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 – it offers a full suspension system configuration, so the rider has reasonable control over the trail.

Specialized is a US company with a long history of building top-rated bikes. As they say, “from riders to riders”. I love it.

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

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

 

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 a walking-assist option.
  • No LCD Display attached to the handlebar.
FRAME

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

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

  • Front: SRAM four (4) pistons.
  • Rear: SRAM two (2) pistons.
  • 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 is available to adjust your riding requirements.

 


Smooth Frame and Design

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

 

Specialized Turbo Levo handlebar and TCU location

Building material

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

I like how the cables were cleanly embedded within the frame.

 

This approach is the way the cables should be placed 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 to give you more turning range.

 

The frame design

The aluminum frame was cleverly designed to reduce the friction and air resistance caused during riding. As a result, the motor is more efficient, translating to 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. This frame was conceived for people between 165 cm (65″) and 198 cm (78″).

 

Tires and Rims Quality

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

 

Butcher tires

So far, this is one of the e-MTB that uses a diameter of 29 inches. I would say it is suitable 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 of things.

Regardless of that, this 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 explicitly made 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 ensure you stay safe when landing.

 

Of course, the spokes are vital for maintaining the rims’ integrity.

 

Twenty-eight (28) stainless steel spokes are used to support 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 differs from the other.

 

RockShox Deluxe RL Performance (rear)

 

RockShox Sektor RL (front)

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

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

With the DebonAir™ technology used, the coil springs are lightweight and provide enough stiffness, giving the correct 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.

 

I like the 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 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.

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

 

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 is perfect for climbing up or flat rides.

This one has more travel and sag with 150 mm compression regardless of the above.

Lastly, I want to mention 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 renowned 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 the power needed for every situation.

I guess the Brose automotive experience helped them to build 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 pleasant is the compound used to build the casing – magnesium. It basically weighs less than any other e-bike standard motor.

In addition to the above, the non-treated inserts are an excellent advance compared to the previous Brose versions.

For those who love to put things together, this configuration will reduce the possibility of damaging any sensitive connection.

 

What speed and torque do you get?

As with 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 was pretty impressed with what it can deliver. The 90Nm will be more than enough to get you climbing without hassle.

As mentioned before, the tires are acceptable, 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 the trail’s complexity.

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

 

It is not surprising that 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 is located on the side of the frame, which is 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

Like 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 numbers 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 in handy to know.

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

 

The Levo battery’s maximum distance is 50 km if using the Turbo mode.

 

As for the battery charging times, it 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.

 

Read More: Learn more about electric batteries in our guide.

 

Reading the charge level display

Compared to the other manufacturers in the industry, one thing that Specialized standouts is 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.

 

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 correctly 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 many things to think about, but surely you will love it once you understand each one of them.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE

Familiarize yourself 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 seems straightforward.

Four (4) buttons to press:

– Top one for the Turbo Boost feature.

– Middle ones to change the 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 provide, no matter your current assistant level.

 

The supporting 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 this is not an assistance mode for me. Simply, there is no motor power whatsoever offered.

 

Each mode will give a specific boost (5), 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 power level so the motor can assist the right way in each supported mode.

 

For instance, let’s 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. As a result, the battery range could increase 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 about the control technology of the Specialized Turbo is the possibility of adjusting 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, the responsiveness of the battery, and the condition of the motor.

 

SRAM Brake and Drivetrain System

The shifting and braking systems were also manufactured by SRAM, which provides acceptable components.

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

As for the braking performance, you won’t be disappointed. 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, getting you to a full stop without issues should be good.

 

Is it Worth Buying the Specialized Turbo Levo?

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

 

Specialized Turbo Levo benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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 set up a riding time; I think the distance is excellent.

 

Some potential limitations

As mentioned 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, especially when going uphill.

The tires are reasonable; however, the rear one could have had a more aggressive tread to 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 other e-MTB in the same category.

What we do not like

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