Separated At Birth: The Curious Case of the Rotwild C+/X+ and the Specialized Turbo Levo

BY Cameron Newland

The 2016 Specialized Turbo Levo is one of the most promising electric mountain bikes ever sold in the US, however, visually and structurally, it’s remarkably similar to the Rotwild C+ and X+ series of electric bikes that have proved popular in Europe. See for yourself:

Specialized Turbo Levo

Specialized Turbo Levo

Rotwild R.X+ FS

Rotwild R.X+ FS Electric Mountain Bike

As you can see, the frame design and and full suspension setup is almost identical, though the two bikes do sport different brands of suspension components.

Another similarity is the drivetrain, which is a high-end motor and controller from German engineering house Brose. Brose motors have recently been offering real competition to the market-leading Bosch system, and it’s said that fellow German company Continental has decided to use Brose electric motors to power their electric bike system, which can be seen on the new A2B Entz, among other bikes.

All these similarities raise an interesting question: did Specialized acquire the design for their Turbo Levo model directly from Rotwild? If they did, that would mean a major departure from the in-house development project that was undertaken for the original Specialized Turbo and its stablemates. Far from being critical, if it is indeed the case that the Turbo Levo is a Rotwild-clone, that decision was likely a good one, as the Rotwild electric bikes have received nothing but praise from their customers in Europe, and Specialized has a much larger dealer base that can more effectively distribute – and hence monetize – a quality electric bike design.

UPDATE: 2/26/2016

According to Reddit user Abneycat, Specialized developed this frame and suspension layout, branding it FSR, and filed patents for the design more than a decade ago, finally launching their first FSR-equipped model in 1993. In 2009, Specialized launched the Epic, a full-suspension mountain bike whose frame and suspension design is almost an exact match for today’s Specialized Turbo Levo and the Rotwild models.

Abneycat also mentioned that for years, Cube and Scott were selling bikes that appeared to have copied Specialized FSR system in Europe, and they brought those same models to the US in 2013, once Specialized’s patents on the system ran out.

Specialized Epic

Specialized Epic Mountain Bike