What is it

Three years ago, the Specialized Turbo Levo e-bike was introduced with 140mm of travel, plus tires, and a motor assist system that was better and more integrated than the competition. Three years later, the Turbo Levo is still very relevant - but the competition has caught up. The 2019 Specialized Turbo Levo is v2.0 of the landmark bike and it addresses three years of ideas, suggestions, and complaints about the previous model.

A team of 19 engineers worked on this project. What they came up with is a special bike. It is a 150mm travel 29er based on the new Stumpjumper. It is significantly lighter than the old Specialized Turbo Levo and has much-improved battery capacity. It also has a powerful motor with much better controls, electronics, and overall integration.

These are the leaders of the Specialized Turbo Levo development team. They've had a team 19 in Switzerland working on the new e-bike for the last three years.​

What Changed

Every aspect of the Specialized Turbo Levo has been improved. Here are the highlights:

  • Much lighter with lighter motor and frame
  • Modern, dialed geometry now in 29er format
  • New batteries with 40% more capacity with the same form factor
  • New electronics and app
  • Capable suspension matched for this weight
  • Better aluminum options and price options
  • Standard components and metric shock

The Specialized Turbo Levo finding traction through a loose turn. Photo by Harookz / @Harookz​

Actual Weights

Weight has been decreased significantly on all models. And the bottom bracket area of the bike lost about 800 grams of weight making the bike more nimble. With the use of higher capacity 700Wh batteries on the S-Works and Expert Carbon models, 700 grams of weight is added back to the bike. But since the batteries are exactly the same form factor, a rider can use the lighter 500Wh battery to save weight.

A key weight to note is an S-Works bike in size Large with a 500Wh battery weighs 44 lbs.

New Specialized Turbo Levo Geometry

Taking a page from the Stumpjumper, the Turbo Levo is now a fully progressive trail bike that addresses the long and slack needs of today's riders. They've lengthened the reach, kept the chainstays short, and maintained a low center of gravity. Next, the head angle was slackened for more confident descents and seat angle was steepened for climbing efficiency, with the saddle getting out of the way during descents. A new 160mm dropper was added as well as a flip chip so you can adjust your bottom bracket height and head angle to accommodate preferred riding style and wheel sizes.

Photo by Harookz / @Harookz​

New Battery

The new Specialized Turbo Levo offers 40% more range than the previous version. The battery is now fully encased to protect it from the elements. They also strategically placed the cells to provide the Turbo Levo with an ideal weight distribution for better handling. And the Battery Management System (BMS) regulates battery health, protects it from overcharging (or under voltage), and ensures that you get as many miles as possible during the life of your battery and maximum battery lifetime.

The lower priced Turbo Levo e-bikes will come with a 500Wh battery, while the S-Works and Expert Carbon will come with a 700Wh battery. The 700Wh has 40% more capacity but weighs 750 grams more than the 500Wh option.

The Brains and Turbo Connect

Now better placed on top of the top tube, the switch and Turbo Connect Unit sits to connect the bike (via ANT+ and Bluetooth) to both the outside world and the Mission Control App. Mission Control can now customize motor characteristics, monitor your power use, control your range, perform basic system diagnoses, record, and upload rides. The on/off switch is in a much more convenient place for better access. And the switch and the battery level lights are now away from public view.

Specialized Turbo Levo. Photo by Harookz / @Harookz​

Riding the Specialized Turbo Levo

The ride is impeccable! The descending performance is a few notches above the old Turbo Levo. First and foremost, the bike has been updated from old Stumpjumper to the 2018 Stumpjumper geometry and fit. So all the benefits experienced there carry over to this platform. Next, the platform has shifted from plus to 29er. This translates to a more planted, communicative feel in more terrain. It also opens up more options for tire brands, tread and compounds.

And finally, the weight is noticeably lighter. About 800 grams has been shaved from motor/BB area so the bike feels more nimble in tight, up and down terrain. Couple that with Fox suspension that is properly valved and supportive and it really climbs and descends with enthusiasm.

Specialized Turbo Levo descending a 2-mile limestone filled trail. Photo by Harookz / @Harookz​

Mtbr test rode the Specialized Turbo Levo for two days in very varied terrain in Europe and this really is a complete, unprecedented package. The motor is quiet and it comes on and off almost incognito. Upon hitting the 20mph limit, it even knows if you're coming up to it fast or just hovering around that point. Thus it knows whether to shut down early at around 18mph or let you go to around 20mph. With the light weight, big battery, remote switch, display and app, it offers an ecosystem that is unrivaled. Go simple or go fancy, it's all available to you. And something pretty remarkable is the family of Turbo Levos at different price points. There are 5 bikes, from $4900 to $12,000, delivering a solution to most interested consumers.

