Video: Lightest e-mtb? Sub 32 lb Levo SL complete ebike

Specialized Levo SL ultralight with flexible range

News Video

We like the Specialized Levo SL because:

  • it is light and nimble
  • it has a configurable, almost unlimited range with modular batteries.
  • it is discrete and doesn’t look like an ebike
  • power delivery is configurable and smooth
  • virtually no drag when motor is off

So in this episode, we modified a Levo SL and did not stop until we arrived at a bike with under 32 lbs with pedals and a dropper post. Mind you, this is a proof of concept project to demonstrate what is achievable today, in 2020 with a lightweight emtb. We rode on three good rides, climbing over 3000 feet each time in about two hours with a single waterbottle battery they call the Range Extender. With a couple extra batteries in our pack, we could go on some big, interesting rides.

We did go light with the tires and lack of remotes but the ride was not compromised for the existing Norcal trail conditions. Of course we could have gone much lighter with no dropper post, ti pedals, single piston brakes, ultralight suspension fork. But we’re happy with how the project turned out as it showcases what is possible today with current technology.

Removing the 4.3 lb internal battery is interesting option with the Levo SL.

How to make the Levo SL even lighter

In box stock form, the Levo SL, even the S-Works, is not a whittled down ultralight bike with every ounce shaved off at the factory. It is actually a beefy build and there are opportunities to save significant weight. There is a rumor-ed sub 34 lb Levo SL in the Specialized headquarters where they got the weight tuners to shave ounces off the bike. Here are some of the components that might provide the biggest weight savings when replaced.

  • Wheels – 1800 gram Roval Traverse wheels
  • Burly Butcher Grid Trail Tires. These are around 1200 grams each.
  • Brakes 4 piston Sram with big rotors
  • Claimed weight is in size large with inner tubes
  • Removing multitool and remotes

Specialized Levo SL Highlights

  • Much lighter than the standard Levo
  • Less power, smaller batteries
  • Smaller, more efficient motor
  • 150mm of front and rear suspension
  • Five models range in price from $6,525 to $16,525
  • Available now

Without a battery mounted, our project Levo SL weighs in at 29.56 lbs with almost negligible motor drag.

Getting the same range from a smaller battery

Early experience so far is the Levo SL’s 460wh battery delivers about the same distance and climbing range as the Levo’s 700wh? Smoke in mirrors or is this actually true? From our six rides on this bike, this is actually true. But of course, the experience is not identical and here is where the extra range comes from, given a smaller battery.

  • The Levo SL contributes a max of 240 watts instead of 565 at any given time.
  • The bike is up to 8 lbs lighter.
  • Less drag on this motor allows more contribution from the rider.
  • Motor is more efficient and runs cooler.
  • Software expects a lot from the rider.
  • Wants around 110 watts before it delivers full power.
  • Full torque is not delivered at low RPMs.
  • Need to shift and spin at a higher pedaling cadence.
  • No shuttle mode.

The Levo SL rides just like an Stumpjumper that is a little more planted with more BB and downtube weight.

Pricing:

Comp ($6,525)
Comp Carbon ($7,525)
Expert ($9,025)
S-Works ($13,525)
The Founder’s Edition ($16,525)

For a comprehensive FAQ about the Levo SL check here.

For more information, visit: Specialized.com


About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.



Comments:

  • kit holmes says:

    Coolio, Thanks Francis for this vid. I would love to try this , hopefully price will drop somewhat in the near future.

  • TacklingDummy says:

    Super impressive build. 31.9 lbs is insane for a e-bike. This is where the e-bike industry needs to go. Lightweight bikes with similar ride characteristics to normal bike so riders do not have to change riding technique and maintaining its nimbleness. The versatility of being able to ride with the assisted power or without assisted power is a big draw. Such a good option for a better rider that is fit, but wants/needs some assistance at times. It is an awesome bike, but price is just quite high.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      Exactly. Many ebikes available now answer the exact same call. So this is a glimpse into something different. A crossover perhaps. A gateway … like a drug… expensive drug. 🙂

      It does answer a call though not is an underserved need at the moment.

  • LiquidSpin says:

    I would not have ditched the remote for the dropper. I would have gone with the lighter SRAM eagle cassette, Syncros Hixon barstem, HT ME03-t pedals, the lightest carbon rail seat and replaced the tires with Schwalbe Rocket Ron on the back and Nobby Nics on the front.

    You’ll definitely be under 32lbs with that setup and not have to sacrifice the dropper remote.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      Very good advice. Not having a remote dropper is hard. It worked in the old days but no more. No more… 🙂

      • LiquidSpin says:

        Yeah, and even though this is truly the lightest all mountain e-bike I’ve seen so far there’s still the one important thing about riding: to have as much fun as possible! 🙂 So I’d sacrifice having a bit more weight and add that remote lever back. Great article/project and thanks for sharing all the pictures including scale weight!

    • John Williamson says:

      I have to agree w/ you!

  • Singletrackminded says:

    I have my Levo SL Carbon converted to 27.5 plus w/ Schwalbe 2.6 tires, I9 Carbon wheels, Pike 160 Fork. Aggressive trail build at 34.9 pounds. Very happy w/lively feel. I ride it w/ friends on analog bikes as it is easy to match their cadence and stealth appearance. I ride at altitude 6500-9500 elevation.

