Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo review

Freda Walters

Specialized’s 2022 S-Works Turbo Levo revolutionises the electric mountain bike world and, to date, I’ve not ridden a better bike both human or electrically powered. Its performance is currently peer-less with a ride that’s both impeccably smooth and calm with bump-munching suspension, but it can also be picked up and […]

Specialized’s 2022 S-Works Turbo Levo revolutionises the electric mountain bike world and, to date, I’ve not ridden a better bike both human or electrically powered.

Its performance is currently peer-less with a ride that’s both impeccably smooth and calm with bump-munching suspension, but it can also be picked up and thrown around like a machine half its weight.

The motor delivers usable power to tackle even the trickiest climbs, and its battery will endure on the most ambitious of rides. To boot, the spec is virtually un-upgradable.

The 2022 Turbo Levo is a trail bike like no other.

In this review, I’m going to cover the 2022 S-Works Turbo Levo’s frame, suspension, geometry, motor and battery details, and its spec and, of course, how it rides. If you’re familiar with the bike already, you can jump to my ride impressions.

There are plenty of reasons why the Specialized Turbo Levo is one of the world’s most popular electric mountain bikes.

The 2022 version hopes to build on that accolade thanks to new features representing a significant leap forward over the outgoing Turbo Levo, and not only because of its lofty £13,000 / $15,000 / €13,999 asking price.

The huge 700Wh on-board battery capacity, 90Nm peak torque and 565W peak power supplied by Specialized’s custom-developed Brose motor are just a starting point.

Confidence-inspiring geometry meant the Turbo Levo could be ridden hard.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Elsewhere, the frame has six potential geometry settings, each tuning the chassis to different riding styles and terrain types. The alterations are made using an adjustable headset and chainstay pivot flip chips.

The bike is built around a mullet wheel setup, where the front wheel is 29in and the rear 27.5in. It is available in six reach-focused sizes for people between 4ft 11in and 6ft 8in tall.

The frame is made from Spesh’s FACT 11M carbon fibre and sports the brand’s sidearm design – a strut that bridges the void between the top tube and seat tube shock mounts that Specialized says contributes to the frame’s rigidity.

Its drool-worthy spec (you’d hope so at £13k!) is a bold push forwards for a trail bike, featuring the burly Fox 38 fork and Float X2 rear shock on the top two models, instead of smaller-stanchioned forks and lighter shocks.

2022 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo frame and suspension details

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

The Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike has a slim look, despite the battery being located in the down tube.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

The frame’s front and rear triangles are built from Specialized’s FACT 11M carbon fibre. Although not quite the range-topping 12M construction seen on the lightest S-Works bikes, there’s no denying the 2022 Turbo Levo’s tubes and make-up exude quality.

Although still chunky-looking compared to a normal bike, the Turbo Levo is considerably slimmer than Santa Cruz’s similarly priced Bullit CC despite concealing its high-capacity battery in the down tube.

Not only is its tubing impressively slim considering the firepower it brandishes, the frame’s outline and geometry make it look closer to the latest Stumpjumper Evo than the trail-focused Turbo Levo of old.

This gives it an appearance similar to a downhill missile rather than a run-of-the-mill trail bike.

The frame has all the features you’d expect from a bike of this price. Internally routed cables, ribbed chainstay and seatstay chain slap protection, bottle cage mounts, and a built-in mudguard for the main pivot along with rock-strike protection on the chainstay linkage bridge.

The motor and battery get generous underside protection, too.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

Ribbed chain slap protection helps to keep the bike quiet.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Unlike the Stumpjumper Evo, there’s no on-board storage because the space usually set aside for the SWAT chamber is taken up by the battery.

However, the S-Works model is supplied with a steerer tube-mounted SWAT tool, continuing Specialized’s on-bike tool and storage ethos.

The 1.5in head tube is angle adjustable – just like the Stumpy Evo – using a concentric upper headset cup. Likewise, the chainstay Horst-link flip chip can be used to alter the bottom bracket height.

Super suspension

The new Turbo Levo’s suspension has plenty of similarities with the Stumpjumper Evo.

First, there is 150mm of rear-wheel travel driven by Specialized’s FSR Horst-link suspension design, where the chainstay pivot sits just in front of the rear axle.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

The linkage pivots didn’t need tightening or require any maintenance during the test period.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Second, it has a linearly progressive leverage rate. This makes it more resistant to bottoming out the deeper into the travel it is.

