Specialized's New Epic Uncovered

Mar 22, 2023
by Pinkbike Staff  
photo

Specialized has been playing their cards close, and wrapped not only their prototype downhill bike’s suspension design but also their latest cross-country race bike. The cover has come off on the new Specialized Epic in a recent SRAM product knowledge video, showing off the sleek rear shock assembly.

From what we can tell on the production frame, denoted by the “EPIC” wordmark on the lower seatstay, does not use any variation on Specialized’s BRAIN system. The air valve does seem to be relocated to allow for the rear shock to nestle into the top tube though. There’s no sign of a remote lockout on this build but we’d wager that this will still be an option, like on the prior generation.

The architecture of the frame continues with flex-stay rear triangle, however, the rocker link has been inverted and mounts to the top tube instead of the seat tube. A main pivot sits in line with the top of the chainring and the seatstay flows into the top tube, hiding a rocker link to drive the shock.

We’ve reached out to Specialized to inquire about when this new XC race bike will be available and will update this space.

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158 Comments
  • 213 3
 Specialized Supercaliber.
  • 74 2
 epiccaliber
  • 40 3
 Imitation is the truest form of flattery
  • 25 4
 ChatGpt
  • 28 7
 @lehott: i mean, Trek/Bontrager "imitated" Smith's Koroyd. Got sued and lost lol. Trek's ABP is a DW Split-Pivot ripoff. "Imitated Scott's 1 piece bar and stem, Specialized' SWAT box.

What goes around comes around, lol
  • 3 3
 @mininhi: yeah solid points, no arguments here. I guess you imitate something that it gets bureaucratic and political and then a bunch of money's involved lol Sheesh no wonder that bicycle industry is in the shape it's in
  • 11 2
 Special caliber
  • 2 0
 Everyone followes everyOne
  • 1 0
 legendary! LOL
  • 3 0
 Shocks in line and partially hidden by the top tube isn't really a Trek thing, is it? Commencal also used to do it on their Meta bikes at some point. I also once (2008 or so) rode a bike with the shock in the top tube where the top tube was open at the top and bottom. I think it was a bike from Focus. Just closing the top part of the tube doesn't really make it an innovation.
  • 2 3
 @mininhi: the split pivot one was funny. Trek quickly drew some drawings in 2016 and wrote 2013 in the corner IIRC. Submitted to the patents office with an envelope full of Benjamins. Allegedly.
  • 3 0
 @jaame: Oh, I recall the story from Dave Weagle was that he arrived at Trek with his idea but found out that Trek was working on a similar design so they just both went their own ways and let them both use their own designs. I still don't see what the innovation was in the first place. Doesn't seem too different to just a single pivot suspension design with a floating brake arm like for instance Kona and Santa Cruz were using. Just that with Santa Cruz the unit was removable and the brake squat could be tuned with how high up the seattube you clamped the arm. Maybe it is just Apple kinda innovation. "Yeah it was there already but we're the first to market it as fancy and sleek."
  • 5 1
 It looks to use a standard shock and it also looks like you can take it off the bike easily for services. Much better than the Supercaliber.
  • 1 1
 @vinay: I agree. The patents office is a business I guess. You can patent anything as long as you pay your fees.
I miss seeing Dave Weagle in the media. I think he's an interesting and entertaining bloke.
  • 5 0
 @iamamodel: Agreed. I think the only similarity with Trek's system is it being hidden by the top tube.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: "closing the top part of the tube doesn't really make it an innovation"
I'm with you but, the marketing department may have something to say about that. Smile
  • 2 2
 @jaame: exactly. Back when DW was just an up and comer and got crushed by a gready big company. Without ABP Trek would be a nobody in terms of innovation and suspension design.

