In November 2019, Myself (Sam) and Jarrad had the idea to do try to complete a Triple Crown aboard Specialized Turbo Levo E-mtbs. I had never attempted a triple crown before and it was getting a bit late in the year so we that figured using the Turbo Levos would be a good idea to get the ride done before it was too dark, and to see just how far it's possible to take them on a single charge. Let's just say that things didn't quite to to plan. Check out the video below to see how we got on!
For those unfamiliar, the Triple Crown is an unofficial North Shore epic, that takes in all three mountains - Seymour, Fromme and Cypress, in that order in a single day. Different people seem to have different ideas of how the ride should go, for example some people insist that you have to touch water at Deep Cove at the start, and then again at Horseshoe Bay at the very end. The Steed ride typically is circular starting and ending at the shop, and the other key marker is hitting the windmill at the top of Grouse ski field. Typically this will make the ride around 100km with around 3000m of climbing, so it's no small undertaking, even on an ebike! We decided to skip the extra distance at the bottom of the mountains and start and end at the water so as to conserve battery life on the bikes, making the total ride about 65km.
The Turbo Levo Comp Carbon bikes that we were riding come stock with the same 250W motor that the top of the range bikes come fitted with, and a 500WH battery - the top end models come with a 700WH battery. We thought it would be an interesting experiment to see how far we could get on one charge! We would be riding roughly 70km with around 3000m of vertical ascent, so we would be pushing the battery capacity for sure. One major tool that would help us is the Specialized Mission Control app - this app connects to the bike via smartphone, and allows you to customise various aspects of the bike such as power output in different modes, as well as monitor things like battery level and track your ride.
The Specialized Turbo Levo Carbon Comp was our weapon of choice for this mission.
Smart Control is a next-level capability within the app that allows you to tell the bike how far your want to ride and how much battery you want to have left when you're done, and it then delivers the power throughout the ride in a way so that you don't use too much battery and run out at any point. To make things more interesting, I decided to use Smart Control, and Jarrad decided to control his power himself to try to beat the computer. Let's just say that Jarrad didn't manage to outsmart it...
The Specialized Mission Control app allows you to tune the performance of the bike as well as track rides and diagnose faults.
We were really hoping to get lucky with the weather, as this was one of the last opportunities of the year to do the ride, but as it turned out, what was forecast to be a good day was not to be! Our ride started at 7AM at Deep Cove, and on the drive over it had started sleeting at sea level, and by the time we got to Deep Cove there was snow on the ground. Undeterred we started the ride, opting to take the road up to CBC at the top of Seymour to try to minimise battery usage. Heading up the road at 8am we got passed several times by snow plows (one of them covering us with snow after we'd just avoided his buddy), and the snow was getting deeper and deeper. By the time we were at CBC, there was probably almost 6 inches of fresh powder! It was going to be a fun ride down... We had both only ridden CBC a couple of times each and navigating down was tricky, slipping and sliding over hidden rocks and roots (with surprising grip in between), we actually ended up getting totally lost and somehow ended up on a secret trail that I recognised.
With the snow thinning out a bit I could actually figure out where we were and managed to get to the top of corkscrew and head down further. We figured Dales into Forever After would be a good route down to take us across to Fromme, however the snow combined with technical trails and unfamiliarity of the bike ended with me taking a couple of tumbles. Not a great way to start the ride, but I was fine, thankfully. Once we'd made it to the bottom, we took the Twin Bridges trail across and up the other side of the valley to start heading up Mountain Highway on Fromme.
Jarrad and I had ridden Dales a couple of months earlier. Unfortunately it didn't look like this for our triple crown attempt!
By this point I had used about 35% of the battery on the bike, and Jarrad had used 50%, oops! I was about on track, but at this rate, Jarrad was going to have to turn his assist down significantly for the last mountain. The bike had put me on about 20% assist, and Jarrad had guesstimated that 30% assist should get him through - though apparently not. He turned down to 20% as well. Assist means how much extra power the bike is giving you for a given input, so for example 20% assist means that the bike is giving an extra 20% of your power on top, so you're still doing 80% of the work. You can run the bike on 100% assist, however this significantly effects battery life.
Thankfully Seventh Secret rides fairly well in the snow! This photo is from a ride this January, the day of our attempted Triple Crown had much more snow!
By the time we were getting to the top of Mountain Highway, the snow started getting pretty deep and not only did this make it pretty chilly (my feet were totally numb) but it used a lot of battery. Even with 20% assist, it was real hard going and I wouldn't say I was quite in the pain cave, but I was getting close and was actually pretty tired. We managed to get as far as Grouse ski field and were only a few hundred metres off the windmill, but Jarrad had pretty much used his entire battery, and given how much snow was on the trail, we decided not to keep going. We turned the assist up to 100% and decided to blast through the snow as far as we could, and when it got too deep to keep going, we turned around and cruised back down mountain highway to Seventh Secret and down Expresso to Braemar. The trails here were snowy but just well enough defined to be rideable, thankfully. The e-bikes were a lot of fun here and the big tires and extra weight helped keep them glued to the trails.
Thankfully Seventh Secret and Expresso were still pretty rideable, though we were frozen!
We cruised back home from here, pretty happy with our efforts. It wasn't a triple crown, but we still managed around 2000m of climbing and 45km of riding (in the snow!) on one charge. I'm pretty sure that if I didn't turn the assist up to full turbo at the top of Grouse, I'd have just about made it up Cypress, but I was happy enough to finish as my feet were like blocks of ice. So we've learned that Jarrad is not smarter than a computer, and that the Levo is a super capable bike. Hopefully we'll get to try it again when the snow melts later this year!