Approaching a level of performance historically found only in S-Works, now in 29er trim.
Super light FACT IS 9m carbon 29er-specific frame with M5 alloy rear triangle and sealed cartridge bearing pivots delivers strength, rigidity, and suppleness to create an uncompromising 100mm-travel Competitive XC bike
Specialized and Fox blend their brains to develop the FlowControl Mini Brain shock with Brain Fade inertia valve, air spring, and adjustable rebound for World Cup - and local trail - domination
Custom RockShox Reba 29 100mm fork with Brain features rebound and Brain Fade adjustments to dial in the perfect platform for 29er bliss
DT Swiss X420SL 24mm-wide 29" rims are sleeved and eyeletted for a sturdy and lightweight package that climbs effortlessly; Specialized Hi Lo hubs and DT Swiss spokes add strength and durability
Super light, custom SRAM Carbon S-2200 10-speed XC double crankset for 29er with PF-30 spindle and removable spider offers stiffness, performance, and durability
Custom Avid Elixir CR SL brakes, with tool-less reach adjust and alloy backed semi-metallic pads, offer lightweight, power-packed control for ripping down XC trails
Weaknesses: Rear derailler, big price jump from carbon comp
Awesome bike. This thing loves to go fast and doesn't eat up all my energy doing eat. For what I use the brain for it is great. I have it just firm enough so I can pedal out of the saddle comfortable when I need to. Some may be turned off by a race bike but this thing is super plush. It can easily be trail ridden all day. I am a sit and spin type rider and the fsr suspension lets me do that all day long. Although tires are not a make or break the fast trak tires are really great for New England type riding. They are really light, roll fast but gives confidence unlike some other fast rolling minimal tread tires.
The jump up in price is substantial from the comp carbon. The one main reason I did it was the carbon cranks and the wheel set. The comp model comes with the hi lo hub which I have read bad things about so Instead of buying a brand new bike and replacing the wheels I just moved up a model.
The only bad component on the bike is the type 2 rear derailler. It is super quiet which is good but I wonder if the built in clutch mechanism slows shifting because there is definately a second or two pause before it shifts not a huge problem but noticeable enough to mention
For people who care about weight size large with a Thompson elite seat post, pd540 pedals and tubeless tires it weighs 24.80 lbs
Weaknesses: slx shifters, x7 front D, narrow heavy handlebar on a 5800$ bike?
This is for the 2013 Expert - I love this bike, super sexy and climbs like a champ. The Carbon is super stiff and the Brains work great this year. Really like the Auto sag feature.. Kind of lame they slap X7 and slx on a high end bike like this.
Xc race ? Moderate trail ? The most versatile bike I've ever had. Oem wheels are good enough but if you want to splurge into a nice set of carbon rims the bike will become a true monster. Sold it to make funds for a Stumpy Fsr 29,bad bad move,I'm gonna buy it back very soon. Needless to say Brain is awesome.
Date Reviewed: August 8, 2012
Strengths: Climbing , decending and everything in between The brain is awesome
It's a XC bike not an all mountain bike. so do not expect to do big airs. As far as just going fast all day this is the bike
Date Reviewed: August 6, 2012
Strengths: Fast with excellent components and darn good lookin
Weaknesses: Rear suspension isn't quite up to par with Giant's, but still darn good
Bought this bike about a week ago since I can't get the new Giant Anthem Advanced 29er for 5 more weeks and everyone said this bike is better. I do agree the Specialized epic is an awesome race bike and so far I'm very pleased with my decision, but after riding the Giant I have to say that their suspension is superior to Specialized's brain. The Formula breaks are awesome and the Sram mix of components are nice. The bike weighs about 26 pounds on my scale, which is a little disappointing as I expected a medium to weigh in around 24 lbs.
Strengths: Really fast bike. Big wheels took a while getting used to but now i just go fast. Comparing my new times on strava to my existing 26 titus racer x (wiht full xtr build), i am now a full 10-15% faster.
Frame and wheelset are super stiff. I really notice the carbon frame when excelerating out turns.
