Weighing in at just 17 kg, the Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL is one of the lightest eMTBs on the market. The SL motor and modular battery concept specifically developed for the Levo SL result in a natural ride feel and long rides are possible despite the small battery. All this helped secure our coveted Best Buy in last year’s group test, but can the Levo SL hold its own against the strong competition of this year’s group test?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best mountainbike of 2021 – 22 models in review

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL | Specialized SL 1.1/320 Wh | 150/150 mm (f/r)
16.95 kg (size L) | € 13,999 | Manufacturer-website

The Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL is one of the oldest bikes in the test. You don’t have to google its release date to find out how old it is. Just take a closer look at the frame and you’ll realise that it’s still based on the previous-generation Specialized Stumpjumper. Nevertheless, the Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL features an elegant carbon frame in a matte-black finish with contrasting bronze decals. While at 17 kg it’s one of the lightest eMTBs currently available on the market, the Specialized SL 1.1 motor which produces only 35 Nm torque also makes it one of the weakest. In comparison, the Orbea Rise has 60 Nm of torque, 40 Wh more internal battery capacity and relies on a similar modular battery concept with an optional range extender.

That being said, it’s also almost 1.5 kg heavier than the Levo SL. The internal battery of the Turbo Levo SL has a capacity of 320 Wh, which can be increased with an optional 160 Wh range extender. This can be stored in the bottle cage, weighs exactly 1 kg and is delivered with the bike. At the heart of the modular motor and battery concept lies the Turbo Connect Unit (TCU) integrated into the top tube, which uses LEDs to provide information about the battery charge and assistance mode and communicates directly with the Mission Control app. Here you can access the battery management system and adjust the motor characteristics to suit your riding style and preferences. As with the Rise, ebike minimalists can do away with the handlebar remote and, in combination with SRAM’s AXS wireless components, achieve a super tidy cockpit. Nice! Unfortunately, the battery takes up most of the down tube and doesn’t leave room for Specialized’s proprietary SWAT storage box. However, you still get the SWAT tool in the steerer tube. Just like its analogue counterparts, the Stumpjumper and Stumpjumper EVO, the Levo SL features a well-sized chainstay protector, a minimalist chain guide and a TPU guard on the down tube that protects the carbon frame from impacts and stray rocks.

The Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL is a sort of EPO injection and thus conveys a very natural ride feeling. However, you still have to work hard.

Good genes never lie – The spec of the Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL

The S-Works designation is exclusive to Specialized’s top-end models, which are known to be sinfully expensive. In fact, the Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL is the most expensive bike in our test, retailing at an eye-watering € 13,999. For this sort of money, you could get exactly 8.2 Canyon Stoics or, even better, 930 cases of beer. However, if you’ve worked hard enough to afford a Turbo Levo SL, you’ll be taking home bling FOX Factory suspension with a 36 GRIP2 fork and DPX2 shock, both controlling 150 mm travel. On top of that, you’ll get a shiny SRAM XX1 AXS 12-s drivetrain with a 10–52 t cassette and a 170 mm RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post. Braking is taken care of by Magura MT7 four-piston brakes with Loic Bruni signature brake levers and big 200 mm rotors front and rear. The AXS shifters are attached to MAGURA MT7 brake levers using Shiftmix clamps. Regrettably, the clamps only have a small adjustment range, which makes it hard to position both the brake lever and shifter within easy reach – most of our testers had problems with this. The tire setup also left our test team scratching their heads. The in-house Roval Traverse SL Carbon wheelset is paired with an outdated version of Specialized’s own-brand Butcher and Eliminator tires (f/r), which come in the puncture-prone GRID Trail casing and a hard rubber compound. We recommend upgrading the tires, at least at the rear, to a more robust version to protect the carbon wheelset from punctures.

