A few years ago, the mere mention of an electrically-assisted mountain bike would have had the hardcore mud-pluggers groaning into their Thermos flask. Put simply, any reliance on battery assistance to aid the arduous climb back to the top of the run was akin to admitting defeat. Well sod that: Specialized Turbo Levo Comp FSR is a classic example of a best electric mountain bike that you’ll want to ride all day – and because it makes the more tedious and arduous bits easy, you’ll get more out of that day to boot.
E-MTB technology has now been adopted by those riders who have rapidly realised the addition of a powerful motor not only opens up the possibility of longer rides, it also means those rides are faster, gnarlier and downright extreeeeeeme. Throw a leg over a decent e-MTB, crank up the electrical assistance and prepare to have the mind blown by the overall experience. It’s like an awesome mix of extremely agile motocross and super speedy downhill.
The Specialized Turbo Levo Comp FSR is among some of the best electrically assisted mountain bikes on sale now, purely because it has been designed from the ground-up to be a true trail-crushing machine.
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Specialized Turbo Levo Comp FSR: the set-up
On the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp FSR, fast, accurate frame geometry meets internal cable routing, chunky 29-inch wheels and RockShox Deluxe RT suspension that soaks up the bumps with aplomb.
Of course, you could part with a great deal more cash, crawl up the Specialized product range and bag yourself a full carbon fibre Turbo bad boy, but the additional weight of the integrated battery packs and 250W custom Rx Trail-tuned motor means the small weight savings offered by the space-age material aren’t hugely worth it.
In fact, we quite like the look and feel of this alloy frame, while the added peace of mind afforded by that additional strength is greatly appreciated when your pride and joy is hurtling down a steep forest path sans rider. Send it!
Specialized claims that the “kinematics of the frame have also been perfected, along with rider-tuned stiffness”, which doesn’t mean much to us but we can honestly say it manages to feel meaty and comfortable, while making even the most ham-fisted riders look pretty competent.
All cable routing is internal, including that of the Command Post IR dropper seat post, while the battery is fully integrated in the down tube and the sleek motor is now smaller and tucked away around the crank so it is barely noticeable.
Available in a very chic Taupe and Acid Kiwi (khaki and green) or a slightly more low-key Cast Battleship and Hyper (blue with neon yellow decals), it looks fantastic whichever way you spec it.
Specialized Turbo Levo Comp FSR: the kit
Specialized is sometimes accused (even by us) of scrimping on the specification, but this Turbo Levo Comp FSR boasts a long list of niceties. SRAM PG-1130, 11-speed gearing, SRAM Guide hydraulic disc brakes, a Praxis crank, Roval Traverse 29-inch alloy rims and Butcher tyres are just a few highlights.
Throw in the dropper seat post and top spec RockShox suspension all-round and you have yourself a very tempting downhill machine, even before you consider the additional benefit of electrical assistance.
That 500wh integrated battery pack teams up with a 250w motor to deliver some serious punch out on the trails. Users control the system by some simple handlebar controls that essentially increase or decrease the amount of e-assistance.
Granted, these little thumb controls could be a little sleeker and feel as if they were a bit of an afterthought, but they’re easy to use and locate, even with gloved hands.
There’s also a new display on the top tube that shows the level of remaining battery charge via some cool LEDs, which is far easier to glance at while riding than the older system, which was bizarrely located on the downtube.
Users can also map torque and power output, which peaks at a surprisingly punchy 530W, via the Mission Control App, which has a bunch of neat features, such as the ability to programme a time or distance parameter to ensure there’s enough power to get you home.
Specialized Turbo Levo Comp FSR: the ride
As previously mentioned, it’s best not to approach an e-mountain bike in the same way as you would approach your trusty downhill or hardtail steed, simply because the additional weight will, at first, feel alien.
But test the Turbo Levo on your favoured local route and we’ll guarantee you’ll tackle it at speeds you didn’t think possible, while the previously long and slow slug back to the top of the run will feel like a cruise to the shops.
Specialized has excelled in creating an e-bike that feels as close to a typical mountain bike as it is possible to get, but one that also boasts the additional fireworks of a powerful and impressively quiet electric motor.
Handling is precise, even at slow speeds, while the assistance from the electric motor feels intelligent, which not only increases confidence on the trickier sections, it also means battery management is decent.
Rider weight, terrain, temperature and conditions all have a huge impact on range, but the Specialized Turbo Levo is good for over 20-miles of hard trail riding, or more if you make the most of the Mission Control app.
Experienced riders may think that figure is a bit weedy, but then this is an e-bike that can easily be ridden without the electric assistance. Use the power wisely and it’s possible to shred all day.
Specialized Turbo Levo Comp FSR: the verdict
There are plenty of electric mountain bikes to choose from now and as a sport, it only looks set to grow in the near future. But Specialized offers a really tempting blend of reasonable (ish) price tag, excellent build quality and superb handling in its Turbo Levo Comp FSR.
Assistance from the motor is smart and its ‘go-anywhere’ attitude is massively addictive. Granted, the lack of digital display and the slightly naff user controls let the side down a little bit, but the machine offers a genuine mountain bike experience with the added bonus of some serious firepower. It’s the best electric MTB you can currently get, at least without paying truly silly money.