After an e-bike? If you prefer to head to a bricks-and-morter shop to get your bikes, and you want the best of the best, then our money is on the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp. It's our winner in the shop-bought category for MBR E-Bike of the Year 2023.
Shortly after we finished our last E-Bike of the Year test, Specialized comprehensively updated its Turbo Levo with new sizing, geometry and a swish display embedded in the top tube. It went from a full 29er to a mullet bike, adopted Specialized’s S-sizing – where truncated seat tubes give more overlap between frame options – and gained adjustable geometry that can be set up anywhere from aggressive to full-on psycho.
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Need to know:
- SWAT multi-tool is hidden in the fork steerer, making it easy to access
- Three head angles and two dropout positions give six different geometry settings
- 6 frame sizes with closely stacked seat tube lengths give you size options
- 700Wh battery slides in at the base of the down tube and is held in place by a single hex bolt
As such, the gen 3 Levo has the joint slackest head angle on test at 63.7º, with the option to tweak it by 1º in either direction by changing the upper headset cup. Furthermore, you can choose between two dropout settings with either long chainstays and a low BB or short chainstays and a high BB. We chose the former as the 160mm cranks give stacks of pedal clearance.
The Comp gets a full carbon frame, but Spesh also offers an alloy Turbo Levo with a very similar spec for about £1k less. There’s an 800g weight penalty, but considering it’s one of the lightest bikes on test, it’s no deal breaker.
What about motor reliability? The previous gen 2 model was plagued with problems, but since Specialized reinforced the belt and recalibrated the software we’ve had no issues on two long term test bikes.
While the more expensive models in the Turbo Levo range come with Fox 38 forks, the Comp makes do with the slimmer 36. These save a bit of weight but still provide ample stiffness. While the simple Grip damper lacks some support, adding an extra 10psi and running the sweep compression dial at 1 o’clock keeps the front end propped up.
They were also incredibly sensitive – partly due to slightly loose bushings – which ensured loads of grip up front and a really lively feel. Sadly they are the older chassis design, thus bereft of the lower leg lubrication channels of the latest version.
That pitter-patter response is mirrored perfectly by the Float X Performance shock out back. Superbly fluid, it tracked every bump and ripple as well as providing plenty of support to push against when we wanted to pop the Levo off the ground. Just keep on top of servicing, as the offset yoke puts an added strain on the shock internals.
Specialized’s in-house wheels come fitted with inner tubes, but there are tubeless valves in the box, so upgrading only requires sealant. An added bonus is that fitting our Maxxis control tyres and ditching the tubes saved a useful 150g per wheel.
SRAM’s NX/GX drivetrain is definitely heavy, but it feels noticeably smoother and less graunchy than Shimano rivals in the wet. We were surprised to find that the GX 12-speed trigger unit could shift more than one gear at a time, as e-bikes usually come with the single-shift version to reduce wear and tear.
Like a favourite pair of slippers, the Turbo Levo immediately feels like a relaxing, comfortable place to be. It’s not a small bike, but it fits perfectly, with enough adjustment either side of the median to tweak it to suit different riding styles or terrain.
There’s a superb balance between the axles, and the relatively short rear end keeps the front end agile enough to pop manuals with ease. It’s a brilliantly dynamic package, accentuated by the supple beginning stroke and subtle progression of the suspension. In fact the only bike that feels more reactive is the Canyon, which, let’s face it, has been heavily inspired by the Turbo Levo.
Because the Levo needs less effort to chuck around than most of its rivals, it is less tiring to ride. This quality, combined with the super-active suspension, means you can go harder for longer. With a motor that’s smooth and quiet, a control unit that never gets in the way, and a display that cleverly blends integration and sophistication, the whole Turbo Levo package is hard to fault.
The only slight chink in its armour is that it doesn’t have exceptional technical climbing prowess, where the Levo’s slacker seat tube angle and softer suspension makes it harder to weight the front end.
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At the original price of £8,250 the Turbo Levo Comp is poor value for money, with budget parts bolted to a premium chassis. But with the current discount applied (Spesh says the price will stay slashed through the summer) it’s a steal. It’s such an easy bike to ride, with playful handling that flatters your skills and encourages you to push your limits. With a comprehensive size range and adaptable geometry, it’s a versatile e-bike and a total blast to ride, whatever configuration you put it in.