Should I tell you I like it? E-Bike confessions

I’m not a fan of E-Bikes. Well, let me rephrase that. I wasn’t a fan of E-Bikes, until life got in the way. Let me explain.

Levo 1

When away for a weekend with friends to catch up, cycling though on the list, wasn’t the only thing we had planned. Not to say biking isn’t social, however socialising amongst other bits meant the time we had to cycle was a couple hours max. With the weather forecast threatening thunder and lightning, by the time 2 o’clock came round and we were ready to go, my riding window was getting smaller and smaller. Plus, that long game of Monopoly that went into the early hours the night before and the bowl of cornflakes in the morning meant I was hardly on my ‘A game’! So the picture I’m attempting to paint is the lack of time and also lack of any general ride prep was about to hinder my ride. But I hadn’t been for a good ride in ages, so was dying to get a good circuit in – and this time it was at my midlands favourite, Cannock Chase, the Monkey Loop.

Luckily for me, Rutland Cycles have graciously given me the new 2018 Specialized Turbo Levo FSR comp carbon 6fattie for the trip weekend. And this is where the whole concept of E-Bikes starts to make sense; its convenience. When you’re tired, not fuelled properly but still want to have a good ride, I defy you to not agree with the concept. Even if I wasn’t tired and had eaten a hearty breakfast, even then the E-Bike makes sense. Here’s why;

Levo2

 

If you like to ride, you can ride for longer on an E-Bike. Going one step further, if you like to ride fast, you can ride even faster on an E-Bike. Generally, if you like riding full stop, you’ll like an E-Bike. If you are some kind of purest however and think this is all terribly wrong, please move aside and resign yourself to history, as progression is heading in the E-Bikes direction. Sorry mate.

So if you get it, which E-Bike should you chose? Well, I’ve ridden a few in my time now. A Trek Superfly, Cannondale Moterra and Bergamont E-Trailster. If I’m honest with you, they felt like tanks and though the Trek was by far the best I’d take my YT any day of the week.

One of the biggest turn offs I got was first and foremost the power delivery of the electric motor. Too often you rotated the cranks only slightly either to put half a crank in or just to resettle your feet position and then the electric motor would kick in but a second delay, so by now your mid-corner and being pushed out and into that rather hard looking tree. The Levo, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. First and foremost you never really noticed any delay in power. Reading up after I rode the thing, Specialize claim “Our motor is the only one on the market to feature instant engagement with the pedals, so you’ll be able to call for extra power exactly when you need it.” and it honestly feels like it.

The second turnoff is the handling. If you are used to riding something light and immediate, you’ll immediately notice you lose that fine feel you get. That’s due to the weight, which though light in its class, the Levo is heavy overall – circa 20kg. However, with that added weight you get added grip, grip that means you’ll be able to carry that additional speed around the corners, as well as on those straights. Not only that, the extra weight also keeps you nicely planted, a term more associated with cars than a push bike, but in practice means you can smash your way down with increased confidence, so when you need to turn, brake or pedal, they’ll be no interruption in service.

Though I only had two hours, the end result was a truly engaging and awesome ride. Uphill sections become enjoyable, no longer a means to an end, with technical features once a hindrance, now another feature to hit.  Oh and those side offshoots you once thought would be cool to explore but didn’t have the time. Well, now you do. And finally, the descents. With the added grip and power, those descents go from being good, to great. You’re now riding at 120% as opposed to 1000%. You’re powering out of every turn. Smashing every jump. Braking late, yet still had more grip and braking power left over. Oh and your BPM – you’re still trying as hard as ever (mine was crica 180BPM) but instead of doing 10mph, you’re doing 20mph, everywhere. If you like mountain biking, I don’t see how you wouldn’t enjoy the Specialized Turbo Levo. It made my rather less than ideal situation, a great one. That would not have happened on my YT for sure. So E-Bikes are crap then? HA, not a chance.

The Bike

In short, I’m sold. The riding experience was absolutely on point, and though different to my lightweight YT, brought its own enjoyable character to the table.