This, Specialized claims, gives great small bump sensitivity to improve comfort and traction, good mid-stroke support to avoid suspension dive in corners and through holes, while offering bottom-out resistance towards the end of the travel to reduce harshness.

Third, the axle path’s rearward trajectory in the first 65mm of travel should further improve comfort and compliance as the wheel is effectively swinging backwards as it moves upwards out of the way of bumps.

In adding these traits together under the Rx Tune name, Specialized hopes the Turbo Levo will offer the perfect on-trail balance and should ride like a bike with significantly more travel.

2022 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo motor and battery details

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

The battery to motor connector and charging port are double sealed for good weatherproofing.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

At the heart of any electric mountain bike are the motor and battery.

Specialized’s partnership with German company Brose – although previously plagued with well-documented issues such as drive belt reliability and unwanted water ingress – is still a story of success.

This success is thanks to the Brose motor’s quiet operation, impressive peak torque and power figures, and its frugal appetite for battery power, along with natural-feeling assistance.

The latest 2.2 iteration of the Turbo Full Power System motor is no exception and boasts figures of 90Nm peak torque, 565W peak power with a 700Wh battery.

Further changes over the previous 2.1 motor include a brand-new drive belt and much improved and redesigned waterproofing, which Specialized hopes addresses the previous system’s tainted reliability.

The brand-new Mastermind Turbo Control Unit (TCU) – which dishes out instructions to the motor on how much power to give and when – features a top-tube mounted full-colour LCD display with fully-customisable data fields, programmed using the Mission Control smartphone app.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

There are three basic modes: Eco, Trail and Turbo.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

The TCU is Bluetooth and ANT+ enabled and can connect to heart rate sensors as well as other third-party devices. The TCU also logs and displays metrics, such as total ridden elevation, and has Live Consumption, which indicates the battery’s current range.

Remaining battery capacity is displayed in percentages, something users of Shimano’s EP8 or Bosch’s Performance Line CX don’t benefit from.

The amount of assistance available from each of the three modes – Eco, Trail and Turbo – is tuneable in the app, too.

Assistance levels can also be adjusted on the bike using the bar-mounted controller. A long push of the ‘+’ button moves out of the traditional three-level assistance modes and replaces it with Specialized’s MicroTune feature.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

The mode controller has four buttons: one changes the TCU display and one selects walk mode, while the other two are used to toggle between assistance levels.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

This lets the rider change the assistance level using the controller in 10 per cent increments, from 10 to 100 per cent in real time. This permits smaller changes in assistance to match battery range, trail conditions or rider preferences on the fly.

Specialized claims the 700Wh battery can deliver up to 2,500m of climbing, 70km of distance travelled and five and a half hours of ride time on a single charge.

These are impressive claims, but whether or not they correspond to real-life experiences will hinge on variables such as rider weight, weather conditions and trail type.

2022 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo geometry

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

I preferred the low bottom bracket setting.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

The new Turbo Levo’s geometry has had a significant makeover compared to the old model, shifting the bike into a more aggressive, slack and low shape.

It uses Specialized’s S-Sizing model, where rider style and height rather than inseam length are the key factors in deciding what size bike someone should ride.

It’s offered in six sizes for riders from 149cm to 198cm tall. The seat tube length only grows by 80mm across the entire range, and standover height starts at 752mm for the S1, rising to 790mm for the S6.

This means someone who sits in the middle of a size could go for a smaller or larger bike depending on their preferences without fear of it being too tall.

With six potential geometry configurations, the Turbo Levo’s ride characteristics can be tailored to terrain types or rider preferences.

The head angle can be adjusted from 63.5 degrees to 65.5 degrees, while bottom-bracket height has 7mm of adjustment.

Seat tube angles start at 78 degrees for the smallest bike, while the largest comes in at 76.2 degrees – all suitably steep without reducing the length of the top tube too much to compensate.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

The adjustable headset cup alters the head tube angle.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Elsewhere, reach figures look well-considered, spanning from 412mm for the S1 up to 532mm for the S6.

Due to the 27.5in rear wheel, the Turbo Levo’s chainstays measure 442mm, which is 13mm shorter than the outgoing bike, but the front centre’s length has been increased, so the wheelbase is still long – the shortest is 1,179mm, the longest 1,318mm.

2022 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo specifications

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

The SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS drivetrain was impressively reliable.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

The 2022 S-Works Turbo Levo sits atop a three-model line-up, and costs a rather spectacular £13,000 / $15,000 / €13,999.

