The new Specialized Turbo Levo SL 2023 is supposed to be more powerful, more capable and even more fun than its predecessor. The latest iteration of the SL dynasty rolls into the new season with a more powerful motor, more travel and, above all, with one clear intention: snatching the “ultimate trail bike” title away from its analogue counterpart. The bar’s set high!

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL 2023 | Specialized Turbo SL 1.2/320 Wh | 160/150 mm (f/r)
17.7 kg in size S5 | € 14,000 | Manufacturer’s website

Back in February 2020, the Californian bike colossus caused a sensation with the launch of their very first light eMTB, the first-generation Turbo Levo SL. Although Specialized weren’t the first manufacturer to introduce such a concept, the Turbo Levo SL was the first bike that managed to break through the wall of indifference in the mountain biking world and finally put light eMTBs on the map, ushering in a whole new generation of e-mountainbikes. After a short period of inactivity – caused amongst other things by an angry bat – more and more light motor systems were introduced onto the market, with several manufacturers jumping on the light eMTB wagon and releasing a number of different concepts. While most brands are still busy addressing a number of teething problems with their first generation of light eMTBs – you can read everything about it in our latest ENDURO light eMTB group test – Specialized are several steps ahead, and just unveiled the second generation of the Levo SL.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it!
Of course, we wanted to see whether you can have fun with the new Turbo Levo SL ;)

Specialized had one goal when developing the new 2023 Turbo Levo SL: delivering a fun, lively ride, while at the same time guaranteeing capability and versatility. First off, only a handful of eMTBers are actually racing, and if they do, they won’t do it astride a light eMTB. As a logical consequence, there was no point in designing the Levo SL for maximum speed. Instead, the new Levo SL wants to be the ultimate trail bike, and was developed around Specialized’s trail all-rounder, the analogue Stumpjumper EVO, which holds that title – at least until now! We put the Levo SL through the wringer in the Portuguese riding paradise of Sintra to see how it performs on the trail.

Following in the footsteps of Specialized’s analogue trail bruiser the Stumpjumper, the new Levo SL generates 160/150 mm of travel (f/r) and relies on the same variable geometry concept. However, the Levo SL comes standard with a mixed wheel setup, combining a 29″ front wheel and a 27.5″ wheel at the rear. The overhauled 50 Nm Turbo SL 1.2 motor system, which was developed by Specialized in close cooperation with MAHLE, generates more torque and a higher max power than the previous version, and is also meant to be quieter. Like its predecessor, the motor draws its power from a permanently integrated 320 Wh battery, which can be expanded with an optional 160 Wh range extender that fits in the bottle cage.

While they were at it, Specialized’s engineers also revised the suspension kinematics, making the new Levo SL more progressive than its predecessor. This should improve both the bike’s climbing qualities and the suspension’s mid-stroke support, without altering its excellent small bump compliance. The new Levo SL is the first bike in Specialized’s portfolio to get this update, but we’re sure that more models will soon undergo the same treatment. The spec of the new Levo SL has become more progressive too, which promises a very potent character. Despite the robust components, the € 14,000 S-Works variant manages to break under the 18 kg weight barrier.

The new 2023 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL in detail.

Yes, Specialized are known for building expensive bikes, but there are several details on this bike that justify its price tag, even though this might not be evident straight away. The carbon frame of the flagship S-Works model is built to the highest standards and topped off with sophisticated, well-thought-out details and an elegant paint finish with shimmering decals. The shock yoke with exposed carbon fibres creates a harmonious contrast with the brushed alloy link, which perfectly matches the rest of the spec.

Even when you’re stuck on the trailside with a puncture, the S-Works Turbo Levo SL puts a smile on your face, oozing painstaking attention to detail and ingenious features from all angles.

A beefy, ribbed plastic protector stretches far over the top and bottom of the chainstay, preventing chain slap and paint chips. The cables run into the frame through the head tube and are securely clamped at the ports. The latter are generously sized, making it easy to route a new cable into the frame. The unused ports are neatly sealed with plugs.

