Video: Specialized Epic vs. Viathon M1 - XC Hardtail Cage Match

Jul 8, 2020 at 17:03
by Daniel Sapp  

Specialized Epic Hardtail
Viathon M1

Specialized's $9,500 S-Works Epic vs. Viathon's $6,500 M1

Words by Daniel Sapp, Video by Michael McQueen

Two SRAM AXS Equipped Hardtails

Specialized S-Works Epic HT
• 100mm fork
• 68.5° head tube angle
• 74° seat tube angle
• Frame weight: 790g
• $9,500 USD
First Look
Viathon M1 XX1 AXS
• 120mm fork
• 69.5° head tube angle
• 73.6° seat tube angle
• Frame weight: 1,035g
• $6,500 USD
First Look

Last year, we received a press kit for a new bike brand, Viathon. Now, we don't really spend a ton of time reviewing cross-country hardtails here at Pinkbike, but when we realized that Viathon was owned by Walmart Stores, Inc., our interest in this particular bike grew.

This past winter, we had the opportunity to get one of Viathon's XX1 AXS equipped M1 XC bikes in for testing. It just so happened that I already had Specialized's brand new S-Works Epic hardtail, also sporting SRAM's XX1 AXS drivetrain hanging out in my garage. That meant it was time for some back to back riding and comparisons between the two bikes. Because when else can you compare a bike "from Walmart" to what is arguably one of the most high-performance production XC race bikes in the world?

Big Box Store vs Big Bike Brand

Specialized holds a ton of power in the world of cycling. It's one of the biggest brands, with the ability to manage every aspect of that brand from R&D, prototyping, testing, manufacturing, developing one-off parts for anything, to the sales floor, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year. While that's no doubt impressive, Walmart is the world's largest company, with over $514.405 billion dollars in revenue and 2.2 million employees. Both brands have their roots in being family-owned businesses. Specialized was founded in 1974 by Mike Sinyard who is still at the helm of the red ship today, and Walmart was founded by Sam Walton in 1962 with family members still very much involved with the brand.

The connection Walmart has with bikes is not necessarily what you see when you walk into one of their stores. As any serious mountain biker would tell you, buying a bike from Walmart is likely not the best idea. However, their Viathon brand of bikes throws that notion aside, although you won't see a Viathon anywhere in a store as they're sold exclusively online through

Walmart’s interest in mountain bikes stems from a personal connection. Brothers Tom and Steuart Walton are both avid mountain bikers and have invested heavily in the trail infrastructure surrounding Walmart’s global headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. Their investment company also recently purchased the high-end cycling clothing brand Rapha.

So is Walmart about to disrupt the bike industry? Their massive reach, purchasing power, and supply chain are forces that few other major companies in the world, much less bike brands, can even start to compete with. Just looking at the two bikes here, there's a $3,000 difference for nearly the same spec.

However, for Walmart to make an impact in the bike industry their bikes have to not only rival the top players at the cash register but also on the trail.

Spec and Geometry

The S-Works Epic and Viathon's top-of-the-line M1 are both very similar when it comes to kit. They both sport SRAM's XX1 Eagle AXS wireless drivetrain, a RockShox SID Ultimate fork, and fancy carbon wheels. The Epic does have Specialized's BRAIN cartridge in the fork and a power meter while the M1 has a RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post. The Epic also has 100mm of travel vs the M1's 120mm.

When it comes to geometry, things are somewhat similar at first glance but there are some notable differences. The M.1 is designed and engineered by Kevin Quan, who's worked for brands like Cervelo, Diamondback, BH, and more in the past decade. Viathon claim they are not just targeting racers with the M.1, but the numbers are comparable to many of the carbon hardtails that we see in XC racing, despite its slightly longer travel 120mm fork.

The wheelbases are within a couple of millimeters and a lot of other numbers are close. But, the Epic has slightly longer reach, a degree slacker 68.5° head tube angle and a slightly steeper seat tube. All about what you’d expect from a more cutting-edge bike at the forefront of World Cup racing. At least on paper, the Specialized has the edge in the geometry department.

Frames and Weight

Both frames feature a threaded BB and internal cable routing. They have multiple bottle mounts and everything else you’d expect on a modern, high-performance XC bike. The Epic HT frame is an eye-popping light 790 grams, while the Viathon is a more typical 1,035 grams. Specialized achieves this by doing a lot of fancy work with their carbon fiber and utilizing their near-infinite R&D budget to cut weight absolutely anywhere possible, without sacrificing durability or ride quality, while Viathon uses the more standard Toray carbon found in most high-end XC race bikes. That said, the Viathon is still pretty damn light and in the realm of most production race hardtails, so a 245g (½ lb) difference in frame weight is pretty astounding.

As complete bikes, there are a few differences with our test bikes—the Viathon has a slightly longer fork and a wireless dropper post, but the Specialized has a power meter. Still, even with that, the Epic comes out well over a pound lighter as a complete bike.

Convenience Factor

If you’re going to buy the Epic HT, it’s coming from a certified Specialized bike shop and will be built by a mechanic that’s likely trained by Specialized and certified to work on that bike. You’ll roll out of the bike shop with the bike sized to fit you, pedals installed, tires set up tubeless, and everything ready to pedal to the trails. All you have to do is swipe a credit card and go riding. If there’s ever a warranty issue or another problem, your shop should have your back.

With the Viathon, you press purchase online, the bike is built up by a PBMA certified mechanic at Viathon, and then slightly disassembled, packaged, and delivered to your home or your local Walmart. Re-assembly requires a few basic Allen keys, a Torx, and pump. All of the necessary tools, including a torque wrench, are provided (minus a pump), and the bike can be built up at a trailhead or in a parking lot following the provided instructions if you need them. I did run into the issue of the batteries for the AXS not being fully charged and the tires weren't set up tubeless, so that's something worth considering.


Comparing price, the Viathon is way ahead in this field. At $3,000 less than the Epic, you can take a week or two off work, fly somewhere warm, have your own training camp, a vacation, whatever.

Performance & Conclusion

How does all of this stack up? Both bikes have their strong suits in spec. Some riders will appreciate the dropper post, while others will certainly want a power meter. Specialized has some of their proprietary technology in the Epic with the BRAIN fork and the Epic certainly takes the win in geometry and weight.