I have zero symapthy and respect for Trek. What are they gonna come up next " sketch on a papertowel", headset cable routing? Lol
  • 2 0
 The ABP/Split Pivot dispute was completely invalidated by prior work by Crestone Peak - they both essentially came up with a design that originated with a Taiwanese manufacturer 10 years before it was ever a dispute between two US companies. Anyone who pretends any idea in cycling is, in fact, "new" hasn't done their research...
  • 3 1
 @mininhi: so everyone who made a suspension fork ripped off the first one? And every wheel and tire after the first were rip offs? Should I keep going?
  • 3 0
 @vinay: it's what happens when in America you can fire off legal action over anything. It's f*cking silly you can "own" a design for 4 bars with pivots.
  • 2 0
 Trekialized epiccaliber
  • 1 0
 @TheBearDen: great point.
The narrow wide chainring is a great idea that Sram borrowed. How can you patent something that you acknowledge you copied?
  • 1 0
 @greg390: 27.5 is about the best example I can think of in the industry of hopping on the bandwagon....only to find a few short years later that people actually wanted to go from 26" to 29". The marketing around that wheel size was ridiculous.
  • 2 1
 @foggnm: The marketing around any wheelsize is ridiculous. If it is about "rollover" vs "agility" (or whatever), it is always a compromise. The argument I've heard most often for whichever big size wheel was that "riders sit more between the wheels rather than above it". Sorry, a higher top of the wheel is going to help no one. A bigger rear wheel might kick some in the butt, but I see no positives. If you need to be in the right position between the wheels, the axles just need to be in the right place. You can do that with any wheelsize until the size of the big wheel gets in the way. If 29" is the perfect compromise for some, then 27.5" is for some others. Same goes for 26", 24", maybe even 32" for some really big folks.

But "rollover" is a choice too. Small wheels interact more with the trail than big ones. If you want little interaction, get the biggest wheels that fit you. Steamroll all you can. If you do want more interaction, get the wheels that give you that right amount of interaction. 26" feels right for me to pump and not get hung up. I definitely notice that it seems easier for me to maintain or gain speed through pumping than for people I ride with who are on bigger wheels. And sure they're skipping and bouncing less on the rough stuff, preserving more speed there seemingly with less effort. All good, choose the wheelsize that makes your bike ride the way you want it to. There is no right or wrong. Just the right compromise for you.
  • 1 0
 @jaame: what I've read, and not saying it's correct, is this went to court, that the split-pivot patent included leverage curves, and Trek's were different enough that it provided them a way out.
  • 1 0
 @pbandjam: oh right. I didn't know that.
  • 58 0
 Jokes about Spec and Trek copying each others homework aside, what are the odds the remote lockout is wireless via AXS.

