Strengths: Blazingly fast on flats, 2x10, climbing machine, black/grey paint scheme is badass, descends like an AM bike, fork is perfect, I could go on forever...
Weaknesses: X-9 rear derailuer isn't exactly impressive, mine ghost shifts, but that could be an adjustment thing. Tires are not so great for where I ride.
This bike is good, too good. I've been lucky enough to ride and own some very nice bikes, this is hands down my favorite. I've sat here for 45 minutes trying to figure out a way to explain how it is so good, but I really don't know. Simply put, once you get it dialed, its a masterpiece. If you like to fart around and cruise the trails, get a trail bike. If you only care about covering lots of ground, get a hardtail. If you are gonna bomb the downhills and hike up, buy a downhill bike. If you wanna climb slow and bomb the downhills, get an all mountain bike. If you want to be blazingly fast everywhere, buy an epic. I can cook on the flats and climbs, yet I don't even need to drop the seat post to bomb a downhill section. How the f$#@ did specialized do it?
Similar Products Used: Trance, fsrxc, stumpjumper, blur.
Bike Setup: stock
Date Reviewed: February 20, 2013
Strengths: Fantastically efficient, very fast. In or out of the saddle its geometry feels spot on to gain every last drop of energy. Love it. rear cassette was stupidly noisy to the point where my mates were complaining. But it is dead easy to split and repack with some decent grease. Much nicer now' but still not as good as a top end shimano.
Weaknesses: Bb and rear cassette need greasing or the bb will fail quickly and the cassette will lose you friends being so noisy that before I fixed it I would choose to pedal everywhere.
great bike for fast xc single track and as good as a road bike on country roads
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: January 9, 2013
Strengths: The Ride! I love the way this bike climbs and descends; what else is there. The 29er wheels took a little getting used to but this bike tracks down hill and climbs sooo much better than my '03 Epic its like night and day. I bought mine 10 months old so definitely 5 big chilis for value! Haven't had any hub issues yet.
Weaknesses: Brakes are noisy and they tend to fade. I had XTR's on my old Epic and they were much better brakes than these 7's. Looking into some Maguras to replace the stock brakes.
After I got the air pressures right, this bike is a dream to ride. I can't wait to get out and ride it!
Similar Products Used: Rockhopper, Stumpjumper, '04 Epic
Bike Setup: All stock with tubeless tires.
Date Reviewed: December 16, 2012
Strengths: Climbing, agility, smooth ride, ability to ride through / over what I had to thread through on 2005 Epic
Weaknesses: Still to be determined, making some tweaks to firm the ride up, front fork maybe weak point
I started riding MTB in Dec 2011, purchased a used 2005 Epic M4 FSR (obviously a 26in) with a top of the line Fox front end, with Mavic wheels, put roughly a 1,000 miles on that bike in a year. Demo's the 2012 Epic 29 Comp (aluminum), a 2012 Epic Carbon, and a 2012 Specialized Caliber (Carbon). All were fantastic bikes, being an average, and new, rider I could not tell that much difference to justify spending the $$ on the carbon, so it came down to the aluminum Epic and Caliber. Was able to work a 2012 closeout deal on the Epic, so went with that.
I have had bike for about a month, have at least a dozen rides on it. VERY happy with it, just the jump from 26 to 29 was huge, 1st ride on the new 2012 Epic 29 Comp I had a 1/2 dozen personal records on Strava segments on one of the my normal rides, note that was 1st ride before I got used to the 2x10 gearing.
The new Epic climbs like a mountain goat, I just point it up the hill, don't have to be overly concerned with the line, I just ride over whatever, going up hill (STEEP) I can just torque it, go slower, with more control, that is WAY kewl.
On downhills, the combination of the Brain, and the Reba make for a super smooth ride.
I am SUPER pleased with the 2x10 gearing, I find I can spend 75% of my time in the big gear on the front.
If anything the ride is a little too plush, I just added 20lbs to both the front and rear shock, and two more clicks towards firm on the brain, everything was set "out of the box" in middle of the road. Will report back on that.
Paid $2,500 for this bike, I believe (and that's what's important) that I got a good deal.
Would highly recommend this bike
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: November 10, 2012
Strengths: Aluminium frame is light
Moderate level gear does the job
SAME BRAIN SUSPENSION AS THE TOP RANGE BIKE
Handles really well.
Weaknesses: Needs a better seat.
Avid Elixer brakes are noisy - and I can get my old Deore V grips dialed in better. Will be the first upgrade.
I am writing a review of the 2012 Epic Comp 29er with the SRAM X7/X9, Avid Elixer, Specialised Rims/Sworks Tires. All stock.
