While the new Specialized Levo SL Expert Carbon surprised our testers in this group test, it also caused a lot of headaches. This bike is the beginning of a new era – an era where mountain biking will change forever.

Click here for an overview of the best trail bike in test.

Specialized Levo SL Expert Carbon | 29″ | 150/150 mm | 17.70 kg | € 8,699 | manufacturer website

Looking at the new Specialized Levo SL, it’s immediately clear that this is not an eMTB in the traditional sense. With its slim silhouette, it looks strikingly similar to the well-known Stumpjumper and there are hardly any differences in terms of geometry. This is all made possible by Specialized’s new SL 1.1 motor, which has already been put to use in the Turbo Creo e-road bike. Instead of setting new performance benchmarks, the motor impressed us with its compact size and low weight. The motor is powered by an integrated 320 Wh battery and if that is not enough, you can increase the capacity with an additional 160 Wh range extender. With the help of the Mission Control app, the motor adapts to the route that you’ve planned in order to make the battery last the whole ride. In practice, that means we’ve managed to get over 1,000 m of climbing on one charge. Overall, the spec of the Specialized Levo SL Expert Carbon is somewhat average considering the whopping € 8,699 price tag, but it is perfectly functional. Specialized have tried to keep the bike’s total weight to a minimum by speccing a FOX 34 Performance fork and SRAM G2 brakes, albeit with a 200 mm rotor upfront. The cockpit and seat post give no grounds for criticism in terms of function and ergonomics. Weighing in at 17.7 kg, our test bike is only slightly heavier than some of the enduro bikes you’ll find in our office.

Specialized Levo SL Expert Carbon

€ 8,699


Fork FOX 34 Performance Elite
Rear Shock FOX DPS Performance
Seatpost X-Fusion Maniac 150 mm
Brakes SRAM G2 RSC 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle 30/10-50
Stem Specialized Trail 60
Handlebar Specialized Trail 780 mm
Wheelset Roval Traverse Carbon
Tires Specialized Butcher/Eliminator GRID Trail GRID 2,3

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 17,7 kg
Wheelsize 29"
Travel (f/r) 150/150 mm

Looks like a Stumpy
The silhouette of the Levo SL is very similar to that of the Stumpjumper. There’s a 320 Wh battery hidden in the slender down tube.
Everything under control
The support levels of the Levo SL can be selected with the slim remote on the left. Due to the weaker motor, you’ll have to choose your gears carefully just as you would on a classic mountain bike.
Smart integration
For years now we have been praising the way Specialized have integrated the sensor magnet into the brake rotor, yet many eMTB brands still haven’t caught on. Unlike a spoke magnet, it can’t twist or fall off.
While the motor of the classic Levo quadruples the rider’s performance, that of the Levo SL can only double it. However, this is still enough power to get you up a steep climb in a relaxed manner while also ensuring a very natural riding experience.
Too small
The small 180 mm brake rotor at the rear is too small for long descents on steep terrain. We recommend upgrading to a 200 mm rotor or CODE RSC brakes.

Geometry of the Specialized Levo SL Expert

Regarding geometry, the new Specialized Levo SL is based heavily on the Stumpjumper. The chainstay length is the same at 437 mm. The 66° head angle is somewhat slacker and the 455 mm reach of the size L is one centimetre longer. For increased ground clearance, the 27 mm bottom bracket drop is 6 mm higher than the Stumpjumper, though this is still plenty low.

Alongside the suspension fork and disc brakes, Specialized’s compact SL 1.1 motor is sure to be the next big revolution in mountain biking!

