If you're a fan of elevated heart rates and mashing out big miles, then the Specialized Epic full-suspension range has probably been on your radar. However, if you want to do all that and get rad and rowdy on the descents, then the beefed-up Epic Evo is for you. Here's a look at the £5,249 Specialized Epic Expert Carbon Evo we've got in for test.
Specialized revamped the Epic cross-country full-suspension range back in 2017 and, in a major change with tradition, moved away from the Horst-link four-bar FSR suspension setup used on all of their full sus machines since the year dot to a lighter single pivot design that uses flex in the stays to deliver 100mm of travel.
While the non-Evo bikes in the range get a matching amount of squidge up at the front, the Evo gets a bump in fork travel to 120mm, courtesy of a Fox 34 Stepcast in GRIP damped Performance trim, which also boasts a beefier chassis than the forks fitted to the regular Epics.
However, the bike is still about being as efficient as possible and has Specialized's 'Brain' inertia valve shock, which keeps the suspension super-stiff until you hit a bump, whereupon it opens up the suspension and you've got access to the full amount of travel.
The frame is, as the name suggests, all carbon fibre save for the rocker links. The compact ManFu rocker is designed to help stiffen up the rear end while controlling the linkage ratio, while the special, extra dinky RockShox Micro Brain shock is driven via an integrated yoke.
The drivetrain on this bike is a mix of SRAM's 12-speed NX and GX Eagle groups, along with uprated Guide RS four-piston brakes clamping still dinky 160mm rotors. They're mounted to DT Swiss hubs and carbon fibre Roval rims with a decent 25mm internal width. The rubber is still pretty damn skimpy, however, with a 2.3" Ground Control at the front and an even-less-knobbly Fast Trak at the back.
The cherry on the Evo spec topping is, of course, a dropper post. The bike gets a 125mm travel (100mm on small frames) X-Fusion Manic that's internally routed and controlled by a rather nice underbar lever and topped by Specialized's own Body Geometry Power Sport saddle.
Geometry-wise, it's still in the fast and pointy camp, despite the longer forks taking the head angle back a full degree to 68.5° and relaxing the seat tube angle to 73.8° at the same time. Reach for this large size bike is 446mm, which sticks it in the moderately new-school camp when it comes to cross-country machines.
We're looking forward to getting out and covering it in mud, snot and tears over the next few weeks, so check back for a full review then.
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