On the trail, even without the dropper post, the Epic outperforms the M1. The bike has a more modern geometry and while both bikes are undoubtedly at the top of their class, the Epic has a noticeably better ride quality and is less harsh than the M1. The geometry makes it easier to ride and it has a lower weight which is key in accelerating out of turns and when the bike is pointed uphill.

At the end of the day, a lot of riders will find great value in Viathon's bikes, especially their lower-end offerings which come in at one of the best component-for-component values there is...similar bikes from Specialized or other brands cost much more. There is, however, a lot to be said for the ride quality of the Epic. For someone wanting one of the best riding bikes in this category, that $3,000 may not be a big deal but for many others, it'll be better spent on something else.

If you were choosing between the two, which one would be for you? Let us know in the comments below.


  • 277 3
 Massive round of applause to the Viathon product manager for this bike. You managed to get a head to head review against one of the biggest players in the game on a respected review site. I hope you have a giant shit eating grin this morning and get a bonus. My hats off.
  • 48 4
 Need to collab with Shimano sandals
  • 21 183
flag Geochemistry (Jul 9, 2020 at 7:45) (Below Threshold)
 Pinkbike is a respected review site? Really?
  • 25 3
 Why does the PM always get the credit? ????????‍♂️
  • 2 128
flag blackthorne (Jul 9, 2020 at 8:08) (Below Threshold)
 Shit eating grin. Sounds pretty condescending. Was that really necessary?
  • 35 0
 I hear ya but I wouldn't call it "hard" for a brand supported by a multi-billion dollar multinational company to do...anything really.
  • 17 0
 @rickybobby18: this category’s growth or any focus on it is probably so small to Walmart that electing to do it in the first place is a huge deal.

I bet they would be more concerned with saving a cent on coat hangers than getting into carbon mtb. It is impressive to have pulled this off.
  • 33 1
 Viathon should staked its bike's claim as Official Mountain Bike of the Mountain Bike Capital of the World™
  • 8 9
 @slovenian6474: Yeah Bentonville isn't that good. Fun? yes. But not capital of the world, chill
  • 3 3
 @Geochemistry: agreed I don’t see how the Viathon not being setup tubeless etc was such a big deal. Literally pay 200$ or whatever to a local mechanic to set it up with all the money you saved.
  • 3 0
 @adrian-montgomery: As a PM (not for this brand) I will acknowledge that the Marketing team has a key role in getting editorial placement for any product I've worked on. Nice work Adrian. Smile
  • 1 0
 @bicycle019: can’t advertise product that doesn’t exist, especially stuff that’s crappy and uncompetitive. Hence Credit to The PM.

Marketing gets the fun part of taking it to the party and getting lucky.
  • 158 1
 Hear me out,
You could buy the frame only Epic................$2500
And the Viathon M1.......................................$ $6500
And be comparable to the Epic full bike........$ 9500

Then you’d have The better handling and geo with a friggin AXS dropper post, a 120mm Sid fork, and no Spesh brain nonsense.......Economies of scale are crazy,

Or as previously mentioned, a Viathon, and a Cheap Mexico vacation

Bikes are friggin cool!
  • 30 1
 Slow clap in the background
  • 8 2
 only issue - you CANT buy the Epic Frame - sold out early spring and is gone until next year. But I agree with your Man Math here...
  • 3 5
 Or be even further ahead, get an unno aora frame for 4500, the m1, do a parts swap and flog the m2 frame. Yeah it would cost more but you'd have an unno, not a specialized. Kinda why BMW doesn't do well with cars over 100k, why would you have a BMW when you could have a Aston Martin or Bentley.
  • 16 0
 You forgot to mention, you end up with a Viathon M1 frame which you can sell here on Pinkbike and deduct that amount from your total, if you get to sell it. Cool!
  • 5 0
 @Mermar: But that means you CAN buy it when it is in stock. So the point still stands frankly. Plus, by then the frame will likely be heavily reduced as Specialized's always seem to be.
  • 91 3
 I recently purchased a heavily discounted M.1 w/ XO group for a friend. After stripping/selling the XO group and replacing w/ 12sp SLX, the net cost for my friend was $1550 for a carbon hardtail w/ SID fork, Stans wheels and 12sp SLX. Good value imho, and a reasonable geo for my friend's intended uses (bikepacking, day rides on dirt roads, and on rare occasions easy singletrack).
That said, I learned some things about the M.1 while stripping and building it:
- headset is an integrated FSA. God help you if some issue leads to wear on the carbon "cup" surfaces and the bearings don't seat properly. There's no fixing that. All to save $2, or 8g, on some alloy cups??? On a $3500 bike?? Just give me ZS56/44 please.
- the tire clearance in the rear is inexcusably poor. Swapping the stock 2.3" front tire to the rear showed just-acceptable clearance. And that 2.3 measured at 2.25. No proper 2.35 or 2.4 tire is going to fit with reasonable clearance. For what benefit? None. This is a Boost spaced, 1X ony drivetrain. Someone was either lazy (or cheap = stock mold) with the yoke area. So owners are forever limited to ~2.25" tires. Stupid in this day and age when many Boost haardtails can easily fit 2.6"..
- several fasteners on the bike were WAY over-torqued. Removing the crank required a 14" breaker bar AND a cheater extension of PVC.
- the der hanger bolt was broken before even removing the bike from the box (probably from over torque). The hanger design is terribly vulnerable to breaking. First off, the design doesn't securely hold the inner and outer "plates" together, so the thru axle holes become offset very, very easily. Once that happens, you can't pass the thru axle into the threads until you fiddle w/ the two dropout/hanger plates. If you tap on the axle to try and seat it into the threads, you'll likely break the bolt which holds the hanger/dropout in the frame, because (again, due to stupid/poor design) there is significant leverage on the plate relative to the bolt location. Why they use a special, easily-broken bolt is anyone's guess. You'd think it was a technique to save your derailleur by sacrificing the hanger . . . except that once the axle is installed the axle is holding everything together, and no amount of force to the der or hanger will transfer to the fragile bolt.
- the internal routing for the rear der is terrible. Getting housing around the BB (when threading to/from the downtube and chainstay) is nearly impossible, and that's coming from someone with proper patience, tools and experience w/ internal routing challenges.
Slapping an AXS group on this quality of a frame seems like lipstick on a pig to me. The M.1 is only negligbly better than some $300 direct-from-China hardtail frames in my experience. The narrative that it was designed by an experienced industry dude seems laughable . . . either Kevin Quan is a poor designer, or they had to accept stupid frame parameters (ie, stock choices from frame manuf) to meet their cost goals.
  • 14 3
 Welcome to bikes; everything you laid out is par for the course. The tire clearance is legitimately bad but the rest of your complaints happen in some form or another on pretty much every build.
  • 5 0
 Good information on the frame design.

