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MBR UK meint zum Epic Evo Expert: 8/10 🌟

Vorteile: schnell und leicht

Nachteile: teuer

Specialized Epic Evo Expert is streets ahead of its rivals in sizing and geometry. Long reach gives you freedom to get creative on any trail.

The Specialized Epic Evo Expert is born and bred in XC racing, so what makes it different to the pure XC-race Specialized Epic? Before we discuss that, let’s take a closer look at the one thing they have in common: both share the same FACT 11m carbon front end, where the rider-tuned carbon lay-up maintains the same ride characteristics across all four frame sizes.

Read more: Best short-travel ‘down-country’ mountain bikes

No one can accuse Specialized of jumping on the down-country bandwagon; the lightweight, short-travel Specialized Camber Evo ripping up trails long before anyone had coined the term DC.

Specialized Epic Evo Expert

Specialized Epic Evo Expert review

Rather than simply slapping a taller fork on the XC frame, Specialized opened a new mould for a different carbon rear end, forged a new shock yoke, dispensed with the Brain shock and bumped travel up by 10mm to 110mm. There’s also an asymmetric flip-chip in the shock eyelet that offers two geometry settings; the high position raising the BB height by 7 mm and steepening the head angle by 0.5°.

And because weight, or the lack of it, is of primary importance for a short travel bike, Specialized uses flex in the carbon stays rather than its trusty Horst link chainstay pivot in the rear suspension. A move that’s also been employed on the latest Stumpjumper.

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Flip-chip technology is cleverly integrated into the shock yoke

Suspension

Specialized makes full use of the oversized Torque Caps on the front hub to increase steering precision on the 120mm travel RockShox SID fork. An added bonus being the hub fits snuggly in the cupped dropouts making it much easier to locate the 15mm axle when fitting the front wheel. You can lock the fork out with a quarter turn of the compression adjuster, and for a lightweight XC unit, we’ve been impressed by how much control the SID offers, interns of stiffness and damping.

 

And the same is true for the rear shock. With Specialized’s RX custom tune you get plenty of support for pedalling, but the rear end on the Epic Evo still does a great job of ironing out creases in the trail, while providing a lively poppy ride. You also get access to full travel when needed, so we can forgive it for measuring 5mm shy of the claimed 110mm.

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SRAM drivetrain includes a full gamut of gear choice

Components

By switching to a 34.9mm diameter seat tube, Specialized has been able to fit stronger, more reliable dropper posts – it’s analogous to increasing the size of the fork stanchions and a welcome move. The action of the 150mm X-Fusion Manic post is fast and smooth, and while the Body Geometry Power saddle looks funky it’s a comfortable and supportive perch. Specialized fits a generous 750mm handlebar, where the soft lock-on grips boost the overall width to 760mm and further enhance control. All in, the touch points on the Evo Expert are excellent.

Specialized’s tyre choice, however, is more about reduced rolling resistance, rather than increasing control, especially the semi-slick Fast Trak rear tyre. Given the choice, we’d stick the Ground Control front tyre on the rear, and put something with taller knobs up front to further enhance cornering grip.

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The super-slick lines you’d expect at this price point

Performance

Sling a leg over the Epic Evo and it feels more like a trail bike than its XC roots initially suggest. Standover clearance is good and the cockpit feels roomy without pulling all of your weight onto the fork, which makes you feel very centered on the bike. Granted, you haven’t got a ton of travel, but you’re free to ride dynamically, which makes the bike fun and engaging at all times. Also the geometry is not so progressive that you’ll constantly be writing cheques that the suspension simply can’t cash.

 

The Epic Evo feels tight and responsive when you get on the gas too, but when a climb really steepens and you find yourself grinding rather than spinning, the rear suspension tends to squat into its travel which makes it harder to keep your weight over the front. More often than not, the rear tyre will break traction before you get to that point though, so you could say it’s a blessing in disguise.

Specialized Epic Evo Expert

Verdict

With the new Epic Evo Expert, Specialized has retained the best traits of a World Cup XC race bike; namely that it’s light and efficient, where the Evo twist gives it more responsive suspension and a less head-down riding position. It’s a great combination, not a compromise, as it lets you cover ground with ruthless efficiency and still have a blast on the fun stuff. Yes, it needs better rubber to really excel, but the real sticking point here is the price, and not just compared to the Merida. For less cash you can get the Transition Spur X01 which also has a better specification.

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Flow MTB hat ebenfalls einen Test zum Evo ins Internet gehackt. Sie meinen: Das Evo kommt ab 2021 ohne Brain Fahrwerk und das macht es so viel besser!

In der Kurzübersicht schreibt Flow über das Positive:

- sehr ausbalanciertes Fahrwerk
- potente Geometrie
- komfortable Sitzposition für lange Tage
- unfassbar leichte Roval Control SL Laufräder
- Platz für 2 Wasserflaschen
- gut durchdachter und praktischer Rahmen

Die Schattenseiten:

- der schwindelerregende Preis
- hinten könnte man einen stabilereb Reifen montieren

 

Specialized Epic EVO Review | Specialized ditches the Brain for 2021, and the EVO is all the better for it

 

Wil reviews the 2021 Specialized Epic EVO

Cast your mind back to 2018. It was the year that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Idris Elba was named People’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’, Kanye West visited the White House, and Queer Eye returned to TV. Of course 2018 was also the year when Specialized released the very first Epic EVO. That bike basically took the existing Epic, and pumped it up with a 120mm fork, a dropper post, wider bars and a toothier front tyre. It was a simple but interesting concept, and over the last two years it’s become a popular bike for those riders who wanted an XC bike but weren’t so hellbent on racing.

While there was a lot to like about it, in our experience the original Epic EVO always felt unbalanced. When we reviewed the Epic EVO, we were genuinely surprised with the technical abilities of the bike, but found the Brain shock would always remind you that you were still on a race bike. Sure, you could dial the Brain all the way off, but then what’s the point of having it in the first place?

 
 
 
 
 
 

While there was a lot to like about it, in our experience the original Epic EVO always felt unbalanced.

It would seem that Specialized was listening, because for 2021 there’s an all-new Epic EVO, and this second generation platform shows a much stronger commitment to the concept. For the past month, we’ve been testing both the new Epic and Epic EVO to see what’s changed over their predecessors, how they perform on the trail, and how they compare directly to each other. For a closer look at the Epic race bike, check out our review here. Right now though, we’ll be diving head-first into the EVO – a stupendously fun, fast and agile XC ripper.

 

Watch our video review of the new 2021 Specialized Epic & Epic EVO here!


