The new Epic: an even-faster cross-country race bike but now also so much more
By James Huang in Camp Tamarancho, California
The 2009 Specialized Epic has finally been treated to the full-blown revamp that the company gave its longer-travel Stumpjumper and Enduro brethren over the past couple of years and it's been well worth our wait. As expected, this new version is substantially lighter and faster-feeling than its predecessor but after three days of thrashing this latest iteration around Camp Tamarancho in Marin County, California, it also seems far more capable, too.
Lying at the heart of this newfound ability is an all-new carbon frame and shock that Specialized says is 330g (0.73lb) lighter than the '08 model. The new seat stays and asymmetrical chain stays are now carbon fiber as well and while the upper link has reverted back to forged aluminum construction, its newly minimal dimensions drop its weight to a scant 40g. Claimed weight is now just 2.04kg (4.5lb) for a medium frame and rear shock; other componentry upgrades means a complete medium-sized bike in top-end trim now posts a truly feathery 9.65kg (21.27lb) figure without pedals. Yowsa.
The rear end retains a familiar four-bar layout but the new 'mini Brain' rear shock has been moved to a more centralized location beneath the top tube. According to Specialized, this supposedly eliminates the occasional off-center loading the old 'sidewinder' layout occasionally suffered on harder impacts. The compression damping circuit has been shifted completely to the axle-located remote unit, too, leaving a far smaller bit up front that still leaves enough room for a large-sized water bottle in the main triangle.
As with the Enduro and Stumpjumper, the front derailleur mounts directly to the swingarm via Specialized's DMD (Direct Mount Derailleur) setup.