2023 Specialized Levo SL Comp Carbon review

Specialized SL 1.2
320Wh fixed internal
Fork Travel
160 mm
Rear Travel
150 mm
18.6 kg weighed w/o pedals
UK£7.000 / €7.900
Specialized was among the first offering a mild lightweight emtb with the original 2020 Levo SL. One could argue a 18-19 kg emtb isn’t Super Light. But it’s light enough to offer a very different riding experience compared to the +/- 25 kg full fat bikes. Watch our video review or keep reading below.

It’s not just the lower weight affecting the riding experience. A mild emtb usually is a more stealth bike, it’s more like a non-assist bike. Less motor power and battery capacity mean we don’t ride the bike the same way we would on a full-fat emtb. Now it’s more important how the bike works riding with little to no motor assistance. Many of the bikes in this category also rides very silently.

2023 Specialized Levo SL Comp Carbon

The new Specialized Levo SL​

The old Levo SL was a fun and playful bike on what I’d call “regular trails”. The suspension tune felt a bit tight and progressive, like a pedaling efficient shorter travel bike. The original Levo SL also had the geometry of a less aggressive trail bike, with 437 mm chainstays and a relatively short wheelbase. The new Levo SL can be quite similar to the old one, but it can also be very different.

Specialized Levo SL Comp Carbon

New frame geometry​

The headtube angle is now 64.5°. But setting all the frame adjust options to low and slack drops the head angle to 63°. That’s 3° less than the predecessor and it’s very slack for this bike category. The chainstays are adjustable and can be set to either 432 mm or 442 mm. In the standard configuration, the new Levo SL has the same wheelbase length as the old one, 1.208 mm for size S3.

Specialized Levo SL geometry
Specialized Levo SL

We did this test with the head angle cup in the slackest position, the shortest chainstays and the bottom bracket height set to low. That gave us the following figures.
  • Head angle: 63.6°
  • Seat angle: 76°
  • Bottom bracket height: 346 mm
  • Wheelbase: 1.217 mm

Specialized Levo SL Comp Carbon – specs​

This is a well specced bike, and for UK£7.000 (€7.900) we expected no less. It’s nice getting a fork with 36 mm stanchion width and 160 mm travel. This is the basic Fox 36 Rhythm, but I very much like it. The Fox Float X shock handles a 150 mm of rear travel and it’s even nicer.

Levo SL main triangle

The Levo SL is a mullet bike running a 29x2.3” tyre up front and a 27.5x2.3” for the remaining end. Specialized chose the pretty burly Butcher T9 Grid Trail and Eliminator T7 Grid Trail rubber, a wize choice. The Sram Code RS brakes are burly too, which is nice on the descents.

Specialized Eliminator T7 27.5x2.3 rear tyre.
Sram GX level drivetrain

Shifter and rear derailleur are the Sram GX. We’ve been wondering how low gear ratio one really needs on an emtb. On a mild emtb, having the Sram cassette with a 52t cog is just great, we used the lowest gear a lot. The X-Fusion seatpost can be dropped 150 mm, that’s nice for a size M, I mean S3. With these fine and solid components, we weigh the Levo SL Comp Carbon to 18.6 kg, without pedals.

Specialized Levo SL Comp Carbon specs

The new Specialized SL 1.2 motor​

We’ve done a separate test of the motor, check it out for all the details. The short version is the SL 1.2 has a claimed weight of 2 kg and it’s rated at 50 Nm and 320 W max. The new SL motor is more powerful while being easier to handle than the old SL 1.1. This is a very well-behaved motor that is generous with its power. According to the display, we were often putting about 70 W into the pedals and the motor would output about 300 W. For trail riding, we usually reduce the power amplification a bit. That allows the motor to have some power in reserve and it improves the range.

Handlebar remote
Specialized MCU display

Specialized SL 1.2 50 Nm 320 W max motor

Another dimension​

Set the new Levo SL up with a short wheelbase and steep head angle and you’ve got a responsive and nimble bike that seems comparable to the original Levo SL. As mentioned, we rode the bike in the slacker and lower settings. Combine this with the longer 160 mm travel fork and the more active rear suspension design and we get a much more stable and confident bike on the descents. The feeling of an XC racing inspired bike is gone.

Levo SL


The size S3 demo bike is on the small side for us at just over 180 cm, that’s not an advantage riding downhill at speed. Therefore, we were surprised by the descending abilities of the new Levo SL. We kept up with the other guys riding full-fat emtbs. When the Levo SL was taking the front, the guys behind never felt the need to overtake. The Levo SL isn’t the ultimate descender, but it’s much more capable than its predecessor. The 2023 Specialized Levo SL Comp Carbon is surprisingly confident on the steep and gnarly sections.

2023 Specialized Levo SL

Regular trails​

What are regular trails, you might say. That’s the trails where there is a big upside of riding a slightly small frame. Does that answer the question? The Levo SL really shines in the less extreme terrain. The shorter wheelbase makes it so easy negotiating the narrow and winding trails. It’s easy bringing the bike over obstacles and jumps. We wouldn’t necessarily ride this bike in the slack head angle setting on these trails, but it still worked very well.

An average trail

The old Levo SL was very fun and inspiring on the flatter trails, and found us pedaling a lot above the motor cut-off speed. We recognize that sensation on the new model. The new one has got some burlier and heavier components though. Could it be a tad more sluggish than the old one? We don’t know, we didn’t compare them side-by-side, but it didn’t feel that way.

Specialized Levo SL Comp Carbon

Going up​

Do you think life is better at the top? Then you might be interested in knowing that a mild emtb usually offers a different riding experience on the climbs. Som lightweight emtbs are better than others though. The Levo SL has a generous motor that will give a good amount of power in max assistance, but it doesn’t have the power reserve found on the full power emtbs. The motor won’t launch you up ledges when you suddenly stamp the pedals mid-hill. And when you start pedaling in a steep incline, there is little motor power. The motor needs a rotation or two of the cranks and a bit of cadence before delivering good assistance.

Climbing on the Levo SL

But if you do the climbing at an even pace, the SL 1.2 motor is very helpful. You get to the top of most hills feeling rested thanks to the generous characteristics of the motor. Our regular climbing test hill can be a challenge even in dry conditions. The Levo SL got up this steep and rocky hill on first attempt, despite the wet and slippery conditions. The Levo SL will never be an extreme climber, but it’s up there with the best lightweight emtbs.

The regular test climb


The new Specialized Levo SL is a very interesting lightweight emtb. It’s as nimble as the old one, but it’s significantly better on the hills, both going up and down. We were surprised how stable and safe it had become on rougher descents. The new and more powerful motor improves the bike in a few ways. The bike is comfortable and easy to control with high assistance and the noise level is much improved.

Specialized Levo SL, a fine choice for a mellow bike park/track
About author
Started mountainbiking in the 90s. Moved to emtbs in 2014 and have been reviewing them since 2016. Contact me here https://emtb.no/contact/