First Ride: 2020 Specialized Epic HT - The World's Lightest Production Hardtail

Aug 5, 2019 at 17:19
by Daniel Sapp  



For 2020, Specialized have given their World Cup XC race hardtail, the Epic, a makeover. With a frame-only weight of 790 grams (including paint) for a size medium, Specialized claim it's the lightest production hardtail frame in existence. The new Epic is designed to be more capable and comfortable than the previous model, and while the bike was designed with the fastest racers in mind, it has handling that non-superhuman riders will be able to appreciate.

The Epic HT is available in seven different models, as well as a frame-only for the top of the line S-Works option. Prices start at $2,110 USD for the Carbon 29 model and rocket all the way up to $9,510 for the top of the line SRAM AXS equipped S-Works model shown here.

Epic HT Details

• Intended use: XC race
• Wheel size: 29"
• Boost 12x148
• Full carbon frame
• Two water bottle mounts
• Size: S through XL
• Weight: 19.0 lb / 8.6 kg
Frame weight: 790 g / 1.74 lb (size M)
• Complete price: $2,110 - $9,510 USD / S-Works frame only: $2,500
www.specialized.com
There are two different frames across the line. The standard Epic frame has a slightly different carbon layup and weighs about 140g more. It's still super stiff - rated at Specialized's 11m (the S-Works is 12m) and it is a little more affordable. All models are spec'd with Specialized's in-house components including handlebars and stems, seats, seatposts, tires, and Roval wheels.


Considerations were taken throughout the construction of the carbon frame by the design team at Specialized in order to take what they had with the previous Epic HT and optimize it even more for modern riding. The first and foremost consideration was to make the bike comfortable and compliant in order to deal with the increasingly technical World Cup racecourses. Weight was obviously a consideration, but it wasn't the number one priority.

What they ended up with was a bike that, from their testing, was not only better riding, but also a lot lighter - the S-Works frame weight came in at around 790g (1.74lb) for a size medium. That number is actually higher than what the frames that were on hand for the launch weighed in at - they were around 775 grams - but it's always better for a frame to weigh less than advertised rather than more.



Frame Details

There are a number of updates to the frame for the new Epic HT. The dropouts are smaller and the seat stays are more narrow than the previous version. There's an increased amount of tire clearance, and the frame itself has a few more curves in it in order to save weight and meet Specialized's performance goals. It now comes with a 42mm offset fork, compared to the 51mm offset that was spec'd before.

The seat tube sizes up from 27.2mm to 30.9mm. While this goes a bit against conventional thinking, Specialized's team claims that it's more compliant than the 27.2 version thanks to the new shape of the tube and the smaller seat stays. Additionally, it allows much more compatibility with a wide range of dropper seatposts. The frame is now 1x only. This allows for more tire clearance and allowed the design team to remove some carbon in areas it wasn't needed on the frame, further lightening things.

With the frame overall, there was a fresh look at how the carbon was laid up and the bike was optimized to save weight in any way possible while still meeting the strength, stiffness, and compliance goals of the team. The carbon layup is different depending on the frame size in order to match the stiffness to the anticipated rider size - Specialized call this their 'Rider-First' tune.

The 30.9mm seat tube diameter opens the door to more dropper post options.
The threaded bottom bracket not only allows for easier servicing, but the carbon layup around the junction is lighter.


Geometry

Modernizing the Epic HT's geometry was also an important part of the design process. The reach increased across the board, with a size medium measuring 430mm, a large 455mm, and an XL 480mm. Those numbers aren't quite as long as what you'd see on a modern trail or enduro bike, but remember, the Epic HT is designed to be used with a 60-75mm long stem.

The headtube angle is 1.2-degrees slacker than before and now sits at 68.5-degrees. The seat tube angle stays the same at 74-degrees, and the chainstays measure 430mm.

The bottom bracket drops a couple of millimeters to keep the bike at the same level with the larger volume tires it is now spec'd with (there's room for 2.3" - 2.4" tires with room to spare).







Mike Kazimer and I have both spent some time on the new Epic HT. I've ridden it in Western North Carolina around my home in prime summer conditions, and he's spent time on it in California at Northstar Resort. These days, both of us spend most of our time on full-suspension bikes, and for good reason, but there's something to be said about the skills sharpening that occurs after spending time on a hardtail.

The Epic HT is no doubt made to climb. The S-Works frame is noticeably stiff and the transfer of power to the ground is solid, which is especially impressive given its super lightweight. The bike urges you to go faster and drop down a gear or two from what you may normally ride, especially if you're used to pedaling around a full suspension bike.



When pedaling over slightly rough terrain while seated the frame feels comfortable and does an admirable job (for a hardtail) of muting small bumps and trail chatter. It's flex-free while pedaling, but there's enough frame compliance to prevent your fillings from rattling out when you go blazing into a rocky section of trail. After several hours in the saddle, that little bit of give built into the frame and seatpost adds up.

While the RockShox SID Ultimate fork does have Specialized's Brain system in it, I found it unnecessary to use it most of the time, no matter if I was climbing or descending and typically ran it wide open. There are no doubt rides it could prove beneficial for, like the Leadville 100 that I'm going to give a go (on the Epic) this coming weekend, but for most of my riding around home, there's no need for it.

