Inspired by the ever-changing XC landscape, the S-Works Epic 8 uses the latest in suspension tech and an updated frame geometry to be a racer's number 1 choice, and it works better than any human or mechanical brain.

Product Overview

Specialized S-Works Epic 8


  • • Superlight yet impressively controlled and practical frame
  • • Automatic Ai suspension
  • • Perfect race componentry


  • • Premium performance comes at a premium cost
  • • Flight Attendant is bound to be an opinion divider


I hate to admit it, but the AI suspension control on the new Specialized S-Works Epic 8 works better than a brain ever could


Price as reviewed:


Specialized’s new S-Works Epic 8 is possibly the fastest XC MTB ever made and definitely the most high tech. It’s not just the latest RockShox Flight Attendant Ai suspension that makes it radically rapid. This rad new superlight but steezy racer is also fully loaded with the ultimate race spec.

It joins the Epic 8 Evo as one of two new Epics launched by Specialized; we’ve got all the details on both new Specialized Epics right here if you want to check out the details, prices and spec. I’ve also had the chance to ride the Epic 8 Evo, and witness first hand the bike’s transition from XC race machine to down-country weapon, check it out right here.

If racing off into the sunset is your idea of a good time, the Specialized S-Works Epic 8 is the five-figure bike for you

Specialized S-Works Epic 8 Need to know

  • Sub 1,800g yet impressively stiff 120mm travel XC frame
  • RockShox SID Ultimate
  • Flight Attendant Ai suspension technology
  • Progressive XC race/downcountry geometry
  • Top line SRAM AXS SL transmission with power meter
  • Superlight Specialized/Roval wheels and kit
  • High volume internal storage and titanium bolts
Epic WC

Get ready for high-tech suspension with the latest version of RockShox’s Flight Attendant AI suspension

Epic is in it’s eighth generation as Specialized’s flat out full suspension race bike. Epic 7 had already been overtaken by the slacker, longer travel but lighter Epic 7 Evo as the World Cup winning weapon of choice for the Specialized pro team. No surprise then that Epic 8 is effectively a progressive evolution of the Evo then, with a 66.4º or 65.9º head angle, 75.5º seat angle, 15mm longer reach (475/480mm in large) and 120mm of rear wheel travel to match the fork.

The S-Works frame also uses top spec 12M carbon fibre, a carbon shock linkage and titanium bolts to keep it one of the lightest race frames available, at 1,795g for frame and conventional SIDLuxe shock. That’s 150g more than the previous ultra light Evo but the bigger, stiffer down tube now has full SWAT internal storage. You also get chainstay and belly armour, a removable steering stop and fully plumbed head tube routed controls.

RockShox Flight Attendant Ai automatically switch the fork and shock between open, pedal and lock modes


The S-Works is the first production bike to debut with the latest version of RockShox’s Flight Attendant Ai suspension. This uses sensors in the SID Ultimate fork, SIDLuxe Ultimate shock, Quarq XX SL power crank, XX SL rear mech and XX shifters to build a comprehensive ride ‘picture’. It then automatically switch the fork and shock between open, pedal and lock modes depending on incoming impacts, bike orientation, pre-emptive shift signals and rider referencing ‘effort states’.

One of the cleanest cockpits we have ever seen, Dangerholm aside

You also get a RockShox Reverb AXS seat post to complete the wireless kit out. With the hoses of the Level Ultimate Stealth 4 pot brakes hidden by the bars, the one piece Roval SL down swept ‘stem’ carbon bars look super clean as well as being very light and stiff. That also describes the sub 1,300g Roval Control SL rims, but the Specialized FastTrack and Renegade tyres use a tougher Control carcass than the ultralight S-Works options used on the Epic World Cup. You also get proper Trail grips and a comfortable Body Geometry S-Works Power saddle, albeit with carbon rails.

Epic WC

The Fast Trak tyres use a tougher Control carcass

Despite tougher tyres, power crank and the extra 100g of Flight Attendant weight over a conventional manual remote SID / SIDLuxe Ultimate set up, the large S-Works Epic 8 I tested was still only 10.49kg. Combine that weight with a new main pivot position for increased anti-squat and ‘20% more efficient pedalling’ even in ‘open’ mode and the S-Works accelerates like an SL e-bike. If Flight Attendant selects the Specialized custom tuned ‘Magic Middle’ or ‘locked’ modes the power transfer is even more dramatic and ego boosting.

Being able to crank flat out over mixed surfaces without worrying about which suspension mode to be in means you can properly commit to the charge too. Something that became very obvious in the simulated races we did in testing to mimic the moments where the automated suspension really comes into it’s own.

