The Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert C gets its own Fact m11 carbon frame that builds into an impressive 18.57kg (40.94lb) complete bike.
With its Sidearm frame design, seamless electronic integration and 150mm of travel, you could be forgiven for thinking the Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert is simply a standard Levo with a smaller 320Wh battery and compact 35Nm motor fitted to save weight. Well, it’s not.
Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert C review
The most obvious difference to the full power Turbo Levo frame being the more slender down tube and integrated, rather than removable, battery. The 48V changing port on the side of the seat tube is another giveaway.
It has different geometry too. Most notably, the chainstay measurement is 20mm shorter while still running a 29in rear wheel. That’s thanks to the compact SL 1.1 motor, which allows Specialized to move the main pivot forward to achieve a shorter 435mm chainstay (rear centre).
The rest of the stats closely match the 2020 Levo right down to the 450mm reach on the size L, which is relatively short for a modern trail bike. It also has the same discrete flip chip in the lower shock eyelet for geometry adjustment, where running the flip chip in the high position raises the BB height by 6mm and steepens the head angle by 0.50.
One major update to the Levo SL Expert C this year is the addition of the 150mm travel Fox 36 GRIP 2 fork. Not only is it stiffer than the 34 that it replaces, but the extra support from the GRIP 2 damper helps maintain better dynamic geometry when diving into steep, rowdy descents. Add in the ability to fine tune the high and low speed compression damping independently, and you really can get the 36 fork set up just so.
It’s a similar story with the rear suspension too, the Performance Elite level DPX2 shock replacing the in-line DPS while bringing low-speed compression adjustment into the mix. Yes, the measured rear travel on the Levo SL was 6mm shy of the claimed 150mm, but combined with the DPX2 shock, the SL is so effective at tracking the smallest ripples while still gobbling up the biggest hits, you won’t feel short changed on the suspension front.
Continuing with the oversized theme, Specialized has switched to a 35mm diameter bar and longer 50mm stem on the latest Levo SL. Stopping power has been boosted too, gone are the SRAM G2 disc brakes replaced instead by Codes and the rear rotor also gets bumped up from 180mm to 200mm.
In an attempt to claw back some weight saving, the SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain is upgraded to X0, the most significant advantage being the addition of the new wide-range 10-52t cassette. With all of these changes to the specification, the weight of the Levo SL has crept up, but the ride quality is better for it.
From the get-go, the Levo SL impressed us with its pitter-patter suspension response and balanced handling. And we can’t emphasise how much better the Fox 36 GRIP 2 fork makes the current Levo SL ride. So even with the longer 50mm stem, we had more confidence to really charge hard. An added bonus of the longer stem is that it improved the overall fit with the relatively short reach.
And as impressive as the ride quality and suspension on the Levo SL is, it was actually the surprising range of the 320Wh battery that really won us over. In full power mode it is relatively easy to knock out almost 1,000m of climbing on a single charge.
Use the battery sparingly by toggling between all three power modes and you can crank out epic rides in terrain that previously seemed out of reach. And if you do run out of juice, the reduced motor resistance and overall weight will make it less of a slog than a full-fat e-bike to get home.