Specialized Turbo Levo SL S-Works Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup



Photos by Max Rhulen & Dusten Ryen
Video by Brian Niles / Treeline Cinematic

As one of the first players in the SL, lightweight eMTB category with their original Turbo Levo SL, Specialized is well versed in the lightweight electric bike game. However, the previous generation Specialized Levo SL quickly began to lose favor to similarly light systems that were able to produce more power and torque while also offering more capable geometry and spec. Earlier this year Specialized came back swinging with their new Levo SL equipped with the SL 1.2 motor, which we Dissected here. As one of the hottest bikes in the SL eBike world, we had to have the new 2024 Specialized Levo SL in the mix for our inaugural SL eMTB Shootout, and it turned out to be a pretty mixed bag of impressions for our crew.


• 150mm FSR Suspension
• Mixed 29”/27.5” Wheels
• Specialized SL 1.2 Motor
• 320Wh Battery
• Adjustable Head Tube And BB height
• HTA 64.6
• STA 75.8 (effective)
• REACH 470 (S4, High)

Price: $8,000 – $14,000
Website: Specialized.com

2023 SL EMTB SHOOTOUT SERIES – The Specialized Turbo Levo SL was one of the eight eMTBs we tested in our inaugural lightweight eBike group test. We’ve seen a rapid and impressive growth in this category and after fielding so many requests and comments in our well established, annual full-power EMTB SHOOTOUT series, it only seemed natural to give this category the attention it deserves.

This group review was made possible thanks to the amazing support of Schwalbe Tires and their brilliant new Tacky Chan tires, which we outfitted each and every bike with for a consistent test platform.

We’d also like to thank Ninja MTB and Glade Optics.

Our crew did plenty of testing around Central Oregon before heading down to one of our favorite places to ride, Klamath Falls, Oregon. Thanks for the hospitality Discover Klamath and the beautiful Running Y Resort.

2023 eMTB SL Group Review: Logo List


The second generation Specialized Levo SL is in essence, a lightweight electrified version of their Stumpjumper EVO aggressive trail bike, with 150mm rear travel and a 160mm fork, and mixed wheel sizes for handling and performance benefits. The Levo SL is powered by the new Specialized SL 1.2 motor which supplies 50Nm and 320W to the rear wheel, giving considerable improvements over Specialized’s outgoing SL motor.

DRIVE UNIT AND ELECTRONICS | Specialized developed a new motor for their second generation Levo SL, dubbed the SL 1.2. This is a 1.95kg motor that’ll produce 50Nm torque and up to 320W of power and is powered by an internal 320Wh battery. For riders looking to go further, there’s a 160Wh range extender which can be added to take total battery capacity up to 480Wh.

Specialized uses the same Mastermind TCU on the Levo SL as on their full-power Turbo Levo, which is one of our favorite all-around full-power eMTBs. This is a neatly integrated system with a top tube integrated display and small wireless remote on the bar to toggle between power modes or use the walk function. As standard the SL 1.2 motor offers three power modes (Eco, Trail, Turbo) to let you quickly toggle between different levels of assistance. Users can tap into the system using the Mission Control app, letting them tweak these power modes to their liking, but Specialized also offers the MicroTune function for on-the-fly power tweaking in 10% increments to help you eke out as much range or power as you desire.

Specialized Turbo Levo SL S-Works Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

FRAME AND FEATURES | Specialized offers the Levo SL in a choice of S-Works carbon or standard carbon fiber frames, with the key difference being the carbon fiber shock extender featured on the S-Works to shave some grams. All of these frames feature size-specific tube profiles to tailor the stiffness of each frame to the average rider weight on this size, giving every rider a better chance at the same trail feel. Regardless of the frame choice, you get the same adjustable head angle thanks to the included headset cups; adjustable BB height thanks to the shock extender flip chip, and adjustable wheel size between the standard 27.5” or a 29” thanks to the chainstay pivot flip chip. This gives a huge range of possible setups for the Levo SL geometry, letting you tweak it to your preferences and the trails on the menu of the day. The smallest size (S1) features reduced travel to 144mm rear and 150mm front to maximize clearance for shorter riders, but retains the same levels of adjustability.

Cables on the Levo SL are routed internally in the standard manner, with ports at the side of the head tube. There’s room for a water bottle or the Range Extender inside the front triangle on all sizes, though the smallest size loses compatibility with a reservoir shock to keep the privilege. All Levo SLs are supplied with the Specialized SWAT tool in the steerer tube, offsetting the lack of bolt-on tool mounts.