The Expert model retails for £8,750 / $11,000 / €9,299 and the Pro model costs £10,750 / $13,000 / €11,499.

It comes as no surprise, then, that there’s little scope or need to upgrade any of its components.

Up front, there’s a Fox Float 38 Factory fork with the venerable GRIP2 damper that has high- and low-speed compression and rebounding damping adjustment. It is matched to Fox’s Float X2 Factory rear shock, which offers the same adjustments.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

The XX1 Eagle AXS shifter had the Rocker Paddle fitted as standard.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Drivetrain duties are taken care of by SRAM’s most expensive and lightest 12-speed XX1 Eagle AXS electronic wireless mountain bike groupset.

Matched to the AXS drivetrain is an AXS electronic and wireless RockShox Reverb dropper post with 170mm of travel for the S4 bike I am testing.

The Brose motor uses a pair of 160mm long carbon fibre Praxis M30 cranks.

Stopping power is provided by Magura’s MT7 brakes with 200mm rotors.

The cockpit is made up with a Deity 50mm Copperhead stem, Roval Traverse SL handlebar and Deity Knuckleduster grips.

The rest of the kit is taken care of by in-house Specialized brands, including Roval’s Traverse SL carbon wheels. A Specialized Bridge saddle is specced along with Specialized’s Butcher Grid Trail T9 front tyre and Eliminator Grid Trail T7 rear tyre.

The S4 S-Works Turbo Levo stock build without pedals weighed 22.36kg on my scales, which is fairly light for a full-fat electric mountain bike.

Is the S-Works Turbo Levo good value?

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

The frameset including shock, motor and pedal cranks, battery, axle, headset and seat clamp retails for £6,500.
Specialized

Given the frankly outrageous price of the S-Works Turbo Levo, I wanted to work out whether it represented good value compared to buying all of its individual parts separately and then attaching them to a Turbo Levo frame.

The 2022 Turbo Levo was offered as a frameset at the time of launch for £6,500 and I’ve trawled the web to find the RRP prices for all of the kit fitted to the S-Works Turbo Levo.

The frameset is sold with a Fox Float X2 Factory rear shock and the motor and pedal cranks, with chainring, battery, headset, axle and seat clamp.

Also included is the SWAT steerer tube integrated tool, meaning these parts are included in the £6,500 price.

Interestingly, the sum of all the components, if bought separately at RRP, is £27 over the £13k asking price. Usually, you’d expect the RRP of a bike to be quite a bit lower than the sum of its individual parts.

I’ll concede that the accuracy of these prices could well be about £200 out either way – and I didn’t manage to find the bottle cage fitted to the S-Works bike online so haven’t included it in my totals.

It’s also worth considering that if you bought all the parts separately, you’d need to spend a fair wedge of cash on the labour required to build the Turbo Levo frameset from scratch. But, if you bought the parts through a local bike shop, maybe they’d do it for free.

You might also be able to find all of the parts online for cheaper from certain retailers. Using discounted parts, the cheapest I could build up an S-Works Turbo Levo was roughly £12,615, which represents a significant saving.

Whether or not those parts are likely to be in stock at the cheaper prices is another question, but in theory, it is possible to get an S-Works Turbo Levo with a hefty saving.

Of course, getting the best value for money possible is unlikely to be a consideration when you’re spending £13,000 on a bicycle, but it’s still an interesting topic when considering the relative value of a halo five-figure bike.

2022 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo ride impressions

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

Even when getting rowdy there were no nasty surprises.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

I tested the Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo on my home trails in Scotland’s Tweed Valley, host to the UK’s round of the Enduro World Series, UK national-level downhill races and the UK’s biggest and best network of waymarked and off-piste trails.

Conditions during the test period ranged from super-dry dust with blown-out corners and hero dirt after a period of rain to wild boggy mud and wet-as-a-river trails with incredible amounts of grip.

Because the Turbo Levo is a trail bike, I rode the widest variety of trails I possibly could.

These included double-track bridleways through forests, singletrack lines on open moorland, man-made trail centre loops and natural off-piste enduro-style trails. A few downhill tracks were thrown in for good measure too, to see how far the Turbo Levo could be pushed.

I tested the Turbo Levo over a period of several months, racking up 550km and over 18,000m of ascent and descent on the bike in total.

