For those that don’t know/follow I’ve already built up an alloy Levo (three actually for MB Cyclery in Haslemere) all custom built in a Raw brushed alloy finish so when the SL was released I knew A. I’d have one and B. It would be an alloy one and finished to match the full fat Levo. Apart from the ‘shiny’ factor and that personally I think alloy when done like this looks better than carbon. I also believe (other than the weight factor) on the trail and from a ‘seat of your pants’ point of view the ride on an alloy frame is in some respect better than carbon.
I’ll freely admit, this is not the cheapest or most cost effective way to build a bike, but without a frame only option it was the only way to get the Levo SL I wanted. It will also be different and unique and more importantly I enjoy the process.
Lets start with 2020 Levo SL alloy comp. Take a perfectly good bike and strip it to bear frame
Once the frame was fully stripped it was then time to send it out for chemical stripping, I’m fortunate to have some local wheel refurb guys (ACC wheels in Liphook Hampshire – top guys if you need alloy wheel refurb ) who for a few beers will stick it in their dip tank over night to remove the paint. You can try other methods ie: paint stripper but this is a much quicker way to get it stripped. Some have asked about sand/media blasting but that is mainly used for harder materials such as steel. When used on aluminium it will leave a much rougher surface than dipping, great as a key for paint but not for the smoother finish I was planning.
Once back from stripping the real work begins! The finish of this frame was identical my Levo with a fine pitted finish, I believe they must use some form of etch primer prior to factory painting so this needs sanding back before you can start to get an even finish. I was also planning to finish the SL to a higher level than my other Levo which inevitably would take longer but hopefully the extra time would give a much higher sheen to the frame.
Whilst stripping the frame down it was good opportunity to get familiar with the new Battery/Motor/Wiring set ip on the Levo SL. A great little package. Motor is straight forward to remove or just hinge out of the way if you want to remove the battery. New wiring and connectors look good quality and I particularly like the main battery terminal with its twist lock set up.
So onto the sanding process. I start with sanding all over with higher grade wet and dry to knock back the etch primer marks and get a level surface, this does take a good bit of time but like everything it’s the preparation that usually takes the longest time. Next was another full hit with finer grade and repeat this process through progressively finer grades until I was happy with an even, smooth finish. This did take almost 12 hours on the Levo so I was hoping that the SL being a little smaller wouldn’t take as long. In reality it took about the same but as the finish was going to be to a higher level it did end up adding another 3-4 hours. Final stage on the SL was using a fine (red), then ultra fine (grey) 3M scotch pads and water, brushing in single direction across the entire frame and then polished with a fine polish before degreasing and fitting decals and invisiframe kit to protect. Very happy with the results.
Now onto the build spec and master plan of making an alloy SL compete weight wise with a carbon framed version. Obviously a carbon frame is always going to be lighter with the same components but I wasn’t aiming for ultimate light weight, I wanted the ride quality of alloy and to save weight where possible with high end build kit. Full spec is below but AXS shift kit is on the cards along with some Chris King hubs, in silver
For now time to refit the motor/battery etc. Pretty straight forward process as such a nice compact package.
Build wise, some of the kit I already had such as Roval wheels and Sram XX1, other parts were a no brainer such as Rockshox Pike and Guide Ultimate brakes as they’re available in silver of course. Bars & stem kindly provided by Deity components, they do these with awesome polished silver decals and their new lockjaw grips in grey
BUILD SPEC: 2020 Levo SL Alloy Raw frame Rockshox Pike Ultimate 150 travel Rockshox Air shock Roval SL carbon wheelset w/ Maxxis Ardent exo tyres – tubeless Sram Guide Ultimate brakes & Disc w/ Ti bolts throughout Sram XX1 Eagle drive train – AXS soon Rockshox AXS dropper & ti railed carbon saddle Deity Carbon bars Deity stem Deity grips Crankbrothers Mallet E pedals
All in the weight was bang on what I was aiming for and more than happy at 17.66kg.
Decal wise I toyed with all sorts of ideas but in the end decided the original location and Specialized font in fine line but in chrome silver finished off with an invisiframe kit to protect the decals and also frame from handling marks. Works really well and use these kits on all my bikes, cannot recommend them enough
Big thanks to MB Cyclery for their ongoing help, the boys are huge ebike fans so get yourself down there. Also Deity components for their continuing supply of kit for my builds and Ben Briffett for taking time on the final build shots