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  1. #1
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    Epic - alloy vs Comp Carbon vs Comp Expert

    I posted in the 29er forum; got a suggestion to post here instead.

    I decided to purchase a Specialized Epic 29er. Primary objective is to get a bike for racing cross-country (Winter Park Mtb Series and Mountain States Cup -- a lot of variety including 3000-5000 feet of climbing in each race in rocks, trees, a fair amount of fire road, some tight and twisty sections) and endurance races (Laramie Enduro, Firecracker 50, Breck 68 or 100, Leadville 100).

    It will be my all-around bike, though, so 90% of the time will be riding and training, not racing. But my top objective is to get a bike that helps me go faster during races than my current Ibis Mojo SL (26 inch wheels, 5.5" of travel, carbon frame).

    The differences between the Epic Comp alloy and Epic Comp Carbon are the frame material, 3x10 drivetrain on the alloy vs 2x10 on the carbon, and (of course!) price.

    Does anyone know how much the alloy frame weighs and the carbon frame weighs? I would really like to know how much less the carbon weighs. I've asked at a couple LBSes, but they don't know. I submitted a question to the Specialized web site and got a response of "weight savings is negligible, probably 1/4 or 1/2 pound, the more important reason to get carbon is the ride quality and frame stiffness". That was interesting since 1/2 pound is kind of a lot to me. But the approx $1000 difference is a real lot (as opposed to "kind of a lot"). And he didn't tell me for sure how much weight is saved with the carbon frame.

    Additionally, I have an SRM power meter on a FSA Afterburner 3 ring crank that will be going on the bike. Thus, if I go with one of the carbon models, I will have to replace the front shifter, front derailleur, and front rings - adds another approx $150-$200 to the price.So I would be looking at over $1000 to get the carbon frame.

    Would love to step all the way up to the Expert to get the Brain up front on the fork, but it's another $1000. Since I will be replacing the crank with my SRM, the carbon crank that comes on it as an upgrade to the Comp Carbon means nothing to me.

    Currently, I am leaning towards getting the Epic 29er with the alloy frame and then get a set of light race wheels to go with it. I could do that for approx the same price as the Comp Carbon and have lighter race wheels, put on race tires and not have to switch back and forth between race and all mountain tires each week during the summer, and put on the lighter SRAM 1080 cassette to save another 150g. Best of all, that would be saving rotational weight which is much more important than frame weight.

    I rode the Epic alloy and Expert back-to-back at the LBS, but they asked me to stay on the bike path with the Expert. I rode the alloy over a lot of rocks and rough terrain; it felt great to me. The 29er wheels were AWESOME! So I was probably more influenced by the wheel size than the frame material. SinceI couldn't ride the Expert on the same rocks, it wasn't as helpful of a comparison as I would have liked. The parking lot going to the bike path was pretty rough, but it still wasn't much of a test of the difference between frame materials.

    I rode an S-Works a couple weeks ago on Dakota Ridge (a rock-fest) . . . ooooo-la-la!!! Wow! But I'm not going to spend that kind of coin.

    I could afford the carbon models, but I am extremely value oriented and not really seeing the value for the increased price. Am I missing anything?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by MultiRider
    Does anyone know how much the alloy frame weighs and the carbon frame weighs? I would really like to know how much less the carbon weighs. I've asked at a couple LBSes, but they don't know. I submitted a question to the Specialized web site and got a response of "weight savings is negligible, probably 1/4 or 1/2 pound, the more important reason to get carbon is the ride quality and frame stiffness". That was interesting since 1/2 pound is kind of a lot to me. But the approx $1000 difference is a real lot (as opposed to "kind of a lot"). And he didn't tell me for sure how much weight is saved with the carbon frame.
    The 1/4 to 1/2 lb. sounds about right to me. Of course, if you compare larger frames they will have a larger difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by MultiRider
    Additionally, I have an SRM power meter on a FSA Afterburner 3 ring crank that will be going on the bike. Thus, if I go with one of the carbon models, I will have to replace the front shifter, front derailleur, and front rings - adds another approx $150-$200 to the price.So I would be looking at over $1000 to get the carbon frame.

    Would love to step all the way up to the Expert to get the Brain up front on the fork, but it's another $1000. Since I will be replacing the crank with my SRM, the carbon crank that comes on it as an upgrade to the Comp Carbon means nothing to me.
    Don't forget that you can sell the stuff you're taking off the bike and that will off-set the cost of the upgrades.

