2021 Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Electric Mountain Bike Review

Bike Stores that Sell the Specialized Turbo Levo 2021:


Why is the Specialized Turbo Levo Full Suspension Electric Mountain Bike One of the Most Popular Entry Level in 2021?

The Specialized Turbo Levo is an electric mountain bike with a different approach – offer a full suspension system configuration in a way so the rider has good control over the trail.

Specialized is a US company with a long history building bikes. As they say “from riders to riders”. Love it.

For the e-mountain bike range, they have the Levo, Levo SL and Kenevo. From these three (3), I got really impressed with what the Turbo Levo offers.

I know that it would be worth checking on the Kenevo model too but for now, I will review the Specialized Turbo Levo model.


Specialized Turbo Levo Technical Specs

MOTOR & TOP SPEED

  • Brose Mid-Drive.
  • Rx Trail-tuned motor (custom), 250 watts Specialized V2.1.
  • 25 km/hr (15.5 mph).
  • 90Nm torque.
BATTERY & RANGE

  • 500watts/hr, 36v, 13.4Ah
  • Frame embedded (down tube).
  • BMS technology
  • Charging in 4 hrs.
  • Between 50 to 100 km range (depending on assistance mode.)
CONTROLLER & RIDING MODES

  • Specialized TCU, ANT+/Bluetooth®.
  • Four (4) riding modes plus walking-assist option.
  • No LCD Display attached to handlebar.
FRAME

  • M5 aluminum with hidden wiring.
  • 29″ max.
  • 1.65cm to 1.98 cm riders.
DRIVE-TRAIN SYSTEM

  • SRAM 700.
  • Eleven (11) speed.
BRAKES

  • Front: SRAM four (4) piston.
  • Rear: SRAM two (2) piston.
  • 200mm hydraulic system.
OVERALL WEIGHT

  • 29 kg (64 lbs).
TIRES AND SUSPENSION

  • 29″ x 2.6″.
  • Front and rear Butcher tires.
  • Rims tubeless ready.
  • Front suspension: RockShox Sektor RL
  • Rear suspension: Air valve RockShox Deluxe RT.
  • Both 150 mm compression travel.
FEATURES

Infinite Tune Mission Control App available to adjust your riding requirements.


Smooth Frame and Design

One of the strongest points these guys have is the way the frame was designed to give good comfort over a long day riding.

Specialized Turbo Levo handlebar and TCU location

Building Material

The Turbo Levo 2021 model was built with M5-grade aluminum.

What I like most is the delicate way the cables were embedded within the frame.

This, of course, is the way wiring should be done for a trail electric bike.

Compared to the Giant Trance E+ Pro 2021 model – another trail e-bike worth checking – I think the wiring is not so smooth at the front.

I reckon this is a move in order to give you more turning range.

The design

This simple frame was cleverly designed to reduce the friction and air resistance caused during riding.

On saying that, the motor will be more efficient, which also translates on a better battery range. 

On the other hand, I like how the top tube has a “low step” design; at least, lower than other electric bikes in the same category.

I would say, this is good for short riders.

Taking about the size of the riders, this frame was conceived for people between 165 cm (65″) to 198 cm (78″).


Tires and Rims Quality

The tires and rims were designed to give enough support and traction so you feel under control.

 

Butcher tires

So far, this is one of the e-MTB that uses a diameter of 29″. I would say it is good for tackling more aggressive terrains.

As for the width of the tires, it is 2.6″ which is the standard. Anyway, you can’t have a wider one because of the frame and fork dimensions.

Interestingly enough, both front and rear tires (Butcher) have the same characteristics as in the tread side.

Regardless of that, these set of Butcher GRID tires will last and perform well in either dry or wet conditions.

If you know more about tires, you’ll see that the transition channels are really wide so it may not be as good as the Maxxis ones.

The Roval rims

The alloy rims were made specifically to be used with high performance tires.

Maybe the Specialized Turbo Levo electric mountain bike was not fitted with the best ones created by Roval, but the 30 mm tubeless ready rims will ensure you stay safe when landing.

Of course, the spoke are a key player for maintain the integrity of the rims.

Twenty eight (28) stainless steel spokes are used to give support to the rims and tires.


Specialized Turbo Levo Comp FSR

Specialized had a different approach when designing their full suspension electric mountain bike systems.

You will find that both front and rear suspension are RockShox technology, however each one of them differ from each other.

RockShox Deluxe RL Performance (rear)

RockShox Sektor RL (front)

With the technology that RockShox offers, the Sektor RL front suspension was built to take any harsh terrains and bumps on the go.

What I can see from the Sektor RL model is the reduce weight of its elements – an aluminum alloy body with a high density plastics to seal the system.

Thanks to the DebonAir™ technology used, the coil springs are lightweight and provide enough stiffness, giving the right compression based on your sag and travel settings (maximum of 150mm).

