Mountain Bike Action Bike Test: Specialized Turbo Levo SL Trail Bike
you will get to the same places a non-SL Turbo Levo rider will. Sport trail riders will love it.
This new bike was launched in South Africa in Stellenbosch on the Western Cape near Cape Town. It is a wine-producing area with a climate similar to Tuscany and with mountains reaching 1200 meters. It gave us an exceptional environment to test in, including finding monkeys and snakes on the trail.
Specialized have partnered with the local trail groups and have sponsored trail development in the area, which has produced a whole new tourist-based bike economy. The area has dedicated, paid full-time trail builders benefiting from the influx the trail development has created and supported their families.
We stayed in safari-style accommodation at the Blaauwklippen Wine Estate, which was established in 1692. The trail networks are easily on the same level of quality as famous alpine resorts in Europe, and in our belief individual trails are in better condition. This is a place where passionate riders should explore. The Turbo Levo SL is like riding a normal bike in many ways, but you can go a lot further and higher with much less anaerobic aftereffects physically.
We found ourselves being able to manipulate the bike much more easily on the climbs than a normal e-bike due to the reduced weight. Also, when climbing and hitting an awkward rock or trail feature that causes a loss of momentum, it is much easier to get the bike moving again. Cornering is a dream in all conditions we tried, but very steep, loose climbs do require a bit more leg power from the rider compared to a traditional e-bike, which emphasizes the more sporty nature and direction of the Turbo Levo SL.
Trail riding is fantastic. We surpassed the 25 km/h limit easily, with Specialized claiming only a 3-watt energy loss in resistance in the system. Essentially it’s imperceptible when the motor is not supporting you any longer as you ride faster. Being so light, the bike is very easy to maneuver and feels like it’s just flying along. You can change directions quicker than any e-MTB we’ve tried. This is a big change compared to a heavier e-MTB and one of the main selling features of the bike. The rider with the Turbo Levo SL is back in command rather than the bike being so. It honestly doesn’t feel like an e-bike.
Descents are positive and match our expectations of a fast mountain bike that is fun to ride downhill. Not intended as an enduro bike, the SL is not going to eat up rock gardens, but it will allow the rider to choose a fast and precise line and feel their way through. Jumps are light floaty, and the bike follows the rider as you pop off the lip. The bike is about fun, fun, fun! As it is a trail machine, if you do really push the limit you will find it, and you have to have the skills to know how to react when you are there; otherwise, you will have more difficulty than with a Turbo Levo of staying in control. However, that’s to be expected and one of the new elements that comes with defining a new category of bike.
With 150mm of front and rear travel, the Fox suspension is smooth and plush everywhere you go. Only when it gets very rough and there are multiple stutter bumps can you feel the limit of the fork is being reached in smoothness and travel. Grip in corners is exceptional and precise, and we loved hitting berms hard and popping out of them where possible. The new Trail Grid tires proved their worth.
The Turbo Levo SL is available in a few versions. We rode the high-end S-Works version at $13,525, which includes the external battery. The entire lineup includes the Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon at $9025 and the Turbo Levo SL Comp Carbon at $7525. The lower end of the range starts off with the aluminum SL Comp at $6525 and is the only model that ships in the XS size.
By reducing weight and changing the riding style of the motor, Specialized has created a new category of e-MTB that is…