Red = fast? The Specialized Epic EVO Expert takes on the competition with an elegant red finish, clean look and strong XC DNA. Can Specialized’s 29″ carbon rocket live up to its name and assert itself against the competition in our 2022 downcountry group test?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best downcountry bike of 2022 – 6 models in review

Specialized Epic EVO Expert | 120/110 mm (f/r)
11.4 kg in size L | € 7,000 | Manufacturer’s website

Like most bikes in this test, the Specialized Epic EVO finds its origins in XC racing. At Specialized, the EVO suffix is given to special models with extra travel and a gravity-oriented spec. Accordingly, the Epic Evo features robust tires, powerful brakes, a dropper post and much more! Combining 120 mm at the front and 110 mm at the rear, the Specialized Epic EVO Expert relies on a flex stay suspension design and has 10 mm more travel than its XC counterpart. All cables are routed internally and disappear inside the head tube of the EPIC, only to reemerge a few centimetres from the rear derailleur. Overall, the tidy cable routing and discreet red finish ensure a very elegant look. A reasonably-sized seat and chainstay protector prevents chain slap, even on very rough terrain, while a protective film guards the chainstays and down tube from scuffs and minor crashes. There’s enough room in the frame for up to two water bottles and Specialized’s standard bottle cage features an integrated SWAT mini tool with all tools for essential trailside repairs – awesome!

The spec of the Specialized Epic EVO Expert

At € 7,000, the Specialized Epic EVO Expert is the cheapest bike in the entire test field, together with the YT. However, while the Uncaged 7 is the flagship model in the Izzo range, the Epic EVO is available in several more expensive variants. Due to a lack of availability, Specialized couldn’t supply us with the latest Epic EVO model. Nevertheless, our test bike is almost identical, except for the colour, the wheelset and the size of the brake rotors. For the suspension, Specialized rely on RockShox’s Select+ series, combining a SID fork and SIDLuxe shock. Unfortunately, the Select+ fork features a heavier fork crown (165 g) and employs a basic Charger RL damper instead of the superior Charger RaceDay model found on RockShox’s Ultimate forks. The shock features a climb switch with lockout mode and offers the same excellent performance as its high-end Ultimate counterpart, with the only difference being the slightly heavier housing. Braking is taken care of by SRAM G2 RS four-piston brakes. The RS levers feature tool-free reach adjustment and SRAM’s SwingLink Technology, which provides increased control and minimizes deadband, thus helping prevent arm pump. While our test bike comes with a big 180 mm rotor at the front and a smaller 160 mm one at the rear, the current production comes with big 180 mm rotors front and rear.

Going sideways opens up the horizon
The Specialized Epic EVO encourages you to play with the trail and drift through corners – hell yeahhh!

Specialized also rely on SRAM for the drivetrain, combining a bling X01 rear derailleur with matching shifter and a heavy GX cassette – here’s an easy way to reduce weight already! The UDH mech hanger is easy to find and quick to replace while the 150 mm X-Fusion Manic dropper post provides extra freedom of movement when riding out of the saddle. Unfortunately, the dropper post’s remote is spongy and requires strong fingers, but then upgrading a remote is fairly cheap and easy! The remote is attached to Specialized’s in-house 760 mm alloy handlebars via a Matchmaker clamp. The American brand also relies on their in-house components for the wheels and tires, combining a Roval Control 240 carbon wheelset and 2.35” Ground Control tires, both in the Control casing and new T5 rubber compound, which suits the intended use of the bike and brings the total weight to 11.4 kg.

Anti armpump
Although SRAM’s G2 RS four-piston brakes aren’t the high-end model in the G2 range, the SwingLink levers share all the clever features with their high-end counterparts, ensuring better modulation and preventing arm pump.
Walk back home prevention
Specialized’s bottle cage comes standard with an integrated minitool, which allows you to perform essential trailside repairs – awesome!
Strong thumbs!
The spongy remote of the X-Fusion dropper post gives you a nice thumb-workout. Jokes aside, we recommend updating to a better-quality remote!

Specialized Epic EVO Expert

€ 7,000


Fork RockShox SID Select+ 120 mm
Rear Shock RockShox SIDLuxe Select+ 110 mm
Seatpost X-Fusion Manic 150 mm
Brakes SRAM G2 RS 180/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM X01 Eagle 1x12
Stem Specialized Alloy Trail 65 mm
Handlebar Specialized Alloy 760 mm
Wheelset Roval Control 240 29
Tires Ground Control Control Casing T5 2.35

Technical Data

Size XS S M L XL
Weight 11.4 kg

Specific Features

Bottle Cage Tool

Same same but different
The SIDLuxe Select+ fork shares the same internals with its Ultimate counterpart but employs a different chassis, which is just 5 g heavier
Flexes like Arnold
The rear suspension of the Epic EVO generates 110 mm travel and relies on flex stays
All cables are routed internally and disappear inside the head tube of the EPIC, only to reemerge a few centimetres from the rear derailleur. This ensures a very clean look.

