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  1. #1
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    What makes the Epic so "fast"?

    I'm reading all over the web about the Epic being a super fast XC bike. What makes this thing so fast compared to the Stumpjumper that only has 20mm more travel in the suspension? Is it the way that the rear suspension is designed? Maybe its a lot lighter?

    I'm on a mission to finding the proper platform for my next bike and specs wise I'm bouncing back and forth between the SJ and the Epic line with no indication of what's better. I'm sure there have been a lot of people asking this before but I just can't get straight answers, all I get is people saying the XC is a race bike, don't buy it... That helps me zero.

    In a bike I'm looking for something functional yet performance oriented. Light but durable.. I am mostly in to fast single track, but there is no telling if I'm ever going to run into some rough stuff that I'd need 8 inches of suspension travel for. I am coming from a fully rigid and hard tail platform which I can blast up hills and easily manage down hill the rough stuff through my legs, but I just want to go the extra bit further with the advantages of full suspension.

    What bike out of those two am I selling myself? What kind of people buy the Epic and what kind of people buy the SJ? Why do people say the Epic can't go down hill? This statement doesn't make sense to me, my rigid and hard tails can go downhill as fast and as stable as I want it to. I'm not talking about the downhill type of stuff that requires a 9 inch travel Demo, but the stuff you run in to on a typical nice trail.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTTR
    ...Why do people say the Epic can't go down hill? This statement doesn't make sense to me, my rigid and hard tails can go downhill as fast and as stable as I want it to. I'm not talking about the downhill type of stuff that requires a 9 inch travel Demo, but the stuff you run in to on a typical nice trail.
    They probably just mean the Epic can't bomb down hill as fast as something with more travel and different geometry and different shocks. I'm sure you can go down almost any hill with any bike, some much slower than others.

  3. #3
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    Personally I would go with the SJ

    Its designed for people like you that want a bike for all around use. Its not that an epic would be a bad choice, it capable of going up and down, its just optimized for racing. My advice would be to ride both and pic the one you like more. Don't let the XC race tag talk you out of it if it the bike that you like.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTTR
    I am coming from a fully rigid and hard tail platform which I can blast up hills and easily manage down hill the rough stuff through my legs, but I just want to go the extra bit further with the advantages of full suspension.
    That was the same position I found myself in. Having always either had a full rigid or hardtail I want a bike that mimics that ride. I considered the Stumpjumper but in the end I went the Epic (waiting on it to arrive). The more I read about the Epic's and listened to other riders comments on them it became more apparent that it was as close to a hardtail that a dual suspension bike could be.

    Either bike would have been good, but the Epic will suit my riding better.

  5. #5
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    Get a Stumpjumper because it is lighter than last years Epic and descends much better.

  6. #6
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    Is the 08 Epic unchanged form 07?

  7. #7
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    '08 bikes are pretty much the same as the'07 except that all '08 Epics come with the Sepcialized AFR Shock (only the Marathon, Marathon Carboan and S-Works did in '07)

  8. #8
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    I still think the Epic will be better for me. I could really care less if the SJ can go downhill a little better. It's the other stuff I care about, the speed and agileness. Around here there is one person with a full suspension bike a Cannondale, the rest have 80-100mm hardtails. I want a full suspension bike for my next one just for a little more comfort.

  9. #9
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    The only thing that has my mind in the blender right now is the Future Shock Brain fork on the SJ FSR Pro Carbon and higher, that none of the Epic's have, wouldn't that in turn make the SJ an all around much better bike?

  10. #10
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    I just bought my first epic (08 expert) coming from a hard tail. I'm racing for my first ever time this year and I wanted a fast xc race bike with the benefit of full suspension. I looked at a few models but after riding the epic my mind was made up. It climbs like a hardtail and the rear suspension is plenty for what I'll throw at it. It handles like a dream through tight single track, its just unbelievably responsive. The more I ride it the more I like it!

  11. #11
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    The way a bike beahves on the trail has to do with many more things than just the amount of suspension travel. The single biggest factor in regards to downhill "bombability" is geometry - not travel. If not, there would not be such a thing as a hardtail freeride bike.

