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e-Bikes

Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Expert 6 Fattie


Words and photos: Steve Jones


Shape and Purpose

It’s a Stumpjumper plain and simple, and as such carries with it the imperious geometry, suspension and detail that makes the non-electric version such an iconic bike.

Of all the electric bikes the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Expert 6 Fattie is the cleanest and slickest looking e-mtb on the market. It’s the e-bike that upsets fewer people both through its looks and, as we were to find out, its silence. On a training run on the flat we found one rider’s free hub noisier than the Levo, until the ground rises steeply at which point the Levo begins to wheeze. In comparison to its 6 Fattie stablemate the Levo shares similar numbers in both in geometry and suspension.

Suspension/Chassis/Detail

With a shorter chainstay than most e-mtb’s the Levo is already in a unique position although the NDuro gets close. We feel the aluminium version of the Levo to be the way to go as its clean lines are so similar to the carbon bike plus the weight difference hardly counts for anything on a bike this weight.

Our test bike had 10-42T Sram GX gearing and we’d like to get it clad with the EX1 gearing that the 10-48T Trek Powerfly has. The Brose motor is a custom version for Specialized and is said to knock out a bit more torque than the Bosch and Yamaha units but as we found out its not simply a case of numbers but how the power is transferred into the ride. This bike has a 504Wh battery compared to the smaller 460Wh version on the less expensive bikes.

The big difference of the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Expert 6 Fattie is the lack of bar mounted displays, which, as we’ve found out can be expensive and vulnerable to damage. We like this method although switching between power modes on the side of the battery isn’t as straight forward as the bar mounted system.

Feeling

With a low down, low speed grunt the Levo can rock climb you out of trouble, it’ll hold the wheel aloft even when you’ve mounted a big slab of rock. Where the Bosch drops the front end the Brose keeps you high. On the slower arm wrestling climbs the Brose requires less momentum to get you upwards but the rider weighting and position becomes more critical.

The Levo power can often surge after you stop spinning the cranks but where the motor has been alerted. For example in a rock climbing situation there is stored power that will come on tap through the cranks after the initial effort, sometimes this can be a surprise but quite often, when understood and expected can be fully used to the rider’s advantage.

 

With no visuals, no cockpit clock, dials or buttons the Levo is clean and simple and fuss free, the power modes relatively easy to use but not as straight forward as the bar mounted method. The Mission control app allows for mapping but somehow that kills the spirit of adventure as much as it it allows you to plan it and deliver the right amount of power for the amount of descending and ascending you’ll be doing. This often fails to recognise the need to mess about on banks, conquer sections feet up that will doubtless become part of the ride.

The tyres enjoy a slightly stronger sidewall than on the Trek bike but we’re quite certain there’s more to come in terms of tyre development and e-mtb’s. Faultless Specialized damping, a super silent ride in anything up to steep, trials like terrain and a bike that people don’t even look twice at, simply believing you are a super fit rider.

Limitations

Ultimately the Brose begins to wheeze on tougher, longer climbs, and the heart rate often climbs into higher zones than the Bosch. In short the bike lacks a bit of power on sustained efforts even though the numbers say otherwise. The momentum that the turbo mode on a Bosch motor offers means that the rider can ultimately use slightly less effort on climbing, and the Levo requires a slower speed arm wrestle approach to hills which we feel can lead to more fatigue.

More than this the bike doesn’t not allow the rider to shift gear on tough climbs, it’s a case of spin the gear and keep it spinning, this takes some getting used to and something that doesn’t happen on Bosch. We aslo had a period where the chain kept derailing continuously which we now put down to a loose cassette protector.

Verdict

Switching between power modes on Bosch bikes is a simple way to hammer climbs and descents whilst the LED battery display method on the Levo can be fiddly. The Mission Control iOS or Android app can make trail planning easier and more complex at the same time. The Levo has the looks and the silence on the flatter terrain but on the banks we have mixed feelings.

It’s a better bike for slow speed trials style obstacles but a lesser one for extended technical climbs. The motor begins to wheeze when the it is really being pushed hard and the fact that shifting on steep climbs can result in a loss of power if you do not match the cadence becomes an issue. But we love it nonetheless and its shortcomings will surely be updated. It’s a case of learning how to ride it for the geometry and silence is classic.

Motor – 530W/90Nm
Battery – 460 Wh
Travel – Front 140mm/Rear 135mm
Weight – 49Lb
Price – £5600


SIZE                              S                    M                     L                      XL
Wheelbase                 1154               1181                 1212                1246
Reach                          389                415                  434                 460
Head Angle                66.5
Seat Angle                  69.3
Chain Stay                  459


https://www.specialized.com/gb/gb/

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