Where the likes of Razor are churning out the MX models for kids and young adults (read MX350 and MX650 reviews), we have the Specialized Turbo Levo SL for the adults that want to get in on the e-bike movement too.
What makes this electric trail bike stand out? It is not just the class it comes in or the market segment it targets; it is the super light (SL) reference.
We all know that mountain bikes are generally heavy (but some not as heavy as some standard commuter e-bikes) due to all the elements that compose the structure, of course, to keep you safe.
Besides the stellar design element wrapped around one of the best improvements in the e-bike industry – especially when compared to the model of the past year such as the 2021 Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Electric Mountain Bike– this unit brings a good bang for the buck.
But you should not believe that just because I told you so.
That is why I have taken the magnifying glass to this Specialized Turbo Levo SL 2022 – examining everything from handling and safety to its legality in some countries.
Turbo Levo Super Lightweight Specs
|MOTOR & TOP SPEED
|BATTERY & RANGE
|CONTROLLER & RIDING MODES
|TIRES AND SUSPENSION
Infinite Tune Mission Control App available to adjust your riding requirements.
Riding the Turbo Levo SL
Specialized kept to conventional mountain bike designs to ensure you are not the odd one out if riding with friends who prefer their standard mountain bikes.
As discussed further, here are some things to expect whenever you take it out for a spin.
What did the brand use for the motor and the battery?
Every year, the company slaps extra battery power on the Turbo Levo.
SL1 fully integrated battery
For the 2022 model, we get a 320Wh battery embedded in the frame’s down tube.
I love how seamless the battery was placed there.
When riding, you can always keep an eye on the battery level from the center console right on the spine of the e-bike.
The same range that you get (on a full charge, no less) is dependent on factors such as the weight of the rider, the roughness of the terrain, and the pedal-assist mode that you employ. I discuss the various pedal-assist modes later in the review too.
The battery will start getting weaker and won’t last as long between charges as with any other electrical element. You can delay this natural aging process by not allowing it to get too low before you plug it in for another charge.
Read More: eBike Batteries – Best Practices for Beginners.
SL1.1 mid-drive motor
The motor is rated at 250W of nominal power – but you can reach 500W peaks. This configuration makes the bike legal under the Class 1 requirements (more on this later).
If you have been on the 2019 model, you will instantly recognize and appreciate the quietness of the motor. It is also highly lighter than the former model, even though it packs more power this time around.
The motor’s weight is part of the SL concept.
Only a tiny whirring sound can be heard at the highest gear levels and pedal-assist setting. I think that is not disturbing at all.
The combination of motor efficiency and battery performance will deliver about 30 – 80 miles (128 km) of range when riding. If you want more than that, some riders suggest getting a range extender to boost the battery capacity.
Handling and riding
This electric trail bike has quite a lot to unpack in the riding section. Still, it doesn’t take long to get around them all, even for a beginner rider.
Assist level (Turbo Connect Unit – TCU)
Once the e-bike is on, it sets itself to the Trail mode. Well, that is what you are ready for!
The 2022 model comes with five (5) pedal-assist levels:
– Turbo: it provides 100% of the motor power.
– Trail: 75% assistance.
– Eco: efficient power delivery between 35% and 50%.
– Walking mode: it is specially tuned to deliver 5% of power, just to help push the bike at 6 km/hr (3.7 mph.
– Smart Control: with this mode, you can customize specific power output, depending on your needs.
In addition to the above modes, the brand also included the “off mode” (is it really assistance?), which will disengage the motor but will still let you use other parts of the bike that need battery usage, such as the lights.
As you see with the TCU configuration, each mode is displayed as per the image below, so I recommend reviewing the user manual or remembering this little image:
If you want to know more about the Mission Control App, read the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR eMTB Review.
Two different tires?
The tires come to mind next on the handling front.
The company chose to go with the 29 inches, tubeless rims; however, they decided to keep the Butcher Grid tires on the front and went for a more aggressive tread for the rear with the Eliminator.
The difference is that the Eliminator version is flatter for better surface contact.
This allows for a better trail grip on the front while the thinner back tires kick in for better navigation. Such a subtle combination does a lot for your ride quality.
eMTB suspension system
A good mountain bike is not complete without a good suspension system. It is, thus, a welcome addition to having a full-suspension front fork and an adjustable seat suspension system to boot on the bike.
The front suspension is adjustable and lockable as you see fit, allowing the rider to customize various aspects of their experience even better.
With 150mm travel (compression), you should not feel too many shocks when riding uneven terrain.
Even at that, though, you will still feel the weight and pull of this 50-pound bike when you attempt to bunny jump, for example.
