If you're a serious off-road cyclist, then a Specialized Epic bike is probably on your wish list.
The Specialized brand is world-renowned for its tough, fast mountain bikes which are the choice of competitive cyclists who have won world championships, Cape Epic races, and gold in the Olympics.
The Epic series of bicycles are cross-country bikes that are made for both mountain trials and the long rides in triathlon competitions, which are usually on paved roads. Cross-country, or XC, is the most common form of mountain biking.
Since they are XC bikes, the frames are made from tough materials like carbon, which can withstand the drops, bumps, and rough terrain on mountain trails. The dual-colored bikes are also lightweight to make them easier to pedal up steep inclines, and they have suspension systems that make maneuvering around narrow, sharp turns easier.
Specialized Epic Models
The Epic is available in six men’s models:
There are also three women’s models:
FRAME SIZE: S-XL for Men, S and M for Woman
BRAKE TYPE: SRAM Level TL brakes, Shimano XTR M9000 brakes, SRAM Level Ultimate, SRAM Level TRM brakes
SHIFTER: Shimano XTR Di2 11-speed shifter, SRAM XX1 Eagle 12-speed shifter, SRAM X01 Eagle 12-speed shifter
RIMS: Roval Control Rims Pro and Expert
TIRES: Fast Trak Gripton Compound tires
Most of the Epic models have carbon frames.
The S-Works models have a FACT 12mm carbon frame, except for the S-Works XX1 Eagle, which has a 12mm carbon frame. The other models have a 11mm carbon frame, except the men’s Comp, which is a M5 premium aluminum and the women’s Comp Alloy, which is a Specialized M5 premium aluminum frame.
The frames for the men’s Epic bicycles are available in x-long, long, medium, and short. These sizes equate too:
The women’s frames are available in medium, short, and extra-short, but only the Epic Comp Alloy model is available in XS. For women, the frames equate to:
Women who are 5’2” or shorter should consider buying an XS size frame, if one is available.
Most of the Epic models use SRAM Level TL brakes, but the S-Works XTR Di2, which has Shimano XTR M9000 brakes, the men’s S-Works XX1 Eagle and the women’s S-Works model that has SRAM Level Ultimate, and the Pro model, which has SRAM Level TRM brakes.
The shifters are different for most of the Epic models.
The S-Works XTR Di2 has a Shimano XTR Di2 11-speed shifter; the men’s S-Works XX1 Eagle has a SRAM XX1 Eagle; the women’s S-Works uses a SRAM XX1 Eagle 12-speed shifter; the Pro uses a SRAM X01 Eagle 12-speed shifter; the Expert SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed, and all Comp models use a SRAM GX 11-speed shifter.
The Epic models use Roval Control rims with all the S-Works using the SL rims, the Pro and Expert have the Carbon rims, and the remaining models using the Roval Control 29 rims.
All the Epic models use the Fast Trak Gripton Compound tires.
What We Like
There is a lot to like about the Specialized Epic bikes, especially with the improvements that they made.
The company took several grams of weight from the previous frames, making them lighter and faster. They did this by replacing the previous rear ends with carbon and using a suspension platform that no longer relies on bearings, but a flex frame. These changes reduced the weight by an average 39% overall.
They also made changes to the geometry of the bikes, which gives the Epic models better stability and handling on XC courses. The new frames have a longer reach, 100mm, and a shorter fork that helps put more wheel under the rider, improving the stability.
While the company still uses the Brain suspension system, it was also revamped by partnering with RockShock. Brain 2.0 now relies on a bladder, which is popular in motocross because it creates less heat by reducing static friction, or stiction.
The position of the Brain was also changed, and it now sits behind the axle, closer to the moment of inertia, which helps make the bike more responsive. They also made engineering changes to the oil flow, which means less turbulence and better damping.
What We Don’t Like
While it is difficult to find problems with the new and improved Epic models, some riders who took test rides still find the sensation of the decoupling of the suspension disconcerting. Fortunately, it is usually only noticeable when going uphill.
Some riders also found the knock from the inertia valve unnerving as well. However, the more they rode the Epic model, they quickly got used to the sound. For those still bothered by it, especially amateur riders, the threshold is adjustable, and it can be turned down.
The Specialized Epic bikes are XC bikes, so if you’re going off-road, then these are among the best on the market.
However, unless you have $3000 to $10000 to throw down on a bike, then they may be out of your price range. These models are really for the professional and serious amateur XC racer.
For people who are into XC competitions or triathlons, the Epic line of bikes is ideal. With the lighter frames, improved suspension, and better handling, they can help you improve your race times. If you're looking for a great XC bike, go test drive the Epic models to find the best one for your needs.