I've been enjoying my time on the Epic HT more than I'd expected. Sure, I'd love to add a dropper post on it, but I've been doing the 'Pisgah high-post' for the last couple weeks with little to no issues on many trails that will choke up full suspension bikes. The Epic is balanced while descending and shockingly quick. The progressive geometry of the bike makes it easy to stay centered and carry speed in smooth as well as rough and technical terrain. Of course, every once in a while I'll get a jarring reminder that there isn't any rear travel, but for a 19-pound, World Cup race machine, the new Epic HT is a surprisingly well-rounded speed demon.

I'll have more thoughts on the Epic HT in the coming weeks. I'll be spending the better part of a day on it racing the Leadville 100 this weekend in Colorado and may even find a dropper post for it after that's wrapped up.








242 Comments

  • 106 22
 You can't drop a Semenuk edit and a hardtail review on the same day. We all want to go hit rampage on slope bikes now, not research XC bikes.
  • 68 2
 Why not hit rampage on XC bike ?
  • 76 2
 Gotta keep things balanced.
  • 7 1
 @evildos: I want to rampage an XC like
  • 10 8
 @brianpark: god forbid an e-bike story is lined up for today too
  • 3 0
 @evildos: 1. DM this idea first 2 semenuk
  • 11 1
 @brianpark: what does the new enduro look like?
  • 1 0
 @evildos: 'cause frame explosion
  • 7 10
 @mi-bike: Get with the times that joke is soooooo worn out!
  • 3 0
 @LuvAZ: you haven't seen the leaked pics yet? Its all over the net
  • 1 12
flag NYShred (Aug 6, 2019 at 10:56) (Below Threshold)
 $9,510 worth of PLASTIC!

...but so much winning.
  • 6 0
 @NYShred: Yeah and F1 cars are a couple million dollars of "plastic" as well when you take out the cost of all the metal bits....
  • 4 5
 @wvsurfhoov: yes just like your mother
  • 3 1
 @AnthonyQDJ: I get it now your 12.
  • 2 7
flag slayerdegnar (Aug 6, 2019 at 15:40) (Below Threshold)
 yeah, so much for the god damned XC filter
  • 1 0
 @LuvAZ: Like a megatower.
  • 57 4
 Threaded BB, and it’s lighter. Other manufacturers take note.
  • 16 6
 From a technical point of view, for the same performance lightest threaded BB frame is always going to be heavier than the lightest Pressfit BB frame. So either it's magic or marketing BS.
  • 14 3
 So either their previous bottom bracket designs were terrible or the weight savings don't come from that area.
  • 6 0
 @IluvRIDING: PF92 is significantly lighter than frames with the old bsa threaded bottom bracket, but most likely they just refined the layup further and used less epoxy to loose the weight.
  • 2 1
 @IluvRIDING: and the Epic frame isn't that light either, Scott has made the Scale frame in the mid800g range for a couple years, it's only a little bit lighter.
  • 1 0
 I don't know the full story behind, but they have been working with aluminum inserts for years.

Probably someone has a better understanding of their 'hydroformed E5 aluminum' technology, and OSBB; and how it could be applied to MTB.

Why did Sagan race an alloy Specialized Allez Sprint Disc road bike Down Under?

Specialized OSBB explained
  • 7 0
 Not sure if I buy the "Lighter" part, but if they can make a 790gram hardtail, then the weight penalty must not be very substantial! It also must not come with much of a stiffness penalty if its on a XC race bike. No excuses for other bike manufacturers to make Enduro and Trail bikes with PF.
  • 3 1
 @dirtberms: by increasing the diameter of the bearing shell you end up with a bigger bottom bracket area, which then is stiffer due to the increased diameter so you can reduce the amount of carbon in the layup. Most frames road or XC dropped about 300g when they went from bsa to PF92.
That said, I would prefer a threaded bottom bracket like that specialised has any day if the weight is the same.
  • 1 0
 @IluvRIDING: Supposedly weight saving come from other areas, they said they could have saved an additional 30g by going PF but opted for easier user serviceability instead.
  • 1 0
 @IluvRIDING: The idea is that the bottom bracket takes part of the load, the frame has to deal only with the forces, not the bearing trying to slide in or out. So, while it increase weight on the frame it *might* make weight go down overall.
All I know it's easier to maintain and it's more reliable.
  • 10 0
 @IluvRIDING: Years of collective bitching about pressfit and when they finally listen and make this work you respond with, "Pressfit would have been lighter?"
  • 1 0
 @IluvRIDING: glad to see they've gone to this design. Not sure if the old design was terrible, but my buddy had 2 Sworks frames in one year crack inside the bottom bracket shell.
  • 53 7
 Imagine paying $9,510 for a hardtail
  • 42 4
 That's a lot of teeth fixing
  • 12 2
 @stumphumper92 Now imagine paying 20,000$ for their McLaren road bike... at least you got shoes & helmet for that too... *cringe*
  • 5 0
 imagine being a sponsored racer, you mean
  • 30 4
 I have an 8k hardtail.. It's the best bike I have ever owned.
  • 22 2
 @ka-brap: You're not wrong. Road bikes are hella expensive. Now imagine riding a road bike...
  • 8 0
 I guess you could say it is not so light on the wallet.
  • 14 18
flag Deeber (Aug 6, 2019 at 10:02) (Below Threshold)
 @clink83: Found the dentist
  • 2 0
 @clink83: what is it? if you don't mind me asking..
  • 3 1
 @tobiusmaximum: Scott Scale 900 SL. Phenomenal bike, I got it used for a song.
  • 31 5
 @Deeber: Found the broke and jealous guy.
  • 7 1
 @hamncheez: no. Go to any triathlon. Most serious racers not even top finishers have sworks level bikes. Its truly a rich man's sport.
  • 12 18
flag Deeber (Aug 6, 2019 at 10:49) (Below Threshold)
 @Session603: Broke, yes. Jealous, no. I'll take my Transition and extra beer money over anything Specialized makes any day.
  • 9 0
 You can get Champaign bikes on a beer budget if you don't mind used bikes.
  • 7 10
 Imagine paying $9510 for a bicycle
  • 11 3
 @Deeber: Not sure what your drinking habits have to do with shit talking clink83. You were going for "props" and struck out. It's OK to admit it.
  • 5 2
 @Session603: uh, sure. You can be sure that I really care that a bunch of strangers on pink bike care that I put on lycra and ride used XC bikes. You all just talk a ton of shit about dentists when if you just were a careful shopper you could get high end bikes for cheap.
  • 4 9
flag Deeber (Aug 6, 2019 at 11:38) (Below Threshold)
 @Session603: It's only shit talking if you consider being a dentist or having large amounts of disposable income a bad thing. So what do you have against dentists?
  • 9 1
 @Deeber: Transition is pretty similar to Specialized and others on price they days, since they climbed up-market
  • 8 2
 @clink83: I'm sure the jealous guy on the internet doesn't bother you much.