Ribbed for more riding pleasure!
The ribbed chainstay protector effectively prevents chain slap and paint chips.
The unused cable ports are sealed with a plug.

An old yet very welcome feature is the SWAT tool in the steerer tube, which comes standard with most of Specialized’s mountain bikes, and springs out from its housing as soon as you slide the cover to the side. However, Specialized take it up a notch, making sure that all the bolts can be adjusted with the tools included in the small, practical SWAT tool – they even used a bigger bolt on the grip clamp to make this possible. Awesome!

Stached superhero!
Just slide the cover open and the compact SWAT tool springs to your rescue!

A discreet flap made of flexible plastic sits at the transition from the main frame to the swingarm, preventing dirt and stray rocks from damaging the frame and cables. A generously sized skid plate protects the frame and motor housing, and can be easily tightened or replaced. Moreover, protective tape runs along the entire length of the down tube, shielding the most exposed part of the frame from flying debris and muck. There’s enough room in the main frame triangle for a large water bottle, or the optional range extender. However, the Levo SL doesn’t have any additional mounting points for a tool strap or similar accessories.

A flexible plastic flap at the transition from the main frame to the swingarm prevents muck and stray rocks from damaging the frame and cables.
All in one
The wide skid plate merges seamlessly into the down tube protector and stretches far over the frame, preventing stray rocks from damaging the down tube.

The Specialized Turbo SL 1.2 motor system.

Specialized are known for employing countless in-house parts on their bikes. Alongside the frames, they also design and develop their own components and even the motor systems of their electric bikes, which obviously offers many advantages. We had the exclusive opportunity to take a look behind the scenes at Specialized’s ebike development centre, the Turbo Unit in Switzerland, which played a crucial role in the development of the Specialized Turbo SL 1.2 motor system.

Early this year, we had the exclusive opportunity to visit Specialized’s Turbo Unit in Switzerland to learn more about their motor development department.

At first glance the Turbo Levo SL 1.2 motor looks a lot like its predecessor, the SL 1.1, maintaining the same basic shape and, at approximately 1.9 kg, a similar weight. This puts the Specialized SL 1.2 motor in the same weight category as the TQ HPR 50 and FAZUA Ride 60 drive systems. Compared to its predecessor, however, which delivered a maximum torque output of only 35 Nm, the new Levo SL 1.2 motor combines 50 Nm torque with 320 watts maximal nominal output. That’s 33% more power and 43% more torque!

The beating heart of the Levo SL.
While the standard Levo SL 1.2 motor is housed in a magnesium case, this display model is encased in a transparent plastic housing that allows you to see the drive’s inner workings.
It’s all about the inner values
At first glance, the new Specialized motor looks a lot like its predecessor. On the trail, however, it delivers more power and more torque.

The SL 1.2 motor still draws its power from an internal 320 Wh battery, which is integrated into the down tube. While the integrated design allows for a slimmer, lighter frame, it also means that you’ll have to schlepp your bike upstairs for charging if you live in a flat without a basement or garage. However, you can expand the battery with a 160 Wh range extender, which fits in the bottle cage and can be easily plugged into the bike’s main charging port. The range extender has remained unchanged, which means that the previous variant is compatible with the new Specialized SL motor.

More trails? More trails!
The 160 Wh range extender fits into the bottle cage and is connected via a cable to the charging socket of the Levo SL.

The rest of the hardware, including the charging port, remote and MasterMind TCU display, consists of proven components taken from current Turbo models, which makes it easier to source spares and service the bike. The charging port is located above the bottom bracket and protected by a spring-loaded cover that can be operated easily with just one hand. However, with the charging cable plugged in, you should be careful not to yank it out of the magnetic connector when spinning the cranks. While this isn’t too much of an issue per se, it could potentially damage the charging port in the long run. The Levo SL also employs the same compact, minimalistic remote as all other Turbo models, which can be installed on either side of the handlebars depending on your needs and preferences. There are three buttons, allowing you to switch between assistance levels and use the walk assist mode, with intuitive pictograms to remind you which one is which. Overall, the remote offers excellent ergonomics and good haptic feedback.

