2022 eMTB SHOOTOUT

2022 SPECIALIZED TURBO LEVO EXPERT

Video by Brian Niles / Treeline Cinematic
Photos by Dusten Ryen

After skipping last year’s eMTB Shootout due to a redesign in-the-works, our crew was thrilled to have the 2022 Specialized Turbo Levo Expert back in the mix. Especially since the new Gen 3 Specialized Levo has been one of our favorite eMTBs to ride since we Dissected it last year. In fact, it had seen so many miles we asked Specialized for a freshy as we wanted to ensure our miles and year of abuse wouldn’t put our trusty orange Levo Pro at a disadvantage. We received a Turbo Levo Expert and were excited to see how the slightly less expensive version would stack up against the field in beautiful Knoxville, Tennessee.

QUICK HITS

• 150mm Horst Link Suspension
• 6-position Geo Adjust
• HTA 64.5
• STA 76.2
• REACH 477 (S4)

Price: $5,500 (Levo Alloy) – $15,000 (S-Works)
Website: Specialized.com

THE LAB

As we mentioned above, we have had quite a bit of time on the Specialized Turbo Levo platform and believe the Gen 3 update is a notable improvement over the outgoing generation. If you want to get a lot more detailed info and see our interview with two key Specialized employees, be sure to check our Dissected Feature here.

Specialized Turbo Levo Expert Profile Shot - 2022 eMTB Shootout

Our $11,000 2022 Specialized Turbo Levo Expert sports a carbon fiber frame that encases a 700Wh battery and Specialized’s Turbo Full Power 2.2 motor. The drive unit packs 90Nm of torque with a very customizable MasterMind Turbo Control Unit, neatly tucked into the top tube of the bike. Riders can select preset power modes on the small bar-mounted controller or use the MicroTune function to adjust power in 10% increments.

Moving out from the electronics, the Specialized Turbo Levo Expert is a mullet-equipped 150/160mm eBike that boasts some impressively adaptable geometry. Although we never felt the need to change the geometry as it strikes a very balanced feel, riders in different areas will enjoy modifying the 64.5-degree head tube angle by 1.5 degrees in either direction. Bottom bracket height can also be adjusted by 7mm via a High/Low chip in the Horst Link out back, giving you six total geometry settings.

Specialized Turbo Levo Expert Rear Triangle - 2022 eMTB Shootout

The build kit on our Turbo Levo Expert is competent without being over the top. Whether or not it justifies the price tag however is another topic entirely. A SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain handles the 12-speeds reliably while SRAM Code RS 4-piston brakes do their best to stop 220/200mm rotors. A Praxis 160mm forged crankset spins a 32t steel chainring and has held up well for our testing. The cockpit sports in-house Specialized parts, Deity grips, and an X-Fusion Manic dropper post.  Roval Traverse wheels come wrapped in Specialized Butcher and Eliminator tires however we swapped them for our official eBike Shootout tires from Schwalbe. Suspension duties are handled by Fox’s Performance Elite products with a 38 fork and Float X2 rear shock.

Santa Cruz Bronson V4 CC Rear Triangle

Specialized has been moving their S-Sizing structure to more bikes in their lineup, including the Turbo Levo. With most of our riders (5’11”-6’1”) preferring a slightly more playful and nimble bike, we opted to run an S4.

Specialized Turbo Levo Expert Review

THE DIRT

Many of the bikes we take to our eMTB Shootouts have already seen plenty of test miles under our riders on familiar terrain. The Specialized Turbo Levo is an eBike we’d spent a ton of time on, in fact so much we asked for a new one. Despite the new spec and color, we knew this bike was going to be putting some major pressure on the competition.

It was quickly evident that even though the Specialized Turbo Levo Expert didn’t have flashy gold suspension goodies, it was more than capable. Our riders felt comfortable with the 477mm reach right out of the gate and as we took turns riding the bike it blended a natural body position with stability and fun. The mixed 29/27.5 wheels were appreciated by the crew as we like playful, lively bikes that can handle technical terrain and corner hard. Some riders who cover lots of miles or just look for speed may prefer a full 29er spec, but we’re happy with the mullet.

When it came time to evaluate the power and climbing of the Specialized Turbo Levo, we had a bit of a hiccup. The very first ride on the Levo Expert was noisy, grindy and not that awesome. We contacted Joe Buckley at Specialized, and he connected us with the Specialized Rider Care team. The team found a local shop with a drive unit in stock and within a few hours, we were back on the trail with a new drive unit and no issues. We were told that any customer who has an issue can speak directly to a shop or rider care and be taken care of, granted it may not be within a few hours.

