The Epic Dream Build
2019 Specialized Epic
Estimate value: $9000
Weights: 23.4 pounds with pedals, MTB XC Box components and headset tool; 22.4 pounds with no pedals, no repair box, no headset tool and no Brain shock
Inspirational ideas can come from anywhere, and with a multitude of brands looking to make your dreams a reality, it can be tough not to get overwhelmed. The number of custom bike options is virtually endless.
The rider who built this bike wanted to go above and beyond the latest industry trend of taking a cross-country race machine and adding more travel while still keeping the overall weight low. He did extensive research into finding every piece necessary and then set out to assemble a sleek, one-off bike (using oil-slick accents) that blends cross-country racing and trail riding.
Head tube angle: 68.2º
Seat tube angle: 69º
Chainstay length: 435mm (17.1″)
Reach (size medium): 446mm (17.5″)
Bottom bracket height: 339mm (13.3″)
Frame: The unique build is based on a carbon 2019 Specialized Epic. Traditionally, this frame is built with 100mm of travel front and rear. To make the bike more adaptable to varied terrain, the suspension was changed out while still keeping lightweight in mind.
Suspension: The builder went with a plusher 120mm-travel 2021 RockShox SID Ultimate. Keep in mind this does slack out the geometry a bit; however, the extra travel and high tunability of the DebonAir spring produces a more consistent feel in rougher terrain than shorter travel designed for racing.
Although the Brain from Specialized is shown in some of our photos, the rider made some additional mods to further save weight. For one, he got a hold of a BikeYoke EP02. This allows the Brain shock and component to be removed so a standard shock can be mounted instead. By doing this swap, the rider saved 250 grams (0.55 pounds).
Drivetrain: Since the stand-out oil-slick accents were a part of the plan, this builder chose the all-new, electric, 12-speed SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS. Not only is the chain oil-slick-colored, but so is the 10-50t cassette. To further step it up, the original black limit screws were replaced with oil-slick fasteners to keep the theme consistent. Performance was another factor in this build, so the stock pulley wheels were swapped for smoother-shifting XD-15s made by Enduro Bearings.
Wheels/axle: Industry Nine set this builder up with a completely custom pair of 24-spoke, 29-inch, carbon 280 Ultralights that are laced to i9’s Hydra hubs. The wheels are tubeless-ready and feature a 28mm inner width. To keep the wheels secured to the frame, the builder ditched the stock hardware and had custom titanium axles made overseas. This process involved creating a unique CAD file for a manufacturer to produce the desired parts. Of course, they came with an oil-slick finish to complement the other details.
Tires: When it came to rubber, this builder chose to run Specialized tires. In front, he used a 29×2.3-inch Ground Control with a 2.3-inch Fast Trak in the rear. The rider wanted a light yet fast-rolling tire that maintained grip in the rear with a larger-tread tire for the front end. The 28mm rim width of the Industry Nine wheels bumps up the front to 2.4 inches and puffs the rear up a bit to 2.3 inches.
Sealant: The builder went with our recommendation to use Maxima’s tubeless sealant. Not only have Maxima products kept our bikes running smoothly and looking fresh, they have also kept us riding farther with fewer stops required to replenish sealant.
Brakes: To ensure the bike had plenty of modulation for stopping power, the builder went with Magura MT Trail SL brakes. Designed for more than just trail riding, the brake set comes with a four-piston caliper at the front and a two-piston caliper at the rear. For an optimal balance between weight savings and performance, the builder went a step further with Storm SL.2 rotors. With 180mm in front and 160mm at the rear, these lighter-weight siblings of the Storm SL in Magura’s lineup will keep gram counters happy.
At the bars: A quality handlebar and stem combo is key to keeping the rider in control. For the cockpit for this build, the rider used a mix of parts from Ergon, Industry Nine and Enve. The Enve M6 carbon handlebar has a 780mm width and is paired with a 50mm custom Industry Nine stem. The grips are Ergon GE1s that were developed for performance with Enduro World Series riders. These grips are designed to actively support a more aggressive, wider bar for a more technical trail-riding position. Of course, they also have oil-slick lockring accents.
Dropper post/saddle: We test quite a few dropper posts, but there is nothing quite like having the ease and convenience of RockShox’s electric Reverb AXS. This once-upon-a-time purebred race machine was leveled up with a trail-friendly 150mm dropper post. The Ergon SM Enduro Comp saddle with oil-slick rails ties it all together for comfortable all-day rides.
Pedals: For pedals, our rider went with Xpedo CXRs that have a forged 6061 aluminum body with three sealed cartridge bearings. For an added pop of color, Xpedo produces an oil-slick version.