Weaknesses: Getting used to the 'laid back' geometry as I was accustimed to a more racing fit and feel. The stock post/seat/bars/stem are pretty weak. I upgraded them to crank brothers carbon parts and put my existing wtb saddle on.
Speed. Plain and simple. that is what you are buying here. The bike just goes really freakin fast both up and down hills. I bought this bike for endurance racing (doing the high cascades 100 and leadville 100 this year) and I know I made the right choice.
Date Reviewed: May 28, 2012
Strengths: Quick ansd responsive ! Great climber and eats up the bumps. Handles rtight turns and switchbacks a lot better than I expected. Perfect marathon stage race bike but also handles the tight stuff really well.
Weaknesses: Stock handlebar and seatpost a bit heavy. Formula R1 levers but only Rx calipers for the price were a bit of a surprise. Would have preferred full X0 drive train but will upgrade as parts wear.
Changed saddle for Fizik Gobi and will change bars and stem in future. Tempted to go X0 gripshift as well.
Strengths: Fast. Comfortable. Handles corners and tight turns like a champ.
Weaknesses: Bottle cage a little tough to access. Brains have to be re-serviced every 500 miles to keep warranty.
I drug my feet going to the 29er, mostly because I loved my old bike and was worried about losing a lot of "feel" going to the bigger wheels. I must say I was more than pleasantly surprised. The only thing I miss from the smaller wheels is being able to catch a little air (harder to pull up on front end of bike). As for cornering, accelerating, and all the other places people say a 29er has a disadvantage, I beg to differ. This is a quick bike with great feel, it absolutely flies and is a blast to ride. (Weight of my bike is right at 25 lbs., size med.)
If you want a fast, durable race bike, this is for you. If you're looking for a one quiver bike, this is definitely a great choice.
Similar Products Used: other epic models in 26 inch version
Bike Setup: stock with bars changed out for s-works low rise carbon and shimano spds
a Cross Country Rider
from Spokane, WA
Date Reviewed: November 23, 2011
Strengths: This is a very quick bike and accelerates so much better than the 26" version. The bigger wheels make it feel like it has more suspension without all the bob. The 2012 upgrade to Formula brakes are a huge improvement over the poor handling avid. The Sid shock w/ brain drops .25lbs off of the previous year and works like a dream.
Weaknesses: Heavier than I had hoped. Causes a lot of bugs in teeth because I can't stop smiling while I am on it.
This is a great bike and one of the fastest FS bikes I have ridden. I tried a Gary Fischer superfly and Trek 29ers and thought they were good trail bikes but the epic is a good trail bike and great race bike. I thought about getting the 2011 but after trying the 2012 with the Formula brakes and Sid front shock it was worth the wait
Strengths: Excellent Suspension, solid components, stiff frame. Climbs amazingly well and inspires confidence on the downhills. Sworks tires grip much better than I expected.
Weaknesses: Saddle was a torture device (for me), some house brand parts are pretty heavy (post, bars, saddle). Not as light as I would expect a $5K bike to be (26.4lbs w/XTR Pedals Large). Sworks tires aren't durable enough for everyday use.
This bike is so much more fun to ride than my old 26" Epic. I'm able to fly downhill compared to before. I'm now faster than many of my friends who I couldn't keep up with on my old bike. It is a bit heavier and it's noticeable on the climbs. However, it climbs technical, rough trails much easier. Not sure if it's a faster bike on typical course but it sure is much more fun to ride. For all out speed it probably depends on how rough and technical the course is. The best racing platform is probably a 29er HT. However, I wanted a bike that was more fun to ride and would spare my lower back. This bike fits the bill.
I'm very happy with my purchase. I prefer to ride this bike for more technical riding than even my 26" Enduro. This is the best true race bike that can double as a super fun trail bike.
Would have loved to be able to buy the Sworks Epic 29er but it was just too much. This bike with a few mods and the carbon wheels isn't too far off for thousands less.
Bike Setup: Replaced wheelset with Carbon Roval SL (took 1.2lbs off), Replaced the tires with Maxxis IKON 2.2 EXO. Replaced saddle with Selle Italia SLR, Wellgo Titanium SPD pedals, RaceFace Carbon post. Weight is now 24.3lbs. Not too bad for a 29er race bike.