FROM THE GROUND UP
Contacting the earth are two mixed wheels, a 29-inch front wheel is mated to a 27.5-inch rear wheel to blend rollover speed with traction, confidence and a snappy, stiff rear end. This mullet wheel configuration is definitely something we’re happy to see and enjoy on the trails. Moving up from there, Specialized Bicycles totally revamped the geometry on the new Levo and as they say, “Put a major focus on control and capability.” Yes, it received the usual longer, slacker front, steeper rear treatment, but that’s not all. Taking cue from the new Stumpjumper Evo, the new Specialized Levo has six geometry settings that are easy to manipulate and are guaranteed to give you just the right handling on your local terrain.
Riders will be able to fine-tune the Specialized Levo via a Horst link flip chip and easily adjustable aluminum headset cups. The Horst link chip adjusts the bottom bracket height by 7mm and half a degree at the head tube angle. For those looking to alter the 64.5-degree head tube angle in a larger increment, you can play with the headset cup which will give you one full degree slacker or steeper. Combine that with the half-degree increments of the link and you have got an eMTB that can really be set up just as you like it.
Of course, good geometry only gets you so far. Once again, the crew at Specialized took feedback from the award-winning Stumpjumper Evo and modified the tune for the eMTB application. The new Levo borrows the Stumpy Evo’s progressive leverage curve with some tweaks for the torque and power delivered by the drive unit. The Levo’s axle path has a rearward move in the first third of the travel before shifting vertical in the mid-travel and finally arcing towards a forward trajectory at bottom out. After our initial rides on the Specialized Levo Gen 3, we think they nailed it so far.
We cannot talk Levo without talking tech, it is an eBike after all. During our time with the Specialized team in Hood River, we appreciated their candor and acknowledgement of some areas of contention. They seem very aware that although the last generation Levo is a very popular and beloved eMTB, there have been plenty of complaints and areas for improvement. Rather than try to sweep them under the rug, the team put their heads down and went to work. Several of those areas have been addressed and we are happy to see the improvements, and we are sure customers are too.
First up, Specialized worked hard to update the firmware and algorithms to get riders the performance they want, when they want it. With more refined sensors and programming, Specialized have been able to take more erratic pedal strokes and turn them into a smoother, more circular distribution of power. This MasterMind firmware actually reduces erosion on hill climbs while also helping keep the rear tire from spinning out or having surges in power. Specialized also claims that it will increase the lifespan of your drivetrain. The integrated controller responds to pedal input with intuitive amplification at as much as four times the power you put in, without roaching your gear or the trail. The Specialized Levo power system can deliver up to 565 Watts of power and 90Nm of torque.
Reliability and longevity are certainly issues Specialized and Levo owners are both aware of, and for that reason they have made some changes to the Turbo Full Power System. When it came to increasing the life and reliability of the Levo’s motor parts, there have been some major efforts made, starting with an all-new belt. The 2.2 drive unit has a wider, stiffer, and overall much sturdier belt. According to Specialized, they have been testing this belt for nearly two years with great results. This belt, in conjunction with the MasterMind firmware mean the motor and components are not working as hard or wearing as fast.
Another focus was updating the waterproofing and sealing of the bike’s critical electrical plugs and connectors. The bike now features redundant barriers to make the bike more resistant to errors caused by the elements. The new Specialized Levo harness and charge port are completely redesigned, and we have certainly put it to the test this winter with a couple muddy rides and bike washes. There is an outer door with a switch that opens up and then allows access to the actual charging port, which has a locked, snug fitting seal as well. This double-door barrier worked incredibly well, and we couldn’t believe that after muddy rides and washing, it remained clean of debris and dry.
Another major criticism came from the TCU display. Small tick marks are easy to count when you are not moving, but at speed, small tick bars are not that easy to see. With TCU 2, riders will now have a really impressive looking display that shows a variety of information, including battery life in terms of a percentage. We were blown away that the display stayed clean and scratch free, even after some terribly muddy conditions and rain. Specialized partnered with Gorilla Glass to create a vivid and durable TCU display and we really liked how well it works. The new MasterMind TCU can be updated over the air, so riders can easily benefit from improvements made just by having the App downloaded to their smart phone. For the real techies out there, the display is customizable and has 30 possible data values that riders can select from to monitor the metrics of their choice.
Another cool new feature is the Specialized Levo’s MicroTune. This feature is accessible on-the-fly and allows riders to simply hold the (+) Plus mode button for two seconds and then adjust power from 0-100% in 10% increments. For example, if you are near battery exhaustion, or riding with a friend who is on a non-eBike, you will be able to reduce your power to better match your riding partner and maximize range. No longer will you need to get out the phone, open the App and tune your ride. Simply manage your assistance at the bar control and off you go.