In addition to the above, the motion control damper (MCD) is smooth enough to tackle small bumps when the system is in “lock” mode.

What I like the most is indicator measurements that will let you know the travel and sag adjustment.

Having this means that you can control how freely the spring will move when going downhill or climbing.

Similar to the other RockShox models, this system will allow you to add “tokens” to give you extra more freedom when adjusting the air settings.

 

RockShox Deluxe RL Performance (rear)

Now, the middle (rear) suspension was also designed by RockShox.

The Turbo Levo features the Deluxe RL model. I was expecting nothing less from Specialized.

Compared to other high quality rear suspension devices like the Fox Float DPS Trunnion, the Deluxe one is not super impressive.

Don’t get me wrong, with its two (2) adjustment settings (lock/unlock), you can still have enough comfort while riding.

Of course, the unlock setting is good when going downhill and the lock one perfect for climbing up or flat rides.

Regardless of the above, this one has more travel and sag with 150 mm compression.

Lastly, its design and positioning (45 degree angle). Thinking about forces, I see the rear shock was well positioned and has strong components (e.g, the pivot bolts can hold 180 in-lbf).

Specialized electric mountain bike rear suspension forces distribution

You can see from the diagram above how it will work during operation.

Again, if I compare the Gian Trance E+3 Pro configuration, the RockShox Deluxe RL used by the Specialized Turbo Levo will transmit the energy towards the frame rather than the seat post (or your body).


Specialized Belt Driven Motor

Maybe, not as renown as other motor brands like Yamaha and Bosch, the Specialized Turbo line was fitted with Brose technology.

The experience of the German company comes from the development and manufacturing of mechatronic systems.

Specialized Turbo Levo Drive S

The Turbo Levo motor was built to deliver just the power needed for every situation.

I guess the Brose automotive experience made them to also built this Drive S motor using a belt driven system.

Belt drive motors are particularly good in terms of low vibration and noise.

One of the things that makes this motor nice is the compound used to built the casing – magnesium. It basically weights less than any other e-bike standard motor.

In addition to the above, the non-treated inserts is a good advance compared to the previous Brose versions.

For those that love to put things together, this configuration will reduce the possibility of getting damage any sensitive connection.

 

Speed and Torque

As any other e-MTB, this one is a Class 2 pedal assisted. On saying that, the maximum speed will be 25 km/hr (15.5 mph).

Of course, you can go faster than that but the motor won’t be powered at all.

I know that most motors will create resistance when not powered. This is not the case for the nominal 250W Brose motor. It has a double freewheel system to make the ride as smooth as possible.

As for the torque side, I’m quite impress with what it can deliver. The 90Nm will be more than enough to get you climbing without hassle.

As mentioned before, the tires on the Specialized Levo Turbo are acceptable, right? but having such torque makes me wonder if the rear one should have a more aggressive tread.


Specialized Battery

The Turbo Levo full suspension electric mountain bike was built to perform well regardless of how hard the trail is.

To power the nominal 250w Bose motor, these guys decided to install the battery in the frame’s down-tube.

It is not surprising its location since trail e-bikes perform better when the whole system is balanced.

There is more than a simple balanced system. Its battery stands out in:

  • Integration of a Battery Management System (BMS).
  • A charging socket that is located on the side of the frame, very accessible.
  • Alternative to remove the battery to reduce the overall e-bike weight (29 kg (64lb)).
  • An easy to read “charge level display” with ten (10) increment levels so that you know the percentage of power left.

 

The Chemistry

As any other battery used in electric bikes, the Levo model uses a 3.2 kg, 36v, 13.4Ah, 504 Wh Li-ion battery.

I know these are just number for some of you but knowing the chemistry combination will determine how far you will go on a single charge (discussed below).

 

Specialized Turbo Levo Range and Charging times

How far can you go with the Specialized Turbo Levo? You should know already that it will depend on the mode selected (discussed further down our review).

Here is where the chemistry comes handy to know.

Normally, a 13.4Ah battery can get around 100 km range. This, of course, depends on ideal conditions and riding style.

The maximum distance the Levo battery will get is 50 km if using the Turbo mode.

As for the battery charging times, it actually depends on the charge model included in the package. Based on the Turbo Levo owner’s manual, it could take from 3.5 hrs to almost 8 hrs to be fully charged.

Learn more about electric batteries on our our guide.

 

Reading the charge level display

Compared to the other manufactures in the industry, one thing that Specialized standouts is about the user experience.

Instead of looking at an e-bike’s controller (no LCD or LED display attached to the handlebar), they decided to place a charge level display on the top tube.

Basically, it will indicate how much battery power is left during the ride, with increments of 9 (0-9, 10-19, 20-29, etc).

An important thing you should know is to understand the led lights positioning when an error in the system has occurred.

