The Levo gets the carbon treatment and a more powerful, updated motor.
The Specialized Levo Carbon expands Spesh’s eMTB range for 2018 to include three new carbon framed models. Reduced weight and increased stiffness.
Specialized Levo Carbon need to know
- Fork travel has been upped to 150mm, rear travel remains at 135mm
- All full-suspension models feature new Turbo 1.3 motor
- Tyre size reduced to 2.8”
- Brakes upgraded to the E versions in either SRAM Guide or Code models
- Three new carbon framed models, S-Works (£8,999) Expert (£6,250) and Comp (£4,999)
- The M5 aluminium models still carry on, Comp (£4,250) and standard Levo (£3,500)
- Women’s short travel (120mm) version, £3,500
- Hardtail versions still available, with the lower spec Turbo 1.2 motor (£3,250)
The Levo has always been praised for its neat integration of the frame, motor and battery. This seamless intergration is something the Californian company has always had at the forefront of its design process.
So obviously it makes sense to start making the Levo out of carbon, as it can be made to match any weird design shapes perfectly. And so, for 2018, the Specialized Levo Carbon has been born.
The swooping lines and shape of the existing Levo frame really lend themselves to reproduction in carbon. The new model year sees the Levo family add three carbon models to the two current aluminium versions. This now turns it into a full range from standard Levo all the way up to an S-Works version.
Choosing to develop a carbon front triangle (the S-Works also features a carbon rear end but all others stick to an M5 alloy rear) has allowed Specialized to decrease frame weights as well as increase the ever so important stiffness.
Weight losses are quoted as being up to 650g (S-Works) and stiffness up 40% across the rear and 20% overall.
Probably even more important than the change of frame material is that the Levo Carbon features a completely revised motor, dubbed the Turbo 1.3.
This is an area that Specialized has been keen to develop independently with its ebikes. Rather than rely on third party manufacturers to supply motors and therefore having to design frames around an existing shape or style, this independence allows it to develop bikes with seamless integration.
Going it alone in such a complex territory and against such established names as Bosch and Shimano isn’t an easy task. And whilst the original Levo’s Turbo motor was competitive in most areas, it was not without its quirks and issues.
With the new Turbo 1.3, Specialized has hoped to redress the issues brought up by its users and also add a few additional features to help keep it competitive in such a rapidly expanding cycling niche.
What’s new with the motor?
- Bar mounted Trail Remote. Rather than using the optional Garmin bar remote, Specialized has created a discrete remote that fits near the left hand grip. It features controls to change the motor mode as well as the new Walk Assist button for helping to push the bike.
- 15% more power than the original Turbo. A complete rebuild with new magnets and ECU helps to eke out more power without increasing the physical size of the unit.
- Better heat management. The new unit features thermal pads both inside the motor and between the motor and frame to decrease temperatures. This was one of the issues with the old Turbo as it could over-heat and de-power.
- The Turbo can still be controlled by Specialized’s Mission Control app but now it adds an Infinite Tune facility. This enables the rider to not only adjust the levels of assist but also the maximum motor output. So for short rides you can tune to give all the power, or for longer jaunts the power can be reduced to give a much greater range.
- Smart Control. A feature of the Mission Control app, Smart Control monitors rider and ride input data every 10 seconds and can automatically regulate the motor to ensure the battery will not run out.
New addition to the SWAT range
Specialized were one of the first companies to start developing hidden storage and tools on their bikes with the SWAT system. We spotted this neat steerer tube mounted, One-Up Components style, multi-tool on the S-Works model.
Dubbed the SWAT CC, the tool sits in a sprung loaded cradle inside and neatly pops up when the cap is rotated to the side. Headset adjustment is now located underneath the fork crown with a normal SWAT top cap that includes spare links and a chaintool.
Specialized Levo Carbon S-Works, £8,999
Specialized Levo Carbon Expert, £6,250
Specialized Levo Carbon Comp, £4,999
Expect to see certain models becoming available pretty soon. Check with your local Specialized dealer for availability.
First ride impressions
We managed to spend a morning putting the Levo Carbon through its paces at a challenging bike park with plenty of long climbs and fun descents.
The Levo Carbon itself shares most of its geometry and suspension DNA with the existing Levo so we won’t go into many details of how it rides. You can see our thoughts on the Levo aluminium here.
What we will say is the carbon frame lops a considerable amount of weight off the overall package and, combined with the increase to a 150mm fork and smaller, more usable 2.8” tyres, increases your feeling that the Levo Carbon is more a proper trail bike than just an ebike.
The motor is where the main changes are felt. Gone is the propensity for the old motor to drop power when soft pedalling for gear shifts. The occasional power unwanted power surge seems to have been addressed as well. The only issue we seemed to get was with the Walk Assist mode functioning inconsistently.
Using the app it was simple to adjust the power levels and motor output, and in most cases the maximum output was considerable higher than required.
Tight singletrack and turbo mode combine to see a single pedal stroke apply enough power to pile you into the undergrowth. The battery life is exceptional with some of the other riders recording double figure ascents of a 25 minute climb, whilst in turbo without running out of battery. In fact, there is definitely scope for Specialized to produce a smaller capacity battery to decrease weight even further without compromising performance.