Specialized's cross country full susser, the Epic has seen a hefty overhaul for 2021 and we've got an Epic Comp Carbon here for testing. It's had a lick of the long, low, and slack treatment, and the Epic's unique Brain system has had quite the update too. Read on for all of the details.
Fresh in for testing is the Specialized Epic in its Comp build. The Comp model sits one above the base level Epic EVO, costing £4,500.
Unlike the Epic EVO, our Comp build doesn't come with a dropper post but it does get that clever Brain suspension tech that the EVO models lack.
Brain is a special unit found by the rear dropout that can detect the difference between pedaling force and bump force using an inertia valve that blocks oil flow, locking the shock on smooth terrain. That valve then opens instantaneously once it detects a bump, opening the shock.
The idea of it is to provide a solid, hardtail-esque pedaling platform and once it detects bumps in the trail, it opens the shock up to get to work. So it's kind of like an automatic suspension lock-out.
For this year's bikes the Brain platform gets a firmer tune with improved damper adjustability. It's also be redesigned to calm down the oil flow which should offer a more consistent feel. Finally, the new Brain allows for the repositioning of the brake caliper mount which has enabled Specialized to build in more vertical flex in the chainstay.
The Epic gets an all new frame made from the brands FACT 11m carbon which is claimed to be 15% stiffer than the previous model. For the most part, the front triangle has remained the same to provide a balanced ride feel but the carbon layup and tube shape have seen some tweaks to shed a few more grams.
As for suspension travel, there's 100mm of squish at each end.
The Epic has also gotten a geometry tweak for this iteration. The medium frame we have on test comes with a 445mm reach, a 67.5° head angle, a 75.5° seat tube angle, and finally, a 433mm chainstay.
With that, let's move onto what £4,500 will buy you. Of course, there's that carbon frame but handling that 100mm of suspension is a RockShox Reba RL with a Motion Control damper and 42mm offset. Then there's a RockShox-Specialized BRAIN shock with an Rx XC tune, five-position platform adjust, and a rebound adjustment.
Our Comp build comes sorted with a Shimano SLX drivetrain with matching brakes and this bike rolls on Specialized's own alloy tubeless-ready 29" rims that are laced to a Shimano MT400-B hub at the front and an MT510-B hub at the rear. Those come wrapped with a pair of Specialized Fast Trak tyres with the brands' Control casings and GRIPTON compound.
Then, in true Specialized fashion, the bike comes with a bottle cage and an EMT multitool in the box.
Last year we tested the Epic Expert EVO and found it to be great fun and super capable for those who look to cover miles at speed but its geometry and suspension were a bit of an acquired taste.
It'll be interesting to see how the new model stacks up so be sure to keep an eye out on the site for a full review coming soon.
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