On your third point, I'd be interested if this is a common issue on DUB cranks, which I have also experienced - see forum posts below:

Doesn't excuse the builder for other fasteners right enough...
  • 37 0
 @fullfacemike: I recognize that these types of issues are not particularly unusual, although I normally don't encounter such a robust set of them on one frame. As a contrary example, I was coincidentally building an Ibis DV9 for another friend at the same time, and had literally zero issues with that build. I felt it was worth highlighting that the Viathon frame has more in common with Motobecane, KHS, or generic Chinese offerings (ie, typically open mold w/ limited sizes and dated geo, and poorly executed details) than with the Specialized Epic to which it is being compared. None of the Viathon reviews I've seen have bothered to scratch below the surface, so I thought my experience may be insightful for others.
  • 2 0
 @Sreyno: Hadn't seen that thread, interesting. So that point may well be a SRAM/DUB issue and not a Viathon issue. Other things too tight in build (headset not rotating freely, stem bolts roughly 8nm, etc) were still disappointing.
  • 1 1
 @Inertiaman: Hey, I'm not trying to defend Viathon. I guess the point I'd like to make is that the vast majority of consumers will never be aware of any of those issues despite the fact that they're present on nearly every bike ever. I wish the top brands would further differentiate themselves from the low-quality ones by putting a little focus into serviceability even though it doesn't always customer-face. You could have put any brand name at the top of your list and I would nod and say yep as I read it and that's a shame.
  • 27 0
 Now THIS is a review. PB, take note. Objective data regarding quality > subjective "ride quality" data. Most riders understand what geo numbers mean, and know that they'll like a bike for their style/location of riding; that's without even getting into the nuance of tire selection and pressures, which play a massive role in feel. This guy posted actual useful info that you would only get if you were to take it in to a shop and talk to a wrench.
  • 4 0
 I purchased the exact same bike - $2k for a full XO group a nice SID fork was something I couldn't pass up. Only changes I made were swapping out the seat and grips and installation of a dropper post. Lovely bike for the long climbs here in the Bay Area with relatively mellow flow trails on the downhills. I concur on the rear tire clearance. It was a strange thing to see, especially with people who might want to run something wider.
  • 11 3
 Way to write a more informative review than Sapp.
  • 16 0
 These are the details a proper review should REALLY cover.
  • 2 0
 Funny that criticisms #1 and #2 are true of my Santa Cruz Hightower v1 (carbon bearing surfaces, poor tire clearance including seat tube rub at bottom-out), and criticism #3 is true of Hightower v2 rear brake routing (and possibly #1 and #2 as well, I don't remember because it was a warranty replacement and I sold it in short order).

In other words, the Viathon issues seem to be common to traditional brands as well.
  • 1 0
I know this will come off as Sram fan boy crap. But I’ve got 3 dub cranks. Bb & crank installed by myself and torqued with a digital torque wrench and no issues. I would assume that the removal issues are due to way over torquing on initial installation. Just my 2 cents.
  • 5 1
 I had a similar experience regarding the 2.3 tire that came mounted on the back of my Viathon. I discovered it was mounted on the back during un boxing. I had ordered a 2.4 for the front when I ordered the bike so I was ok with that. Tell your friend the clearance is not acceptable and to get it off ASAP. The 2.3 wore into the chain stays and led to my returning the bike after just under 30 days. You can pull the rim and have it touch the chain stay. I trusted the manufacturer specs and components. That bit me and left me bike less.

My bike is scheduled to be dropped off today at Viathon. Prior emails stated I would get a refund after inspection(I sent hd videos and pics prior to returning it).

That seems cool, except i bought a closeout. I would have to spend 700 more to replace the bike with a 2020 GX model. (Gx models are now out of stock)

I asked Viathon to concider just sending me a frame so I could remain brand loyal. They would not and that felt like Walmart. If Viathon is reading this I would still be ok with getting my used components on a frame. I did ask about a crash replacement frame which would be 800. 

All in all I loved the bike and saw marked improvements on Strava over my old aluminum 2013 trek with the nearly identical geo. The Viathon had good components. Particularly for the price.

It is a fast bike and I would keep up with quick guys in my area that spent 3 to 4 times as much.

At gx or xo1 it is a good buy. Anything speced above that and the target market is no longer budget imo. I would see 6000+ money going to Specialized and Trek.

I cannot say how specialized would of handled the same issue but I do feel a local bike shop would of tried harder to retain my business. It felt similar to Walmart culture with things like socks or electronics. Odds are good I will buy another brand after my refund unless something changes. If you are ok with that I wouldn't not buy one.
  • 4 1
 @Sreyno: every Dub crankset I've ever removed required a breaker bar. They come snug AF.
  • 1 0
 @conig: re: your advice not to run a 2.3 in the rear, my friend is safe because he's got the 2.2 in rear and 2.3 in front (I did a temporary swap just to quantify tire size limits).
I am a little bit surprised that your 2.3 actually wore on the chainstays; pretty sobering.
  • 2 0
 @5poundplumbbob: His reviews are watered down takeaways almost anyone could produce. Not a fan, maybe a nice guy but...
  • 1 0
 @Inertiaman: i bought the bike wanting to do a 2.4 front and rear. I can not imagine a 2.4 working in the rear.
  • 2 0
 Now this is what I would like to read in a review, not just comparing specs and an opinion on modern geo. Thanks for sharing!
  • 1 0
 @dtheio: right!? PinkBike needs to hire @Inertiaman
  • 2 0
 The chainstay was designed around a 2X, hence the limited tire clearance.
  • 40 1
 Most people who are dropping 5k+ on a HT are either racing, rich, or are sucked into this sick obsession and this is their 4th bike.

