The All-New Specialized Epic 8

The All-New Specialized Epic 8

Written by Isaac Boyden, on March 12, 2024

When it comes to new bike model releases not much has changed over the last three years. It feels like as a new model comes out, it just has small changes over the previous model or it might be something as small as a paint change. And when bikes are reworked from the ground up,  the newer bike is not always "better". With some exceptions over the last three years, most "new" bikes feel like more like an evolution as opposed to a revolution. Well, fear not! The all-new Specialized Epic 8 is here to break that trend. With progressive angles, custom-tuned suspension, frame storage, no Brain, and efficiency galore, the Epic 8 is here to break cross-country racing norms. 

A 2-in-1 

Like the previous generation of Epic (known as Epic 7), there is an Epic and Epic Evo. The previous generation Epic had 100mm of suspension front and rear.  With a different rear triangle and a modified shock link, Specialized also offered the Epic Evo which offered 120mm front /110mm rear travel which made for a bike with added comfort and increased stability. The same new chassis is used on both the Epic and the Epic Evo. The Epic 8 now features 120mm of front and rear shock travel. To build an Epic Evo, just swap to a 130mm travel fork. While the stock Evo does use a different shock with higher volume and a different tune, the geometry would be the same if you were to take a normal Epic 8 and add a fork with 10mm of additional travel. Both the Evo and standard Epic no longer use the Brain suspension which is a change welcomed by many. 

Moving on to the newest generation Epic, there is the addition of 20mm of suspension travel and there are significant changes in the geometry. It is very common that 100mm cross-country bikes going through a re-design these days make the jump to 120mm. So does the new Epic. While that probably comes as no surprise,  a notable change is in regards to the bike's super slack headtube angle. If you aren't into the cross-country scene and the minutia of modern geometries, here is a frame of reference. The Santa Cruz Blur, in the TR configuration uses a 67.1° headtube angle, the SCOTT Spark RC is at 67.2°, and the Orbea Oiz is at 67°. The new Epic is at a staggering shallow 65.9° when the headset's flip-chip is set in the slacker position. The slack setting loses 0.5° on the head angle and lowers the BB 5mm. So the Epic 8, set in the steeper position, is still slacker than all of the 120mm bikes that we work with at Contender. This includes the BMC Fourstroke LT and Cervelo ZFS-5 120 , both of which are the “Trail” versions of their racier counterparts. The Epic is even slacker than an Allied BC40. The Epic Evo comes stock with the flip-chip in the slack setting, bringing that head angle with the 130mm fork to an oh-so-low 65.4°. If we had to guess why Specialized went so progressively slack, it is tied to the unique offering of a 75mm travel, race-centric Epic World Cup.  The World Cup is their no-holds-barred pure XCO race bike. 

In order to make that progressive headtube angle not feel unmanageable, the Epic 8 steepens up the seat tube angle by a full 1.5° and stretches the reach out by 15mm over the previous bike to make sure the cockpit will not feel cramped with that steeper seat tube. The more raked-out fork on this bike does result in a longer wheelbase providing the added stability required in a modern XCO bike.  Interestingly enough, this bike features shorter chainstays helping to preserve the snappier feel that a cross-country bike should have. Combined with a steeper seat tube, the short chainstays should help the rider not feel like they are too far back. This all results in the new Epic 8 being more comfortable and a significantly more capable bike than the previous generation. 

The Nitty, And Of Course, The Gritty 

For the dedicated at-home mechanic? Don't fret based on what is seen in these pictures! Only the S-works bike has brakes hoses routed through the headset. The other Epic frames use standard routing giving the rider the best of both worlds. For those looking for the cleanest aesthetic, the S-Works, a complete bike using RockShox's Flight Attendant and their Reverb AXS dropper, only has one hose running internally through the headset. The non-S-Works frames use a more traditional routing of cables and hoses. All versions of the bike feature the steering limiter (as seen on the Epic WC) which helps prevent cracked top tubes from bar strike.  Woot-Woot!

All of the new Epics now have a SWAT box. The new SWAT box uses a longer metal latch over the original SWAT box seen on the Stumpjumper. This should be easier to use over the previous version especially if the rider has cold hands. The bottom side of the SWAT door has straps to hold a CO2 inflator, for quick deployment in a race setting and a strong rubber seal to keep the elements out. There is also a bag that sits in the frame for tools and more. The Epic Evo bikes, with lightweight taking less priority, get a SWAT multitool built into the fork's steerer for ease of access. 

The new Epic 8 is clearly focused on efficiency. Specialized claims that in the shock's fully-open mode, the new Epic 8 is the best pedaling bike they have ever made. Specialized says that the new bike has reduced pedal bob by 20% over the previous model while creating a smoother ride than the previous Epics. With a smoother ride and a “bump force” that is 12% lower than the previous model, the Epic is designed to be the best of both worlds. 