    The epic is a race bike because its geometry is set up to optimize pedalling efficiency and generate maximum speed while on the flat or climbing. It has a very steep headtube angle (makes it very twitchy in the rough stuff - little high-speed stability), it has a very forward riding position, which does not help you on the downhill parts AT ALL, and it has a very firm suspension (You may end up feeling only slightly more comfortable compared to your current hardtail). Like a previous poster said, its not about whether or not you can make it down the hill (Newton will see to that eventually), its about where your preference lies. The Stumpy is a different concept - more travel, more relaxed geometry, leaves you sitting up a bit more and ready to tackle the downhill/techy stuff. But make no mistake about it, the Stumpy still pedals very well.

    You said you want some of the advantages of your hardtail, but with the added comfort of suspension. Based on that sentence, I think you might end up disappointed with the Epic.

    What you need to do is take a look at the geometry of your current bike, and figure out what it is closer to - Epic or SJ. You can decide on how much suspension travel you will need after that, and then choose a bike. BTW, if you go with a Talas on the SJ (which means you would need to buy an '07 I think), you can get the both of 2 worlds - drop the fork to 100mm for XC and climbing, then up to 140mm for the techincal parts. A thought...

  12. #12
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    Very good post Iceman. Gave me some proper insights on the Epic and what it really is.

  13. #13
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    first of all the new 08 stumpjumper is not lighter or as light as the 08 epic, there was an 08 SJ comp in the bike shop yesterday and it was noticably heavier than my stock 08 epic comp, there was also an 08 epic marathon there and i doubt even an s works SJ would be as light as that thing, it was almost as light as a road bike,

    i was in the same predicament as yourself, SJ or epic, which one, i do all kinds of riding, trail,asphalt but all of it involves a lot of up and downhill, after trying the epic i just went for it, it fit like a glove, its not as racy as people say, the 08s headtube is slightly longer than the 07, i think its really comfortable and efficant, im less stretched out on it than i was on my XC, it feels light on asphalt, my XC felt like a tank, contrary to what people say, for me it goes down better than the XC, i dont have to have the seat way over the bars to be comfortable which was necessary on the XC thus makes it more comfortable going down, because its lighter and nimbler you can also pick your line better, i was never into plowing over stuff, it does excel at climbing, it digs in and goes forward and i dont feel exhausted at the top like i did on the XC,

    the brain is great, i have it set to almost fully open and thats it, it just works when it has to, i dont feel it open or close, theres no delay in mine its like a hardtail on the asphalt and as soon as you hit the dirt it kicks in, no fooling with anything its brilliant ,all this on a stock epic comp 08, i understand that the SJ is a better bike than the XC and they have made the 08 SJ even more versitile but i dont regret buying the epic, as it is its in every way better than my previous ride but im going to indulge in some upgrades to bring it under 26 pounds

  14. #14
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    I'm in the market to buy a "buy it once" kind of bike, I'm either going to get the '08 Epic Marathon Carbon or SJ FSR Pro Carbon. Both are spec'd almost identical it's just a matter of what is best for my needs.

  15. #15
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    at the end of the day you couldnt go far wrong with either one, both are very cool, i havent tried the brain on the stumpy but ive read many times that its tuned so its never fully locked out, theres always a little bit of play in the rear, i have to do a lot of miles on uphill asphalt roads to get to the trails so the play in the rear of the brain on the SJ could get bothersome, still thats only in theory, it could be fine in practice

  16. #16
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    I've been through the same questions myself between the SJ and Epic a few times. Keep in mind that in a recent interview Ned Overend (XC racing legend) said that the new SJ design is more efficient than the previous models and that he would choose the SJ over the Epic on really rough race courses. All that really means is that the SJ suspension can be set up pretty efficiently and the more relaxed geometry handles fast sections more easily.

