The Epic has been Specialized's flagship full-suspension race bike ever since its introduction some 18 years ago. In that time, the bike has been on the podium of top tier races countless times under the world's top riders. For 2021 Specialized is introducing two updated versions of the Epic. The goal with the new Epic platform was to bring the bike into the category of what Specialized considers "modern cross country."
Previous versions of the full-suspension Epic used Specialized's proprietary BRAIN shock that uses an inertia valve to discern between trail inputs and rider inputs. The BRAIN is still present on the 100mm front and rear travel race-ready Epic but the Epic EVO cuts the baggage and utilizes a metric shock to get 110mm of rear-wheel travel. That is coupled with a 120mm travel fork and a dropper post to make the bike more "shred friendly."
Both the Epic and Epic EVO are available in a number of different builds composed of SRAM and Shimano drivetrains and RockShox or Fox suspension. Bikes are available in sizes XS - XL with prices starting at $ 4,125 USD and ranging to $11,525 USD for the top of the line S-Works models, complete with SRAM's wireless AXS drivetrain and RockShox SID suspension.
• Wheel size: 29"
• Travel: 100mm
• Carbon frame
• 67.5° head angle
• 75.5° seat angle (size medium)
• Chainstays: 433mm
• 12 x 148mm rear spacing
• Sizes: XS-XLEpic EVO Details
• Wheel size: 29"
• Travel: 110mm
• Carbon frame
• 66.5° head angle
• 74.5° seat angle (size medium)
• Chainstays: 438mm
• 12 x 148mm rear spacing
• Sizes: XS-XL
The bike is also light. The S-Works EVO we've been testing at our XC field test in Squamish tips the scale at 21.88 lbs, with our Schwalbe control tires installed. Specialized say that the S-Works Epic frame weighs in at 1869 grams for a size medium with a shock and hardware, while the Fact 11m frame used on the other models weighs 1947 grams. The Epic EVO frame is even lighter since there's no BRAIN, weighing in at 1659 grams for the Epic EVO, and 1759 grams for the Fact 11m frame.Suspension Design
Both models use a linkage driven single pivot suspension design, and the 100mm travel Epic features Specialized's BRAIN shock platform. The BRAIN is designed to deliver a firm pedaling platform until a bump is encountered, at which point it allows the shock to absorb the impact. The BRAIN has been refined time and time again, getting better with each iteration and coming a long ways from the overly clunky and unreliable shock of decades past. The location of the BRAIN is still at the rear axle, but it is now in a different orientation and designed to give a firmer platform with a smoother transition from closed to open.
The BRAIN has no doubt been a polarizing product and riders have had some trepidation with it in the past due to its need to be sent into Specialized for any major service. That hasn't changed, but Specialized now offer two years of service included for the original owner of the bike. Service intervals are now longer and dealers will also have loaner shocks to give customers to keep them on the trail for the few days it's away.
The kinematics of the Epic give the shock a more progressive curve with more mid-stroke support for a smoother transition to the BRAIN engaging. There's a firmer platform but better small-bump performance as well.
For the 110mm travel Epic EVO, the BRAIN is gone, and in its place is a higher volume metric shock and a flip-chip adjustable link that gives riders another half-degree of adjustability. This bike uses a very different leverage ratio than the racier Epic, and it has more anti-squat as it has to give more support in the suspension without the BRAIN.Frame Details
Both Epics utilize the same front end, but the EVO gets a totally different rear end as it doesn't need to integrate with the BRAIN. Additionally, there are numerous other updates across the board.
The new Epic frame is, you guessed it, lighter and stiffer than the previous generation. The 12m S-Works frame is 100g lighter than the previous bike while the 11m frame that the rest of the line gets is equal to the former S-Works bike.
