The Epic has always been a rocket ship on dirt. For many years, Epic has been the choice for some of the world’s best and fastest racers. Ned Overend, Christoff Sauser, and others have piloted Epics to wins all over the world! And the Epic has been bringing that same world-class speed to everyday riders like us, helping us win local race series and besting our best time on our favorite trails.
For 2018, Specialized has completely redesigned the Epic to make it even faster!
First, the new Epic is dramatically lighter. The S-Works level Epic drops 345 grams (12.2 ounces) off of previous versions while the Comp level drops 525 grams (18.5 ounces)! Where does this weight reduction come from? Mostly, it comes from the redesigned rear suspension linkage.
If you’re familiar with Specialized full suspension bikes, you are familiar with the 4 bar, Horst Link suspension system called FSR. For the 2018 Epic, Specialized has done away with FSR in exchange for a single pivot system. Dropping all of those parts and bearings and using an all-carbon rear triangle to take advantage of the flex in the seatstays, Specialized was able to get all of the travel that they need for a performance XC bike and still drop a noticeable amount of weight. Fans of FSR in other bikes, don’t worry. It’s not going away entirely, it’s just being dropped from the Epic where low weight is a priority.
Another huge improvement to the Epic for 2018 is the use of Rider First Engineering for all carbon models. This means that, for every frame size, each tube size & carbon layup is specifically selected with the individually sized rider in mind. A rider who is 6’2” is going to put different forces on a bike than a rider who is 5’2”. Rider First Engineering accounts for these differences and each frame size is perfectly tailored to the riders who will be using them.
The result? The optimal balance of rigidity, weight, and responsiveness across every frame size. That means whether you’re riding a 61cm or a 49cm, you’re going to experience the world’s best ride, tailored specifically to you!
Because Cross Country (XC) racing is evolving, Specialized has made some big changes to the frame geometry of the Epic. XC race courses and singletrack, in general, are getting bigger. More drops, more logs, more descents all require a more capable bike. To achieve this, the new Epic has a longer top tube and slacker headtube angle than earlier versions of the Epic to get the rider back over the rear wheel more and to set the rider into the bike more than previous XC bikes. To keep the handling of the Epic consistent to what riders demand out of an XC bike, Specialized reduced the rake on the fork. This gives us a bike that can descend with confidence and still rip through the corners. With the added use of Boost spacing for the rear wheel you have a stronger, stiffer wheel with better shifting efficiency.
Speaking of frames, new for 2018 is a radical change in how Specialized builds their Women’s bikes. Through their work with the bike fitting company Retül, Specialized realized that special geometry for Women’s bikes is unnecessary. So, going forward, Specialized Women’s bikes (starting with Tarmac, Diverge, Epic, and Epic Hardtail) will have the exact same geometry as the Men’s version but will feature Women’s specific touch points at the saddle, grips, and handlebars.
The final, big improvement to the Epic for 2018 is the completely redesigned BRAIN. Epic has had a BRAIN for many years but for 2018, it is smaller, lighter and more efficient. By placing it right at the rear axle and providing a straighter path for the hose that attaches the brain to the shock, it can respond faster than previous alignments.
So, if you are looking for a fast, fun, capable cross-country mountain bike, it doesn’t get much better and faster than Epic! Check out the bike here, then roll into your closest Erik’s and take one for a test ride today!
A special thanks to Rob Stepaniak, our Sales Trainer, for writing this article.