    Quote Originally Posted by MultiRider
    Currently, I am leaning towards getting the Epic 29er with the alloy frame and then get a set of light race wheels to go with it. I could do that for approx the same price as the Comp Carbon and have lighter race wheels, put on race tires and not have to switch back and forth between race and all mountain tires each week during the summer, and put on the lighter SRAM 1080 cassette to save another 150g. Best of all, that would be saving rotational weight which is much more important than frame weight.
    I agree having race and training wheels is a good idea. However, I believe you're mistaken thinking rotating weight is more important than frame weight. Weight is weight and if you can save more by going with the lighter frame, do it.

    Quote Originally Posted by MultiRider
    I rode the Epic alloy and Expert back-to-back at the LBS, but they asked me to stay on the bike path with the Expert. I rode the alloy over a lot of rocks and rough terrain; it felt great to me. The 29er wheels were AWESOME! So I was probably more influenced by the wheel size than the frame material. SinceI couldn't ride the Expert on the same rocks, it wasn't as helpful of a comparison as I would have liked. The parking lot going to the bike path was pretty rough, but it still wasn't much of a test of the difference between frame materials.

    I rode an S-Works a couple weeks ago on Dakota Ridge (a rock-fest) . . . ooooo-la-la!!! Wow! But I'm not going to spend that kind of coin.

    I could afford the carbon models, but I am extremely value oriented and not really seeing the value for the increased price. Am I missing anything?
    Other than the above points, no, I don't think you're missing anything.

    Thanks also for the ride impressions! I'm really looking forward to the new Epic I have on order as well.

    Cheers!

  3. #3
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    I just purchased the 2011 Epic Comp (size Medium). It has been raining here for the past couple weeks and all the local trails are closed, so I have ridden the bike up and down my street while fitting myself to the new bike. I am so impressed with it (before even taking it on the dirt), that I have decided to upgrade to the Epic Expert Carbon . I just can't bring myself to spending $9500 on the S-Works though.
    If you have any interest in a good deal on a new 2011 Epic Comp in size Medium, let me know. Or if you're anything like me, step up now and buy the Expert Carbon before you buy the Comp and realize that you want something more.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by granget
    I just purchased the 2011 Epic Comp (size Medium). It has been raining here for the past couple weeks and all the local trails are closed, so I have ridden the bike up and down my street while fitting myself to the new bike. I am so impressed with it (before even taking it on the dirt), that I have decided to upgrade to the Epic Expert Carbon . I just can't bring myself to spending $9500 on the S-Works though.
    If you have any interest in a good deal on a new 2011 Epic Comp in size Medium, let me know. Or if you're anything like me, step up now and buy the Expert Carbon before you buy the Comp and realize that you want something more.
    Wow! So what is so compelling about the Expert that you're willing to do that? Are you doing it primarily for the weight savings? Or the Brain fork? Or the color scheme ?

    I don't want to have the whole rotational vs non-rotational weight discussion here, but the Winter Park races and other trails I ride have trees and switchbacks where snappy acceleration is a benefit. Light wheels reduce the inertia in those situations. And light wheels are "un-sprung" weight on the other end of the suspension. That is the best kind of weight to get rid of in terms of suspension performance.

    I'm getting a size Large. I hadn't thought about larger frames having a larger savings. Good point!

    Goneskiian - Did you have an inner battle about which model to get? Which model did you order? How long have you been waiting? Any idea when you'll get it?

  5. #5
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    And then I went off and did a little research - Yeti lists weights for their bike frames:

    http://yeticycles.com/#/bikes/ASR5Carbon/1/

    I’m very surprised, 3/4 of a pound is a bigger difference than I expected.

    BUT . . . there is a difference in Yeti’s approach vs Specialized’s approach. The alloy Yeti is all alloy and the carbon Yeti is all carbon. On the Specialized, the carbon frame still has an alloy rear triangle (until you get to the S-Works, which is out of the price range).


    So1/2 pound between the alloy vs carbon Spec Epic may be correct.

    Half a pound. Not really but kind of a lot of weight. A thousand dollars. Definitely a lot of money. Probably going to live with the bike for years and years. I don’t think the ride quality is any better. It is really just the weight. A half pound up every foot of elevation I ascend for 5 years. Wow . . . that’s kind of a head trip!