I have zero interest in smart suspension as it exists today, and am not real excited about wireless shifting/dropping, but give me wireless control over everything on the bike from the bars... That seems like a great use of the AXS ecosystem
  • 24 0
 AXS twinlock!
  • 9 0
 Gripshift LSC. And air can volume, for Scott
  • 2 0
 I agree with all of this. I love my suspension controls as they are (this might change as smart suspension is refined, a few iterations down the line), but would really appreciate AXS control over them.
  • 1 0
 This is a fantastic idea!
  • 2 0
 Yes!! I will never trust the brain to decide my suspension, but wireless and still my control!
  • 13 0
 axs bottle cage
  • 1 0
 Nice idea, but it's not controlled by AXS.
  • 15 1
 @Jheitt142: imagine the Scott version
UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, B, Start. Now you’re locked out front and back
  • 2 0
 you'll love wireless brakes
  • 1 0
 Doesn't look like it. I would imagine an AXS SID would have an AXS battery on the damper side of the fork, and I don't see any.
  • 4 0
 @CustardCountry: Love the Contra reference!
  • 1 0
 @CustardCountry: Isn't it B, A, B, A start? Or is it A, B, B, A? I can never remember.
  • 1 0
 @fumando: No you're thinking of ABBA.
  • 48 1
 Looks like a Supercaliber.
  • 36 1
 This will become the XC version of looks like a Session Smile
  • 25 2
 When are we gonna get internal fork brake cable routing to clean up that bad boy?
  • 4 1
 It could more easily be done on a lefty or any inverted fork, really
  • 1 0
 Just drill a hole on the top cap and punch a wing out of your steerer to run it down like the guys who do bar spins and tail whips on their mtbs
  • 1 0
 Steerer plug
  • 7 0
 Shhhhh! They’re listening
  • 15 1
 We know how this goes. Pinkbike offical review of the Epic will be tomorrow.
  • 2 0
 Not your first rodeo, obviously.
  • 10 2
 i wonder how much aerodynamics matter on a xc bike vs a dh bike, but i suspect getting rid of the shock in the wind isn't a bad idea in that case. the bike looks crazy clean with the new brakes too hehe. ofc, i wouldnt buy this, but, its interesting.
  • 11 6
 Its got to be much more important in DH - the speeds are way higher.
  • 14 4
 Last season's first race in Brazil had a steep, straight chute that dumped the racers out onto a finish straight with a ton of speed. Aero was definitely important there.
  • 14 3
 @pmhobson: lol at you getting downvoted. I think Nino even said he drafted the guy (Hatherly I think?) into the chute in his interview. Aero was absolutely a factor.
  • 9 1
 @bkm303: I'm sure its a factor, but I'm not confident that "hiding" the rear shock is going to make a difference.
  • 31 1
 It significantly reduces drag, and keeps the shock protected, while transporting it to the trail on the rack of your BMW
  • 5 0
 @sdaly: think it may have better implications for 2x full size water bottles - especially in smaller frame sizes
  • 2 0
 @jezza169: if you look at this picture it looks like there are cage mounts for a second bottle at the bottom of the seat tube
  • 2 0
 @mtb-thetown: yes, the previous frame still had 2nd cage mounts there - the trouble was still on smaller frame sizes room for full sized water bottle for the xc marathon riders
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez: Bro, Marginal Gains.
  • 1 0
 Aero gains really kick in around the 20mph mark, so yeah, DH would benefit the most from a top speed perspective. However, given the length of XC races, it wouldn't hurt to add some aero improvements in to gain a little free speed. Plus, if you reduce the bulk of the main triangle you can gain a little bonus in strong crosswinds. Still, drivetrain efficiency, wheel bearing optimization, and tire choice probably have a bigger effect on XC than aero performance.
  • 9 0
 You start getting aero gains around 12 MPH. You are definitely thinking about aero in an XC race, and I draft a lot in them.

But how important is the frame? I would make a SWAG of about 1%, your body position being 90%.
  • 2 0
 @jezza169: This is it for me. I'm 5'6" with a 28.5" inseam and have a really difficult time finding frames that I can fit 2 full sized bottles inside of. Heck, sometimes fitting a single full sized bottle can be a challenge! Side loading cages FTW!!
  • 1 0
 I’m surprised the industry hasn’t been more innovative with aero gains on XC mountain bikes. “Ovalize” the front fork wouldn’t be too difficult, aero seatpost (even with a dropper). With how good we are with carbon layups, working a aero frame would be doable. The guys on the Marginal Gains podcast talk about this stuff all the time.
  • 2 0
 @chase2wheels: I mean if you really want XC aero it's gotta be tough to beat a Cannondale frame with a Lefty
  • 11 1
 Oh man, glad I bought my Evo when I did - looks like the headset routing goons finally got to Spec. .
  • 2 0
 I think it's still through the frame, just extra short now that the brake cables are next to the bars. Not a deal breaker for me but still prefer not!
  • 1 1
 @Lokirides: No, there are other articles on it. Def. a brake hose through the headset.
  • 8 0
 If you're familiar with the bright red signature color of EVT repair stands, you know sram did some weird color grading to get it to appear in that weird deep maroon color.
  • 7 0
 The only thing I see comparable to the supercaliber is the shock's location, the suspension systems are different based on the photo here.
  • 7 1
 I’m guessing there’s about 60-80mm of what we would traditionally call travel, but there’s more going on hidden in the top tube that will be revealed on launch.

