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May 24, 2019 Comments (0) Blog Posts, Reviews, Slider

My Love Affair With The Superman Bike: Specialized Turbo Levo Relationship

Day One

I got the Turbo Levo today. The attraction was natural. The curvy, sexy carbon frame makes the bike very appealing. The top tube is smooth and very pretty. From attraction, my feelings for the bike were morphing into infatuation… The friendly folks at Specialized were very courteous and helpful in briefing Valleybikes about the Levo and download everything needed to get into the Levo vibe.

‘Ze Bike Mechanic, Mikko and I chatted about our recent rides and got comfortable while prepping the bike. They loaded Stan’s into the tubeless tires, checked the suspension and adjusted them according to my weight. The brakes were aligned as well and then he did some final tweaking.

I brought the Levo home on my bike rack. The moment I got home, I rode it.


Superman Bike

Now imagine you are the last son of Krypton and the sun here in our galaxy gave you super powers. It’s like having impossible strength and everything to do more. The Levo is the Superman version of our ordinary full suspension modern mountain bike. Think about having a very fit and able athlete, that is comparable to a Specialized Stumpjumper... now slap on a battery, electric motor, plus sized tires… and you get the Superman MTB, the Specialized Levo.

The bike accelerates fast. You choose your gear and cadence and it will exponentially multiply the power/energy you give it to propel you and the bike.

Day Two

I was so excited to use the Levo on my way to work. It acted normal and the same, but my velocity was much faster. A single rotation sent me and the bike forward faster.

I just got irritated because the dropper post kept acting weird. It automatically drops halfway down when riding. The solution was simple, I simply lifted my butt up, and raised the seat, no problem. But this happened a lot of times, so it became quite a nuisance. I would have to get that tweaked by the mechanic.

As a biker, you would know yourself and your pace. Do you spin or mash? The Levo adjusts to your riding style and once you “get” how the Levo works, you have reached the future of mountain biking.

Going to the office, there is one route wherein I have to pass Julia Vargas avenue, coming from the East. If you are familiar with the route, it is one steady uphill climb until you reach the Ortigas area. There is a bike lane there, so you can just chill pedaling up. With the Levo, this uphill climb is no sweat at all. On an ordinary bike, whether you mash or spin, this long ascent would really test your leg muscles. But with the Superman bike, each pedal stroke brings you forward faster and each moment with the Levo makes you grow fonder with this wonderful machine. This gruesome climb became a baby’s treat making you want more of it… (OK, maybe not more of it, but the point is: the climb is so easy, you can watch Netflix on your phone if it was properly mounted on the handlebar.)

The Levo still looked like a mountain bike so it is still in the category of bikes and pedestrians. You don’t need a driver’s licence to use it, so you can basically do what you do with your bicycle. I climbed the ascending road with ease, not breaking a sweat. I loved how fast the Levo can go, breaking my bike-to-work record of 45 mins. My time to work on a bike was cut to 38 mins, easy. No hassle, no sweat.

Day 3

I just admired and took pictures of the Levo. I went around the village and showed it to my friends. My doctor friend has long been wanting an E-bike to commute to his clinic. When he rode the Specialized Levo, he was impressed! The Levo is too much for him though, he doesn’t ride trails so all my doctor needs is a simple E-bike.

But all the same, all we got were praises and awes. Whenever I tell them the features of the Levo and how it works, they were all amazed. I joked them that pretty soon, the Levo would start talking whenever you turn on the power switch. Right now, it doesn’t do that. But who knows? Incorporate the technology of Siri into Specialized, and we might meet KITT, the Mountain bike version.

My doctor/ acupuncturist enjoyed the Levo so much.

Day 4

I haven’t recharged the Levo yet and I plan to see how long the battery would last. Since it was a Sunday, I wanted to test the Levo in the trails. Timberland is still closed to the general public, so I just climbed Shotgun and went down Patiis.

I started my ride late because I planned to have a quick spin and go back in time for lunch ( I had to attend my godson’s birthday party in the afternoon). I grabbed the Levo and pedaled out to Shotgun. I usually take a breather when I arrive at Aling Tina’s or Edong’s (at the foot of the mountain), but since the Levo is a Superman bike, I didn’t feel tired at all, coming all the way from my house. I simply took a short sip from my water bottle and continued up Shotgun.

Shotgun! Baby, baby hit me if you can!

Climbing Shotgun with the Levo is a walk in the park. I smiled at the folks who were all tired resting under the shade. The Levo arrogantly climbed without stopping, showing no fatigue nor let down. You don’t need to zig zag the road up because the power of the Levo is enough to propel you up (as long as you don’t stop pedaling). Young riders were startled on how easily I climbed Shotgun, grinning at them as if I had won the lotto. Some figured it out that it was an E bike, but others were surprised at how this big clunky red full suspension bike could climb hassle free.

