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A few months back, when Steve and I were planning our epic, and now epicly postponed, trip to the Utah desert for some gear testing and canyon exploration, I borrowed Specialized’s brand spanking new e-mtb, the Turbo Levo SL. Steve and I were planning to cover some serious ground on barely-there dirt roads to see the truly hidden gems of the desert and there is really no better way than with a mountain bike, especially one that has the power to boost you up to cruising speed of 20+ mph without draining every calorie of energy from your system.

So Specialized delivered a loaner to my door, or rather, the outdoor seating of my favorite coffeehouse that also doubles as my “office.” I’ve only been mountain biking for a few years now, but I’ve tripped and fallen deep into the rabbit hole of obsessiveness and gear and etiquette and was conflicted, a bit, about the motor.

I already own cargo e-bike, but that’s a grocery getter, a kid hauler, an errand runner. It rarely leaves the pavement.

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But a mountain bike with a motor was already raising my hackles as a rider proud of my climbing ability. I was curious, of course, but unsure of how I would feel while actually on the trail.

As for that part, how the bike itself felt, well, you’ll have to wait for my full review. That’s what prompted this installment of the AJ Poll, however. It’s clear from comments that our readers are deeply conflicted about e-mtbs. Some see them as an unwelcome intrusion that will pit land managers against bikers, or, simply as cheating. Others, a wonderful tool for more riding, or as a way for people who aren’t otherwise fit enough for a trad bike to make it out into the backcountry again.

One thing that’s been very clear, however, from the articles we’ve published about e-mtbs is that a great many people have opinions about them, but haven’t ridden them on single track yet. So, before our review of the Specialized e-shredder, we’re asking you.


As an incentive for conversation, we’re giving away a copy of Adventure Journal to one commenter chosen at random. You can choose any issue we have in stock, and if you’re already a subscriber we can extend your sub by an issue, send you an issue you don’t have, or give one to a friend. Just include your email when you post your comment so we can get in touch.

Photo: Justin Housman

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