First ride: 2011 Specialized Epic Expert Carbon EVO R

By Matt Kasprzyk

My first glimpse of the 2011 Specialized line-up was at their press camp this past summer in Keystone, Colorado. I had a chance to test a handful of bikes and confirm that Specialized has been hard at work for this coming model year. There will be some notable additions to the Specialized stable for 2011. There’s more race, trail, 29er and women’s choices available that promise to get any rider excited.
There should be no mistake – the Epic Expert Carbon EVO R 29er is a full-suspension race bike. It’s a nice package of Specialized’s race ready options, designated – EVO R. Yes, it has the big wheels, and it’s carbon. There’s a 100mm Custom RockShox Reba 29 w/Brain up front and a Fox/Specialized remote Mini-Brain in the back.
The EVO R spec (or EVO for trail riding options) features some of Specialized’s race ready components like carbon bars, low rolling resistance tires, and a 1×10 drivetrain with a 10-speed 11×36 cassette and a 34t chainring. The gearing has been perfectly adequate thus far. Only on the steepest climbs do I miss my granny. And maybe if I were a better racer, I wouldn’t miss it at all.
I’ve spent almost a month on the bike so far and have raced in a 24-hour event with it. I also plan on putting it to the test at our local race series, The Month of Mud. The Epic 29er EVO R felt natural from the first moment, and like a race bike should, has handled well at speed. I’m looking forward to spending more time on the bike and experimenting with the very tunable suspension. My full review will be in Dirt Rag #154 in early 2011. 



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