from HUNTSVILLE TEXAS
Date Reviewed: January 15, 2011
Strengths: Brain shock makes it all happen! Sprintability on climbs, at starts, and neutral handling
Weaknesses: Flexes and bottom bracket joint when getting down on hard pack, kind of heavy.
This is my third Epic in 8 years now. Original bits are almost bulletproof. All of these I've bought have been the entry level, but for 600-800 on ebay, come on. Anyway, regardless of components, stock shock is great quality. Change psi and oil weights for infinitely adjustable fork. Doesnt flex or vibrate under heavy hard braking. Good job FOX. Brain shock works awesome. I've got a 2010 Epic with the sensor and shock seperated and the Brain one piece is the better of the two. Sometimes it feels like it gets stiffer as the ride goes on or when it really is working alot. Not been able to find fix for this, but overall not a big problem. Trail Tune is awesome. Can change to suit trail conditions or weather-again good job FOX. I would like to have seen a smaller head on the left chainstay dropout pivot-keep hitting my rear disc on it and have eaten at every one of them I've had. I love Specialized I guess. Products don't change much from year to year whichs to me means they are pretty much on target with products and they seem to know their customers. Their geometry is traditional west coast-neutral flat and climbing handling and oriented at downhill handling. East coast handling is just the opposite. Cannondale, Trek (Gary Fisher before his Genesis brain fart), Titus, Litespeed, etc were all generally east coast until early 2000s. Anyway. I love these bikes and will buy them on ebay until I cant find them anymore. I have two, and 04 and 07 in the boxes I bought them in that will be there until my current bike dies. Buy them if you can!!!!!
Similar Products Used: This is my 3rd one! 01 Stumpjumer Comp HT, '92 Stumpjumper M2 HT, '86 Stumpjumper (rigid)
Bike Setup: Full XT (M765), Homemade carbon wheels, Monkey Lite lo-rise bar, IRC Mythos tires(tubeless), Fox F100 RLT
a Cross Country Rider
from Houston, Texas, USA
Date Reviewed: May 18, 2010
Strengths: Comfortable, fast, nimble, looks great, Brain is awesome compromise between hard tail and full suspension. love the 29're's ability to roll over roots and rock w/minimal effort.
Weaknesses: poor quality wheels. bannana'd front rim on second ride. surprised specialized would choose a low quality wheel and spoke system on such a high end bike.
buy the bike as is but upgrade the wheels before walking out of the store. I would give the value rating a 5 if Specialized upgraded the wheels as the standard option. I've been riding for 15 years and the Epic is the best bike I've owned. If not for the bent rim on my second ride, i'd probably give it a 5 rating accross the board. I'm only 170lbs, so it's not like I over powered the bike.
Strengths: Very quick climber with minimal effort (you'll win every climb vs FS), Turns on a dime, Agressive forward riding geometry.
Weaknesses: A bit heavy for a racer without significant component upgradeds and decents can be rough at time. The suspension adjust takes time to dial it in just right.
With proper upgrades, this bike can compete with the best racers (I've placed 1st-3rd in many local races on this machine). A good rider should excel on climbs and remain competitive on downhills. Yes, this bike is a bit rough on technical decents and the agressive front forward geometry allows for easy endos on rough drop transitions. If you are looking for a fast bike for trail riding...get it. If your focus on more on comfort and cruising, get a trail bike with more suspension and easier geometry.
Do consider additional upgrades to lighten the bike and provide a more solid foundation.
Bike Setup: Upgraded to XTR Crank, XTR Front D, XO Rear D, XO Shifters, XTR Cassette/Chain, Avid Elixir CR Brakes, Chris King Hubs, DT Swiss Rims, Sella Italia Saddle, Easton Monkeylite Bar, Chris Kink Headset, Thompson Elite Post, Egg Beater Ti Pedals, Fox F100RLC Fork
a Cross Country Rider
from Lincoln, Nebraska
Date Reviewed: October 23, 2008
Strengths: Very comfortable and fast. Responds very well to nearly all
conditions. Great climbing bike for a full suspension.
The variable quick adjust front shock is the bomb.
Weaknesses: It took about 4 tries to get the suspension set up just right.