SUSPENSION | The Levo SL continues to use the classic FSR Horst Link suspension system as featured on most Specialized mountain bikes. The kinematics have been tuned for the Turbo Levo SL Gen 2 to offer increased leverage ratio progression with a flatter curve and lower numbers overall to improve sensitivity and predictability compared to the outgoing Levo SL. There’s a slight increase to the rearward component of the axle path too, improving suspension reactivity to square edged hits and increasing Anti Squat to offer a more efficient climbing feel. Every Specialized Levo SL features a shock with Specialized’s RX Tune, optimizing the shock tune for the frame’s kinematic and tuning it to the typical rider weight on each frame size to deliver the best performance.

Specialized Turbo Levo SL S-Works Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

GEOMETRY | The Specialized Levo SL has the most adjustable geometry on test, letting you tune it from the slackest to the steepest head angle. In its nominal middle setting, the numbers are well rounded and give a versatile character, but the relatively slack seat tube angle combined with the short chainstays can make it a handful on steep climbs at times.

BUILD SPECS | Specialized currently offers the Levo SL in a choice of three build specs, from the $8,000 Comp Carbon to the $14,000 S-Works model we were provided to test. All of these builds feature RX Tuned Fox suspension and Roval wheelsets, but differ in the level of the spec, as well as the S-Works receiving the carbon fiber shock extender.

The S-Works build features an appropriately high-end build kit to match the price tag. Suspension is handled by a Factory level Fox 36 GRIP2 fork and Float X shock (aside from the Float DPS on size S1). SRAM provides a full XX Transmission drivetrain with carbon crankset and matching RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post, and a pair of CODE Stealth Ultimate brakes with 200mm rotors. Specialized’s in-house components brand, Roval, provides their Traverse SL carbon fiber bars and a Traverse SL Carbon wheelset, which is wrapped in a pair of Specialized Butcher and Eliminator tires as standard. However, for this shootout we equipped all bikes with Schwalbe’s awesome new Tacky Chan tires.

Specialized Turbo Levo SL S-Works Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup


SETUP | We originally set up our Levo SL with the Specialized Bicycles crew back in April during the filming of our Dissected Feature. Since that initial ride we’ve played with settings and suspension a bit but overall, the bike’s geometry and feel were pretty easy to dial in. The only real time-consuming aspect of setup was getting the rear shock to feel right for our testers as it had a tendency to either feel a bit dead and stiff or would bottom too easily if not dialed in just right.

ELECTRONICS & INTEGRATION | The Mission Control app is pretty easy to use and allows riders to track rides, diagnose and generally have fun looking at their bike’s inner details. The integration of the system is above average as the integrated TCU display on the top tube looks nice, even after we cracked the screen on our first ride, and the bar controller is small and easy to use. Dropping the battery isn’t as quick as the Transition Relay, as it does require a tool, but can still be done relatively easily for those who want to travel or swap mid-race.

Specialized Turbo Levo SL S-Works Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

MOTOR POWER & RANGE | Speaking of swapping batteries, with only 320Wh of power, the Specialized Levo SL is on the short-side of power compared to many others in the test. Luckily our S-Works model comes with the Range Extender water bottle battery. We’d suggest those who don’t buy the S-Works consider adding the extender or spare battery to their purchase as this thing will go through batteries pretty quickly if you’re not one to just sit and spin in Eco mode.

Moving into the power of the Levo SL, at 50Nm it is also on the lower end and ties with the Trek Fuel EXe’s TQ drive unit, however they both have a very different feeling 50Nm. The Levo SL is quick, peppy and feels fast on lower-gradient trails and mellower climbs. When transitioning from a fast bit of pedaling to a steep pitch, the lower power has a greater perceived drop in assistance compared to more powerful drive units as it really feels like you went from hauling-ass to, having us asking “Did I drop it to Eco mode?” Once you settle into a groove or if you have a sustained climb, you do in fact realize the drive unit is still there, it just has a bit more of a drastic experience as it goes so fast on flatter trails. Overall, though, the drive unit has plenty of power to get us up the steepest and techiest of climbs, it just has a notable difference from the flats to the steeps. The MicroTune feature is one our testers used regularly and it did the job in helping us regulate power and battery consumption, which is important to do with a 320Wh battery. Our testers agreed that the Levo SL is also a bit on the loud side. When compared to the TQ and submarine-stealthy Fazua drive units, the Levo SL most definitely let other trail users know you were there.

