The Specialized Epic EVO Is a Mid-Travel Bike That’s Lighter Than Most XC Bikes

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

From Bicycling

The Takeaway: The updated Epic EVO is an incredibly versatile bike that is well-suited to a wide range of race and trail ride applications.

  • No more proprietary suspension

  • 120mm fork and 110mm frame

  • Agile like an XC bike but more trail-capable

Price: $11,525
Weight: 22.1 lb. (XL)


The EVO version is the more adventurous and capable side of the Epic family. Part XC bike, part trail bike, the new EVO borrows the front triangle from the Epic, tacks on a new rear triangle, and ditches the Brain shock in favor of a non-proprietary metric shock. The result: a crazy light bike (22.5 lb. for the size XL; S-Works build) with 120mm of travel in the front and 110mm in the rear that’s nimble and responsive like an XC bike but very much capable of holding its own on more rugged terrain. The new, ultralight Roval Control SL wheels, wrapped in a Ground Control front and Fast Trak rear, go a long way towards keeping overall weight low, and even on a bigger bike they feel undeniably quick.

Specialized claims the updated rear suspension has a higher and more progressive leverage ratio, with improved anti-squat. That sounds great on paper, but reality feels even better. The SID Ultimate fork and SIDLuxe Ultimate shock gave me a lively ride that made the bike feel as though it was gliding over really chunky trails, and great bottom out support so I felt safe blasting hard into bigger obstacles. But don’t be fooled into thinking this bike loses its edge because of the extra travel. The 120mm SID Ultimate gives more of a stiff XC ride than a plush trail feel. And the lockout is insanely firm and easy to access, for those who appreciate lockouts (I do). And while it’s unfair to compare anti-squat on the EVO to the Epic, it feels remarkably efficient for a mid travel bike, even when out of the saddle on smoother trails.

5 Things We Love About The Specialized S-Works Epic EVO

Whether you view the EVO as an XC bike turned up to 11, or a light duty trail bike that can hang on the XC course, depends on your perspective. It’s a very versatile machine.

The EVO is made for all-day trail adventures, ultra-endurance races, and Transylvania Epic-type stage races. But I wouldn’t be bashful about lining up at an XC race with the EVO. It doesn’t have the same level of high-performance pedaling efficiency as the Epic, but it doesn’t feel like the suspension is eating too much power, either. It’s an ideal bike for riders who don’t pigeon-hole themselves into one particular style of riding, namely racing, but enjoy a wide range of off-road adventures.

Specialized S-Works Epic EVO Details

Style: Trail, Marathon
Material: Carbon
Wheel Size: 29-inch
Fork: 120mm SID Ultimate
Shock: RockShox SID Luxe Ultimate
Travel: 110mm
Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 AXS Eagle
Cranks: 175mm SRAM XX1 Eagle
Chainring: 32t
Cassette: SRAM XG-1299 Eagle 10-50
Brakes: SRAM G2 Ultimate
Wheels: Roval Control SL
Tires: 2.3-inch Specialized Ground Control front, Fast Trak rear
Saddle: Body Geometry S-Works Power
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb AXS
Handlebar: S-Works Carbon XC Mini Rise
Stem: S-Works SL, alloy
Tire Clearance: 2.4 in.

Blend of XC and Trail Geometry

As you may have guessed, the EVO is longer, lower, and slacker. The head angle was pushed out to 66.5 degrees, with 114mm of trail. The 74.5 degree seat angle (for size M to XL, size S frames have 74.8 degree seat angles) is slightly steeper than the 73.8 degrees found on the previous EVO. The bottom bracket dropped four millimeters to a height of 336mm, and reach got a similar treatment to the Epic. Size Small is only six millimeters longer, but the XL is 20mm longer. Furthermore, the new EVO adds XS to the size range.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

The new EVO also has a flip chip that, when moved to the high position, bumps up the head and seat angles by half a degree, and raises the bottom bracket by six millimeters.

Epic EVO Family

The EVO is available in four complete builds, and as a frameset. The S-Works EVO gets the top-tier FACT 12m carbon frame, 120mm RockShox SID Ultimate fork, SIDLuxe Ultimate shock, SRAM XX1 AXS drivetrain, and Roval Control SL hoops. That beauty will set you back $11,525.

The EVO Pro ($8,250) drops down to the FACT 11m carbon frame with a Fox Stepcast Factory fork and a Fox DPS Factory shock. It’s hung with Shimano’s excellent XTR 12-speed drivetrain and rolls on Roval Control Carbon wheels.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

The $5,925 EVO Expert could be your ticket to off-road adventure. This bike uses the same carbon frame and Roval wheels as the Pro, but relies on a 120mm RockShox SID Select+ fork and SIDLuxe Select+ shock to smooth out the ride. SRAM’s X01 Eagle drivetrain rounds out this high value (by comparison) build.

Finally, we have the EVO Comp ($4,125). The FACT 11m carbon frame rolls on alloy wheels, and suspension duties are handled by a 120mm RockShox SID Select fork and a RockShox Deluxe Select shock. Shimano’s SLX 12-speed drivetrain rounds out the most budget-friendly option in the EVO family.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

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