Don’t need more
The compact remote can be mounted on either side of the handlebars. It’s intuitive to use and provides good haptic feedback.

One of the new additions is the MasterMind TCU display, which is integrated into the top tube of the bike and is already in use on the latest Levo and Kenevo models. Unlike the old 3-LED display of the previous Levo SL, the latest MasterMind colour display allows you to access a wide range of riding and motor data. Furthermore, using Specialized’s proprietary Control app, you can fine-tune the support levels and personalise the layout of the TCU display. Among other things, this allows you to reconfigure the standard data fields – battery charge status in %, support level, riding speed and time – and replace them with other data, like the total distance and accumulated elevation. You can also use the app to track a ride or, for example, to record your airtime data using the Jump Stats function – that said, the function can be easily tricked with good manual skills ;)

Old acquaintance
The new Levo SL employs Specialized’s MasterMind TCU display, which shows you all relevant riding and motor data.
Hold my beer
No, we didn’t jump a total of 82.9 m! The app gives a breakdown of the distance and duration of each jump, though it often counts manuals as jumps too.

Specialized also release over-the-air software updates on a regular basis, which allow you to expand the range of functions and improve existing features. Just recently, they’ve added the System Lock function, which lets you lock the motor system via the app. While this doesn’t prevent your bike from getting stolen, it renders the motor system useless and triggers an alarm, which could be a tad louder but definitely doesn’t go unnoticed. In a nutshell, you can now lean back and relax while sipping your Spritz-Aperol even if you leaned your bike against the wall unlocked a few metres away. Another recent update included the micro-adjust function, which lets you adjust the intensity of the motor assistance in 10% increments. Especially with SL models, this makes perfect sense, because it allows you to both save battery and adjust the support according to the conditions and desired assistance.

Step by step
Using the Micro Adjust function, you can change the intensity of the assistance in 10% increments. The selected support intensity will appear in the upper left corner of the MasterMind TCU display.

The spec of the 2023 Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL.

For our first ride review, we tested the Specialized Levo SL S-Works model in size S5, which retails at € 14,000 and tips the scales at 17.7 kg – more than reasonable considering the spec and size. In direct comparison, the light eMTBs in our latest group test weighed an average of 18.6 kg, despite offering less travel overall and only having slightly more battery capacity. The range extender of the Levo SL, which is included in the price with the S-Works model, weighs an additional 1.2 kg including the cable.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL 2023

€ 14,000


Motor Specialized Turbo SL 1.2 50 Nm
Battery Specialized 320 Wh
Display Specialized MasterMind TCU
Fork FOX 36 GRIP2 Factory 160 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT X Factory 150 mm
Seatpost RockShox Reverb AXS 170 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE Stealth Ultimate 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Eagle Transmission XX 1x12
Stem DEITY Copperhead 35 mm
Handlebar Roval Traverse SL Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Roval Traverse Carbon 29"/27,5"
Tires Specialized Butcher GRID Trail T9 / Eliminator GRID Trail T7 2,5"/2,4"

Technical Data

Size S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6
Weight 17,7 kg
Perm. total weight 127 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 109 kg
Trailer approval nein
Kickstand mount nein

Specific Features

Range Extender

For our first ride review, we tested the Specialized Levo SL S-Works model in size S5, which retails at € 14,000 and tips the scales at 17.7 kg – more than reasonable considering the spec and size. In direct comparison, the light eMTBs in our latest group test weighed an average of 18.6 kg, despite offering less travel overall and only having slightly more battery capacity. The range extender of the Levo SL, which is included in the price with the S-Works model, weighs an additional 1.2 kg including the cable.

The new SRAM Eagle Transmission XX rear derailleur mounts directly to the thru-axle and forgoes a mech hanger altogether.
The standard clamp connects SRAM’s proprietary Pods directly to the brake levers. While this might look great, it offers limited adjustability.