CLIMBING | Climbing the Levo SL was usually pretty fun. It’s a comfortable bike, offers a nice position for big days and has a nice suspension platform that won’t beat you up. Depending on geo settings you can find yourself striking pedals and crank arms very often, and the short chainstays combined with the slacker seat tube angle could also have the front end wandering on steeps or running wide on very tight uphill switchbacks. A little body English to counter was usually enough to keep us going uphill, but mountain goats may have more fun on another sled, or running this bike in the steeper, more climb-friendly geometry settings.

Specialized Turbo Levo SL S-Works Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

DESCENDING | Our team had a blast descending the Levo SL in most trail conditions. As we mentioned above, there were a few places where it felt like finding the balance between suppleness and sensitivity with enough bottom out resistance was a bit of a struggle, but once we got there the bike seemed to shine.

Geometry adjustability really allows the rider to tune the fit and angles for their terrain and riding style, which is great, but the bike absolutely caters to fun, playful and snappy riders. It likes to shred, be pushed hard and is ready to take a beating. Bouncing between corners, jumping or flowing through singletrack, the Levo SL is a very awesome bike and one our crew enjoyed across the board.

FINISH AND VALUE | Obviously with an S-Works model for review, the finish and spec are top notch. The carbon fiber is beautiful, the carbon shock extension is badass and the build leaves little to upgrade. However, moving into the entry model Comp Carbon, an $8,000 price tag for a SRAM GX bike with in-house wheels, X-Fusion dropper and Performance suspension, we’d say the value isn’t quite as great compared to some brands out there.

Specialized Turbo Levo SL S-Works Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

The Wolf’s Last Word

While we still absolutely love the full power Turbo Levo, and to an extent the Levo SL too, most of our riders agree that the Gen 2 Levo SL is still a bit short compared to some other offerings on the market. Don’t get us wrong, this bike is a blast to ride, it shreds trails, looks cool, and is very well rounded and capable. However, when we step back and look at that performance compared to other bikes that perform nearly as well but have a better value component, are quieter and have a more powerful drive unit, a larger battery and increased range, the Levo SL has some very worthy adversaries that will have discerning shoppers thinking hard.


Specialized lovers will be thrilled with the updated Levo SL, and those who either don’t need a large battery or can afford a second or range extender upgrade will be more than stoked with how fun, capable and well-rounded this eBike is. Playful and hard charging riders will enjoy this bike on the way down as it feels less like an eBike and more like a Stumpy Evo.

Price: $14,000 (S-Works)
Weight: 39.2 lbs (S4)
Website: Specialized.com


Frame: Fact 11m carbon | 150mm
Fork: Fox Factory 36 Float GRIP2 | 160mm
Shock: Fox Factory Float X | 210x55mm

Motor: Specialized 1.2 SL | 320W | 50Nm | 1.95kg
Battery: Specialized SL1-320 | 320Wh | Integrated | 1.8kg
Display: Specialized Mastermind TCU
Remote: Specialized MasterMind TCU

Brakes: SRAM Code Stealth Ultimate | 200F/200R rotors
Handlebar: Roval Traverse SL Carbon | 30mm Rise | 780mm W
Stem: Deity | 35.0mm
Headset: Specialized Angle Adjustable
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb AXS | S1: 100mm, S2: 125mm, S3: 150mm, S4-S6: 170mm
Saddle: Specialized Bridge

Wheelset: Roval Traverse SL Carbon
Front tire: Specialized Butcher | Grid TRAIL | 29″ x 2.3″
Rear tire: Specialized Eliminator | Grid TRAIL | 27.5″ x 2.3″

Cassette: SRAM XX Eagle Transmission | 10-52T
Cranks: SRAM Carbon | S1/S2: 165mm, S3-S6: 170mm
Shifter: SRAM AXS POD Controller | 12s
Derailleur: SRAM XX Eagle Transmission | 12s

We Dig

Cornering machine
Jumps, hops and moves with ease
Adjustable geometry is top of class
Versatile in many ways

We Don’t

Louder than other drive units
Smaller battery, less range
Not that powerful of a drive unit on steeper terrain
Price to spec, Value


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