In fact I’d actually say RockShox’s claimed 1.8% faster over a 90 minute event is an underestimation for most riders. Even XC GOAT Nino Schurter found the Flight Attendant changed modes over four times more often (1,325 switches rather than 300) than he normally would with a manual lockout. That experiment also ended in the first of several World Cup wins for SID Flight Attendant prototypes in 2023 including some by Victor Koretsky on a modified version of the previous Epic Evo.

Epic WC

The three suspension settings offer a mix of open, ‘magic middle’ and closed

While the suspension switching between modes to optimise traction, power transfer and flow is most obvious on climbs and other power play moments it also boosts descending performance significantly. That’s because the instant electric firming support lets RockShox run a freer flowing ‘open’ mode than you’d normally get on XC suspension.

As a result the S-Works actually felt noticeably smoother and more connected than the Epic 8 Evo with its Fox Float Factory shock and 130mm travel Fox 34 fork on the same test sections. The more time you spend on the system the more the ‘Adaptive Ride Dynamics’ will refine your personal algorithm. You can also manually adjust ‘bias’ settings or even switch modes on the fly via fork top or the left hand AXS controller pod that also controls the wireless dropper post.

How many XC race bikes do you know that come with adjustable geo via a flip chip?

Geometry and frame

As impressive as the sentient suspension is, it’s the geometry and stiffer front end of the new Epic that really let you push the pace harder than most XC options. The very taut Torque Cap front wheel, one piece carbon cockpit with dropped stem and steeper seat angle all reinforce the predatory raptor vibe of the Epic too. The precision and accuracy isn’t so sharp that it beats you to a pulp like the Epic World Cup though, backing up claims of 12% more impact damping in the Epic 8 frame lay up than previous Epic bikes.

Epic WC

The updated geometry and stiffer front-end is what really makes this bike a fast, racing option

All frame sizes get a different ‘Rider Tuned’ construction to provide a similar feel from XL down to the new XS size. Pedalling pedants and/or high mileage athletes with sensitive knees will appreciate the narrow stance 168mm Q-Factor power cranks. You also get a finishing sprint-friendly 34 tooth chainring, a pair of carbon bottle cages and a C02 and Dynaplug puncture tool clip on the underside of the SWAT hatch as standard. In other words the S-Works spec is genuinely World Cup ready if you’ve got the talent to propel it and the credit rating to purchase it.

If the added 100g of weight, two more AXS batteries and constant electric servo whirring of Flight Attendant sounds like a literal headache then don’t worry. The £6,000 S-Works frame and fork module comes with a conventional manual remote SID Ultimate and SIDLuxe suspension pairing. £8,000 Epic 8 Pro, £6,000 Epic 8 Expert and £4,250 Epic 8 Comp bikes all get the same frame features as the S-Works too, just in 11M carbon, with alloy links and steel bolts.


There are bound to be more new XC race weapons breaking cover before the Olympics and Flight Attendant kits will be available for Canyon, Orbea, Mondraker, Pivot, Santa Cruz and even the previous Epic Evo bikes. The combination of Ai suspension tech, pretty much perfect race spec and a superb handling, stiff yet still superlight frame make the S-Works an outstanding new benchmark though. High control levels, fatigue reducing lay up and internal storage also make it an excellent marathon or back country rally machine. Cheaper models get all the same features without the worries of multiple batteries and wireless whirring, and it’s only a bigger fork and stickier tyres away from Evo rowdiness.


Frame:Specialized FACT 12M carbon fibre 120mm travel
Shock:RockShox SIDLuxe ULTIMATE Flight Attendant 120mm travel
Fork:RockShox SID ULTIMATE Flight Attendant 120mm travel
Wheels:Roval Control SL 29in with Torque Cap front adaptor
:Specialized Fast Trak Control 29x2.35in front and Specialized Renegade, Control 29x2.35in rear tyres
Drivetrain:SRAM Quarq XX SL power meter 175mm chainset, SRAM XX SL 12-speed derailleur and AXS Pod shifter, SRAM XG-1299 12-speed 10-52T cassette and XX SL Flat Top chain
Brakes:SRAM Level Ultimate, 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes with 180/160mm rotors
Components:Roval Control SL Integrated cockpit 760mm width, 70mm effective stem length, RockShox Reverb AXS 150mm dropper post, Body Geometry S-Works Power Carbon saddle
Sizes:XS, S, M, M/L, L (tested), XL
Weight:10.49kg (large without pedals)
Size ridden:Large
Rider height:180cm
Head angle:66.4/65.9º
Seat angle:N/A
Effective seat angle:75.5º
BB height:328/333mm
Front centre:778mm
Down tube:733mm
Seat tube:450mm
Top tube (horizontal):633mm