The suspension of the Levo SL S-Works consists of a FOX Factory 36 GRIP2 fork and matching FOX Factory FLOAT X air shock, generating 160/150 mm of travel at the front and rear, respectively. Both offer countless adjustment options, allowing you to fine tune the suspension to suit your needs and riding style. A brand new SRAM Eagle Transmission XX wireless electronic drivetrain ensures smooth and precise shifting. The rear derailleur mounts directly to the thru axle via a hangerless UDH interface, and is paired with a 12 speed cassette with 520% gear range. The only drawback is the position of the new shift paddles – also known as pods – which are attached to the brake lever via a matchmaker clamp. If, like us, you prefer a flatter brake level setup (+/- 35°), the clamp positions the pods far away from the thumb, making them hard to reach. However, SRAM also sell their own Infinity clamps, which allow you to mount the Pod in a wide array of different positions, independently of the brake lever.

Very clean BUT…
The new SRAM CODE Stealth Ultimate brakes were designed to move the brake line closer to the handlebars. While this might look incredibly tidy, it causes the brake line to slam against the stem, because they’re not guided or secured.
It’s a match!
The silver brake callipers ensure an elegant look and are combined with thicker HS2 brake rotors for a crisper brake feeling.

The electronic components together with the new Stealth brakes and matchmakers ensure a tidy cockpit. This consists of a 35 mm DEITY stem and Specialized’s 800 mm Roval Traverse SL carbon handlebars. The Californian brand also relies on their in-house components for the wheels, combining a Roval Traverse carbon wheelset and Specialized tires, with a 2.5″ Butcher in the soft T9 rubber compound at the front and 2.4″ Eliminator in the harder T7 rubber compound at the rear. This combo makes perfect sense, because it offers better grip at the front and more durability at the rear. Both tires come in the GRID Trail casing, which ensures sufficient puncture protection for most riders. Aggressive riders and those spending most of their time on rocky trails, should consider upgrading the tires to a more robust casing – like Specialized’s GRID GRAVITY – to protect the expensive carbon rims.

More spec variants of the Specialized Turbo Levo SL 2023

Alongside the 2023 Turbo Levo SL S-Works flagship model, Specialized have also released a Pro and Comp variant as well as a frame kit. While all models share the same carbon frame, the shock yoke of the Comp variant is made of alloy rather than carbon. There are different paint finishes to choose from: the S-Works and Comp are available in two colours each and the Pro adds a fifth colour option to the Levo SL line-up. Prices range between € 7,900 and € 15,000. The Pro and Comp models use the same motor system, software and frame details as the flagship model, including the ribbed chainstay protector and SWAT tool. Needless to say, the main thing that differentiates the different models is the spec and weight. Although the new Levo SL isn’t available in an alloy version yet, its predecessor was, which makes us hope that an alloy version of the second-generation Levo SL is in the pipeline.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL 2023 | € 14.000
Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL LTD 2023 | € 15.000
Specialized Turbo Levo SL Pro 2023 | € 11.500
Specialized Turbo Levo SL Comp 2023 | € 7.900
Specialized Turbo Levo SL Comp 2023 | € 7.900

The geometry of the 2023 Specialized Turbo Levo SL

Specialized have been using their proprietary S-sizing system for a few years now. This includes a total of 6 sizes, S1 to S6, and allows you to choose your frame size based on your desired reach and riding characteristics. For example, if you’re looking for composure, you can pick a longer reach, while a shorter frame will get you a livelier character. Most importantly, the seat tube is short across the board, ensuring a low standover height despite the longer reach. Specialized got this right across the entire size range with the new Levo SL, even with our test bike in size S5, which combines 495 mm reach and a short 445 mm seat tube. Moreover, the seatpost can be fully inserted into the frame.

You can alter the head tube angle of the Levo SL by replacing the headset cups, or simply by rotating the standard ones.
29” or mullet?
The rear end of the Levo SL is also compatible with either a 27.5” or a 29” wheel. To make this possible, Specialized added a flip chip to the chainstay, which adapts the geometry of the bike to the respective wheel size.