Tubing on all frames is scaled by frame size for optimal stiffness and weight and the S-Works bike gets a carbon compression-molded link. The rear triangle is now said to be 15% stiffer to match the stiffness of the front triangle and 20 grams lighter. In the frame redesign, shock forces were a major consideration and side loading on the shock is reduced by 30% in order to help with performance and durability.
Both the Epic and Epic EVO use SRAM's Universal Derailleur Hanger and a threaded bottom bracket.
Riders won't find a SWAT hole in the downtube of the Epic bikes as the tubes are simply too small. Adding the feature would have also increased weight, not what most XC racers or riders are looking for. There is, however, a bolt on the downtube that allows riders to attach Specialized's external SWAT box if they so choose, in addition to having room for two water bottles.Geometry
With the Epic designed for World Cup level XC racing, the geometry has been updated to meet the needs of modern XC courses. The 100mm travel bike has a 67.5-degree headtube angle, 433mm chainstays, and 44mm offset fork with a bottom bracket height of 324mm. The size XS bike has a slightly lower BB of 314mm. The size medium has a reach of 445mm and 75.5mm seat tube angle.
The Epic EVO and its more trail-capable geometry sits the 110mm bike with a 66.5-degree headtube angle, 438mm chainstays, a 44mm offfset fork, and a 336mm bottom bracket height. The size medium has a reach of 436mm and seat tube angle of 74.5mm. The geometry can be adjusted a half-degree steeper with a flip-chip.Ride Impressions
We've been riding the Epic and Epic EVO consistently over the last few weeks in Squamish as a part of our XC field tests, so stay tuned for in-depth ride impressions on both bikes in the coming weeks.
Why would smaller engineering teams and lower production volumes of a boutique brand confer any performance advantage? Often times its these big players who spend the money on engineering and shock tune development to eek out that last 5% of performance.
Comparatively, you can get a top of the line build on an enduro bike from a mail order brand like YT or Commencal for not much more.
I own a previous gen Enduro that I bought at my LBS and it's awesome, but at the time it was cheaper to get a bling build.
I always thought like that, because the big ones don't lack money
For some reason, Specialized is the only company which not only doesn't provide price breaks for build kits, they actually seem to sell it to you at a premium over the retail price of all parts. In the MBR UK video review, they gave it a 10/10 for performance, and determined that they could build the S-Works version for cheaper at full retail, from a frame-only option. It almost makes more sense to buy the frame, then buy a complete bike from a consumer-direct, and rip the parts off.
I have been a member for many years
Specialized makes nice frames, but the full builds are really expensive. I test rode a Stumpjumper Evo and really liked it, but it was so over priced for the spec I went looking for other options. I got a Transition Patrol instead partly because it was a way better deal.
Remember when the big S told everyone they didn't want a 27.5 bike?
Every brand is switching to 29er heavy line ups. It's not because these companies favor one wheel size over another, arbitrarily. It is because 29ers have been outselling 27.5 for years now. Why do you think Yeti released the SB100, 130, 150 eight months before the SB165 and 140? Ibis updates the Ripley and the Ripmo earlier in season than the Mojo lineup. New Megatower a full season before the updated Bronson, etc. See the trend? The market speaks and it much prefers larger wheels.
I actually agree with their increase in prices, as long as the profits are enjoyed throughout the supply chain.
From a 2014 announcement about tires.
"We really believe in the performance of our tires, so even though we don’t currently offer 650b bikes we still want to make sure all riders have the option of choosing their favorite Specialized tires,” said Specialized Global PR Manager Sean Estes. “We also want to make sure our dealers are equipped to service all riders as well.”
Estes noted that the tires are already available at some Specialized retailers with more expected to receive shipments soon. He declined to comment on rumored 27.5-inch bike and wheel development."
Dude - get off it, man. The company jumped with both feet into 29er's. And guess what - they were right! 29er's quickly caught on because that is what the market wants.
