First Thoughts and Review of the Specialized Turbo Levo Ebike

Hello everyone!  I have some exciting information and photos to share with you on the new Specialized Turbo Levo mountain bike.  One of our guys got to fly out to Moab this past weekend for some press release testing and rides and gave me the low down on many of the specs and what to expect from this new kind of bike.  V__24E7

First off, the Levo gets much of the DNA that exists in the Specialized Stumpjumper.  The bottom bracket is a bit higher though as well as shorter crank arms and chainstays to avoid striking rocks.  It has the shortest chainstays in its class.  It comes stock as a 6fattie wheel setup and can also be converted to a 29er.  The 29er, however, only gains a slight 6 watt gain over the 6fattie.  My thoughts would be that the bike will be most stable with the larger tire.  It also has a low center of gravity to help keep it stable. The rear shock has been specifically tuned to for the additional weight of the bike.

The Levo comes in three configurations.  The SWORKS weighs in at 42lbs and will cost about $10,000, the Expert level weighs in at 44lV__5B4Abs and will cost about $6-7,000, and the Comp level weighs in at 47lbs and costs about $3,500.  The SWORKS and Expert level Levos are equipped with a 504 Wh battery and the Comp comes with a 400 Wh battery.  Both are Lithium ion batteries that use the same cells that exist in the Tesla.  A Tesla has 8000 cells, where a Levo has 40 cells and the Turbo S has 60.  So, that’s a pleasant feature because cheaper cells usually do not react well from vibration (much less from jumps and drops).  The battery weighs 9lbs.

The motor is integrated into the bottom of the downtube and has a 250 watt nominal power with a peak of 530 watts and a torque of 90Nm.  It is definitely the smoothest on the market and extremely quiet with a Gates belt drive.  In order for the motor to engage and apply power, torque must be sensed on the pedals and the rear wheel must have rotation.  The power meter to sense the torque in hidden inside behind the rear rotor.  This is great because if there is no movement, but you are pressing on the pedals, the bike won’t engage and lurch forward.  it will only apply the power once you are moving and pedaling.  This makes a lot of sense because you don’t really need the motor part when going down hill for the most part.V__71EC

Both the motor and the battery are Bluetooth and ANT+ compliant, which removes the need for an LCD screen.  Diagnosis, battery level, and other features of the state of the bike are communicated to either your phone (via the Mission Control app) or through the Garmin Edge 1000 or 520.  The harness for the battery is magnetic and (once the bike is off) can be easily removed and charged on or off the bike.  The motor is also removable and can be diagnosed through the app.

As far as the ride quality, it is top-notch.  A 3-5 hour ride is easily feasible for a single charge, which is mostly due to the mid motor setup versus the hub motor.  The field test rides done in Moab were almost 50 miles together with about 5,000 feet of climbing.  The turbo mode is almost too much power and can cause skidding, but is fantastic to be able to ride to the trails and back.  Most of the effective riding was best done at the Eco mode with a little Trail (more robust) mode here and there.

Climbing is exceptionally great (it was able to clear two foot ledges with ease uphill).  The bike audibly tells you to change gears if the motor is working too hard.  A higher pitched whine from the motor occurs if you are in too low of a gear and a deeper low rumble if you are in too high of a gear.  Like most full-suspension mountain bikes, it is best to be seated while climbing .  Because of the extra power, 3 mile ascents are much easier to handle without issue than with a standard mountain bike.  For descending, it handles great and the extra weight keeps you close to the ground.V__8F0FV__1281

So, additionally, Specialized has gotten together with Strava to create a new ebike category on segments, which will have their own KOMs and leaderboards compared to regular mountain bikes.  In summary, I think this is going to be an awesome bike to let people have a great mountain bike ride even if they are not exceptionally experienced.  It is spec’d really well and I have followed social media of people testing them in Europe for a while, so I would expect that most of the bugs have already been worked out.  More to come when we get one in the shop to build.  I’ll post a good article of the build and closeups of all of the features it has to offer.

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Santa Cruz Bronson C Probuild and Preview of XTR M9000

The past two days both held some great knowledge and experience with the mountain bike industry at the shop.  First, a nice progress slideshow of a Santa Cruz build I was nearly able to finish except for final tuning due to the need for new axle end caps for a rear DT Swiss hub on a thru axle Bronson C equipped with 10 speed Shimano XT Dynasys.  It came together especially well with a Fox Float 36 with 180mm of travel.  Other specs included a Cane Creek 40 headset, a tubeless Schwalbe Nobby Nic setup, a Thomson Masterpiece seatpost and Elite X4 stem, a Selle Italia mountain saddle, and Enve bars.  Strong pretty much in all accounts for sweet jump style riding anywhere in this area.  With included block spacers, the fork travel can be lowered down to the rider desired 150mm.  Here it is nearly finished without grips and rear axle end caps.

