Adventure Nomad

Adventure Nomad

Monday, March 16, 2015

Specialized Epic vs. Epic WC

This is a discussion on the Specialized S-Works Epic vs. the S-Works Epic World Cup, and maybe help you to decide which one is right for you.  I'll be comparing older models and not the current 2015 bikes, but you might find the information still relevant.

My 2012 S-Works Epic is the best bike I have ever ridden (it's the bike that won Olympic gold in 2012), but it was heavily used, and I needed to replace the bike in 2015.  In 2014, Specialized split the Epic model into two sub-categories to fit different rider needs:  The normal Epic for marathon riding, and the WC (World Cup) for fast XCO type courses.  The WC is stiffer, has slightly less suspension travel (95mm vs. 100mm) and is strictly a 1x drivetrain as it does not have a mount to attach a front derailleur.I got a deal on a 2014 Epic WC and went with that.  The 2015 Epic WC hasn't changed much from the 2014 model that I ride, but the 2015 regular Epic has some pretty significant changes from the 2012 model that I rode, including a new upside down fork, 2x11 drivetrain and the addition of a dropper seatpost.
The late Burry Stander signing my 2012 Epic frame
The frame for the 2014/15 Epics saw a significant change from the 2012/13 models to intergrate what Specialized called SWAT (Storage water air tools) into the frame.  I really like this, especially the ability to hold 2 full sized water bottles, even on a size Small frame.  But in order to do this, they had to make some geometry changes.  My Specialized bike fit, (courtesy of Specialized Asia Pacific), saw me on a size Small 2014 frame, with a longer stem and offset seatpost, compared to my 2012 Medium frame Epic with a shorter stem and a non-offset seatpost.  The weight of my Size M 2012 Epic, with some tweaking was 10.0kg (without pedals).  My size S 2014 Epic WC weighs 9.6kg (without SWAT kit, without pedals).  Note:  My WC is modified with the 2013 S-Works crankset to enable me to fit a 30T  (or 28T) chainring. 

Specialized Asia Pacific's VJ Varada dialing in the fit on my 2014 Epic WC
I crashed my Epic WC the first time I rode it, as a result of an improper suspension setup and an over enthusiastic rider ;)  The 5mm difference in suspension travel between the WC and regular Epic doesn't sound like a lot, but you can really feel the difference in drops and rock gardens.  It is a much firmer feel, and combined with the quicker steering geometry of the WC, I find myself slower than my old Epic going down drops.  The WC shines if I'm blasting through twisty singletrack.  Compared to the regular Epic, I can feel better acceleration and power transfer from its shorter, thicker chainstays.  Its a flickable bike that favors an aggressive riding style.  The WC is built like a fighter jet.  It wants to turn.  Pressure on the handlebars or lean, and it will turn.  This is a bike that needs constant attention, and on days when I'm not riding well or had too much to drink the night before, I'll find it twitchy.   It's not really the bike for long days when you want to put the bike into auto-pilot and cruise.  
Specialized S-Works Epic World Cup 2014
I like to think of my regular Epic as a bomber jet.  It is stable, forgiving, confidence inspiring.  It is a bike that wants to go straight when something deflects it off course.  At the top of something gnarly, and I find my vision closing in on my front tire, I can trust my regular Epic to get get me out of trouble.  Yes, it is slower turning, and slower to accelerate, and if I'm racing on an XCO type course where I'm only riding for about an hour and a half, and every second matters, I would prefer to take my WC over the regular Epic.  
Specialized S-Works Epic 2012
The bottom line is that for most of my riding, I prefer the regular Epic.  The Specialized Epic for 2015 sees some very exciting changes, and look awesome.  Hopefully, I'll get to ride one over the next couple of weeks, and I'll update this post if I have anything to add.

Update Mar 19:  I got a chance to ride a 2015 S-Works Epic today.  Everything I said about my 2012 remains true with the 2015 version, except the 2015 is even more stable, and stiffer.  I don't know what it weighs, but it is surprisingly light, considering it has a dropper post, 2x11drivetrain and RS-1 fork.