In Spring 2020, Specialized proudly introduced its first Levo SL. While it wasn't the first lightweight eMTB on the market, it had a clear impact on the industry, showing that such bikes could easily bridge the gap between a full-blown eMTB and a regular non-motorized mountain bike. Now Specialized wants to build on this success with the new Levo SL and is presenting a completely new bike that already catches the eye with a classic, lying damper under the top tube. In contrast to the asymmetrical design of the previous model, the frame of the new Levo SL appears simpler and more linear.
More travel and mullet mix
The Levo SL is delivered from the factory as a so-called mullet bike – with a 29-inch front wheel and a 650b rear wheel. However, it is possible to convert the rear wheel to 29 inches after purchase by using the flip chip. With a suspension travel of 150 mm in the frame and 160 mm at the front, the Levo SL positions itself as a potent trail bike. Specialized deliberately focuses on the term "trail bike" and refrains from explicitly marketing the bike as an e-trail bike or e-mountain bike.
Specialized SL 1.2 drive: More power, same battery size
A decisive factor for the success of an e-mountain bike is undoubtedly the drive, and here Specialized continues to rely on an in-house development in cooperation with Mahle. The Specialized SL 1.2 motor that powers the new Levo SL retains its low weight of 1,9 kilograms and delivers 50 Nm of maximum torque and 320 watts. Compared to the previous model, which was a little weaker at just 35 Nm, the new motor is a clear improvement. Even if there are now more powerful drives in this weight class on the market, the Specialized SL 1.2 scores with its natural and sensitive support, which is also convincing in practice.
When it comes to the battery, however, there are no significant changes - the Levo SL still has a capacity of 320 watt hours. Unfortunately, the battery is still permanently installed in the down tube, which makes the low weight possible, but can be a bit cumbersome in everyday life. Specialized also offers the option of retrofitting a range extender, which provides an additional 160 watt hours of capacity and can be easily connected to the port with a cable. Since nothing has changed here, the “old” range extender from the predecessor can also be used.
The Specialized SL 1.2 on the test bench
We also measured the performance data for the new Specialized SL 1.2 motor in our test stand. In terms of maximum performance, it places itself in the upper middle field, can clearly outperform its predecessor and also has more power than the competition from TQ. On the other hand, the distance to more powerful Light Assist motors such as the Fazua Ride 60 or the new Bosch SX is clearly measurable and noticeable. In our performance measurement for 100 W input power, the light Specialized drive is unobtrusive.
Clear improvements can be seen in the consumption measurements, especially compared to the predecessor. Especially on the flat, the energy consumption drops despite the increased performance, while both increase to about the same extent on the mountain.
Six frame sizes and many adjustment options
One of the great strengths of the Levo SL is undoubtedly its frame and geometry. With six frame sizes (S1 to S6) and various adjustment options, Specialized enables riders to adapt the bike perfectly to their individual needs. The so-called "S-Sizing" frames from Specialized deviate from the classic frame sizes (S,M,L,XL) in that they mainly increase in length and thus offer a greater variety of options. This allows every rider to choose a frame size that suits their personal preference without being tied to the other dimensions of the frame.
The geometry of the Levo SL is sporty, modern and adaptable at the same time. Specialized deliberately made sure that the orientation was not too progressive in order to make the bike suitable for a wide variety of riding styles and requirements. The bottom bracket height and steering angle can be adjusted using a flip chip on the damper mount and special bearing shells on the headset.
|Head tube length (mm)||95||100||110||120||130||140|
|Bottom bracket height (mm)||343||348||348||348||348||348|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||-34||-29||-29||-29||-29||-29|
|Chainstay Length (mm)||433||432||432||432||432||432|
|Top tube length (horizontal)||560||582||604||631||659||691|
|Seat tube length (mm)||385||385||405||425||445||465|
The equipment of the S-Works variant
We tested the Specialized Levo SL in the S-Works variant. At an impressive 14.000 euros, it is one of the most expensive eMTBs on the market. Accordingly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the built-in components. The Fox Factory chassis with 36 at the front including the Grip2 cartridge and the Float X damper at the rear is also one of the best on the market, as is the Sram Eagle Transmission XX circuit. Opinions are divided on the Sram Code Stealth Ultimate brakes, but in combination with the 200mm discs they did their job reliably during our test and the new lever design ensures a tidy cockpit.
|frame||S-Works Levo SL Fact11 Carbon|
|suspension fork||Fox 36 Factory Grip2|
|Power Type||Specialized SL 1.2|
|Suspension shocks||Fox Float DPX Factory|
|Wheels||Roval Traverse SL Carbon|
|Tire VR||Specialized Butcher Grid Trail Gripton T9|
|Tire HR||Specialized Eliminator Grid Trail Gripton T7|
|derailleur||Sram XX Eagle transmission|
|Gear levers||Sram AXS Pod|
|Crank||SL 1.2 Spider|
|Brake||Sram Code Stealth Ultimate|
|Brake discs||Ram 200mm|
|Seat post||RockShox Reverb AXS|
|Links||Roval Traverse SL Carbon|
The in-house tires are mounted on light Roval Traverse SL carbon rims and the Butcher at the front in particular has repeatedly proven to be a versatile insider tip on the market. Another highlight is the wireless RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post, which had a 4 mm travel on our test bike with frame size S170. That should be enough for most riders, even if more stroke never hurts here.
The mastermind display in the top tube is another highlight of the Levo SL. It offers good readability and all relevant information for the driver. The Mission Control app enables the display to be configured individually and offers numerous other features, including the Smart Assist mode, which adjusts the level of support depending on the route.
The S-Works model we tested is one of five available trim levels. Despite its price of 14.000 euros, there is also the S-Works Limited for 15.000 euros, which uses an electronic RockShox Flight Attendant suspension. However, the Pro and Expert versions should be much more interesting for most e-mountain bikers. With the Levo SL Pro you only have to do without the wireless Reverb AXS support and you get a Sram X0 Eagle transmission instead of the XX on the S-Works - you save a whopping 2.500 euros. However, our tip would be the Expert with GX Eagle transmission, Fox Performance Elite suspension and high-quality aluminum wheels for 9.900 euros.
Specialized Levo SL 2023: practical impressions
In practice, the Levo SL proves to be an enormously versatile and fun all-rounder. The motor is quieter than that of its predecessor, although it's still audible, especially at high cadences and in the highest assist level. But in terms of its natural response and controllability, the Specialized SL 1.2 drive is one of the best on the market.
On the trail, the bike impresses with a strong balance of smooth running and maneuverability. The Specialized tires, especially the Butcher at the front, do their job very well and contribute to the superior performance of the bike.
You can find more detailed practical impressions in our test video:
Note: Since the publication of the video, Specialized has presented the Levo SL in the Expert version for 9.900 euros.