    Think of the suspension like this. If all suspension ranges from 1-10 (with 1 being nearly hardtail like and 10 being open and active) the Epic has a suspension adjustment range of like 1-6 and the SJ has an adjustment range of like 3-9. When firmed up the Epic has a firmer pedaling platform than the SJ, but on the opposite end the SJ range is more active for rough terrain. There is some overlap in the suspension range between the 2 bikes in the middle somewhere, but then there's the 100 vs 120mm travel and the geometry (see IceMan's description of the geometry differences above).

    You really can't go wrong with either bike. The Epic is more of a race bike that would make a decent trail bike and the SJ is more of an allround trail bike that could make a decent race bike. Once you pick one and get used to the geometry, then you'll be able to rail in all conditions.

    You should try to find a shop that has demo bikes. I have spent some time on each bike in back to back tests and could really feel the differences, but once you ride either bike for a while and get used to it they both feel right! The Epic is a more efficient climber - especially on really hard efforts out of the saddle, and the SJ is more stable at faster speeds - like it's on rails.

    I've had 2 SJs in the past and just picked up my 3rd SJ - a 29er. Even though I'm partial to the SJ, the Epic is a blast to ride - climbs like a hardtail and can still be set up pretty active. Both bikes are rockets in the right environment.

  17. #17
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    i also went for the epic because im 5 foot 8 and at 130 pounds very light so i dont need a whole lotta suspension, i also dont have much in the way of raw brute strength so i benefit from the efficency of the epic, if i were a large heavy guy i may have been swayed more by the SJ

  18. #18
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    I think because of this years stumpjumper revamp you'd be better of buying SJ pro carbon, The seat tube angle is steeper (than 07 models) which allows for a more climb friendly position but at the same time you have the comfort of the 120mm travel front and back. "Buy it once" kind of a bike sits more in the remit of the stumpy than the epic IMO. Also due to the fact that you'll get the brain on the front you'll have a bike which climbs fantastically but offers stability at speed.

    If i had the choice to buy two bikes i'd have an epic for long haul and an enduro for the rough stuff but a one bike garage shouts out for the stump jumper

    Hope that helps

  19. #19
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    I think one of the big deciding factors also has to be the type of trails you are riding. I mean around here you can do a 3 hour ride do only 8 miles and have the snot totally kicked out of you. Other places you can fly. I have a Buddy who moved to Michigan when he showed up for a group ride with his 5/5 they were like who is the guy with the free ride bike, and to Us in the North east , that is an XC bike. I had to make the same decision earlier this year when My FSR XC frame cracked and Specialized offered me either an Stumpy or an Epic as a warranty replacement, after much thinking I choose the Stumpjumper because I tend to ride very rocky technical trails and wanted some "forgivness"
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  20. #20
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    Ride Them.

    Make sure you ride them both.

    Notice that it's mostly in the angles (Head tube and seat tube) and the top tube length.

    You will feel the diffrence, the Epic is quick and twitcy, just right for going uphill fast picking your way around rocks or tight switchbacks and such where the races are one or lost. You will also feel more streched out over the front wheel. It keeps the weight over the front wheel so you don't wheellie over on steep uphills and opens up the chest for better breathing. (you can put more spacers under the stem to raise the h-bars but you still have a longer top tube) However I have no problem ridding it downhill at high rates of speed. It is a great Super D bike.

    The SJ will feel a bit more relaxed, better for going down, more of an all around bike. Higher handle bars, and a shorter top tube. If you do get the talas one, which is last years, as you lower the fork you become prone to hitting rocks with the pedals. I tried that.

    You will get used to what ever bike you choose, and you will be have a blast no matter what, and thats why we ride, right?

    FYI, I race XC, Super D, and 4X. I have owned both.

  21. #21
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    Thanks for all this great info on comparing the two. Nice to finally find some people that know what they are talking about.
    Last edited by RTTR; 12-13-2007 at 12:35 PM.

  22. #22
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    The rider, I would think

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkest_fugue
    i also went for the epic because im 5 foot 8 and at 130 pounds very light so i dont need a whole lotta suspension, i also dont have much in the way of raw brute strength so i benefit from the efficency of the epic, if i were a large heavy guy i may have been swayed more by the SJ
    I'm 5'9" and currently 155lbs (out of shape) it's a good point you made about size and weight with the Epic.

