When Specialized launched its new Levo SL earlier this month, it was everywhere! And for good reason. It wasn’t just another model of eBike being introduced, it was the opening of the doors to a whole new mountain bike category – lighter bike, lower power motor. Even the most staunch e-Bike critics were double-taking, second-guessing and left pondering. Here’s an indepth review and four reasons why we feel this particular model of bike will go down (and comfortably up) in history.
1 IT’S A LINE-BLURRER
If ever there was a bike that blurred the line between ‘acoustic bike’ and eBike, the Levo SL is it! It looks like a regular trail bike and by all accounts, rides proper singletrack trails like a regular bike. Look at it here compared to a current model Specialized Stumpjumper…
Stumpjumper S-Works ST
The key that unlocked this significant shift was weight. The Comp Alloy Stumpjumper weighs around 14.5kg, while the top of range S-Works ST model weighs 12.3kg. The Levo SL weighs 16.95kg. Most eBikes weigh at least 20kg, including the S-Works Levo.
Sure, weight distribution and centre of gravity are also important factors, but actual weight is really what everyone’s been talking about.
2 IT’S A TWENTY-NINER
By South African market standards, 29-inch wheels are where it’s at. Sure, there’s a small gravity segment in South Africa that understands and appreciates 650b, but most of our trails are built for twenty nine-inch wheeled bikes; and although experiencing some fall-off of late, we still have a largely competitive marathon-racing mindset to consider. While the electric-assist power of an eBike reduces the difference between the characteristics of 650b and 29-inch wheels, 29-inch wheels are a South African habit that’s going to be hard to break…
3 YOU CAN FLY WITH IT
Until now, it’s not been simple to take your eBike overseas with you. It’s not the 20kg-plus weight that’s been the big challenge, but the airline restrictions on flying with a battery over a certain power. Not only is the Levo SL complete bike well under 20kg (the extra weight limit for some airlines) but you can also remove the standard 320Wh battery and just take the 160Wh Range Extender battery (or two) with you. 160Wh is the maximum limit airlines will permit. You can declare and take this battery in your hand luggage… This is all possible because Specialized developed its own motor and battery system for the Levo SL.
4 IT’S GOT PLAYFUL GEOMETRY
Unlike the Specialized Levo, which has 455mm long chainstays, the Levo SL has 437mm chainstays, which compact the wheelbase and make the bike more agile. And a more agile bike is more playful. And since all the fun without the suffer-tax has always been the premise behind eBikes, the more playful they are, the better. And while the reduced weight of the Levo SL counts heavily in its favour, the agility is sure to help convert the hardcore acoustic bike lovers who may now be eBike curious…
We never got to ride the Levo SL at its launch in Stellenbosch, but our friends at Flow MTB in Australia did. Wil Barrett is one of the most experienced, pedantic and insightful bike testers we know. So here’s his in-depth written and video review to tuck into. Make some time, it’s well worth it! https://flowmountainbike.com/tests/first-ride-2020-specialized-levo-sl-expert-carbon-review-emtb-electric-mountain-bike/