bike nerd, you asked.
Keep in mind my reference point – a 2012 26″ 100mm travel XC bike.
The one word to describe the Epic EVO is speed. Strava times aren’t the be all end all – we ride for the fun of it – but I have shaved off 60 seconds off sections of single track that I have ridden hundreds of times overnight – all while being more comfortable and, frankly, having a lot more fun!
1. It is an exceedingly efficient pedaler, and carries it’s momentum exceedingly well. Rolling sections of trail where I used to slow on the mild ascents beg for acceleration. The bike responds very, very well to any power from the rider.
2. The bike is a very comfortable and efficient climber – unless I’m on pavement, leaving suspension open is perfect, as it neutralizes any bumps on seated climbs. Also, very responsive on punchy sections where you want to get out of the saddle. If I want to go full gas, this bike will respond up any climb.
3. The bike has been a superb descender (unless super windy, more on that below). I have only ridden small & medium chatter, but the suspension has gobbled it up. Straight line runs – even relatively steep ones – have been very, very fun. The geometry certainly inspires confidence, and I have never felt like I “only” had 120mm/110mm of travel. It has left me – a pretty conservative rider – looking for more aggressive lines.
4. While I do lust after the roval wheelset of the higher builds, I have been very pleased with the SLX groupset. I think it punches well above its price point and. leaves little to be desired. I have been especially pleased with the 4 piston brakes, and the drivetrain has responded, even under pressure.
The main things I need to get used to:
1. Handling. I’m going from a 26″ to a 29″ where I am slightly up sized. Given the speed that this bike carries, I have to do a little more prep work going into tight corners or windy sections of trail. It takes more effort to turn than I am used to and, frankly, my prior ride probably let me correct errors in this area much more easily. This is probably due to geometry (my prior HTA was 70.5* so more weight over front tire) and overall length of the bike.
2. Saddle/Dropper Post. Since I upsized (5’10” and got a large), the saddle height is just a smidge too high at its highest point with the seat post jammed as far in as possible.
I started out my research thinking I needed a 130mm trail bike, thinking the XC category was not aggressive enough for me. While I haven’t ridden many of those bikes, the Epic Evo has raised the ceiling in every area – climbing, descending, and fun. It’s likely a perfect bike for many riders who don’t want to be downhillers, whose local tracks are full of lengthy climbs and flowy descents. I couldn’t imagine needing more bike than this.