Anderson, Musquin, Osborne, and Webb: Specialized Turbo Levo Athletes
Pedal Power/Powered Pedals
Motocross and Supercross athletes have been using mountain bikes to cross train for decades now, as the intensity and basic skills needed to negotiate a trail on a knobby tired bicycle are similar to those associated with motocross.
In recent years, pedal-assist technology has found its way into mountain biking (it’s been around for years on commuter bicycles in Japan), and several mountain bike manufacturers have further developed the technology and entered the market with high-end pedal assist MTBs. Specialized is a leader in all forms of cycling, and its first entry into the pedal-assist MTB market in 2016 blew everything else in the market out of the water.
The original Specialized Turbo Levo was the first bike to incorporate the battery and electric motor into the bicycle frame for a more cohesive look, without the obvious bulk of the battery bolted on the downtube like other existing pedal-assist bikes at the time. The Turbo Levo is a mountain bike that has electric pedal assist…it is NOT a motorcycle, or anything even close to it. The battery powered electric motor only puts out power when you push on the pedals. What does this mean? The Turbo Levo basically matches the effort that you put in – it will not do the riding for you. Sure, it can – in theory – make you twice as fast as you would be without pedal assist, but the bottom line is that you have to put in the work to make the bike go. The bike has no throttle, and power is only applied to the drivetrain when the torque sensors in the bike detect rider input at the pedals and movement at the rear wheel.
For 2019, the Specialized Turbo Levo has enjoyed a major overhaul, and the S-Works edition of the popular bicycle boasts a carbon fiber frame, a new Specialized 2.1 Rx motor that is 15% smaller and 11% lighter than the original, and a new battery that has a 700Wh capacity for 40% more capacity and range.
Pedal-assist mountain bikes are great for a few obvious reasons like going on rides that are twice as long, or allowing new riders who would otherwise not be able to keep up with more experienced riders to do so. We used our original Turbo Levo test bike to drag big boy Dommer around on rides with the rest of our staff, as well as our wives and friends who weren’t strong enough to keep up.
But what about professional athletes like Chad Reed? Reedy was the first racer that we ever saw riding a Turbo Levo (at last year’s Specialized A1 Ride Daze event) and when asked him why he wasn’t riding a conventional bike he answered, “I raced Anaheim One last night, I’m not about redlining my heart rate today on a recovery day. I want to enjoy a nice group ride with some mates and this bike allows me to do so.”
Recently, we got a call from renowned motocross and Supercross trainer Aldon Baker. The official trainer for the Husqvarna and KTM factory teams, Baker relies on Specialized bicycles to help him work his racers into optimal physical condition, and he invited us out to join the squad of Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin and Cooper Webb, and the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna duo of Jason Anderson and Zach Osborne as they took delivery of their 2019 S-Works Turbo Levo bikes.
“The Turbo Levo is an excellent training tool,” he said. “We train in very specific heart rate zones, and this is possible to accomplish with a pedal assist bike. Yes, it’s great for recovery days, but we really use the Levo for many other types of workouts.”
The day we spent chasing the elite Supercross team around the Temecula Valley is one we won’t soon forget. Though pedal-assist bikes should be the great equalizer, keeping up with Webb, Anderson, Musquin on Osborne aboard our own Levo proved to be a challenge. If you’re fast, you’re fast. And the Specialized Turbo Levo can make you twice as fast!
Check them our at specialized.com