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Specialized Turbo Levo SL: A Lightweight eMTB Made for Trail Riding [Review]

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Specialised Turbo Levo SL: A Light-weight eMTB Made for Path Driving [Review]

Towards the top of October when I’m often wrapping up bike critiques for the incoming winter climate in Colorado, I had the chance to squeeze in yet one more with the Specialised Turbo Levo SL. After protecting eMTB entry points for greater than two years now, I hadn’t truly spent any time driving e-bikes on singletrack. My context was missing, and it solely made sense to actually get to know e-bikes on a extra private stage.

The brand new Specialised Turbo Levo SL appeared like the proper bike to strive. To some, an e-bike is an e-bike. To others, an e-bike is a bike. However, for many who can permit themselves to grasp the machines extra, will discover that the SL is a light-duty eMTB. The battery and motor have been scaled down and the geometry is conservative. E-mountain bikes have usually been heavy, cumbersome, and lengthy, and the Turbo Levo SL has been designed for a brand new take.


To offer a bit of bit extra context on why the SL is completely different from the usual Turbo Levo, we’ve to take a look at the motors. The Turbo Levo SL has a Specialised SL 1:1 240W motor with a 230Wh battery, in comparison with the Turbo Levo’s 565W motor and 700Wh battery. The torque ranking on the SL is 35Nm, in comparison with the TL’s 90Nm. By utilizing a a lot smaller motor and battery, Specialised got here up with an eMTB that’s virtually 10lbs lighter than the Turbo Levo.

The model’s Turbo Levo and the Turbo Kenevo each have extra journey, and eMTBs as an entire appear well-suited to longer journey classes. What’s the worst half about long-travel or downhill bikes? Their climbing functionality. Stuff a motor and battery beneath it and immediately it is sensible to have a 180mm-travel bike round that somebody will think about climbing to the highest of the path on.

The Turbo Levo SL approaches the state of affairs otherwise and is an eMTB made for on a regular basis path driving. On the entrance and rear, there’s six-inches of journey and 29-inch wheels. Touches like an inline Fox DPS shock, Fox 34 fork, and SRAM G2 brakes are all indicators that this isn’t the battering ram of an eMTB that the brand new Santa Cruz Bullit or the Specialised Turbo Kenevo are, although a number of the 2021 SL fashions do include a Fox 36.

The 2020 Professional Carbon construct I’ve been testing ($9,025 MSRP) encompasses a set of Roval Traverse carbon wheels, a SRAM GX 12-speed drivetrain, an X-Fusion Manic 125mm dropper submit, an alloy Specialised cockpit, and a Specialised Butcher/Eliminator tire combo. On my scale, with out pedals and with the Vary Extender – a $450 water bottle-sized battery that matches within the body and provides 160Wh of life – the Turbo Levo SL Professional Carbon weighs 41lbs.

The Vary Extender says it’s able to including “as much as 40 further miles,” on high of the “as much as 80 miles,” of the SL’s primary battery. The vary as an entire is decided by lots of completely different variables from the route the wind is blowing that day, to the rider’s weight, how they use their gearing, what energy mode they use, the terrain, and so forth. There are three completely different modes on the Turbo Levo SL — Eco mode, Path mode, and Turbo mode — that are managed by a handlebar distant subsequent to the dropper lever.

Trip impressions

As summer time wound down, I wasn’t hauling my bike as much as the excessive nation for all-day rides. I nonetheless had time to journey on the weekends and located my splendid software for the eMTB: leaving my automobile at residence and pedaling to the paths. I dwell about 5 miles away from a few of my closest trails, so it’s a fast drive however ten miles of commuting by bike to a path is a protracted journey on high of the deliberate singletrack. The eMTB makes pedaling a knobby-tired 150mm journey bike down the paved path rather more bearable.

The Specialised SL 1:1 motor kicks in easily, with none jerking or undesirable movement or torque. In Eco mode, I’d say it feels prefer it takes about 25% of the trouble away, however I came upon rapidly that simply because there’s some electrical help beneath, it doesn’t make every part simpler. Although the SL motor simply adapts to the enter the rider is giving, going into technical climbs with extra energy and pace takes some getting used to. In different phrases, faster climbing requires faster dealing with.

I by no means felt that I had an excessive amount of torque although, and clearing rocky climbs remains to be depending on the rider’s ability and the gearing that they’re in; the SL motor all the time felt prefer it was working straight off of what I put into the crankset. Riders can additional customise their motor and energy output with the Specialised Mission Management app. Peak energy, assist, and acceleration response will be tuned to increase the vary and micro-adjust how the bike feels below energy.

I took the SL for some three- to four-hour-long rides at a time, with about 25-30 miles and some thousand ft of elevation acquire, and often ended with a 3rd and even half of the battery left.

+ for extra highly effective mode, – for much less.

The geometry is conservative, provided that the SL is a 150mm journey 29er, however that works in favor of the eMTB. The 75° STA isn’t as steep as different mountain bikes on this journey vary, however with the motor I didn’t really feel as strained on the climbs as I might with a non-motorized bike with a slacker seat tube angle. The shorter 1,185mm wheelbase and snappy 66° head tube angle offers the SL an agile character with responsive dealing with.

For probably the most half, the Turbo Levo SL nonetheless appears like a planted and speed-hungry mountain bike. The SL is gentle for an eMTB, however at 42lbs. on the path, is hefty nonetheless and made me work a bit of to get it airborne or to throw it round. I’d liken it to the character that many enduro bikes have; centered on a straight line, however prepared to play. The place the SL’s construct equipment gave the impression to be at odds, was close to the entrance finish. I can see why Specialised would have initially specced the SL with a Fox 34 to save lots of weight and differentiate the bike from it’s heavier-hitting counterparts, however a 36, although heavier, would make the SL an much more responsive bike and encourage extra confidence on the descents, when the heavy bike is taking repetitive head-on hits.

For 2021, Specialised has specced the S-Works and Professional fashions with a Fox 36 and DPX2 shock, and SRAM Code brakes relatively than G2s, upping the value a number of hundred {dollars}.

I might assume that the low-slung weight on the SL helped the bike with its capacity to rail corners. It’s a blast round sweeping corners and feels glued to the bottom, whereas the quick rear middle makes it straightforward to whip round tighter switchbacks. The 125mm dropper submit was noticeably quick although and I may really feel the saddle hitting me on steeper trails. It additionally seems like Specialised has up to date the newest dimension medium bikes to return with a 150mm submit.

Closing ideas

As an entire, the Specialised Turbo Levo SL delivers a novel expertise for eMTBs. With a lighter motor and battery, conservative geometry, and the fitting element spec, the e-bike is agile, gentle, and seamless. For eMTBs, manufacturers appear to be making bikes in two camps: heavyweight, long-travel bikes with bigger motors which equate to an easy-to-pedal downhill bike. Or, just like the Turbo Levo SL and new Orbea Rise: a motor-assisted path bike with light-weight parts for riders who desire a livelier journey really feel. Specialised has executed a terrific job steering the dialog towards the latter.


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