Either way I think most of those are going to spend the extra 3k for the 1lb and better handling.
  • 8 0
 If stores had derailleur hangers and service parts, their 24hr availability makes a compelling case for riders who race far from home and can’t wait for a shop to open or special order. Far fetched but a good insight into what big companies can do to rewrite the rule book. It’s a great alternative for people buying random carbon frames off of ali baba
  • 7 0
 Agreed, and when they're spending 3k extra to shed a pound in weight, if they really want a dropper I'm sure they can afford one.
  • 14 0
 @landscapeben: Or they could buy the walmart bike and spend 2500$ on an epic frame and come out with a better bike...
  • 2 0
 Nah...people who do multi-day trips, bikepacking, etc. really appreciate every pound they can drop. With xc tires these bikes are nearly as fast as gravel bikes but you can actually have fun on the dirt. There's definitely a legitimate place for bikes like this outside of racers and 4th-bike buyers.
  • 5 18
flag twowheelsforthemasses (Jul 9, 2020 at 8:55) (Below Threshold)
 Hm, ive spent plenty of money on hardtails, much more than I have a on full suspension bikes. It's a pretty lame ass statement that you made.

Im not rich but I prefer riding hardtails

Fact is when I see people riding hardtails around my area in socal I show way more respect to those people for being able to rip on a much harder bike to ride all around.

True mtb riders find passion in riding whatever they feel is fun. Its clear you havent found that~
  • 2 0
 It was my 6th current bike... but I get what you are saying. Smile
  • 4 0
 @usedbikestuff: Or use a hanger/dropout design that doesn't suck in the first place. FWIW, neither these bikes nor any of their parts, are stocked at Walmart retail stores. One can get a der hanger only thru an online order at the Viathon website. And then, only when in stock (M.1 hangers have been out of stock for more than a month, with no future ship date on record). So that potential value proposition is null.
Like others have noted, I think it would make far more sense for Walmart to sell a $1500 alloy suspension bike or $900 alloy hardtail w/ 12sp Deore than these carbon hardtails w/ AXS groups.
I think they've done a far better job w/ their gravel bikes. The G.1 GRX600 model has a good size run, good geo, great drivetrain and great price.
  • 18 0
 Who owns only 4 bikes are they not serious about the sport.
  • 1 1
 Yep, you can get a top notch name brand XC hardtail race bike for 5K and still have it around 20lbs.
  • 1 0
 @wizardb: Still trying to figure out how to store my four bikes in my van...may resort to sleeping in a tent.
  • 2 0
 @tacklingdummy: Bought a used bike off a pro for $4k. Even has race winning credentials!
  • 6 0
 @JSTootell: comes pre-broken!
  • 1 0
 @usedbikestuff: By the time I am done with'll be post broken.
  • 27 1
 This was a fantastic comparison. Hope to see more content like this. The direct comparisons are great.
  • 6 0
 So true. I personally want to see the 2021 Honzo ST go up against the Chromag Surface.
  • 1 0
 I really want to know if it's worth the extra loot.
  • 18 11
 It was an awful comparison IMO that was made by reading a spec sheet and having preconceived ideas. Can you really notice 1lb different blind testing up hills and out of turns? Bobbins you can. Is the Spec really a more comfortable frame? Is it not the seatpost/ tyres/ wheels/ rims? Maybe even the position setup on the bike? Who knows, but it would have been really interesting to find out. That was the sum total of the ride comparisons and it certainly doesn't read as a ride comparison from someone familiar with the intricacies of an XC racing bike/ frame or like any kind of in depth review. It is a nice overall comparison of the stuff on paper but it may as well say "Choose the Epic because it says Specialized on the side and has a nicer paintjob so that is the one I'd rather have in my garage".
  • 10 0
 @BeardlessMarinRider: yea...i had a Scale 900 that had a 68hta with a SID WC and it didn't handle well at all on climbs. The whole "it has more modern geometry it's better" is an instant red flag in reviews imo. This is the website that gave a Pivot Mach 4 a bad review after reviewing it as a "downcountry" bike though, so I'm not surprised.
  • 6 1
 @clink83: @clink83: I completely agree with you having done the same thing with the whole 1 degree different = a vastly different bike nonsense and not noticing at all. Geometry is the sum of its parts not just HTA/ STA/ Reach like most reviews seem to be. I can understand my comment could be more diplomatic but no idea why it is downvoted so much.
  • 13 0
 @BeardlessMarinRider: Not only that, scoring them on both geometry and performance is a bit weird... If geometry is a significant contributor to performance, then the performance score will reflect it. If it isn't, then the geometry score just reflects the reviewer's bias on what constitutes "good" geometry.
  • 7 0
I would like to see reviewers ride the bike write their opinion and then look at the geometry numbers. I think opinions are being formed before bikes are being ridden.
  • 1 0
 @kclw: I can look at the two bikes without a geometry chart and tell that all things being equal I would choose the viathon for my local races, and the specialized for XCO style races. I got bored watching the video, did he even mention that the specialized bike has a power meter? That's a huge deal.
  • 2 0
 @kclw: completely agree. i would even extend that to all reviews, e.g. forks ("the new fork is more supportive because RS/Fox say it is on their marketing brochure"), wheels (biased reviews based on the rim material) ...
any review should ideally be done blind to be more meaningful (with that said, i understand that it is a tough thing to do).
  • 1 0
 @clink83: when comparing the spec he mentioned Viathon had a dropper and the Specialized had a quark power meter. That was glossed over a bit but seems like a hardcore XC guy, which I imagine anyone dropping 10k on an XC bike is, would care about a power meter quite a bit.
  • 23 2
 I've been riding a Viathon M.1 all summer and I absolutely love the bike. I've had absolutely no issues at all with the bike. It rides great and the 120mm fork makes it a lot more fun on the downhill than previous hardtails I've
owned with 100mm forks. 10/10 would recommend.
  • 8 0
 Nice One Dangus!
  • 2 0
  • 2 0
 Dang it Dangus!
  • 20 1
 Someone pointed out in another review that although Viathon wanted to create a cost competitive bike for new riders and thus chose to focus all resources on a hardtail, they kind of missed the mark by going for a thoroughbred race-focused bike. Even if the geometry were completely on point, I would think the majority of prospective purchasers are going to be fairly dedicated XC racers.. which doesn't seem to be the demographic within MTB that has experienced dramatic growth in the last 10 years, nor the demographic most focused on price point. I would love to see Viathon bring their value to an entry level bike that appeals to a wider audience, thinking 130-140 mm fork, aluminum frame, dropper post, 1x drivetrain, and more relaxed geometry. Is it possible they could create a great hardtail for new riders well under $1k? That's what I would be thrilled to see and that's what I feel the industry is still lacking...
  • 11 0
 The M.1 is perfect for student athletes actually. Technically "XC Racers" but parents are price conscious and need a bike with a lot of value for practice/training, competition and trail riding.
  • 2 0
 @adrian-montgomery: ehh. I think the better frame would serve you better than the fancy drivetrain:
  • 1 0
 Agreed. I'd like to see a hardtail that is fun to ride on the daily (geometry doesn't cost more!), reasonably light enough that it can be raced for NICA (most people aren't that worried about competing at the pointy end in NICA, and if they are... their price point is probably going to be in the carbon XC bike rang), and below 1k in cost. Those bikes would move like hotcakes.

