Apps, Electronics, Integration
Orbea’s use of the Shimano EP8 system means that riders can use the Shimano E-Tube app to modify modes, power delivery, support and more quite easily. Similarly, Specialized has their Mission Control app, which also allows for some modifications and adjustability as well as more detailed information on battery life. Speaking of battery life, neither bikes have amazing displays, at least not when compared to their full-powered eMTB brothers. The Orbea Rise and its Rider Synergy philosophy prioritize minimalism, making the Rise more mountain bike and less E. The downside to that is a little junction box display with small, dimly lit LEDs that indicate power mode by color and battery range. The range indicator stays green until 20%, at which time it’s (A) too late and (B) turns red. Of course, for an upcharge in the MyO program, you can opt to purchase the standard Shimano STEPS display unit, which we 100% recommend.
The Specialized Turbo Levo SL uses 10 little backlit lines to represent 10% battery chunks. While it’s tough to tell how many are lit or out while moving down the trail, you can at least get a better representation when four or five bars are out and actually count them next time you stop for some water. We give the point to the Specialized Turbo Levo SL in this configuration but would likely go Orbea if equipped with the Shimano display.
Builds and Pricing
Both brands offer a variety of builds and price levels however in our opinion, Orbea takes our vote for offering more value to customers as their parts spec to price tag is better across the board. Plus, Orbea has a really cool MyO program where riders can customize things from paint to components to suit their style or terrain.
Both of the bikes we tested were fairly similar in price, however we upgraded the fork on our Levo SL from a Fox 34 to a Fox 36, and since that is an option that Specialized offers, we kept it on from the original test and feel it would have brought the prices even closer. Even still, for less than a thousand dollars more, the Orbea eBike comes with Factory Fox suspension, Shimano XTR brakes and drivetrain and nice Race Face carbon fiber wheels. Comparatively, the Levo SL comes with Performance level Fox suspension, carbon Roval Traverse wheels, SRAM GX Eagle and less than desirable SRAM G2 RSC brakes. Certainly not a terrible build overall, but for the price tag, there are some competitive offerings out there.
With both bikes having similar applications in the all-around Trail category, geometry is pretty comparable on both the Specialized Turbo Levo SL and Orbea Rise eBike. The Orbea Rise has 140mm of rear wheel travel and we opted for the 150mm fork up front, while the Levo SL comes with 150mm front and rear, but we spent most of our time with a 160mm Fox 36 up front. In the factory configurations the Rise has a 65.5-degree head tub angle compared to the Levo SL’s 66 degrees. The seat tube angle on the Rise sits at 76.5 while the Levo SL is 74.6 degrees. Both of our test bikes are size large but sported very different reach numbers with the Rise being 474mm and the SL at 455mm. These numbers combined with the 445mm chainstays and 437mm (SL) chainstays contribute to the difference in overall wheelbase. The Orbea Rise is a bit longer than the Specialized Levo SL, with measurements of 1,238mm and 1,217mm respectively.
We think both bikes have relevant geometry for most riders however, we would suggest some minor adjustments if we were at the drawing board. We’d like to see the Levo SL have a reach around the 475mm range, and we’d like both bikes to get a ½-degree to full degree slacker head tube angle. We think the Levo SL would also benefit from a slightly steeper seat tube angle. With both bikes being so close aside from reach and seat tube, we’d give the slight nod to the Orbea Rise for more aggressive riders and think that the Levo SL would be a great option for those looking for a more relaxed ride position.
This is an area where the bikes are quite different in feel, and the voting is even more subjective than other categories. Different takes on familiar platforms yield very contrasting rider experiences aboard the Levo SL and the Rise. The Orbea Rise uses a four-bar suspension system that our riders all felt was “Stiffer and racier.” What we mean is, the Rise will give more feedback to the butt of the rider while seated and pedaling, it will give slightly more feedback through the pedals and handlebars, and for some it will feel like you’ve got a few too many PSI in the shock if you’re not hard on the gas. The upside to this feel is that the bike rides high in the travel, is lively as hell and makes the Rise ride even lighter than it is. It’s worth noting, we did increase the volume reducer size in the Rise as we were blowing through travel and bottoming out harshly, so aggressive and/or heavier riders will likely do the same.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Specialized Levo SL and it’s plush, supple suspension feel. Our riders noted that the Levo SL felt like it rode a bit deeper in the travel, was more comfortable on longer days in the saddle and generally rode a bit softer. While it had upsides, it also made the bike feel heavier than the Orbea Rise and didn’t get airborne or pre-hop features on the trail as effortlessly.
We felt that depending on trail conditions, where and how we were riding that day either bike would take the points for this category and believe that riders could love one, or both for their personal applications. For those reasons this category was a draw.