Specialized first introduced the Turbo Levo FSR range of bikes back in 2015, followed by a push in North America early in 2016. The bike was received well by those with an interest in the pedal-assist functionality but creating the bike how they wanted—fully integrated battery and engine—required processes that resulted in it weighing a bit more than others. Add to this that everyone swoons over carbon and it was only a matter of time before Specialized would create a version in the fantastic plastic.
Turbo Levo FSR Carbon Details
• Intended use: Trail/All-Mountain
• Carbon front triangle, alloy rear
• Rear wheel travel: 150mm
• Fork travel: 150mm
• Wheel size: 27.5 +
• 504wh integrated battery
• Sizes: S / M / L / XL
• MSRP: 5,999–$9,999 €
Now is that time, with the California based brand unleashing a full carbon front triangle for the 2018 Turbo Levo FSR. There are a number of other updates too; software amends, engine tweaks, a different tire size and longer fork to counter the lower BB as a result of the smaller, though more aggressive tyres. It’s the same frame design and all of the parts can be swapped between it and the alloy model that came before (and still available), but Specialized claim that it’s now lighter, stiffer, and more efficient.
As with the alloy Turbo Levo FSR, the carbon frame design draws a lot of the lines and style from the regular Stumpjumper line of bikes, only more overbuilt to take the added weight and abuse that e-MTB’s see on the trail. Producing the carbon Turbo Levo FSR did prove quite tricky for the team though, and they noted that achieving the stiff chassis with the voids needed for engine components required quite a bit of problem-solving and innovation. However, working closely with their team in Taiwan they were able to get the setup they felt was needed. Specialized claim that the carbon front triangle is 20% stiffer than the alloy model.
Another challenge for the team was the mounts for the motor, with the carbon frame requiring the design of new motor mounts that would work with the carbon moulds. The motor mount itself is made of aluminium and this is where the thermal pad and motor connect, transferring heat out of the motor. Combined with the updated software and changes to the motor—which includes thermal pads inside it too—it’s claimed to contain a greater thermal balance, resulting in longer operation times with less chance of losing power thanks to it running a tad too hot.
The carbon mould for the motor was a difficult problem for the team to solve, but they're confident in the solution.
The internals of the downtube, including cable mounts.
The updated carbon frame still features the same geometry as the alloy bike, with Specialized noting that when they set out to develop a pedal-assist mountain bike, they wanted it to ride like a trail bike and not a bike with a battery and motor strapped to it. Ride quality is important and they are seeking something that riders will enjoy on the trails, both up and down.
The Turbo Levo FSR bikes retain many of the attributes that Specialized are renowned for, including short chainstays and a low bottom bracket and while they claim long top tubes, the numbers here are admittedly pretty average in that regard, at least in today's market.
Updating the Turbo Levo FSR
Aside from the frame, the largest updates have come in the form of amends to the engine and the software, all of which has been adjusted to provide what Specialized say is a more efficient motor than the previous model. The Turbo 1.3 motor sees what Specialized claim is better heat management in the motor and 15% more power (torque) than the current model, with it turning more of the energy into power as opposed to heat. While strategically placed thermal pads in the motor are also a big part of this, improvements to the software, making the motor more efficient, were also a large component.
The belt driven, Specialized Turbo Levo motor.
The new bar mounted remote to adjust power output.
The previous Turbo Levo FSR featured quite a bit of adjustability to the motor, thanks to buttons accessible on the downtube and more-so via the Mission Control application. While the tune-ability of the Mission Control app. is still available, the access to the most basic adjustments—changing power modes, which were previously only possible by hitting the buttons on the downtube—are now accessible from the bar via a more intuitive remote. Another component to the new software is its ability to read and smoothen out the riders pedal stroke.
Another clever component to Specialized's Mission Control application is the ability for them to see where the bikes are being used. The team hope to be able to use this data in the future for the betterment of riders everywhere, though at the moment it's very clear from the heatmap data shown here (via Specialized's Mission Control app.) that Europe is miles ahead when it comes to acceptance, and use of, the e-MTB's, and specifically Turbo Levo FSR bikes, in this case.
The 2018 Turbo Levo FSR models, whether carbon or alloy, have been downsized in the tire department, from the 3.0 treads of old down to a more aggressive, 2.8 Butcher. This change resulted in the bottom bracket height dropping and to combat that, Specialized upped the travel on the front fork to 150mm. Specialized say that the move was market driven, noting that people were looking to run a smaller tire on the 150mm travel bike.
Plenty of tire clearance front and rear for the 2.8 Butcher tires fitted to all models.
The two top carbon models will also see more powerful brakes fitted, with SRAM’s updated Code R and Code RSC models. The Comp Turbo Levo Carbon and the aluminium models each come fitted with SRAM’s e-MTB specific brake, the Guide RE. All of the bikes are spec’ed with 200mm rotors front and rear.
For more information on the new Turbo Levo FSR Carbon, visit specialized.com