The Schwinn Axum is getting close, and it's below $500.
  • 1 0
 Agreed. Maybe they were going for the "we can compete with the big brands" at first to get the new bike brand out there? They have a HUGE hurtle to get over the Walmart name.
  • 3 0
 @adrian-montgomery: I agree, think this could be a great bike for a NICA racer. Still fairly expensive, but undeniably a lot of value for the price. My point was just that an XC focused race bike isn't so much a 'bike for the people' these days, and I think Viathon could have as good a shot as anyone creating that with their supply chain, economy of scale, etc.
  • 4 0
 @jfleming10: What parents are spending $6500 for their NICA kid to race? This opens up an entire "child of dentist" concept for future Pinkbike comments.
  • 4 0
 @Inertiaman: Lots of NICA kids are racing in the UCI or USA Cycling scene as well. Finn and Cayden Parker are both NICA racers in Arkansas and also Junior national champions for USA Cycling.

So yes... those kids have (at least) $6500 dollar bikes and are racing NICA.

I'm sure every state NICA scene has kids who are "slumming" in NICA and racing at highly competitive junior levels as well. That was my point above that MOST NICA kids aren't really that concerned with being on the pointy end, because it's highly unlikely they will be... as they're competing against kids who are going to be professional XC racers and have the resources (money, training and time) to do it.

My kid just does NICA to stay in shape for enduro and to be around other kids who ride bikes.
  • 1 0
 @Inertiaman: Sorry, was referring to less expensive models in the range. Still a lot, but a lot less than $6500.
  • 1 0
 @Inertiaman: @Inertiaman: You would be surprised. There is a summer XC racing series where I live and they have a NICA age group as the kids use it for summer training. The number of kids with super tricked out thoroughbred hardtails is pretty large. The fastest in their female group for example is rocking an Epic with XO1. She's crazy fast too. Pretty much the top 20 for both categories were on pure racing hardtails.
  • 2 0
 @Inertiaman: $2198 isn't a bad investment for a student athlete, especially if you have a few kids that can come up on it.
  • 2 0
 As I was reading through the comments, NICA definitely came to mind... Even some of the lower priced versions would do well... And the parts package is good enough to swap on to a lighter frame at some point if wanted... Also, don't underestimate some of these NICA kids... Here in SoCal, I've seen some of the top kids line up in the local pro races and pull top 10 finishes.. Some are even getting on development programs as future prospects..
  • 24 2
 $9500 for a HT.....
  • 16 1
 10k after you put a proper seatpost on it.
  • 27 2
 $6,500 for a Walmart bike...
  • 25 2
 You could buy the Walmart bike and a Ripmo AF...
  • 2 3
  • 4 4
 Exactly.. it's like buying a $230,000 Corvette. If you're spending that much, get something really special. There are about 20 builders in the US that will make something and paint something a hell of alot sweeter than an off-the-shelfer like this $9500 heap.
  • 15 2
 Last month, I got myself a fully with a gearbox for €9500:
  • 5 1
 @NinetySixBikes: I lol’d so hard
  • 4 0
 Wait until you see the prices for top of the line road bikes. They're more and have ZERO suspension.
  • 4 5
 @Paddock22: mind blown.. You're right.. and riding road is not really that fun.
  • 1 0
 @Paddock22: and taking into account that Specialized isn't near the most expensive road bikes you can see people riding around.
  • 1 0
 @Paddock22: That Ripmo is a total bike industry sleeper . The Foes Ridgeback is another... underrated.
  • 1 0
 @HopeFbn: Pinerello Dogma F12 starts looking like $15k+
  • 2 0
 @Shred-BC: Yeah, then start looking into De Rosa, BMC, 3T, Time... etc.
  • 2 0
Mountain bike riding > road riding

Road racing > mountain bike racing
  • 1 0
 @ReformedRoadie: Machine Built Trails = Rail Trail + BMX +XC But remember you're going to need at least 5 inches of travel (preferably over $5k), a full-face and pads, and either a Taco or a Sprinter to do it.
  • 1 0
 @Paddock22: @Paddock22: And as I look at that page right now it's out of stock in every size but 58. Somebody's economy is doing fine.
  • 1 0
 @iammarkstewart: Asia’s supply chain is getting caught up. You aren’t selling more, less are available.
  • 1 0
 @usedbikestuff: I guess I meant whoever bought all the available bikes is doing fine if those are the price ranges they're selling out at. I know there's less available, but it still says something when you can sell out those msrp's.
  • 10 0
 I bought the cheapest epic hard tail at $2700, (at the time). I have since installed a dropper, XO shifty bits, carbon bar, nice stans wheels, and better grips, for an additional $1700. So at $4400 retail I have something that is not S-Works but actually cheaper than their pro model with equivalent parts. I love the bike, it climbs like a scalded monkey and has a really smooth ride for a carbon HT.
  • 10 0
 Let the hate flow
  • 19 9
 Looks like a Session.
  • 3 1
 Oh, so this joke gets upvoted again?
  • 2 0
 @kookseverywhere: Great question - it's as old and worn as the dentist jibes
  • 1 0
 @stuie321: as old and worn at my molars, apparently
  • 5 0
 both seem needlessly expensive, and way out of my price range. ...but id have the specialized given the choice, because it looks nicer.. and whats 3k extra, when you're already happy paying 6?