The geometry of the Specialized Epic EVO Expert

The Specialized Epic EVO is available in five sizes, XS to XL, offering a suitable option for riders between 148 cm and 193 cm tall. Our test bike in frame size L has 460 mm reach, 611 mm stack height and a long 470 mm seat tube, which restricts freedom of movement and makes it hard to choose the size based on your desired reach. There’s a flip chip in the shock yoke, albeit somewhat hidden and without labeling. Specialized deliver the Epic EVO in the lower setting, which is the one we recommend for maximum riding fun. Turning the flip chip into the high setting will raise the bottom bracket by 6 mm and slacken the head angle by 0.5° to 67°.

The Specialized Epic EVO Expert features a discrete finish, clean look and practical detailed solutions, like the integrated mini tool.

Size XS S M L XL
Seat tube 375 mm 400 mm 430 mm 470 mm 520 mm
Top tube 536 mm 567 mm 602 mm 629 mm 659 mm
Head tube 95 mm 95 mm 100 mm 115 mm 135 mm
Head angle 66.5° 66.5° 66.5° 66.5° 66.5°
Seat angle 75.5° 74.8° 74.5° 74.5° 74.5°
Chainstays 438 mm 438 mm 438 mm 438 mm 438 mm
BB Drop 46 mm 36 mm 36 mm 36 mm 36 mm
Wheelbase 1,106 mm 1,132 mm 1,164 mm 1,194 mm 1,227 mm
Reach 380 mm 406 mm 446 mm 460 mm 486 mm
Stack 603 mm 593 mm 597 mm 611 mm 629 mm
Helmet Smith Session | Glasses Melon Optics Kingpin | Jersey Specialized Trail Short Sleeve
Shorts Troy Lee Designs Skyline | Shoes Five Ten Kestrel Lace | Socks VOID Performance

The Specialized Epic EVO Expert on the trail

When making your way to the trailhead on gravel paths, the Specialized Epic EVO puts you in a compact yet comfortable pedalling position. The rear suspension wallows noticeably and tends to bob, requiring you to activate the climb switch to save energy for the next descent. On technical climbs, we recommend switching the shock to “open” mode, as this will improve traction, allowing you to negotiate climbs without the front wheel lifting.

With its playful and intuitive handling, the Specialized Epic EVO Expert puts a smile on your face when riding downhill.

Dopamine fix
It’s no surprise that Mike can’t wipe the smile off his face, because the Specialized Epic EVO is extremely good fun downhill!

However, with its active suspension, the Epic EVO isn’t your weapon of choice for second-shaving KOM hunts and the real fun starts when you point its nose downhill. No other bike in this test lets you surf down the mountainside as playfully and easily as the Specialized. Even with a passive riding style, the Epic generates sufficient traction on both wheels, always feeling predictable and intuitive, making it easy to jump from one berm into another while overtaking your buddies with a cheeky smile on your face. Even on fast trails, the EPIC feels composed and inspires confidence, inviting you to keep your fingers off the brakes for a few more seconds.

Tuning tip: upgrade the dropper remote, e.g. OneUp Components

Riding Characteristics



  1. sluggish
  2. efficient


  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced


  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use










The Specialized Epic EVO impresses with a few clever details and a robust, consistent spec, except for the basic fork and heavy cassette. While the active suspension won’t get you a KOM on your local climb, the comfortable pedalling position makes the Epic a great companion for long days in the saddle. If you’re looking for maximum riding fun and love playing with the trail, you’ll struggle to wipe the big smile off your face because the Specialized is extremely playful and agile, and yet composed enough to inspire confidence when the going gets rough.


  • super agile and playful downhill
  • very composed
  • intuitive handling


  • rear suspension bobs in open mode and cannot be locked from the handlebars
  • dropper remote requires strong fingers

You can find out more about at

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best downcountry bike of 2022 – 6 models in review

All bikes in test: BMC Fourstroke 01 LT ONE (Click for review) | SCOTT Spark 900 Tuned AXS (Click for review) | SIMPLON Cirex SL 120 (Click for review) | Specialized Epic EVO Expert | Trek Top Fuel 9.9 XX1 AXS (Click for review) | YT IZZO UNCAGED 7 (Click for review)

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Words & Photos: Peter Walker

About the author

Peter Walker

As editor-in-chief, Peter is as much a man of action as he is of words. This expert, screw-driver-flexing two wheeled-whizz has many envy-inducing characteristics, including a background in motocross, several EWS race plates to his name, and more than 150 recorded days at Whistler Bike Park. However complex the bike and however steep the trail, he’s probably already nailed it, twice. Oh, and he can do it all on skinny tyres too. When it comes to guiding consumers, Peter cut his teeth at Vancouver’s oldest bike shop and now puts pen to paper on the daily translating this know-how into our editorial plan. When not tearing up Stuttgart’s local trails while testing bikes, he loves nothing more than loading up his self-renovated VW T5 and hitting the road. The fact that he’s a trained paramedic gives his colleagues reassurance out on the trails. So far we haven’t had to call him by his alias ‘Sani Peter’, so here’s hoping he keeps it right side up for the rest of his time here!