Specialized: 40% engineering, 80% marketing. (Marketing math!)
  • 9 0
 looks sick, lite, and fast
  • 6 0
 I wonder if there’ll be an Evo version?
  • 12 0
 my theory is that Epic and Epic EVO will continue as-is, this will be called (Not Epic) World Cup.
  • 3 1
 @singletrackslayer: Years ago Spec had some Epic models running under the name of Epic World Cup (I believe they were 1x only, maybe some slight geo adjustments) from the regular “Epic.” Wonder if they’ll go back to that idea.
  • 4 1
 Bring back the Camber!
  • 2 0
 @HankHank: If so, it’d be like the fifth time!
  • 2 0
 @padrefan1982: That’s what made me think it will happen again.
  • 2 0
 @padrefan1982: They had 100mm travel front and rear as well.
  • 2 2
 @singletrackslayer: it says epic on the seat stay
  • 2 0
 @solarplex: "Hey, if we're going to change the name, what should we put on the seat stay to throw them off?"
  • 1 0
 @singletrackslayer: I hope you're right. Another thought is they may keep everything below the S-Works level as is and this is the S-Works Epic...... ??? We'll see.
  • 1 0
 @Augustus-G: Well, I got that wrong. Smile
  • 4 3
 Looks very fast. Also, I'm very intrigued to see the pricing on the highest-end version with the xxsl drivetrain. This could be one of the first bikes to come with it equipped, and it could set the precedent for other companies.
  • 5 0
 @GeneSpokes: A lot lower than I expected.
  • 3 4
 @GeneSpokes: I had a pretty trick first Gen Tallboy that was my XC race bike and in 2014 it weighed 1.5lbs less than that Blur....with pedals. Sure the new bikes are better in almost everyway but that bike was pretty fircken awesome and cost me less than half of what the Blur cost.
  • 1 1
 @GeneSpokes: wow.. so the highest spec blur is still the xx, not the xxsl, which is kind of surprising, and the highball is apparently only available with the xo now. very interesting.
  • 4 2
 @OnTheRivet: Weight≠Speed, man.
  • 5 0
 @ThatOneGuyInTheComments: It does for world cup XC
  • 3 1
 @ThatOneGuyInTheComments: I agree, 200 grams might not be much for meer mortals such as me, but that 200 grams adds up and at the top level everything counts. I do like being able to say, “Oooo, well my brakes have carbon levers…” but I won’t get the last laugh when my lever snaps and they ride by with their perfectly good bent alumium levers. Plus, I’m notorius for breaking stuff, so light is not always the answer
  • 5 0
 @OnTheRivet: 26 vs 29...
  • 1 0
 @danielfloyd: The XX builds do have XX SL on 'em, just not indicated in the kit name I guess. Weird that Highball tops out at X0 but the Tallboy has an SL build, as well.
  • 1 0
 Oddly enough, it seems like XX is actually more expensive than the XX SL line. IMO it should be XO -> XX -> XX SL but what do I know.
  • 3 1
 @TyBronder: then again carbon levers are warm in the winter while metal freezes your finger off and that makes a bigger difference.
  • 1 1
 @asdfg3: That is true. I guess I don't have experience with that cause I haven't ridden in the cold yet.
  • 5 0
 Where is that rear brake cable going?
  • 14 2
 Looks like she's pointed towards the headset. Uh oh.
  • 5 2
 Saved 50 grams with the new frame design; lost 100 grams with SRAMS new chunk.
  • 4 0
 Here you go, that will be $15,000
  • 1 0
 I would think the room for frame bags is a consideration. I know of a few endurance racers who are going back to light xc bikes like the super caliber rather than gravel frames for long distance.
  • 1 0
 Pay to play; maybe 2 seconds faster; $7,000 per second or so. Cat 2's pony up and for a brief time get all the attention. Facebook/Craigs eventually gets the ad revenue then 5 years later the storage box lands what's left.
  • 3 0
 Is that a roval one piece carbon bar/stem
  • 2 2
 Isn't this bike shown in the new SRAM Eagle Transmission installation video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=bknKhIvDJks ?. Minute 8:07 gives a look of shock tucked under the top tube.
  • 3 0
 That's literally what the article stated.
  • 1 0
 It's amazing how much more interesting the conversation is about new bikes when you don't post a picture of the cable routing. Thank you.
  • 2 0
 I dig it. Been interested in the current epic but don’t want brain and the evo pedals poorly in comparison
  • 2 0
 Ha, I figured out how news on PB work... they also read BikeRumors and then post with 2 days delay Big Grin
  • 1 0
 I don't know why they still don't pass the front brake conduit inside the fork tube like a freestyle bike that uses a rotor. Did you see that the rear brake is 4 pistons?
  • 2 3
 Everyone is joking about this looking as a supercaliber which is historically a problematic construction, as there is so much tension in the chainstays that after a while even the chainstay snaps or the shock fails. Yes, this look like a supercaliber but definately going to be better IMO.
  • 3 0
 What ones have broken? I have googled this but could not find any. I am a supercaliber owner so need to know lol
  • 3 1
 @rabidmonkfish: I have heard from different sources that chainstays and shocks fail because of tension. I have a friend who is using his third one because of warranty.
  • 2 0
 @tajtigabor: I too have a friend who has cracked two at the chain stays.
  • 2 0
 Trek engineer with some peanuts and a cold beer:" mates, look like we have done agood one once again"