  The Epic EVO gets a whole new purpose and personality for 2021.   We’ve been testing both the Epic and Epic EVO for the past month, Mick took to the EVO like a duck to water!

Adios El Braino!

That’s right folks, the big news with the new Epic EVO is that it has ditched the Brain altogether, helping to further distinguish it from its race-focused sibling. The chassis is very similar, and indeed the mainframe is identical between the two bikes. However, the EVO gets its own unique back end that is free of any Brain-related paraphernalia. We’re told the swingarm is a little stiffer and offers a touch more tyre clearance too.

 

Like the original Epic EVO, the new model has a 120mm fork plugged in up front. It has been lifted at the back slightly though, with 110mm of rear wheel travel courtesy of a standard metric-sized RockShox SIDLuxe shock. The shock still mounts underneath the top tube, but here it’s driven by a composite yoke and alloy rocker link in a configuration that’s been inspired by the longer travel Stumpjumper. As for kinematics, Specialized has given the EVO a higher leverage ratio with a more progressive spring curve. Along with the bigger bottom-out bumper in the SIDLuxe shock, the EVO is designed to offer a more supple feel to the suspension with better support on the bigger, harder hits.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Like the original Epic EVO, the new model has a 120mm fork plugged in up front. It has been lifted at the back slightly though, with 110mm of rear wheel travel courtesy of a standard metric-sized RockShox SIDLuxe shock.

  The EVO uses a one-piece carbon swingarm like the standard Epic, but it skips the Brain shock and inertia valve.

XC Geometry unleashed

Geometry is fairly similar between the two bikes, though the longer fork does lift the BB and kick the angles back a bit. That means the EVO has a seriously slack 66.5° head angle, which is aggro trail-bike territory for a lot of brands. Compare that to the head angle on the Trek Top Fuel (68°) and the Norco Revolver 120 (67.4°) – two XC bikes with similar travel and intentions.

Of course the seat tube angle also slackens by a degree too. But whereas the Epic comes with a 10mm offset rigid seatpost, the EVO gets a 0mm offset dropper post, so the effective seat angle isn’t hugely different.

You can always tweak the geometry using a flip chip in the lower shock mount though. The EVO comes set in the Low position, but flipping it into the High position will lift the BB by 6mm and steepen the angles by half a degree.

Every EVO model and size is built around a 60mm stem, which is to keep the steering consistent regardless of rider height. As with the regular Epic, each EVO comes with 750-760mm wide bars.

  2021 Specialized Epic EVO frame geometry.   Specialized has equipped the EVO with a 120mm RockShox SID fork, 760mm wide bars and a stubbier 60mm stem.

The lightest frame on the market?

Because the EVO no longer uses the Brain shock and damper, it is now actually lighter than the regular Epic by around 200g. Claimed weight for the S-Works Epic EVO frame is a frankly staggering 1,659g – that’s with the rear shock, thru-axle, hanger and hardware. Dang! As far as we can tell, that makes this the lightest full suspension frame currently on the market.

Claimed weight for the S-Works Epic EVO frame is a frankly staggering 1,659g – that’s with the rear shock, thru-axle, hanger and hardware. Dang!

The Epic EVO will only be made in carbon to begin with, and there will be two different levels available. the S-Works frame is built from premium FACT 12m carbon fibre, while all other models use FACT 11m carbon. The frame shape, tube profiles, geometry, and suspension design are identical between the two, the cheaper FACT 11m frame is just a wee bit heavier – 1,757g according to Specialized. If that claimed weight figure is accurate, that means it’s still lighter than the Scott Spark RC.

Specialized hasn’t forgone all practicalities on the EVO frame though. You’ll find a good ol’ fashioned threaded BB shell, sealed pivot bearings, a ribbed chainstay protector, and there’s room for two bottles inside the mainframe. Like the Epic, the EVO also gets the SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger (UDH), which we’ve seen adopted by the likes of Trek and Santa Cruz. Less derailleur hangers in the world can only be a good thing.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Like the Epic, the EVO also gets the SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger (UDH), which we’ve seen adopted by the likes of Trek and Santa Cruz. Less derailleur hangers in the world can only be a good thing.

Specialized Epic EVO price & specs

There are four Epic EVO models coming to Australia this year, with prices kicking off at $6,700 AUD for the Epic EVO Comp. Regardless of price, all models are equipped with a 120mm travel reduced-offset fork, a dropper post, four-piston disc brakes, and 2.3in tyres.
New for 2021 is the addition of an Extra Small frame size. However, only the Epic EVO Expert will be available in Australia in the XS size. Otherwise it’s Small through to X-Large for everything else.

  The flagship S-Works model, which weighs in at less than 10kg. Yikes!

2021 Specialized Epic EVO S-Works

  • Frame | FACT 12m Carbon Fibre, Single Pivot Suspension Design, 110mm Travel
  • Fork | RockShox SID Ultimate, Brain Damper, 44mm Offset, 120mm Travel
  • Shock | RockShox SID Luxe, 190x40mm
  • Wheels | Roval Control SL, DT Swiss 180 Hub Internals, 29mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Specialized Ground Control 2.3in Front & Fast Trak 2.3in Rear, Control Casing
  • Drivetrain | SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS 1×12 w/XX1 32T Carbon Crankset & XG1299 10-50T Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM G2 Ultimate
  • Bar | S-Works Carbon XC Mini-Rise, 10mm Rise, 760mm Width
  • Stem | S-Works SL, Alloy, Titanium Bolts, 31.8mm Clamp Diameter, 60mm Length
  • Seatpost | RockShox Reverb AXS, 30.9mm Diameter, Travel: 100mm (S), 125mm (M), 150mm (L/XL)
  • Available Sizes | Small, Medium, Large & X-Large
  • RRP | $20,100 AUD
  If you don’t mind cables, the Epic EVO Pro lobs off over $5K off the price tag but still comes with Fox Factory suspension and XTR. What a looker!