  6. #6
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    Just to give another idea of weight savings with carbon;
    Santa Cruz Blur LT aluminum medium frame with shock =6.6 lb
    Sant Cruz Blur LT carbon medium frame with shock = 6.0 lbs.

    Those are the advertized weights, anyway.

    http://www.santacruzbicycles.com/home/

  7. #7
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    Yeti asr5s all have a carbon rear triangle
    I am slow therefore I am

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MultiRider
    Does anyone know how much the alloy frame weighs and the carbon frame weighs? I would really like to know how much less the carbon weighs. I've asked at a couple LBSes, but they don't know. I submitted a question to the Specialized web site and got a response of "weight savings is negligible, probably 1/4 or 1/2 pound, the more important reason to get carbon is the ride quality and frame stiffness". That was interesting since 1/2 pound is kind of a lot to me. But the approx $1000 difference is a real lot (as opposed to "kind of a lot"). And he didn't tell me for sure how much weight is saved with the carbon frame.
    In previous years there hasn't been a huge difference in frame weights between the non S-Works carbon frames (carbon main triangle and alloy rear swingarm) and the alloy frames (alloy main triangle and alloy rear swingarm).

    Have a look at the frame weights in this post by zauberer. The weight difference between the carbon and alloy frame for a 2009 26" medium size frame was 168g or 0.37 pounds approx.

    09 Epic Marathon Non-Carbon Bike weight

    This is for a 2009 26" Epic frame rather than a 2011 29" Epic but it does give a rough indication of what sort of weight saving you can expect between the two frame options. The S-Works carbon frame with its carbon rear swingarm will be lighter again.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MultiRider
    I don't want to have the whole rotational vs non-rotational weight discussion here, but the Winter Park races and other trails I ride have trees and switchbacks where snappy acceleration is a benefit. Light wheels reduce the inertia in those situations. And light wheels are "un-sprung" weight on the other end of the suspension. That is the best kind of weight to get rid of in terms of suspension performance.

    I'm getting a size Large. I hadn't thought about larger frames having a larger savings. Good point!

    Goneskiian - Did you have an inner battle about which model to get? Which model did you order? How long have you been waiting? Any idea when you'll get it?
    I hear you on the repeated accelerations. Lighter definitely feels quicker in those situations.

    Yes, I'm still debating it a bit even though I have one on order. End of November was the last word I got from my LBS. I'm not in a big rush as it's the sloppy season in the PNW so I don't want to ride it now anyway.

  10. #10
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    Well, I told the shop I want an Expert if my SRM on an FSA Afterburner with MegaExo crank will fit. They are checking into it.

    I was leaning towards the alloy, but Granget's post caused me to swing back the other way. I am planning on loving it, so I won't want to be in the "wish I had bought the one I really wanted" situation. I really want the Expert, both for the lighter frame and for the Brain up front.

    Part of what caused me to decide on the Expert was the image of me killing myself on every climb of every ride/race and thinking "Wish I had a 1/2 pound less to lug up this hill! Especially at this altitude!" Since all my races are at 9k-12k feet, less weight seems even more important! It's probably not, but it seems that way.

    I wish Specialized would do less proprietary stuff where it doesn't gain a lot. I'm not an engineer, but my guess is that no one on the planet can feel the difference between the standard 142mm rear hub vs their 142+ spec. All it does is make consumers have to buy their wheels. And the PF30 thing is a Specialized tweak on an industry standard. Lame.

    But the Brain is what sold me on their bikes. After a few years of continual evolution, it sounds like they really have it nailed and it is a significant benefit. I really liked it on my relatively short test rides. My current ride has lockouts front and rear, but they require lever flipping which isn't always easily done.

  11. #11
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    It's really a bummer they're not offering the Expert frame as a frame only option. That sounds ideal for you. That way you could build up the wheels however you'd like.

    If you're stuck on using your SRM then I think you may have to go with the alloy frame. At least according to the attached compatibility guide. It's not looking good for the megaexo/PF30 combo.

    I'd say get the all alluminum frame and then add some of the carbon wheels to that. Sounds like a winning combo to me. Yes, a bit heavier but a half a pound shouldn't be that big of a deal. Just drink less!

    Unless you can swing the S-Works frame and just swap your parts over. I don't know what you'd do for wheels though.

    Anyway, best of luck with what ever you decide.

    Cheers!
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