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Specialized Turbo Levo SL

Check out the sublime Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon E-Mountain Bike. The headline? This is NOT your typical E-MTB, with Specialized taking a whole new approach to E-MTB design compared to what has been created before by the Californian bike brand. You may already be familiar with Specialized’s popular Levo range of E-MTBs but the Levo SL (Super Light) sub-range is significantly different AND it’s probably fair to say, is aimed at a mountain biker with a slightly different mindset and with different expectations from an electric mountain bike.

The Turbo Levo SL is not your typical E-MTB, in fact you have to do a double-take to even realise it IS an E-MTB…

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon 2021

So what was the design brief for the Levo SL? Well, Specialized set out to create a superlight E-MTB that would give you the pedal assistance required to go further and faster than you would have on an ‘acoustic’ mountain bike but without some of the extra bulk and subsequent effect on bike handling associated with a conventional E-MTB. While it’s fair to say there’s a whole cohort of mountain bikers who have fully embraced the E-MTB and have adapted their riding styles accordingly, there is still a whole load of riders looking for an almost unobtainable ‘E-MTB Unicorn’ giving the best of both worlds – namely an E-MTB that is light, nimble, loves to get airborne BUT with the extra power to ride more trails.

To hit that sweet spot between having ride-enhancing pedal-assist power and the feel of a conventional ‘manual mountain bike’ Specialized have spec’d their very own 240 Watt Specialized SL 1.1 motor (the same motor found on the their popular Turbo Creo SL e-Road bikes) to give the rider just enough assistance to really excel on the tougher climbs and encourage them to ride further and longer than they would have previously.

With a 240 Watt motor giving out 35Nm of pedal assist Specialized describe this riding solution as ‘2x You’…

Speciailzed Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon 2021

The riding feel of the Specialized Turbo Levo SL is quick and lively with Specialized’s SL 1.1 Motor adding just enough power to give a more subtle ‘enhanced you’ feel than some of the other Levo bikes in Specialized’s range of e-MTBs. The motor’s responsive torque curve delivers power perfectly in-tune with your normal riding cadence and leaves no resistance when you’re riding without power assistance. So if you’re the type of rider who wants to feel like you’ve really had a proper workout, perhaps riding a little further and faster than you would have on your conventional mountain bike and you’re not looking for that significant kick and exaggerated torque that can feel a little unpredictable on some other e-mountain bikes then this bike is a great option.

That’s a seriously compact motor stowed inside a beautiful carbon frame…

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon 2021

What about motor modes? The SL 1.1 Motor features three assisted riding modes: ECO, TRAIL and TURBO, here’s how those modes break down:

ECO mode matches your effort by 30%

TRAIL mode matches your effort by 60%

TURBO mode matches your effort by 100%

You can also ride in unassisted mode, riding with no power and interestingly Specialized’s motor doesn’t give a significant feeling of drag associated with motors in unassisted mode from other brands. By using Specialized’s own Mission Control App you can even tune the motor to suit your own riding style, adjust the motor’s power delivery, control your range and record your rides.

Custom tune your motor with the Mission Control App…

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon 2021

Specialized have put so much investment into the development of their own motors and batteries for their e-bikes in partnership with specialist developers Mahle. Rather than going with a separate motor and battery supplier, they are able to refine and control the size, power and efficiency of their own unique technology. Part of the reason that many of us have to do a double-take on the Levo SL is due to the super-compact motor and their lithium-ion battery stowed away in the down-tube.

Despite it’s compact appearance the Specialized battery gives a range of 5 hours…


Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon 2021

There’s a lot of chat in-store and out on the trails around Wheelbase HQ concerning ‘range-anxiety’. Gone are the days of simply carbo-loading the night before your big ride and making sure you’ve packed some good trail snacks, nowadays lots of us have to also consider battery range, either for an all-day epic ride or even for a weekend away with multiple rides planned. Again Specialized have you covered with an option to fit a 160Wh Range Extender battery which fits in your bottle cage increasing battery capacity by 50%.