2021 Specialized Epic EVO Pro

  • Frame | FACT 11m Carbon Fibre, Single Pivot Suspension Design, 110mm Travel
  • Fork | Fox 34 Step-Cast, Factory Series, FIT4 Damper, 44mm Offset, 120mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPS, Factory Series, 190x40mm
  • Wheels | Roval Control Carbon, DT Swiss 350 Hub Internals, 25mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Specialized Ground Control 2.3in Front & Fast Trak 2.3in Rear, Control Casing
  • Drivetrain | Shimano XTR 1×12 w/XTR 32T Crankset & 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano XTR 4-Piston
  • Bar | S-Works Carbon XC Mini-Rise, 10mm Rise, 760mm Width
  • Stem | Specialized XC, 3D-Forged Alloy, 31.8mm Clamp Diameter, 60mm Length
  • Seatpost | Fox Transfer, 30.9mm Diameter, Travel: 125-150mm
  • Available Sizes | Small, Medium, Large & X-Large
  • RRP | $14,300 AUD
  The Epic EVO Expert gets the new RockShox SID fork and SIDLuxe shock, along with SRAM X01 shifting and carbon Roval wheels.

2021 Specialized Epic EVO Expert

  • Frame | FACT 11m Carbon Fibre, Single Pivot Suspension Design, 110mm Travel
  • Fork | RockShox SID Select+, Charger 2 RL Damper, 44mm Offset, 120mm Travel
  • Shock | RockShox SID Luxe Select+, 190x40mm
  • Wheels | Roval Control Carbon, DT Swiss 350 Hub Internals, 25mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Specialized Ground Control 2.3in Front & Fast Trak 2.3in Rear, Control Casing
  • Drivetrain | SRAM X01 1×12 w/X1 32T Crankset & 10-50T Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM G2 RS 4-Piston
  • Bar | Specialized Alloy Mini-Rise, 10mm Rise, 750mm Width
  • Stem | Specialized XC, 3D-Forged Alloy, 31.8mm Clamp Diameter, 60mm Length
  • Seatpost | X-Fusion Manic, 30.9mm Diameter, Travel: 100mm (XS/S), 125mm (M), 150mm (L/XL)
  • Available Sizes | X-Small, Small, Medium, Large & X-Large
  • RRP | $9,500 AUD
  Utilising the same FACT 11m carbon frame as the Epic EVO Pro, the Comp is the entry-point into the Epic EVO world.

2021 Specialized Epic EVO Comp

  • Frame | FACT 11m Carbon Fibre, Single Pivot Suspension Design, 110mm Travel
  • Fork | RockShox SID Select+, Charger 2 RL Damper, 44mm Offset, 120mm Travel
  • Shock | RockShox Deluxe Select+, 190x40mm
  • Wheels | Shimano MT400/510 Hubs & Specialized Alloy Rims, 25mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Specialized Ground Control 2.3in Front & Fast Trak 2.3in Rear, Control Casing
  • Drivetrain | Shimano SLX 1×12 w/SLX 32T Crankset & 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano SLX 4-Piston
  • Bar | Specialized Alloy Mini-Rise, 10mm Rise, 750mm Width
  • Stem | Specialized XC, 3D-Forged Alloy, 31.8mm Clamp Diameter, 60mm Length
  • Seatpost | X-Fusion Manic, 30.9mm Diameter, Travel: 100mm (XS/S), 125mm (M), 150mm (L/XL)
  • Available Sizes | Small, Medium, Large & X-Large
  • RRP | $6,700 AUD
  Just like Mick, the Epic EVO has a fun-loving attitude, far away from the serious vibe of a strict XC race bike.

Setting up

Without a Brain to worry about, setting up the Epic EVO is made a few steps easier – particularly with the anodised sag gradients on the fork and shock. It was even easier for me, as I’ve already spent a load of time on the new RockShox SID – a bloody marvellous fork. I’ve found the recommend pressures on the setup guide to be spot-on, and I have the rebound set just one click faster than halfway (11/20 clicks).

  The new SID fork offers much smoother performance and it’s a lot more progressive too.

As for the shock, Specialized recommends running 27% sag. To support my 68kg riding weight, I settled on 185psi inside the SIDLuxe shock. There’s a single volume spacer inside the shock, and you have the option to remove it for a more linear feel, or you can add a second spacer to increase progression.

In the spirit of weight savings, RockShox built the SIDLuxe without an external rebound dial – you’ll need to use a 2.5mm hex key to adjust the rebound speed. Very cleverly though, the fork’s rebound adjuster is essentially a 2.5mm L-handle hex key, so you can just tug that out to adjust the shock. On the EVO, I set rebound damping halfway (5/10 clicks).

 
 
 
 
 
 

Very cleverly though, the fork’s rebound adjuster is essentially a 2.5mm L-handle hex key, so you can just tug that out to adjust the shock.

Specialized Epic EVO weight

With our test bike being the all-singing and all-dancing S-Works model, it’s about as trick as you can possibly get. Since nearly everything is made from carbon fibre, it is of course exceedingly light – 9.95kg on our scales with the tyres setup tubeless. That’s barely half a kilo more than the S-Works Epic, but on this bike you’re getting a 120mm fork and a dropper post.

Helping on the gram front, the S-Works Epic EVO gets the new Roval Control SL wheels. These feature DT Swiss 180 hub internals, 24 spokes front and rear, along with a new carbon fibre rim profile that measures 29mm wide internally. You’ll spot an external ridge that runs around the rim circumference, which is due to the 4mm hookless beads – a technique Roval has employed to boost impact strength and reduce the chance of pinch-flatting. Even with those big rims, the Control SL wheelset is head-scratchingly light – 1,278g on our scales (without valves but with tape). That’s lighter than most road wheels!

  Roval’s new Control SL wheels feature DT Swiss 180 hub internals, with SINC ceramic cartridge bearings and a 54T Ratchet EXP freehub mechanism.   The new rims get 4mm wide ‘FlatTop’ beads, which you can see via a ridge that runs around the outside of the rim.

The gumwall tyres on the EVO are meant to have the same reinforced casing as the tyres on the standard Epic, but they feel flimsier in the hand. I weighed the Ground Control at 783g, and the Fast Trak at 673g, the latter of which is nearly 100g lighter than the Fast Traks that come on the Epic. Odd.

I did manage to put a few nicks into the sidewall of the rear tyre, one of which has been repaired with a Dynaplug. If this were my bike, I’d definitely look at more robust rubber, particularly given how fast and hard this bike is capable of being ridden. The stock tyres are very speedy though. Worth noting is that there’s decent mud clearance in the back – Specialized doesn’t recommend going any wider than 2.3in, but I suspect that’s being conservative.

 
 
 
 
 
 

I did manage to put a few nicks into the sidewall of the rear tyre, one of which has been repaired with a Dynaplug. If this were my bike, I’d definitely look at more robust rubber, particularly given how fast and hard this bike is capable of being ridden.