The bike shop I bought it at was not really very helpful with
this. The stock hubs are so/so. My first upgrade will be
a new wheel set
I love it. It is really adaptable. I am a big person (6',240)and my body does not take the pounding like it did
with a hard tail. I still have muscle aches but my joints
are basically pain free. I hope I do not have to buy another
bike. Unless I pass it down to my boy, then I can get a
a Cross Country Rider
from Santa Clarita,CA,USA
Date Reviewed: August 16, 2008
Strengths: Climbs like a HT, single track, fire rosd...a VERY fast bike for any of these. Pretty light for a FSR. A couple of fairly inexpensive upgrades put it st 25 lbs. I will be racing this bike. BTW retail for the Expert model is $3300 so I got a pretty good deal.
Weaknesses: Rocky downhills, drop offs...but I didn't buy this bike for that.
If you want really plush, and like to go real big on the jumps/drop offs, get something else. I went from a HT with 2" front travel to 4" front and back, so to me its a huge difference. If you ride alot of xc roads, fast single track and like to climb, and possibly do some racing, this bike is awesome! The rear locks out when it is supposed to and activates when its supposed to...everything that Specialized said it would do. And did I mention that it is a very fast bike!?
Similar Products Used: GT hard tail, Lightspeed HT and other HTs. I tested the Specialized stumpy with more travel and thats a great bike if you want a more plush ride, but if you want to go fast and do some racing as well, the Epic is the way to go.
Bike Setup: It is the stock Expert with these upgrades:
S-works carbon bar, carbon stem, Race face carbon post, Ti saddle(free!), spd pedals (exchanged for crank bros), XT cassete and frt. derailleur. I exchanged all these out at the shop when I bought it and paid an extra $250.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: October 23, 2007
Strengths: Very light for the price, great components, professional build quality, super fast on climbing and very controlled on the rough decents. switchbacks are a breeze with the light weight and efficient tracking. when you hit a hill the brain does exactly what its supposed to and sends your power to the ground. and did i mention that the sram drivetrain has prompted me to say goodbye to shimano for good.
Weaknesses: Brakes are pretty mehh for the price. at 2 thousand bucks they could have dropped a pinch more on better calipers. The only other weakness isnt really a weakness at all as much as its an observation.... the geometry of this bike is very fast and xc race oriented. however if some of those slow and steep tech sections are something that you ride often you might want to look elsewhere like the fsrxc. I ride this bike in Palos, il alot and it just flies on decents and climbs alike. but when i encountered those steep technical drops it is downright scary. my old fisher genesis frame was able to have the front wheel go down an 18 inch drop barely moving and roll out of it. on the epic the geometry sent me over the bars and into a very painful situation resulting in 3 weeks of not walking right. im not blaming the bike but i am trying to state the purpose. this bike has geometry best suited for fast xc and medium trail riding. anything that gets steep though is not appropriate for this frame.
A superfast bike that got me off of hardtails with the precision of the brain. You can pace roadies while on your way to the trail or bomb down some nasty rock gardens. Just know that it is leaning to the xc side of things and not so far to the all mountain. Although slower the stumpy FS is probably better suited to a rough trail ride.
Similar Products Used: i had looked at giant (generic), trek(shocking anyone buys them), fisher (same as trek), cannondale (nice but alot of cash).
Bike Setup: Eggbeaters, top of the line avid levers and brakes, XTR front hub, mavic rim, xt rear hub, mavic rim.
from Atlanta, GA, USA
Date Reviewed: September 13, 2007
Strengths: It climbs better than a soft tail, and descends better than a hard tail. On dry terrain this thing is fast.
Weaknesses: It doesn't climb as well as hard tail nor descend as well as a soft tail. It does not like mud at all. I do not know if it is the tires or what, but this thing slides everywhere in the mud.
This is a great bike. I have had this bike since January and have ridden it on single track rides daily. It stands up to the punishment expect for the chain. I do not understand why I have broken 4 chains, but I have. Upgrade the breaks to a disc and you have a great bike. It is a better fit for dry conditions and does not respond too well to mud.
My biggest complaint is the cost without disk breaks. The lack of disc breaks make this bike a little over priced.
from Beaverton, OR, US
Date Reviewed: July 15, 2007
Strengths: Great design, very few issues. More of a Dry weather, runny mud, and snow bike; doesn't like peanut butter mud.
Weaknesses: Mud clearance. When it comes to anything coarses that a little more than a thick soup for mud, you get this accumulation just behide the seat tube. Felt like I could plant tomatoes after a few rides/ races.
The mild bobbing when the rear is locked out. This is just something to get use to though.
