Riding and Racing the 2011 S-Works Epic 29er
Fast, efiicient, and light: Exactly what you want in a race bike. Specalized has built the ultimate race machine with the 2011 S-Works Epic 29er. The best technology and lightest components do come at a price though...
First ride: Specialized S-Works Epic 29
Ok, maybe it was more like a few rides and a 50-mile race. But this bike deserves a quick mention after a fun, fast weekend of racing. The S-Works Epic is designed to be a race bike, plain and simple. With as much carbon as a Formula One racecar, this bike just looks fast and actually is. Specialized hit it right on with the aesthetics of this years S-Works mountain bikes. Featuring a nice combination of white, red and black, the bike is unmistakably a Specialized, even when seen from a distance.
Setting the bike up was much easier than I had anticipated. It was as simple as turning off the brain (Specialized’s suspension technology) and adjusting the suspension based on sag, just like you would on any other bike. I chose to use 20 percent to give me a little firmer suspension. Dialing in the brain was a little more difficult, after some advice from the suspension Gurus at Specialized I started with the brain set in the middle of its adjustment; this gave me a good feel of how the brain is intended to perform. After some riding and adjusting, I was about 1-2 clicks away from full firm, giving the bike a stiffer, racier feel.
Geometry on the bike is comfortable. It fit like a glove on the first ride, a rare occurrence for me with 29” bikes. The first thing I noticed was the width of the handlebars. At 680mm wide, they offer added control on the trail making this race bike handle like a dream. Wider bars paired with a stiff frame and dialed suspension made this bike feel like a rocket on the uphills. Pushing the big ring up long ascents felt effortless and enjoyable.
A tapered headtube and oversized bottom bracket allows more power to be transferred in to the cranks, thus making for an extremely efficient ride. The carbon Roval Control SL 29 wheelset adds to that efficient ride by offering a very low rotational weight, providing surprisingly fast acceleration for a 29er.
My first race on the bike was the Whiskey 50 in Prescott, AZ. With a mixture of technical singletrack and fast fire roads, the Epic 29 was right at home. It rocketed up loose water bar filled climbs with ease and descended even the most technical sections with surprising speed and control.
At $9900, the S-Works Epic 29 is a true high-end race bike. It offers all the lightest technology right out of the box paired with an extremely well designed suspension setup and frame technology. I look forward to putting many more miles on the Epic to see just how durable this lightweight race machine is. Stay tuned for a full review.