I get it - you like 650b wheels. That's rad, man. Find a bike you like and enjoy. You're formulating a grudge against a company that generally produces super rad machines because of an obscure comment about how they prioritized bringing tires to market. Meanwhile, you're trying to make the case that all these boutique brands are somehow "thinking outside the box", and I've pointed out how utterly untrue that is. All the boutique brands are prioritizing development of their 29er platforms before 650b. Even Guerilla Gravity - the most boutique brand you can think of - is offering four 29er models, and only two 650b models. There is a reason why.
To cap it all off, you're talking to a guy who likes smaller brands. I love to see creative approaches to mountain biked design. But just because Specialized is a larger brand, doesn't mean that they don't make top-of-class bike, which they clearly do.
You completely missed the point, it's not about tires, my god. I was just illustrating they didn't have 650B bikes in 2014. Someone else can correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the first SJ 650B in 2015 and it was some thrown together model using parts from the 29er and it wasn't until the next year that it was a dedicated 650B frame?
My only point was smaller brands tend to think outside the box more than the big corporate brands. That's all. The late adaptation of 650B is just one example where Specialized big corp machine dug in their heels and weren't quick to react.
I can't find the video, but there is one where Specialized basically says there's no point to 650B. I'm going to hazard a guess the lost sales is what shifted the mindset, not innovation.
A lot of bike companies did not have good 650b offerings in 2013, or were just getting started. Most bikes were still sold as 26, and there was this growing movement toward 29ers in the XC/light trail categories in 2011-2012. Specialized jumped straight ahead to offering a 29er in their new X-wing designed Enduro, which won "Bike of the Year" from more than a few publications in 2013. Is this not innovation?
It's important to point out that lots of boutique brands are forced to be "innovative" because they need to find a way to design a bike without infringing upon patents. Remember when Specialized's patent on the four-bar, horst link FSR suspension expired, and suddenly all these small brands who had been producing single-pivot bikes and taking shots at Specialized changed their suspension layout to the identical design the next year? Super innovative.
Just because everyone doesn't want to copy specialized doesn't mean forced. Canfield, Knolly, Banshee all have arguably better suspension designs than Specialized Horst Link.
Lenz Lunchbox was a short cs long travel 29er before the Enduro came out. Devin just doesn't have the add revenue to win bike of the year.
I get it now you're a huge big S fan and they can do no wrong in your eyes.
Found reference too it here on pinkbike:
"Specialized officially adopted the mid-size wheel standard, two years after it sent out a memo to the press that the pioneer mountain bike brand had no intention of producing a 27.5-inch-wheel bike, stating that they were convinced that the 26-inch format was fine the way it was, that the 29er was a far better choice for a bigger wheel bike, and that the mid-sized wheel “...represented the worst of both worlds.” Specialized also covered their butts, writing that they would consider producing 27.5-inch bikes if there was sufficient consumer demand.Well that day has apparently arrived.
So was it innovation or lost sales?
From that same pinkbike article:
That said, being restricted to using a front section predesigned for a 26er to come up with a competitive 27.5 bike presupposes that compromises were made in the Enduro 650b’s numbers
I'd argue that Specialized's 2015 stance was "ahead of their time". 650b bikes are in decline and 29ers are the clear and dominant force in the market. Most companies, including boutique brands are reigning in their offering for 650b wheels. Specialized is an "innovator" after all - it took 5 years for their stance to be proven correct.
Also, you started out arguing that big brands are less innovative than smaller brands. I am arguing that this is not true, and that big brands are just as likely to create world-class bikes as boutique companies. Take a look at the suspension design of the 2020 Enduro, and tell me it isn't every bit as innovative a design as anything you've seen from a boutique brand.
Canfield, Banshee and Knolly - you literally picked 3 brands which have struggled to produce a single hit bike over the last 5 years. Knolly's continually get very average reviews, and Canfield's saving grace is that they are now licensing their suspension design to Revel bikes. I'm not saying these suspensions are bad, per se. But Specialized, Norco, Transition, Kona, Guerilla Gravity having been marching away with hit models and "dream build" designations, all using a FSR suspension design. So no, I do not think its accurate that these brands have "arguably better suspension design" than Horst Link. At least not according to sales and reviews for both large and small brands throughout the industry. But hey, what are "sales" and "reviews" worth anyway - those companies are innovative!
