The Devil On Your Shoulder

The Devil On Your Shoulder

Mountain biking can be broken down into many different disciplines - XCC, XCO, Marathon, Enduro, Downhill… the list goes on. Yet the one thing all mountain bikers have in common, irrespective of our dirt persuasion, is the love of riding trails with mates. Nothing is better than trails, trains and high fives with mates. Imagine the devil on your shoulder whispered in your ear, “You can have more of this, much, much more!”… you would take the offer, right? How could you resist? Enter the Levo SL, potentially the ultimate arrow to your MTB quiver.

Starting any trail ride with a climb is never fun, it often feels like jumping into a boxing ring and straight away getting punched in the nose. Your eyes water, you start panting, it hurts and you think what the heck am I doing here? Well that’s exactly how my first ride on the Levo SL started. Charging straight uphill with a group of mates, there is that familiar feeling of being punched in the face. I take a moment to catch my breath as we regroup at the top of the climb. In fact there’s some pretty heavy mouth breathing coming from all of us. Riding an E-bike is cheating, they say. But this sure doesn’t feel like it. In fact, the sweat accumulating on my brow is a strong argument against this. I take a look at the Strava segment we just completed - we all just blitzed this climb. It felt like normal effort on a trail bike, it was just a lot quicker.

After a few moments of catching our breath, talking trash and watching the winter sun slowly rise, we set off again. It’s not long before woots, whistles and laughter break the still morning's air as we charge down the first decent of the day. It's almost impossible to contain the excitement brought on by how this bike rides.

The first thing that strikes me is just how much the Levo SL handles like my Stumpjumper. It is just so playful and lively. The power from the motor perfectly offsets any additional weight, it seems to move from berm to berm with relative ease. I also find it light enough that my spindly little arms can manage to pickup the front and hop any loose rocks or sniper roots laying about the trail. While plowing through one of the many rock gardens, I realise that this bike holds its cool when things get a little janky. It feels so comfortable and composed when the the trail becomes a minefield of rocks. The extra weight, from the motor and battery planted so low and central in the frame, transforms this bike when you point its nose down the hill. Stability and momentum are all improved by the added weight, it almost has the composure of an Enduro bike… almost.

More ground is being covered on this ride yet the effort feels like it would on our regular trail bikes. The assistance of the motor means we are munching kilometres at a record pace. We are flying up the hills and holding more speed in the ’boring’ sections of trail. This bike is transforming the hills in a way I only thought was possible by employing Annika Langvad’s personal trainer and being subject to the training regime of an Olympian. All of a sudden the trails have been opened up like never before. Sections that were once mundane, a mere connection to the next ‘good’ section of trail, now offer new challenges and features thanks to the additional speed provided from the motor.

While regrouping at the bottom of a descent we spy a steep rocky feature that looks barely climbable. Our inner competitive nature takes hold. We all click it into Turbo mode and see who can make it to the top. Those uncontrollable woots and giggles return as we conquer climbs that normally wouldn’t be possible on a regular trail bike. This quickly turns into our new game - stop after a decent, turn around and re-climb it. No climb, rock garden or wooden berm is safe. Climbing on a mountain bike hasn’t often been a highlight, it’s more of a means to an end. A way to get to the beloved descents. But this kind of behaviour takes me back to when I was a teenager, when I first got into mountain biking, when everything was so fresh and exciting, everything was a challenge, everything was fun. The Levo SL has injected a whole lot of fun into our regular trail ride.

Before I know it we are back at the carpark - this is record time. We check our battery levels, still plenty of juice. We quickly slip into the routine of the obligatory e-Bike humble brag, which occurs when talking about remaining battery. This is quickly followed by ‘mode’ chat. Most of us seemed to have utilised the medium 'Trail’ power mode for most of the ride. It seems counter intuitive to add a battery and motor to a bike and then not use it to its full potential, but this ride has highlighted what the Levo SL is all about - balance, not power, and in every respect this is a well-balanced machine. Even after our faffing around with hillclimb challenges and talking trash we still have more than enough time to sneak in a couple more laps of our favourite trails before starting the ‘working’ day.

The Levo SL simply gives you the ability to ride for longer and farther with the true feeling of a trail bike. The whole E-bike vs non E-bike debate has grown long-in-the-tooth – for any true mountain biker, the ability to ride more trails is a no brainer. It seems the devil on my shoulder was right. 

Words by David Foira - @dfoira
Images by Tanika Chapman - @tanikachapmanphotography