The Takeaway: The Levo SL is a much less highly effective, lighter, and extra swish e-mountain bike.
• 29er path bike
• 150 mm journey entrance and rear
• S-Works mannequin simply 36.5 kilos
• Identical motor and battery as Creo SL
Specialised’s new Levo SL e-mountain bike—obtainable in outlets now—makes use of the method used to create the model’s game-changing Creo SL e-road bike. Whereas the standard recipe for a brand new e-bike is extra energy and an even bigger battery, Specialised took the Colin Chapman—founding father of Lotus Automobiles—method: “Simplify, then add lightness.”
As an alternative of extra, Specialised makes use of much less on the Levo SL, its new 150mm-travel 29er e-bike that’s primarily based on the Stumpjumper. A lighter, smaller, and fewer highly effective motor requires a smaller and lighter battery. It’s this method that helps the SL bikes obtain their surprising, for a mid-motor e-bike, weights.
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On my scale, the medium S-Works Levo SL weighs 36.5 kilos—that’s 10 kilos lighter than the Turbo Levo Expert we reviewed final 12 months. In accordance with Specialised, the S-Works Levo SL is 8.8 kilos lighter than the S-Works Turbo Levo. Contemplating the weights of right this moment’s acoustic 150mm 29er path bikes—even high-end ones can weigh near 30 kilos—the Levo SL’s weight is sort of gorgeous.
The SL 1.1 motor used within the Levo SL is similar motor discovered within the Creo SL, although with just a few changes—like walk-assist—for mountain-bike obligation. The SL motor weighs 1,950 grams—that’s 1,100 grams lower than the two.1 motors within the model’s Levo and Kenevo fashions. It’s additionally a lot smaller and takes up much less area within the body.
But it surely’s additionally much less highly effective—the SL 1.1 motor kicks out a most of 35Nm of torque and 240 watts of help whereas the two.1 motor can put out 90Nm of torque and gives 560 watts peak help. The battery is much less highly effective too: SL’s in-frame battery is rated to 320Wh whereas the battery within the high-end Levo fashions is rated to 700Wh. Nevertheless, the SL is suitable with a 160Wh vary extender battery (it weighs about 1,000 grams), which slides into the bottle cage.
Specialised claims the Levo SL will run for 3 hours with its inside battery within the lowest help mode; with the vary extender, run time jumps to 5 hours. For comparability, the S-Works Turbo Levo with its 700Wh inside battery has a claimed run time of 5 hours.
The Levo SL comes from the manufacturing unit with 4 driving modes that match the rider’s energy as much as the modes’ most help. Eco supplies as much as 72 watts of help, Path gives as much as 144 watts of help, and Turbo gives as much as 240 watts of help.
The fourth mode is “off.” Specialised says the motor decouples when not offering help and claims it gives no extra drag than a standard backside bracket.
The Levo SL shares the identical easy controls discovered on the Turbo Levo and Kenevo. The ability button/mode swap and gas gauge are situated in a small panel within the prime tube. There’s additionally a small handlebar distant that switches modes and prompts stroll mode. These clear and simple controls paired with the (comparatively) tiny motor and normal-looking downtube make this the stealthiest mid-motor e-bike round. The management panel and battery gauge and be turned off for extra stealth.
Specialised’s highly effective smartphone app, Mission Control, gives extra in-depth data and settings. By it, the rider can see stats, replace firmware, and customise the help modes. The app supplies an extra mode referred to as Good Management, which lets the rider set a journey time or distance—and a snug battery reserve—then displays battery life and adjusts motor output to achieve the person’s targets. The Levo SL additionally pairs to some GPS head items through ANT+.
At $13,525, that is the most costly mountain bike I’ve ever examined. It’s primarily based on the model’s 150mm Stumpjumper 29er. Although I like many issues about this platform, I discover it a bit too quick—measurement medium has 435mm attain, I choose 450 to 460mm. That mentioned, this bike has well-balanced dealing with (higher slow-speed manners than many path bikes), wonderful suspension, and a powerful construct.
The Levo SL rides extra like an unpowered mountain bike than any e-bike I’ve but ridden. On different e-mountain bike’s I’ve examined, the motor is so highly effective and so front-of-mind that it supplies a path expertise all its personal—it doesn’t really feel like mountain biking however doesn’t not really feel like mountain biking. The way in which I decide trails to journey and decide traces on these trails is completely different on a typical e-mountain bike that it’s on an acoustic mountain bike. The burden and energy of a standard e-mountain bike feels, to me, extra suited and extra enjoyable to journey on larger pace and extra open trails.
However the place the everyday e-mountain bike is a machete, the Levo SL is a scalpel. It’s a lightweight and exact instrument that’s straightforward to finesse by way of tight terrain. There’s nonetheless loads of energy, however the energy is delivered so easily and subtly, and the Levo SL is so (comparatively) mild, that it’s a much less brutal and blunt-force e-bike expertise and extra like a typical mountain bike expertise.
Greater-power e-mountain bikes push you alongside and appear designed to knock out climbs as rapidly and effectively as attainable—instruments for self-shuttling downhill runs. The Levo SL doesn’t really feel like a chairlift—it makes (some) rides a bit bit sooner and the climbs a bit bit simpler with out dropping its bike-ness. It’s a full of life and toss-able path bike and feels extra you than it.
Frankly, I don’t know what to make of the Levo SL. Why decide lighter e-bike with much less energy over a heavier e-bike with extra energy? Isn’t “extra” the entire level of an e-bike? Will e-bike consumers willingly surrender energy for a extra conventional mountain bike expertise? If a rider is searching for a extra conventional mountain bike expertise, would they not simply get a (cheaper and lighter) un-powered mountain bike? Specialised is about to seek out out.
The Levo SL occupies the area between highly effective e-bikes like Specialised’s Turbo Levo and an unpowered mountain bike—an area that was empty till it got here alongside. I discovered it a extra nice e-bike expertise than what I obtained from different e-mountain bikes I’ve ridden as a result of the ‘e’ a part of it doesn’t take over the journey.
It’s much less clunky, much less numb, much less brutal than the everyday e-bike, and extra like an acoustic mountain bike; it supplies practically the expertise of driving an unpowered mountain bike with a delicate increase to allow you to journey additional, sooner, extra simply. I’m unsure the everyday e-bike buyer is prepared for this Colin Chapman method, however the Levo SL is essentially the most distinctive and thrilling e-mountain bike available on the market proper now.
Levo SL Fashions
The Levo SL launches with 5 fashions: The Founder’s Version ($16,525), S-Works ($13,525), Professional ($9,025), Comp Carbon ($7,525), and Comp ($6,525). All fashions use the identical software program, motor, and inside battery—the 2 most costly fashions include a spread extender; decide up one of many less-expensive fashions, and the extender will price $450.
The least costly mannequin makes use of an aluminum body whereas all different fashions use the identical full-carbon body. The aluminum Levo SL Comp is available in 5 sizes—additional small by way of extra-large—whereas carbon fashions are available in small by way of extra-large.
All fashions use SRAM Eagle drivetrains and are geared up with size-specific dropper posts and tubeless-ready wheels and tires. A Specialised water bottle cage and SWAT software—tucked into the fork’s steerer—are inventory on each mannequin.