2023 EMTB SHOOTOUT
2023.5 SPECIALIZED TURBO LEVO PRO REVIEW
Photos by Max Rhulen & Dusten Ryen
Video by Brian Niles / Treeline Cinematic
Back for another round of reviewing is the 2023.5 Specialized Turbo Levo. If you’ve been following our site for a while, then there’s a chance that you’ll already be well aware of the Specialized Turbo Levo. Taking our Best in Test for the Trail category of our 2022 eMTB Shootout, it’s safe to say the Levo is a bike who’s performance and ride quality we truly appreciate. With fresh spec updates to dress it in the latest components, hence the 2023.5 model year notation. We were excited to include the Turbo Levo in our 2023 eMTB Shootout to see if it still set the benchmark for trail e-Mountain Bike performance.
From the Dissected feature when the latest generation Turbo Levo first launched, through its coverage in our eMTB Shootout last year, we’d say we’ve covered the ins and outs of the Specialized Turbo Levo quite extensively, so let us give you a quick run through and get onto how it stacks up to the latest wave of electric mountain bikes. Click either of the above links if you want to dive into the weeds of this highly customizable eMTB.
2023 EMTB SHOOTOUT SERIES – This bike was one of 13 that our staff thoroughly tested with absolute objectivity in mind. From different types of riders to terrain, our goal is to present the best and most honest information possible to help you make your best decision. Of course, we’d love to thank Fox Racing and Schwalbe Tires for being invaluable partners to this series and making it happen.
FRAME AND FEATURES
The Specialized Turbo Levo uses a 29-inch wheel in the front and 27.5” wheel in the back, also known as MX, Mullet or mixed-wheels. The frame packs 150mm travel through a Horst Link platform, which is paired with a 160mm fork to lead the charge. The geometry is highly adjustable thanks to a combination of a tuneable headset cup and horst link pivot 2-position flip chip, letting you take the head angle from 63.5 to 65.5 degrees and modifying the bottom bracket height and seat tube angle in the process.
DRIVE UNIT AND ELECTRONICS
The drive system is Specialized’s own Turbo Full Power 2.2 system, delivering 90Nm torque and powered by an integrated, removable 700Wh battery on all but the entry-level Turbo Levo Alloy and Turbo Levo Carbon models, which see a 500Wh unit instead. The Mastermind TCU display is integrated into the top tube, giving a small but effective read out of the vital stats.
The Specialized Levo’s geometry adjustment options give the user the possibility to take it from one of the steepest and highest on test to one of the slackest and lowest. In the more middle setting that we tended to run, the bike offers one the best all-round blends of handling characteristics. The Levo falls in the middle of the road for handling, making for an effective set-and-forget position for riders not interested in tweaking.
Specialized offers their Turbo Levo in a range of build specs at the full spectrum of price points, from the $5,800 Turbo Levo Alloy to the $15,000 S-Works Turbo Levo. Our review is on the spec-updated Turbo Levo Pro, retailing for $13,000. It comes with the latest SRAM T-Type Derailleur (SRAM calls it a Transmission) drivetrain and Stealth Code Silver brakes. With Specialized’s Fact 11M Carbon Fiber frame, Fox Factory 38/Float X2 suspension combination and Roval Traverse Carbon wheelset, the Turbo Levo Pro build is one that leaves little to be desired, and it was an absolute joy to ride once again.
SETUP | Getting the Levo set up is easy, thanks to the suspension calculator on the Specialized website which gives air pressure and damping recommendations to give a great starting point from which to tweak to your preferences. Deviating from these settings slightly doesn’t produce any strange characteristics either, with the Levo having a fairly wide setup window.
ELECTRONICS & INTEGRATION | The Turbo Full Power 2.2 system with Mastermind TCU is very nicely integrated into the Levo frame. The display sits nicely in the top tube, the remote is small and ergonomic, and the motor blends into the lines of the frame nicely. The Turbo Full Power 2.2 motor is a solid performer, offering great low-end torque and a fairly well matched level of control to the Bosch system – that’s to say, it feels a little more artificial than the Shimano system, but not to an excessive level. Specialized’s MicroTune feature is much appreciated to dial in the support required on the fly, helping to extend battery life by only kicking it into the most powerful setting for shorter bursts on the longer days, if you’re not about the all-Boost lifestyle or prefer to have more control than the standard three pre-set power modes.
CLIMBING | The Levo is a very well-rounded climber. The geometry places the rider in a nicely centered position, with enough weight on the front wheel to avoid lifting on all but the steepest of pitches, but enough agility retained to make navigating technical sections fairly easy. Pedal clearance is ample, and the suspension platform strikes a nice balance of support and traction that had all testers pleased. The Levo is a bike our crew would happily pedal all day.