… the old-generation Specialized tires with their puncture-prone casing, especially if you’re on a carbon wheelset! We recommend upgrading the standard tires with a more robust model.
Fast forward!
If you climb lots of steep trails, you should push the saddle of the Turbo Levo SL all the way forward. This creates a more central riding position and allows for better weight distribution.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL

€ 13,999


Motor Specialized SL 1.1 35 Nm
Battery Specialized SL1-320 320 Wh
Display Specialized TCU
Fork FOX 36 Factory 150 mm
Rear Shock FOX DPX2 Factory 150 mm
Seatpost RockShox AXS 170 mm
Brakes MAGURA MT 7 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS 1x12
Stem Deity Copperhead 35 mm
Handlebar Specialized Trail FACT Carbon 780 mm
Wheelset Roval Traverse SL Carbon 29"
Tires Specialized Butcher/Eliminator GRID Trail GRIPTON 2.3

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 16.95 kg

Specific Features

Range-Extender (160 Wh)

Integration at its best
The Turbo Connect Unit integrated neatly in the top tube displays the battery charge status and the current support level using coloured LEDs.
When mom cleans up…
… everything is clean but not necessarily in the right place. The AXS rocker paddles are attached to the MAGURA brake levers using Shiftmix clamps, which only offer a small adjustment range.
What do you fancy today?
If you’re planning a longer ride you can use the additional 160 Wh range extender, which can be carried in the bottle cage and connects to the internal battery via a cable.

The geometry of the Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL

The S-Works Turbo Levo SL doesn’t adopt Specialized’s new S-sizing system and relies on standard sizing instead – another hint as regards the age of the frame. The Turbo Levo SL is available in a total of four sizes from S to XL, offering a suitable option for riders from 157 cm to 193 cm tall. The long 455 mm seat tube and short 455 mm reach in size L make for a compact riding position and results in little freedom of movement. In comparison, the new Stumpjumper combines a 475 mm reach with a short 425 mm seat tube. The outdated geometry and huge gaps between sizes make it impossible to choose the frame based on your desired reach. For example, the biggest XL size pairs a massive 505 mm seat tube with a comparatively meagre 480 mm reach. Chainstays are 437 mm across the board. A flip-chip in the shock mount allows you to make small adjustments to the geometry and adapt the riding position to your liking. We like the slacker low setting best.

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 66.0° 66.0° 66.0° 66.0°
Seat angle 75.3° 75.0° 74.6° 74.2°
Chainstays 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm
BB Drop 27 mm 27 mm 27 mm 27 mm
Radstand 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
Helmet POC Kortal Race MIPS | Glasses SCOTT Shield | Hippack Bontrager Rapid | Shirt Monserat J02
Pants POC Rhythm Resistance Pants | Kneepads AMPLIFI MKX
Shoes Five Ten Kestrel Lace MTB SPD | Socks Stance

Doping for your legs! The Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL on the trail

On flat terrain, the riding position of the Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL is comfortable and upright. The suspension is very active and absorbs bumps willingly. On steep climbs and with the dropper fully extended, the Turbo Levo SL positions its rider far back over the rear wheel – tall riders should push the saddle all the way forward. On flat trails, the motor assistance is pleasant and Turbo mode feels like Eco on the other ebikes tested! The motor can be modulated intuitively and disengages so smoothly at the 25 km/h threshold that it’s hard to tell whether you’re riding with or without support. This is partly due to the fact that the motor starts reducing its power at 23 km/h, making for a silky-smooth transition. Since the motor has very little internal resistance, the Levo SL is easy to pedal beyond the 25 km/h limit and with the motor turned off. As it uses significantly less power than a conventional eMTB drive, the Specialized SL 1.1 motor can also achieve long ranges despite its small battery capacity, allowing you to ride for longer and still feel less tired than with a conventional bike. Under load, the motor develops a loud buzzing noise, which varies in intensity depending on how hard it’s working. While the noise is clearly audible, it doesn’t affect the riding experience, sounding more like an aeroplane in the distance.

On steep climbs, the Turbo Levo SL can’t keep up with its full-sized eMTB opponents due to the lower power output of the motor. Here it feels more like an EPO injection than an eMTB and not too dissimilar to the analogue trail bikes in test. However, this also requires you to choose your gears carefully and prepare for steep sections. Here the geometry of the Levo SL has a significant effect and on steep ramps, the rear-heavy position causes the shock to sink into its travel, forcing you to actively load the front wheel to keep it tracking.