Chainstay length is 432 mm across the board and doesn’t grow with the frame size, which in theory could lead to unbalanced handling. In practice, however, we didn’t have any problems and comparing the bike’s handling qualities in all frame sizes is almost impossible. The Levo SL features some different geometry-altering wizardries that allow you to adapt the bike to your needs and area of application. These include a flip chip in the shock yoke that lets you change the BB height by +/- 5 mm, and a second flip chip on the chainstay that lets you adapt the geometry of the rear end in case you want to run a 29″ rear wheel – yes, that’s an option! Furthermore, you can change the head tube angle by up to 2.5° by rotating or swapping the headset cups. We rode the Levo SL primarily in the medium setting with a 64.25° head angle and low BB setting.

The geometry of the 2023 Specialized Turbo Levo SL (Mullet | Nominal HTA | Low BB )

Size S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6
Top tube 560 mm 582 mm 604 mm 631 mm 659 mm 691 mm
Seat tube 385 mm 385 mm 405 mm 425 mm 445 mm 465 mm
Head tube 95 mm 100 mm 110 mm 120 mm 130 mm 140 mm
Head angle 64.6° 64.6° 64.6° 64.6° 64,6° 64,6°
Seat angle 75.8° 75.8° 75.8° 75.8° 75,8° 75,8°
BB Drop 34 mm 29 mm 29 mm 29 mm 29 mm 29 mm
Chainstay 432 mm 432 mm 432 mm 432 mm 432 mm 432 mm
Wheelbase 1.158 mm 1.184 mm 1.208 mm 1.238 mm 1267 mm 1301 mm
Reach 405 mm 425 mm 445 mm 470 mm 495 mm 525 mm
Stack 609 mm 617 mm 626 mm 635 mm 645 mm 654 mm

The 2023 Specialized Turbo Levo SL S-Works in review.

Before you set off on the trails, you should connect the 2023 Specialized Turbo Levo with the Mission Control app to fine-tune the motor settings to match your riding style and preferences. We recommend doing this, because both the maximum power output and the intensity of the support have a big influence on the motor characteristics.

Using Specialized’s Mission Control app, you can fine-tune the maximum power output of the motor and the intensity of the support..

As soon as you swing your leg over the saddle, the Levo SL places you in a comfortable riding position and makes you feel at ease even after a long day in the saddle. Riding uphill, the front wheel remains planted on the ground without having to actively shift your weight, allowing you to commit to your line with great precision, The rear suspension is pleasantly active and generates enough traction even in slippery conditions, transferring the power of the SL motor efficiently to the trail. Even on long, smooth climbs, we didn’t have to activate the climb switch.

The Specialized SL 1.2 motor provides assistance naturally without engaging or disengaging abruptly, even in the most powerful Turbo mode. At the same time, it pushes you uphill eagerly, taking over most of the hard work without feeling overly intrusive – provided you use the right cadence. However, you shouldn’t use the Levo SL as a shuttle replacement like you might do with a full power eMTB. Speaking of cadence: when pedalling at around 80 RPM, you’ll reach the sweet spot between the highest power output and lowest battery consumption. Even when pedalling at low cadences, for example when hitting an unexpected climb, the SL motor delivers enough power to keep you going. Moreover, the 80 RPM cadence also matches the sporty character of the Levo SL rather well, requiring a certain amount of physical effort and thus providing a decent training effect despite the motor support. The SL motor works discreetly in the background and is significantly quieter than its predecessor. Only the HPR 50 motor is quieter, which is mainly due to TQ’s Harmonic Pin Ring technology. Not only is the motor quieter, but the noise is much more pleasant than it used to be, with a low-pitched humming noise replacing the previous high-pitched buzzing. However, the volume changes depending on the cadence and support level you ride with.

