Specialized Levo goes full party-mode with EVO-inspired mullet design
eMTB revamped to look - and ride - more like its meat powered siblingPhoto by: Harooks / Specialized
Specialized is making a habit of disrupting the eMTB world. The Levo SL showed that a minimalist eMTB could have the light ride-feel of a human-powered bike. Now, the mullet-only Turbo Levo is showing an eMTB design can be just as refined as for an analog bike, not just a heavier bike with more wires.
The new Turbo Levo clearly draws inspiration from the popular 2021 Stumpjumper EVO. Enough that by the end of our test ride, the eMTB had earned a new name: Levo EVO. Check out all that’s new with the Levo, and our first ride impressions below.
2021 Specialized Turbo Levo – What’s new?
From brain to brawn, the Levo is fully redesigned for 2021. From a mullet wheel set-up to a new Mastermind TCU and plenty of Stumpjumper EVO-inspired geometry and frame details, the 2021 Levo is a whole new bike.
Party mode: Mullet-only frame design
Most obvious is that the Levo now runs on a mullet, 27.5″ rear wheel and 29″ front wheel, set-up only. There’s no option for matching wheel sizes of either diameter. Since adding a motor pushes the back end out, using a smaller rear wheel lets Specialized use shorter chainstays. This keeps the Levo’s geometry balanced and handling closer to the lively feel of a human-powered bike. Add in the fun-factor that’s made mixed-wheels popular in normal bikes, and the Levo has a more natural trail feel than many eMTBs.
Head tube angle is adjustable
BB height is also, and independently adjustable.
Frame and motor protection built into the Levo
Specialized Levo, but make it more EVO
While you can’t change wheel sizes, you can change just about everything else on the Levo. Frame design features borrow heavily from the Stumpjumper EVO to bring a level of adjustability not yet seen on other eMTB’s. A flip chip in the rear Horst link adds 7 mm of BB height adjustment. Like the EVO, a 3-position head tube angle offers adjustments from 63 to 65-5 degrees, via a overbuild set of headset cups.
While travel numbers are the same as previous versions, at 160-mm front and 150-mm rear, the geometry is modernized. Reach and wheelbase grow, while a slacker and lower design – again, mimicking the Stumpy EVO, makes the Levo more stable and capable in a wide range of terrain. Specialized also shifts the Levo from traditional sizing to its own “Style” sizing, which keeps standover height more consistent between sizes.
Levo upgrades to the tougher Fox 38 fork
And well built linkages with a Fox X2 Factory shock on the S-Works model
Burlier parts reflect the new design’s more capable potential. The Levo’s carbon fibre frame is now built up with a beefier Fox 38 fork and a full Float X2 rear shock. Specialized leans on the Stumpy EVO’s progressive leverage ratio, tweaked for the Levo’s torque and weight, to try replicate its success with the full-analog bike.
Motor upgrades and MasterMind TCU
Specialized’s upgraded its Turbo Full Power System motor to the 2.2 on all models, Levo included. This is encased in a new, more water-resistant protective case. The Rosenberger plug, protecting the battery’s charge port, now has more, and improved seals to better keep the motor safe and dry. Cable routing around the motor is also revamped for the new year.
The 2.2 motor has 565 watts of power and 90 Nm of peak torque. It uses Specialized’s own 700 watt-hour battery.
The new MasterMind TCU
Which sits on the tup tube
And offers all kinds of possible data fields
Specialized's handlebar remote is intuitive and easy to use
Layers of protection for the plug
Locked away in a water resistant case
Tucked in nicely behind the hatch
MasterMind TCU display and Mission Control app
Specialized adds major upgrades to the Levo’s “brain” with the new MasterMind TCU. Along with a wide range of data fields, the MasterMind offers more innovative features that start to take advantage of an eMTB’s built-in electronics to add control and training feedback.
There’s a huge range of possible set-ups and features with the new display, including power input, altitude, heart rate (via paired HR strap), for a total of 30 possible data values. The Mastermind displays remaining battery life in an easy-to-read percentage.
A new MicroTune feature allows on-the-fly adjustment of peak power, in 10 per cent increments, so you can better match your riding partner’s speed. There’s also a “Live Consumption” feature that displays kilometres per watt-hour, so you can improve your pedalling efficiency.
All of this, as well as more detailed motor support levels and characteristics, is tunable via Specialized’s Mission Control app.
First impressions: Specialized Levo S-Works “Levo Evo”
Specialized has put time into the Levo to design it as its own bike, not just an electrified version of an analog bike. While it borrows heavily from the Stumpjumper EVO, features like the 27.5″ rear wheel mean the “Levo EVO” has a personality of its own.
The mixed wheel size is an excellent design choice for the eMTB format. Combined with a motor, the 27.5″ rear wheel doesn’t get hung up or slowed down like on an equivalent analog bike, while the 29″ front continues rolling over everything with ease. Climbing, the tighter back end makes the Levo easier to get around tight switchbacks compared to some of the lankier eMTB’s out there of comparable travel.
It’s descending, though, where the mullet – and Levo – really shines. The Levo has a more natural balance compared to some eMTB’s. The EVO-inspired geometry, combined with the added traction of the low-slung extra weight, keeps the Levo stable add speed and on rough, steep trails. Hit up smoother corners and flow trails, and the 27.5″ back end lets you dive in and rocket through berms. It even feels quite normal in the air, and I found I was hitting all the same features I would on a lighter, more nimble non-eMTB.
The mullet wheels live up to their promise to make the Levo much more lively and fun. Despite not drastically cutting the bike’s weight, like the Levo SL, the Levo feels much more like a human-powered bike on the trail.
S-Works Levo comes with full SRAM AXS Eagle and dropper post
Fox Factory 38 fork
Specialized Levo S-Works
Specialized's new T9 rubber compound Butcher
Switzerland and California collaborate on the new Levo
Roval carbon fibre wheels for the S-Works Levo
A full S-Works build on the Levo surely helps that feeling. And the S-Works’ fully colour matched ice-blue/black theme, which runs from the wheels to frame and fork, definitely does make the bike feel faster. But the way the mixed-wheels compliment an eMTB’s characteristics should translate well to less expensive builds.
One great feature of the Levo is that you don’t actually notice it that much. That is, the belt-driven 2.2 motor is quiet. It’s not silent, but it’s not until you jump up into Turbo mode that you get that characteristic eMTB whine. On a busy day at Cowichan’s Mount Tzouhalem, we were able to apologetically pass several groups without them immediately realizing we were on e-bikes. The relative quiet adds to the “normal mtb” feel of the Levo, experientially, compared to riding with the constant eMTB drone.
Specialized is going all-out with its launch videos lately. The new Levo is no different. Aliens, cover-ups and even a few details on the new bike (and a not-so-subtle hint at what’s to come…).
2021 Specialized Turbo Levo – Pricing
Specialized delivers on its own hype with the new Levo. But that comes at a price. For the S-Works Turbo Levo, that price is a staggering $18,700 in Canada. The Turbo Levo Pro brings that down, ever so slightly, to$15,000. Yes, that is a large chunk of cash. But if the price doesn’t rule out this bike from the start, you can at least be sure you’re getting an eMTB that will be fun to ride, full of smart eMTB-specific features, and offer much of the adaptability of Specialized’s human-powered bikes. Which, at the top end, S-Works range, aren’t that far off in price to start with.
The 2021 Sepecialized Turbo Levo comes in six sizes, from S1 to S6.
For a full breakdown of the 2020 Turbo Levo line, head to Specialized.ca.