Pop, rock ‘n’ roll

Straight-up, this bike is just a total barrel of laughs to ride. I’ve honestly never ridden anything that packs this kind of geometry into such a light, tight and short-travel package, and the result is 100% full-gas fun. It’s still an XC bike for sure, but the slackened front end and active suspension gives it a whole lot of attitude.
Both the fork and shock offer a vastly smoother feel compared to the regular Epic, and unlike the old EVO, the suspension is beautifully balanced front and rear.

There’s useful progression too, even with that tiny SIDLuxe shock, which means the EVO has a real poppy vibe about it. If you’re a fan of manuals, boosting imaginary lips and sending the rear wheel out sideways at every conceivable opportunity, consider the EVO the naughty devil on your shoulder.

  If you enjoy getting your wheels off the ground, the Epic EVO will be more than happy to go with you.   The supple suspension and well-balanced geometry keeps the EVO seeking out traction through the turns.

When dancing through technical cross-country singletrack, the EVO is an incredibly easy bike to place. It’s light and whippy, and that makes it plenty willing to change direction. While it may have a longer wheelbase compared to the regular Epic, the shorter stem and dropper post makes it more intuitive to throw about through the turns. Along with the well-damped wheels and sensitive suspension, it offers excellent traction.

The front end feels solid too. The 35mm SID chassis inspires loads of confidence, encouraging you to enter rock gardens with more speed, and for the most part the rear will follow. Ultimately you’ve only got 110mm of travel out back though, and fast, repeat hits will reveal the associated limitations there.

It may be within 10mm of travel of the Stumpjumper ST, but it doesn’t feel as stout as its bigger brother, particularly on bigger impacts. In general, the Epic EVO prefers to skip and glance its way over the chunder rather than ploughing right through it. Approach it as more of a precision instrument rather than a blunt tool though, and you’ll be able to maximise the EVO’s speed and momentum on a wide range of trail types.

  Being so light and whippy, the EVO changes direction willingly.

Racing comfort

Compared to the Epic, the EVO brings a slightly more upright trail-riding position to the party. The effective reach is a little shorter, and the stack is also a touch higher due to the longer fork. We’ve been riding a medium in both bikes, and that’s suited both Mick (178cm) and myself (175cm) well. There are certainly no complaints from our end on frame sizing.

For longer rides, the EVO’s more relaxed riding position and supple suspension makes it a thoroughly comfortable bike to ride. It may not have the stompable efficiency of the Brain-equipped Epic, but it’s actually the bike we would choose to race a 100km marathon or multi-day stage race like the Port to Port. When fatigue starts to kick in on those longer rides or races, it’s an easier bike to ride, particularly when things get technical.

  It doesn’t have the same powerful sprinting platform that the Brain-equipped Epic has, but it’s still an efficient pedalling bike.   The EVO is more about stopping and saying hello to the ‘roos.

The EVO still pedals very well though, even without the Brain. It has slightly more anti-squat than the regular Epic, and providing you stay seated, there isn’t a whole lot of shock movement. As for on-the-fly adjustability, the fork and shock only have two positions – open or locked. The lockout is pretty darn firm, and with both locked out, it’s actually more rigid than the regular Epic.

Worth noting is that the EVO frame is also remote compatible. So if you did find yourself signing up to a few more events on the calendar than you first anticipated, you could always look at adding a remote lockout for the fork and shock. It does feel a bit weird recommending such a thing for a bike with Epic in its name, but it would surely boost this bike’s racing credentials. Add in the adjustable geometry and dual bottle capability, and the EVO presents itself as a compellingly versatile option for the vast majority of XC riders out there.

  You can fit two bottles inside the EVO’s mainframe, and it’s also remote lockout compatible.

Component highs & lows

Specialized has done a stellar job spec’ing out this bike with a well-rounded package that strikes a magic balance between svelte and sendy. In particular, the RockShox suspension is absolutely superb, and is a big step-up over the brand’s previous XC offerings.

The SRAM G2 brakes have also been top-notch, with noticeably more power than the two-piston Level brakes on the Epic. The bite point is nice and solid, and it’s possible to set them up with a shorter lever throw thanks to the adjustable pad contact dial. Given the sort of trouble that you can easily find yourself in aboard the EVO, the added grunt from the G2 brakes is very much welcome.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Given the sort of trouble that you can easily find yourself in aboard the EVO, the added grunt from the G2 brakes is very much welcome.

Like many others, I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the Reverb AXS dropper post. The action is light and responsive, and I love how little thumb force is required to activate the controller, especially compared to the heavy lever throw on the standard Reverb’s hydraulic 1X lever. The post on our test bike did develop a few millimetres of squish towards the end of the test, but that’s now easy to rectify with the Vent Valve tool. It is on the plump side for a dropper – including the remote you’re looking at 672g worth of uppy-downy seatpost.

The finishing kit on the S-Works EVO is otherwise all top quality stuff, including the Power saddle which is super-light (159g) and mighty comfy. I also really like the SWAT Conceal Carry tool that’s stowed inside the fork’s steerer tube, which gives you quick access to a compact multi-tool when you need it.

 
 
 
 
 
 

The finishing kit on the S-Works EVO is otherwise all top quality stuff, including the Power saddle which is super-light (159g) and mighty comfy.

That’s some serious coin! Is it worth it?

This is a question we’ve been pondering on the S-Works Epic and the S-Works Epic EVO, both of which come with a headline-busting sticker price of $20,100 AUD. That’s an incredible number any which way you look at it, especially when we’re not talking about e-MTBs here. And it’s worth pointing out that for the Epic EVO specifically, it also represents a-not-insignificant $5,000 jump over the outgoing model. Ooph!

Ultimately we’re not here to determine a bike’s overall worth – that’s for you, and you only to decide. What we can say though, is that Specialized has certainly made the prices of the cheaper Epic EVO models look a whole lot more appealing. Even the Pro, with its XTR groupset and Fox Factory suspension, looks like comparatively good value at $14,300 AUD. And of course you can still slide your way into EVO-land with the $6,700 Epic EVO Comp.

While we’re on the topic though, we would love to see an alloy model added to the line to help lower the point of entry further. Given that Specialized has had the alloy Epic EVO Comp in its lineup for the past two years, I suspect it won’t be long before we see a metal version of the new EVO.

  While they both have ‘Epic’ in their names, the ride is very different between the two.

Specialized Epic EVO vs Epic

The other question some riders will be asking themselves is whether they should go for the Epic or the Epic EVO. That’s a discussion we’ve gone into some detail in the video review, so be sure to check that out here.