Specialized Turbo Levo ridden by Martin Soderstrom. Photo by Harookz / @Harookz​

Some Downsides

Nothing is perfect but we haven't found a lot to gripe about with this bike during the three days we spent with it. One downside we'll mention is this bike uses 1x11 SRAM with a 10-42 cassette. They did this to save weight since SARAM only allows the heavy Eagle NX 1x12 to be used on e-bikes.

Specialized's other rationale is the motor assist should be enough to allow riders to climb most hills with a 42-tooth cog. But in use, we found ourselves in the lowest gear a lot during the test rides and having to switch to a higher boost mode.

Another downside is the expensive and lightweight models (S-Works and Expert Carbon) are only spec'd with the heavy 700Wh batteries. So much effort was spent lightening the bikes, yet these big batteries add about 750 grams of weight. They're great for range but are overkill on 90% of the rides, especially weekday jaunts. It would be great to have a choice of batteries. And we would love a 350Wh battery option to get this bike closer to 40 lbs.

And although the new 160mm travel Specialized dropper post is much better than the outgoing one, it is still undamped and indexed/noisy. Quite usable but not at the level of a Fox Transfer, BikeYoke Revive, or some of the other top dropper posts out there. And finally, the motor area looks quite big and tall. The reason is the motor has been tilted skyward to allow a battery entry/exit point at the bottom.

Power switch and brains of the system. Photo by Harookz / @Harookz​

Price Points

One of the great things about this bike is there are 5 different price points. Thus many more budgets are allowed to participate. Here's a rundown.

S-Works: $12,000
Expert: $8200
Comp Carbon: $6900
Comp Alloy: $5900
Base: $4900

Marketing manager Vernon Felton explains some of the frame nuances.​

For more info on the new bike head to www.specialized.com. For an in-depth Q&A, click over to Page 2 of the Mtbr Specialized Turbo Levo first ride report.

Specialized Turbo Levo Q&A

  1. The new Turbo Levo frame closely resembles the latest Stumpjumper-what makes it different?
The main differences between the Turbo Levo's Sidearm frame and the Stumpjumper's are the following: The Turbo Levo frame has a battery integrated into the down tube. It also mounts a motor to the bottom bracket, needs to smartly route additional cables through the frame, and it features a big cutout in the top tube to hold the Turbo Connect Unit (Specialized TCU). Besides those differences, the Turbo Levo frame resembles the Stumpjumper's design and concept, and it shares all of its related benefits.
  1. What's been improved on the new Specialized 2.1 motor?
First of all, we made the new Specialized 2.1 motor significantly lighter. By making the motor housing out of full-magnesium and mounting the motor directly to the frame, we were able to cut a tremendous 800 grams of weight. 400 of those grams come from eliminating the motor mount bridge, while the remaining 400 grams come from weight savings on the actual motor (the new motor weight is 3kg).

Our new 2.1 motor is also 15% smaller than the previous generation, while still being more efficient and even more powerful. It now amplifies the rider input by 410% (1.3 motor: 380%), providing up to 560 watts and 90 Nm of torque.

In short: Our new 2.1 motor is better across the board, while still featuring time-proven technologies like a belt-drive and an integrated speedometer/power meter that measures speed and pedaling effort to precisely calculate power output.
  1. How much lighter/smaller is the new 2.1 motor than the 1.3 model on previous Turbo Levo's?
The new 2.1 motor is 400 grams lighter than its predecessor, yet it's more powerful, efficient, and 15% more compact. The majority of the weight savings can be chalked up to the lighter, full-magnesium motor housing and the elimination of the motor mount bridge.

Specialized Turbo Levo motor. Photo by Harookz / @Harookz​

  1. How much weight did you cut by going to the new direct motor mount?
Since we eliminated the motor mount bridge and are directly attaching the motor to the frame, the direct motor-to-frame mounting cuts another 400 grams out of the bike.
  1. How were you able to make the new motor mount a reality?
We first designed the Turbo Levo chassis to give riders the best possible trail riding experience, then we codesigned the motor- mounting system with the manufacturer of our motors, who also helped to shape the motor specifically to the Turbo Levo's chassis design. This ground-up approach enabled us to entirely remove the motor-to-frame adaptor that was featured on the first-generation Turbo Levo models, while still ensuring the best possible frame geometry.
  1. How much lighter is the new Turbo Levo chassis compared to its predecessor?
Shaving as much weight as possible was one of our main goals, because a lighter bike feels nimbler on the trail and also uses less battery power. This also helps to give you more range.