Firstly, this is my first serious mountain bike. I bought this bike 6 months ago, and have since been initiated into a bunch of technical single track riding - still mastering the skills. Secondly, I live in Darwin, Australia so there are no mountains. After agonising over suspension travel, I took the advice of my mate who is going from a Scott Genius to the Spark - less can be more. I haven't regretted it so far.
The rear suspension is amazing. The best aspect of this bike for a "budget" is that the base model has the same rear suspension as the top model. IMO, rear suspension is the heart of the dually, and every other manufacturer gives you a second rate rear spring on their entry level bike. If you want to upgrade drive train, brakes, front forks later you can - the frame is the same (add a few grams) and the rear shock is the same.
Brain has a variable "platform" which when it is exceeded engages the full suspension mode. After playing with this for a few weeks, I realised you can change how long it stays engaged! Eg you can have it set quite hard for hammering across open flat ground, and then say you hit a rocky patch,it will engage (full range of suspension) and stay engaged longer while there is still input before it goes hard again. I use this set up quite a bit, perfect for heading across flat XC tracks with random harsh rock gardens around the corner.
Set hard, this bike is fast out of the corners, with a direct forwards power surge with each pedal push, can easily get out of the saddle and mash, even with brain soft. I don't have a car, and having a real working rear lockout makes the "portage" part of my ride (usually about 15-20kms each way) much much more tolerable. Also, these 29" wheels roll so fast that really in terms of energy on the flat tarmac, it is a comfortable bike to ride fully locked out. Agree with other comments here that you need to run the pressures a bit higher than in the book so the brain doesn't bottom out, but with a high pressure and brain set to full hard, it is like a hard tail. Except when you jump off a curb, and it activates to full suspension. So nice.
But that's not why you buy this bike.
Off road it is way more capable than I imagined in the rough rocky stuff. Uphill on technical ascents it is really good. The 29" wheels make getting over uphill rock gardens and roots that much easier, just bobble over them if you pick the line right.
This bike is really stable at speed. It feels great on the fast open smooth downhill trails, and tracks nicely through flowing sections. Its weird, unlike a 26", the 29" wheels seem to float through fast slippery gravel sections, it doesn't really "rail" so to speak like smaller wheels do, which once you get used to it actually feels quite in control when both ends are sliding around. Geometry wise it has a slightly slacker front angle, making it a bit more forgiving pointing down, and it never has that really twitchy "over the handle bars" feel to it. Never the less, you can throw it from side to side quickly, and it feels a lot lighter than the number suggest. It is also pretty good on the switch backs once you get used to the size of the wheels.
The drive train - well its not XTR. It does the job quickly, and if you treat it with respect it picks the gears every time. Only one chain drop with the 2x10 gear, a quick adjustment to the front derailer and it's never happened again.
Wheels - same. Entry level, but they are more than adequate for my needs.
Cons - the brakes squeal. Lots. I hear it's an issue with the Avid Elixirs. Haven't manned up enough to hit them with sandpaper yet, but I suspect it wont be long...
Also, some of the Specialised branded gear that comes on the bike is of medium quality - but then it is the base model. I'm thinking mostly the bar and the seats, both could use an upgrade. The seat clicks and feels like it moves ever so perceptibly, which is annoying without actually changing the function of the bike.
Overall, I'm really happy with this bike. I rode quite a few others, this felt the most capable. The ride/handling was the nicest of the bikes I looked at. Overall, the ride and the fact that the rear suspension is the same as the more expensive bikes tipped my choice in favour of the Epic, even if the "groupset" was lower than some of the competitors in the price range. It has done everything I ask of it, and I can't stop smiling when I ride = money well spent.
Looking forward to upgrades in the next few years as I upgrade my skills, to bring the most out of this bike.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: August 27, 2012
Strengths: Frame geometry, weight
Weaknesses: components, shock setup
This review is for an early release aluminum 2013 Epic Comp 29er in silver.
Coming from a 26" hard tail, I figured it was time for a fully suspended 29er. After comparing and testing a bunch of bikes in the SJ FSR class (SJ, Trek, Yeti, Salsa, Rocky Mountain) I came across the Epic, of which my LBS had two 2012 demo bikes and one brand new 2013. Being that I don't live in the mountains and never have to conquer 10ft drops, I came to the conclusion that 100mm travel might be just the right amount - more comfortable than rigid, yet not too plush to eat up my valuable pedal energy going uphill. I was very skeptical about the "brain". I am also not big a fan of the Avid/Rockshox/SRAM family of components but figured I could always upgrade to Shimano hardware and a Fox front end if need be. What convinced me was the great frame geometry (I ride a large frame), cornering capabilities and the light-weight feel that this bike had compared to all other $3-4k bikes I saw - I doubt there's more than a pound or two advantage at 27lbs out the box, but to me the Epic just felt a lot lighter than the SJ or the boat anchor of a Yeti. I also assumed that the Magura brakes on the 2013 would be an upgrade to the Avid brakes of previous years' models. Last but not least it is a advertising / selling point that the Epic is the only fully suspended mtb to win an XC title.