It's just that the same old "found the dentist" trope is long tired and lacks creativity.

@Deeber: Keep digging. It's going well so far.
  • 25 0
 These dentists clashing comments are really getting tiresome....As dentist myself, I can only afford 7000$ bikes.
  • 2 0
 @showmethemountains: Exactly. I have owned several Transition bikes...all of them rad. I still have my Triple DJ. However, their prices are no longer bargain. The new DH frame is $3300. A Smuggler Carbon frame (29" w/ 120mm travel) is $3000. Not big S or Trek prices, but getting there.
  • 4 0
 @bman33: I bought the first gen Transition Scout and it was $5500..and alloy!! I also have an '18 that would be around $7K(also not carbon) but I got it used for a LOT less, so yeah....Transition isn't exactly a bargain brand
  • 17 1
 Once you are done with school, owning a $10k bike really isn't that big a deal (assuming no kids). I know we like to compare the cost to motos, but in actual use a dirk bike is more expensive to buy, own, and maintain. I had plenty of classmates who bought $30k-$40k cars the week they got their first job out of college. Many people spend more traveling every year.

I didn't understand this in college (I always looked for the best intersection of cheap and a good value), but people enjoy having nice things. If you work hard all week, its nice to have something nice, esp. if you use it everyday. Its not just the uber rich, but normal people.

That being said, if you are budgeting $10k for an XC bike I would say you could find an equally fast and nice bike for a lot less and have money for other nice things too.
  • 2 0
 @stumphumper92 for what it's worth I have an S-Works Tarmac that I paid 1350 for the frame for, brand new but an older paint scheme. The Big S changes designs and paint schemes so often that pretty soon this exact frame will be "new old stock" and sell for a fraction of the price on ebay. Which is exactly when I will probably buy one and have way too much Type 2 fun on.
  • 2 3
 @hamncheez: not if you go into non profit sector...um...according to a friend. At least they're honest with the name...
  • 4 1
 @ecologist: I was an ecologist and lived In poverty so I went back to school to be a nurse so I could afford bikes and have time to ride themWink
  • 33 0
 is this one of those new and trendy flat bar gravel bikes?
  • 47 1
 *slaps roof* For $9,150 USD this bike is whatever you want it to be.
  • 2 0
 Now them shits are fun
  • 15 1
 whats the max rider weight for this frame? A frame weight like that is gonna have a large asterisk beside the size L and XL frames.

This Epic's frame weight is hangin in out in the same weight category as some very light weight road bike frames.... Im impressed but also a slight skeptic of the durability of a frame like this.