Great bike, got it down to 26 lbs. Will say that I'm looking into a 29er due to the advantage they have over me on races like Xterra, and marrathon XC races
Favorite Trail: Figure 8, in Tillamook State Forest
Duration Product Used: 2 Years
Similar Products Used: First full suspension ride, was on a Klien Pulse pro before this.
Bike Setup: XT shifters & Derailler's. Race face duec xc Cranks, seat post, stem, & headset. Race face Carbon SL next flat bars. Avid BB7 breaks. LIzard skin Lock on grips. Fox F100 fork & Float R. wheels: DT Swiss 240 hubs, supercomp spokes, & r4.1 rims. Fire Pro XC tires. Salsa Flip offs
from Moscow, Idaho
Date Reviewed: June 10, 2007
Strengths: Delivers as adverstised. It is what it is!
This is a very smart bicycle. If you want a fast riding XC bike, this is it. I have been addicted to my Bontrager Race for the last 9 years. I really haven't gotten excited over buying a new bike up until I saw the Epic's. It does everything I love about my agile, great climbing bonty and so much more. It climbs like a goat, steers precisely, and descends better than any hardtail.
Here is the deal, imagine you are about an hour into your ride, your legs are warm, you feel strong. You have just gone down a sweet, fun downhill. You notice a short steep hill ahead oh you. Keeping your momentum, you click into the proper gear, grab the bar ends, stand up and CRANK!, and unload your power to the bike. The rear end responds by locking to the trail and rocketing up the hill. Roots, rocks, ruts, etc., be damned as the brain and shock soak them up effortlessly, keeping you planted and accellerating up the hill. You crest the climb, put both cranks horizontal to the soil, and enjoy another fun downhill, as the suspension soaks up more terrain, smooth, fast and efficiently.
This bike is all about going fast, pedaling hard, and being efficient. Its everything you love about a hardtail, and more, no comprimises.
Strengths: - Fast - Excellent trade off between ht/fs - Good looking
Weaknesses: - Maybe a bit hard to throw into the corners - Very bad stock brakes
A great bike if you seek the speed of an hardtail on climbs and straights. Great if you seek the comfort of a full suspension on bumpy trails (though of course it isn't as plush as a "real" soft tail like a cannondale jekyll). The brain does what it promises.
The standard brakes suck on the standard setup and the shimano LX is also bit too low budget for the bike imo. Upgrade it and you will have a great bike; great trade-off!
Similar Products Used: - Scott G-zero fx2 - Cannondale f400 - Cannondale Jekyll 800
Bike Setup: Stock 2004 except: - Crankset: Truvativ Stylo 2006 - Brake system Cane Creek direct Curve 2 2006
a Weekend Warrior
from Austin, TX, USA
Date Reviewed: January 3, 2007
Strengths: Brain Fade, aggressive geometry, Fox front forks
Weaknesses: Tires, Sometimes back-end feels loose on corners
It is a great transition to full suspension from a hardtail. I chose this bike because I wanted the climbing efficiency of a hardtail and the comfort/control of a softtail. The brain fade works very good, and I ended up setting all the adjustments for a softer feel. The initia valve in the brain works much better on small bumps with some speed, but I have not had any problems with this on the trails. I won't ever buy another hardtail. It is a great all around bike.
a Weekend Warrior
from Taunton, MA
Date Reviewed: November 16, 2006
Strengths: The suspension and brain technology is carried through from the cheapest to most exspensive model. Specialized just makes great bikes and this is one of them, I have found the brain techonology to work great for my style of riding. Bike also comes ready for disc brakes, all you need to add is the calipers and discs. Its an easy upgrade for the rim version.
Weaknesses: Your paying for the brain technology, poor rear hubs, even FSR's come with disc brakes now, wasnt crazy about the Truvante bottom bracket and crank.
Love the bike, it seemed to help my riding a lot. Even if it doesnt give the cushiest ride, its much better than a straight hard tail for a beginner or intermediate level rider.
Plan on upgrading some parts on the entry level models. If you do your own work, you can find some deals on ebay and will have a high level bike in no time. Be aware; you need a setback seat post to match specialized own model if you upgrade, and the L/XL sizes use a larger rotor in the front.
Bike Setup: Added my old Thomson stem and seat post for vanity reasons. Added an XT crank and plan to upgrade the rear hub to something better. Added avid mecahnical brakes, was an easy upgrade because the wheels and levers were disc compatible.
a Cross Country Rider
from Burke, VA, USA
Weaknesses: a bit on the heavy side for a cross country bike. frame itself flexes considerably side to side in the pivots.