The 160Wh Range Extender is available as an after market product…

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon


The Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon is a beautiful looking bike spec’d with some very bling components; this model features a FACT Carbon fibre frame utilising Specialized’s 29 Trail Geometry combined with a big travel 150mm Fox Float 36 Performance Elite suspension fork upfront and a Fox Float DPX2 Performance Elite rear shock with 3-position adjustment giving 150mm of travel at the rear of the bike.

A substantial 150mm travel Fox Float 36 fork takes care of business up front…

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon 2021

You can control the Specialized SL 1.1 Motor quickly and easily with a pretty slick set up on the handlebars, this simple, compact shifter lets you quickly toggle between Motor modes even in the most extreme circumstances – uphill, downhill, tight turns the controls are at your finger-tips. There’s no clutter here, with a really neat combination of Deity grips, motor shifter and dropper post lever all taking up the minimum of space on the Specialized Trail 780mm wide alloy handle bars.

There’s no unnecessary clutter here… 

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon 2021

Specialized’s alloy trail stem features a clever Swat multitool stowed away within the steerer of the stem…

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon

Specialized have spec’d the Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon with a 12 Speed SRAM GX Eagle groupset for a simple, efficient setup. A Praxis crankset with a SRAM X-Sync Eagle 30T chainring combined with a whopping 10-52T cassette gives you all the gear ratios you’ll need, with rapid, positive gear changes controlled by a SRAM X01 12 speed trigger shifter.

Specialized’s integrated chain-keeper keeps your chain in place when things get rowdy…

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon 2021

A whopping 10-52T cassette combined with the drive of the Levo SL’s motor means you’ll conquer what you previously thought un-rideable…

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon 2021

A burly 150mm travel e-mountain bike is going to get up to speed pretty fast! To help ensure you remain in control and are able to negotiate tight, technical trails Specialized have fitted the Levo SL with powerful SRAM Code RS 4-Piston hydraulic disc brakes combined with big 200mm disc brake rotors to help you scrub-off speed when you’re under pressure.

4-Piston code calipers…

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon 2021

BIG 200mm rotors help keep you in control…

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon 2021

Tough handbuilt Roval 29” wheels featuring burly, wide Traverse 28 hole rims are laced to a Roval hub with sealed cartridge bearings up front while the rear is a Roval DT Swiss 360 hub with a 3-pawl design and SRAM XD Driver Body.

Sealed Cartridge Roval hub up front…

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon 2021

A fast, powerful e-MTB with great suspension and really efficient disc drakes needs a good set of tyres to keep you in control when you’re flying downhill negotiating tight turns and braking heavily on loose terrain; the 29×2.3” Specialized Butcher front tyre with protective GRID TRAIL casing features an aggressive tread pattern is ready for action. Out back Specialized have spec’d a 29.3” Eliminator rear tyre with GRID TRAIL casing too, so superior traction is guaranteed even when you’re running in Turbo mode.

Specialized Butcher front tyre…

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon

So, that’s the excellent Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon e-MTB. An e-Mountain Bike quite like no other really. The reasons for owning this e-MTB over others available both from Specialized themselves and other brands are subtle, it’s a great choice for mountain bikers who want an agile, low weight e-MTB that rides and handles more like their favourite ‘acoustic’ bike.

Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon 2021

This bike enhances your pedalling input in a different way to most e-Mountain Bikes; clever technology allows you to tune exactly how it behaves and battery life is super-efficient, meaning you can go out on all-day epic adventures over multiple mountain passes without concern or alternatively if you’re heading off on a weekend away with your mates, ticking off multiple trail centres take along a 160Wh Range Extender battery and don’t sweat where you’re going to find a charging socket. E-Mountain Biking is still a relatively young from of cycling with technology and attitudes still evolving, as both industry and riders push the boundaries of what is ultimately possible. Will this bike serve as an early example of the way that e-MTBs are heading? Only time will tell….

The Specialized Levo SL Expert Carbon 2021 is in now stock now for £8,500.00

Blog written by Johnny Dodgin

Bike Photos by James Vincent