i wouldnt want a wireless drive chain though, i hate batteries
  • 6 0
 To me it seems that the 120mm fork on the M1 is a afterthought. With a 100mm fork the HA would be 70º or more.
And that's where Viathon cuts the cost,speccing a generic op n mold frame with outdated geometry.
  • 5 0
 The marketing spin: "modern long and slack trail geometry" (quote directly from Viathon webpage).
The numbers: reach = 439mm (large) or 417mm (med), HA = 69.5deg (at full fork extension; 70.7 @ 20% sag), BB drop = 56mm.
Not even by 2010 standards is this bike long, low or slack.
  • 5 0
 Picked up a closeout Viathon GX level for ~$1,400 as my first ever brand new bike a couple months ago. The thing absolutely rips, love it. Clearly not designed for hitting big drops (not its purpose), but I have been having gobs of fun riding everything from singletrack centuries around Tahoe to goof-off laps on the intermediate trails at my local bikepark (Sierra Vista in Reno). Climbs like a bat out of hell, and then the 120mm fork is a nice fit for opening it up on the downs. I disagree with most folks saying it is too pigeon-holed in the XC category to be as accessible as Viathon advertises. All the other folks I ride with are on standard full-sus trail bikes, and apart from the occasional long running rock garden I never feel under gunned (more of a universal hardtail issue anyhow). I certainly fall more towards the "rather ride more" than "rather ride bigger" but we all have to figure out where we fall on that spectrum, no wrong place to end up.

For the price, I can't believe the quality of the spec...especially considering every other carbon hardtail I was considering cost almost twice what I paid for similar components. On one of my first rides I bent the rear der hanger, went online and entered my email for an update when they had them back in stock. Less than a week later there was a new der hanger on my doorstep, no cost. Must have cross-listed my email with recent bike purchases which was pretty cool of them.

I just installed a dropper as the GX level didn't come with one, and running the housing through the frame was quite a pain. But, I managed to successfully use some paracord with a loop to "fish" the cable up the seat tube.
  • 6 0
 Cant I get a custom steel HT from Curtlo, IF, Naked, or one of the many other guys doing work in the US with a solid build and maybe a used car / truck for about $9500?
  • 3 0
 Yup and be about 100x cooler too.
  • 2 0
 @twozerosix: the more I think about it.. you could have dudes with the last names of Erikson, Potts, DeKerf, or Strong build you a bike for this much.
  • 1 0
 @5poundplumbbob: you might even be into custom titanium with a dude's last name for that much.
  • 1 0
 That sounds like a good reason not to@twozerosix:
  • 1 0
 @twozerosix: exactly, but instead people buy a Specialized or worse.. a walmart bike.
  • 7 0
 Bikes like that Spesh really make me want to ride up hills.
  • 1 0
 me too
  • 7 0
 Does the Viathon come with meth?
  • 6 1
 Wouldn’t an angleset on the Viathon change that to the better bike in this case? It sounds like this bike is one adjustment away from being the better of the two.
  • 2 0
 Small margins easily fixed. You would also have $3000 for a custom paintjob and being able to paint Specilized on the downtube instead which is the main thing that would appear to swing it for most people
  • 4 1
 Sure the Viathon is probably fine, but who would spend 6500$ on a hardtail, much less a bike made by Walmart? And that is coming from a guy who has an expensive hardtail. There is nothing about it that distinguishes it from a generic frame. Maybe I just don't get cross country. For the money these bikes cost, you could get a loaded Meta AND a decent spec Honzo.
  • 3 1
 People who race cross country competitively and don't have 10k to spend on an epic. It's also not made by Walmart...
  • 3 0
 I agree. The Viathon is definitely a good bike, but if you spend that kind of money, most would want a name brand. I think Walmart would be good for bikes under 2K, but anything over that is a tough sell. For 6500, there are numerous bike companies that sell a top level XC hardtail race bike for 6500 or less.
  • 2 0
 @tacklingdummy: True. The spec here is quite good though. It's a good value in comparison to it's competitors.

Now, if I were starting a MTB company, my first product would certainly not be a top end, carbon xc hardtail but that's just me. It's not exactly the best selling segment but I'm not a market researcher. Maybe theirs a lack of competition in that market.
  • 3 0
 Most people spending that kinda money, who aren't already sponsored, want that "highly recognized" name on the side of their frame. Viathon should have gone with a modern Geo, wider aggressive tires and made this hardtail more trail/am focused for people who are new to the sport or just want a more cost effective option.
  • 3 0
 I......I......I just cannot imagine buying a Mountain bike from it would make me feel just dirty. They need to do arms length sales or something....even if the bike is exceptional. I'm surprised that it actually isn't just called Walmart
  • 2 0
 Serious question: why do 95% of bikes still ship with tubes in them from the factory when they've got tubeless ready tires and wheels? Is it to protect the tires from getting flat spots? Is it to save time (and money) not having to seat the bead? Is it so the tires act as another form of protection during shipping?

I don't get why they don't just come with tubeless valves installed, with no air in the tire. It's not the end of the world to set bikes up tubeless, but it seems silly in this day and age that almost every bike shops with tubes installed.
  • 2 0
 So sealant doesn't leak all over the box if there is a problem with shipping.
  • 1 0
 @hmstuna: Sealant also dries out after a few months. So it'd probably be dried into a big lump anyways. Also the number of casual riders who don't know any better or don't want to be bothered with tubeless are the majority of riders. Less so for high end bikes, but still lots of companies probably just keep it the same across all bikes for simplicity.
  • 3 0
 I'll give credit to Viathon for shipping the bikes "tubeless ready." Although the bike arrives w/ tubes, the rims are taped, and appropriate tubeless valve stems are included in the box. So the conversion requires only adding your choice of sealant.
  • 2 1
 The last bike I bought new, I literally pulled out the tubes, put in the included valve stems, sealant, and set it up. I think the tubeless "conversion" took my 2 minutes per wheel.

A lot of people still run tubes.
  • 2 0
 @hmstuna: why don't they ship it dry, and send a bottle of sealant? Or even leave the sealant out and just ship it with tubeless valves installed?
  • 1 0
 @hardtailparty: because then people have to set it up themselves. I know it doesn't require much skill but the less assembly the end consumer does the better generally. Viathon isn't trying to appeal to the pinkbike crowd that swaps csus the night before a race. They're appealing to people who have money but still shop from Walmart. If a tubeless tire comes unseated during shipping even with no sealant then the consumer needs to know how to reseat a tubeless tire.