Now I've had the bike for about five weeks, rode about 450mls including two regional cat 3 races and a 100 mile endurance race.
The good news:
This bike is very, very fast. It corners pretty much like a 26", yet it takes off like a rocket and maintains great speed up and down the hills. Seriously, clipped in it accelerates like it's on nitro compared to my old ride. It feels light (of course not S-works-light) but barely ever loses traction.
Speed: I easily clipped an average of 1.5 - 2 min off every 30 min loop/ride in different terrains compared to my 26" hard tail. Almost more importantly, it takes a lot less effort to do so.
The not-so-good news:
The auto-sag function works for rail trail riding at best. Both front and rear shocks bottom out like there's no tomorrow if you stick to the suggested settings. I finally have it figured out for my riding - at 180lbs weight, I'm running 145lbs in the fork (opposed to the suggested 125) and a tick over 210lbs pressure in the rear shock (while auto-sag puts me somewhere around 165-170).
The "brain" is a nice idea and it seems to do the job, but it requires a lot of experimenting to get the setting right. For me it now works best all-tight or one click back. But the sound and the feel of it actuating still makes me think I'm running a flat or my frame is broken at times. The actuation does get a bit smoother over time.
The Magura brakes are no improvement over the Avid's (would have expected better from a BMW motorcycle supplier) - they are just as noisy and often take more than a half revolution to build up grip. Shimano as "low-end" as SLX series would do a much better job.
The SRAM drive train is ok but not great, does not feel overly smooth or exact and can be noisy at times. The gearing - although quite standard - often puts my comfort zone right in between gears 1/10 and 2/2, so I may be better off converting my 24/38 dual rings to a single 32 in the front (or see if I can change the 24 ring to a 30 or 32 as I'd like to keep the tall gears for rail trail and fast, smooth downhill).
The Reba fork.... well, there's Fox and then there's the rest. Wish they'd offer an aftermarket float 100 model in black (frame is silver, so a white fork would look stupid).
Yesterday I dropped the bike at my LBS for a tune up, and a check-over, mostly because I am now after 450mls experiencing three different noises in my drive train. A clicking noise developed over the past week and is definitely coming from the crank. The other two - drastically louder and developed over the last 30mls - come from the broken rear axle (!) and a lot of play in the upper left FSR pivot bolt / bushing.
The paint job is soft and thin, I can see the bare aluminum where my rubber-sole of my 5-10 shoe rubs against the chain stay on the right side. The formerly black brake levers are pretty much silver now after 5 weeks. This is a quality like a $0.99/bottle home depot spray paint.
Bottom line, for the money, it's a great and very fast trail & moderate terrain XC bike. The frame geometry and weight work awesome for me. The components are certainly not top of the line, but I knowingly went for a well-suited frame with upgrade possibilities (opposed to a mediocre frame with great hardware).
Granted I'm not much of a gentle fire trail rider, the bike is taking a good amount of abuse.
Would I buy it again? On a $3-4k budget for fast single track & moderate XC riding: Yes.
Do I wish they offered an SLX or XT-equipped version with a Fox fork for $500-700 more? Definitely.
Similar Products Used: Tested most comparable models of major manufacturers.
Bike Setup: Stock except upgraded rear tire, tubeless setup, Crank Brothers Eggbeaters and Kronolog seat post (best thing since sliced bread if installed correctly).
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: July 19, 2012
Strengths: Light and agile through the trails. The BRAIN is a huge selling point--it works! VERY fast bike.
Weaknesses: My breaks can be noisy at times. But then again, who cares? If you do, go work out at the gym.
If you're looking for a excellent trail/cross-country bike, this is tops. I have ridden Stumpjumpers, Enduro's, Cambers, and even a Rumblefish in my day. This bike spanks all of them hands down. My review is for a 2012, FYI. The BRAIN works perfectly. This bike is FAST FAST FAST on a single track, so watch out. Climbs hills like a hard-tail. Still light, especially for a FSR. Great when tuned correctly. My breaks have a tendency so sound like crap some times (the rear in particular), but taking time to clean the pads every now and then resolves this. This bike is the ONLY FSR 29er to win world cups, and it is clear why. I have only abut 90 miles on mine, but no complaints to date. For the record: My dealer and several others I have contacted have no idea about and have never had to service a "hub" issue, so don't let it deter you. I am sure any issues have been fixed--this isn't Specialized' first rodeo in bike engineering.
