Specialized Epic Elite Quick Review
We were able to get our feet to pedal the Specialized Epic Elite which is a name always thrown around in the XC racing industry. There are currently two frame variants — there’s the standard model while the other has a World Cup build and is the focus of this article. How does it ride on a usual trail route? Join us in this quick review and find out.
Design and Construction
The Epic Elite carries a FACT 9m carbon frame which keeps things light yet tough. It weighs around 11 kilograms which should be easy to ride on even during long and steady climbs.
Being a World Cup edition, the Epic’s frame has shorter chainstays than other MTBs and that’s what you’ll immediately notice when you first look at it. This affects the handling but we’ll get to that in just a bit. Another thing is that it employs a 1x drivetrain rather than having a 2x or 3x setup to, again, keep its weight on the down low, among other things.
The Epic Elite stands on 29-inch Roval aluminum wheels fitted with Specialized’s Control 29×2.0 at the rear and Fast Trak 29×2.0 up front. As their names imply, the rear is aimed towards having more traction, while the front has less rolling resistance.
It is equipped with a RockShox SID Brain fork with 100mm of travel and comes with different softness/hardness settings that you could tweak depending on your liking.
Additionally, a rear 95mm Fox shock also uses Specialized’s patented Brain technology that should automatically determine and adjust its damper settings according to how you’re riding and what kind of terrain you’re on.
The cockpit is headlined by a Specialized aluminum handlebar that stretches 720mm across. This is also where a pair of Shimano SLX brake levers are clamped to.
The handlebar is held by a 100mm stem which some (like me) could find a bit on the lengthy side.
The Epic Elite, in addition to having a mount for a bottle cage, is ready to accommodate Specialized’s SWAT (Storage, Water, Air, Tools) compartment as an add-on.
The cables are routed internally which achieves a neat look and has lesser chances of getting in the way.
Riders should enjoy switching between a wide range of gears using its 11-speed SRAM rear derailleur for taking on inclines and descents with confidence.
Performance + Handling
The Epic Elite jumps willingly as soon as you step on the pedal. We noticed the rear shock, with its Brain technology, doesn’t easily give out suspension when the situation doesn’t really call for it. This results in a bit of a bumpy ride on a rough terrain, but minimizes power loss when pedaling and comes in handy when you’re about to kill that steep climb.
As mentioned earlier, the Epic Elite is made with a World Cup geometry and one of the main difference is a shorter, but tougher, chainstay. This implementation definitely makes for nimbler handling during switchbacks (sharp, tight corners) compared to my personal hardtail with a regular geometry.
Although we’re running on a 1×11 drivetrain, its single 30T chainring gave us ample range for producing the needed torque when riding flat or climbing uphill. We neither felt the shortage nor the need for 2x or 3x as we were already comfortable taking on obstacles with its current setup.
Its 100mm stem, in addition to the lack of a dropper seat post, made things a bit uneasy during really steep descents. I felt like I was too leaned forward and would be thrown off as I go down. Although do take note that this is coming from a biker who’s used to gliding through slopes on really short stems.
The Specialized Epic Elite World Cup is specifically built to be fast and win races, period. Although, we see it geared so much towards that direction that riders who are out for a versatile mountain bike should look somewhere else.
It is agile, jumps off in an instant, and is easy to rip the switchbacks with, although we were not too confident and comfortable on sudden drops as it pretty much dictates a pursuit orientation for its rider.
In light of this, we recommend that you just use your regular full-suspension bike for those times when you just want to go on a relaxing stroll around the trail since whipping out this machine is for occasions that require you to go all out and be one thing — Epic.
The Specialized Epic Elite after a muddy ride on Heroes Trail
The Specialized Epic Elite World Cup is available for purchase at Maximus Athlete’s Shop Cafe for Php235,500.
Specialized Epic Elite Carbon 29 World Cup specs:
Frame: FACT 9m carbon World Cup XC 29 Geo
Rear Shock: FOX/Specialized remote Mini-Brain
Fork: RockShox SID Brain 29, 100mm travel
Handlebar: Specialized 7050 alloy, 720mm
Brakeset: Shimano SLX hydraulic disc
Drivetrain: 1×11 SRAM GX
Wheelset: Specialized Roval aluminum, tubeless
Tires: Specialized Fast Trak (F), Control (R)
What we liked about it:
- Easily pounces from a complete stop
- Nimble handling on switchbacks
- Conqueror of steep climbs
- SLX brake set provides quality stopping power
What we didn’t like:
- Stem too long for our liking
- Felt uneasy to ride on sudden descents
Additonal photos by Vikka Abat