The new XTR groupset showed up today on a Rocky Mountain frame and we got to spin through it and discuss with the rep the different features and possibilities with the mechanical version as well as the Di2 version coming soon.  The expectations of riders from preview videos and info expos is well met.  For mountain biking, I am very sure Shimano has a groupset for every rider from 3×11 to 1×11 in both mechanical and electronic.  It’s a design update that really will help change the game and bring new levels of performance to the industry.  Here are a few photos of the drivetrain.

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Last but not least, I have discovered some good new information regarding troubleshooting the Stromer electric bike and will update the article and also provide the link here in the next few days.  It streamlines the troubleshooting to either the components or the wires and clarifies a few earlier questions.

– SNC

Update and The Ridge

So, the Turbo wheel was sent back to Specialized for recalibration of the motor. When it came back, it was an entirely new wheel. While the defective motor was replaced, the newly installed one worked perfectly and has since been performing without flaw. It was a pretty quick turn around (about a week).

I’ll be back to posting on both some technical articles and a few on the biking culture in general. With the season slowing down a bit, I now have better time to devote. Also, concerning biking culture and news, I have been in the heart of the situation of cyclists being called terrorists in Washington D.C. and have been listening to many sides of the story as it has resurfaced a couple days ago on the Kojo Nnamdi show on NPR. Both sides have strong opinion and reasons for concern and I think it’s a good time to highlight some of it from a practical standpoint.

Also, the new Danny Macaskill video, “The Ridge” is quite amazing and you should watch it immediately.

What’s in the stand today?

This is what I was working on today….

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Specs are as follows:

Specialized SWORKS Shiv frameset with integrated aero brakeset, seatpost, and Sitero saddle.  This was a stock build I had etched up a few months back and it had been sitting on our Specialized wall with some grandeur.  It’s spec’d with a Dura-Ace 9000 groupset with time trial shifters.  Zipp Beyond Black stem was swapped for the standard stock stem setup in order to run a Zipp Vuka Bull base bar with TRP carbon brake levers and Fizik matte black tape.  The wheelset currently is a nice set of CXP80 Cosmics, but likely will be switched to Zipp 808s.  It’s a really great aero build that will be the epitome of stealth and craftsmanship.  Since I built it accordingly before, it’s been easy to set in the new cockpit and all that is left is to route the new cables and tune.  Other pressing projects intervened this build today including a Di2 upgrade on a Caad 10 Synapse frameset, a SWORKS lululemon Amira with Ultegra Di2, and an SWORKS hardtail Stumpjumper that needed a final bleed and hose replacement for Formula brakes front and rear.  That was also a great build last week that I should have a finals slideshow for tomorrow evening or Sunday.  Internal hydraulic routing and XX1 group with a nice tubeless setup.  Anyways, I’ve had a long week and got a lot of great projects out to happy riders and need some rest.  I’ll have a short article on some tech stuff that has been important to the industry lately tomorrow.  Thanks for checking things out!

-SNC

Interbike 2012

Interbike 2012 was a great success this year.  We had ten people from five stores attending and applied all our our power to cover the event as much as possible.  From “The Lab” with new technologies not yet on the market and original concepts to the main floor of the Sands Expo with thousands of booths, tables, bikes, gear — you name it.  All of the top companies attend, of course with their best limited edition bikes tricked out with every bell and whistle you could imagine.

One of my favorite finds was the Sworks Allez that Specialized had on display.  A beautiful aluminum frame with deep dish carbon clinchers, carbon this and that, and Dura-Ace.  If marketed, it is sure to be a hot bike in demand.  Hutchinson released a tubeless cross tire that shows good promise for those still no clinchers.

In the Italy section, Pegoretti had some stellar track bikes painted with his unusual, yet flashy style.  It was built with sheriff star Campagnolo Record hubs and a Campagnolo track drivetrain. Campagnolo was in full force with EPS shifting taking the highlight along with a time trial Bora Ultra carbon crank.

One of my favorite booths was the Paul Components display.  Simple wooden tables with the most precise machined components polished to perfection.  Paul was a really cool guy to talk to, as well as his collegues.  They had their brand new road hubset on display, which uses an Industry Nine ratcheting pawl system combined with CNC machined hub shell and freehub body.  It is both 10 and 11 speed Shimano and Campy compatible.

White Industries was also in full force with their styled CNC machined components, including the popular ENO hub, which I have ran through the ringer for years without any single issue.

Meetings were scheduled with some our major brands, including Continental, Geigerrig, Ortlieb, Thule, and Optic Nerve.  Several of our normal reps were there to run through exciting new items, programs, and technology advances.  Prominent in many brands were the replacement of buckles for helmets and saddlebags with rare earth magnet clasps that worked exceedingly well and operating and keeping closed when it should.

QBP showed us all the new tech in helmets and Salsa Cycles, which uniquely had display models of all the employees bikes, so they were covered in a little road / trail use.

The hippest place in the show had to be the Chrome exhibit.  Picnic tables, on-demand bag making with sewing machines and limited edition photo styled Citizen messenger bags, fresh screen printed T-shirts, a DJ spinning tunes at 4pm every day.  The reps were great to talk to and it was nice to associate behind the people that handmade the bag you’ll use day in and day out.

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