By James Huang
Christophe Sauser (Switzerland) won his second world title this past weekend aboard an all-new version of Specialized's S-Works Epic. As we predicted a while back, the new model is fitted with a number of features introduced on the company's Stumpjumper trail bike last year and shaves a substantial amount of weight in the process. Thanks to some excellent photo work from Cyclingnews editor Sue George, contributor Rob Jones and our friends at Czech web site www.mtbs.cz, we now finally have some quality images of the new steed to show you, too.
What we know
Specialized claims the new frameset lops a substantial 700g (1.54lb) from the '08 model and, not surprisingly, much of the credit falls on the more widespread use of carbon fiber. Unlike previous carbon Epic frames which reserves the material only for the front triangle and upper link, both the chain stay and seat stay assemblies on the '09 model are now made of carbon fiber, too.
Carbon is also used in the one-piece crown and steerer of the all-new Specialized Futureshock E100 100mm-travel single-crown fork. As expected, Specialized has used a tapered-and-oversized 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" steerer tube to reduce the weight while simultaneously adding rigidity to the system. Naturally, a terrain-sensing Brain inertia valve is included here as well, meaning that Sauser no longer has to rely on the handlebar-mounted remote manual lockout of his familiar DT Swiss front end.
Sauser's frame retains the familiar four-bar suspension layout but the pivot locations have been modified and now more closely resemble those of a MacPherson strut design. The rear shock has moved to a more conventional location below the top tube and the inertia valve-containing Brain unit is mounted at the rear axle and connected to the shock via a short length of hydraulic hose. A short link (we're not sure of the material but the surface finish suggests it isn't carbon) mounted on the seat tube adds some torsional and lateral stability out back.