10 Jul 2018

The Specialized EVO recipe is an oldie, but a goodie - take a regular Specialized model, add some spice. The Epic is the latest model to get that treatment, with a few handy tweaks that should make for a much more versatile machine. Here are our first impressions!

The not-so-minor details

Product

Specialized Epic Expert Carbon EVO

Price

7250

Weight

11800

Positives

A more appropriate Epic for all those times you're not racing.

Negatives

Pricing seems steep.

When we tested the new Specialized S-Works Epic a few months back, we heaped praise on the bike for its confidence and flawless singletrack handling. It really did feel like the ultimate new-school XC race machine, with the geometry to tackle some pretty technical terrain. But, like a lot of race bikes, it was pretty hard on the body in rougher trails, especially with the Brain-equipped fork which we found quite choppy.


We’re not going to go into all the details of the latest Epic here – we’ve done that many times before: check out our First Impressions piece, along with our full review here, and a head-to-head comparison with Giant’s Anthem 29 as well


We like it – this bike makes a lot of sense to us. The addition of a dropper post doesn’t interfere with those remarkably clean lines of the Epic, but it definitely changes this bike’s attitude.

Still, was no mistaking the new Epic’s potential to build up into a pretty fun lightweight trail bike too. A super stiff frame, relatively slack angles and dropper post compatibility all gave us pause for thought, “what if we took an Epic, gave it a regular fork, a dropper post and some chunky rubber…?” It turns out Specialized had exactly that in mind, too.

Sharing the exact same frame as the Epic, the EVO version scores a 120mm FOX 34SC fork, a dropper post, a Ground Control front tyre, and a wider bar. You’ve still got the Brain shock out back, and it still weighs bugger all, so it’s not going to be shy of some serious race action.

The Brain shock is a pretty highly evolved piece of kit now, but we’ve never agreed with this technology’s application in a fork, it makes a lot more sense out back in our opinion.
A 120mm-travel FOX 34, a more aggressive front tyre and a slightly wider bar (750mm vs 720mm) all add up to a more confident front end.

We’ve said it many times before; XC race bikes are great… when you’re racing. With the EVO version, Specialized are clearly trying to broaden the horizons of what is a very capable platform, but without sacrificing too much performance on the racetrack.

It’s perfect timing for this bike to roll into our lives -it falls into the mix alongside the Intense Sniper XC and Yeti SB100, both of which aim to bring a bit of trail bike fun to the racetrack as well – so we’ve got some handy reference points for its performance. We’ll be bringing you a full review of this bike in the coming weeks, so hold the phone.

The flex-stay rear end is very laterally stiff.
The heart of the Epic is found at the rear axle – the Brain.