Inside the trail, the Levo still performed optimally. Simply point the front wheel where to go, pedal and the suspension would just let you float through the track. The knobby Specialized Butcher 27.5 x 3.0 tires ran through anything and everything. Plus sized tires rocks! It is the perfect tire for E-Mountain bikes because weight is not an issue. Off camber paths, ruts and holes were not obstacles for the Levo— they are just part of the path that the Levo can roll over (if the rider is able).

I reached the peak and waited a few moments for nothing. I wasn’t tired at all. Since I rode solo, I just hanged back and appreciated the Levo. When I psyched my self for the downhill, I just wore my gloves and rode out.

Heavy bike with plus sized tires work well in the Patiis Downhill track. I just rode the flow and followed the line in Patiis and enjoyed the line. Patiis has always been scary fast, it still is, but with the Levo’s stout tires and plush Ohlins suspension, riding it down was enjoyable. I just sat on the rear tire with my arms extended forward and let the Specialized handle all the twists, drops, surprises and what-have-you’s of Patiis. The brakes worked excellently to slow me down or put me to a halt. But, the rotor and pad combination of the Sram Code is very noisy. The creaking sound when braking is comparable to a 5 year old child learning how to play the violin. The pad and rotor when dirty (in this case, very dusty) produces an irritable friction noise when you pull the brakes. This has been always an issue with Sram brakes which I hope they address soon.

Is it the brake pad? the rotor?

Is the Levo a capable downhill machine? Yes. Aside from the creaking sound of the brakes, the bike performed so well in the Patiis downhill. It was quick, stable and very reliable.

Day 10

I brought the Specialized Levo in our century ride up North. The battery was fully charged and all systems go, we drove all the way to Benguet to ride the famous Cordillera Mountain Range. The E-MTB performed like a charm. We addressed the seat post issue already by pumping more air on the dropper seat post (using a shock pump). It doesn’t drop down anymore, so that cured that. By this time, my relationship with the Specialized Levo has grown deeper and I was ready to tie the knot with the electric mountain Bike they call Levo. Indeed, it is the mountain bike of the future, slapping in a motor to assist the rider during climbs yet equipped with a plush Ohlins suspension to make DH runs very enjoyable.

Like before, climbing the steep ascents was peanuts to the Levo, as easy as counting one, two, three… so the ride in Cordillera was such a breeze. I gained distance quickly and more trails were covered in such a short time.

testing the limits of the Levo left some trail scratches

One thing I couldn’t do with the Levo is go on stream/river crossings without worrying about the bike. In my freeride bike, I couldn’t care less about the bike if it gets wet or it gets submerged in water. For the Levo, aside from being super heavy (nearly 50 lbs), it was a challenge to cross big boulders and deep streams because the battery and motor might get wet and the internals might malfunction. The Levo was not fit for river crossings and the like because of the electric/motor parts.

That’s about it. Like all kinds of love affair, there will be flaws and imperfections. But if we look deeper into that love, the feeling outweighs that flaw and you learn to accept that fault without reason. The love for the Levo E-MTB greatly trumps out that “heavy” reason and “wet issue”. I still love the Levo, no matter what. Specialized prepared it for the future.

Love Lost

I adore the Specialized Levo. Despite the brakes creaking or the seatpost dropping, I still like the E-MTB from Specialized. Change the brakes and seatpost, problem solved. The Levo is the FUTURE of E-MTB.

Give it a few more years and the battery would be as small as a powerbank, the motor would be water proof, it would have a built-in GPS (so that the bike is secure and it won’t get lost/ stolen). Who knows? The people from Specialized might be developing all those already and will slap on those improvements by 2020.

When the day came to return the Levo to Specialized, I was anxious to do it. I didn’t have extra cash to purchase the bike (299K for the Carbon fiber frame) for now, but I bet, I will soon be riding an electric mountain bike in the future. I am grateful that I got to review the Levo, ride it in the mountain, use it to bike commute and write about it. I appreciate the fact that Specialized lent me this Turbo Levo so I can tell everyone following Valleybikes how wonderful this Superman bike is.

I will not go into details on what goes on inside the bike plus its different parts, it can be found in the internet, but what ever I told you was from the heart, and how I really felt riding the Levo. My honest testimony is that: if you have the cash to pay for a Specialized Turbo Levo, get one now. Investment is worth it, save on gas, plus it is the more Earth friendly version of a motorcycle. It is super quiet compared to those gas guzzlers, plus you get to explore and ride the trails more.

S for Specialized, not Superman.

Experience the Specialized Levo yourself! Feel like Superman— just go to Specialized Elite Store in Maginhawa, Quezon City.

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