2022 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo setup

Having tested and ridden Fox’s 38 and Float X Factory suspension many times before, my preferred settings were easy to dial in.

I inflated the forks to 95psi with two tokens, with the high- and low-speed compression damping set to fully open. I adjusted rebound damping to my preference, and on this fork that was also fully open. The fork’s settings remained unchanged during the test period.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

Fox’s 38 fork proved to be plenty stiff enough for the speed the Turbo Levo could be ridden.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

I initially set the shock to 30 per cent sag, at roughly 180psi. However, after an initial shakedown ride, I increased pressure to 205psi to reduce sag to 20 per cent.

The reduction in rear suspension sag meant the bike’s geometry – such as the seat tube angle – was preserved better on climbs, helping to improve comfort and control.

The shock’s compression and rebound damping was set to fully open for the duration of the test period and I didn’t feel the need to use the climb switch.

Once I’d fitted GRID Gravity casing tyres to the bike (more on this later), I inflated the front tyre to 24psi and the rear to 27psi, quite a bit lower than the 28psi/31psi I needed to run on the stock GRID Trail casing tyres in order to avoid carcass deformation and reduce puncturing.

I set the Turbo Levo headset into its slackest position and adjusted the bottom bracket height into its lowest position. This set the head angle to its slackest 63.5 degrees and the bottom bracket height to 342mm.

The wheelbase was 1,285mm and the chainstays 448mm. These settings, while possibly not suitable for everyone’s tastes, were the best for my riding style and the type of terrain I ride the most.

2022 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo climbing performance

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

How steep is too steep? This climb pushed the limits of the Turbo Levo.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Pointing uphill, the geometry – particularly the fairly long chainstays, comfortable 632mm top tube length and steeper than average seat tube angle – means the Turbo Levo sticks to any chosen line with limited front wheel lift, even on the steepest and most technical inclines, and it’s easy to control with minimal rider input.

This helps make climbing calmer and reduces the amount of energy needed to keep the bike in check.

Some electric mountain bikes with slacker seat tube angles tend to benefit from lowering the seat on very steep climbs to help position the rider further towards the front, a common technique used to help improve climbing grip and reduce front end lift.

On the Turbo Levo, I never felt like I needed to drop the saddle from its fully extended position to get the grip and control I was after, further cementing the impressive handling created by the carefully thought out geometry.

Not only is the geometry spot on, the bike felt smooth over bumps where it damped harsh vibrations well – such as on loose rocky fire roads – and the rear suspension’s action was super fluttery and reactive over trail chatter, further improving comfort and grip.

Although set up with less sag than recommended, to give a more downhill-focused ride, I didn’t notice any negative side effects on grip or comfort as the rear end was still able to chew up bumps well.

A positive consequence of running the rear end a little firmer than recommended was a slightly steeper dynamic seat tube angle, making it feel better still on the climbs.

Marvellous motor

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

The TCU’s display is customisable.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Although the geometry and general frame feel are key factors in how the Turbo Levo climbs, the most dominating feature is its motor.

Compared to Bosch’s Performance Line CX, the Specialized motor is significantly quieter, even when under high amounts of strain. Against Shimano EP8, there’s less of a difference in whirr when heading uphill, but on the downs the Shimano tends to rattle and clack while the Brose is silent.

Despite the headline torque and power figures sitting above Shimano’s EP8 (that has 500w of peak power and 85Nm of torque), the Specialized’s motor doesn’t feel as punchy in all of its three modes when both systems are set to offer the same level of assistance in their respective apps.

This means the Brose motor’s support is much less in your face – or natural-feeling if you like. The power comes in gradually and doesn’t peak with wheel-spinning rip-the-trail-up assistance that’s difficult to control.

The more subtle power – even in the maximum Turbo mode – translates to easy to tame grip even over chunky, steep and slippery technical climbs, where on other motor systems you might need to tone down the power to maintain rear tyre grip and keep the bike on-line.

To get the most out of the Turbo Levo, I’ve found it prefers lower gears and a higher pedalling cadence compared to other ebike systems (where a slightly higher gear is a better match to the motor).

I also found higher cadences not only emphasised the natural-feeling power the motor provides, but also complemented my body’s own pedalling rhythm.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

The Turbo Levo is calm on the climbs, although this particular ascent was very extreme.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

This makes cleaning technical climbs beautifully controlled rather than the seat of your pants experience more aggressive motors can create.