Bike Setup: Time ATAC XS + Specialized MTB Comp = Love. 100psi front, 150psi rear. Using transparent tire-patching kit ($2.00) as cable-rub guards. Works and looks great.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: June 26, 2012
Strengths: the BRAIN! pro-pedal can't cut it, hardtails are, HARD.
Weaknesses: The hubs I guess, but who cares, it's just an excuse I can use to tell the wife so that I can upgrade.
This thing just flies. I am cross country rider and if you love to climb in and out of the saddle hard, this bike responds with nothing but fast forward. Descents are fun too, and the 29er wheel rolls over stuff, corners hard and makes downhill riding very sure footed. You WILL ride faster.
For those of you worried about coming from a 26in bike...don't. Its a non issue, and I mean that whole heartedly. Where I ride we have a LOT of tight, steep switchbacks through trees and I was worried that the 29er Epic would roll better but I would have to trade off the tight stuff. Not so, it's not even an issue. I have rode the 26 epic for 5 years, and the 29er version does everything it does and so much more.
If you are looking for a full suspension 29er, like to climb and ride cross country, you really should check out the Epic 29er, it really is fun to ride.
Strengths: Rolls extremely well over trail chatter and small rock gardens. Carries more speed on flats and downhills than my 26er. Reasonably light weight for a 29er at this price point.
Weaknesses: None found yet.
I am a cross country/trail rider who likes to do an occasional xc race. I ride every weekend and 1 - 2 times during the week. I was looking for an everyday bike that worked well as both a trail bike and an occasional xc race bike. This review is for a Medium frame. With crankbrothers eggbeater sl pedals the bike weighed 27.9 lbs off the showroom floor. I was skeptical of the Fastrak 2.0 front tire & Renegade 1.95 rear tire. They clearly are designed as a lighweight cross country race tire. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they gripped. The brain shock works flawlessly and soaks up the bumps, while staying stiff on the climbs.I feel like it climbs the same as my Stumpjumper 100mm fsr, but is noticeably faster on the flats, descents and anything that is rocky or trails with lots of ruts. So far I like the stock saddle, the Phenom. Even though it has less padding than my WTB Rocket V, it has turned out to be quite confortable.
Similar Products Used: stumpjumper m4 100mm fsr
stumpjumper m4 hardtail
gary fisher sugar 4+
Bike Setup: stock
Date Reviewed: May 10, 2012
Strengths: Solid frame, suits larger riders, rear shock set up is a breeze. Very comfortable ride.
Weaknesses: As with everyone else the rear hub issue is really disappointing. I've had it replaced once already and it's heading back next week for another replacement - that is with around 3 months of regular riding. The second one was picked up by the shop mechanics when they did my initial service on the bike, they were surprised when I said it had already been in once for the same thing.
A big let down on an otherwise awesome machine. You think they would have had something like this well under control or put out a product recall and put something that works on it. If it fails a third time my LBS owner will be getting a fair talking to over it and had better come good on upgrading it.
I also replaced the seat clamp with a crank brothers unit as I had issues with the seat post dropping, now it's bomb proof.
I also upgraded my handlebars, probably more to suit my own body geometry but the standard issue bars weren't too flash.
Again, apart from the hub issues I really love riding this bike. Now I have the other (minor) problems sorted I can't wait to get it out on the trails and am getting more confident with the bike so that I can tackle new and more challenging courses.
The change in riding from my old stumpy 26'er is amazing - unfortunately I can only blame me for poor riding or lack of fitness now as blaming the bike won't hold up with many.
The bike is a climbing macchine and on the downhill stretches it chews up enough bumps to keep me on track.
Date Reviewed: May 10, 2012
Strengths: The bike is really sturdy for it's frame. Very light
Weaknesses: Handle bars are super thin
Front shock doesn't completely feel locked out
This is my first Full Suspension, therefore I have a lot of riding in order to get use to it. I am 6'4 240 lbs and it holds me up well. The tires are horrible and don't grip. Handlebars are weak. When I lock out the Front shock I noticed it didn't really lock out. I don't know if it was me or if I just need to get use to the gears, but it is kinda weird. I need to take it out a few more times to get a full understand of it. I also took it to the wrong trails for its first trial run. I will try a place tomorrow that I know the trails really well. Though for the price I paid for ($2K on sale new) you can't beat it. It will require some upgrades, but with time I can make it better.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: May 7, 2012
Strengths: Good stability. Love the combination of front shox & brain lock out when climbing.