In summary though, it really comes down to how seriously you want to take your racing, and what kind of racing you’re doing. For short-track XCO events, there really is nothing quite like the Epic. With 100mm of travel and its automated lockout system, it’s the purists’ race bike. There’s something thoroughly addictive about the Brain’s strong pedalling platform, and it really does encourage you to attack the trail. That does make it a pretty exhausting bike to ride though, especially if you’re off your game. It’s not as comfortable, and if you’re not riding it with sufficient aggression, you’ll encounter a bumpier and less forgiving ride.

For those of us who don’t wake up with yoga and a cup of celery juice every morning, the EVO is without doubt the more comfortable and more practical option of the two. It may not have the same sprinting-platform that the regular Epic has, but the added comfort comes into its own the longer the ride or event. Add in its superb handling and technical proficiency, and I’d say most riders would make up more time on the descents and technical sections, compared to anything they’d lose on the climbs over the regular Epic.

  With its more conventional suspension design, the Epic EVO is more versatile than the regular Epic.

Flow’s Verdict

By ditching the Brain and pushing the needle on its geometry, Specialized has finally unlocked the potential that was always lurking within the Epic EVO. The suspension is now properly balanced front and rear, offering more comfort, more traction and greater control on technical singletrack.

What’s most impressive about the new Epic EVO is how effectively it blurs the boundaries between XC and trail. It has great high-speed geometry, but it’s still agile, poppy and efficient. It’s very much a speedy XC bike at heart, but one that’s been freed from the shackles of twitchy handling and unforgiving suspension. Not only does that make it a unique proposition amongst all the other XC and marathon race bikes out there, it also makes it a whole load more fun.

To see what things are like on the sharper end of the stick, check out our detailed review of the new race-focussed Epic here. And as always, be sure tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

 

The Epic EVO stands as one of the most fun XC bikes we’ve ever tested. This thing is an absolute hoot!

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BikeRadar gibt 4,5/5 🌟 und meint:

- Raketenschnell wenn man in die Pedale tritt
- viel potenter als der Federweg es vermuten lässt
- Vortrieb ist sehr schnell

Die Minuspunkte lesen sich ähnlich denen von Flow MTB:

- Linienwahl sollte genau sein
- könnte einen griffigeren Hinterreifen vertragen

 

Specialized gave the Epic and Epic EVO a makeover for 2021, stretching both bikes out and lowering and slackening them.

While they may share some design aspects, Specialized has really gone to town on the EVO and as you’ll soon see, it’s more than just a jacked-up cross-country race machine.

Specialized Epic EVO Expert frame and suspension details

The Epic EVO shares the same FACT 11m front triangle as its XC sibling (only the S-Works model uses the fancier FACT 12m carbon) which allows Specialized to tune the ride feel by tweaking the carbon lay-up in a bid to keep the bike feeling the same across all frame sizes.

But it’s all change at the rear, where the EVO sports a different rear end and shock yoke. Travel is increased from 100mm to 110mm and, unlike the Epic, the EVO forgoes the use of the auto-adjusting Brain shock – which places a remote reservoir containing an inertia valve down by the rear drop out, connected via a hydraulic that runs through the shock yoke and down the seatstay.

In a bid to save weight, flex stays are used instead of a Horst-link chainstay pivot, while a RockShox SIDLuxe Select+ rear shock with Specialized’s Rx XC tune controls the 110mm of rear travel.

There’s room for two bottle cages in the front triangle but no SWAT compartment to stash essentials. Cables are routed internally and just behind the bottom bracket, and where the rear triangle meets the front, Specialized has plugged the gap with a thin rubber grommet to help prevent crud build up.

Specialized Epic EVO Expert geometry

The Epic EVO is available in five different sizes, all of which sport 29in wheels. Sizes range from extra-small to extra-large, so most riders should be able to find a frame size that’ll work for them.

The bike’s geometry doesn’t look that far off what we’d expect to see on a trail bike and at the base of the shock is a flip-chip that allows you to alter the geometry, tweaking bottom bracket height by 7mm and the head angle by 0.5 degrees.

My medium bike has a 436mm reach, which isn’t massive but is still longer than the Cannondale’s Scalpel SE, for a little more room to manoeuvre when out of the saddle.

The 66.4-degree head angle helps to create a 730mm front centre, while an effective top tube of 602mm is similar to the Epic EVO’s closest rivals.

With a bottom bracket height of 335mm (with a drop of 36mm) the Epic EVO feels ground-huggingly low. The 74.7-degree seat angle is reasonable for a bike of this type but isn’t as steep as the race-focused Epic or the likes of the Transition Spur – a bike designed with very similar intentions.

The chainstays measure just under 440mm.

 XS S M L XL
Seat angle (degrees) 75.5 74.8 74.5 74.5 74.5
Head angle (degrees) 66.5 66.5 66.5 66.5 66.5
Chainstay (cm) 43.8 43.8 43.8 43.8 43.8
Seat tube (cm) 37.5 40 43 47 52
Top tube (cm) 53.6 56.7 60.2 62.9 65.9
Head tube (cm) 9.5 9.5 10 11.5 13.5
Fork offset (cm) 4.4 4.4 4.4 4.4 4.4
Trail (cm) 11.4 11.4 11.4 11.4 11.4
Bottom bracket drop (cm) 4.6 3.6 3.6 3.6 3.6
Bottom bracket height (cm) 32.6 33.6 33.6 33.6 33.6
Wheelbase (mm) 1,106 1,132 1,164 1,194 1,227
Stack (cm) 60.3 59.3 59.7 61.1 62.9
Reach (cm) 38 40.6 43.6 46 48.5

Specialized Epic EVO Expert specifications

The overall build isn’t quite as fancy as you might expect and it’s almost surprising to see no carbon bar here. Instead, Specialized includes its no-frills alloy option. While there’s nothing wrong with this, you’d be hard-pressed to spot anything but carbon on its similarly-priced rivals.

It’s a similar story with the crankset, which is SRAM’s alloy X1 offering. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this, but considering the asking price and what comes specced on the competition, you’d think the EVO would be dripping with carbon.

And although you get a SRAM X01 Eagle shifter and rear derailleur, both the cassette and chain are from the GX Eagle family. While that’ll not likely change things in terms of performance on the whole, they are both heavier than their X01 equivalents.

The inclusion of SRAM’s four-piston G2 brakes are a subtle nod to the Epic EVO’s potential for rowdiness, but I’d prefer to see a bigger 180mm rotor rather than the 160mm disc specced as standard. And it’s worth noting that these are the RS rather than RSC or Ultimate models found further up the G2 brakes range.

