EPIC S-WORKS The Brain isn’t the only feature that takes the burden off the rider to make the correct suspension adjustments
(like throwing a pedal platform lever). Specialized gives
the shock an Autosag feature. Open the Brain Fade,
pump up the shock, sit on the bike, push a valve, and
your sag is magically dialed in. Purists can still set their
sag to their exact preference, but for 90 percent of
riders, Autosag gets you in the sweet spot without trial
Complementing the Mini Brain shock is a
Specialized/RockShox fork with the same Brain
technology and Brain Fade adjustment. The fork doesn’t
have an Autosag feature, but RockShox gradients make
setting sag simple.
WHAT IS S.W.A. T.?
It stands for Storage, Water, Air and Tools, and all
this is integrated into the bike. Although S. W.A. T. components vary depending on the bike model, the S-Works
Epic 29’s S. W.A. T. pack is loaded. A multi-tool tucks
between the shock and top tube. A chain tool and spare
link are hidden beneath the stem cap. A spare tube,
CO2 inflator and a tire tool tuck inside a triangular case
attached to the downtube below one of the two water
bottle cages the frame holds. The S. W.A. T. system
on this bike all but eliminates the need for wearing a
hydration pack on unsupported rides under two hours
where weather won’t be a factor.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
The fit: The S-Works Epic 29, like other recent
Specialized 29ers, feels long and tall in the front. So
much so that we would have been more at home on a
size medium than our large test bike. Sliding the saddle
forward and using a shorter stem got us in the ballpark.
Even with the big feel, the bike has a very livable standover height because of the top tube shape. The flat
handlebar was a good choice. Even a slight riser would
position your hands too high.
Pedaling performance: Unbelievable. You will think
we are joking, but this bike is the closest you can get to
the feel of an electric-assist bike without actually having
electric assist. The slightest amount of energy gets the
S-Works Epic 29 rolling. It is weird. Crewers all noted
that the bike’s speed seemed too great for the amount
of energy they were putting in. And, this bike doesn’t
complain when you drop the hammer; it just responds
with more forward momentum. It is like cheating.
Cornering: The bike turns in response to the brain
wave instructions from your subconscious. Really. It
is so light that you don’t even realize you are making
a conscious decision to turn. It just goes. The tires on
a smaller-diameter wheel probably wouldn’t be a lot of
fun, but on a 29er rim they apply plenty of tire-patch
area to the trail. You are ideally centered on the bike,
so simply lowering your torso for aggressive, high-speed
cornering is all the input needed to set your personal
Climbing: The same notes made under “pedaling
performance” show up again on climbs. The bike just
motors. The only catch is the rider needs to stay seated.
Out-of-the-saddle efforts make the rear wheel too light
and cause it to spin. It is almost like the bike is coaching
you on proper climbing technique. It is saying, “Stay in
the saddle and let me do the work.”
In the rough: There is not a lot of suspension travel
here, but it is quality travel, and the big wheels go a
long way to add confidence and rollability over roots
and rocks. The bike tracks where you point it, and we
never had trouble holding an off-camber section.
Big performance, little package:
The Fox-made shock includes
Specialized’s Autosag feature (red
cap), and the tiny hose headed
south connects the system’s Brain.
Crank it: When Specialized is not
100 percent stoked on the choice
of components available to them,
no problem; they make their own.
The Specialized S-Works OS
Carbon crank is a powerhouse.
Well-matched: The RockShox
SID World Cup 29 Brain is a nice
match for the bike’s rear suspension, giving the rider plenty of
ways to balance the package.
Glove compartment: The triangulated box below the bottle cage
houses a tire tool, tube and CO2
inflator. A multi-tool and chain tool
are hidden elsewhere on the bike.