Drop the support to levels less than 30 per cent and you’ll find yourself searching for the lowest of the SRAM Eagle cassette cogs to keep the bike moving on steeper ascents.

While riding the bike with this level of help might seem self-defeating to some, it’s the best way to eke out the battery’s life and in my opinion still feels massively rewarding, thanks to the increased physical output required to ride.

Unlike bikes with the Levo SL or Fazua motors, where their max power is limited by hardware, if this style of riding isn’t your tipple or if you’re running out of steam, you can just boost the Turbo Levo’s power back up.

The downside to the more natural feeling motor is that it lacks outright grunt to maintain speed when finesse or skill aren’t required, such as buzzing up a fire road.

Tested alongside Shimano’s EP8 motor (bolted to a Thok TK01 R that’s also on test – a review is coming soon), the Shimano bike required less effort to maintain any given speed, even with each modes’ assistance level matched to Specialized’s.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

It was flicky and playful, like a bike just a fraction of its weight.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

If fire road drag racing is your thing, you might be disappointed by the Brose if it’s pitted against a Shimano or Bosch system. Arguably, though, it isn’t outright speed and power that’ll get you to the top of the hill in the fastest, most efficient or most enjoyable way. And there’s more to riding an electric mountain bike than letting rip on a fire road.

During the rather gruelling test period, the motor has proven to be reliable, not suffering any temporary or permanent failures.

There were no signs of water ingress behind the charging port door, despite the Turbo Levo being ridden in some of the wettest conditions Scotland can serve up and subjected to an enthusiastic attitude to post-ride bike cleaning.

In my experience so far, it appears Specialized has successfully dealt with the reliability issues suffered by previous-generation Turbo Levos.

Brose battery life

In real-world usage, using mixed levels of assistance but not exceeding 50 per cent, the Turbo Levo’s 700Wh battery managed around 1,900m of climbing – covering roughly 40km to 50km on a single charge over the course of around five hours of elapsed time with a kitted-up rider weight of 78kg.

This is a bit more than Shimano’s EP8 system with a 630Wh battery can deliver on a single charge, where I found only 1,755m and 57km was possible using Eco (set to 30 per cent assistance in the E-Tube Project app) only.

Speculatively speaking, you could argue the Brose uses its battery’s watt-hours less efficiently compared to Shimano, given the Japanese motor’s increased peppiness in any given mode and its smaller battery capacity.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo Strava ride

Using only Turbo or 100 per cent assistance, I managed just over 1,500m of climbing on a single charge.
Alex Evans / Strava

At 100 per cent assistance, I managed 1,500m of climbing, covering 32km in just under two hours of riding.

Battery life is still impressive, though, and it is possible to eke out over 2,000m of climbing and more than 55km of riding if you keep assistance levels below 30 per cent. In credit to Specialized, its claims aren’t massively off the real-life figures I experienced.

Gauging how much battery power is left is an intuitive affair compared to the Shimano and Bosch systems. The Turbo Levo’s TCU display shows battery percentages, something that’s not present on Shimano and Bosch ebikes. During the test period, I relied on the accurate remaining charge data to work out how much further I could ride.

2022 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo descending performance

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

Whether the trail was smooth or rough, the Turbo Levo was amazing to ride.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

The new Turbo Levo is a true masterpiece to ride downhill.

The geometry makes its handling calm when things get rough, fast and steep, the suspension provides incredible amounts of control and traction along with unheard levels of pop for an ebike, and its frame offers a precise and smooth connection with the trail that helps with meticulous line choice.

Riding rough, furrowed trails, where on lighter bikes the front and back wheels would get bounced uncontrollably, the Turbo Levo’s weight provided poise and control, allowing the suspension to absorb those bumps.

This turned super gnarly trails into grip-abundant descents where line choice, and inspired moments of attack, were frequently possible.

Luckily, the Fox suspension is totally up to the job of keeping the wheels controlled, even while tackling extended, raging descents that can decrease performance as heat builds inside the dampers.

The Fox 38 fork’s chassis is extremely capable and never felt overwhelmed by the speed or weight of the bike. Even when charging down steep sections into tighter on-the-brakes corners, they didn’t twist or buckle under the large turning loads exerted through them.