Even if everything goes well they still have to know they actually need to put sealant in the tires because they aren't tubes, remove valve core, add correct amount of sealant and reinstall the valve core, then pump up the tires.

At the end of the day if you are a person who knows about tubeless it sounds pretty easy to settup. @inertiaman says they come with everything but sealant. 20 minutes and then you have a tubelessed bike.

I think that shipping with tubes was a good idea. Most people assume a bike ships with tubes, so they will often just pump up the tires.
  • 1 0
 @hmstuna: at $6500, I think it's safe to assume their clientele should know a thing or two about tubeless tires requiring sealant. This isn't a $200 mongoose. People dropping this amount of money are also going to have to know how to fit Baraza and possibly adjust a headset. Adding sealant isn't a stretch.

It's not just viathon, almost every bike on the planet ships from the factory with tubes in them. Specialized, Marin, diamondback, etx. It's not a big deal to remove the tubes and set them up tubeless, but I wonder why they don't just save ships a step and ship them with valves installed and no tubes, where all they need to do is add sealant and air.
  • 2 0
 @hardtailparty: I don't know. I spend a lot of my time explaining very very basic things to people who have bought 6000+ dollar bikes. I have to explain what tubeless is to a lot of these people and why they would even want it. There are plenty of people who have money and no mechanical skills. Having people put on their own bars is bad enough, but having them set up something tubeless is not something I would want to watch them try. Of course, there are plenty of people who could do it just fine, but there are also those that can't. I don't think viathon should ship their bikes set up tubeless. If you know what your doing it's easy enough. If you do t you never have to worry about it. It caters to both crowds.
  • 1 0
 @hmstuna: I've seen plenty of people riding very high end bikes struggle to do even the basics.

My old LBS had a regular customer who would buy a set of parts, and drop everything off at the LBS to build for him. He would end up with this super custom, nice looking bike. He never touched a bolt. Ride it a few times, then sell it. I honestly don't know if he made or lost money, but he just loved taking pictures of his "custom" bikes that he just bought fancy parts for.
  • 2 0
 I picked up one of the XO1 Viathons on closeout for $2K thinking if the frame sucked, I'd at least have a decent build kit for something else. However, after riding it for a bit, I've found that this bike's quite fun as something to screw around on with an occasional race.
  • 2 0
 Surprised by the Specialized hate. $6,500 for bike from friggin Wal Mart? 3 of those bikes are probably less than a store associate makes in a year. f*ck Wal Mart. Spend your money else where. Any where else for that matter.
  • 6 1
 Which one will look better when riding with Jorts?
  • 6 1
 Neither, they both have gears.
  • 2 0
 The Walmart Viathon hands down. Think Walmart and think jorts.
  • 5 0
 The real question is, how do these compare to the Grim Donut?
  • 3 0
 $10k Hardtail from Specialized. The carbon is 3D printed with dust from ground up money, the cure for cancer, and epoxies based from the tears of the bourgeois.
  • 1 0
 Wonder what is so difficult with changing geometry at the manufacturer level - adding a degree to head angle for next run of Viathon seems like it would take a New York Minute. Must be product pipeline schedules.

I agree with the comments on the most recent PB Podcast - Geometry is Everything. These modern relaxed head angles are pretty much better for everybody.

I do think the gig is up on some of these silly $10k stickers for a hardtail. Canyon, Viathon, Spot, Transition = Game Over for egregious margins by big brands.
  • 4 0
 You might want to tell MVDP his 70 degree hta Lux isnt good enough for him to win world cups with.
  • 1 0
 Let's just out the elephant in the room here...the S-Works is so expensive because there needs to be a brick-and-mortar markup. Look at what Lauf's $10k bike did when they went direct-to-consumer a few days dropped by $3500. Almost the same difference as here.

I love my LBS but the $3000 price difference you're paying here is mostly for someone to put the handlebars on for you (and it would cost far less than that if you brought the Viathon to your LBS and had them put the handlebars on and do a once-over tune for ya).
  • 1 0
 As a long-time mechanic, I can tell you that a hell of a lot more work goes into a bike build at a brick and mortar shop than "just putting on the handlebars." A build for a 10k race bike is going to take between 1-2 hrs depending on the type of bike, and each detail is going to be sweated. A lot of times the first thing we do is to disassemble everything that has been assembled by the manufacturer or distributor. That means, all bearings inspected and greased, suspension pivots greased and reset to torque spec, brakes bled, pads bedded, etc, and that's just to put it out on the floor. The moment someone buys that bike they're fitted, meaning another 2ish hours of measurements, part swaps, geo adjustments, tubeless (we leave tubes in tires because we don't know how long bikes are going to sit on the floor before they're purchased, so it's a waste of sealant to do it immediately), etc. You're also paying for the service you receive. In my experience, if someone bought a bike costing 3k and up from us, they could reasonably expect us to tune it up a couple times for free in the year they purchased it, as well as supporting them through any warranty issues. I guarantee that Via-Mart isn't providing any legitimate rider support. Also, it is glaringly obvious that Wal-a-thon has simply purchased open-source molds that have been kicking around some factory in China for five years. The geometry numbers remind me of the Stumpjumper Hardtail circa 2015. That frame is designed to have a 70 degree head tube, because it's designed around a 100mm fork, not a 120. It reminds me of the fake frames you can buy on AliBaba with S-Works or ProjectOne decals on them. Sure it looks good, but the ride quality is garbage, especially when you get it up to speed or put it into a demanding situation (rock garden in a race, tech climb, whatever) and if you actually cut one in half and look at how the carbon is laid up you'll find gobs of resin, thickness variances and all sorts of other nightmare-fuel. The big yellow W has the purchasing power to get AXS at price break, so they throw a 3k worth of parts on a frame that's worth nothing and hope that people think it's a huge deal. You'd be better off buying the Epic Expert and buying a dropper post ( It's a little heavier than the S-Works frame, but the build kit is great and it's 2k less than the Smiley Face of Nightmares "bike" and you're supporting an LBS.
  • 5 1
 The real story here is imagining a $6500 bike put together by a walmart sports section associate.
  • 3 0
 Can't wait to see someone post a pic with the fork mounted backwards.
  • 1 0
 @jsnfschr: I honestly want to see just how badly some innocent Walmart worker can mess up this bike their first time building it, and then see the look on their face when the boss tells them how much its worth.
  • 1 0
 A few years ago, I would be totally willing to buy a $10k Spec Epic. But at no time am I willing to buy a Wal-Mart bike...ESPECIALLY at that price.

