Tested: 2014 Specialized S-Works Epic

29er All Mountain Trail
What We Didn’t Like

The 27.2mm seatpost is step backwards in our opinion. It makes it incompatible with the dropper seatposts in the market or already in one’s garage. One can argue that this kind of bike does not need a dropper post since it is a pure racing bike. But we will say that this bike and every bike (even hardtails) are better off with a dropper post. Dropper posts not only relate to the technical terrain but also with the evolving descending style of the rider. Once a rider uses a dropper post on some bikes, the cornering style and descending/pumping style evolves to better techniques, making it difficult to adjust to a fixed height post. 27.2mm means there is no Specialized Command Post compatible with this bike. But we are fairly certain that Specialized will release a 27.2mm dropper post by the time this bike is released in the winter.

We’re still not crazy about the Brain adjustment knob located near the rear skewer. It just makes it too inconvenient to use during a ride. We were hoping that one of the new remote dials would make its way to the Brain shock. Alas, it is not to be.

Specialized Epic Chain Stay

We were hoping for shorter stays on this bike. We see it in the World Cup Edition which is shorter by 10mm which is a fun and agile bike. But the World Cup Edition bike has 10mm less travel and a higher BB. So the shorter stay really should be in the standard Epic as well.

Bottom Line

Bottom line is the Epic is faster, cleaner and lighter than before. If you race, then this is your steed. If you want more fun and flexibility, perhaps a 23 lb Camber is for you. But if you want to go fast, then the Epic is right up your alley. The $10k Epic versions are cool but the smart money is always on the lower cost versions then uprade the whees to carbon Rovals.

From the Manufacturer

New Carbon Frame

What: The completely redesigned, all-new FACT IS 11M carbon frame features a concentric shock linkage for optimal pivot FSR location and suspension movement, two water bottle mounts with SWAT compatibility, internal cable routing, tapered head tube, PF 30 bottom bracket, and 142mm rear hub spacing. The World Cup Epic features 95mm of rear wheel travel, while the standard Epic retains 100mm of suspension.

Why: It’s all about the fastest ride. The new frame is lighter, has clean lines, better suspension action, and can carry everything you want right on the frame. The new frame also has increased drivetrain stiffness.

How: Our engineers and frame designers spent countless hours refining this frame to squeeze every bit of performance from the ride, cut every non-essential gram, and reworked the tube shapes and locations to make room for the ground breaking SWAT technology.

Mini Brain Rear Shock, with New XC Tune

What: Externally tunable, trail-sensing rear shock with AUTOSAG, pioneered by Specialized and manufactured by Fox. All-new shock tune with new internals makes this the best Epic shock ever.

Why: AUTOSAG assures perfect shock setup every time, while the new Brain tune offers the best efficiency and control over smooth and rough terrain.

How: When a rider encounters bump forces, the Mini Brain’s inertia valve disengages, allowing oil to flow and the shock to immediately transition from firm (efficient) to fully active (compliant) suspension settings. The external Brain Fade dial allows riders to fine tune their suspension.

New S-Works Cranks

What: New S-Works Crankset is sleeker and lighter than before thanks to a new integrated spider design.

Why: We set out to shave every possible gram and create an aesthetic that ties into the design language of our frames.

How: We created an all-new design with integrated carbon spider. The result is an insanely lightweight crank that partners with both single and double ring setups.

S.W.A.T. Kit

What: Fully integrated emergency repair kit, featuring storage, water bottle holder, air canister and multi-tool. Stage 3 Kit standard on Expert Epics and up.

Why: Gives riders the ability to solve any minor mechanical problem on the trail, and eliminates the need to wear a pack.

How: The S.W.A.T. items are strategically integrated into the frame at the water bottle and organized by location and weight for easy access.

Competitive XC Geometry: Epic vs. Epic World Cup

What: Two uniquely tuned and designed bikes for competitive XC racing and endurance XC racing.

Why: Riders’ needs vary based on terrain. Epic riders demand a race bike that can tackle a variety of course conditions. They are looking for a wide gear range, water carrying capability, and repair item storage.

Epic WC riders demand explosive power and tight geometry necessary to dominate the World Cup race circuit. Weight and stiffness are top-priority for this rider.

How: Epic models are built around a double chainring chassis and 100mm travel. Epic Expert models and above come equipped with SWAT kits and features an XC race tune rear shock.

For riders looking for the most competition- focused XC race bike, WC models are built with a dedicated single-ring chassis featuring short 439mm chainstays, aggressive geometry, and 95mm of travel. WC models are SWAT ready and feature a WC race tune rear shock.

New Roval Carbon Wheelsets

What: All-new, lighter-weight Roval Control SL 29 wheelsets (S-Works) with Zero Bead Hook technology, and Roval Control Carbon 29 wheelset (Marathon and Expert).

Why: Zero Bead Hook technology creates a lightweight and impact resistant wheel. The lightweight wheels improve climbing performance and acceleration out of corners.

How: We designed this lightweight carbon wheelset with a carbon rim that is stronger and stiffer than alloy, so the wheels remain in-true longer, and absorb impact better.

Zero Bead Hook simplifies the rim manufacturing process, resulting in a lighter-weight rim that with edges more resistant to sharp rocks and rough terrain.

Tested: 2014 Specialized S-Works Epic Gallery
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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.


  • 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?

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