Freya, a friend of the co-op, recently demo’d the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 29 and here’s what she has to say about it:
My name is Freya and I took up cycling couple of years ago as a way of getting back into shape and keeping fit. About ten years ago now, I was diagnosed with thoracolumbar scoliosis (which basically means I had a curve in my spine that wasn’t meant to be there). The following year in 2010, I underwent major spinal surgery to fix this. This surgery now means that I have two titanium rods supporting my spine and although I was told I could go back to my dancing and other sports, I unfortunately I never plucked up the courage to go back. So, after nabbing my sister’s bike and being dragged out on a bike ride with my parents, I found cycling and it has been my exercise of choice ever since.
I am by no means a bike expert but if you are looking for an honest and relatively jargon free review of the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 29 bike, stick with me.
When I was first set up on the bike I was amazed firstly by the colour (I tried one in the Cast Battleship blue and I’m not going to lie I thought it was beautiful and exactly the colour I would have gone for after looking at the bike online); secondly by how bouncy the bike was in comparison to my own and; lastly how easy it was to use. I had been worried that it was going to be really technical, which apparently it can be if you want to get more techy with it, but I was more than happy with the ‘push the plus button to go faster and the minus button to go slower’. For some detail the Turbo Levo FSR Comp 29 is a full suspension (hence the bounce) electric mountain bike with a total of three motor settings and 1×11 gears.
Bike test take one: local route
My first outing was on a route near my home which I know well. The route consists of both flat and uphill with rough terrain, cycle paths, and country roads with lovely cobbled surfaces.
I was impressed by how well the bike handled; the fatter tyres meant the bike would just roll easily over any surface type and the handlebar rotation limiters meant the front of the bike would only twist so far making turning smoother and a lot easier to control. I did start to get rather frustrated on the first section of road because I couldn’t put the gears up any higher, so pedalling felt too easy and this was even before I had turned the motor on.
Turning the motor on
I turned the motor on going up the first hill we came to and I think it is fair to say this was the highest my heart rate got on that whole ride simply because I got such a shock at the power of the motor. Pheasants went flying as I was suddenly yelling at my mum to move out the way before I ran her over. The bike has a total of three power settings which you can change easily using the plus and minus buttons, mentioned before, on the left side of the handle bar. You can simply click the buttons as easily as you would click to change gears.
I tried the top speed setting on the second big hill on our usual route and was practically racing a car up a hill with very minimal pedalling. I did find that the bike jolted ever so slightly as the power level changed, almost as though the bike pulled back before whizzing off so no need to worry like I did if this happens it has nothing to do with the extra mince pie you sneaked the night before!
Riding without the motor
For the last stretch of this route, I tried cycling with the motor completely switched off and even on a really low gear this was quite a fair bit of effort on the slight incline of this bit of the route simply because of the weight of the bike (around 22kg) was a lot more than I was used to (something my dad found out when he’d tried to lift the bike into his car).
Bike test take two: Glentress
For the second test, we took the bike to Glentress trail centre and this is where I found the bike really shone.
The uphill climbs were a breeze meaning that I could do multiple descents where usually I imagine I would only have the energy to do one by the time I got to the top. I was going over boulders and roots that I wouldn’t have dared to on my own (non-electric) hardtail simply because I knew the bike could take it with ease. Even though I had only done one test prior to this, I trusted and had genuine confidence in the bike already.
I turned the motor off on the downhills as I quickly discovered that with it on the slightest pedal could cause you to speed up when you didn’t need or want to. Although the bike is heavier than my usual hardtail, it by no means felt like it made it harder to handle on the downhill routes as I found you very quickly become “at one with the bike” and the handlebar rotation limiters make turning a lot easier to control on the tight turns as you descend.
The motor really helps to get you up the hills so you can spend more time enjoying the thrill of the downhill. The bike also handles really well despite the weight. Additionally, the full suspension meant that I could go over any surface and pretty much not feel a thing which made for a more comfortable ride on both routes I tried it on.
Obviously, the battery power will last different lengths of time depending on what setting you have the motor on and what type of riding you’re doing. After my two test rides the battery had only dropped one bar of charge. And that was having only ever gone up to speed three once just to test how fast the bike could go.
Hopefully this gives you some helpful food for thought. Keep pedalling my lovelies!