Levo tyre

With its 2.8in Butcher tyres front and back creating a larger font print for extra grip and extra lean, means the new slacker carbon Levo frame has the basics covered for a good ride. Added to that, a RockShox Revelation RC 6Fatti fork up front with 150mm travel and a Rockshox Monarch RT, Rx Trail Tune with 150mm, means you’ve got the firepower to not worry about much. The tune on both was good, with little to no pedal bob.  It pedalled very efficiently even when the battery wasn’t turned on (yes it’s not that heavy to pedal if you ran out of juice). On the battery front, the battery is housed within the carbon frame which looks wise leaves the bike looking clean. It also lasted long too; with two hours around the Monkey only knocking off one charge bar down from its 5 in total – so rough maths suggests its good for a 10 hour Cannock Chase loop! Maybe later…

Other than that, the Levo felt like a quality piece of engineering, made around its power unit and battery from the start, meant it rode like a proper, lower centre of gravity mountain bike designed around fun, not cheating hills. Talking of power unit, the bike had 3 settings. Turbo, which as the name suggests gave you thumping great waves of torque for those really, really steep climbs, a medium level which was fine but as I settled for the low setting. A level which fills those energy troughs without making a mockery of those hills – a nice balance. A very impressive power unit indeed.


For more deets on this thoroughly impressive bike see below.

FRAME

FACT 9m carbon chassis / M5 Alloy rear triangle, 6Fattie/29 Trail Geometry, Integrated down tube battery, enclosed internal cable, Command Post IR routing, 148mm spacing, fully sealed cartridge bearings, 135mm of travel

FORK

RockShox Revelation RC 6Fattie/29, 51mm offset, 34mm stanchions, 150mm of travel

REAR SHOCK

Levo Sus

RockShox Monarch RT, Rx Trail Tune, AUTOSAG, rebound and 2-position compression adjust, 197x48mm

FRONT HUB

Specialized, sealed cartridge bearings, 15x110mm spacing, 24h

REAR HUB

Specialized alloy disc, sealed cartridge bearings, 12x148mm, 10-/11-speed freehub, 28h

SPOKES

DT Swiss, stainless

RIMS

Roval Traverse 27.5, hookless alloy, 38mm inner width, tubeless ready, 24/28h

INNER TUBES

27.5 x 2.3" / 3.0", 40mm Presta valve

FRONT TYRE

Butcher, GRID casing, Gripton compound, 2Bliss Ready, 27.5 x 2.8"

REAR TYRE

Butcher, GRID casing, Gripton compound, 2Bliss Ready, 27.5 x 2.8"

CRANKSET

Custom alloy crankarms

CHAINRINGS

Forged steel, 32T

SHIFT LEVERS

SRAM GX, one-click shift-lever

REAR DERAILLEUR

SRAM GX, long cage, 11-speed

CASSETTE

SRAM PG-1130, 11-speed, 11-42t

CHAIN

KMC X11ET, 11-speed w/ Missing Link?

FRONT BRAKE

SRAM Guide RE, hydraulic disc, 200mm

REAR BRAKE

SRAM Guide RE, hydraulic disc, 200mm

HANDLEBARS

Specialized, 6061 alloy, 6-degree upsweep, 8-degree backsweep, 27mm rise, 780mm width

GRIPS

Specialized Sip Grip, half-waffle, XS/S: regular thickness, M/XL: XL thickness

STEM

Specialized Trail, 3D forged alloy, 4-bolt, 6-degree rise

SADDLE

Body Geometry Henge Comp, hollow Cr-Mo rails, 143mm

SEATPOST

Command Post IRcc, 12-position micro-height adjustable, alien head design, bottom mount cable routing, remote SRL lever, 30.9mm, S: 100mm, M/L/XL: 125mm of travel

SEAT BINDER

Specialized, alloy, 34.9mm

MOTOR

Specialized 1.3, custom Rx Trail-tuned motor, 250W Nominal

UI/REMOTE

Trail Handlebar Remote, motor mode switch & walk-assist

BATTERY

Specialized M1-504, integrated Trail Display, ANT+/Bluetooth� module, 504Wh, Mission Control App connectivity

CHARGER

Custom charger, 42V4A with Rosenberger plug

WIRING HARNESS

Custom Specialized wiring harness

PEDALS

Specialized Platform, Cr-Mo axle


So what next?

Well unfortunately for me, I’m 6 months into my latest bike purchase, so a new e-bike on the cards is not a possibility. However, if you’re in the market for a new, proper MTB, I would thoroughly suggest you try an E-Bike. And don’t take my word for it either. Rutland Cycles are throwing a big E-Bike demo day at the Grafham store on the 9th of June. Or if you want to take it to your local they’ll deliver your chosen bike to you for the weekend, so you can test it out like it did. Check out the below links if you’re keen.

Either way, try one and let me know what you think – I’d be very surprised if you said “na thanks, I’m good”.

Peace out.