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Cape Epic: Sina Frei's Specialized S-Works Epic

Sina Frei's Specialized S-Works Epic, ready to go in Ceres, South Africa
(Image credit: Max Sullivan )

Olympics silver medalist, Sina Frei, is part of a powerhouse team at the Cape Epic. Paired with Austrian XCC and XCE champion Laura Stigger, both riders are proving to be a force to be reckoned with and are dominating overall with top podium spots on all four stages so far.

The Swiss rider showed massive potential as a junior and has converted that form in her professional riding career. Frei was part of the Swiss Olympic clean sweep in the Tokyo 2020 women's XCO and became the first-ever XCC Short Track World Champion in Val di Sole.

At the Cape Epic, Frei is quite fittingly on the event's eponymously named bike. Her Specialized S-Works Epic is finished with all the componentry you would expect from an elite team rider.

No lockout cables required 

The frame is Specialized's 12m FACT carbon layup, the lightest mountain bike construction the American company produces.

Running 100mm of BRAIN damper-assisted RockShox suspension front and rear, Frei doesn't have to bother with lockout levers and can concentrate on riding. This also gives her a cleaner and less cluttered cockpit. With the BRAIN intelligent platform damping system, there are fewer cables to snag than would be the case with fork and rear-shock lock lockout switches.

Wireless shifting helps Sina manage her efforts with absolute precision. Which considering those loose, rocky climbs, having the confidence of absolutely secure shifting under power is a big win.

Drivetrain, wheels and tires

Sina's SRAM AXS XX1 Eagle drivetrain is turned by a 32t chainring, with a Quarq power meter helping her stay informed of all crucial power output metrics. She clips into HT pedals for each stage. 

Riders respect the rocky Western Cape descents that are very much standard fare at any Cape Epic. To prevent a chain drop, Sina uses a minimalist MRP chain guide.

Helping Sina retain control on those unpredictably rocky descents are SRAM Level Ultimate brakes. There is a bit of bike bling associated with her brake caliper mounts, using oil-slick colored bolts.

Rolling Sina along are Roval Control Team SL wheels, which feature a 29mm internal diameter and the reshaped 4mm wide bead, reducing pinch flats.

Sina's tire choice sees her using Specialized's Renegade front and rear, instead of mixing-and-matching different tread patterns for rolling speed and front-end grip on descents. These Renegades use the latest Specialized Grid casing with its T5 rubber compound.

A futuristic saddle that works 

The S-Works Epic Sina is riding has a very well-stocked front triangle, especially considering Frei is riding a smaller frame. She has mounted two hydration bottle cages and a frame storage box, with additional tools and spare parts.

A week of racing significant distances on some of the rockiest terrain can take its toll on even the fittest riders, especially at the pace that pros ride. To ensure Sina remains comfortable throughout the Epic, she has chosen to be seated on Specialized's 3D printed S-Works Power Mirror saddle. Its honeycomb-type structure has excellent vibration absorption properties and offers great rider support.

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