Weaknesses: Grinding noise from rear hub after 150km of ride.
I've got this bike for only 2 months. It's a nice bike to ride. I have been gliding pass my friends effortlessly. I throughly enjoyed riding it every weekend till the day the rear hub started making noise. It was only my 8th ride on this bike. I have put it to another 50km round of trail and it gets noisier!!!! Later I found there are lots of people facing the same issues ranging from 2011 model till the 2012 model. Is it the users, design or manufacturing issue? Definitely for my case it's not the user... Will Specialized able to solve the issue? Just wait and see... I maybe just replace the rear hub on warranty till its over while hoping they would resolve the issue. It's real disappointing for the price paid. It's like buying a luxury car with an unreliable wheel...
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2012
Strengths: light weight, 29er, rear shock, good choice of tyres on bike
Weaknesses: BB - mine was replaced under warranty. Maybe could have been 110mm up front
Now after a few months of riding I give my impression of the 2012 version. I have previously used a XTR hardtail. I was uncertain about going full suspension and to a 29er at that. However all my fears were unfounded and I certainly have enjoyed riding this bike and recommend one:
1. This bike is ideal for me to do the odd race and mountainbike epic. If you want to race your mates down single track trails then I suggest you consider the stumpjumper or similar. You can still race your mates down single track on this bike (I do) but I don't consider this a bike to do heaps of big jumps
2. The Brain technology the advertisements talk about certainly works. Hill climbing is excellent and the geometry is such that you can ride up really steep hills without the front wheel lifting too much
3. If you are slightly above average height then go for a 29er. It is indeed faster. I regularly ride a 1 hour firetrail course. I am 2-3 or so minutes faster on this bike than on my old 26inch hardtail. I do this loop a lot. It does indeed roll faster
4. It does appear very slightly slower on tight single track than my 26er. However overall I would never go back to the 26er. The bike rolls over rocks and roots very well
5. The BB started making noises but the shop replaced it with a higher spec model
6 I have not had problems with the hubs like other reviewers. Wheels still true. I am 82 KG
7. Brakes appear to stop you well. However they overheat on long steep descents compared to my Magura Louise on old bike. I guess I will need to replace them at some point.
Overall this has been an excellent purchase and recommend this product
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: March 24, 2012
Strengths: My review is on 2012 version. The brain work extremely well, the flame is stiff, the setup is overall good.
Weaknesses: The "hubs". Not only the rear, front one as well! Just Last week the rear free hub was down after the hub been replaced! The wheels are soft. I have changed the stem, handle bar etc. I will replace the wheelsets once the warranty is over!
If they can fix the "hub" n wheelset problems, it will worth all the 5 chilis!
a Cross Country Rider
from Coral Springs, FL
Date Reviewed: March 21, 2012
Strengths: Stiff frame! Brain rear shock is flawless; Super fast bike!
Weaknesses: Rear Hub makes noise after the first ride.; SRAM X7 shifters are not intuitive and require a strong push to change gears.
I was impressed with the bike from the test ride. When I got it to the trail I instantly noticed the benefits of the 29er wheels. Plus, this frame is very stiff (compared to my Scalpel) and the bike just propels forward with every pedal stroke. The rear suspension is the best part of the bike! It was easy to set up and works better than any other system I've ever tried. The bikes feels like a hardtail on the smooth stuff but absorbs every bump when you need it to. The Reba RL fork is very impressive as well. Once dialed in correctly, it is very plush without being mushy at the same time. The bike came with SRAM X7 shifters and front derailleur and X9 at the rear. While the shifting is precise, it is not at intuitive at the Shimano rapid fire shifters. The X7 shifters require a LOT of effort to change gears and the shifting is not smooth. My previous bike had XTR shifters and XT derailleur and the shifting was buttery smooth. I know its not an apples to apples comparison but the SRAM set up leaves a lot to be desired for being a new bike. On to the rear hub.....I read so many reviews on here about that rear hub being crap and they were ALL CORRECT!! The rear hub started making this grinding noise after the FIRST RIDE!! WTF?? I called my LBS and was told to bring it in as they would have no trouble repairing/replacing it under warranty. For the price of this bike and its intended target rider, I feel Specialized have dropped the ball on this one. Other than the hub, I am in LOVE with this bike. I may upgrade the wheels and the shifters in the future but plan on riding it like it is for as long as I can. This bike is the best cross-country bike I have personally ridden and I was a diehard Cannondale fan before this. If Specialized can fix the hub issues, they can have a 5 chili bike right out of the box but for now they get 4.