We shaved weight everywhere on the bike, and this included both the frame and the motor. The result is a bike that's almost 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) lighter than the previous generation.

The new Sidearm frame delivers an unrivaled stiffness-to-weight ratio, and the frame weight on the S-Works iteration drops by an impressive 800 grams.

Even more impressive, our new Turbo Levo Alloy frame is lighter than the previous generation's full-carbon S-Works frame.
  1. Which Turbo Levo's get the 700Wh batteries and which get the 500Wh batteries?
S-Works and Expert Turbo Levo models come equipped with 700-watt-hour Specialized M2-700 battery, the rest of the line gets the 500Wh version (M2-500). The M2-700 battery will be available aftermarket and can be put on the other Turbo Levo models.

The battery comes in 500wh or 700wh. Photo by Harookz / @Harookz​

  1. Can you upgrade the first-generation Turbo Levo with the new 700Wh battery?
No. The M2-series batteries have a completely different form factor since they were purposefully built for the all-new Turbo Levo. Therefore, the battery can't be used on the first generation Turbo Levo bikes.
  1. How do you remove the battery on the new Turbo Levo?
During the development of the bike and the Technology System, it was important to us that the battery of the Turbo Levo remained readily accessible, so riders could have the option to easily remove it. On the new Turbo Levo, the battery slides in and out of the down tube at the motor area. And due to the length of the battery, it's recommended to put the bike either on its side, upside-down, or in a bike repair stand to remove the battery.
  1. What's the range difference between the 700- and 500-watt batteries?
The 700Wh battery provides 40% more range, but ultimately, the range depends many factors, such as mode selection, riding profile, rider input, rider weight, etc.
  1. How can you get the most range out of each battery charge?
There are several options to get more range out of your bike, one being that you adjust the settings of your assist modes (the support & peak power). You can do this under "Tune" in our Mission Control App. Another option is to generally ride in a lower assist mode. Also, you can use the Smart Control feature of the Mission Control App to determine how long or far you want to go? The app then ensures that you're getting the right amount of assistance to bring you there with the given battery charge.

The range can also be increased by changing the way of riding: Being in a small gear when starting from zero and riding in a cadence range of 80 RPM or above will also drastically improve the range.

The motor is now directly mounted to the frame with no heavy carrier. Photo by Harookz / @Harookz​

  1. You say the new batteries offer 40% more range than the previous battery, but what does that amount to in actual kilometers/miles?
As mentioned earlier, the actual range in km/miles depends on a wide range of variables and can't be answered with a single estimate of kilometers or miles. But we also understand why people ask that question-they usually want to know, "How am I going to make sure that I don't actually run out of battery power and motor support in the middle of my ride?" That's an excellent question, to which we have an excellent answer: The all-new Turbo Levo is equipped with our Smart Control feature, which eliminates the risk of you ever running out of power in the middle of a ride.

With Smart Control, you can set a duration or distance you'd like to ride and your Turbo Levo will automatically regulate the power output for you through a smart algorithm that's seamlessly operating at all times. Simply relax, enjoy your trails, and don't worry about remaining battery capacity. You won't run out.
  1. You list the available runtime on the battery as being between 1 and 5 hours. That's an exceptionally broad range, so what's the story there?
There's no single answer to this particular question, as the total hours of pedaling assistance that you'll get out a single battery charge will naturally vary based on the steepness of your terrain and the amount of "assist," or motor support that you choose to use.

For instance, let's say that you're using the maximum amount of pedal-assist on the steepest possible trail-that kind of motor support will draw more heavily on the battery's cells than a medium amount of pedal assistance on rolling terrain and that, in turn, will give you more hours of riding from a single charge.

The good news is that the new Turbo Levo is equipped with our Smart Control feature, which eliminates the risk of you ever running out of power in the middle of a ride.

With Smart Control, you can set a duration or distance you'd like to ride and your Turbo Levo will automatically regulate the power output for you through a smart algorithm that's seamlessly operating at all times. Simply relax, enjoy your trails, and don't worry about remaining battery capacity. You won't run out.

