The Epic is the most decorated full suspension cross country bike, and it all started over a decade ago with one thing in mind: Make the most efficient, rider-friendly bike out there. Specialized brought in innovation like Brain, the only shock that can “think” for you, SWAT™, so you could store anything you’d need for marathon racing discreetly on your bike, and a geometry that screams racing. This year,they bring all those technologies, and a little bit more, to hit even more ambitious goal: Make a confidence inspiring, efficient, and fast platform that benefits both riders and racers alike.
The suspension world was turned upside down when Brain was introduced over a decade ago. It was, and is, the only shock that can differentiate rider and trail inputs. It rides firm on smooth terrain and opens when encountering trail/bump force impact. The need for lockout levers, extra cables, and remotes is gone, so no more riding descents and forgetting to open your shock. It does the thinking for you.
Brain 2.0 takes everything that was great from earlier iterations and builds upon them. Moving the Brain closer to the axle (moment of inertia) makes for a more responsive system than before. Oil porting and flow paths have been reengineered to reduce oil turbulence and provide more consistent damping. Specialized also addressed hose fitting, so there are no frame rub issues, making this the most visually sleek Brain package yet.
XC riding and racing has changed. Gone are the race courses that resembled walking paths through the park. In are sections of trail that could be mistaken for an enduro track. Specialized knew they had to address the sharp, often intimidating ride characteristics of XC bikes, so everything was thrown out the window and started from scratch.
Specialized increased the reach to make for a longer, more stable front end. To keep the rider position consistent with what we have today, they shortened the stem length, which also makes for quick handling. The head angle was slackened by 1.5 degrees to create an aggressive 69.5-degree angle. Those two changes combine to create a bike that's much more confident at speed and descending through steep and rough terrain.
But you're probably thinking, "That slack of a head angle will make a cross country bike floppy and slow, right?" Wrong. The bike and suspension team tested dozens of tuning setups and fork offsets until settling on what gave them the best balance of stability and snappy handling.
Rider-First Engineered™ is a technology that Specialized introduced with the Tarmac. Our engineers set specific ride quality targets per size, so whether you’re a size Small or an X-Large, you'll have the same intended ride experience without it being too stiff or riding like a wet noodle. With it brings unique layups and tube shapes for every frame size.
That’s all fine and dandy, but here's the impressive part. The engineering team was able to make a bike that holds a stiffness-to-weight number that can go toe-to-toe with any of the competition, while also cutting out 240 grams from the rear end (a 39% weight savings) and *up to 525 grams out of the frame alone. Yes, you read that correct—525 grams out of the frame alone.
ALL THE OTHER BITS
Along with the geometry revamp, weight savings, and all-new Brain, there are more features packed into this platform.
All of the carbon Epic models have full carbon rear ends, which is a first for Specialized and for the Epic. To accompany the aggressive geometry, they also made sure that the bikes are compatible with dropper posts. Not just the Command post XCP they’ve used in the past, though, but full length droppers. Of course, this makes the Epic more capable than ever.
Questions? We have answers!
Specialized saved a lot of weight out of the rear end and I see there isn’t FSR on this platform?
In a focused effort to make the new Epic the fastest XC bike, one of the main goals was to drastically reduce weight. In doing so, Specialized did remove pivots from the rear end of this new platform. That decision saved 240g (39% lighter) in the rear end alone! This, in combination with the new Brain, allowed them to make large improvements in overall performance, while also saving up to 525g in some frames. Specialized very much believes in the FSR system as an effective an efficient suspension design, and you'll continue to see it throughout the rest of our MTB lineup.
Does this mean it performs the same?
Yes, it performs even better. In addition to the weight savings, the new Epic is a single-pivot bike. We've designed engineered flex zones in the chain and seatstays to emulate the performance of the FSR system. Being designed around a 1x drivetrain, the engineers could tune the platform to perform better under pedaling forces. Combined with the sensitivity of the new Brain, this bike builds on the efficiency of its predecessor. Removing pivots also makes for a stiffer rear end. Stiffness = pedaling and power transfer efficiency.
What is the fork offset?
The fork offset on the Epic is 42mm. This is a number that is often associated with smaller wheeled, longer travel bikes. This gave the bike the stability of a slacker head angle, but kept the liveliness and handling in climbing and cornering in tight switchbacks. It also makes the front wheel feel planted and predictable. Just ride it—you’ll see. Numbers and charts don’t define everything.
What's the difference between the men's and women's models?
After analyzing ther fit database, Specialized found that a shared platform (frame) was the best way to accomplish a proper fit across genders. They do however offer XS sizing in this platform (alloy models only).
There are quite a few variations in specs:
Touchpoints: Smaller diameter grips, narrower bars, shorter cranks and women’s specific saddles are standard on every Epic Women’s Suspension.
Tune: The suspension team doesn’t just Rx Tune the men’s bikes. The women’s bikes receive the same amount of attention. The fork and shock get a custom spring curve that compliments women’s riding styles and is accompanied by compression and rebound tunes that are complimentary (lighter).