Specialized Turbo Levo Expert Review

Power and feel are impressive on the Turbo Levo as we climbed everything from uphill flow trails to near vertical rock gardens that tested our balance, grip and the laws of gravity. The suspension feel is comfortable and gives good saddle feel and traction while the power delivery and input readings seem inline with others. It’s not quite Shimano-natural and better than Bosch when it comes to the feel and how the power comes on.

The 2022 Specialized Turbo Levo Expert really shines however, when the seat drops and the speeds increase. Some bikes require a few rides and tweaks to get dialed in and feeling good. On the other hand, some bikes feel like they’re your own from the first drop. The Levo is that bike. Going into the eMTB Shootout I had a secret inkling that the Levo could likely take the cake for 2022. As I watched each of our testers take the Levo out and take turns on the major rock garden we were sessioning, the smiles and hollers confirmed my notions.

Despite Specialized offering some very tunable geometry on the Turbo Levo models, we left our test bike in the stock setting almost entirely. It strikes a great balance of being stable and confident enough for rowdy trails yet also nimble and handy enough to climb and move in slower, technical trails. Some riders may like moving to the slacker head tube angle and depending on where we were riding, there’s a chance we’d take the few minutes to slacken the bike ourselves as long as too much techy climbing wasn’t on the menu.

Specialized Turbo Levo Expert Review

The suspension tune is absolutely dialed on the Levo and Specialized deserves some kudos for coming up with a shock tune and kinematic that will make a wide variety of riders happy. A couple volume reducers for the most aggro riders but even as it sits, we had Robert sending this bike big and he weighs about 200lbs without issue.

Whether we were tackling rock gardens at high speed, hitting jump trails, or just cruising on mellow exploratory days, the new 2022 Specialized Turbo Levo Expert felt happy. While the Levo is happy and comfortable in all those situations, it may not be the absolute best at any one category. For example, the long, stable and fast Trek Rail may win a DH race against the Levo if the trail is wide open and rough. However, the Rail also has some major hang-ups in other situations where the Levo excels. Similarly, the Santa Cruz Heckler may be a bit more fun in the air or to jump offside hits, yet it doesn’t offer the comfort or all-around versatility the Levo does, or the composure on very rough terrain. The Canyon Spectral:ON is probably the closest when it comes to versatility all-around. And while it may have been a bit more fun to jump, the 150mm fork kept it back a notch on the truly fast and rough stuff.

Specialized Turbo Levo Expert Review

The Wolf’s Last Word

The 2022 Specialized’s Turbo Levo Expert is not exactly what we’d call a screaming deal when you look at the spec and price tag. Combine that with the concerns about motor/drive unit reliability and it was certainly a major talking point while evaluating the Levo against other bikes in the Emtb Shootout. Then there’s the charge port door design that we’ve heard quite a few people, ourselves included, have broken. Sure, there are some issues when it comes to integration and tech on the Levo, but one thing is undeniable, and that’s how well it rides. In fact, some of our testers even said they’d take the Levo even with the broken/noisy motor we had when it showed up.

Criticisms aside, the Specialized Turbo Levo Expert is an absolute joy to ride on so many trails and it is the bike our testers kept coming back to. It strikes an incredible balance between plow and play that few bikes can achieve. Overall, the Levo Expert is one BAMF.

Price: $11,000
Weight: 52.25 lbs
Website:
Specialized.com

VISIT SPECIALIZED TO GET YOURS!

SPECIALIZED TURBO LEVO EXPERT SPEC:

CHASSIS
Frame: FACT 11m full carbon | 150mm
Fork: FOX FLOAT 38 Performance Elite 29 Grip2 | 160mm
Shock: FOX FLOAT X2 Performance Elite

ELECTRONICS
Motor: Specialized Turbo Full Power System 2.2 Motor
Battery: Specialized M3-700 | Integrated 700Wh
Display: Specialized MasterMind TCU

COCKPIT
Brakes:
SRAM Code RS, 220F/200R
Handlebar: Specialized Trail 7050 alloy | 30mm rise, 800mm
Stem: Alloy Trail Stem, 35mm bar bore
Seatpost: X-Fusion Manic | 34.9 | S1: 100mm, S2: 125mm, S3: 150mm, S4/S5: 175mm, S6: 190mm
Saddle: Bridge Comp

WHEELS
Wheels:
Traverse 29 (f) / Traverse 27.5 (r)

DRIVETRAIN
Cassette: Praxis forged M30, custom offset, 160mm | 32t
Cranks: SRAM XG-1275, 12-speed, 10-52t
Shifter: SRAM X01 Eagle trigger
Derailleur: Sram X01 Eagle, 12-speed

Specialized Turbo Levo Expert - 2022 eMTB Shootout

We Dig

Suspension Tune
Geometry and adjustability
Well rounded
Plows and Plays

We Don’t

Motor reliability?
Price tag
Charge port door

OUR 2022 eMTB SHOOTOUT WAS MADE POSSIBLE
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