SPECIALIZED EPIC PRO
With a proven race- winning pedigree, and a reputation as the ‘go- to’ MTB for the average South African mountain biker, the Specialized Epic needs no introduction.
Previous iterations were infamous for their twitchy tendencies, but the new 2018 Epic sports a tweaked front end that testers found offered noticeably improved handling. James, who spent most of his professional career racing the Epic, said he felt Specialized had taken “an incredible bike, and made it better”.
In line with modern trends, the frame’s front centre is longer, stem lengths are shorter, and the head angle has been slackened by 1.5°, compared to the 2017 Epic ‘ World Cup’, to 69.5°.
In order to maintain steering agility, Specialized have reduced the RockShox SID’s fork offset ( by 9mm) to 42mm; which brings the front wheel closer, enabling our testers to get more of their weight over the front wheel and improve traction. While the handling has seen tangible improvement, you still need to keep your wits about you when the going gets rough, as the Epic’s Brain suspension is not as forgiving as traditional systems.
Speaking of the Brain, its unique design features an automatic lock- out system that keeps both front and rear suspension firm on smooth trails (or roads), until a bump forces the Brain’s inertia valve to disengage, allowing the shock to activate fully. When you’re laying down the law, this eliminates any sense of latency. Simply put, every watt is reserved for forward propulsion.
The Epic’s clinical performance does come at a cost. The ‘clunk’ you feel when the inertia value activates can be unnerving, feeling at first as if you have a flat tyre or loose axle – and as Chris pointed out, that’s something he wouldn’t want to feel every time he cycled. He did add, though, that he got the feeling the Epic is the kind of bike you could use to chase KOMs all day long.
The general consensus confirmed his view: the Epic is an undeniably quick, clinical machine that’s a genuine KOMhunter. What it isn’t, however, is a bike that our testers would want to ride every day.