Cross-country racing has always been a battle of grams—a contest to see who can build the lightest machine. The new Specialized Epic Hardtail flips the bird at that hoary convention. Yes, you’re looking at the lightest production hardtail to date, but the new Specialized Epic Hardtail is a hell of a lot more than that. This is the most capable and comfortable XC race bike ever.
Capable, comfortable…those aren’t adjectives that get tossed around much in elite cross-country racing. But here’s the thing—you’re not reaching the podium if you’re death-gripping the brakes or getting pummeled by the trail. The fastest bike is more than simply the lightest bike. This is proof.
Cross-country courses have grown rougher, so we made the Epic HT more capable. It starts with all-new geometry. Taking a page from our trail bike playbook, we slackened the head angle to 68.5 degrees, reduced the fork offset, increased reach and moved to shorter (60-75 millimeter) stems on all frame sizes. End result? The Epic HT retains a short wheelbase for deft handling, yet it offers more predictable steering and a more centered rider position for increased control.
More Versatile Than Ever Before
We boosted tyre clearance, letting you take full advantage of wider-volume tyres on more challenging tracks. And while we were at it, we equipped the bike with a 30.9-millimeter seatpost, which gives you the option to run longer-travel dropper posts for even more maneuverability and control on technical sections.
Tuned for Comfort. Tuned for Speed.
A fatigued you is not a fast you. That’s a simple fact, yet history is littered with ultra-light and ultra-harsh XC bikes. We fine-tuned our composite lay-up and tube shaping to make the new Epic HT more forgiving…and even faster. Smaller diameter seatstays, for example, increase vertical compliance. Ditto for our new arced seat tube design that offers as much vertical compliance as the previous, smaller-diameter seat tube, yet plays nice with all sorts of dropper posts.
Simple, Reliable, and Utterly Badass
There’s a reason people don’t use Ferraris to pick up their groceries. Sophisticated, race-bred machines have a reputation for being fickle, sensitive, and frankly, a royal pain to own and operate. Let’s call bullshit on that right now.
The Epic HT is a World-Cup-caliber race rocket that’s also hassle free. There are no proprietary, bolt-on bits and pieces to fret over. And yep, there’s a threaded bottom bracket here as well. Proven, reliable, and utterly badass.
The Epic HT sets a new standard in capability and comfort, and it does all that while also being the lightest production frame on earth. We optimised every inch of this frame, fine tuning the fiber and resin mix as well as custom shaping every ply to eliminate unnecessary overwrap. We even ditched the aluminium inserts in the rear dropouts. End result? A remarkable frame that tips the scales at 790 grams.
1. When does the Epic HT go public?
August 6th, 18:00. 2019.
2. How many models of Epic HT are Specialized offering?
They now offer seven complete Epic HT models, as well as an S-Works frame-only option.
3. What’s the price range?
The range starts at $2,110 (the Carbon 29 model) and goes up to $9,510 (the S-Works SRAM version). The S-Works frame-only kit sells for $2,000. These prices are in US dollars. Check with your local PR representative for exact pricing in your market.
On a related note, that $2,110 price point brings cutting-edge carbon technology to riders at a price point where aluminum frames are still prevalent. We’re stoked to have brought that level of performance and technology to a price more riders can afford.
4. Do all of the Epic Hardtails share the same frame? If not, what sets the frames apart (and which models get which frames)?
There are two frames in the lineup. The S-Works models feature our FACT 12M carbon frames, while Pro, Expert, Comp, and Carbon 29 models are built around our FACT 11M carbon frame. The S-Works frame is 140 grams lighter.
5. What was the goal of the redesign?
It’s an XC race bike, so cutting weight was a starting point. That said, XC courses are undeniably more technical than in the past. That fact drove Specialized to make the bike more capable on rougher tracks—necessitating entirely new geometry, clearance for bigger tires, and the ability to run dropper posts. In other words, the goal here was to make the Epic HT lighter, more comfortable, more controlled, and more versatile than before.
