Mountain Bike Action Bike Test: Specialized Turbo Levo SL Trail Bike

 

the trail, as the bike feels like a more complete unit.

Add into this the top-level shifting from SRAM and you have maximum precision in every movement you make with the bike.

The Fox suspension was easy to set up and was certainly “enough” despite being a 34 on the front. Weight is obviously a consideration, and as the bike is lightweight, the 34 can handle the cornering forces adequately.

The all-black carbon finish also saves weight, as the paint can add a few hundred grams to a build.

THE MOTOR

Specialized has designed and followed the production of the motor themselves. It is not an off-the-shelf unit, although based around the same system used as their Creo road bike, it will have its own software tune.

Specialized claims that the moto weighs only 4.2 pounds. It is very efficient and is able to sustain 35 N/m of torque; however, this is a different type of torque compared to the previous Turbo Levo motor. The drop-off in the power of the motor as cadence increases is exceptionally low. This motor actually prefers higher cadences, even if they are only for a few split seconds as a rider climbs over a trail obstacle. It is not possible to compare motors by specifications alone; feel is fundamental. This feel is the type of factor that allows Specialized to reduce the weight of the overall system and steer the bike to the more athletic type of rider who was not convinced of the electric revolution up until now.

The main battery is 320 Wh and is located in the downtube and, in general, not user-removable. The S-Works variant also comes with a range-extender battery of 150 Wh. With Specialized’s clever software managing the drain and battery performance characteristics, the batteries can be used at the same time or independently, giving the rider an optimal battery state. After extended testing, Specialized claims that the Turbo Levo SL has the same range and altitude performance as the heavier Turbo Levo with a battery of 700 Wh.

The display is a simple LED display located in the top tube or via their own Mission Control app, which is available for most mobile phones. Specialized has also left an ANT+ channel available for all aftermarket displays and GPS systems to use. Fundamentally, the user has full flexibility to decide how they want to interact with the digital elements of the bike. We chose to use no display and the remote only, with the standard software tune.

The Mission Control application is designed to allow the rider to record their ride time and distance, and tune the motor performance. At the intro of the SL, we were told a new feature will be made available called Smart Control, which will allow a rider to get home with battery in reserve, no matter how much altitude they cover. This happens by the app varying the power of the system based on their intended ride length and the altimeter readings that most modern phones allow. In theory, this should eliminate range anxiety. In our experience, even when we didn’t use the app on one of our test rides, we always had enough charge, even after significant climbing. This really highlighted the efficiency of the system in the test conditions we used the bike in.

WHO IT’S MADE FOR

The Turbo Levo SL is for the rider who likes to ride with a more purist perspective and who appreciates using more finesse on the trail with a lightweight, reactive bike. You will have to pedal a bit more than usual, but…

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