  24. #24
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    I don't think your weight and height really have anything to do with what kind of bike you should buy unless you're at the extremes.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Industrial
    I don't think your weight and height really have anything to do with what kind of bike you should buy unless you're at the extremes.
    Good point..

    I have one more question for the day, has anyone ridden a SJ with the Future Shock fork? Can I get some opinions on it?

  26. #26
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    Sorry, My bad.

    The top tubes are almost exactly the same, but the chainstay length is longer on the epic but the overall wheelbase is longer on the SJ. WTF!
    My guess is that the ridder on the epic is closer to the front wheel, more stabilitly on the climbs?
    The longer wheelbase should be more stable at speeds?
    Any one else?

  27. #27
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    ahh hell, just buy both of them!!!!

  28. #28
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    then youll be thinking after a while, you know i could do with an enduro ha ha ha

  29. #29
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    I think that buying the Epic is what makes it, "so fast"....


  30. #30
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    Out of saddle pedaling

    One of the deciding factors for me was the ability of the Epic not to get bogged down on out-of-saddle charges. Hard tail riders typically are accustomed to staying out of the saddle through the rough and when pedaling; areas where the Epic excels. With many full suspension bikes, out-of-saddle pedaling causes bobbing or dampens pedaling input; you feel slower and in many cases are actually slower. Out-of-saddle pedaling over whelms the shock platform feature on other bikes, granted the pro-pedal shock technology has reduced the power-sapping effect. The Epic is one of the few bikes I have ridden which works just as well standing or seated. The Brain shock encourages and rewards an out-of-saddle attack which in my opinion makes it so fast.

    Where the Epic excels over other bikes is when you need to accelerate, the Epic offers a snappier feel (this assumes you have dialled in your Brain shock and fork). This is not to say you cannot spin comfortably while seated. Normally I can ride several hours over some rough trails and not be beat up.

    As mentioned, try both, a good dealer will have demos to take out for a weekend spin at your favourite trail.

    Good luck!

  31. #31
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    Are you planning on racing?How serious do you want to be about racing? If racing is what you want to concentrate on, then the Epic. If comfort is more important to you than the SJ. The Epic is not the most forgiving bike in rough parts but if there was any substantial climbing to do in races or in your area, then again the Epic. THe Epic is very aggressive and the SJ, well not quite a couch but on it's way there. I ride an 06 S-works Epic and love every damn minute on that bike. I LOVE climbing and I think at your weight an Epic would be perfect. Just my 2 cents. Ideally, test ride both if possible or search around your area for people with those bikes. Specialized riders are usually more than helpful to others in search of a new ride. Especially like their own.

  32. #32
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    Maluco you made a great point. I wanna point out something I'm not sure I did, but maybe I did on the first page. I'm coming from a hard tail bike. While I do want to venture into the wonderful world of full suspension, I don't want to lose all that great advantage that a hard tail gives. I have ridden some decently good long travel full suspension bikes in my time, while none were over $1000, probably in the $800-1000 range. Yeah and none of them had the brain like on the new SJ but I just found that I lost so much power in the suspension all the time when trying to lay down the power. That something I just don't care for. Now on the other hand, the Epic if it wants to be can be decently plush right? 4 inches of travel front and rear still seems like a good enough amount to keep anyone happy on the trail is it not? I mean the SJ is a little under 3/4 more travel, to me that doesn't seem like much difference to go wow this is a lot better over the bumps, given the SJ can maybe be set up softer to make it feel a lot more plush. Obviously the Epic isn't going to be a rigid feeling bike? I keep telling myself time and time again I want my next bike to be highly efficient, yet decently comfortable when I want it to be, I want it to climb like a beast, power the straights, and also be light. So basically I want the Epic? I can understand Specialized markets the Epic as a competition XC but I don't see why it can't be used as a non competition machine.

