This is now the lightest mountain bike you can buy in South Africa, weighing almost as much as a water bottle
- Specialized’s latest Epic hardtail made its global debut this week.
- The frame now weighs less than 800g, but remains strong enough to conquer any off-road terrain.
- Saving those grams doesn’t come cheap but fanatical mountain bikers will appreciate the benefits.
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Competitive mountain bikers are obsessive about weight. Mountain bikers will often pay significant amounts to save a few hundred grams of weight on their gear. It can make all the difference with the smallest margins contributing to significant gains over 100km of off-road riding.
Responding to this market demand is Specialized’s latest Epic hardtail, which made its global debut this week. If your bike is going to share a naming association with the world’s most famous mountain bike race, it had better be good – and the Epic certainly doesn’t underwhelm.
Engineered as the ultimate bike for dedicated cross-country racers, the new Epic is amazingly light and features an array of contemporary design details.
Two models of the Epic hardtail will be marketed in South Africa. The more advanced of these is the S-Works Ultralight. The frame weight is only 790g, which is 75g less than last year’s model. In the mountain biking realm, 75g is a very big deal.
The Specialized Epic S-Works Ultralight frame weighs little more than a full hydration bottle caged to it for a long ride. It is also 50g lighter than its nearest rival, making this the lightest mountain bike frame you can buy in South Africa. A complete build, ready to race, rolls onto the trail at only 7.8kg.
The actual structure, though, is larger than before, with geometry updates generating a longer bike, for increased high-speed stability. The overall frame length has been stretched by 3%, adding more material, yet Specialized has managed to make it lighter than before.
Composite engineers ensured that the blend of resin and fibre used to produce the Epic’s carbon frame has virtually no unnecessary material overlap when it is being moulded. Meticulous revaluation of the carbon-fibre structure has enabled Specialized to produce a frame which is both impressively robust but also ridiculously light.
Responding to a trend for larger tyres, Specialized has reshaped the Epic hardtail’s rear triangle to accommodate 29er tyres up to 2.4-inches in width. Why would you want to run bigger tyres on such a light frame? More air volume adds additional terrain absorption, softening the ride. The wider tyre contact patch also gives you more grip on loose corners.
But it comes at a cost. Specialized has confirmed that its Epic SWorks Ultralight will be at South African dealers by the start of September, positioned at R140 000, for a complete bike.
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