Specialized Turbo Levo app is quite powerful with Smart Control range feature to get you home. Photo by Harookz / @Harookz​

  1. How do you charge the battery?
You can charge the battery either on or off of the bike. If you want to charge the battery on the bike, there's a charge port at the bottom bracket area of the frame where you simply plug-in the charger cable. The battery is easily removable, though, so you can take it with you and charge it off the bike from wherever you want.
  1. Can you also charge the battery when it's removed from the bike?
Yes. The new M2-series battery is completely integrated into the frame, and it's easily removed should you want to swap batteries or charge the battery off of the bike.
  1. Can you swap batteries out on the trail?
The new M2-series battery is completely integrated into the frame, but it's easily removable if you want to swap batteries. So, yep-it's possible. That said, this battery doesn't exactly fit in the palm of your hand, so you're going to need a pretty large hydration pack to tote a spare around with you.

When people usually ask this question, they're asking because they're concerned about running out of battery power during a ride. We understand, and that's why the new Turbo Levo is equipped with our Smart Control feature that eliminates the risk of you ever running out of power in the middle of a ride.

With Smart Control, you can set a duration or distance you'd like to ride and your Turbo Levo will automatically regulate the power output for you through a smart algorithm that's seamlessly operating at all times. Simply relax, enjoy your trails, and don't worry about remaining battery capacity. You won't run out.

Motor is rotated up quite a bit to allow the battery to exit through a bottom port. Photo by Harookz / @Harookz​

  1. Isn't the Specialized 2.1 motor the same thing as the new Brose S Mag that other brands are also planning to use? How is it different?
Yes and no. While we developed the new 2.1 motor hardware together with Brose, we develop the motor software on our own, which is what actually shapes how the motor behaves on the trail. We spent years figuring out how a motor should feel in an actual trail setting, and the result is that the 2.1 motor has a uniquely smooth and natural ride quality to it. There are no awkward lags or surges in power.

Think of it this way: The motor is like the legs of an e-mountain bike, but how those legs work is a function of your brain. We've built a better, smarter brain. On top of that, we also allow riders to fully customize their motor and its behavior through our unique tuning opportunities (Infinite Tune) in the Mission Control App.
  1. Can I retrofit the new motor or battery to an earlier Turbo Levo model?
The new motor and battery are specifically designed to work together and fit precisely into the new Sidearm frame and down tube of the new-generation Turbo Levo. Consequently, they are incompatible with previous Turbo Levo generations.
  1. On the first-generation Turbo Levo, the battery was the "brain" of the bike. What's the brain of the all-new Turbo Levo?
The Specialized Turbo Connect Unit (TCU) is the brain of the all-new Turbo Levo. The TCU is always in view, right there at the center of your top tube. The TCU gives you an overview on your battery level (each LED represents 10% of your battery charge), shows you the motor-assist level you're pedaling with, allows you to change modes, and it also turns your bike on or off.

The TCU also connects your Turbo Levo to our Mission Control App via Bluetooth® or ANT+ and links you to any third-party ANT+ device. And finally, the TCU can also connect you to our new Turbo Connect (TCD) handlebar display, providing you with all of your ride and bike data at a glance from your handlebars.

Specialized Turbo Connect Display is handy. Photo by Harookz / @Harookz​

  1. What's so great about the Specialized Mission Control App?
Our Mission Control App provides riders with full control over their Turbo Levo. It allows you to fully customize the motor settings to the personal needs & preferences, diagnose the bike and extract a report, record/save/analyze rides, upload rides to third-party platforms, and even get control over your range via our Smart Control feature.
  1. Which operating systems does the Mission Control App support?
Our updated Mission Control App is still supporting iOS and Android operating systems.

You simply have to go to either the Google Play or Apple App Store, search for Specialized Mission Control, download the app, and register yourself. Once you've done that, you're set to get more out of your Turbo Levo.
  1. What kind of improvements have been made to the Mission Control App?
We developed our Mission Control App completely from scratch, and it now comes with a bunch of exciting improvements. First and foremost, we designed a completely new user interface for the app, which is more intuitive to navigate through. We've also added new features into the app, like the "Stealth Mode" that allows you to turn off the LED lights on the TCU (if preferred), or the "Shuttle Mode" that lets you access maximum power output with less pedaling force (if desired). And last but not least, we made the app more stable and reliable.
  1. What's so great about the "Shuttle Mode" feature and how does it work?
One of the key new features of our Mission Control App is the new Shuttle Mode. This feature gives you maximum power output with less required pedaling force. It's perfect for those days when you're looking for a fast shuttle to the top of the mountain.

