There I was powering up a monster, gnarly hill: The skinny guy I dropped nearly face-planted as his jaw hit the floor. The 650b fatties gripped like the proverbial boerewors to the braai grid, the shock performed beautifully and the 140mm Pike soaked up the punishment. Oh, the bike weighs in excess of 22kg! The snake fella couldn’t believe his eyes and if he had had the time to look close enough he would have seen the little light battery indicator, noticed the thick down tube and the motor which is cleverly concealed, although quite obvious, around the bottom bracket area. I was of course on the Specialized S Works Levo. What a machine. Stuart Weaver had arranged that I could keep the Levo for the December holidays and man did I make full use of it!
Not only did I have my first taste of the pedal assist e-bike in the Eden and G-Spot trails but I also took it up to Tokai on the re-opening day. Let me tell you the current climb to reach the good stuff at Tokai is a gut-buster! Not on the Levo! I also tackled the new Kirstenbosch trail from the Newlands side, and again the climb is pretty hectic from that end. Not on the Levo! It really is a game changer, it makes climbing a real pleasure and allows guys like me not only to tackle otherwise daunting climbs but also allows me to do so with my (skinnier) faster cycling mates.
This bike is no gimmick though. The best part of the bike, besides that it looks like a great trail bike and has top of the range components, is that it handles incredibly. There was not one trail that I couldn’t take on, with ease, with confidence, with speed and “damn Daniel” with grip! The bike has got the weight where you want it – down low. Having the motor low and near the crank and the battery weight on the down tube, keeps the bike well balanced, it allows for a more even distribution of weight and with the larger takkies inspires confidence. It is incredible on the twisty bits, you might find yourself having to lean a little (as a motorbike, with the larger tyres and weight) but you quickly get used to that, and note I said a little. You can really put this bike through its paces without trying to nurse it, it’s not going to break and doesn’t feel like you have to do anything differently. It is an incredible experience. Without a doubt having the pedal-assist to reach the top of just about any ascent (I don’t want to say “any” but I am sure its pretty close!) takes the enjoyment factor of mountain biking to another level. I guess it’s like having your very own ski-lift, you get to the top easily and the all you have to do is turn around and do what we like the most – play hard!
In the time I spent with the Levo I can honestly say I had the most conversations with other riders on the trail that I have had in ages. Everyone starts with “that’s cheating!” and I would then promptly get off and say; “you give it a go”. Without fail the first thing that happens is there is an involuntary whoop or yell and then the broadest smile you have ever seen, followed by: “unbelievable!” or “this is insane!” and whoosh they are off. I never had one person who rode the bike say anything about “cheating” again (the cheating bit was of course mostly tongue in cheek) or that wouldn’t consider the attraction of having one.
E-bikes are without a doubt a game changer. There are so many advantages to the bike and with a no-carbon footprint, no noise and yes, the health benefits, remember it’s a pedal assist not a scooter or motorbike, it goes without saying the mountain bike landscape is about to change – again. The Berg and Bush mountain bike event has even put an e-bike category into their event! Talk about embracing technology and mountain bike development – this will not only allow more people to take part but also allow those that are not necessarily able to experience the privilege we as mountain bikers have everytime we go out on the trails. I have no doubt there will be die-hard detractors and there will be challenges but these will be worked out and will open a whole new world to where we can go, how we get there and how much fun we have doing it.
I am a huge e-bike fan. The Levo has shown me a completely different side of cycling and has without a doubt opened my mind to the possibilities such a bike presents. I say again: I am a huge fan!
The S-Works Turbo Levo FSR 6Fattie retails for R146 000. For more information visit