If this were a beauty contest the 6Fattie would have wooed the judges with its stunning aluminium frame, dazzling LED control pad, clever design and easygoing personality
In terms of design alone, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR is light years ahead of other e-bikes. With its battery pack concealed inside the down tube it looks like a conventional Stumpy on steroids, which is why it’s affectionately known as the Hulk.
And it’s not just easy on the eye. Details like the MacBook-inspired magnetic charger port mean the bike won’t come crashing down if you accidentally trip over the cable while it’s plugged in.
There’s no handlebar display either, so that’s one less thing to break. Instead, you control the three levels of power output with +/- buttons on the side of the down tube, where an LED display lets you know which mode you are in and how much battery life is left. More complex controls are all managed with a phone app.
The speed sensor is also hidden behind the non-driveside dropout, the magnet mounted on two disc rotor bolts rather than a spoke. Why has Specialized gone to such lengths to do this? Simple. If the magnet for the speed sensor gets damaged or twists on a spoke the motor stops delivering electrical assistance and no one wants that on a 23.33kg (51.4lb) bike.
Loosely based on the Stumpy 6Fattie platform, the Turbo Levo FSR sports Specialized’s classic four-bar suspension design to deliver 135mm of rear wheel travel. The back end of the bike is much beefier than the Stumpy though, retaining the seatstay bridge for improved lateral stiffness. This in turn forces Specialized to adopt longer chainstays; no bad thing on a bike that is designed for razzing uphill.
Being the second-tier bike in a four strong Turbo Levo FSR range, the Comp model comes fitted with the new RockShox Yari RC fork. We had high hopes for the Yari as it shares the same 35mm chassis as the Lyrik, but as we discovered in last month’s fork test, the cheaper damper is more prone to spiking on square edge hits than either the Lyrik or Pike.
The build kit on the Turbo Levo Comp is almost identical to the Stumpy Comp Carbon 6Fattie that we tested last month. As such, nothing is wanting. The new Command Post IRcc with its multiple ‘cruise’ modes makes it easier than ever to match your saddle height to the terrain: Something that’s even more important on an e-bike because the extra power means you need to run the saddle slightly lower than normal to stop the front end from lifting on technical climbs.
There’s one subtle difference in the specification though — the Levo rolls on wider 38mm Roval hoops instead of the lighter 29mm rims found on Specialized’s regular Plus bikes. Why the change? Well, e-bikes are a lot heavier, so the wider rims and increased tyre volume mean you’ll be able to maintain the same tyre pressures. They should also make for stronger wheels — and a little extra rotational weight on an electric assist bike isn’t such a big deal.
After complimenting the Turbo Levo FSR on its looks, the second most popular comment was: “are you sure it’s a size large?” Yep, the bike is short by modern standards; the reach measurement a full 20mm shy of the Trek. At 5ft 11in we’d have felt more at home on the XL, even though it’s the biggest size available. The message here is upsize if you can.
Even with the diminutive sizing, we were still able to get a good idea of the bike’s abilities. With a 32t chainring, the rear suspension felt just like a regular Stumpy, with tons of grip. As such, we could motor up insanely steep climbs on the Turbo Levo.
You do need to stay on the gas though, as the Brose motor isn’t as smooth at laying down the power as the Yamaha or Bosch systems. Subtle power surges are the norm, and we even had the power cut once or twice when soft pedalling during gear shifts.
Brose Custom Trail Tune 250W 90Nm. Loosely based on a power-steering motor, this open system is ideal for customisation and integration as it’s compatible with different batteries and display units.
None. On/Off button and power modes on control pad on the side of the battery, where the surrounding LED lights indicate battery life. The Mission Control App gives additional control on your phone.
Eco, Trail, Turbo (Trail and Eco modes are customisable with the Mission Control app).
Specialized 460Wh ANT+/Bluetooth. Expert and S-Works Turbo Levo models get longer lasting 504Wh batteries. The only key needed to remove the battery is a 6mm Allen key
If this were a beauty contest the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie would have wooed the judges with its stunning aluminium frame, dazzling LED control pad, clever design and easygoing personality. It helps too, that it’s the most robust design in this test. Get past its devilish good looks, however, and you quickly realise that the Turbo Levo isn’t without fault. Power delivery from the Brose motor can be a little erratic, especially if you prefer to spin rather than mash on the pedals, and the frame sizing isn’t as generous as the Trek.