 800 grams has been shaved from motor/BB area so the bike feels more nimble in tight, up and down terrain. Couple that with Fox suspension that is properly valved and supportive and it really climbs and descends with enthusiasm.
Mtbr test rode the Specialized Turbo Levo for two days in very varied terrain in Europe and this really is a complete, unprecedented package. The motor is quiet and it comes on and off almost incognito. Upon hitting the 20mph limit, it even knows if you’re coming up to it fast or just hovering around that point. Thus it knows whether to shut down early at around 18mph or let you go to around 20mph. With the light weight, big battery, remote switch, display and app, it offers an ecosystem that is unrivaled. Go simple or go fancy, it’s all available to you. And something pretty remarkable is the family of Turbo Levos at different price points. There are 5 bikes, from $4900 to $12,000, delivering a solution to most interested consumers.
Nothing is perfect but we haven’t found a lot to gripe about with this bike during the three days we spent with it. One downside we’ll mention is this bike uses 1×11 SRAM with a 10-42 cassette. They did this to save weight since SARAM only allows the heavy Eagle NX 1×12 to be used on e-bikes.
Specialized’s other rationale is the motor assist should be enough to allow riders to climb most hills with a 42-tooth cog. But in use, we found ourselves in the lowest gear a lot during the test rides and having to switch to a higher boost mode.
Another downside is the expensive and lightweight models (S-Works and Expert Carbon) are only spec’d with the heavy 700Wh batteries. So much effort was spent lightening the bikes, yet these big batteries add about 750 grams of weight. They’re great for range but are overkill on 90% of the rides, especially weekday jaunts. It would be great to have a choice of batteries. And we would love a 350Wh battery option to get this bike closer to 40 lbs.
And although the new 160mm travel Specialized dropper post is much better than the outgoing one, it is still undamped and indexed/noisy. Quite usable but not at the level of a Fox Transfer, BikeYoke Revive, or some of the other top dropper posts out there. And finally, the motor area looks quite big and tall. The reason is the motor has been tilted skyward to allow a battery entry/exit point at the bottom.
One of the great things about this bike is there are 5 different price points. Thus many more budgets are allowed to participate. Here’s a rundown.
Comp Carbon: $6900
Comp Alloy: $5900