E-assist mountain bikes have been and continue to be a polarizing, contentious issue. We know. Even among our small team at BIKE, they’re endlessly so. It’s part of why we simply haven’t written much about them. We just can’t seem to agree on if, how or when to cover e-bikes due to the multitude of issues surrounding them. But, what we could all agree on, for the first time since these ‘cheater’ bikes started popping up, is that the Specialized Turbo Levo SL is an e-bike we should cover. Or at least, would be willing to. It’s a bike that just might have the potential of changing peoples’ minds, changing the way they ride, where, and who with. And let us not forget, change can be a good thing.
But before we go any further, let’s just go ahead and address the other elephant in the room. We’re not going to get away with reviewing perhaps the most expensive bike we ever have without at least mentioning the price, regardless of it possessing a motor. It’s high. Higher than a bunch of canceled-class Colorado college kids on COVID quarantine.
Is there enough technology in this thing to justify it costing $13,500? Probably not. Despite what e-bike haters love to claim, this is not a motorcycle. The proprietary SL 1.1 motor in the Levo SL, the software that controls it, as well as the excellent Mission Control phone app no doubt took deep pockets to develop. But it isn’t a KTM 500 EXC-F Six Days, arguably one of the most sophisticated dirt bikes ever made, priced at $12,400. For the math-challenged among us, that’s significantly less than this bicycle. Yes, the S-Works Levo SL is still just a bicycle. Or is it? As of the publish date of this review, this is the lightest full-suspension e-MTB on the market.
And of course, the S-Works build isn’t the only option. The next step down from is the Expert Carbon for the relative bargain price of $9,025. Does the S-Works bike have $4,500 more betterness? I’ll answer that question with another one: When has any S-Works level bike been justifiably worth the extra bread? Functionally, there’s really no difference between it and the Expert, unless bragging rights can make you faster (they can). Beyond that, there’s a Comp Carbon model for $7,525 and a Comp aluminum-framed version for a grand less than that. Sixty-five hundred dollars is still a hefty entry-level cost, but as I said earlier, this bike is impressive. There’s no way to ride it without getting a sh*t-eating grin on your face. Try it, I dare you.
This article originally appeared on Bikemag.com and was republished with permission.