First off, this review is for the 2006 frame only, which is the same on all 06 models unless you get the s-works carbon model. Second off, if your bikes chain is slipping or if there is rubbing somewhere, take it back to your shop and get it tuned! All cables stretch within the first 20-50 miles of riding and causes everything to go out of tune! If you are getting a lot of chain suck, learn to shift while going uphill. The best derailers will do that if you shift under all that force. There is no need to ever rate a bike poorly because you rode an out of tune bike or rode like a teen driving a Ferrari. That’s sounds like a component problem, not a complete bike/frameset problem.
On to the review- I've ridden this bike for nearly a year now and all I can say is WOW. I’m 190-200 lbs, a fatty for cross country, so my bike does take a beating. Yet there is no up and down flex in the suspension on climbs because of the Brain Fade shock. The fact that you can control the threshold of the shock made it worth shelling out 1895 for the complete bike just so I could have the frame. I feel as if Specialized’s FSR design is one of the best suspension designs on the market. The best as far as cross country suspension goes. When you do get the hits, the shock activates and you get more tire to the dirt for maximum efficiency downhill as well as locked out going up hill. My friends noticed considerable side to side flex of the frame at the pivots. I hooked it up to a trainer and looked in the mirror. It looked like about 20-40mm side to side flex, and the pivots are not loose. I am a big guy though; you weigh-nothings shouldn’t feel anything.
This bike deserves an overall 5, but 4 for value. You cannot buy just the frameset, which is what I was looking for. Specialized will only get you a frame if you break yours under normal conditions. If you want just the frameset, you would have to buy the $3500 carbon s-works version, which no shop has the frameset on their floor.
If you can shell out the cash, I highly recommend this bike for cross country riders that don't want to be bounced down technical sections because they couldn't keep your tire in the dirt. I think even trail riders could appreciate this frameset.
Similar Products Used: alot of others, i am a bike mechanic
Bike Setup: Epic frame, XT/XTR gruppo, Monkey lite carbon bar, Cane Creek Zonos disc carbon wheels, tubless tires, rock shox reba world cup, dual control levers are the way to go. a bunch of other upgrades. This review is for the FRAME ONLY.
Date Reviewed: October 9, 2006
Strengths: Very light (Previous S-works = M5 alu) frame, same top rear suspension as in more expensive models.
Weaknesses: None so far
The Epic Marathon seemed to be my dreambike. I owned a Stumpjumper with all the proper upgrades. The normal price would be apr. Euro 3900,- for the Epic Marathon. I've managed to save apr. Euro 1500,- by bying some new components through the internet and using some 'old' components from the stumjumper. Now I've got an Epic that is not beautiful black, instead it's less beautiful white; but it is even slightly lighter and better equipped than the original Epic Marathon. It's a great improvement for those who have a fast hardtail already but are looking for a full suspension that's light and faster under all conditions (except hardcore enduro and downhill); for racing, marathons and fast tours. No more backpains, no more fatigue. On the roughest washboards and downhills I can stay in the saddle at all time (or at least much longer), I keep on pedalling and accelarating, instead of standing on the pedals, worrying about how to keep the bike under control. The 'brain fade' does it all, from hardtail firm tot trail tune plush, as promised. So: Topframe and rear suspension, incredible light for this price. A few upgrades and you have a beatifully tuned high end bike.
Bike Setup: I bought the cheapest Epic frame, switched its components with the high end components from my stumpjumper hardtail: Fox 80 RTL, Chriss King, XT cranks etc., Thompson, Easton EA 70 bar. I bought DT-swiss 4,1 and 240s, Nobby Nick 2,1, and Magura Marta SL 180/160 (www.hibike.de!!).
and I pick it up on wed. After having demo'd numerous other bikes it comes down to the Epic. I wasn't really sure about the "brain" as I thought it was sort of gimmicky but it seems to do the job. For me the Epic seemed to feel closest to a hardtail while still giving the comfort of full sus. I'm su ... Read More »
So I wasn't able to make it to the Festival of the Trails this year, but looking over the site yesterday evening and noticed that they had a new 30mile singletrack race that ran from Cable to Hayward using the CAMBA trails during that weekend as well.
Can anyone enter this race or are there some ... Read More »
My 2006 Epic is getting up there in age and miles. I think I'm going to upgrade to a new one.
Just wondering what the opinions are on buying a complete bike vs building?
I'm not familiar with the wheels on the new epics are. Are they worth keeping or are they throw aways? The cassette and ... Read More »
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