This is not out of place with a bike of this size, but Specialized scores a point for trying to make this unit as lightweight as they can manage.
Read More: Tires for electric bikes – Guide for Beginners.
One important thing to mention here is the single-click shift levers, which do not allow you to drop multiple gears at once.
It can be a safety issue if you don’t know how to use them.
Since you can only drop one level with a click, make sure to have your terrain mapped/scoped out better so that you don’t run into uncomfortable situations.
That said, it is surprisingly easy to navigate, take turns and bends, and roll into corners on this full suspension electric bike.
Design and safety
The brand made sure that the design included safety in mind.
Motor and battery
For starters, choosing to house the battery inside the down tube protects the bike and the rider better.
No one wants loose elements when doing mountain biking.
The design element around the down tube also includes a vent to ensure the battery and motor are adequately ventilated, preventing overheating, wear and damage.
Frame and cockpit
Choosing a premium aluminum frame (instead of steel, for example) makes sense from multiple standpoints:
– The e-bike is already weightier than most standard bikes of the same standing – but the choice of frame material makes it a lightweight e-bike. This helps improve the grip, control, and maneuverability of the bike.
– You might not know how much that weight shavings from the aluminum mean to you till you try to take a corner or make a split-second decision with a heavier bike.
– The seat adjustment lever on the left handlebar gives more safety and comfort to the user. Toggling the varying levels gives you variable suspension support, which you can customize to fit your riding style.
– One part of the design that I find interesting is the location of the TCU. As you know, it is located in the high tube, which eliminates the need to have the Turbo Connect Display (TCD) (it is not included with the original buy).
Let’s not forget the SRAM Code RS brakes on this machine are impressive. It is not uncommon to have thinner and bigger brake rotors on bikes – but we have the same 200mm rotors here.
For a unit that is as lightweight and gets up to speed fast, having such a system of responsive brakes is very important to rider safety.
What is the maximum speed using its pedal-assist only?
As part of the requirements of keeping this at a Class 1 level, the Specialised Turbo Levo SL comes with a 15.5mph (25 km/h) maximum speed using motor assistance.
There will always be riders who can try to get more out of the basic settings. That is why the manufacturer has set the motor to cut out once the e-bike attains this top speed.
Even if you go above that, you would not be relying on the motor to power you anymore.
There will be no need to go beyond this point for most riders anyway. Likewise, you tend to feel how the motor cuts out the support, and it is less than ideal for those who want to go faster.
If you care about the safety and legality of the machine, we recommend that you not manipulate the motor configuration.
How it fits according to eBike regulations (US, EU, and AU)
In a couple of places around this review, I have mentioned that the Turbo Levo SL ships as a Class 1 e-bike.
It is rated as having a 250W motor that doesn’t exceed its top speed in pedal-assist mode. That keeps it legal in all of the US, across Europe, and in Australia too.
Since this is a mountain bike, there is a high chance you are not riding it around on street roads. Most e-bike rules apply to street and city riding anyway, so you have an extra blanket of legality there.
That, however, doesn’t mean that you cannot ride the bike on street roads either. They have rated legal for such occasions also.
If riding on the roads is the case, you might want to get an electric bicycle designed for street riding instead for the best experience.
Is it worth buying the Specialized Turbo Levo SL in 2022?
These guys made this electric bike available in different models: from the entry-level and comp version to an expert-tuned bike variety.
A good call with this model is how closely the design follows a proper mountain bike. If you don’t tell anyone, there is a high chance that people unfamiliar with the brand won’t even know that you are riding an e-cycle.
As if that is not enough, you get a lot of power, good range, and a decent ride on this legal machine.
The wheelbase is lowered, the reach is extended, and the head tube is dropped to give you lower weight, a better center of gravity, and an improved ride in one package.
Little wonder the bike is playful and nimble to ride.
Finally, Specialized seems to have a lot of dealers everywhere. For the rider, this means that you can always service and find maintenance options for your investment when you need them.
The question is not whether this Specialized Turbo Levo SL is a worthy buy; it is more of what else is keeping you from getting one of the very best mountain e-bikes on the market right now.
Images courtesy of Specialized.
Specialized Turbo Levo SL
Frame & Components Quality4.8/5
Speed & Torque (motor)4.0/5
Controller & Assistance4.3/5
Portability & Maneuverability4.3/5
What we like
- ✅ It is one of the lightest electric mountain bikes in the market.
- ✅ Controlling it is very simple just from the push of on button.
- ✅ Braking performance is great.
- ✅ The traction has been improved with the use of a wider rear tire.
What we do not like
- It is not a low budget eMTB
- It doesn't show usual metric unless using the Mission Control App.
- Only a few bike shops are authorized for maintenance.