DESCENDING | The well-roundedness from the climbs is matched on the descents, with the Levo striking a very happy balance of stability and agility in its middle geometry position. The ability to easily tweak this by a considerable amount in either direction offers up possibilities to please just about every rider, too. The suspension platform is quite middling in terms of platform, playfulness, and ultimate capability, meaning there’s not really anywhere that it falls behind competitors but it could mean we’d likely opt for a different bike if we were looking to ride more gnarly terrain exclusively. But for a bike that covers it all, few bikes can compete with the Levo. It is excellent. Some of the more downhill/enduro-focused testers wondered how much of the well-roundedness would be lost by a 10-20mm travel increase though, which could potentially make the Levo unmatched as an all-rounder to cover even the gnarliest terrain.
FINISH AND VALUE | First things first, the $13k price tag of the Turbo Levo Pro tested would place it considerably out of our budget if we were looking to purchase one for ourselves, but there are a range of more affordable builds that would provide near enough the same ride experience. For those with deep enough pockets, the updated “23.5” model year Pro spec leaves little to be desired, but we’d love to see that price point come down towards the likes of the sub-$8k Fezzari in a dream world, or even an impressively spec’d Orbea Wild, which retails for $9,600. Even the Pivot, with Full XTR is cheaper by a grand. Unfortunately, a bike of this level of ride quality and prestige carries an elevated price tag in the current market, and while it’s certainly not outstanding in value, it’s equal to the competitive bikes. The quality of finish is stellar and aside from some concerns over motor reliability, which we read (and have personally experienced) Specialized quickly takes care of through their dealers, the Levo is a bike we’d be happy to recommend.
The Wolf’s Last Word
With only minor part updates to equal or better-performing models, it’s no surprise that the Specialized Turbo Levo Pro continues to be a stellar example of an all-round eMTB. While we’d be unlikely to foot the $13k asking price for this high-spec model, it’s safe to say that those with this amount of money to play with are unlikely to be disappointed. We don’t love the ergonomics of the updated SRAM AXS controller and feel it’s a bit of a let down for such top-tier claims and pricing, but there is no denying the shift performance from the new T-Type derailleur under load is impressive. Every member of our crew has once again been impressed by how fun, capable and well-rounded the Specialized Turbo Levo is. There’s a reason we see so many of these on the trails and why we regularly tell our friends or readers who are in the market that this is a bike to buy.
WHO’S IT FOR?
One night ‘round the fire as we were discussing where the bikes were landing in our list of top performers, Nic Hall proclaimed, “This thing is so good and so well-rounded. It could be my bike, or it could be my grandpa’s bike and we would both be happy.” With adaptability and well-roundedness that exceeds everything out there, the Specialized Levo is a bike that stands to make a very wide range of riders feel confident and fast out on the trail. There are more pointed or capable options out there, but for a bike for every day and every trail, the Levo is an eMTB that currently tops our list.
Price: $13,000 (Levo Pro Tested)
2023.5 SPECIALIZED TURBO LEVO PRO SPECS
Frame: FACT 11m full carbon | 150mm
Fork: FOX FLOAT 38 Factory 29 Grip2 | 160mm
Shock: FOX FLOAT X2 Factory
Motor: Specialized Turbo Full Power System 2.2 Motor
Battery: Specialized M3-700 | Integrated 700Wh
Display: Specialized MasterMind TCU
Brakes: SRAM Code Stealth Silver | 220F/200R
Handlebar: Roval Traverse SL Carbon | 30mm rise | 780mm wide
Stem: Deity Copperhead | 35 diameter | S1-2: 35mm | S3-S6: 50mm
Seatpost: Bike Yoke Revive | 34.9 | S1: 100mm, S2: 125mm, S3: 150mm, S4/S5: 175mm, S6: 190mm
Saddle: Specialized Bridge
Wheels: Roval Traverse Carbon 29 | 27.5
Front Tire: Specialized Butcher Grid Trail Gripton T9 | 29×2.6″
Rear Tire: Specialized Eliminator Grid Trail Gripton T7 | 27.5×2.6″
Cassette: SRAM X0 T-Type | 10-52t | 12-spd
Cranks: Praxis Forged/Custom Offset | 32t | 160mm
Shifter: SRAM Ultimate AXS Trigger
Derailleur: SRAM X0 Transmission | 12-spd
Excellent drive unit
Drive unit power
Confident and fun ride
There are better specialist bikes
$13k is serious dough.
We hear lots about drive unit reliability
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