The higher the setting for Shuttle Mode is, the easier it is to get full motor power in your selected mode. The settings for the Shuttle Mode can be adjusted within the Mission Control App, and the default setting is zero.

Arm hosts the dropper cable and other. Photo by Harookz / @Harookz​

  1. How does Infinite Tune work?
Our Infinite Tune feature allows you to adjust motor peak power separately from the motor support, and vice versa. This gives you the opportunity to fully customize the three modes to your personal preferences since they can now determine all variables-per-mode individually. We also allow you to basically adjust those settings on-the-fly: Infinite Tune is embedded in the "Tune" section of our Mission Control App and can be easily adjusted via sliders.

We recommend that riders start with the following settings and then adjust their settings based on their individual needs and preferences:

Turbo: 100% (Support) / 100% (Peak Power)

Trail: 35% / 100%

Eco: 35% / 35%.

  1. Is the Specialized Turbo Connect Display (TCD) also retrofittable to older Turbo bikes?
Yes. The Specialized TCD handlebar display is retrofittable to all existing Turbo bikes in the field and will be available aftermarket.
  1. How can I synch my Specialized TCD to my Turbo Levo?
That's super easy and intuitive. You simply turn on the bike, keep the left button pressed for five seconds, and then go through a short pairing process. When the display is connected to a bike, it always automatically reconnects to your bike until it is proactively paired with a different bike.
  1. Your website says the bike will come with 29x2.6" tires. Can I also fit 27.5+ wheel/tire combos on the new Turbo Levo?
We've built the Turbo Levo around 29-inch wheels, since this delivers the best combination of speed, precision, and flotation over obstacles. But if you want, 27.5-inch wheels with 2.8-inch-wide tires will fit without adversely affecting the bike's geometry.
  1. What is the maximum 27.5+ tire size that will fit on the new Turbo Levo?
We recommend a maximum 27.5+ tire size of 27.5 x 2.8", but theoretically, the bike is capable to even fit 3.0" tires.

Specialized Turbo Levo with Martin Soderstrom playing in the air. Photo by Harookz / @Harookz​

  1. Why did you choose to only offer this with 29er wheels when, in the past, you offered "6Fattie" versions of the Turbo Levo?
The Turbo Levo plays nice with 27.5+ wheels and tires, but after years of test-riding various tire and wheel combinations on or second- generation Turbo Levo mules, we simply preferred the ride quality (the speed, precision, and floatation) created by the 29x2.6" wheel/tire combination. Simple as that, really.
  1. Which rear shocks can I run on the Turbo Levo?
The Turbo Levo comes equipped with metric-sized FOX shocks, so any 52.5x210 metric shock will fit the new Turbo Levo. Naturally, sticking with the same eye-to-eye length is critical to performance and safety but, as is the case anytime you decide to try on a new shock, you'll also want to match the same basic rebound and compression damping tune listed on the shock body of your original shock.
  1. What is the maximum speed that you can reach on the Turbo Levo?
Different nations have different laws in place regulating the use of e-mountain bikes on trails. Many nations require that the electric motors on e-mountain bikes effectively "shut off" once you've reached a maximum speed limit. That maximum speed varies from country to country. In Europe, for instance, the maximum speed is 25 kilometers-per-hour, and in the United States, motors are required to stop assisting your pedaling effort once you've reached a speed of 20 miles-per-hour.

As with any bike, your top speed is ultimately limited by how fast and hard you can pedal under your own steam. Naturally, we strongly encourage all riders to ride responsibly and to be courteous to, and cognizant of, other trail users. Share the trails. The beauty about our motor is that it completely decouples above top-speed, so you don't have to work against the motor but are still able to ride the Turbo Levo like a normal (just a bit heavier) bike.
  1. Why are you not using 12-speed drivetrains on the new Turbo Levo?
We decided to continue with 11-speed drivetrains for a couple of reasons. When you factor in the added support (levels) of the motor, they already provide an ample gear ratio for the steepest climbs out there. Additionally, SRAM only allows the NX 12-speed cassette to be spec'd on e-bikes, and this would have forced us to only use the NX cassette across the entire Turbo Levo range. This also would have passed on a massive weight penalty, on the S-works model for instance, that we aren't prepared to take on. For context, we're talking about an additional 350 grams or so. And last, but not least, this added weight would be at a location on the bike where you'd definitely feel it, so the pros of 12-speed didn't outweigh the cons.