Either way, well done Specialized.
  • 5 0
 Weight Limit would be 250 lbs.
  • 3 0
 @skemp57: well shit, looks like my XC race champion dreams are DOA then
  • 19 2
 It looks like a bike
  • 13 1
 Omg. It IS a bike.
  • 3 7
flag comt0006 (Aug 6, 2019 at 9:16) (Below Threshold)
 @lognar: It IS an EXPENSIVE bike.
  • 14 0
 The same head angle a specialized hardtail had 30 years ago
  • 12 1
 Unno forget to mention that their frame has a rider weight limit of 80kg, a PF BB, a small diameter ST and that they make an handful a year. 775g +/- how many percent over the full production?
  • 2 0
 True!
  • 2 0
 And they only make it in one size.
  • 13 2
 How can geometry be an important part of the design process when they use the same seat tube angle and chainstay length across all sizes?
  • 5 3
 Ya, no excuse. On a fully, the rear triangle can be shared across sizes to save on manufacturing costs, but on a hard tail you don't even have that excuse.
  • 5 1
 right? do they *really* think that the same rc / sta for all body lengths is somehow optimal on a state of the art, built for maximum efficiency xc racing machine? sometimes the big S befuddles me.
  • 4 1
 @hamncheez: It's no excuse on a fully too. Especially since companies like to push precision engineering and all kinds of marketing jargon. Chainstays that don't grow with frame sizes are just lazy engineering.
  • 1 0
 maybe smaller sizes would have shorter RC if tire and chainring clearance were not limiting factors
  • 15 7
 I have a bunch of friends that ride full-sus, but bought hard-tails for the whole "skill sharpening" "ride in winter" angle. They're collecting dust in the corner of their garages.
  • 20 4
 The full suspension, right?
  • 59 1
 @wildedge586: No, the friends.
  • 8 0
 @MtbSince84: He killed them. They got amazingly fast from the hard tails and he didnt like it.
  • 8 3
 If the hardtails they bought are xc race oriented geometry, then they bought the wrong hardtails. Duh.
  • 6 5
 @chillrider199: Ha, ha, you wish! Full disclosure, I also ride a road bike a couple of days a week to keep the fitness up, the only hard tail I ride. Full suspension these days is just to good to waste time riding anything else on the dirt.
  • 2 0
 Too much pb eh? Gasp.
  • 1 1
 I call bullshit on your story.
  • 4 6
 @SlodownU: Full sus bikes are more fun to you only because you are slow and cannot put down good watts on proper XC machine like this one
  • 10 0
 Amazing that the base model costs less than the frame only s-works version.
  • 8 1
 I have this years version, and I have to say I love the bike. I have also put a dropper on it with a more substantial front tire. The bike can't approach even an XC dual suspensions performance on bumpy terrain but the ride is very engaging, it makes you think about where you put your tires. Climbing on the epic hard tail is where it really shines, I liken it to a road bike with mtn bike tires. My strava times on climbs are being shattered on the epic, and we all know that's what really counts.
  • 1 0
 Does it take an internal dropper or are you running external like its 2013? Im looking for a propper xc hardtail frame with internal routing.
  • 3 0
 @JDFF: The internal routing entry port on the left of the headtube include a spot for dropper routing
  • 2 2
 @JDFF: have a look at a Giant XTC. Great value for money bikes. 27.2 seatpost, but I got a Brand-X dropper from wiggle for under $200 (nzd) and it works better than my $600+ (nzd) droppers (same diameter).
  • 1 0
 @JDFF: Chromag hint hint. Oh wait - you said xc...moving on!
  • 1 0
 @notadentist: ha ha! Im on a slack long hardtail with a 160mm fork, comparable to a Chro Doc, but I also recognize the differences between a slack bad ass hardtail and a true xc lineage race oriented frame. Two completely different bikes with a different purpose. Too bad you put all hardtails in the same category. Thats like saying all FS bikes are downhill bikes.
  • 2 0
 @JDFF: I am using a KS Lev SI and it is internally routed, 125 mm drop.
  • 7 0
 Saw the geo and immediately thought 120mm fork, wide bars, and aggressive tires. This could make a great super light trail hardtail and a race weapon.
  • 2 0
 KOM machine
  • 2 0
 I've set mine up like an EVO epic, but hard tail. A dropper, riser bars, and more aggressive tires, but not grid casing or minions.
  • 1 0
 @Highlander406: My Highball is getting the same treatment. I wish mine (2015) had the same head angle. Ever use offset headsets in a hard-tail?
  • 5 0
 "Those numbers aren't quite as long as what you'd see on a modern trail or enduro bike, but remember, the Epic HT is designed to be used with a 60-75mm long stem. "
Why not design it around a 50 mm stem and lengthen the reach by 10-15 mm?
  • 5 4
 Because 99% of potential buyers like Vasaloppet warriors would be asking why such a short stem?
  • 8 0
 Can you run 50mm stems upside down?
  • 6 4
 Because that would climb like crap. There is a reason you see pro XC racers on bikes with shorter top tubes and longer stems.
  • 5 0
 Because XC race hardtails are climbing specialists and longer stems help with that.
  • 2 5
 @Ttimer: how do longer stems help with that?

You do realize that in next iteration the seat angle will be half of a degree steeper, head angles will be half of a degree slacker, reach will be 1cm longer and stem will be 1cm shorter?

You do realize that if current spark would be released in such geo in 2010 people would say 68HA is too slack for climbing?

If you want to see a good XC geo look at UNNO. Take the wheels and cockpit from Top Fuel and install them on Fuel EX and you will see that Fuel EX handles better on climbs.
  • 5 1
 @clink83 @Ttimer @WAKIdesigns :

I'm as much a roadie as I am a MTBer and have been racing road, XC and marathon but I don't see any valid reason besides tradition to think that a longer stem and a shorter top tube helps climbing.

