For the first of the big four weekend Olympic-length cross-country World Championships, New Zealander Samuel Gaze lined up on the Nové Město na Moravě start with the other U23 men. With a third place rank in UCI XC for the season, Gaze got a good front row starting place and rode near the front of the race from the start aboard a fairly standard Specialized S-Works Epic World Cup 29er. That’s not to say that the bike isn’t pretty tricked out, it’s more that Specialized actually sells some pretty race worthy cross-country bikes. Gaze’s bike build isn’t exactly stock though, and he does get a unique paint job. Take a closer look below the fold, plus an update with actual race weight


The S-Works Epic is one of the winningest full suspension bikes to take on the top levels of competition, and Sam Gaze certainly did the bike justice, as he has done through the World Cup season this year. In fact we were here in May last year for the most recent World Cup race on this same course, which was won on essentially the same bike under Jaroslav Kulhavý.

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Sam Gaze’s bike is in a unique robin’s egg blue that at first glance is easy to confuse with the Trek women’s team bikes. But the big red S-Works logos and Brain suspension – the modified Rock Shox RS-1 up front and co-developed Fox/Specialized remote Mini Brain out back – lay any mix-up to rest quickly.

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Gaze’s bike had its number 3 race plate zip tied to the S-Works FACT SL carbon flat handlebar. Grips appeared to be ESI silicone instead of Specialized’s own similar offering. Braking was handled by SRAM’s Level Ultimates. The tall rider’s cockpit was held together with a rather long 130mm S-Works alloy stem to get the stretched out fit he is comfortable with. Seating was handled by a 20mm offset S-Works carbon post and carbon-railed S-Works Phenom saddle.

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It is often the little touches that set the elite riders’ bikes apart. While the small name and flag detail is pretty standard just to keep the team’s bikes straight, Gaze gets a bit more customization with a Carbon-Ti X-Clamp 3 seatpost clamp with his name laser etched on it. To spin his cranks, the New Zealander opts for Look’s light S-Track pedals.

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Diverging from the stock S-Works Epic World Cup builds, Gaze was riding SRAM’s new 12 speed XX1 Eagle drivetrain with its 10-50 cassette, which we would imagine will probably be offered on the stock builds for 2017. Most top-level Specialized/SRAM builds use Specialized’s own cranks, but Gaze rode the carbon XX1 cranks with a 36T Eagle X-Sync direct mount ring, and a custom-made chain guide to eliminate any chance for dropping the chain. There is of course Eagle’s nice rainbow ti-nitride coated PowerLock quicklink in there too.

The little checkered flag on the seattube also reminds us that this bike uses the shorter travel 95mm World Cup suspension configuration (down from 100mm on the non-WC Epics). It also means the bike has a slightly shortened wheelbase, by just 8mm, but claimed to help handling in the tight and curvy courses of the World Cup race circuit.

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Gaze won on Specialized S-Works tires set up tubeless. He was riding S-Works Renegade 2Bliss tires in a 29″ x 2.1″ width that does not appear to be available to the public.

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Gaze’s race winning Epic weighed in at 10.54kg/23.24lb.


Yeah, that’s pretty much what it seems to feel like after you’ve just won a World Championship. Some mixture between ‘unbelievably thrilled’ and ‘cannot stand up’.



  1. I’m more interested in those shoes. Seems to be modified s-works road shoes. I think I can spot an adapter, so it might even be standard road shoes

  2. Nice bike but I think there should be a law that says no cassette cog can be larger than your rear disc rotor.

    • lol +1 on that. That’s also how you can finally make 26″ obsolete, is by making a cassette larger than the rims.

      • Or, you can have a chainring smaller than your smallest cog!!! Who cares? This guy won, and cassettes are getting bigger and bikes are getting undeniably better and 1x is part of that.

        • No it isnt. 1x forces constant cross chaining that wears out expensive parts faster and creates more drag. Only good for manufacturer

          • I was pretty anti-1x for a while but now have XX1 on my XC race bike and my trail bike. I am amazed at how long the drive train parts are lasting. I clean them pretty regularly (which is key) but have almost two seasons on both with original chains that simply don’t seem to wear?

        • He did win, though it could well be argued he’d have one on another bike… 1x is good, very good. Big cassettes, not really convinced and err on the side of @ascarlarkinyar. As for bikes getting better… you need to quantify that as bikes are more than ever a sum of their parts. Aside for the endless marketing redesign, I think frames themselves are at their peak and don’t expect to see much ‘improvement’ until something radical happens; I’d go as far to say, aside from the push into carbon and the design avenues that’s opened, bike were pretty dang good (better than 98% of the average Joe rider) 5 years ago.

          • If you compare today’s Rio-bound XC bikes to those from 5 years ago, there’s a massive difference in geometry. The Epic is one of the last of the “road geo” era, bikes like the new Spark are nearly All-Mountain in geometry in comparison.

    • I don’t know if I can post a BR link, but I think you are looking for this: bikerumor.com/2016/07/03/xc-pro-bike-check-new-womens-elite-world-champion-annika-langvads-specialized-s-works-era/

      In any case, check out the main page, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  3. That are some new tires from specialized.. hope to see them on MY2017 and to have lower rolling resistance than continentals..

  4. So instead of having a custom sized frame for him i.e. bigger, Specialized chose to go down the roadie road and give him a longer stem and slacked out seatpost…

    • Yes because comfort isn’t the ultimate goal but efficiency and agility.
      Bigger bike would’ve been heavier, less agile and not as good on the race course.

  5. Specialized will offer new XC Tires for MY17.
    New Renegade, Fast Trak and Ground Control. All these tires will get new Tread Pattern, new casing construction and a new Compound calls GRIPTON. Compound is based on the development which Specialized already have done on the Road tires which won the worlds in 2015 and 2016. Kwiatkowski and Sagan.

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