    20′ Turbo Levo S Works, converted to 27.5+. I run a 500W battery to save 1.52 lbs.,
    a noticeable difference. It weighs 40.9 pounds w/ Fox 36 Fork. Not quite as lively as SL, mainly due to longer Chain stay but more stable and composed DH. My lap time on both bikes are nearly identical as the Turbo allows me to climb faster.
    Wish list = retrofit shorter Chainstay from SL ?

  • Jack says:

    It would be nice if a dealer would sell the SL without the internal battery, but supply 2 external ones at the same price. Who wants a $1,000 battery sitting around, with no resale market because no one will buy it as a second battery etc.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >>It would be nice if a dealer would sell the SL without the internal battery, but supply 2 external ones at the same price. Who wants a $1,000 battery sitting around, with no resale market because no one will buy it as a second battery etc.

      Absolutely! That and a frameset option that is reasonably priced.

      • John Williamson says:

        I’m not seeing the point of removing the integral battery, then adding two externals. Weight is weight, and I’d rather have the weight low, and really it’s the same weight and about same power.

        • Francis Cebedo says:

          >> I’m not seeing the point of removing the integral battery, then adding two externals.

          Agreed. Its main objective is to run 29 lbs sometimes… no battery. And then 1 battery or two on some rides for modular options. More of a proof of concept.

          One experiment I did was do a whole ride with no motor. Climb 3000 feet. And then when I was cooked, did another 1500 feet to get me home with the assist of one 160wh.

  • Suns_PSD says:

    This is rad Francis. I would have made a few other select choices, but it’s great that you showed what’s possible.

  • robert becker says:

    1200 gram tires = BS

  • Chris says:

    Did you swap out the ebike specific fork with a regular factory 34? Surely that must be a decent weight savings as well, right?

  • jh_on_the_cape says:

    Modular is very interesting. Do you think it would be possible to have a ‘quick release’ motor? So if you are going to ride without assist you leave the battery and motor at home? How heavy is the motor?
    I am thinking about the ride group and/or terrain and day’s mileage.
    And the price has to come down. But that trickles down for sure.

  • Mark Funicello says:

    So, how light can you build a regular large stumpy 29?

  • Gavin Atkins says:

    I love my Levo…
    I hate the ton of crap that Specialized out fitted it with, detuned forks, nanny shift, incapable rear shock, glitchy dropper post, I’m not a SRAM fan (not Specialized’s fault).
    Please sell framesets – so many Levo’s have nearly every part replaced, the OEM kit straight to landfill. Specialized are making mega buck on these and taking customers for a ride.
    My question is can a Levo SL in turbo match a Levo in Eco?

  • Jeff says:

    Great video! 1) Can you tell us how you got a single mode to work for all power levels? 2) If you wanted a bit more capability downhill, would you upgrade the fork or use more aggressive tires (or both), and what would you expect the weight to be then?

  • Mark says:

    Francis, when are you going to post the video you mention about ‘automatic mode’?

    • Mark says:

      Francis??? When are you going to post the video you mention about ‘automatic mode’?

      • Francis Cebedo says:

        >> Francis??? When are you going to post the video you mention about ‘automatic mode’?

        Oh yes, let me get on it this weekend. Lots of videos I want to shoot about the Levo.

  • Elliott says:

    This bike really is a game changer given weight and limited assist is all you need if you have base fitness. Rides like a normal aggressive trail bike and is a downhill ripper. I have only used the ranger extender once on a mega ride (Oakridge Alpine ride without shuttle). I agree the build kits on the high end are not a good value. I would buy the lowest model and build up, selling off the low end build kit. You could put together a top end bike and save 2-3K over S-works with just ok specs for the price. SRAM AXS dropper is terrific have never had a glitch after 100s of hours of riding. Have had many glitches on mechanical droppers 🙂 . Best dropper out there for performance, would not criticize anyone for getting a regular dropper at 1/2 the price definitely the rational path. Nice video/article Francis

  • Loll says:

    Thanks FC. How much does your project cost at full retail price? Seems like the next evolution is to do a hypothetical build at no expense limit. Do keep the dropper post remote though. That is like selling a downhill bike with XC tire. Just not realistic.

    This article is a great reflection of what us consumers want. Listen up all manufacturers:
    1. Light weight
    2. Same power level as the full ebike (regular Levo). In the development?
    3. Can be ridden as a non-assisted bike for regular trails not permitting ebike.
    4. A few more years so that the price can drop, or develop an equivalent of a Marin Hawk hill, or the forecoming Spesh. Status that everyone can afford.
    5. More frame only options, not just the S Work version. We don’t want most of the junks that come on the base models.

  • jiun yih neoh says:

    Really impressive. i ditched the oem 29ner Roval/NX cassette for SC Reserve 27.5 with dtswiss/XTR cassette for a 1.1kg saving on just the rear wheel

  • Paul says:

    If the bike manufacturers are smart, they’ll want to pay attention to this project. Once you can match the weights and looks of ebikes with the norm, they’ll be a ton of people shelling money out to get an ebike. And you know what, the first ones in line with be all those past ebike haters.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >>If the bike manufacturers are smart, they’ll want to pay attention to this project.

      Exactly, that is our motivation for doing it. It gives users, even haters a glimpse into what is coming in the world of ebikes.

  • Dave Patchen says:

    Great video and article, thanks. I’ve got an SL comp carbon on order and fun to learn how you tweaked things to achieve such lightness. I’m bummed the range extender batteries are so expensive (more like Specialized margin extender) because your approach of only taking as much battery as you need makes so much sense. I’m going to search for your article on setting up ‘automatic mode’ too. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for you at Skeggs and Mt Tam.
    Thanks!

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