This diagram taken from the Turbo Levo User’s Manual explains a bit more about it:

Turbo Battery TCU errors indicators
Diagram Taken from the Specialized Turbo User’s Manual

Controlling the Turbo Levo

To understand properly how to control and get the maximum performance of the Specialized Turbo Levo, there are three (3) things to consider:

  • The handlebar remote.
  • The TCU display and,
  • The Mission Control (App).

It may be a lot of things to think about but surely you will love it once you understand each one of them.

IMPORTANT NOTE

Familiarize with the TCU display and controlling system before doing your first ride.

 

The Turbo Levo remote

When you look at the remote (left hand side of the handlebar), it looks very simple.

Four (4) buttons to press:

  • Top one for the Turbo Boost feature.
  • Middle ones to change settings power of the TCU display.
  • Lower one is the walk-assist mode.

Note that the turbo boost button will give you immediate access to the maximum power the motor can give, no matter your current assistant level.

 

The support modes

To give you as much assistance as possible while riding, the system offers five (5) modes: Eco, Trail, Turbo, Walking and Smart Control.

Specialized Turbo TCU controller
Taken from the Specialized Turbo User’s Manual
NOTE

The manufacturer indicates that one of the modes is “off”. I don’t know about you but for me this is not an assistance mode. Simply, there is no motor power what so ever offered.

Each one of the modes will give a specific boost depending on your riding style. In other words:

  • Eco: 35% for cruising along the road.
  • Trail: 70%.
  • Turbo: 100%.
  • Walking: 5%. Great for a heavy e-bike that needs to be pushed.
  • Smart control: variable.

The smart control mode is actually interesting.

Depending on how you would like to ride, you can adjust each level of power so the motor can assist the right way each support mode.

For instance, lets say you set the trail support to be 70% and the peak power at 50%;

this means, you still have good support from the motor but the power output will be half of the maximum possible;

therefore, it increases the battery range without compromising the support.

 

About the Infinite Tune – Mission Control App

As mentioned before, with the Infinite Tune app you can adjust the support, peak power and torque levels.

What I like the most of the control technology of the Specialized Turbo is the possibility to also adjust the desired distance and time you want to ride.

By doing this, the motor and battery deliver just the right amount of power to achieve your set number. Pretty cool.

Lastly, you can also check other stats like the total distance traveled, responsiveness of the battery and condition of the motor.


SRAM Brake and Drivetrain System

The shifting and braking systems were also manufactured by SRAM, which is known to provide acceptable components.

The drive-train system was designed to give eleven (11) speed with gear ratio of 11 to 42 teeth in the cassette.

As for the braking performance, you won’t be disappointed.

For that, this electric mountain bike was fitted with 200mm hydraulic disks.

I’m not sure why Specialized placed a two (2) piston Caliper for the rear tire but it would’ve been better to be consistent with the four (4) piston configuration at the front.

It is most likely to give you a more gentle and smooth braking action when taking corners. Still, it should be good to get you to a full stop without issues.


Is it Worth Buying the Specialized Turbo Levo?

The Turbo Levo full suspension electric mountain bike has outstanding technology that for some users, will impress.

 

Specialized Turbo Levo benefits

Compared to other very competitive e-bike manufacturers, it has components that are good enough to take a trail without concerns.

As per usual, the motor and battery offers the minimum power to climb any ground without hassle.

The rear suspension system positioning is actually very interesting. Usually, your body would experience the force created when landing, but in this case, the frame will receive most of it.

For additional benefits, I really like what they have done with the controlling system interface.

I know that most of us worry about how much battery is left to complete a trail, but they solve it by adding the smart control system.

Just setting the distance and desired riding time into the interface will take away the hassle of not completing the trail.

Not sure why I would want to setup a riding time; I think the distance is great.

 

Some potential limitations

As mention before, the suspension system is good. The front one has enough travel (150mm) to absorb descent landings.

The rear one is good too but if I were to be complicated, the models offering a three (3) locking system maybe be more beneficial, specially when going uphill.

The tires are good, however the rear one could have had a more aggressive tread to possibly increase the traction.

I think the smart control technology is not super old and possibly will require some adjustment in the future.

Will the set distance be affected if you, at some point, demand more power? I guess, here is where the peak power comes to play.

 

At this point, I think you have enough information to decide whether the Specialized Turbo Levo full suspension electric mountain bike is worth the investment.

Images courtesy of Specialized.


Specialized Turbo Levo

4.6

Frame & Components Quality

4.8/5

Braking Performance

4.5/5

Speed & Torque (motor)

4.8/5

Controller & Assistance

4.9/5

Battery Range

4.8/5

Overall Weight

4.3/5

Portability & Maneuverability

4.4/5

What we like

  • ✅ Good entry level full suspension electric mountain bike.
  • ✅ Smart control technology to pre-set motor and battery performance.
  • ✅ Lighweight compared to e-MTB in the same category.

What we do not like

  • Front fork may be not as strong as expected.
  • Rear suspension only offers two (2) adjustment settings.
  • Rear braking system only has two (2) piston configuration.