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What Specialized’s Plus-Sized E-Bike Says About Electric Bikes In 2016

Specialized has become the first major brand to embrace e-mountain bikes with the Turbo Levo FSR Expert 6Fattie. Chris Engelsman photo.

This week, we'll be bringing you product highlights and broader pieces on bike trends following the wrap up of the 2016 Sea Otter Classic convention out in California. And e-bikes will definitely be part of that conversation.

Snapped above is Specialized's Turbo Levo FSR Expert 6Fattie. With an electric motor capable of pushing out 580 watts of additional juice, the plus-sized Turbo Levo can hit a top speed of 27 miles per hour on flat ground, but Specialized is encouraging you to think about the electric assist as something that'll help you ride more trail (see marketing blurb above) by getting you up more climbs with less effort. Kitted with a Rock Shox Pike, SRAM RS disc brakes, a dropper post, and 1x11 drivetrain, it's got all the specs you'd want to drop a mortgage payment on to have a good time shredding singletrack, with the add-on of a pedal-assist motor whose output can be fully customizable with a smartphone app. 

Of course, this adds some heft - the aluminum FSR Expert 6Fattie weighs about 40 pounds, no doubt slowing down the handling. But still; what a fascinating modern age we live in.

The growth of e-bikes is no secret, even in the States. But while electric mountain bikes are a curiously wild sensation in Europe (you know, given that they have a lift up just about every single peaks in the Alps anyways), stateside electric mountain bikes are a small and controversial segment of the two-wheeled market, no doubt thanks in part to how strictly motorized versus non-motorized travel is regulated on trails crossing public lands. But while the early adopters of the segment were typically smaller brands, many which you'd never of heard of before e-bikes came around and which sported poor bike design and shitty parts kits, Specialized is the biggest brand yet to embrace e-mountain bikes, and combined their technology with one of their most successful full suspension designs, the FSR platform. Of the ten electric-assist bikes  Specialized has rolled out, six are mountain bikes. As you can see in the Matt Hunter video above, they can clearly be ridden as a mountain bike is meant to be ridden.

RELATED: Shimano drops relatable, affordable 11-speed SLX groupset

With one of the major brands putting its engineering and marketing weight behind the phenomenon, e-bikes will no doubt be a bigger part of the mountain bike landscape in 2016 – more than they've been in the past few years, when it was largely outside brands doing the selling. Of course, that doesn't influence how land managers are viewing e-bikes, but it'll be interesting to see who are the riders that'll start ponying up the money and wheeling these out on the trail. Do you think you'll see one on your home trails this summer?

About The Author

stash member Ryan Dunfee

Former Managing Editor at Teton Gravity Research, current Senior Contributor, current professional hippy at the Sierra Club, and avid weekend recreationalist.

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