Trail Testing – 2018 Specialized Epic Expert

We got our hands on the new Epic earlier this summer and have been racking up the miles, even with the summer heat and rattlesnakes.

New for 2018 is a completely revamped Epic with a single pivot suspension, more progressive geometry, and the Brain 2.0.

Specialized offers the Epic in aluminum, carbon, and of course their S-Works carbon layup. The Expert modeled uses their slightly heavier Fact 11m layup that is still lightweight. Inside the main frame is room for two bottle cages and a slick port for the cables.

The Brain 2.0 is a sleeker design with four clicks of adjustment ranging from soft to firm. The Brain now sits behind the axle to allow for the valve to open up quicker for a more seamless transition. The shock was developed with RockShox and uses AutoSag like the previous generation.

Our test bike has a full SRAM Eagle GX build kit with Level TL brakes and carbon fiber Roval Control rims. Up front is a RockShox SID fork with Brain damper.

Suspension Setup

We used the AutoSag valve and were able to get a good baseline for the air pressure, after a couple rides we did put about 15PSI more into the shock for a little more support. For our first ride we ran the Brain in the firmest setting to get a feel for the valve. In the fork we ran the Brain Fade in the middle setting.

First Rides

The updated geometry feels stable and comfortable, especially when descending. Most of our test riders are running the stack height slammed all the way down and still feel fairly comfortable. With the Brain in the firmest setting the rear end is stiff and pedals very efficiently, especially in conjunction with the single pivot linkage.

The Epic descends well and accelerates quickly out of corners. On more technical bits of trail the Epic feels stable and rolls over rocks with ease.

The Brain is taking us a little getting used to, and we are constantly making changes to see exactly how the system acts. You can see all of our conclusions in the full review on our January issue.

Check out our review of Specialized’s new Epic Hardtail

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