That being said, that Evo looks quite tempting, I'm in the market for an aggressive downcountry/light trail bike and that thing is pounds lighter than my current top picks (Ibis Mojo, YT Izzo, and Scott Spark) with similar geo...
Very nice, 21.88lbs. Would be interested to see what the epic evo weighs? Bike looks good, but over USD $11,500 and not even any kashima? At least it isn't CAD $20,000 like their special edition Levo SL.
I absolutely love bikes and have 3 myself. Although I bought them at good prices, I still question the pricing of pedal bikes. I know everything is getting so damn expensive, but many top end bikes are at least USD $10,000 now. Seriously, comparing to a good motorbike, or great used car for CAD $15,000, no doubt, bikes are definitely overpriced. Bike and component manufacturers know the demand his so high and so many people around the world love riding bikes, so I guess they know they can charge high prices. Sorry for the rant...
“The S-Works EVO we've been testing at our XC field test in Squamish tips the scale at 21.88 lbs“
BTW, I have both Kashima and non-Kashima Fox forks, and there's zero difference in ride quality.
I see a lot more people complaining about prices lately. Usually they'd get downvoted to hell with people retaliating with their reasoning of why prices are so steep (supply and demand, etc.) Notice how there are more and more upvotes and negative comments on pricing.... We getting greedy out here boys and girls!
We could be into fancy cars, or boats, or hunting,, or, well, every other hobby, except maybe running or swimming.
What's inexpensive these days?
But yes, I really appreciate direct to consumer brands. They are getting good bikes into the hands of more people. I don't want to sport to only be dominated by upper class white dudes.
Without the brain, the "shred friendly" epic evo frame actually weighs 210g (almost 1/2lb) less than their "race-ready" sworks epic frame. What, almost sounds backwards, as Specialized longer travel downcountry frame weighs 1/2lb less than their race ready XC frame? However, the dropper, longer travel fork, longer chainstays, flip chip, etc on the epic evo would all add weight and easily make up for this frame weight difference.
Usually a bike manufacturers "downcountry" bike (using their XC frame), when adding more travel, a dropper and better tires probably weighs at least 1-3lbs more than their shorter travel XC race bike. However, this same approach does not look like what Specialized did, since the sworks epic has an almost 1/2lb brain, and Specialized uses the same tires, bars, etc on both bikes. The longer travel epic evo with a dropper looks damn light and probably the better bike to get, unless Specialized loses that good for 3 years brain weighing it down on their shorter travel XC race bike.
Again, still interested in the weight difference between the epic evo and sworks epic?
I wouldn't be surprised if not dicking around with levers, under duress, is faster than a third of a pound in frame weight and the tiny bit of lockout efficiency, but man, would that be a hard study to conduct.
As for the brain in question though, all this doesn't matter for shit as the brain isn't electric.
But I personally prefer a hardtail for XC. I know it's not the cool thing, and according to EVERYONE (but me), a full suspension is supposed to be faster. Except my race results don't lie, I am faster on a hardtail except on rare occasion. But I weigh less than 145 pounds, even when I am not in race fitness, so the extra weight of the rear suspension slows me down.
I've got an '18 Top Adjust which was a take-off from an S-Works Epic and I love the thing.
This was a Pro model, for 2018. Again, rear shock was always fine, it was the fork I didn't like. A friend has been through like 4 shocks now, mine never failed in the year I raced it (though it had been replaced just before I got it).
The lower models got a bottom rebound adjust. You can tell the Top Model by the Red & Blue knobs for the Fade & Rebound on the top of the right side of the fork. The two are very different in performance.