The stock compression and rebound damping on Fox’s 38 Factory GRIP2 cartridge and Float X2 rear shock is on the heavy side, which is why I ended up with no compression or rebound damping dialled in.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

The carbon fibre Praxis cranks proved to resist rock strikes well.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Although I didn’t personally have an issue with compression spike or slow rebound once I’d set the fork and shock up to my preferences, I would speculate a lighter rider than me – both in weight and style – who needs lower air spring pressures could struggle to get the damping open enough for optimal performance.

Custom tuning options are available aftermarket if this is a problem, but will incur a cost.

Damping aside, the frame’s weight gives the Turbo Levo an incredibly planted feel but doesn’t seem to hinder quick line and direction changes, even on steeper trails.

Not only is it easy to pick the back wheel up to manoeuvre around tight turns on steep tracks, but it’s also possible to pop and jump from one line to the next across the trail thanks to plenty of support in the middle of the suspension’s travel.

This makes the Turbo Levo simultaneously ride like a bump-flattening plough in the rough and a hyper-accurate lightweight line choice rocket when the trail becomes pickier or trajectories are crucial for perfect execution.

Generous geometry

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

The S-Works Turbo Levo is an impressive bike.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

The geometry also comes into play with how the bike rides. The slack head tube angle and long reach and wheelbase figures all help improve stability further.

The bike rarely gets knocked off-line and erroneous weight shifts have a minor effect on its chassis, meaning the see-sawing effects bumps have – sometimes felt on shorter bikes – are nearly non-existent.

This makes getting on with the job of either riding as quickly as you can or precisely choosing lines much more fun, and a darn sight easier than a bike with less poise.

Pushing the Turbo Levo on dedicated downhill tracks does reveal a limit, especially as speeds go from high to excessive. As those limits are hit, its stability reduces, but it still does a commendable job of maintaining composure on terrain more suited to downhill bikes.

I needed to be constantly reminded that it is only a 150mm travel trail bike, especially when I was pining for yet another run down a hair-raising EWS track.

Ultimately, the Turbo Levo is so capable on the downhills, and on any terrain that I cared to point it towards, that I think it redefines what a trail bike should and could be.

A spec that shines

The range-topping kit fitted to the Turbo Levo contributes to the consistently impressive performance.

The AXS shifting from SRAM didn’t miss a beat, despite coming in close contact with plenty of rocks. The AXS Reverb dropper post performed excellently too, and its return speed was consistently fast.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

The Reverb AXS dropper seatpost was reliable for the entire test period.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

I find Specialized’s Bridge saddle to be enormously comfortable even on saddle sore-inducing all-day epics – as I’ve mentioned before in reviews where bikes have been fitted with the same saddle, such as the Rockhopper Comp 29 2x hardtail.

The Butcher and Eliminator tyre combination – once the Grid Trail versions had been swapped out for Grid Gravity models (more on this shortly) – proved to offer excellent grip while ascending, only reaching their limits and packing with mud once the terrain got very gloopy or boggy.

The glamorously specced parts on the S-Works model help increase refinement and bolster the sleek overall feel.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

SRAM’s 52t cassette increased the scope of the Turbo Levo’s climbing abilities when assistance levels were turned down.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

The XX1 Eagle AXS drivetrain is near-silent in operation, and chain slap – although quietened by the in-built ridged chainstay protector – is well limited by the derailleur’s Type-2 Clutch.

Even when hurtling down the wildest descents, the Turbo Levo remains almost silent; only the chunky 2.6in rubber hints at the great speed you’re travelling at.

The Magura brakes have serious amounts of power on tap and help eliminate the runaway train feeling some electric mountain bikes with lesser stoppers suffer from.

Once bled correctly – which is tricky compared to SRAM’s Bleeding Edge two-syringe system – their bite point never wavered, even after prolonged abuse on steep descents.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

The four-piston calipers have plenty of power.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

They do feel softer at the lever than SRAM or Shimano equivalents, which was something that took a while to get used to, but didn’t compromise performance.

The £2,200 Roval Traverse SL wheelset was remarkably robust, resisting both dings and buckling for the duration of the test period. Likewise, the Roval Traverse bar’s sweep and rise felt natural.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

Although the rear wheel’s paint is damaged, it has remained true and its spokes tight for the duration of the test period.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Despite the kit’s robustness, it did pain me to put it through the ringer on every ride. The rims’ paint finish is damaged, the carbon Praxis cranks have suffered battle scars from rock strikes and the XX1 derailleur’s carbon cage looks like it’s been repeatedly attacked with a cheese grater.

