2018 Specialized Epic S-Works race hardtail mountain bike

The unofficial official launch of both the new 2018 Specialized S-Works Epic and its new Roval Control SL wheels was on course at a 24 hour mountain bike race earlier this year, but it was a rather quiet affair. We spotted it a couple weeks ago and had some early info, and now we’ve got the full download for you.

To achieve the 800-850 gram frame weight, they had to completely change up the tube shapes, somewhat going back to basics. The lightest tube is going to be a straight, round tube, and that’s what it has. Which is why it looks almost old school, particularly next to its M2 Team predecessor from the early days of Ned Overend’s racing career…

2018 Specialized Epic S-Works race hardtail mountain bike

As Specialized likes to put it, a full 20oz water bottle weighs more than this frame. It’s 200g lighter than the previous S-Works frame. And it’s the lightest frame they’ve ever made…road or mountain, disc or rim brake. By the time the FACT 12M carbon is painted and all hardware attached, claimed frame weight is just 875g for a size medium. And the work they put into designing this one has already trickled down – the next tier FACT 10M carbon frame is 50g lighter than the previous S-Works Stumpjumper hardtail.

Layups vary by frame size to tailor them to the likely rider weight, with a small frame designed to ride the same as an XL. Reach and seat angle were also tweaked to help improve overall fit. Women will have more than just small sizing options, too. The women’s S-Works Epic gets a custom tuned fork and appropriately sized cockpit parts to cater to smaller, lighter riders.

2018 Specialized Epic S-Works race hardtail mountain bike

The top tube has a slight curve, but for the most part, getting from point A to B in the most efficient manner helped them shave grams. One of their engineers explained that the layup was optimized for weight savings where they could (like in the seat tube, helping keep it somewhat compliant) but reinforced in the head tube and BB areas to keep it stiff. They say it has one of the best stiffness to weight ratios of competing top level bikes, too. Everything’s run internally and it includes a port and internal routing to guide the cable for a stealth dropper post.

2018 Specialized Epic S-Works race hardtail mountain bike

The head tube angle was made a little slacker for better high speed stability.

2018 Specialized Epic S-Works race hardtail mountain bike

The bump stop ended up being a lighter weight solution compared to shaping the downtube to clear the fork’s crown.

2018 Specialized Epic S-Works race hardtail mountain bike

2018 Specialized Epic S-Works race hardtail mountain bike

Di2 ports are available, though there doesn’t seem to be any concession for running both the internal battery and a dropper post, so take your pick. Three bottle bolts adorn the down tube so you can run a single bottle lower, or add their SWAT storage cage system.

2018 Specialized Epic S-Works race hardtail mountain bike

If the chainstays look a little anemic compared to most race-oriented hardtails, it’s because they, too, get a most round shape. This particular bike was a special build to mimic one of the originals, but stock options at the S-Works level include XTR Di2 2×11 for $9,500 or the World Cup build with SRAM Eagle XX1 for $8,000. You won’t get these special chrome dipped wheels on either, but you might get these:

2018 Roval Control SL lightweight wide carbon xc mountain bike race wheels

The new Roval Control SL 29er wheels only come in 29er size, but you’ve got the option of Boost, standard or Torque Tube axle systems. The big news is that they get wider, with stronger spokes, but they keep just about the same overall sub-1400g weight as before.

2018 Roval Control SL lightweight wide carbon xc mountain bike race wheels

Rim weight is under 400g and is actually a little lighter than before despite growing to 25mm wide internally.

2018 Roval Control SL lightweight wide carbon xc mountain bike race wheels

Specialized was one of the earliest brands to switch to a hookless bead design and it carries on here.

2018 Roval Control SL lightweight wide carbon xc mountain bike race wheels

This new version uses standard DT Swiss spokes instead of Revolution spokes, so they’re easier to find and replace, but also thicker and more durable. Front gets 24 spokes, rear has 28. Both front and rear hubs use DT Swiss internals, with the rear getting the 54-tooth Star Ratcher for quick engagement. Front hub options include standard 15mm thru axle or the Rockshox Torque Caps shown here.

2018 Roval Control SL lightweight wide carbon xc mountain bike race wheels

They’re Tubeless Plugs compatible, which saves about 20-32g per wheel depending on rim width and type of tape used. Retail is $1,900 for the pair. Claimed weights are 1320g (standard 100/142), 1340g (boost 110/148). Add 51g for the RS-1 Predictive Steering Torque Tube compatible versions.

Specialized.com

52 COMMENTS

  1. “there doesn’t seem to be any concession for running both the internal battery and a dropper post”

    I guess the exactly ONE person who would ever consider buying this bike to run a dropper post will have to shop elsewhere.

  2. The old Anodizing Inc. built M2 S-Works frames were notoriously brittle. I doubt the new bike will be durable either at that weight (and big red S runs a short warranty, so you’ll be SOL if you try to get a few race seasons out of the frame).

  3. To a correction: the last gen also were DT Swiss brand Revolution model. The new version is still DT Swiss brand but are the newish Competition Race model

  4. i LOVE the color tribute to the old fork. i know chrome paint may not work well when we are dealing with carbon instead of alloy but come on… lets at least get some gumwall tires going specialized

      • I’ve seen insane variantion too. Working for a dealer and getting in tons of team S-Works bikes, 150g differences in a given size was normal. My bet is that your bike has bladder material left in it? Oddly enough, I’ve seen the last gen Roubaix come in under the weight of your Tarmac

  5. The gold Mag21 color looks so wrong, if I’m correct they rode silver grey Futureshock forks (made by RS) back then. This is how this iconic red/yelow frame is remembered in the vintage mtb sections aniway.

  6. “This new version uses standard DT Swiss spokes instead of Revolution spokes, so they’re easier to find and replace”

    Yeah, every bike shop I know of has straight-pull spokes in stock…..

  7. I like the cable entry points on the head tube. Makes a lot of sense to prevent cable wear which usually occurs at that location. Lynskey mount their braze ons there too. Why would it not make sense?

  8. Here are some reasons you can build a carbon mountain bike hard tale frame lighter then a road frame.

    1.) Typical road bike fames are designed to fit two water bottles and cages; mountain bikers use hydration packs but typically mountain biker manufacters will still try to include at least one bottle location.

    2.) Mountain bikes are allowed to have radically sloping top tubes but the UCI rule book limits how much slope the top tube can have on a road frame.

    3.) Road bikes have traditionally used rim brakes which means the seat stays have to be built with extra stiffness to resist flexing while braking.

    4.) Road biked have gone to aero shaping of the frame which adds additional weight.

    5.) The frame and seat post really need to be designed together because the more radically sloped the top tube is the longer the seat post gets and the wider it needs to be to take the compression and bending stresses.

  9. 3) Disc brakes require stiffening stays much more than rim brakes due to radically increased torque. I’ve seen many steel frames with an extra tube welded between the chain and seat stays on the disc side.

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