Specialized introduced the Turbo Levo FSR range of bikes back in 2015 and we recently revealed their updated carbon framed Turbo Levo, but now they’re showing off a new beast altogether; the Turbo Kenevo. Where the Turbo Levo is essentially the pedal assist version of their Stumpjumper FSR, the Kenevo is the Enduro version. Taking cues from the popular all-mountain bike, the Kenevo reflects a lot of the aesthetics from the one-hundred percent man-powered version but goes a little bigger in the travel department.
Turbo Kenevo FSR Details
• Intended use: trail/all-mountain
• Full alloy frame construction
• Rear wheel travel: 180mm
• Fork travel: 180mm
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Clearance for up to 2.8” tyres
• 504wh integrated battery
• Sizes: S / M / L / XL
• MSRP: 6,299 €
Specialized say that the Turbo Kenevo FSR was developed after they repeatedly received feedback from riders wanting a longer legged version of their original Turbo Levo FSR. I feel that for many, this is a no brainer, myself included—if there is a motor to help the rider on climbs, why not have a more aggressive bike for the descents? With this in mind, Specialized see the Kenevo potentially slowing the amount of people using vehicles to shuttle to the downhill trails—time will tell.
The bike was designed around a high volume 27.5" tire and my time aboard the Kenevo, as well as the spec for the bike, is with 2.8-inch Butchers. It’s fitted with the RockShox Lyrik RT3 and the Öhlins TTX coil takes care of the rear suspension. A number of interesting little accessories were also first revealed on this bike, with Specialized showing off their Wu adjustable seatpost and the new S.W.A.T. CC tool. We spoke about these in the recent 2018 Enduro First Look
, but a quick summation is: the Wu post adjusts the angle of the seat 13 degrees from level when extended, to tilted back, much like a more gravity oriented rider would set their seat up, when lowered. The tool is a multi that slides into the steerer-tube of the fork through the use of a very clean, spring-loaded system. Frame Design and Updates
When developing the Turbo Kenevo, the team at Specialized put a lot of value in how the motor (and subsequently, the battery) integrated with the bike. Much like the Turbo Levo FSR
, the downtube was designed to fit the 504Wh battery within it, mounting from beneath the downtube. The motor is housed inside a metal frame, that utilizes plastic coverings to conceal it.
What is completely new for Specialized’s 2018 eMTB’s is the addition of what they call their Trail Remote. The remote is a small push-button piece that sits on the bars next to the grip and allows riders to change the amount of power output, or assistance, that the motor is providing. Previous to this the rider was required to reach down to the buttons on the downtube and depress the desired buttons from there.
Also new on the Kenevo, and other 2018 Turbo FSR bikes, is an updated motor. The Turbo 1.3 motor is claimed to offer more efficiency, better heat management and more power, 15% more power according to Specialized. Much like we mentioned with the Turbo Levo FSR Carbon, the improvements come via hardware and software improvements. They also included thermal pads in the motor and between it and the housing, further assisting in the heat management of the new bikes motors.Geometry
The geometry is similar to the Enduro, albeit a tiny bit slacker and tiny bit longer than the 2017 version, with the Kenevo sporting a 65-degree head angle, 431mm reach for the size medium, and a bottom bracket height of 350mm. Where they differ more drastically is in the wheelbase length, and thanks partly to a 443mm chainstay length on the Kenevo—compared to the Enduro’s 425mm—the wheelbase comes out at 1,205mm, 30mm longer than the Enduro (all size medium). Travel has bumped up too, with the Kenevo sporting 180mm front and rear.
Comparing the Kenevo to Levo reveals more longer, slacker, but not lower. The Kenevo measures 20mm longer in both reach and wheelbase, the head angle is 1-degree slacker and the bottom bracket height measures 10mm higher.
My time aboard the Turbo Kenevo was spent on the East Coast rock of Mountain Creek in New Jersey. The bike was fitted with Specialized’s new 2.8-inch Butcher tyres front and rear, which had me curious. After a few initial rides on the old Turbo Levo FSR back in 2016, it seemed that this category was the best fit for plus tires, but I personally was still not the biggest fan of the balloon volume treads.
The 2.8" tyre's smaller size is significant enough that it’s easily noticeable. Add to that the proper, meaty tread of the Butcher and you’ve got one heck of a tyre to roll on. Would it translate to better handling on the trail, or still exhibit some of the negative traits of the 3.0 on the previous Turbo Levo?
On the trail I was pleasantly surprised by the well-mannered nature of the 2.8 Butchers mounted to the Kenevo. These eMTBs are not light, and the 2.8-inch tyre seemed to strike a great balance between handling the added weight, providing a stable platform when pushed into corners, or through varied terrain with plenty of square edges. Add to this the more aggressive tread of the Butcher and you’ve got a tyre that seeks out loads of traction while providing plenty of stability.
On the topic of traction, the Kenevo’s Öhlins TTX rear shock worked really, really well. In the short time aboard the Kenevo the rear shock truly impressed, with a tune that provided great support at the bottom end while the top was nice and light, further increasing traction. The mid-stroke was firm with little sign of wallow, responding well to rider feedback and providing a livelier feel than one might expect. It still took some effort to move and popping off lips of jumps further displayed this, but it was admirable given the amount of weight that it was supporting.
The Lyrik works great—no secrets there—and it complemented the rear of the bike well, however, I did find my time aboard the Öhlins RXF (on the Turbo Levo FSR) presented greater tracking and less chassis flex in chunder, which Mountain Creek has plenty of.
The motor on the Turbo Kenevo is the same as on the updated Turbo Levo. The updates from the previous are predominantly around efficiency; keeping motor heat down and providing a more effective use of the power provided. One update that I was interested in was the smoother kick-in mentioned in talks with Specialized representatives. Did it translate to the trail? Yes, it did. The uptake from the motor is smoother and I found the drop off a little better too. This smoother reaction from the motor results in better shifting, and while it still is recommended that riders shift when there is minimal power down (as is normal on any bike), it is better suited to sloppy shifts than the previous motor was.
In short, the small amount of time on the Turbo Kenevo presented a very capable bike that took the burly, rock infested trails of Mountain Creek in its stride. This seems to be one eMTB that is ready to party on the downs and kick in to help you get back to the top for more action, and quickly. Keep an eye out for a more in-depth review in the future.
For more information on the new Turbo Kenevo FSR, visit specialized.com