On the shock issue. It wasn't until last fall that they finally figured out the problem which was in the manufacturing process IIRC. There is a very long and detailed thread on it over at MTBR which includes several comments from Specialized employees.
Here are four different 2018 models, all with the same Brain. The same Brain the one I raced had too. They were all the same in 2018.
Specialized also knew what was wrong with the shock in 2018. They tried a bandaid fix until they were able to work the problems out. Before the bandaid fix, they denied a problem. Then after the obvious denial stage was over, they just did an easy warranty process. Once they did the bandaid fix, they lasted longer, but would still fail (especially for larger people, I am small). It all came down to the rush for production, moving from Fox to Rockshox and not giving enough time before production to verify that the production method was correct.
My LBS gave me the bike to race, it was their demo bike. A lot of customers had warranty claims on those things and I followed it closely as I didn't want to miss out on a race due to a shock failure (I have a pro license, racing the ProXCT).
On the Fork, from everyone I've talked to the Top & Bottom adjust models are two very different animals.
The common theme from the people riding the bottom adjust version is that it is very harsh.
Last year I picked up a Top adjust model with the carbon steerer 2nd hand and it has been great. A huge step up from the Judy it came with. (I've got a Comp model I've basically built an Alloy S-Works spec out of.)
I run it wide open and a couple of clicks to the slow side of center on the rebound. Pressure wise right at 20% sag. Like you I'm on the lighter side, about 160 lbs. kitted up. Maybe this new generation of SID Brain forks will be more like the older Top adjust model. ???
On the Shock, I knew about the rebuild process they thought was going to remedy the problem but didn't.
As to if they really knew it was not the end all fix, I don't know. There's still a mixed bag of reports about how individual LBS's are handling it. I was talking to a guy up in Michigan a couple of weeks ago and his LBS was still trying to put him through the Rebuild routine. I do know that since I got mine replaced last October it has been perfect. Mine had the dreaded "squish bob squish" syndrome and wouldn't lock up. I had to take a few months off this winter but have got over 500 miles of rocky desert riding on it since. Fingers crossed for the future.
Could have made this the ideal back countrybike
This is the Epic Scalpel?
Specialed spent so many years taking in money for their patent 4-bar, but now they are using Cannondale's... I agree, the Scalpel pivotless seat stays are superior for xc rigs.
The complete weight on the S-Works EVO is nuts!
Wish there was something to keep the bars from chipping the pain off of my top tube in a crash - something I managed on my last two Epics.
Edit: Yup, checked it. Just the frameset alone for the Epic Evo is 4000 USD. I mean, damn, 4k for a frameset. Let that sink in for a second
On another note, how do people get away with riding such light tires on their downcountry bikes, I end up needing a full on enduro tire!?
I mean, since when did anyone see a Special Ed design without a true four bar, "Horst link?
The taller fork rotates the whole frame around the rear axle. Reach is a purely horizontal measurement from the bottom bracket to the head tube, so as the frame rotates back that horizontal distance decreases. Think about how much shorter that horizontal distance is when doing a wheelie.
The rear end is different as well as the linkage, so it's all worked out!
I feel like they should have used a different front triangle as well.
The Evo will feel like an Enduro / trail bike. The Epic will feel like a stiff XC bike.
Suppose if it didn’t/wouldn’t sell a company like the big S wouldn’t make it.
12x148 is actually 141mm between the dropout faces, with slots to make installing the wheel less finicky. 12x150 didn't have those slots, and adding them created the 12x157 standard
Bike companies went with the smaller 6mm jump from 12x142 to 12x148 instead of the 15mm jump to 12x157 because 12x157 seemed like overkill for XC, trail and enduro bikes. Also, concerns over chainline or q-factor, heel strikes on chainstays, etc
Specialized *hold my beer*
I'd love to have one of these in the shed though....
Super important detail! Good thing it was listed in the sidebar there, someone might have though it had QR135 or something else super weird!
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