Deep Roval Control Carbon rims with a 25mm internal width, and built onto DT Swiss 350 hubs, are wrapped in own-brand rubber, with a knobbly Ground Control tyre up front and a lower-profile Fast Trak at the rear, both in the GRIPTON compound and Control casing.

A RockShox SID Select+ fork sits up front rather than the Ultimate found on the cheaper Transition Spur X01 that I tested this bike alongside, but it’s no bad thing. While you don’t get the top-end, superlight Charger Race Day damper, the Charger 2 RL is still a smooth operator and does a fine job of controlling the 120mm of travel.

The real plus is that the Select+ uses a regular rebound adjuster rather than the fiddlier 2.5mm Allen key system of the pricier fork. You will still need a 2.5mm Allen key to alter the rebound damping on the SIDLuxe shock, though.

Pack shot of the Specialized Epic EVO Expert full suspension mountain bike
 

Specialized gave the Epic and Epic EVO a makeover for 2021, stretching both bikes out, and lowering and slackening them.

Steve Behr / Immediate Media

Specialized Epic EVO Expert ride impressions

In a bid to get the measure of the Epic EVO Expert, I rode it on a variety of terrain in different conditions. This included laps of technical, root-riddled singletrack where the climbs were steep and awkward, and descents rough and hard to maintain momentum on.

As these bikes are designed to be good all-rounders, I also ensured I rattled out some trail centre laps on established (read rough and worn) trails as well as longer, high-mileage rides where long stretches of tarmac road interrupt the off-road shenanigans.

It was also important to try to find the limits of the bike, so I ventured onto more technical trails normally reserved for longer travel trail bikes, just to see what the Epic EVO Expert could handle.

I set the fork and shock’s sag and rebound damping to suit my requirements and never felt the need to alter the bike during testing.

Specialized Epic EVO Expert climbing performance

Press on the pedals and the Epic EVO instantly feels fast, efficient and racy. It surges forward like an e-MTB in turbo mode, with every ounce of the energy you put in being spat out the rear tyre.

On the climbs, as your cadence slows and you mash at the pedals, the Epic EVO sits into the initial part of its travel but doesn’t hunker down in quite the same way as the Scalpel, and feels more stable and better supported, especially when you’re standing up.

That means, despite only having a very slightly steeper effective seat angle due to the way in which the rear end remains higher in its travel, the Epic EVO feels like it sits you in a more comfortable, efficient position on the bike from which to tackle the climbs.

Even on steeper pitches, I never struggled with the front end lightening up or wandering. Instead, I was left to sit and spin up the climbs. It was only on particularly technical hills in wet weather that the Epic EVO came unstuck and that was more down to a lack of traction from the rear tyre than anything else.

And, if you do feel the need to get up out of the saddle and sprint, the Epic EVO feels efficient, taut and muscular. Providing you can get enough rear-wheel traction, the power transfer from the pedals to the rear tyre’s contact feels incredibly direct.

Specialized Epic EVO Expert descending performance

While the Epic EVO may tout its cross-country roots on the climbs, its manner when pointed downhill is really quite astounding.

It may not boast the most stretched-out geometry (unlike the Nukeproof Reactor ST and Transition Spur) but it nevertheless still manages to feel reassuringly surefooted and confident as the trail becomes more demanding.

Point it down a mellow flow or jump trail and it’ll swoop and carve its way with far more bravado than the 110mm of rear-wheel travel might suggest.

Cyclist in red top riding the Specialized Epic EVO Expert full suspension mountain bike through woodland
 

It surges forward like an e-MTB in turbo mode, with all the energy you put in spat out the rear tyre.

Steve Behr / Immediate Media

Generating speed comes easily thanks to the solid feel through the frame, meaning pumping through undulations or down the backsides of jumps really gets the Epic EVO firing forward down the trail. And it’ll hang onto that momentum well too, providing you’re smart with your line choices.

The low-slung bottom bracket boosts confidence further and will have you exploring the limitations of the tyre tread as you bank the bike over from one turn to the next. And while the front Ground Control tyre isn’t bad, I’d prefer something even more aggressive.

At the rear, while the Fast Trak rolls easily, it’s not the best under braking when conditions are damp, so you’ll need to be careful with how much pressure you apply through the G2 brakes. Get too heavy-handed with the rear brake and it doesn’t take much to get the rear tyre snaking across the trail.

Tackling more engaging trails, the Epic EVO feels incredibly capable, but it’s best ridden in a calculated, precise way. While it has a little less travel than some and a more efficient than forgiving feeling through the back end of the bike, it’s seriously impressive just how fast it’ll cover ground.

But there’s no doubt that it has a narrower margin for error when compared to both the Nukeproof Reactor ST and sprightly Transition Spur, both of which are more formidable on the descents.

This means careful line choice is key to really unlock the Epic EVO’s potential. Get too wild or ragged when hitting the really rough stuff and its momentum can quickly get stifled. Pick your route more carefully and you’ll be rewarded with masses of pace and a proper grin-inducing ride.

Overall, if you take a look at the price and the spec sheet, the Epic EVO can fall short in some areas for value compared to its closest rivals, but thankfully none of this detracts from just how capable, fun and fast it is on the trail.

If you’re looking for a bike to cover ground quickly but still be masses of fun on the descents, the Epic EVO is definitely worth considering.

 

Specialized Epic EVO Expert bottom line

The Epic EVO Expert is far more capable than its rear-wheel travel figure might suggest. It’s sprightly and energetic and feels rapid on the climbs or when trucking along mellower trails.

Pointed downhill, it’s surprisingly surefooted and confident, carrying speed well through tougher terrain than you’d expect to be able to ride on a bike with so much cross-country DNA.

When it comes to value, the Epic EVO Expert may be outshined by its closest competitors, but on the trail, it manages to deliver far beyond your expectations.

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Guy Kesteven von Bikeperfect sagt über das Epic Evo mit 4,5/5 :

Extrem leicht für diese Kategorie und steifer sowie flacher um schneller hoch und herunter zu kommen. Das neue Epic Evo ist ein schnelles und spaßiges XC/Trail Bike, wenn Du den extra Reach nicht willst.

Minuspunkte:
- langes Sitzrohr beeinträchtigend
- Hebel treffen das Oberrohr
- langsamer Freilaufkontaktpunkt
- Comp Version hat eine bessere Preis/Leistung
- kein SWAT Fach

When Specialized launched its new Epic race bike for the Olympics that never happened it dropped a trail-focused Evo version at the same time. If you’re okay with a moderate reach this mix of super-light XC speed with trail-ready geometry and componentry is an absolute blast for flat out predatory play and tougher, longer races.

