TESTED: Specialized Epic EVO Expert

The Epic EVO takes the recipe for an XC race bike and adds some secret sauce


To compete with Trek’s new Supercaliber in the hardtail-that-isn’t-a-hardtail XC race, Specialized recently launched the Epic World Cup, with a similar rear suspension design to the Supercaliber. Great; but just like the Top Fuel, we think the existing Epic EVO is a far better prospect for South African conditions. 

This bike is absolutely dialled. It feels like a coiled spring, or a tiger in a cage. It has all the XC speed of the 100mm Epic, but with 10mm of extra suspension travel at the rear and a 120mm fork. Oh yes, and a dropper post. (Did we mention that we’re fans of the dropper post?)

The extra travel and the dropper make the EVO a formidable trail bike – just, a really, really fast one. And there’s still space in the front triangle for two bottles and a Specialized SWAT case, if you elect to install one. 

With the Epic World Cup looking to make waves when it lands on our shores, like Trek, Specialized have been discounting their ‘older’ models: this Epic EVO Expert has had R10k docked off its original price. And while it’s still well inside premium territory, you do get a good spec for your bucks: RockShox SID Select+ suspension; a (mostly) SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain and G2 RS 4-piston brakes; and gloriously bling Roval Control wheels with DT Swiss 350 hubs. 

Bicycling SA puts the the Specialized Epic EVO Expert to the test.

What’s it like to ride?

Like the Trek Top Fuel, the Epic EVO takes the recipe for an XC race bike and adds some secret sauce. With the extra suspension travel and dropper post – and the combination of a fast-rolling Fast Trak tyre on the back and a grippy Ground Control in the front – you feel emboldened to ride faster than your orthopaedic surgeon would recommend. 

Specialized put years of R&D into the Epic platform, and it shows. There’s nothing extreme when you look at the geometry numbers, but that’s the point: everything feels balanced and harmonious, whether you’re tackling a sketchy climb or tail-whipping a tabletop jump. I particularly enjoyed how slack they’ve gone with the head-tube angle: 66.5° combined with 120mm of fork travel gives you all the bravery juice you need up front. The EVO simply ate up everything I could throw at it. 

Like the Top Fuel, the stock handlebar has a 35mm bore, which is what you’d normally see on an enduro rig. It gives you extra stiffness and control where you need it most, at the expense of only a few grams. 

Speaking of weight… At 12.3kg on our scale, with pedals, the Epic EVO Expert is surprisingly svelte for such a capable bike. Obviously the 100mm Epic without a dropper would be even lighter, as would the Epic World Cup; but sometimes it’s important to remember that we’re not all Matt Beers, and a slightly heavier bike with some extra squish actually makes more sense – especially if you’re thinking of taking on something really long and gruelling, like the Absa Cape Epic. You’ll be far more comfortable on the EVO, and you’ll hardly notice the compromise in speed.

In summary

The Epic EVO Expert has everything you want in a South African XC/marathon bike. It’s lightweight and plush, supremely capable downhill, and it can take two bottles in the front triangle. It’s fast when you want it to be fast, and comfortable when you want to chill. And that DT Swiss freehub… People will know you’re on a Specialized when you cruise past them. 


Great wheels

Dropper post  

Premium suspension


Specialized Epic EVO Expert SPEC

Frame: Specialized carbon; 110mm travel 

Fork: RockShox SID Select+ 120mm 

Shock: RockShox SID LUXE Select+

Drivetrain: SRAM X1 32t chainring; SRAM X01 Eagle derailleur and shifter; Eagle 10-52t cassette (12-speed)

Brakes: SRAM G2 RS

Wheels: Roval Control carbon rims; DT Swiss hubs 

Tyres: Specialized Fast Trak/Ground Control 29×2.35” 

Cockpit: Specialized alloy riser bar (760mm); alloy stem

Seat: Specialized Power Sport saddle; X-Fusion Manic dropper post (100-150mm travel, depending on frame size)

Price: R115 000 | Weight: 12.3kg | specialized.com


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