„With its sporty character, the Specialized Turbo Levo SL 2023 gets you to the top of the mountain, supporting you discreetly and just the way you want.“

We mainly used the Micro Adjust function to adapt the support intensity to our needs, depending on the terrain and conditions we would encounter each day. However, making a blanket statement about the Levo SL’s range would be totally pointless and, quite frankly, rather unprofessional, because this is heavily dependent on countless factors including rider weight, the choice of tires and air pressure, the terrain, external temperature and much more. That said, from our extensive experience with light eMTBs, we can tell you that the Levo SL is relatively thrifty, allowing you to embark on longer tours. At 100 kg, our fully kitted test rider covered over 50 kilometres with approximately 1,800 m elevation gain, with the help of the range extender battery. You should bear in mind that lower power output also translates into less energy consumption, meaning that a light eMTB with a smaller battery could easily achieve a similar range as an eMTB all-rounder with a bigger motor and battery. And while you might be able to cover a similar distance, it will take you longer and require more physical effort.

As soon as you drop into a trail, you’re welcomed onboard by Specialized’s trademark “feel-good” feeling. The Levo SL places you in a central, well balanced riding position, and inspires tons of confidence from the get-go. Want to plough through a rock garden at Mach 10 or pop off a ledge to collect some air miles? The new SL has your back! The Specialized strikes an excellent balance between composure and agility, without overdoing it either way, while at the same time delivering shed loads of fun on different trails – from fast flow lines to nasty rock gardens and sketchy transitions. The new, more progressive rear suspension has a great influence on the Levo SL’s handling, following impulses with great eagerness and transferring them to the trail without swallowing up the rider’s input like a sandbag. This allows you to spontaneously change your line and to pump through narrow rollers and berms. At the same time, the rear suspension generates good traction, both in corners and under braking, and never reaches its limits too suddenly, even with big jumps and botched landings. Overall, the Levo SL makes you feel as if you had more travel at your disposal, encouraging you to open the tap just a little bit more. As our jump stats suggest, the Levo SL is very keen on rolling on its rear wheel and literally begs you to roll to the pub with a big, fat manual after a long day of trail shenanigans ;)

Who should take a closer look at the 2023 Specialized Turbo Levo SL?

The concept of the 2023 Specialized Turbo Levo SL 2023 is a keeper! With its refined character and additional torque, the motor is a perfect match for the potent spec and progressive trail performance, which all make the new SL a trusted companion for all kinds of eMTB adventures. Of course, it will make you sweat a little, but in return you’ll get a decent workout, while the modular battery concept provides enough juice to embark on epic backcountry expeditions. The Levo’s software interface is intuitive to use and adds cool, practical features to your trail life without forcing you to schlepp around a massive display or ten thousand cables. On the trail, the Levo opens a wealth of opportunities… errr, new lines, regardless of whether you’re a newbie or seasoned trail veteran, slapping a massive grin on your face with its intuitive handling, high feel-good factor and versatile suspension, while delivering a stupid amount of fun in the process! As a result, it skilfully snatches the “ultimate trail bike” title away from its analogue sibling – we don’t think you will be disappointed by the new Levo SL if you’re looking for a fun yet efficient trail all-rounder.

Our conclusions about the 2023 Specialized Turbo Levo SL

“Sit down and enjoy” is the motto of the new 2023 Specialized Turbo Levo SL. In typical Levo style, it impresses with intuitive handling which, in combination with the new progressive rear suspension, encourages you to open the tap on all sorts of trails and have the time of your life in the process. When you run out of gravity, the Turbo SL 1.2 motor provides a generous breeze of artificial tailwind to make your way back to the trailhead. Add the capable spec and entertaining software features into the mix, and the only bitter pill you’ll have to swallow is the eye-watering price tag.


  • Very harmonious overall concept
  • Wide range of applications
  • Massive feel-good feeling and top fun factor
  • Many customisation options through software features and geometry adjustments.


  • Short travel dropper post
  • Main battery can’t be removed

For more info, visit Specialized’s website.

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Words: Peter Walker Photos: Justin Sullivan, Peter Walker

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!