I've long understood that roadies and XC racers (they are pretty much the same really) love traditions and urban myths and don't really rely on science to make choices. They act pretty much like religious people.
  • 4 1
 @opignonlibre: Every July I watch Tour De Pologne involountarily. My family simply likes to watch it as we sit in the living room. Documentary is run by two blokes one of whom sounds like a chatty old chap from the street who happens to have basic knowledge about riding bikes, road racing, athletes competing in the race and locations they ride through. Good sense of humor, good vibe, he is excellent for the job. The second dude though... a pro team racer with opinions who retired 3 years ago. First year on the job he commented on 25mm road tyres being the best, one could go 23 if they want to risk. When asked by the chatty chap about rumors of racers switching to 28mm he said it is a fad, it will go away. Goes on a long rant on fashion. It was already proven by then that 28 is faster than 25 virtually everywhere and if road is rough enough on a long stage like some on Giro, it may be even optimal to run 32. What does he say this year? Off course “28 is fastest but it is the max” spoken with douche confidence. Then he talks about disc brakes... mentions every single advantage, how much safer they are on long descents, how they grab near instantly in the wet, how many times he went off the road or crashed in a group due to rim brakes gaining full power with delay. Finishes with... “they are very dangerous in the peloton!” 2 years ago I meet his teammate and husband of my sister in law, winner of a stage at this years Giro, he is bruised everywhere, stitched, plastered, concussed and what not. What happened? “My front tyre exploded at 60km/h while braking on road in Alps”. Carbon clincher and rim brakes, nothing new, not his first crash like that either. “How about disc brakes for you then” I laugh with no wit or malice intended. Looks at me and goes on about how dangerous disc brakes are. He fkng nearly died, because of nothing else, but using shitty brake, yet he swears by it... then all the folks in peloton saying the same sht. Ehhh...
  • 2 1
 @opignonlibre: but the reality of road and XC racing is, the one with the strongest legs, biggest heart and biggest lungs will always win. Skill is optional. Just look at Langvad vs Neff...
  • 1 0
 @opignonlibre: I agree that casual riders and lower level road racers might like their traditions. But at the top end, where seconds decide over grand tour wins and where a single event makes more money than the entire mtb sport combined? Who would willingly give up a win just for traditions sake?
  • 1 0
 @Ttimer: They still do it all the time. Most of the time new technologies are introduced because the technical sponsor ask them to use it, not the opposite.
  • 3 1
 @opignonlibre: it's basic physics...most bikes your COM is over the bottom bracket when you are in a sitting position on flat ground. When you climb you have to lean forward to move your COM forward, so if you increase the reach you increase the amount you have to transfer weight forward. Long reaches are for descending, because they reduce the tendency of the bike to endo in technical terrain.
  • 1 1
 @opignonlibre: plus the more power you make the more that front end comes up on climbs.
  • 3 2
 @clink83: don’t mention basic physics if you don’t understand basic physics. What you are after is location of the grips in relation to BB which in horizontal plane is a compound of frame reach, stem length and handlebar sweep, meaning stem length and reach are interchangeable. When you speak of having your front wheel planted on steeps longer reach and shorter stem are beneficial since the whole wheel is further up front. “Loop out” factor is greatly influenced by seat angle, BB drop and chainstay length, at least to a much bigger degree than what happens in the front. If XC bikes got even longer wheelbases racers wouldn’t need to use those stupid drop stems to compensate.

@Ttimer you are naive, I am sorry to say that... top racers use taping, some use cupping, magic aluminium bricks and of all, Nino was racing a bloody 27,5” bike for 3 years
  • 3 3
 @WAKIdesigns: you don't have a clue.
  • 4 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Nino was using 27.5 to get a low bar height to...wait for it....keep his center of mass forward to keep the front end down on climbs. You position the bars to put them in the proper place to allow an efficient riding position, which is why those riders use those "stupid negative angle stems". Your cluelessness is astounding.
  • 2 0
 @clink83: Sorry, but Waki is right on this.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: You might also be naive if you think that the people who devote their entire life and all their energy to a single goal do not exhaust all the possibilities for reaching it.
Your argument pretty much amounts to "all racers and their staff are stupid because some of them do things that might not work", which is a silly thing to say about an entire profession.

Reminds me of all the armchair coaches who think they know best how to coach or play at world class football.
  • 3 0
 @Ttimer: “all racers and their staff are stupid because some of them do things that might not work"

No this is what you read from what I wrote. XC racing is a very broad term and by average XC racers of all kinds follow what industry throws at them. If setups of many pro racers are awkward, imagine what happens further down the food chain and further away from XC World Cup towards XC Marathon. I don’t really need to say much more, history will prove opinions/ observations on the XC bike setups like mine, to be right. I formed it among other things based on what Cesar Rojo said about designing UNNO XC bikes. Scott Spark whoch would be outrageous even by 2010 standards, is only another big milestone. In not too distant future, like 2025 XC racing bikes (not Marathon bikes), will all sport 67 head angles, 75-76 seat angles, 440 stays and reaches working with those seat angles and 40-50 stems. And dropper posts.

