Specialized gives its big-selling Levo the longer, lower, slacker treatment but is it just a facelift?
| WORDS: Myles Kelsey + IMAGES: Gary Perkin + VIDEO: Thomas Sandell |
Back in September 2018 at the global media launch of the second-generation Levo I was highly impressed with the bike and equally enchanted with the calm coastal vibes of beautiful Croatia.
While I do miss travel, with exotic destinations for bike launches off the cards under the current situation, testing new bikes on my home trails has offered invaluable bike-to-bike comparative insights. For this test, I rode this third-generation Levo in the Tokai MTB trail center, on the lower slopes of Table Mountain, Lions Head and the Missing Link Trails. These trails offer a variety of terrain from epic flowy singletrack, fast jeep track, shuttle-style climbing to shreddy descents with a healthy dose of hucks and drops thrown. Let’s get into it.
The range-topping S-Works edition I tested has an impeccable build kit I’d describe as plush and posh. Take it from me, you are not going to be irritated by dropping big dollars (and they are BIG) on a new bike and immediately needing to swap out the bars, stem or tyres. The off the shelf spec is faultless. At this stage I’m going to mention that at the launch date, 23rd March, there will only be six S-Works bikes available in South Africa – that’s all. Specialized have reassured that more are on the water and scheduled for in-store availability around late April.
The head angle is adjustable in 3 increments from as low as 63° to a middle setting of 64° or 64.5° to a more general all-terrain angle of 65.5°. The Horst-link mounted flip-chip adds or subtracts BB height and chainstay length and in total the bike has 6 different geometry settings to chose from. I talk more about this in the video, including advice on getting the right setting for the trails you ride. This is an entirely new frame with geometry specifically designed to optimize the ride dynamic around a 29″ front and 27.5″ rear wheel.
The S4 frame size I used, in the slack head angle setting and high BB height gives the following key geometry figures:
REACH | 477
HEAD ANGLE | 64°
CHAIN STAY | 441
BB HEIGHT | 349
BB DROP | 28
WHEELBASE | 1 262
SEAT TUBE LENGTH | 425
STANDOVER | 784
Visit Specialized to see all the possible geometry iterations.
Specialized is now referring to the brain of the bike as the Mastermind TCU (Turbo Control Unit). This is essentially the hardware and software that controls how the motor, battery, bike and you interact – and it is a whole lot smarter and easier to use. The functions include elevation tracking, heart rate pairing, a ‘live consumption’ which teaches you how to pedal more efficiently, a personalized display with a total of 30 data values, percentage of remaining charge, on the fly adjustment of support level settings – so you don’t need to stop and open the app — and a rider power value display so you can see how much power you are putting into the bike.