Specialized Levo SL e-MTB: one of the best you can buy

The Specialized Levo SL offers everything a fan of electric mountain biking wants and justifies its premium price tag

Specialized Levo SL
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Specialized Levo SL e-MTB is a dream to ride off-road, with its lightweight construction, extensive use of premium components and with the added ability to turn on the battery tap as and when you need it. The really great thing is the mountain bike works perfectly well with or without the battery assistance. With the power on though, and those 12-speed SRAM gears, you feel almost unstoppable. However, there are awesome SRAM brakes too, so you can actually come to a halt, swiftly, when the time arrives. Brilliant stuff.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Super light e-MTB

  • +

    Fab collection of components

  • +

    Sublime performance

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Tyres not so good on roads

  • -

    Takes time to fine-tune

Specialized Levo SL review in a sentence: This is one of the best electric mountain bikes you can buy. It’s cleverly designed, beautifully made and performs wonderfully, whether you’re under power or not.

There’s a lot of competition out there from bike makers, especially those in the e-MTB category and they can be lucrative products for manufacturers. As you’ll see from our best electric mountain bike collection, these things are big ticket items too.

Enthusiast’s don’t usually mind shelling out a bit, or even a lot, for what they want though. I guess I’d be no different. And, with something like the Specialized Levo SL, you certainly get a superb bit of kit in return for parting with all those readies. 

There are other brands, of course, like Merida, Cannondale and Haibike for example, but Specialized’s Levo SL is definitely one of the best on the e-MTB market currently.

If you want to know more about T3's product reviews, take a read of our how we test page. Otherwise, read on for my thoughts about the Specialized Levo SL.

Specialized Levo SL

(Image credit: Future)

Specialized Levo SL: price and availability

The Specialized Levo SL is available to buy now and, this being a brand that delivers lots of choice, there are a variety of variations on the same model. In the US, there’s the S-Works Turbo Levo SL (opens in new tab) to consider, though the Turbo Levo SL Comp Carbon (opens in new tab) is more affordable but no less fab. 

Specialized offers its bikes in the usual size options, such as S, M, L or XL, though as with everything else currently availability can fluctuate, presumably due to supply chain issues. 

Meanwhile, in the UK, there’s the Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon (opens in new tab), for example, or the Turbo Levo SL Comp (opens in new tab). Specialized does also have frequent offers, which can help to shave some cash off the asking price.

Specialized Levo SL

(Image credit: Future)

Specialized Levo SL: design and build

Unsurprisingly, the Specialized Turbo Levo SL is light, around 10 pounds lighter in fact than a ‘standard’ model and that’s immediately noticeable as soon as you start moving it around. The SL bit of the name means the bike I’ve been trying is a 2x You edition, or Super Light System. 

There’s 160/150mm front and rear suspension too, all of which sits in an aluminium frame that is finished in a Cast Battleship/Black colour combination. It looks very cool.

The battery is housed in the frame, something that Specialized is particularly good at and the result here is as impressive as ever. It’s a Specialized SL1-320 unit, rated at 320Wh and is mated to a Specialized SL 1.1 motor, which has been designed to be as lightweight as possible. 

The plan has obviously been a success because you can lift this bike over something like a stile without breaking into a sweat. Charging, meanwhile, is done using a 48V system via the standard Specialized charging port at the foot of the frame.

Specialized Levo SL

(Image credit: Future)

The power and way it is delivered will be familiar if you’ve ridden Specialized bikes before. There’s the familiar button combo on the frame, which needs to be pushed to activate and you then set your preferred level. 

There are plus and minus assistance buttons on the left-hand side of the handlebars too, which allow you to get more help as and when you need it.

This being a quality e-MTB, the Specialized Levo SL can be set up to suit the person riding it. That means it’s worth spending some time getting it just right as pretty much everything can be adjusted. We’ve all got our own riding preferences and that’s certainly a real boon with this model. 

I spent a while tweaking the Specialized Levo SL before riding it for the first time, but then came back home and made some more adjustments to get the riding position just right. The fact that it’s so malleable in terms of ride position is a major plus while the overall quality on show really underlines just what a premium proposition this electric mountain bike really is. 

Specialized Levo SL

(Image credit: Future)

Specialized Levo SL: the ride

This would be a great mountain bike even if it didn’t have the additional benefit of power assistance. However, once you’ve fired up the system, the Specialized Levo SL feels nigh on unstoppable. 

I got it to go over terrain that looked impossible to navigate, but the combination of excellent gearing and a seamless drip feed of power means you can tap into the motor’s torque to get over (and under) the trickiest of trails and tracks. 

Delivery of the power is spot-on, while I’m really blown away by the slick gear changes provided by the components on this bike.

I’ve got no qualms about the ability of the Specialized Levo SL to get around off-road and it proved its worth on a variety of terrain. Where it was less great was on Tarmac roads. The tyres are perfect for chewing their way through rough and muddy ground, but I found them a little bit unpredictable out on the road. 

They had the tendency to tramline a little and didn’t prompt confidence when turning corners sharply, probably because of the knobbles on the edge of the tyre. A minor point in the big scheme of things though as this is a mountain bike.

Specialized Levo SL

(Image credit: Future)

Specialized Levo SL: verdict

I’m really loving the Specialized Levo SL. It's an e-MTB that really comes into its own once you’ve got it set up to suit your own riding style. The list of highlights is seemingly endless, from that battery and motor combination through to the quality of components on offer. Indeed, the SRAM 12-speed gearing and associated chainrings, crankset and shift levers are a joy to use.

The same goes for the Bridge Comp saddle, those Specialized Trail handlebars along with the beefy SRAM hydraulic discs. Suspension too is spot-on, thanks to the Fox Float dampers. It’s all really good stuff. That Butcher front tyre might not be quite as enjoyable on hard surfaces as it is on the mud, but aside from that there is precious little to grumble about with the Specialized Levo SL.

Specialized Levo SL

(Image credit: Future)

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.