    One more thing, I've never ridden a 100mm full suspension bike, hard. Are they prone to bottoming out over ruts and rocks? My previous bikes were a Trek full rigid and a Trek 80mm hardtail. The HD had a horrible fork on it, that when it bottomed it it felt like I was going to die, have they improved on suspension bottoming aggression? Or was that just because my fork wasn't any good to begin with?
    Last edited by RTTR; 12-14-2007 at 01:44 PM.

  33. #33
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    i had an xc before the epic and never came close to bottoming out, maybe because im light but there you go, i can describe the epic as very efficiant off road, it wont eat the bumps like a stumpjumper but it does smooth them out and just wants to keep going forward, ive heard a lot about the epic being racy stretched out not comfortable etc but im finding it very comfortable, also i have the brain almost fully open, when i go from off road back to the asphalt it seemlessly turns back into a hardtail, i cant even notice it working, amazing, think of the epic as like a subaru impreza and an SJ as a jeep wrangler

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkest_fugue
    i think of the epic as like a subaru impreza and an SJ as a jeep wrangler
    I love how you said that, it's probably a perfect analogy. Epic is like a rally car, built for speed and manages the bumps, SJ is like a built up offroader, not so much as for speed but for going over a lot harsher stuff.

    Well I pretty much think that the Epic is going to be the one I get. What I've been reading here is enough to sell me probably without even test riding it, but of course I am first. Won't be till early next year some time. But It's gonna be worth the wait.

  35. #35
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    its all theoretical, you dont know for sure until you try them out and whichever one speaks to you more, i was set on a stumpjumper but when i tried the epic, it just felt more me

  36. #36
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    In October 2006 I had a 2007 Stumpjumper FSR Expert on order, I test rode it and spend a ton of time researching, later I ended up not getting it because I moved to Kansas. Instead I put the 3 grand in to photography equipment hopping to become a pro, I had a few offers from various sources but turned them down because it ended up being something I just wanted to do as a hobby on my own time. Now I'm kinda glad I didn't buy the SJ because maybe it might have not been the right bike for me, I had not even looked at or considered the Epic, I knew about it, I've seen them around but just never occurred to me that it might be an awesome machine.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by head4hills
    I just bought my first epic (08 expert) coming from a hard tail. I'm racing for my first ever time this year and I wanted a fast xc race bike with the benefit of full suspension. I looked at a few models but after riding the epic my mind was made up. It climbs like a hardtail and the rear suspension is plenty for what I'll throw at it. It handles like a dream through tight single track, its just unbelievably responsive. The more I ride it the more I like it!
    You hit it right on the head there bro, this was the same situation i found myself in when i decided to get back into biking heavily again. I road hard tails for 6 years and have always felt twitchy on FS bikes, after riding the full Spec line i decided that i still enjoy the feeling of riding up hills with no or close to no pedal bob, i can sacrifice a little down hill speed to feel more agile threw the tight stuff and i just love to go up hills.
    My body has certainly wandered a good deal, but I have an uneasy suspicion that my mind has not wandered enough. -N.C.

  38. #38
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    Does anyone around 5'8 - 5'10 or just anyone in general have a picture of themselves on an Epic? I wanna get an idea of what the lean position is like. I understand that these types of XC bikes aren't as upright as an all mountain/trail bike, is it so extreme that it's like riding a race ready road bike?

  39. #39
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    Even Ned Overend says that he prefers the SJ on some XC races, just depending on the terrain. The SJ would give you more versatility to ride more aggressively in the future if that is what you desire. I don't think you could go wrong with either bike, but I do think you will be more comfortable on long rides on the SJ, and you will definitely have more versatility. If you like to travel and ride new trails (most of which tend to be rough), then you will probably be glad to have a little more bike.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTTR
    Does anyone around 5'8 - 5'10 or just anyone in general have a picture of themselves on an Epic? I wanna get an idea of what the lean position is like. I understand that these types of XC bikes aren't as upright as an all mountain/trail bike, is it so extreme that it's like riding a race ready road bike?
    I'm 5'9 and ride a MED. Got the saddle about level with the handle bars. I do a lot of road riding and wouldn't say the epic is near to this position. I actually ended up sliding the saddle fully back on the rails. Reading one of darkest fugue's post he did the opposite and slid it forward. Sorry but got no photos

  41. #41
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    I think the problem is, I'm just trying to the Epic on myself as being the right bike for me, when I don't think it really is. Like this post, asking peoples opinions on it over and over. I kind of still have a feeling the SJ is the better buy for me, but just something about the Epic that says buy me.