Cheers boys
  • 4 2
 Looks like a supercaliber
  • 1 0
 Looks like a supercaliber
  • 2 0
 I say this as somewhat of a Specialized fanboy but that is and EPIC copy.
  • 2 0
 Full review by Levy tomorrow Wink
  • 2 0
 Control C - Control V..............
  • 1 0
 I think we all know what the real next AXS innovation is; no chain! Just a little motor on the rear hub.
  • 2 1
 Does anyone have a cross country bike and a freeride bike?

I assumed most pink bikers are down hill oriented.
  • 3 1
 Looks fast
  • 1 0
 I promised myself I would never buy another specialized, but damnnnn
  • 1 0
 @user178323: why did you decide that?
  • 2 0
 @BarneyStinson: Probably snapped an Enduro or 2015 ish Stumpjumper like everyone else who owned one did.
  • 1 0
 Looks like headset brake cable routing
  • 1 0
 According to SRAM video bike called Epic WC 2025
  • 1 0
 Interesting model year though, isn't there a UCI rule that pro equipment has to be released to the public within 6 months of appearing on a pro bike? is that just road?
  • 1 0
 Dang, that fork looks like it has -42mm offset.
  • 2 1
 Looks like a "Session" I mean a "SuperCaliber"!!!!
  • 1 0
 A veritable bargain at $13k.
  • 1 0
 The question is, is it a 100 mm travel?
  • 2 1
 Availability ?? not a chance.
  • 2 0
 I'd guess once it's released it's immediately available on the Specialized website, but not in any shops for a while
  • 1 0
 Looks like a super caliber is the new LOOKS LIKE A SESSION!
  • 1 0
 5 water bottle mounts I’m guessing
  • 1 0
 Trekialized Epicaliber Spek Calipic
  • 1 0
 More of those lame bar/stem combos...
  • 1 0
 Looks Like A Supersession.
  • 1 0
 to be fair the shock doesn't seem like an integral part of the frame.
  • 1 1
 Looks like a supercaliber....
  • 1 0
 One Epic Supercaliber
  • 2 1
 looks liek a sesion
  • 1 0
 What an epic failure….
  • 1 3
 That horrific, ugly, eyesore of a front brake hose has to go. Come on bike industry, do better.
  • 1 1
 Looks flexy
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