Long Term Report: 2014 Specialized S-Works Epic World Cup Edition

29er All Mountain Trail

Test ride in Waterdog, Belmont

Specialized Epic WC 2014 long term review

Having ridden Epics for the last few years, I’ve gotten to know them quite well. The snap crackle pop of the earlier brain suspension, sometimes a delay in activating, and generally a harsh ride. But that’s what a XC race bike is supposed to feel like right? A stiff platform to maximize your pedal force. As with previous iterations, the latest 2014 Epic WC keeps getting better as the platform is evolved. This brain rear shock with auto sag has really dialed in the plushness, while not giving up the stiff XC platform. Throw in some SWAT technology and this bike is ready to race.

We recently took this bike to Moab, Utah on a week-long road trip. Moab not known for being XC friendly, I decided to see how far I could push the Epic in rough and demanding terrain. The Epic passed with flying colors as both bike and rider survived unscathed. Would it have been better on a more squishy bike? Maybe a Camber or the winner of our recent Enduro Compare-O, the 155mm travel Specialized Enduro. But the Epic did surprisingly well in the tough all mountain terrain. Throw on a dropper post and this bike would handle most anything you throw at it. Too bad it’s a 27.2 seat post. Not to worry as a Specialized dropper post is coming soon in that size.

Unboxing the Epic

We rode the mid-level Epic Expert WC with retail approximately $5700. XO 1×11 on the drive train, Magura brakes, and al bar/stem and post rounded out the spec. The bike is easily upgradable to carbon to lighten everything up. They didn’t skimp on the wheels, carbon Roval control. Finally a 15mm through axle was present in front to really tighten up the front end. This one weighed in right around 24 lbs. That’s including the tube, CO2, and hidden multi tool.

The WC version has shorter chain stays for quicker more agile handling. A more aggressive geometry is also featured with a steeper head angle. Clean internal cable routing is also new unlike the previous Epic, where the cables were external and running under the bottom bracket. The suspension is more dialed with the auto sag function and improved brain adjustability. They reduced the number of adjustment clicks to the rear which may sound like a downgrade, but now each click makes a difference. Previous models you’d have to move it multiple clicks to feel any difference in ride, now 1 or 2 clicks makes a big difference.

SWAT gear

SWAT (storage water air tools) is featured on this bike and I love the ability to carry water bottles on the bike. Even the top one can handle a big water bottle (medium size frame), a tube, CO2, and hidden multi tool up in the top tube. I guess the Specialized engineers who were watching the Leadville 100 saw everyone taping gels, tubes on their top tube, and a second water bottle in the jersey pocket, so they came up with a solution. For those that don’t like to ride with a hydration pack, this works. Couple it with the Specialized SWAT bib and the rider can carry another big bottle and a ton of food on the bib itself.

Huge chainstays on the Epic WC

With this combination, we were able to go on 4-6 hour rides without the need for a hydration pack, and with the Specialized Epic World Cup Edition, we were able to cover a lot of ground in 6 hours.

Check out our forum thread http://forums.mtbr.com/specialized/2014-expert-epic-wc-891013.html

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About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Liberty555 says:

    I love this marketing gumpf…

    “Eric Schuda (engineer at Specialized) spent some time at the Leadville 100 mountain bike endurance race and observed. He looked at how folks were using their racing bikes”

    Ummm, maybe I’m doing it wrong? Am I sitting on it the wrong way?

    I wonder what pearls of wisdom he collected…

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      Need better visuals. Folks were taping and ziptie-ing inner tubes, bottle holders, bananas and Gu packets on to their frames.

    • Benjamin Brindle says:

      He actually meant how they used the frame to carry the kit they needed. “Using their racing bikes” to carry gels (taped on bars) tubes (taped under saddles/inside the frame triangles). He didn’t mean how they use them to pedal.
      So said pearls of wisdom are sticking those things in the frame tucked away keeping the weight down low and off your back. Many even chose the hardtail stumpy over the epic like susi did in the XCM as the option to carry two bottles wasn’t around again.

      Hopefully clears a little up ^^

      • Liberty555 says:

        Yeah, I really hate it when the weight of a Gu packet upsets the handling of the bike!

        I have this image of the Specialized R&D department designing little black plastic boxes to put inner tubes and CO2 cartridges in… I believe the latest thing in the skunkworks there is – get this – a little bag you can tie under your seat! Shhh – don’t tell anyone!

  • Baltazar Franco says:

    awesome bike… 10 Grand, not awesome price…

  • Luis says:

    I second that. Nice bike, but way overpriced IMO !! Not enough upgrades to warrant such a price.

  • Mr. P says:

    Having raced in multiple XC race series with a dropper post, I would call it near useless. I love them, and now can’t ride trail without them, but in an XC race, downhill is for recovery. XC Races are won and lost on the ups.

    27.2 is smart, as the smaller post diameter provides a bit more flex to smooth things out, but still a good platform for pedaling.

    I have to say that I was initially unimpressed by the SWAT tools, but I can see how the racer-set would really like them. Notably the long distance racers.

    P

  • Mike says:

    So, this new S-works will arrive some people at the following dilemma:
    Ducati or Specialized? I’ll pick a Ducati any day…. but it is soooo wrong to even think about a bicycle for $10k.

    • Tom says:

      You show me where to buy a Moto GP Ducati for 10k and I’ll jump on it, that is the equivalent, the very pinnacle of technology in each sport, very low volume production pushes the price up and not that many 10k bikes get sold compared to the 4k alloy comp version.