From 1999 when I started riding, XC racers have unwillingly adapted obvious improvements (in more or less chronological order with “will never catch up because:” ):
Disc brakes (too heavy)
Full Suspension (eats energy due to bobbing, too heavy)
Wide bars (will hit trees and heavier)
No bar ends (how am I suppose to do steep climbs now)
Wide tires and lower pressures (roll slower, heavy)
29” wheels (too heavy, cockpit too tall)
Double ring (not enough range)
Single ring setup (not enough range, Nino champ 3 years in a row on 10-42)
Knobby tires (roll slow, heavier)

We are in slacker and longer geometries / dropper posts phase now

Meanwhile XC enthusiasts wonder whether they should get electronic shifting...

What Enduro/DH riders had “it will never catch up” problems with: carbon frames , 29” wheels.

I used to submit to half of these opinions, but I learned from History...
  • 1 1
 @hirvi: just a simple google search for "bike fitting mechanics" would show that waki and most of the pink bike XC experts know f*ck all about bike fit and biomechanics.
Just a cursory search turned up this:
www.slideshare.net/OmarGatti/introduction-to-cycling-biomechanics
  • 1 0
 @clink83: bike fit for mountain biking - congratulations. I know a person who established a rough guide to MTB fit. Except it has little to do with seated pedaling, maybe because outside of XC Marathon people tend to stand on their pedals a lot, turn and sometimes (OMG) jump! His coaching resume involves thousands of regular riders but also elite racers like Kate Courtney.
  • 2 2
 @WAKIdesigns: "I know a person" vs peer reviewed science...You're full of shit like usual. XC geometry is the way it is because you need to put the rider in a powerful riding position. They are always going to have low bars and slacker STA because they need to be able to pedal without getting overuse injuries due to jacked up 78* STAs. This isn't enduro where you can get off your bike and push it up hills to "save energy" and still win races. If you sent out a WC XC rider on an EWS race course with an EWS pro the XC racer would be able to complete the course much faster than the enduro pro because XC bikes are so much faster on everything but super technical downhills.
  • 3 1
 @clink83: overuse injuries - you are kidding me right? Did you see a road cyclist on a road bike? A body position where biomechanics are compromised in favor of aerodynamics? And these people pedal even more than Nino Schurter? In one position? Oh I know, that is the right position! Perfect one! How exactly is long reach compromising biomechanics if when coped with short stem achieves identical position of grips in relation to BB? How are low bars good for biomechanics of tackling obstacles on an XC course? Descending? Bunnyhoping? Ever heard of hip hinge? Keep playing in your echo chamber that is full of roadie shit.

And I know a guy, Lee McCormack. You: Italian roadie nobody has ever heard of.
  • 1 0
 @clink83: how did you establish that the random PowerPoint you found on the internet was 'peer reviewed science'?
  • 6 0
 790g frame...how do you suppose it'll stand up to a watermelon/guitar/tape-deck?
  • 2 0
 Clearly this bike isn't reved...
  • 4 0
 Unless you are actively participating in a WC XC race, life is too short to ride without a dropper post. Might as well have friction shifting and toe clips as well.
  • 3 0
 Even if you do race WC life is still too short. More and more racers are using droppers on technical tracks
  • 5 0
 So their XC race bike has a longer reach than their trail bike?
  • 14 0
 Yes, XC racers are more forward leaning/body position similar to a road bike. Trail & Enduro are a bit more upright . Makes perfect sense
  • 4 0
 Wait.. now threaded bb is better? What was that bb30 standard? Marketing bullshit?
  • 13 0
 Everything is better when you apply marketing..
  • 2 0
 In other reviews, Specialized said they could have gone lighter with PF but wanted to keep it more user-serviceable with the BSA.
  • 4 0
 "The Epic HT is no doubt made to climb"

