There’s a debate happening in the mountain biking world. At the center is the rising popularity of the e-bike. Those in support argue that pedal-assist bikes provide better access for those who aren’t strong enough to pedal, while the purists want to protect the hard-won rights of mountain bikes to be in the wilderness in the first place (and to keep motorcycles out). One thing that neither side can deny — and those who do haven’t tried it — is that e-mountain bikes are fun. Like really fun. They’re getting more sophisticated too, as exemplified in Specialized’s just-revealed update to the Turbo Levo.
Most e-bikes make themselves obvious with their super-chunky batteries, but you’d be forgiven for mistaking the Turbo Levo update for a thoroughbred. It looks familiar too because Specialized drew on the sidearm frame design of its latest Stumpjumper to create a bike that’s lighter, stiffer and slacker. Then it threw in a bigger battery that lasts from one to five hours and extended its motor’s range by 40 percent.
No e-anything would be complete without a Bluetooth-enabled app; Levo’s is called Mission Control, and it’s also been updated with a new interface to do things like monitor power use better, check the system for errors, record rides and tune the bike. A feature called Smart Control also lets riders control the bike’s range by inputting your planned duration or identifying a predetermined point on a map that you want to reach so that you don’t get stranded, and Shuttle Mode gives riders access to the most motor power for the uphill.
The wins that e-bikes garner in the current conflict over trail use will be because of fun. New bikes that are lighter and easier to use, like the Turbo Levo, will only help the case.
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