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.
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.
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.