Design and geometry

The carbon mainframe is shared with the Epic race bike, but by adding a 120mm stroke fork, the head angle is tipped back to a stable and confident 66.5-degrees. Bringing the nose up also reduces the reach by 10mm but 460mm on a large is still relatively long for an XC bike. The suspension system is the same as the Epic, using an under the top tube shock position, with a direct mount driver link and small rocker link on the seat tube connecting to a flex stay rear end. The main pivot position that's level with the chain and directly over the BB axle is the same, too. What’s different is there’s no Brain shock sensing inertia valve chamber behind the rear axle and no pipe joining that to the rear shock. Even though the current Brain is the neatest and lightest version that Specialized has made in nearly twenty years of Epic development, that still adds 200g compared to the non Brain Evo. 

   

That means the Evo is the lightest full-suspension frame Specialized has ever made and at 1659g with shock and other hardware for the FACT 12m carbon S-Works version it’s one of the lightest XC frames anyone has ever made. You can only buy the S-Works as a frame in the UK though and the bike we’re testing here (and the entry-level Epic Evo Comp) uses a more affordable FACT 11m carbon composite and a carbon - not alloy - shock link. That still only adds 98g of weight though so it’s still a very light frame. Every frame size gets a different composite lay-up schedule to reflect the likely rider weight so that lighter riders get the same vibe as heavier ones. 

 

Specialized hasn’t skimped on practicality either. The bottom bracket is threaded for easy removal and replacement, there’s chunky anti-chain slap protection on the chainstay and even a rubber rock skirt behind the main pivot. Cabling is fully internal with rubber insert grommets on the head tube offside. The rear mech hangs off SRAM’s new UDH (Universal Derailleur Hanger) for easy spares sourcing and there’s room for a seat tube bottle as well as upper and lower downtube bottle mounts on all but the small size frame. The superlight, super-thin tube walls mean there’s no SWAT internal storage but you do get a small ‘EMT’ Allen key tool that slides into a holster on the back of the included bottle cage.

Despite the slackened angles, the seat tube is still at 74.5-degrees and the BB height is 335mm with a chainstay length of 438mm. If you want to go half a degree steeper and 6mm taller there’s a flippable chip on the shock mount which literally takes a couple of minutes to switch.

There’s still enough tire clearance for a dirty and/or knobbly 2.4in rear tire, too.

The only major frustration is that the very tall seat tube - the large has a 470mm height whereas an S4 (effectively large) 130mm travel Stumpjumper has a 425mm tube length - makes it awkward to size up to gain extra reach (XL has a 480mm reach) without cutting significantly into useful seatpost stroke (XL has a 520mm seat tube).

 

Components and build 

While the frame is totally new, the component selection has only changed slightly from last year's Epic Evo but it was already a good balance of enhanced control while adding as little weight as possible. 

First up Specialized deserves credit for fully committing to a trail style with the suspension control. Rather than going from Brain ‘auto lockout’ to a remote control lockout set up as you might expect, Specialized have gone straight to manual. You get a low-speed compression lever on top of the fork’s Charger damper, while the rear shock just has a two-position - essentially on and off - compression lever. That might not agree with everyone, but it keeps things very light. Specialized has also worked with RockShox to put a slightly firmer tune into both the SID Select+ front fork and the SID Luxe Select+ rear shock which gets an ‘RX XC’ tag as a result.  The fork is also the 35mm legged, 120mm travel version, not the 32mm legged 100mm version of the pure race bike, but it’s still a lot lighter than the Fox 34 of last year’s bike.

Specialized Epic Evo Expert

The flat 750mm bar puts the rider in an aggressive yet controlling position (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

A 750mm flat bar sits on top of the fork with a mid-length 60mm stem and you get G2 four-pot brakes not the lighter but less powerful Level brakes. You sit on an X-Fusion dropper post (125mm stroke on smaller bikes but a trail length of 150mm on the larger sizes). The short-nose Power Sport saddle is a great place to lay the power and traction down from, too.

With such a light bike we’d argue that a 34T chainring would be more suitable for the amount of speed it can easily generate. You’ll be going some before you spin out a 32x10 top though and the 32x50 will be gratefully received by most mortals when they’re hours into some evil marathon event. There’s definitely significant weight to be saved by switching out the carbon crank in the future too. You get carbon-rimmed wheels as standard though with a 23mm internal width that suits the 2.3in tires fine. A switch to the Control (previous bikes had reinforced GRID) casing version of the Fast Trak semi-slick at the rear brightens up acceleration. The DT Swiss 350 hubs are still slow to engage but they get the legendarily reliable Star Ratchet freehub mechanism, rather than the conventional three-pawl guts of the 370 hubs on last year’s bike. The valves to turn the wheels tubeless are included too and Specialized also includes a bottle cage with its EMT mini tool clipped onto the back as a nod towards bag-free SWAT riding.

The result is that while the price goes up by £1500 compared to last year's Epic Evo Expert Carbon, each of those pounds buys you very nearly a gram of saved weight. That makes it remarkably competitive with some fully race-focused, carbon everything bikes with a much bigger price tag. The Epic Evo Comp gets the same frame and almost identical spec apart from SLX gears and alloy wheels with skin wall tires for £4500 too making it an absolute winner. 

Image 1 of 3

Specialized Epic Evo Expert

The Roval wheels use DT Swiss 350 hubs which, although reliable, don't offer quick engagement (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Ride, handling and performance 

The overriding impression of the previous Epic Evo was a bike where the potential of the trail componentry was being held back by its geometry, frame stiffness and the Brain shock. Despite being 1.5kg lighter, the new bike is obviously, immediately and very welcomely tighter through the turns, carving across off-camber sections and when you’re wrenching on the bars trying to get every last watt of power into the trail. Interestingly ridden back to back with the longer, but heavier (700g) framed Stumpjumper with Fox 34 fork the Epic Evo consistently felt the sharper, more precise bike.

The suspension is on point for making the most of the precision too. The SID is a seriously precise fork for its weight so more than up to pushing the slack head angle as hard as the medium grip front tire will allow. While Specialized always likes to keep their baseline kinematic pretty neutral, the SID Luxe rear shock tune creates a tight, efficient feel to the bike. That meant that while we actually started off the shock at 20% sag (because it’s generally what we do with A/ race bikes and B/ neutral four-bar bikes to make them feel sporty) we soon dropped to 30% sag to get the right progression. 

