By Luke Webber
The first few UCI World Cup races in Europe usually carry with them a swathe of new bikes and kit but this year's deluge at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California left few surprises. Even so, that doesn't mean that there was nothing of interest to see.
As it turns out, one of the biggest pieces of news didn't even involve anything we saw but rather something that was said (or more specifically, wasn't denied). Given the progression of Specialized's recent mountain bike product development over the past few years, it doesn't take a genius to figure that the short-travel Epic cross country race platform is next in line for a redesign and what that change might include.
Swiss powerhouse Christoph Sauser was rightfully coy when we asked him about the possibility of an all new Epic but the smile was arguably all we needed to know. As expected, the new bike is expected to use the same basic suspension architecture as the current Stumpjumper design with its rocker link and centrally located shock (current Epic shocks are placed on the non-driveside seat stay). Also as we guessed, the bike will probably come with Specialized's own house-brand fork which is sure to include a more firmly tuned version of the Brain inertia valve technology found on the Stumpjumper. We'll have to wait until next month to see if these 'rumors' hold true but we'd be awfully surprised if they don't.
Development work and race testing was also in progress in the Trek/Gary Fisher/Bontrager stable. We've already given you a sneak peak at the new aluminum hardtails Gary Fisher is working on for '09 but much is underway with Bontrager's rolling stock, too. Some new tyres are currently making the test rounds to accompany the Dry X released last winter and a new wheelset is also rumoured to launch soon. According to our information, these will be substantially lighter than the current Race X Lite and might incorporate one of two advances - either the carbon rim we've seen at some races or upgraded hubs based on the DT Swiss 190 Ceramic model. We also don't rule out the possibility that we'll see both but we'll keep you posted.
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