Reviewed: Specialized Women’s S-Works Epic

The Specialized Epic is one of the world’s most lusted-over cross-country (XC) mountain bikes. It’s the main bike choice of current XC world champion, Kate Courtney, former world champion, Annika Langvad, and a whole stack of privateers – riders who usually pay for their bikes making their vote for the Epic perhaps the most discerning of all.

Specialized Womens S-Works Epic-1
The women’s build is designed to be fast and efficient, just like the women who seek this bike out.

I’ve been lucky to use the Women’s S-Works model for 2018 as part of a partnership with Specialized Australia to support the work I do in the cycling community. The design has had a few big updates this year and it’s been a pleasure to experience these first hand. The more trail bikey handling stands out compared to the previous model (it actually corners more precisely than my old Stumpjumper trail bike), the rear suspension redesign is delightfully efficient (so much so that I also ride this bike on road commutes to the trails), and there’s an incredible confidence that comes from rocking up to a start line or a social ride with a bike decked out in the latest bling (oh hey there SRAM Eagle with your pizza sized rear cassette).

Bicknell-Specialized Women's S-Works Epic
Beyond racing, this bike provides endless rewards for the type of rider who loves long loops and a huge variety of trails. Efficient, capable, never shy.

Perhaps the boldest change of all, given Specialized’s work pushing the boundaries of designs for women, is a shift back to gender-neutral frames for the Epic. The current women’s Epic replaces the Era, allows women to carry two bottles in the main frame (even on the small sized model), and comes specced with a few small but considered changes aimed at the female market: saddle, suspension tune, front chain ring size, stunning stunning paint.

I worked with Flow Mountain Bike earlier this year to provide a women’s perspective as part of their review on the men’s S-Works Epic. I rate this format as a way of addressing a huge portion of the market that is often left out of unisex reviews – ie. women.

A link to the full, detailed review is here.

I hope to write a long term perspective on the bike on this site soon, including notes on upgrades and mods, so please leave a comment below if you have any questions you’d like me to consider as I write it.

For anyone curious to read more on the recent shift of many major bike companies to gender-neutral designs, here is a link to another article I wrote recently that steps through some of the less-spoken about aspects of women’s and men’s specific builds.

You can ride it like a trail bike, climb it like a road bike, or smile your way through an event like our local Rocky Trail Grand Prix 4 hour series, pushing the bike, and yourself, to find new limits. If Epic is what you’re after, it’s certainly a bike that lives up to it’s name.


Photos: Flow Mountain Bike, Kath Bicknell, Gaye Camm, Outer Image Collective.