Bottom bracket height
Top tube length
Head tube angle
Seat tube angle
23. 3 pounds
3. 9” (front)
3. 9” (rear)
RockShox SID World Cup 29 Brain
Fox/Specialized remote Mini-Brain
Specialized Roval Control SL 29 Carbon ( 29”)
Specialized Roval Control SL 29
Specialized S-Works Fast Trak ( 2.0”)
Specialized Body Geometry Phenom Expert
Specialized S-Works XC Carbon, ( 28”)
Shimano XTR hydraulic disc
Shimano Shadow Plus XTR
Specialized S-Works OS Carbon
Shimano XTR 10-cog (11-13-15-17-19-21-24-28- 32-36)
26. 2 feet (per crank rotation)
5.1 feet (per crank rotation)
None (weighed with Shimano XTR Trail)
Coming after you: The Specialized S-Works Epic 29 is fast. Sure,
you can cruise along any singletrack, but the bike comes alive the
harder you push the pace.
SPECIALIZED S-WORKS EPIC 29
Descending: Again, the bike instills confidence. Sure, it
offers less than 4 inches of travel, but on our normal loops,
we never found ourselves wishing for more. More than one
crewer set his personal best on the S-Works Epic 29 while
negotiating familiar loops that included climbs, descents and
everything in between. The S-Works Epic 29 is not going to
hold you back.
Braking: The Shimano XTR brakes are totally misunderstood. With 6-inch rotors, they don’t have the bite that
many brakes offer, but only a highly skilled rider can make
powerful brakes perform as well as these brakes will for any
rider. The Shimano brakes scrub speed without locking your
tires or sending you off your line.
HOW DO WE LIKE THE BRAIN?
The Specialized FSR four-bar linkage rear suspension
remains active under braking (another reason the brakes
work so well), but it is also activated by pedaling-induced
forces. To work around this trait, the suspension needs a
shock with a platform feature—a firmer compression circuit
that can be activated with the throw of a lever.
On Brain-equipped bikes, Specialized relieves the rider of
this responsibility and lets the Brain do the work. An additional feature dubbed Brain Fade allows the rider to dial in
how much “firmness” he wants from the shock.
Even with the Brain Fade in its softest mode, it is not a
totally seamless transition between firm and open modes.
The rear-suspension movement produces a clear threshold
between firm and open, and riders will feel the shock click
open. The same sensation would happen when manually
opening and closing a shock platform lever, but since the
Brain is doing it for you, the transition is more noticeable—
and it happens thousands of times per ride versus less than
a hundred times if you were controlling it manually. It is a
sensation that riders either treasure or find annoying until
they become accustomed to it.
The fork’s Brain Fade did not divide the wrecking crew.
None of us liked the Brain in full force up front. It resulted
in a harsh feel that created hand and wrist soreness on longer rides. Using the Brain Fade, we kept the fork far more
active than the rear suspension.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
There is only one upgrade we can think of—convert
the wheels to tubeless. We bet the bike shop where you
purchase the bike will do it for you.
We did experience one hiccup. The rear hub would
occasionally make a loud click when we applied pressure to
the pedals after coasting or exiting a turn. This is usually
caused by the free hub’s pawls not fully opening. It can lead
to problems over time. If you experience this sensation,
have your Specialized shop take a look and have them
service the hub.
Specialized team riders have already proven the S-Works
Epic 29 is an ultra-competitive endurance racer; we think it
is also the ultimate short-travel trailbike. If you can afford
to spend $10,500, you can treat yourself to a bike that will
leave you wanting for nothing. Specialized has again snaked
their high-end competition, who went with the race-day-only bike design, by offering a bike that is far more versatile
and every bit as competitive.
There are cross-country race bikes (like the World Cup
version of this bike), long-travel trailbikes and downhill
bikes that are better at what they do than the S-Works Epic
29. For those of us who want the ultimate all-round trail
crusader, however (and can spend this much money), the
S-Works Epic 29 takes the place of the 2009 S-Works Epic
29 as the best mountain bike we have ever ridden. ❏