18 Sep 2018

Not content with resting on their laurels, Specialized fights back with a new Levo that will surely keep their E-mountain bikes at the forefront of a hard-charging segment of the market. We've got one, ridden it, rated it, so read on and hear our discussion on the 2019 Levo.

The not-so-minor details

Product

2019 Specialized Levo

Contact

Specialized

https://www.specialized.com/

Positives

Lighter, cleverer, smoother, faster.
Sleek shape.
Suspension feels like a 'normal' bike.
Smartphone app does everything.
Greater range.

Negatives

29" wheels and long reach requires aggressive cornering technique on flatter terrain.

When the popularity of E-bikes began to grow, it was Specialized here in Australia leading the charge, and it has paid off with what appears to be an astonishing amount of Levos buzzing about on the trails.

The fast-growing segment is immensely competitive, not only from the bike manufacturers, but the motor system companies are pushing hard from their side, with the likes of powerhouses Shimano and Bosch gaining serious market share. It’s an exciting time to be right amongst it!


Watch our in-depth video discussion and first ride impressions of the 2019 Specialized Levo Expert Carbon below:


Testing the new Levo on our home trails, fun times for sure!

We often imagine that testing E-bikes must be how it was reviewing mountain bikes in the nineties, the technology is moving so fast, most of the brands are scrambling madly to get amongst it, developing bikes for a market that is showing huge growth.

We’ve relished the opportunity to test bikes that are still in their infancy to a degree and enjoy seeing the unique approaches to the challenges.

That brings us to the new Levo. Wait, what, a new Levo?

P.s. their official Levo video is pretty funny…

New Levo, yes, a new one already!

We were quite surprised with the news that a new Levo was coming, we’ve only been on the new carbon Levo for one year, and had more plans to keep shredding it. It shows that Specialized are damn keen to stay ahead of the pack, and while they certainly are not cheap bikes, the attention to detail and subtle improvements made are what impress us the most.

The all-new Levo, looks like a Stumpjumper that swallowed a stray cat.
Power up!
Clean and neat, all the information you need is on your smartphone app, with an optional display now available.
The chainstays are only 2mm longer than the 27.5″ wheel Levo with less travel. That’s quite a feat in our opinion.

What is new?

In a nutshell, the new Levo is pretty much a Stumpjumper with a motor. Specialized went to town redeveloping the Stumpjumper, and it appears that what they learnt on that platform has been carried over to the Levo.

  • 29″ wheels with 2.6″ tyres.
  • 150mm travel at both ends.
  • Our bike weighs 21.5kg as pictured, the S-Works is claimed to be under 20kg with a 500W battery.
  • Magnesium body motor shaves 400g over the predecessor.
  • S-Works frame is 800g lighter than the predecessor.
  • A larger 700Wh battery on Expert Carbon and S-Works models for more range (500Wh on other models).
  • Lower centre of gravity.
  • Control unit on top tube houses the bike’s brain, previously in the battery.
  • Mission Control App loaded with more features to tune and customise power outputs.
  • All internal routing travels through the sidearm, not over the motor (yay!).
  • The battery is accessed by sliding it from inside the downtube.
    The new battery is inside the downtube.

Bigger wheels, more power, more travel, more reach, more everything?

Short travel E-bikes just haven’t really taken off, you need a good dose of suspension and robust tyres to handle the weight and power, so jumping up from 135 to 150mm of rear travel and going up to 29″ wheels is a good thing. The bike feels long, slack, low and ready to rumble.

There’s that clever chainstay protector found on the Stumpjumper. Silencing chain slap very well.

Nitty gritty details.

Two things we always wish when we ride E-bikes; that they were lighter and more maneuverable. But batteries, motors and everything that comes with them are heavy, and they take up space.

Specialized have clearly worked hard to drop weight from the Levo, the new magnesium body motor from their partners Brose helped drop 400g, but also the way it mounts into the frame shaves weight.

The new magnesium bodied motor from Brose is 400g lighter and 15% smaller than the previous model.
Old vs new.
The new Turbo Control Unit is the bike’s brain, now on the top tube, not the battery.

On the trail with the new Levo, and its predecessor.

We took to the dirt with the new and old Levo to see how the changes felt on the trail. We apologise advance for calling the old Levo ‘old’. With the bike weighing one kilogram less, but going up in wheel size, suspension travel and stretching out in reach, it was going to be an interesting comparison.

We love the older Levo, though the new one has many improvements.
Doing what 29″ wheels do best, ploughing. Though it takes more body language to tip into a turn than the 27.5″ Levo.

The new Levo feels longer in the front end and more stable to steer than the smaller wheeled version, the motor noise was slightly louder but came on smoother. The rear suspension has improved greatly, where E-bikes tend to suffer in the suspension department, struggling with supporting the weight of the bike, the new Levo feels balanced and composed right through the stroke.

Ploughing down rough and rocky descents, the Levo felt amazing.

29″ wheels, eh? Aren’t most E-bikes rolling on 27.5″ plus wheels?

We did not expect the Levo to go to 29″ wheels, especially since Specialized were early adopters of the plus tyre bikes that came on strong a few years ago and have since taken a back seat, especially since ‘wide trail’ and 2.6″ tyres have been widely accepted.

29×2.6″ wheels and tyres on the new Levo. Plus tyres – or 6Fattie as Specialized call it – are totally compatible.

What’s in the Levo range?

We will see five models of the Levo coming to Australia, ranging from $7000 up to $15000. We dropped by Specialized HQ in Melbourne to see the full range, check it out below.

S-Works.

The chart-topping, jaw-dropping S-Works model. $15000 and it is yours….gulp.
Top-shelf FOX suspension, and a paint-job that looks $15000 worth.

Levo Expert Carbon.

Levo FSR Expert Carbon 29, $11500.

Levo Comp Carbon.

Levo FSR Comp Carbon, $9500.

Levo FSR – men and women’s version.

Levo FSR, entry-level model for $7000. A blue colour option is also available.
Levo FSR Women’s. $7000.
A beaut finish on this one.

Levo long-term test.

We’ll be hanging on to this one for a wee while, so keep an eye out for further testing and updates. We’d love to experiment with 27.5″ wheels, a 160mm travel fork, brakes and a coil rear shock. We’d also like to make weight savings where possible too.

If there are any modifications you’d suggest we make to our test bike, drop us a comment on Facebook, YouTube or below.