6. How much does the new Epic HT weigh?
A size Medium frame, painted, weighs 790 grams (1.74 pounds). That’s more than 75 grams lighter than the previous Epic HT chassis and a solid 50 grams lighter than the closest competitor. The new Epic HT is the lightest full-production hardtail anywhere.
7. How did they achieve the weight savings?
Specialized optimized every inch of this frame, from fine-tuning the carbon fiber and resin mix to custom shaping every ply so that there are no unnecessary overwraps that add weight without improving ride quality or strength. They even eliminated the aluminum inserts in the rear dropouts. That said, Specialized weren’t willing to sacrifice durability or strength just to cut those grams.
The new Epic HT is just as strong as before, has more tire clearance, and now accepts longer-travel dropper posts. It’s the lightest mass-produced hardtail on the market, but it’s also worlds more capable and versatile. You’re not the fastest rider on the course if you are on the brakes during the descents or if you feel worked-over every time you power through a technical section on an unforgiving bike.
8. What changes did Specialized make to the geometry?
They wanted to give riders more control. And they did that by growing reach and relaxing the head tube angle to 68.5 degrees. The bike still needed to be nimble and easy to thread through tight corners, which meant that Specialized also needed the wheelbase to stay tight. The reduced fork offset (42 millimeters) helps them achieve that balance of increased downhill control and deft handling on tighter sections of trail.
9. The previous Epic HT featured a 27.2mm seatpost that was designed to flex and create a comfortable ride. Why did Specialized move to a wider-diameter seat tube and 30.9mm seatpost?
If every second counts (and it always does), then having the option to drop your saddle and ride with more speed and confidence on descents is essential. Going with a 30.9mm seatpost gives riders the option to run a full-length dropper. The engineers did all that without sacrificing comfort thanks to a new seat tube design (note the arc) which is just as compliant as the smaller-diameter (27.2) seat tube on the previous Epic HT.
10. This article mentions that the Epic HT is more comfortable over rough terrain than the version it replaces. How did Specialized achieve that?
The new SpecializedEpic HT is noticeably more forgiving when you’re hammering away in the saddle, which might seem surprising since we went to a larger-diameter seat tube. The new shape of the seat tube allows them to maintain the same amount of compliance as before, while gaining the ability to run long-travel dropper posts. Finally, they went to slightly smaller seatstays, which also increased vertical compliance.
11. What’s the max tire size that can you fit on the new Epic HT?
The new frame will fit 2.3” to 2.4” tires with plenty of mud clearance to spare. Rim widths are increasing, and even cross-country racers are riding wider tires at lower air pressures than in the past. Specialized took that into account with this frame. Of course, even if you aren’t racing, having the extra clearance to run a larger volume tire simply makes the Epic HT more versatile and more comfortable.
12. What were the stiffness goals with the new frame?
Creating an optimal, overall frame stiffness was key—if the front-end is too flexy, the bike feels like a noodle and steers poorly. If the rear-end is too stiff, the bike won’t track well in rough corners and will sap rider energy over the course of a long or technically-challenging race. The goal was to hit that sweet spot with a stiff front-end that steers precisely and transfers energy well at the bottom bracket, and a rear-end that tracks well and provides the kind of compliance necessary to finish challenging descents without feeling wiped out. Tube shaping and diameter were absolutely key in achieving those goals.
Specialized also invested a tremendous amount of development into developing Rider-First™ tunes—creating unique lay-up schedules for every size of frame, so that the Epic HT has a consistent ride quality and personality across all frame sizes. Small frames aren’t harsh. X-Large frames aren’t flexy. Every rider experiences the same perfectly-dialed ride quality, no matter their height.
SPECIALIZED EPIC HT SW CARBON ULTRALIGHT 29
Price: R140 000
When: September 2019
SPECIALIZED EPIC HT COMP CARBON 29
Prcie: R44 000
When: December 2019
Source: Specialized Bicycles