If you’re looking for a good-natured and intuitive bike, the Levo SL is a great option. That being said, it’s not suitable for fast riders because the suspension doesn’t provide enough support and swallows up a significant amount of speed in berms.

Tuning-tips: tires with more robust casing at the rear (i.e. Eliminator with GRID Gravity casing) | tall riders should push the saddle all the way forward

Downhill, the Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL impresses with its balanced suspension and super-intuitive handling. In combination with the precise steering behaviour, this makes the Levo SL fun and easy to ride downhill, regardless of your skills. With that said, the Levo SL is far from being a weapon of KOM destruction: despite generating good traction in open corners, the suspension lacks support on jumps and berms and can quickly kill your momentum. If you spend lots of time on flowing trails with jumps, you should run less sag to get more support and pop. The outdated geometry becomes evident at high speeds, where the Turbo Levo SL lacks smoothness compared to its direct competitors, the MERIDA eONE Sixty and Orbea Rise. On the other hand, the low system weight also makes it more playful than the Merida. On the whole, the Turbo Levo SL strikes a great balance between smoothness and agility. However, for aggressive and fast riders. the Orbea Rise offers the better overall package.

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










The Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL is more EPO injection than eMTB. The intuitive and natural handling make it a great bike for everyone, especially downhill. It’s a great all-rounder and, thanks to the weak motor, also suitable for long rides. However, if you’re looking for a more capable bike, you should look elsewhere, because the Turbo Levo SL lacks smoothness at high speed and the suspension doesn’t provide enough support. It is therefore best suited for leisurely rides and easy singletracks. In light of the eye-watering price of € 13,999, it only offers a mediocre price-performance ratio.


  • intuitive handling
  • motor delivers a very natural ride feel
  • successful integration of the motor-battery system
  • modular battery concept with range extender


  • lack of smoothness at high speed and little support from the suspension
  • puncture-prone rear tire

Find more information here: specialized.com

The testfield

Get an overview of the grouptest here: The best mountainbike of 2021 – 22 models in review

All Bikes in this group test: Canyon Neuron CF SLX 9 (Click for review) | Canyon Spectral 29 LTD (Click for review) | Canyon Stoic 4 (Click for review) | FOCUS THRON 6.9 (Click for review) | Ibis Ripmo V2 (Click for review) | MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 10K (Click for review) | MERIDA NINETY-SIX 8000 (Click for review) | Nukeproof Reactor 290C (Click for review) | Orbea Rise M-Team (Click for review) | Propain Hugene (Click for review) | RAAW Jibb XTR Build (Click for review) | Rocky Mountain Instinct C70 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz 5010 X01 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Tallboy CC X01 (Click for review) | SCOTT Ransom 900 Tuned AXS (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper EVO (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL | Trek Fuel EX 9.8 GX (Click for review) | Trek Top Fuel 9.9 X01 (Click for review) | Yeti SB115 TURQ3 (Click for review) | YT IZZO BLAZE 29 (Click for review)

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Words: Peter Walker Photos: various

About the author

Peter Walker

As editor-in-chief, Peter is as much a man of action as he is of words. This expert, screw-driver-flexing two wheeled-whizz has many envy-inducing characteristics, including a background in motocross, several EWS race plates to his name, and more than 150 recorded days at Whistler Bike Park. However complex the bike and however steep the trail, he’s probably already nailed it, twice. Oh, and he can do it all on skinny tyres too. When it comes to guiding consumers, Peter cut his teeth at Vancouver’s oldest bike shop and now puts pen to paper on the daily translating this know-how into our editorial plan. When not tearing up Stuttgart’s local trails while testing bikes, he loves nothing more than loading up his self-renovated VW T5 and hitting the road. The fact that he’s a trained paramedic gives his colleagues reassurance out on the trails. So far we haven’t had to call him by his alias ‘Sani Peter’, so here’s hoping he keeps it right side up for the rest of his time here!