At 1800g, the Epic frame is 76g lighter than it's predecessor. A portion of the weight reduction was accomplished by molding the shock mounting tabs directly into the frame rather than bonding them on later in the process. Like the World Cup, the new Epic frames feature a BSA threaded bottom bracket, every mechanic's favorite. 

The Epic 8 (The Racer) 

The standard epic, the 120mm front/rear bike, is built around racing and this is evident through the bike's build kit. All of these Epics will come with a Rockshox SID fork and SIDLuxe rear shock equipped with a custom-tuned, 3-position Twist-Loc remote lockout system for both shocks. The rear shock is also modified from the normal SIDLuxe by increasing volume in the shock. This was done to let the bike have a suspension package with a very linear feeling that relies on the higher volume to help with bottom-out resistance and to not require volume spacers in order to keep it linear. Specialized recommends to setup the Epic at 12-14mm of sag. The custom-tuned SIDLuxe has a middle-mode on the lockout, called the “Magic Middle”, that anticipates riders staying in this mode nearly 80% of the time. Over the normal SID’s middle-mode, the Epic's middle will not only offer less pedal bob at lower shaft speeds to increase climbing efficiency, but also will be more supportive and softer than a normal SIDLuxe at higher shaft speeds. In the middle, the shock is more supportive to the rider at slower shaft speeds, and breaks away as shaft speed increases. Not to be overlooked, and more to come here, the S-Works version (when delivered as a complete bike) uses the all-new Rockshox Flight Attendant electronically controlled suspension package.

All of the Epic builds (the 120mm front and rear travel bikes) will have Level four-piston brakes, a Fast Trak front tire and a Renegade rear tire. The top-end build will use the Roval Control SL one-piece cockpit.  Only the standard Epic has a S-Works frame option. The S-Works frame swaps out any steel bolts over to titanium to save additional weight. While the Flight Attendant system adds about 120g over a normal lockout (including the remote and the cables), it should be a much more efficient system that will standout on "dynamic" courses such as the Park City Point 2 Point or the Arkansas US Pro Cup or almost any UCI-level XCO World Cup course. The system can be used as a manual wireless lockout, or as a continuously changing system altering the settings based on the terrain at a frequency of over 140 times a minute. The Flight Attendant system also has built-in Ai to learn about a rider's style and the terrain they ride on. In other words, the more it is ridden, the better it becomes. 

The Epic 8 Evo (The people's bike) 

The Epic Evo is made to be the everyday bike. The bike to race one day and to rip some jumps or loamers on the next. This is also reflected in the parts kit. All Epic Evos come with a 130mm fork and no remote lockouts. The Pro level Evo uses Fox's Grip2 damper on the fork, which lacks a lockout. All of the Evos use a slightly heavier Fox Float rear shock, which offers bigger volume than the shock on the standard Epic. The Fox Float, which is specifically tuned for this bike, has a two-position pedal switch, so a “firm” climb mode and a fully-open mode. The Evos also get shorter stems and bars with more rise than the standard Epics in an effort to offer more comfort and to add to the bike's descending prowess. In other words, to make it more fun. 

Epic Evos are coming with some big brakes. Spec'd out of the box with SRAM Code brakes, the Evo features a larger brake than on any other 120mm rear bike we've seen. The Pro bike uses Code Silver brakes, with a 180mm rear rotor and a 200mm front rotor. Huge rotors for a “down-country” bike. The Evos also use a longer dropper than the normal Epic. To match-up with the bigger brakes on this bike, the bike comes equipped with bigger tires, a Ground Control with Grid casing in the rear and a Purgatory front. This would be a great bike for long rides with tons of climbing in Park City while at the same time it would still be able to rip some rougher trails down south without compromise. One might argue this is the perfect Utah bike. 

Evolution Of The Fastest 

Specialized may call this latest release an "Evolution of the fastest" but compared to what others have done recently we might call it a revolution. This bike prioritizes lighter weight, maximum efficiency, and “unmatched capability”. Questions on how this bike can check so many boxes? Or looking to upgrade the short travel ripping game? Call us, chat with us on our website or visit us in-store! 

 

Specialized Epic 8 Sheet


2 comments

  • Hey Jesse,

    We recommend staying true to the size you are currently on. If you have the generation 7 epic, you should be on the same size, but like with all bikes try and test ride both sizes before to make sure you have the right fit.

    Thanks,
    Joseph

    Joseph - Contender Bicycles on

  • Hello! Sweet review thanks as always. With respect to geo changes, would you size consistently with new epic? I’m at 5’7” and saddle 70.5cm. I’m always between the small and medium. Do you think the new era epic swings that sizing in a certain direction?

    Jesse on

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