The American brand has presented the 8th improvement to the Epic lineup, with the S-Works Epic setting you back £12,000


If you’re a fan of world-class cross-country racing, you don’t have to look far to see a Specialized Epic in the mix. For years it’s been regarded as a pretty obvious choice for World Cup racers – even as times moved from hardtails to full-suspension. And last year, the American brand discovered that as the courses became more technical, sponsored riders were reaching for the Epic Evo – its down-country option.

So, the Epic has been updated for the 8th time in its history – and Specialized has launched the Epic 8 as its flagship race model, and you can read about how it rides here. Just as interestingly though, there’s also an entirely new Epic 8 Evo, which isn’t really an XC bike at all, as we found out when we rode it at the launch.

If you want World Cup racing performance it’ll cost you, the Epic 8 S-Works will set you back a cool £12,000, which is £1,000 more than the Specialized S-Works Epic World Cup we reviewed back in December. It’s also up against some pretty tough competition to be the best cross-country bike, so let’s see how it stacks up.

The Specialized Epic 8 uses RockShox suspension and Flight Attendant, whilst the Evo utilises Fox

Specialized Epic 8 and Epic Evo need to know:

  • Four new Epic models dedicated to XC racing and lightweight builds
  • Priced from £4,250 to £12,000 for the S-Works model
  • Two new Evo models with burlier builds, relaxed geo and trail bike intentions
  • Priced from £4,250 to £8,000 for the Evo models
  • Utilises Specialized’s Ride Dynamics, and RockShox Flight Attendant on Epic
  • Epic Evo uses Fox suspension


Specialized Epic 8

Specialized Epic 8

The Epic 8 Comp uses the same carbon fibre frame as the Evo, but uses fairly mid-level components

In previous years XC racers have prioritised weight over capability – think back to only a few years ago where the debate between hardtail and full-suspension raged on. But like any bike brand worth it’s salt, Specialized has brought the Epic into the modern XC racing era, with the new generation – which the brand claims is “more capable” than the previous Epic Evo.

What exactly does this mean? Well, for a start the new Epic frame features a slacker head tube angle (66.4° on the 8 versus 66.5° on the previous model), to match the longer travel. To the untrained eye the changes are pretty subtle, but if you’re a geometry buff you’ll know how much of a difference the little things can make to the way a bike rides. The new Epic 8 also features a longer top tube, which Specialized says has improved the bike’s overall capability and handling.

The frame itself is also lighter – the new S-Works frame is claimed to weigh a full 76g less than the previous model. It might not sound like a lot, but bearing in mind the new frames come with SWAT 4.0 integration and an integrated stopper to protect the top tube from bar damage – it’s more impressive.

On the Epic 8 you’ll find Specialized’s Ride Dynamics 3-position dampers and RockShox’s Flight Attendant suspension tech

Where the Epic 8 really comes to life though is with the suspension. Specialized has used all its self-proclaimed nerds to come up with a bike that they say has 20% less pedal bob and is thus more efficient. The Epic 8 models use Ride Dynamics 3-position dampers – as a reminder those positions are ‘wide open’, ‘magic middle’, and ‘sprint-on-lock’. The S-Works Epic 8 also uses RockShox’s Flight Attendant suspension, which houses a custom-tuned damper in the forks and shock.

Without getting all technical on you, and I’m sure Guy covers it in great detail in his first ride review, the latest Epic’s suspension is claimed to be more efficient, and adjustable. All this, with longer travel than the previous models. It’s blurring the lines between XC and downcountry, but keeping things racey.

Specialized Epic 8 prices:

  • S-Works Epic: £12,000
  • Epic Pro: £8,000
  • Expert Epic: £6,000
  • Comp Epic: £4,250
  • S-Works Epic frame: £5,500

Specialized Epic 8 Evo

Specialized Epic 8 Evo

The Epic 8 Evo uses the same frame as the Epic, but comes with 130mm forks rather than 120mm

 The Epic Evo is still the downcountry option – and comes with a 120mm and 130mm setup to boot. It does, however use the same carbon fibre frame as the Epic 8, albeit with a completely different suspension setup. It does mean there is no ‘middle ground’ suspension setting – it’s either all out or not at all with this. The Evo also utilises Fox suspension rather then RockShox, with a 130mm Fox 34 fork. It does use the same features like the SWAT 4.0 and integrated steering stop, however.

Two Epic Evo models make up the latest collection: the Evo 8 Comp and Evo 8 Pro. The former uses SRAM’s GX 12-speed groupset, while you get an X0 Eagle transmission on the latter.

It even has room for the SWAT 4.0 compartment

Specialized Epic Evo 8 prices:

  • Pro: £8,000
  • Comp: £4,250
  • Pro Evo frame: £3,500