My current USED XC HT was $4000. Was a hard sell to me as I am more into trail riding these days. But when I do line up for a race, I really enjoy riding a rocket.
  • 1 0
 The Viathon M1 XX1 (non-axis) is a far better "deal". It's $4800. So that's a $1,700 premium to upgrade from XX1 Mechanical and Rever to XX1 AXS and Reverb AXS. All other parts remain identical. AXS is cool, but not worth $1,700 USD premium over XX1 Mechanical.
  • 1 0
 IDK Viathon just doesn't get me excited like most other brands do. I know it's a huge bias but being connected to Walmart just makes it feel "cheap". Instead of focusing on such a niche market, they should try making a killer trail hardtail for around $800-1000, that would sell off the shelves like crazy. For $2k you can already find some amazing hardtails with better geo, and way way better looking. I'm not an XC guy so that's another bias for me. Way better option for someone looking to upgrade from a real beginner bike would be something from Vitus, YT, Commencal, etc.
  • 1 0
 What is the complete weight difference? Why only compare frame weight instead of complete weight but compare complete spec? That walmart $$$$ is so good.....Also people who usually spend $7000 or more for a bike don't have to save up for them.
  • 5 1
 Viathon with shimano sandals and jorts. +1 point.
  • 2 0
 Add a full-face moto helmet from the shed and work gloves . +1 more point.
  • 4 1
 You talk about the weight of the bike but don't say how much each one weighs. Frown
  • 2 0
 Viathon would have to sponsor top World Cup XC racers to make the brand look cool, but even then it is a tough sale to the high end mountain bike market.
  • 1 1
 What about desirability? annd before everybody poo poo's, we all buy a bike for looks. The viathon looks like a walmart bike, alot of people want a desirable product, something that excited you and makes you want to ride it.

Also look at something like the Scott Scale AXS much cheaper than the specialized with a-lot of the good points.
  • 15 12
 still waiting for the Grim Donut review
  • 4 0
 It's torture. No reason they can't put it out. It's been so long that I often forget the Grim Donut exists, which helps a little with the waiting period.
  • 2 0
 He has too much pedal bob standing still...increase low speed compression damping.
  • 1 0
 What is the total weight? I think that is important even though they are spec'd a little different. My guess is the Viathon weighs a couple pound heavier than the Epic.
  • 1 0
 I thought that was needed as well. My size medium gx was 23lb on the nose with a 2.4 apex trail king and tubes in the front. It also had a heavy wtb saddle. I'm concerned with package weight unless I am building from the frame up.
  • 2 0
 The gact that they dont include that info suggests the SWorks is barely lighter with its heavy brains
  • 1 0
 If you where smart you would get the epic frame and the viathon and then swap all the parts on the the epic and then sell the viathon
  • 1 0
 Specialized paid for this to continue brainwashing people that you need to spend way more than you should for VERY marginal gains
  • 1 0
 Ergon grips instead of some house brand? That's impressive. Sure, the frame may have some quirks, but the components spec at that price point is pretty insane.
  • 1 0
 Dayum, this is epic! I personally would choose the Viathon because of the dropper post, and the cost is just money in the bank.
  • 1 0
 Was hoping I'd see a video of you guys riding around in one of those steel mesh spheres.
  • 3 1
 Wish it had been the 6k viathon against a 6k spesh.
  • 2 0
 Daniel's bouncing in this video is so incredibly distracting
  • 1 2
 So the slacker the HTA amd the longer the reach the better?

I really don't think Pinkbike understand XC racing at all. If the Walmart bike had a 65.5HTA then it would have the geometry advantage right?
  • 2 1
 Nothing about these bikes are worth that kind of money. The industry is fucked.
  • 1 0
 You could buy the Viathon and save some money. But then you would have to live with yourself after having done such a thing.
  • 1 0
 Also Viathon makes some nice hardtail and full suspension trail bikes and enduro bikes for a lower cost, oh wait...
  • 3 2
 once you pass the $1k mark it's no longer really a walmart bike.
  • 2 1
 doin teh i gotta pee bounce all day long
  • 6 0
 "It was really cold and I didn't bring a sweater."
  • 1 1
 Crazy. No wonder Specialized is selling on Backcountry now. Dealer traitors.
  • 1 0
 Absolutely no excuse to have a poorer geometry on a hardtail.
  • 2 2
 Install and angleset and size up and you’ve got near identical geometry.
  • 5 1
 Except you can't install an angleset. The Viathon stupidly uses an integrated headset arrangement (the "cups" are shaping/machining directly in the headtube carbon) so with no possibility to press in cups, you can't press in an angleset regardless of source (Cane Creek and Works both require standard ZS style headtube).
  • 2 1
 @Inertiaman: lots of high end carbon frames have integrated cups. It's not like you are going to damage them and have a functional frame after that kind of wreck.
  • 2 1
 @clink83: I wasn't considering crash damage to the headtube. My concern is contamination, or bearings moving due to overtightening (or undertightening), leading to rounded-out bearing seating surfaces, which leads to misalignment, which leads to further deterioration in the bearing seating surfaces.
I agree that integrated cups are not that unusual, and I suspect even this Specialized Epic has them, but I think they are a poor choice regardless of manufacturer.
  • 3 0
 @Inertiaman: that's really not a thing. I would hope by the time you are buying carbon race bikes you aren't too lazy to clean your headset a couple times per year.
  • 1 1
 10K for a broken ass bone... no thx
  • 6 7
 $10000 for a hard tail = SCAM.
  • 4 1
 $6000 used pick up + $4000 Ibis Ripmo AF = Win
  • 1 2
 Viathon Non AXS model now on sale on for $3598
  • 1 0
 It's a small, but buy it and and swap all the parts to whatever frame your heart desires and you're still going to be way below the cost of the Epic, and probably still have enough left over to build up the Viathon again.
  • 1 3
 Epic wins, in the popularity only.

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