After stepping off of the uber-bike that was the S Works carbon Stumpy, I was looking for a bit of a different ride, one much more to my interests. You see, as much as I love to drive a Ferrari, I am not really worthy nor do I have a really good use for a bike like that. But, the Epic 29er....now THAT is something I have been very keen to ride and possibly own. This is one bike I would love to have for an extended test as it fits perfectly in the XC/Endurance Racing/Light Trail Bike mode. So, I was very intrigued when I pedaled this one out of the Specialized paddock and headed towards the singletrack of Laguna Seca.
First off, the bike felt slower and heavier than I expected. I was riding the aluminum one as the carbon version will be around later in the year, but still I was surprised to feel that way. But, keep in mind that I just hopped off a 20# bike that was as good a pedaling experience as I have ever had, so that probably was messing with me.
The Brain platform shock is a cool thing, allowing for bob free pedaling and effective bump compliance all in one package. Nic from Specialized set this up for my weight based on sag and set the Brain to be about 3-4 clicks off full on. He also explained that the Epic is tuned more to the firm side compared to the FSR longer travel 29er.
The bike felt very capable on trail, not at all darty or nervous and it seems like it would make a fine light duty trail bike as well as a race bike. It was a tad small for me, even though it was an equivalent size (19") to the S Works hardtail, but stem choice and bars, etc were juuust a bit shorter and closer.
This bike begs to be compared to the JET-9. I have about 3 hours of riding time on a JET-9, once at Bootleg and once on my home trails. I found it to be a bit flexy when pedaled hard at my weight and size, the Epic felt stiffer. The JET felt very responsive to pedaling input though and for some reason, the Epic....well, I am relying on memory and a long time ago in a land far, far away, but I need to ride that Epic some more to give it a fair shake cuz it felt a bit lazy. But, it did ride like a longer travel, slightly more relaxed bike than the JET did. I have to think that I need to spend time with the set-up to get the most out of the bike, just like you would with anything else. I look forward to that day.
"Please don't let me die."
4 years ago