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Cape Epic: Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic
(Image credit: Max Sullivan )

Christoph Sauser is one of endurance mountain biking’s most celebrated riders. The Swiss rider spent nearly a decade racing at the front of the Cape Epic. In that time, he amassed five overall wins and was considered the event’s dominant rider.

Although no longer competing for the overall title, Sauser still enjoys his time at the Cape Epic, and being in South Africa, where he has spent years training during European winters.

He might no longer be on a pro team, but Sauser remains a Specialized ambassador. All his Cape Epic wins were aboard the American brand’s S-Works Epic and for this year’s event, Sauser was on the latest version.

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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

Christoph has chosen to run a single bottle and a tool keg (Image credit: Max Sullivan )
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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

Underneath the cage is a Specialized Swat tool (Image credit: Max Sullivan )
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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

RockShox shock uses Specialized's Brain technology (Image credit: Max Sullivan )
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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

The RockShox SID fork is also equipped with the Brain inertia valve (Image credit: Max Sullivan )
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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

At the rear the Brain technology is mounted on the rear dropout (Image credit: Max Sullivan )
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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

A little reminder of the bike your riding for the riders behind (Image credit: Max Sullivan )

Sauser’s S-Works Epic was similar in its build specification to most of Specialized’s pro riders Jordan Sarrou and Sina Frei, who won both the overall and women’s categories at this year’s Cape Epic.

Having ridden every generation of the BRAIN active damping and autonomous lock-out suspension system, no other rider can evaluate the progress of this latest RockShox SID BRAIN fork and shock set-up and its benefits for a race like the Cape Epic, with more authority.

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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

Rolling on Roval Control SL wheels (Image credit: Max Sullivan )
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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

Which are fitted with Specialized Renegade tires (Image credit: Max Sullivan )
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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

A SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS groupset is fitted (Image credit: Max Sullivan )
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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

A 34T chainring is fitted (Image credit: Max Sullivan )
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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

Plenty of range at the rear from the Eagle cassette (Image credit: Max Sullivan )
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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

Specialized provide the cockpit components (Image credit: Max Sullivan )
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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

No dropper or suspension lockout levers mean uncluttered bars (Image credit: Max Sullivan )
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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

SRAM handle the braking (Image credit: Max Sullivan )

Big tires are now standard fare

Sauser opted for the new Specialized Renegade 29 x 2.35in tire, for his Cape Epic. This is slightly different from what the men’s winning team used, with a grippier Fast Track tire at the front.

Specialized offers a new categorization of rubber compounds for its mountain bike tires, and Sauser chose the T5 specification for his Renegades, sacrificing a bit of grip for lower overall rolling resistance. Wheels are the best that Roval offers, with its latest carbon hoops, shaped a generous 29mm internal rim diameter.

Helping Sauser keep his speed on the open gravel road section of this year’s Cape Epic, and conquering its brutal climbs, was the SRAM AXS Eagle XX1 wireless shifting drivetrain.

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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

Unlike most riders Christoph runs Look’s X-Track Race carbon pedals (Image credit: Max Sullivan )
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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

Garmin's smallest 130 Plus GPS unit offers simple data recording functionality (Image credit: Max Sullivan )
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Christoph Sauser's S-Works Epic

Specialized provides the seating (Image credit: Max Sullivan )

Look at those pedals

So what is different about Sauser’s S-Works Epic? Pedals.

Most Cape Epic pros default to the proven durability and survivability of Shimano’s SPDs, especially the latest XTR clipless models which are one of the best mountain bike pedals available. Sauser chose something different for this year’s Cape Epic.

The Swiss mountain biking legend opted for Look’s latest X-Track Race carbon pedals. Not only do they look great, but at only 145g per pedal, they are also fantastically light.

At a race of the Cape Epic’s duration, knee fatigue can become a thing. This is where the Look X-Track carbon pedals can provide relief, thanks to a generous 6-degrees of lateral float. Best of all, they are compatible with Shimano SPD cleats.

Lance Branquinho
Lance Branquinho is a Namibian-born media professional who graduated to mountain biking after injuries curtailed his fascination with trail running. He has a weakness for British steel hardtails, especially those which only run a single gear. Rides: Morewood Kwela Cotic Simple 26 Pyga 160mm aluminium prototype