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Cape Epic: Jordan Sarrou's Specialized S-Works Epic

Jordan Sarrou Epic
(Image credit: Max Sullivan )

As the world’s most grueling mountain bike stage race returns, we have managed to get a closer look at Jordan Sarrou’s Specialized S-Works Epic. The former World Champion together with teammate Matthew Beers, blazed through the wet and muddy Cape Epic Prologue finishing the course in just 43 minutes and 24 seconds.

Jordan is riding Specialized’s latest S-Works Epic, considers the brand's best full suspension mountain bike, with Fact carbon construction. Configured with 100mm of front and rear travel, Jordan’s bike is the ideal blend between climbing efficiency and adequate terrain absorption.

Brain suspension 

Keeping Jordan’s Epic rolling over any terrain with absolute control, is a combination of RockShox’s best lightweight suspension components.  At the front, there is a SID SL Ultimate Brain, with the top-adjust Brain damper and DebonAir air spring. The 100mm fork has a 44mm offset.

Complementing the SID is a RockShox-Specialized collaboration Ultimate Brain shock at the rear, it also features the DebonAir air spring. Specialized setup the shock with what it calls the Rx XC tune and the shock has a five-position platform adjust.

The Brain suspension is a system that's proprietary to Specialized and uses a valve system to differentiate pedaling and terrain forces, something that is likely to be hugely beneficial over an XC marathon course.

Pushing a big ring

At the Cape Epic, running short of gearing on those fast-paced gravel road sections, or struggling up a horst categories climb with gearing that is too tall, can be problematic. 

As a pro-level athlete and former World Champion, Jordan predictably has one of the best MTB groupsets, running SRAM’s AXS XX1 Eagle as his drivetrain.

A 10-50T cassette is connected to SRAM’s BlackBox 36T chainring, with Jordan running 175mm length arms, on his Quarq XX1 crank.

The Cape Epic features high temperatures and long descents, which can be testing on the brakes. Jordan’s stoppers are SRAM Level Ultimate two-piston brakes. He clearly prefers the feel and weight advantage of the two-piston option instead of the latest-generation lightweight four-piston calipers.

Cockpit geometry is crucial on a punishing weeklong stage race. To keep Jordan comfortable and in control when climbing or descending, is an S-Works XC mini rise 720mm handlebar. It shapes with 6-degrees of upsweep and 8-degrees of backsweep, totaling 10mm of overall rise.

Keeping Jordan’s handlebar in place is a 70mm S-Works alloy stem, fastened with titanium bolts and shaped to 6-degrees of rise.

Rolling large-volume tires

At the Cape Epic rotational weight becomes a significant issue, as the days and race distance compounds. Tire choice is crucial, too, because a vulnerable casing that punctures can mean the difference between a stage win and be out of contention.

Jordan’s S-Works Epic uses the latest Roval Control SL carbon wheelset, with a 4mm hook width, reducing the risk of pinch flats. It's 29mm internal diameter provides a secure foundation for his tire choice, which is larger than you might think.

At the front, Jordan prefers a Specialized Fast Track Grid T7, with a Renegade T5 at the rear. Both tires are sized 29x2.35-inch, showing the evolution in stage racing rubber logic. A few seasons ago, many pro riders were still rolling 2.1-inch width tires at the Cape Epic.

It might be the ultimate endurance racing event, but Jordan’s race bike is equipped with a RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post, delivering more control on those loose gravel descents.

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