As long as you’re an average weight, the default spring rate and damper tune is spot on from the box too, with only a slight tweak of the rebound needed before we just got on with thrashing the bike up, down and along as many trails as we could. It is worth noting that the rebound on the rear shock uses a hex key dial rather than an external knob though and it’s not a size that’s on the EMT tool, so you’ll need to take an extra for tweaking until you’re happy.

Specialized Epic Evo Expert

The beefer 120mm SID is a no-brainer both for internals and spec choice (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Interestingly the stiffer frame and firmer, fixed tune still means the rear wheel actually clatters and hangs up slightly more through extended rough sections than the old, ‘compliant’ chassis Epic Evo if you ran it with minimal ‘Brain fade’. Obviously, there are none of the clunks as it toggles an inertia valve on and off though. In contrast, what’s particularly pleasing from a trail-traction and long day fatigue point of view is that both ends still have a top note of smooth ‘bubbling’ responsiveness that really boosts connectivity and a playful feel.

It’s that rare combination of seriously low weight, precision and playfulness that characterizes every ride we took the Epic on as well. Whether it was twisting the knife on tempo climbs, punching up technical steeps, blasting out of every corner on swerving singletrack without having to grab the brakes into the next turn or just flat out hunting full fat trail bikes, the Epic Evo is just flat out fun. Even if you’re heading out for a marathon mission and rationing your effort, you’ll still get more speed for each watt than most bikes and the handling and suspension control to keep you safe when you’re wired at the end of the day.

While the length will feel generous for those coming off an older XC bike it is shorter than the cutting edge bikes in this category like the Mondraker F-Podium, NS Synonym and Transition Spur. That does make it feel less stable at speed or in steeper sections, although the tracking accuracy is noticeably better. What’s slightly frustrating is that if they’d given it a shorter seat tube then it would have been easy just to upsize on the frame and get that reach as well as the extra stiffness. Then again Specialized would probably suggest that riders wanting a more progressive trail feel should look at the new lightened and shortened travel Stumpjumper.

There’s also another clearance issue in that the short head tube and flat bar mean that even with all the headset spacers still under the stem the shifter or dropper lever will hit the top tube if you jackknife in a crash. A new bar will obviously lift the riding position, too, so it won’t feel as predatory when you’re on the rivet which would be a shame on such a born hunter.

Specialized Epic Evo Expert

The low front end results in clearance issues between the controls and top tube (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

Extremely light for its powerfully, aggressive performance and a lot more confidence in dealing with the speed it so easily generates, the Epic Evo is a standout bike at the racier end of the ever-growing ‘downcountry’ category. It’s easily light enough to be competitive on increasingly technical XC circuits, too. More than that it’s ready to go right away with a really well-chosen spec and suspension set up that’s ideal for its intended use.  The Comp version represents an even better value too (we’d likely give that a 5 score). The medium reach won’t be an issue for most riders it’ll appeal too either, but if it were easier to get extra reach, we’d be doing everything we could not to send this bike back to Specialized. 

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Eine meiner Lieblingsseiten: the Loam Wolf.

Specialized-epic-evo-12.jpg

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 Epic Evo S-Works Review Side shot
 
 
 

THE LAB
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.

  • Specialized Epic Evo S-Works rear tire
  • Specialized Epic Evo S-Works MTB seat
  • Specialized Epic Evo S-Works spokes and wheel
  • Specialized Epic Evo S-Works front suspension
  • Specialized Epic Evo S-Works handlebars
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 
 
 
 
Specialized Epic Evo S-Works rider in the air
 
 
 
 

THE DIRT
Evolving from a purebred XC race bike, you would expect the Epic Evo to climb well. But it is more than impressive on the way up the hill. Every pedal stroke provides direct acceleration. When coupled with the featherweight build, the Epic Evo flies up climbs. I found myself mashing gears two or three rings down the cassette from where I normally ride with similar effort and heart rate compared to other trail bikes. One of the most telling evaluations was when I handed the bike over to a buddy for a small section of the climb; he said, “Why aren’t we all riding these bikes?” It is truly amazing how fast and agile the Epic Evo is on the way up. We had another early sample XC-trail bike in the test stable that was an absolute rocket and I bested my climb time on that and every other bike by 6 minutes on a 60-minute climb.

Tight switchbacks are handled with ease thanks to the steeper head tube and comfortable seat tube angle. We never found the bike wandering on climbs and out of the saddle efforts are rewarded with quick spin up and savage acceleration. We had to thank the fast rolling tires and ultralight wheels that also add up to making us feel like a young Ned Overend. Shoot, even an old Ned Overend would kick our butts uphill, who are we kidding.

Rider fish tailing on the Specialized Epic Evo S-Works
 
 
 

Despite the bike’s insane capabilities going up, we have a sordid history with descending on XC machines, with several broken bones, wheels and tires to support our follies. The Epic Evo differs from the race-bred Epic in that it sets the rider up to not have walk the tight rope between speed and carnage. The lower and slacker geometry and 120mm Rock Shox Sid fork provides a stable and confident position which led to more than a few PRs on our descents. The new SID fork and rear shock squeeze every bit of performance out of the bike and impressed our testers with front end rigidity in corners and rough sections of trail that we didn’t think a 22-pound XC could offer.

The quick rolling tires are definitely there to provide for quicker ups than downs and once the trails started to dry out, the front tire was searching for traction and left us feeling a bit nervous about dipping the bike hard into loose corners. The rear broke free at any hint of rear brake or overzealous front-end weighting but tires are a pretty region and rider specific complaint.

 
 
 
 
MTB rider on the Specialized Epic Evo S-Works
 
 
 
 

The Wolf’s Last Word

If you search out the longest backcountry trails or like to get to the top of your local spot at record time, you may want to take the Epic Evo S-Works for a spin. While it can get out of shape on bigger lines, we could just hop it over to a better line if needed. We have definitely come full circle on cross country bikes and will be riding the Epic Evo until they pry it from our fingerless gloved grasp. It is just as fast uphill as it is down and redefines what a XC bike can be.

Specialized has done a really good job of taking one bike and making it equally competitive for two different types of riders. Whether you’re a full-blown lycra-wearing XC racer counting grams on your water bottle cages before racing the Epic Evo S-Works, or a high-level trail rider who wants the tool to get him up the hill with the fastest but has a bit more travel for playing with some chunky lines on the way down, the new Specialized Epic and Epic Evo are worth a look. They are both bikes designed to find every last bit of speed on the trail, they just look for that speed in slightly different places.

Price: $11,525
Website: Specialized.com

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