On the first of July this year, amongst a plume of smoke and an array of lazers, Specialized unveiled the brand new Epic. Redesigned from the tyres-up, the 2018 Epic remains as Big Red’s flagship full suspension XC race bike, but almost everything on it has changed from the 2017 model. There’s a brand new frame, a new suspension design, and a custom fork offset that Specialized’s mountain bike design team is particularly keen to shout about.
Our big boss Marky Mark flew over to the US back in May of this year to see the new Epic presented to a select group of journos, where he also had the opportunity to put the flagship SWORKS model to the test on some pretty hectic bike park trails. He came back impressed (and jetlagged), and ever since we’ve been keen to get one into the office to see how the Epic handles our local trails – and more importantly – our local conditions.
Well, Specialized has delivered on its promise, and we now have a shiny 2018 Specialized Epic Expert in the building and ready for a shakedown in preparation for an upcoming group test. Well, that is if we can prize it out of the treasured embrace of the office magpies – just look at this thing shine!
“Race courses have evolved over the past few years. They’re more technical, steeper, and simply more challenging to ride. But instead of quivering in our boots, we saw this as an opportunity to make something special—something that both World Cup athletes and XC riders alike can instantly feel the benefit from. Lightweight carbon frame? Check. Industry-leading suspension technology? Oh yeah. Race-ready build kit? You know it. The Epic Expert is not only ready to shine in races, but it’s also ready to put your closest buddies in the pain cave on the weekends” – From Specialized.
Specialized Epic Expert Features
- Full suspension XC race bike
- 29in wheels
- Specialized FACT 11m carbon fibre frame
- Single pivot suspension design
- RockShox/Specialized Micro Brain rear shock
- 100mm rear travel
- 100mm fork travel
- 69.5° head angle
- 74.75° seat tube angle
- 438mm chainstay length
- Threaded bottom bracket
- Tooled 148x12mm rear thru-axle
- SWAT storage
- Available sizes: Small, Medium, Large, & X-Large
So there have been a load of changes for the 2018 Epic, and Mark did an extremely good job of explaining all of those changes here. The overall shape of the Epic frame remains similar to the previous model, though there have been some substantial improvements and updates to the chassis, including the significant move away from the FSR four-bar suspension design to a lighter and stiffer single pivot setup. Specialized has also updated the Epic to Boost 148x12mm spacing for the rear dropouts, which along with the omission of the chainstay pivot, has helped to increase rear end stiffness while dropping weight. According to Specialized, about 525g has been lobbed off the frame weight over the 2017 model.
Other changes include the move from a 27.2mm diameter seatpost to a more dropper-friendly 30.9mm diameter, as well as a stretching and slackening of the bike’s front centre. The head angle has slackened 1.25° to 69.5°, and the Epic is now running a custom fork offset that sits at 42mm (compared with 51mm on the Epic HT), which Specialized claims offers more stability on the descents without giving up too much nimbleness. There’s also a whole new Brain damper and rear shock, with oil flow now integrated through the custom shock extender, which is said to improve the responsiveness of the Brain system.
But enough of all that mumbo jumbo. Let’s take a good ol’ sticky beak at that stunning frame!
So that’s a bit of a virtual tour of the new Epic Expert we have on test, which will be going up against the Giant Anthem 29er and another bike scheduled for a full suspension XC race bike test in an upcoming issue of Singletrack Magazine. Wanna know more about it? Then the Specialized website is probably a good place to start. Otherwise there’s always Ask Jeeves.
2018 Specialized Epic Expert Specifications
- Frame // FACT 11m Carbon Fibre
- Fork // Custom RockShox SID w/Brain Damper, 42mm Offset, 100mm Travel
- Shock // RockShox/Specialized Micro Brain w/Spike Valve, Autosag
- Hubs // Roval Control, 110x15mm Front & 148x12mm Rear
- Rims // Roval Control, Hookless, 22mm Internal Rim Width, Tubeless Ready
- Tyres // Specialized Fast Trak Gripton 2.3in Front & 2.1in Rear
- Chainset // SRAM Stylo 6K Alloy, 24mm GXP Spindle, 32t X-Sync 2 Eagle Chainring
- Front Mech // N/A
- Rear Mech // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed
- Shifters // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed
- Cassette // SRAM GX Eagle, 10-50t, 12-Speed
- Brakes // SRAM Level TL, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear
- Stem // Specialized XC, 6° Rise, Length: 75mm (Small), 90mm (Medium), 100mm (Large), 110mm (X-Large)
- Bars // Specialized Mini-Rise, 7050 Alloy, 720mm Wide, 10mm Rise
- Grips // Specialized Sip Grip Half-Waffle, Lock-On, Regular (Small & Medium), Thicker (Large & X-Large)
- Seatpost // Specialized Alloy, 30.9mm,
- Saddle // Specialized Body Geometry Phenom Comp, Hollow Cr-Mo Rails, 143mm
- Size Tested // Medium
- Sizes available // Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
- RRP // £4800