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 390 mm 410 mm 455 mm 505 mm
Top tube 574 mm 597 mm 629 mm 663 mm
Head tube 95 mm 95 mm 125 mm 140 mm
Head angle 66° 66° 66° 66°
Seat angle 75.3° 75.0° 74.6° 74.2°
Chainstays 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm
BB height 348 mm 348 mm 348 mm 348 mm
Wheelbase 1,165 mm 1,185 mm 1,217 mm 1,248 mm
Reach 415 mm 435 mm 455 mm 480 mm
Stack 606 mm 606 mm 633 mm 647 mm

The Levo SL on test

If you’ve ever ridden an eMTB before, you’re bound to be disappointed initially that there’s none of the acceleration you’d expect from a traditional eMTB. Instead, you ride the Levo SL like any non-motorised trail bike, though with the gentle push of a constant tailwind. The riding position is central, the suspension is plush and sensitive and assisted by level 2 of the motor’s factory setting, you’ll get up the climbs noticeably more easily than with any normal bike. Using the Levo SL to go on a group ride with non-ebikers is a non-issue and should you run out of juice, you can still pedal the bike home without any added resistance. But if you want, simply select the highest support mode and even the steepest of climbs start feeling easy. During our tests, we were able to cover just over 1,000 meters in altitude with a rider weight of around 90 kg and varying support modes without the additional range extender battery or recharging.

The Levo SL descends like a non-motorised trail bike, but with all the advantages of the compact motor for the climbs.

On the descents, the Specialized Levo SL is almost as agile as the Stumpjumper and easy to get airborne. Quick direction changes are easy on this bike and the additional weight only means that the Levo SL is more stable and composed through the rough stuff. There’s none of that cumbersome handling that eMTBs are infamous for here! Instead, the Levo SL impressed us with its agile character. The 150 mm travel suspension performs very sensitively and absorbs large hits with ease, though super aggressive riders will want a little more support.

Tuning tips: customise the tune of the motor with the Mission Control app | volume spacer in suspension fork and shock | larger rear brake rotor

Helmet Specialized Ambush | Glasses Oakley Jawbreaker | Jersey Fasthouse Fastline Slash SS | Pants iXS SEVER Short

How does the Specialized compare to the competition?

Since there is so much more to say about the new Specialized Levo SL, we’ve done an in-depth comparison with the Levo and the Stumpjumper, which you can read further on in this issue. To find out more about the specs and for a detailed individual review of the Levo SL, read the writeup published by our sister magazine E-MOUNTAINBIKE.

Riding Characteristics



  1. sluggish
  2. efficient


  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced


  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use









Conclusion of the Specialized Levo SL Expert Carbon

The Specialized Levo SL Expert Carbon isn’t an eMTB, it’s a trail bike with a motor. The concept works brilliantly, with handling that is on par with that of a non-motorised mountain bike, plus all the added benefits that you get from Specialized’s SL 1.1 motor. Alongside the suspension fork and disc brakes, we think this will be mountain biking’s next big revolution. With this extra boost in performance, the Levo SL Expert Carbon is our deserved Best Buy, even if it isn’t the most affordable bike on test.


  • the complete mountain biking experience
  • suddenly uphills are fun
  • the added boost is a motivator and equaliser in group rides
  • Mission Control app for motor customisation


  • suspension could offer more support
  • yes it has a battery you’ll have to charge
  • hefty price point!

For more information head to specialized.com

The test field

Click here for an overview of the best trail bike in test.

If you’re feeling puzzled about the new generation of eMTBs you may want to give Christophs’ thoughts on the topic a read.

All bikes in review: Cannondale Habit Carbon 1 (Click for review) | Canyon Spectral CFR 9.0 SL (Click for review) | Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 (Click for review) | Ibis Ripmo AXS (Click for review) | Nukeproof Reactor 290 (Click for review) | Norco Optic C1 (Click for review) | Orbea Occam M-LTD (Click for review) | Radon Slide Trail 10 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Hightower CC X01 Reserve (Click for review) | Scott Genius 900 Tuned AXS (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper SRAM AXS 29 (Click for review) | Trek Fuel EX 9.9 X01 AXS Project ONE (Click for review) | Yeti SB130 TLR (Click for review) | YT JEFFSY CF PRO (Click for review)

Here you can find more about the Specialized Levo SL and eMTB light:

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Words: Photos: Christoph Bayer, Finlay Anderson, Markus Frühmann, Jonas Müssig