I would hope it climbs well, its a f*cking hard tail.
  • 2 1
 This bike is the latest release for XC, where climbing efficiency is crucial. It has 74 ° saddle angle. Today's enduro bikes are said to be over 78 ° to increase climbing efficiency. who is right? the XC bike or the enduro bikes?
  • 8 1
 Most of the enduro bikes with super steep SA end up being 2-4 degrees slacker when you account for sag
  • 2 4
 Really, but tje hardtail has SAG in front too.
  • 1 2
 Epic FS has 74° too
  • 3 0
 @Fat4242: epic has very little travel and sag. Front sag is the opposite, it steepens the seat tube angle
  • 3 5
 Epic FSR has SAG front and rear, then holds 74 °. Enduro bike also has SAG front and rear and also holds 78 °.
  • 1 1
 The XC bikes are...if you push your saddle forward in relation to the BB like enduro bikes it puts more stress on the knee joint. Trying to make a DH bike that can pedal uphill by placing you in a biomechanically compromised position is dumb.
  • 2 0
 @Fat4242: Most frames are designed for 10% sag front, 30%-ish sag rear. That slackens the STA by up to two degrees. Enduro bikes are also generally designed for long, steep ups, then long, steep downs. XC and trail bikes need to also do well on flats and rolling terrain. Steep seat tube angles lose their advantage here, and actually do worse.
  • 4 0
 Makes me feel bad about my 32-pound steel hardtail ;-;
  • 3 0
 Makes me feel bad about my 32lb rigid bike
  • 1 0
 I must be up to 35lb on my aluminum HT. I thought I would lose some weight when I converted to 1x but also bought some really chunky tires. Plus I count the water that I always have and spare tube, multitool, granola bars in seat bag.
  • 1 0
 I just looked and my Blue Pig frame weighs just shy of four times as much as this frame...
  • 2 0
 @gibspaulding: Hey mine is a blue pig aswell lol
  • 4 0
 .....makes me wanna ride xc again.
  • 3 0
 Shiiit, im going to actually like speciaöized bikes. First the sj evo, now this ????
  • 6 4
 Bald claim Specialized.. pretty sure Unno's hardtail is lighter, maybe didn't check facts properly or Unno's bikes are not considered "production" bikes
  • 2 1
 Unno have called them out about it on their page
  • 6 0
 @rrsport: Yeah a few bikes a year isn't what I'm betting most anyone would consider production. I sure don't but then again my opinion doesn't usually count for much. I'm calling false alarm on their part...back to work everyone.
  • 5 0
 Unno makes one frame size and only 50 per year, I am sure that is not considered "mass production" by most standards. Unno makes a super impressive frame though! More progressive in geo than this.
  • 3 1
 Props to the reviewers for not giving it the "trailization" treatment, with heavy tires, dropper post, etc.
A light XC bike is a hard drug everybody should try.
  • 2 0
 There is a certain point at which the added weight of a component more than justifies itself in time savings. I'd be curious to see timed runs with and without a dropper post.
  • 1 0
 @woofer2609: for an xc rider, pretty much nothing. For a rider used to a dropper, quite a lot
  • 2 0
 @rrsport: shhh dont tell people that. You can't ride trails without your seat droppedWink
  • 2 0
 If I didn't know any better, I'd say all the comments above were made by the engineering teams at Scott, Cannondale and Trek. Oh, and John Doe, DDS.
  • 2 1
 Love that the colour theme is identical to my first "real" mountain bike - 1991 Specialized Stumpjumper Comp. Now I want this bike, even though I have no need for it. Nostalgia and all....
  • 1 0
 I've only pedaled this sort of bike around for a few moments but the power transfer really is impressive. If it suits your trails and riding style I'm sure this sort of bike is worth every penny.
  • 1 1
 With the upcoming of gravel bikes, I wonder if there is any point to make XC hardtails. Full sus is the real deal for mountain biking. If you want to hit smoother roads or climb fast on not so technical uphills, then a 'monster' gravel bike is a better option.
  • 2 1
 How does Dangerholm manage to build up a 19 pound fully without having weight as his main goal, and this hard tail with a 1.7 pound frame weigh the same???
  • 2 1
 Doesn’t he sand off all the paint?
  • 2 0
 The power meter
  • 5 0
 I bet AXS weighs more than the cable actuated eagle too.
  • 1 0
 @clink83: I think they said it was like 14 g lighter
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez dangerholm does have weight drop as the primary objective he just doesn’t go full retard with it, especially when he would win no more than 300g by using completely stupid stuff that would be unreliable and dangerous to use.
  • 1 0
 19.47 lbs. 1250g wheels, 7.8g grips, integrated bar/stem, Powercordz, Schmolke, Garbaruk.
  • 1 0
 @ceecee: The Garbaruk is only 20 grams lighter.
  • 1 0
 Thats still 20 grams... the wheels alone are basically 200 grams lighter. The fox stepcast is far lighter than a rockshox sid etc etc
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez: 21g...Spark RC does include 215g pedals, but that shows how much all the little stuff subtracts. There's no other possible answer unless someone is fibbing on weight. I don't think Gullholm is kidding about the hundredth decimal place, despite his heavy beard. He is wearing a full face helmet in Spark riding photo, if we're supposed to infer something from that....
  • 3 2
 “... there's enough frame compliance to prevent your fillings from rattling out ...”

It’s the rider’s body that provides this compliance.
  • 13 1
 Well the guy that pays full price for this could fix those fillings himself.
  • 2 0
 Wasn’t Cannondale at this weight or slightly below in 2012 ish with their Flash ultimate ?
  • 1 3
 Unno have a lighter frame as well. They’ve called them out about it
  • 2 1
 Probably a much smaller frame with short reach. It's easy to make bikes lighter by making them smaller.
  • 3 0
 What about this one? Stoll R1

www.stoll-bikes.ch/english/bikes
  • 2 3
 I know I'm not alone thinking the same thing, after reading the comments but, creating such hardtails is awesome for biking research and development, and to push further the limits of what you can do with hardtails, and break a bunch of records.

However, who would buy an hardtail for this price? even if it weigh 8 kilos or anything.
If we had to choose between buying this bike or a mid-range full suspension for like 3000$ which would ride better in most terrain (might not be as responsive on smooth terrain tho), we'd obviously buy the full-sus. I find it pointless to sell to the publics such bikes. Do they even get sold?
  • 2 0
 Personally I wish I never got my mid grade full suspension bike. My carbon HT is so much more fun.
  • 2 2
 "...The bike urges you to go faster and drop down a gear or two from what you may normally ride, especially if you're used to pedaling around a full suspension bike....'

