SPECIALIZED EPIC EVO S-WORKS REVIEW
Tested by Nic “U-turn” Hall | Action Photos by Dusten Ryen
The Specialized Epic is one of the most famous and revered bikes. It has won countless medals, propelled racers to records, and made local XC-pinners into the group’s hero (or dreaded adversary) on the weekly loop. Despite the bike’s pedigree, Specialized didn’t sit back for another year of churning out the same old, same old. Wanting to keep pace with newer, more aggressive XC tracks and the speed and level of average riders on their local terrain, Specialized has just released the new Epic and Epic Evo.
The 2020 Epic is the next step in the evolution of this pure-bred race machine. Meanwhile, the new Epic Evo is Specialized’s interpretation of what a pinner trail rider is looking to ride while crushing his friend’s souls on climbs while still being able to ride with his aggro buddies who stopped shaving their legs ten years ago to embrace long travel and knee pads.
For me, this story really starts back in the early 2000’s when I was first getting into mountain biking. All I could afford at the time were used hard tail cross-country bikes and I ended up riding with that XC crowd. They showed me the long epics all over the PNW and I was hooked. A few years later I got my first taste of riding downhill bikes and I hadn’t really touched an XC bike since. When I heard that Specialized had something new coming to the market, I was excited to see how far cross-country bikes had come, and boy was I surprised.
Specialized designed the Epic Evo to be the fastest trail bike available. It’s for riders who aren’t just chasing checkered flags but are looking to also attempt new features, shred corners faster and climb peaks faster. They took the front half of the race-designed Epic and designed a purpose-built rear end and stiff shock link to work with a non-proprietary Metric shock. The new Rx-Tuned shock sports 110mm of travel and the new link offers a 2.8:1 leverage ratio to compliment the longer 120mm fork’s bump-eating capabilities.
The Epic Evo, not only ditches the proprietary shock, but also adds 10mm of rear travel and a new rear triangle, while still retaining the weight of a competitive World Cup XC bike. The seat tube angle on the Epic Evo is ¾ of an angle steeper than its predecessor while the head tube on the Epic Evo is a bit slacker and sits at 66.5 degrees. The bottom bracket is a little lower than the standard Epic, but a flip chip allows it to be moved up if needed, which we never found ourselves doing. The flip chip not only raises the BB 6mm, but also steepens the bike half a degree and brings the head tube to 67.
The frame and linkage are built of Specialized’s FACT carbon and is reportedly 15% stiffer than previous generations while remaining 100g lighter. In fact, our size large is under 22lbs in the Epic Evo S-Works trim out of the box!
Suspension is handled by the new Rock Shox SID fork and SID Luxe rear shock, which are very impressive in their own right, stay tuned for a full review coming soon. Knowing that a bike is only as good as the wheels it rolls on, Specialized set out to design a brand new wheel that we went over a few weeks back. Be sure to check out these impressive hoops here. The Roval Control SL wheels are 29mm wide and only 1,240g for a complete wheelset with offset spokes and a symmetric profile. The Ground Control and Fast Track tires are fast-rolling, not the grippiest but extremely stylish in their gum wall appearance.
Component wise, the Epic Evo S-Works is kitted in full SRAM AXS with G2 Ultimate brakes. The wireless shifting and dropper create an ultra-minimalist cockpit. The rotors are both 160mm but when coupled with four piston brakes, proved to be sufficient. The bars and stem are Roval carbon with titanium hardware. No detail was overlooked on this bike and it shows in the total package.
Specialized will be offering the Epic Evo in five trim packages from the Base, retailing at $4,125 to the Epic Evo S-Works at $11,525. Check the Specialized Epic and Epic Evo press release here for the full line and details on each bike.