  42. #42
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    Its a lot of cash to spend to get the wrong bike for you. The only real way your going to be sure is a proper test ride on both.

  43. #43
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    Well it's not so much between the Epic and SJ as I keep on watching videos with all mountain bikes like the Santa Cruz Nomad and Enduro SL and keep thinking this is what I really wanna do. I mean all the time since 2003 (except the one year gap of no riding) I've been doing XC on rigid and hardtail. Maybe it's time to try something new? I'm in a new area in the mountains with a ton of opportunity.

  44. #44
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    Like any good bike the fitter person on it

  45. #45
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    Hey man that's what the bike choice really boils down to. What do you really want to do and what do you really enjoy? I personally like bombing downhill and hate going up. That said, I'm not ready to give up completely on XC and go to chairlift country so my next bike will most likely be an Enduro/Nomad/Reign/Yeti 575.

    If you like blasting through singletrack and being the first one up the hill, the epic might be the best bike for you. You just have to figure out what you want to do and what you enjoy most. If you're actually racing competitively that's a different story of course.

  46. #46
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    I was looking at the Nomad, but even with the XTR components it struggles to get below 32lbs (Santa Cruz claimed weight) That's just too much imo, it might not be for that kind of bike but I don't want something that heavy. Had a look into the ibis Mojo crazy light bike but looks more suited for the art show rather than the mountains, I'd cry if I got a scratch on that thing. I'm not really digging the Spec Enduro SL

  47. #47
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    Yeah the Enduro seems to be having some problems. Mostly with the futureshock which is a shame. Hopefully they will have this sorted by the time I'm ready to move on. I agree about the Ibis... The Nomad is just plain beefy.

    I'm really digging the Giant Trance X and Reign X. I've ridden a trance and it was fantastic. I just got a better deal on my Spesh and I didn't think I needed/wanted more travel. You might want to look into those 2 models if you're not dead set on Spesh although, there are alot of people on the Giant side of the house going through the same thing you are... Anthem or Trance or Reign. I guess options are a good thing as long as they don't lead to analysis paralysis.

  48. #48
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    the position on the epic for me is nothing like a race ready road bike, i was a lot more stretched out on the xc because i have very short arms and legs, my ass could never reach the back of the saddle where its supposed to be even with the saddle slid fully forward, not so with the epic im planted just right and actually feeling comfortable for a change, one of the biggest perks for me the xc's saddle was


    at least 3 inches over the grips on my xc, the seat is level with the grips on the epic


    that means no more getting off the bike and moving the seat post up and down on rides, what a pain that is, it also means my epic goes down better than my xc, it shouldnt be so but it is, however with the set back post of the marathon and flat bars its clearly a racier ride and will feel different than my bike, i dont need that set up the bike is perfect for me as it is, also my stock comp is just over 27 pounds and that is with heavy shimano XT clipless pedals, when your riding it does feel lighter than that though especially comparing it to my xc or the stock 07 SJ elite that i tried out, being a greedy capitalist though im going to get 2 pounds off it with some upgrades, i now feel like i have a bike thats deserving of a few improvments

  49. #49
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    I would say that if you are up in the air between the epic, SJ, and some AM rigs, go with the SJ. The stumpy is a lot of bike, and if you start to exceed it's capabilities, then it would be time to go for a beefier AM bike. Until that point, you will just be disappointed with the added weight. All things are compromises. Stumpy sounds right for you.

  50. #50
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    RTTR

    Where do you ride ? and what are teh trails like . I think that is also an important consideration
    I'm Better known as Splat

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