THIS CUSTOM SPECIALIZED TURBO LEVO BUILD WILL LEAVE YOU GREEN WITH ENVY
A next-level custom electric mountain bike build that’s anything but average
THIS CUSTOM SPECIALIZED TURBO LEVO BUILD WILL LEAVE YOU GREEN WITH ENVY
In late 2021, MBA wrecking crew member Dennis Petracca had his heart set on a Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo, but there was only one problem—he couldn’t find a bike. Determined to get what he wanted in the middle of what was the craziest supply-and-demand situation the bike world has seen, he had only one choice—build what he wanted. The solution presented itself when he found a Levo Comp carbon at a nearby dealer. Unsatisfied with the bike’s overall performance and aesthetics after a few rides, he stripped it down and began building the version that he originally wanted. As with most bike builds, this one got out of hand fairly quickly, but the results are a head-turning custom ride that made him forget all about that S-Works version.
Satisfied with the overall handling and performance of the frame itself, Dennis wanted to update the looks, so he reached out to carbon frame manufacturer Montenegro Manufacturing to give it a new style. Dennis was introduced to the brand when his son accidentally dislodged a large rock while working on a trail uphill from his bike. The rock rolled down and severely damaged the top tube. Montenegro was able to repair the tube and repaint it to like-new condition.
Impressed with their work, Dennis has since had other bikes custom-painted by them, including this Levo. What started as a two-tone gray suddenly changed to a metallic green to match the DVO suspension. It took Montenegro a couple of tries to match the color exactly, but the end result looked like it was done by Specialized at the factory.
Dennis was generally happy with the stock suspension but felt the Fox X2 rear shock had a tendency to blow through its travel too easily, and any attempt to firm up its compression damping created harshness. His original plan was to upgrade the Performance-level Fox suspension to Factory and play with volume spacers to get the feel he wanted and maybe even have it custom-tuned, but instead turned to DVO for this bike’s suspension. They are local to him and have earned a reputation among the wrecking crew for really getting their suspension setups dialed in.
He filled out DVO’s questionnaire with information about weight, ability, terrain ridden, personal tastes and anything else that might affect the settings. Custom touches include high-performance race oil, a custom shim stack with high-performance shims and hand-bleeding the suspension. They set him up with a 170mm-travel Onyx SC D1 fork. When he saw the green fork in person, that’s when the color of the frame changed. He wanted to match it to the fork. DVO built him a custom Gen 3 Topaz shock. The latest iteration features a 27-percent-stronger inner shaft, new housing for better oil flow and an updated bladder in its reservoir that is said to offer improved small-bump compliance over IFP (internal floating piston)-style internals.
The resulting ride was exactly what Dennis was looking for, and he says DVO’s settings are spot-on. The fork is extremely plush off the top of the stroke and doesn’t bottom on bigger hits. It’s stiff and accurate handling under the weight of the ebike, too. The 10mm bump up in travel from the standard 160mm fork to this 170mm slackened the front end about a half degree, making the Levo feel even more capable on steeper sections of the trail. Out back, Dennis says the shock is a big improvement over the standard setup. The tendency to blow through the stroke is replaced with a supple yet supportive feel that keeps the rear tire glued to the ground. Of all the mods Dennis made to this bike, the DVO suspension is his favorite.
SRAM’s XX1 AXS drivetrain was chosen partially because that’s what comes on the S-Works model and also because Dennis likes how it works, the ease of setup, and perhaps, most importantly, the ultra-clean looks it provides. Naturally, on a bike like this, he chose to go with the oil-slick-colored chain and cassette too.
Speaking of looks, it’s hard to ignore the machined aluminum 5DEV cranks on this bike. Dennis went all out with 5DEV’s black 160mm-length Specialized motor-specific arms and purple-anodized titanium chainring. Not only do these crankarms look incredible, but their design removes excess material at the crank end, increasing ground clearance and reducing the chances of rock strikes. Plus, they are available in a shorter 155mm length.
After hearing the positive feedback from MBA’s wrecking crew about Spinergy’s ebike-specific MXX-e wheels (www.spinergy.com), Dennis decided to use them on this build. These wheels feature carbon rims and Spinergy’s PBO spokes, which contain over 30,000 strands of polyphenylene benzobisoxazole fiber. These fibrous spokes are said to deliver three times the strength of stainless steel but at just half the weight.
These wheels have a fantastic ride quality to them with a quiet, damped feel on the trail. Ride reasons aside, the other motivation to use these wheels is the ability to run custom color-matched spokes. Spinergy is able to lace its wheels in a number of different colors, and its green just happened to match the color of the frame and fork. Instead of going all in on green, Dennis tastefully chose to do just two for a touch of color-matching.
One of Dennis’ favorite tires for the last few years has been WTB’s Vigilante model (www.wtb.com). SoCal has been blessed with a series of dry summers where the local trails turn to loose powder in late summer and then, with the extraordinarily wet winter, soft and loamy. These tires have widely spaced knobs that pierce into softer surfaces and find grip. He chose the high-grip version since rolling resistance is less of a concern on an eMTB. They are not the best in spring when the trails are baked hard from the sun, but for the rest of the year, they are his go-to. He also runs WTB’s TCS sealant with good results and very few flats from the combination.
Of all the original Levo Comp’s components, its SRAM Code brakes disappointed Dennis the most. They felt low on power and got hot easily on long, steep descents. In a quest for ultimate braking power and feel, he chose Hope Tech 4 E4 brakes and paired them to Galfer’s Wave rotors. He went with the massive 223mm front and 203 rear sizes and then used Galfer’s Pro pads as well. He also added some Goodridge braided stainless steel brake hoses for a custom look and even more power. The end product is a set of brakes with massive stopping force and fade-free performance. Plus, the whole setup looks about as exotic as it gets.
AT THE BARS
Another wrecking crew favorite is OneUp’s carbon bar. Dennis has tested these bars for us in the past and really liked the overall ride feel and bend, so he chose them for this build. He matched them to OneUp’s aluminum stem. A gray pair of ODI Ruffian V2.1 lock-on grips round out the cockpit.
DROPPER AND SADDLE
OneUp’s Dropper V2 seatpost with 180mm of travel holds up Dennis’ favorite Fizik Tundra 0.0 carbon-railed saddle.
5DEV’s Trail/Enduro flats are Dennis’ pedals of choice. The pedals are ultra-grippy, thin and perhaps, most important of all, very cool-looking.
ACCESSORIES AND ADD-ONS:
Estimated value: $16,000
Weight: 50 pounds