HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: The Epic offered our test riders plenty of adjustment when it came to dialing in the fit. We found ourselves dropping the stack height as low as we could for a more aggressive
position. The stock saddle and handlebars were very ergonomic
and were comfortable during long days in the saddle.
Suspension setup: Specialized designed AutoSag to take
the guesswork out of setting the air pressure on your shock. We
inflated the shock, and then, while seated on the bike, opened the
valve to release the excess air. This put us right at 25-percent sag,
which was a good starting point, but we did put additional air in
after a couple of rides. The Brain offers four clicks of adjustment in
the rear. For our first rides, we put it in the firmest setting to get a
feel for the extremes in the range. In the SID fork, we ran 20-per-
cent sag with two bottomless tokens and the Brain Fade in the
middle. The Brain adjustment on the fork has a lot of adjustment
and will give riders more than enough to choose from.
Climbing: On smooth, rolling terrain, the Epic pedaled quickly,
with the Brain keeping the suspension firm and responsive. The
steeper seat angle allowed us to shift our weight forward and
crank hard up steep terrain. The broad gear range gave our test
riders some relief after long grinds. Out of the saddle the Epic was
stiff and responsive, with minimal flex out of the rear triangle.
Descending: Between the slack head angle and shorter offset
on the fork, the Epic could be whipped around, showing off its
trail-friendly side. With the Brain turned off, the Epic could track
with technical terrain even at high speeds. Over technical terrain
our test riders had enough confidence to charge aggressively in
search of KOMs.
The Brain: Specialized initially introduced the Brain back in
2003 as the Holy Grail of suspension technology, and Specialized
TRICKS, TIPS OR UPGRADES?
has continued to use it over the years. With the Brain turned on,
whether one click or all the way in the firmest setting, there is
a pronounced knocking that is felt when the valve opens up on
square-edge hits or transitions from smooth to rough terrain.
Once the valve is open, the system operates smoothly, but closely
spaced impacts create some rear-wheel chatter.
Our test bike came with a quality component spec, especially
considering the price tag. Most of our test riders agreed that a
larger 34-tooth chainring would give them a little more top-end
speed without compromising climbing ability. If you are a serious
racer looking to shed some weight, replacing the alloy handlebars
and seatpost will be a good start and would not break the bank.
So much Brain: The Brain wasn’t only designed for the rear
suspension; Specialized offers this technology in their forks as
well. Our test bike came stock with RockShox SID with Brain
technology that has a massive range of adjustment.
The Epic in
Plush and active: With the Brain turned down, the
RockShox Micro Brain shock was plush and tracked terrain
well. The AutoSag feature did make setup quick and gave
our test riders a good baseline for future adjustments.