Lighter, faster, smoother – pick three. The Specialized Epic focuses even deeper into racing.
Specialized Epic Copper Mountain.
For 2014, Specialized assembled their largest development team ever to revamp their top-selling bike, the Epic. With a three year old design as a baseline, they looked to make the Epic faster, lighter and smoother. They saw two audiences for the bike: the top-level cross country racer and the hardcore enthusiast who races regularly and is always looking to go faster than his buddies or faster than he’s gone before.
Eric Schuda (engineer at Specialized) spent some time at the Leadville 100 mountain bike endurance race and observed. Schuda saw many bikes taped with tubes, tools, Gu, bananas on to the frame to transport the necessities for the 100 mile race. He looked at how folks were using their racing bikes and looked for solutions not only for going faster but also longer with efficient ways to transport tools and water.
Specialized Epic S-Works.
The big change is a frame that’s laterally stiffer and about .5 lbs lighter. The new carbon frame has lighter, more optimized materials yet has thick chain stays to provide lateral stiffness. The seatpost is now 27.2mm in diameter to save weight and to make room for the brain shock cable that is fed in between the seat tube and the moving seat stays.
Left: Specialized Epic Front Triangle. Right: Specialized Epic Internal Routing.
The cable routing is now internal. This is a big diversion for Specialized as they’ve stayed the course with their neatly organized external cable routing. Their old system tucked the cables under the down tube in a very organized manner and it worked well when set up properly. But it was a bit dated as most of the competition migrated to a much cleaner internal routing system. Internal routing is great for the end user but is a nightmare for bike shops and home mechanics as feeding the cables through tiny frame holes is never easy. To counter this, specialized designed in big port holes for the cables and seal them off with big, elegant caps that guide the cables out of the frame. In the frame, they house the cables in a foam ‘noodle’ material that prevents any kind of rattling noise inside the frame.
Specialized Epic Hard Cornering.
The latest Brain Shock still strives to lock out during pedaling and activate during trail bumps. But it is now smoother than ever during this transition between locked out and active mode. It is light years ahead of the first brain shock almost a decade ago and it is noticeably better than the Specialized Epic we tested from 2012. The transitions are much smoother now and the ride is almost seamless. But one can still tell this is a Brain shock as a slight ‘knock’ can be felt through the frame during the transition.
SWAT (Storage, Water, Air and Tools) has been introduced for the endurance racer who prefers not to use a hydration pack. A family of tools and water carriers has been integrated with the bike. Two water bottles, a chain tool, multi-tool and flat repair kit are now designed in the frame itself. They are all designed in and readily available but can all be easily removed if the extra weight is not desired. An in-depth look into SWAT is available HERE.
Specialized Epic SWAT Removed.
What We Liked
What the Specialized Epic does is make you go fast uphill. It has performed this task well in the past and this new version does an even better job at it. One of the new sample Epics with very rideable parts weighed in at 19.6 lbs without pedals. This is a responsive frame that is very stiff laterally.
Stomping on the pedals results in best of class acceleration. Whether it’s spinning efficiently or jumping out of saddle with massive torque, the frame and brain shock respond to deliver the best acceleration in a full suspension bike.
Specialized Epic Vista.
We loved the wheels and tires. Specialized Carbon Roval SL wheels are the best of any bike manufacturer bar none. They are light, stiff, durable and affordable. The old wheels Roval wheels were good but these new ones are wider, lighter, stiffer and more durable. The new 1370 gram, 22 mm internal width, hookless rims are just phenomenal. They are a decent value at just under $2k but the Roval Control Carbons are the best for the money at $1200.
Specialized Epic in Durango with Mtbr and Chad Cheney.
SWAT is good. Two large water bottle capacity is a godsend and it will make one leave the hydration pack at home whether on a bike race or just a long ride. The hidden multi-tool above the rear shock is actually very cool. Some may be tentative about adding weight to the frame but this tool is the smallest, most functional one we’ve seen to date. And it is so easy to access that it will be used often.
Continue reading for more information and full photo gallery.