      • Scott Orsini says:

        Yet the funny thing is if you look on Ebay, you’ll always see 5 or 6 Sworks models for sale but its hard to find the alloy versions. When I race you might see one or two S works but a ton of the alloy versions are out there.

    • Don says:

      I’d take the mountain bike over the Ducati anyday. More performance that I can actually use, and when the heck would I have time to ride a Ducati around? It’s useless for weekend trips as it’s tough to bring a mountain bike, my rock climbing gear, or my snowboard, so I actually have something to do when I reach my destination. I’ve thought about getting a motorcycle, but the best time of day for riding a motorcycle in AZ is the best time of day for riding my bike. If I spend that time on the motorcycle I would just get fat and slow, or have to eat like an ascetic. Spending that money on a Ducati that would just end up being a garage queen would be a waste for me. I’d rather spend it on the mountain bike and get FAR more enjoyment from it.

      • skim says:

        I agree. I will take mountain bike over a motorcycle anytime. What a great workout on a bike. Using your own muscles to power a vehicle! Pressing gas, yea that’s really hard. Plus motorcycles adds more carbon into the environment, I feel the social responsibility of each one of us.

    • Motor Cycle says:

      Yeah, but an SWorks isn’t likely to leave you 6 feet under!

  • Ed says:

    I have the 2011 S-Works Epic and have absolutely been amazed by this bike. $10k is a ton of cash for a bike, but if you ride a ton, there is no price you can put on this “habit”. If you ride 4 times a week and keep the bike for 3 years it is well worth it. You will still have a residual value to sell it after you have enjoyed the crap out of it.

    I think it all comes down to how often you ride to whether this is worth the investment. IMHO.

    • Harris says:

      I also have 2012 S-Works Epic (No car, I commute, ride, and race it, ~4000 miles/year). It blows my mind every time I ride it. I agree that if you ride enough it is worth the obscene price. Plus, buying the new model will give you ~3 years before the next one comes out. This can help you maximize the ownership period before trading up for the new.

    • Jeff says:

      Hey Ed, I have the 2011 S-Works as well. I knew after the first climb that it was the bike for me. I race it, ride it, and am not at all gentle with it, and it has taken everything I throw at it ( i’m a 6′ and 210lb aggressive rider). Question is for me, is the new one that much better?

  • Gregg Kato says:

    As a Ducati owner (Monster 1100) and as someone who has spent some time on Specialized bikes (most recently the 2013 Epic Comp Carbon 29) I can appreciate them both for what they offer. No doubt about it…$10k is a lot of money for a bicycle. But to compare it to a Ducati is just plain silly. It’s apples and oranges. (@Tom, I wouldn’t compare the S-Works to a Desmosedici…it’s more like a Panigale R!)

    And as to whether to take the motorcycle over the bicycle or vice versa…why choose? Get both! They both offer their own kind of fun and unique ride experience. Pretty much all top level motorcycle racers (roadracing and moto/supercross) train or race road bicycles and/or mountain bikes.

  • Don says:

    Question, did they switch to a 51mm offset fork for 2014?

  • Tom says:

    This bike would be perfect if the brain fade knob could somehow be put on the shock. As it stands now, it still seems like the ultimate Pure Race Whip, but for 100 milers, I want to be able to fade that brain while on the bike!

    How was the brain fork? I never did come to terms with that concept, except for 2-hour explosive training rides.

  • nonsense says:

    For those who know nothing about motorcycle racing, Honda and Yamaha are spanking the snot out of Ducati in MotoGP. Therefore, when one speaks of “top line” motorcycles, it should not start with Ducati. Same goes for Specialized. :)))

  • Jeff says:

    For those complaining about the price tag: Yup, this is a pricey beast, but you have to remember that this the flag ship super-bike. Compare to this to the top end bikes of other companies and you’ll see similar prices. For the common man, there is the much more affordable marathon and expert versions, not to mention the comp, which is still a great bike. you can get most of the technology and performance with a much, much lower pricetag (almost half) and a little more weight. We get the trickle down technology from the pros and the guys who just want the best (nothing wrong with that). But without super-bikes like this, the technology won’t get pushed to the same limit. In the end, everyone is happier with the bikes we get.

  • Steve says:

    What a fantastic review and pics. Thanks for sharing!

  • Marco Lopez says:

    I just bought an Epic Marathon. Love it but can anybody reccommend a fork mounted rack for these new bikes?

  • DP says:

    Francis – big long time fan of you and mtbr, but i have to admit, disappointed by the review… I think your original Tallboy review was one of the best that you posted. Video plus real feedback on the bike was great! I feel like this Epic review was more of an overview. You stated that you rode this bike in Moab, I wish you outlines how the bike performed… Did it meet your expectations or underperform as multi-purpose bike. Everyone knows the Epic is the most sought after bike, but I left confused if you we’re talking about the WC Epic or Standard Epic geo? Did you like this bike in Moab??? What brain setting did you like for Moab vs. racing? Did 95mm vs 100mm rear suspension make a difference? shock setup? I just feel like everyone is looking to add content and providing an overview then an actual in-depth review… Hope this helps.

  • brizzy says:

    @Mr P downhill is for recovery??? Tell that to Nino Schurter, who’s been opening up massive gaps on the descents all season. And a few hardtail riders on the world cup XC circuit have already been using short travel carbon XC droppers. They’ll be everywhere soon.

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