Go up a gear or two instead?
  • 1 0
 Down the cassette.
  • 2 0
 I look forward to seeing a weightweenie buy 1 of these frames & sand all the paint off...
  • 4 5
 Kinda feel like "compliance" should be banished from mountain bike reviews. It's a hardtail. Tire pressure has way more influence than tiny amounts of flex on a hardtail ever will. If you need more "compliance" than dropping a few PSI gives you, it's time for rear suspension.
  • 8 1
 That's not true at all. Look at XC full suspensions where they engineer flex into the chain and seat stays in order to do away with pivots. Modern Hardtails have flex built into them.
  • 2 0
 I've ridden aluminium, steel, and carbon hardtails and I can definitely feel the improvement in the ride over, say, high speed roots, in that order. Mind you, these days I stick with FS as they are faster once racing for over an hour. And more fun.
  • 3 0
 Go ride a steel hardtail, then ride a sh*t old ally hardtail that is way too stiff. It will change your mind.
  • 1 0
 So much this
  • 1 0
 I agree. I once tested similar hardtails with the same wheels: alloy, carbon, and ti back-to-back and didn't notice any difference in "compliance". Maybe there's more give with a lightweight XC (5lbs) steel or ti frame, but they aren't durable enough for general trail riding.
  • 2 0
 Lightest? Yes the frame only, anyway complete build Scale RC 900 SL 2019 version has the same weight while the frame is 850g
  • 5 7
 For 10k USD they should have made a version that doesn't have the rear derailleur cable guide if they were going to release a version with AXS stock. Could have made it lighter I bet. It was the first thing I noticed when I looked at the picture.
  • 4 1
 That would mean making a whole different frame just for one build kit. Which would make it even more expensive.
  • 2 3
 @skeen95: When you're already dropping 10k USD on a hard tail your brain has already turned to mush and you probably don't care about more expensive.
  • 2 1
 you means worlds lightest 29" hardtail currently being produced...
my 2012 cannondale ultimate was 18lbs soaking wet.
  • 1 2
 Not even unno is lighter 775
  • 1 2
 Cannondale's F-SI HI-MOD World Cup claims a weight of 8.4kg Specialized is claiming a weight of 8.6kg. So how is the Specialized able to say they have the lightest production hard tail?
  • 6 0
 That refers to the frame, not the complete weight. Specialized do have an S-Works Ultralight build that weighs only 7.9 kg... But it'll cost you $9,020.
  • 3 2
 @mikekazimer:

Unno Bikes says their frame is lighter than this one. Is there rectification in order if this is true?
  • 2 1
 yip unno have called out Specialized about it. It’s going to come down to what bits each frame had fitted when weighed
  • 1 2
 @svenie: @mikekazimer can't as it would mean they can't blindly copy paste press materials provided from the manufacturers without doing further research.

And doing further research takes time and energy.

It's like that "progressive riders" on the Giro Tyrant review and other non-senses from the marketing departments.
  • 4 0
 @opignonlibre, Unno's website shows their claimed weight as 790 grams. It could also be argued that manufacturing only 50 frames and having one single size isn't really a full production run, but I'm fine with letting Unno and Specialized wage a weight weenie war - it'll be entertaining to watch.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: Well the industry has some giants but is also filled with a large number of very small companies which aren't independent one man framebuilding shops. So yes smaller scale but as long as they are building batchs of frames following the same spec and sizing it is production, not made to order.

The thing is I see a lot of articles here on pinkbike that just copy / paste media kits. You should be a bit better than that. This is not limited to you, most major printed mags and online websites do the same.
  • 2 0
 @rrsport: How much does the size large Unno weigh?
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Specialized advertises the Epic S-Works frame claiming 775g in size M now
  • 2 0
 Molded cable guides look a bit silly with wireless shifting
  • 1 0
 More tire clearance now...but how much. If it'll fit a 2.6, I'll buy one, tomorrow.
  • 1 0
 I just don't understand the price. It's a hardtail.. no pivots. No shock. Just a simple frame.. I just don't get it.
  • 1 0
 A “lightest” ? I would snap it if first closed corner ???? Rather fat Chromag in crmo what can trow anything
  • 1 0
 Do they make a SS frame in the HT?
  • 1 0
 No Frown
  • 1 0
 Where is the port for an internally routed dropper post?
  • 3 0
 It is on the left side of the headtube with the shift/brake line port, With wider handlebars the cable can easily make that curve, keeping the right side lighter and looking cleaner!
  • 2 0
 790g sounds terrifying
  • 3 0
 Not as rerrifying as 110g bars at 800mm width...
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Does that mean you schmokle your face on the stem when the eventually snap?
  • 1 0
 You know what they say, S works
  • 2 1
 I'm surprised they haven't claimed a patent on hardtail mountain bikes.
  • 1 0
 A bike will be as fast as the rider can, be it a 1k or a 20k
  • 1 0
 Can I fit a dual crown fork?
  • 1 0
 Looks like perfect gravel bike Smile
  • 1 2
 $9,510 for a XC hardtail ... Insanity! PT Barnum would love the biking industry.
  • 1 0
 Bike pricing is weird.
  • 1 0
 ....
  • 1 1
 UNNO has an even lighter HT.... So.....
  • 3 5
 I was going to comment on the lack of rear gear cable, and then i remembered .
  • 1 3
 So i can spend less, get full top of the line full suspension, anda only add 1.5 pounds... Yelah this is definitely out...
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