None of this, however, had a detrimental effect on performance, but would undoubtedly sting if you’re throwing a small house deposit at a bike.

Troublesome tyre choice

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

I didn’t think the Grid Trail casing tyres were tough enough for the Turbo Levo.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

The bike was delivered set up with tubes with Grid Trail casing tyres, which are the thinnest casing and lightest weight versions of Specialized’s newest Butcher and Eliminator models. I removed the tubes (after suffering several pinch flats) and set them up tubeless.

After only a handful of rides, it became clear the tyres weren’t suitable for the bike’s weight and the wide-ranging capability of the frame and its parts.

It was easy to overwhelm the carcasses of both the front and rear tyres in turns and through holes when ridden with sub-27psi tyre pressures.

To compensate for the lack of carcass strength, I ended up inflating them harder than I wanted, which had a negative impact on the available grip.

Not only that, but I also suffered multiple rear punctures – some pinch flats, others being tears – while riding trail centre red-graded trails.

I tried to repair the tubeless puncture of the Grid Trail casing Eliminator tyre with tubeless repair plugs but the carcass was ripped beyond feasible repair. The tear posed a risk for re-puncturing when fitted with a tube, too.

The best solution was to fit tougher casing tyres. In this instance, I requested two Specialized Grid Gravity tyres to match the widths and compounds of the Trail casing versions I removed.

With these fitted and set up tubeless, the bike’s weight increased by 340g to 22.7kg, but this marginal weight gain represented a significant improvement in general ride and tyre stability and control, and most importantly puncture resistance.

Personally, I don’t understand why Specialized doesn’t spec a thicker gravity-style casing tyre on the rear from the factory.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

I punctured the rear Grid Trail casing tyre multiple times.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

When I asked why tougher casing tyres aren’t specced, Specialized said the bike’s parts were chosen to represent the needs of the majority of its potential riders and that, arguably, someone who requires tough tyres is a tiny minority of the Turbo Levo’s prospective owners. Therefore, speccing something the majority of riders won’t require wasn’t deemed sensible.

I disagree. A thicker casing tyre would have considerable benefits for a rider that wouldn’t normally need one. Thanks to tougher sidewalls, lower pressures could be run before compromising the tyre’s stability – improving grip and comfort even at lower speeds or in less extreme situations.

Tougher tyres generally feel more damped, too. Thicker tyres also reduce the chances of punctures, and who doesn’t think that’s a good thing?

Specialized did talk about its 30-day satisfaction guarantee on items bought from its online store in relation to the tyres, suggesting a customer could raise their dissatisfaction under this scheme to get replacements. For more details about this and whether it would apply to the Turbo Levo, contact Specialized directly.

Furthermore, for the £13,000 / $15,000 / €13,999 asking price, I suspect the bike shop you buy the bike from would swap the Grid Trail casing tyres out for tougher ones at the point of sale.

Although this isn’t guaranteed and will depend heavily on your relationship with the bike shop you’re buying the bike from, it could be a feasible option to get the tyres best suited to the Turbo Levo’s magnificent performance. Maybe buy them a box of doughnuts if they are nice to you.

2022 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo bottom line

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo electric mountain bike

It wasn’t afraid to leave the ground.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

The Turbo Levo not only met my expectations of what a modern bike should be capable of, but totally blew them out of the water. It raises the bar for what a trail bike could – and should – be able to handle on any given ride.

It’s not faultless – I’m pointing at the stock tyre choice specifically – but that’s easily rectified at a comparatively low expense (when taken in the context of a £13k bike).

I’d go as far to say the Turbo Levo is the best bike I have ever ridden to date, regardless of how that bike is powered.

Yes, that’s right, its performance and capability transcend the rider/electric power divide.

Which brings me onto value. It’s expensive. Very expensive. Is it worth the asking price, and does it offer double the performance and fun of the excellent Marin Alpine Trail E2 at £5,695 / $5,999 / €6,199?

No is the objective answer to both those questions, but as a package, it is more refined and is dripping in lust-worthy components that at least go some way to justifying the asking price.

Marin Alpine Trail E2 electric mountain bike

Marin’s been sensible with the bike’s spec, fitting parts that perform well.
Andy Lloyd / Marin Bikes

If I was just considering its performance alone, I’d have to award this bike five out five stars. But that’s not possible, so I’ve docked half a star for its unobtanium price tag and the tyre spec choice.

If you can afford one, I can’t recommend the Turbo Levo enough.

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