Specialized's Epic 8 XC MTB embraces algorithm-controlled suspension and ditches the Brain

Rider charging on Specialized S-Works Epic 8
(Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized has released the latest iterations of its Epic cross-country race platform. The new Epic 8 cross-country bike gets a geometry and suspension overhaul while the Epic 8 Evo fully embraces downcountry.

The new Epic 8 bikes share the same frame but are now more distinctly different in performance, with the Epic 8's goal of dominating cross-country races and the Epic 8 Evo bulked up for hard and fast trail duties.

The FACT 12M frame features 120mm of travel and has been made 76 grams lighter than the previous S-Works Epic. Specialized says the chassis, geometry, kinematics, spring curves, and damping performance have been fine-tuned by Specialized's Ride Dynamics team to maximize the Epic 8's performance. The new frames now come equipped with a SWAT internal storage hatch under the downtube bottle cage.

Although both bikes use the same frame, the Epic 8 and Epic 8 Evo have different trail intentions.

Specialized Epic 8 in a field

The Specialized Epic 8 at the bike's launch in Chile (Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized Epic 8

The outgoing bike wasn't exactly an outdated slouch, however, with the demands of modern XC racing it was the Epic 7 Evo that had become the Specialized sponsored racers’ bike of choice for most of the 2023 cross-country season. 

To reflect this, Specialized has made a concerted effort to increase the descending performance of the new Epic 8, which is said to be more capable than the previous Epic EVO. In the low geometry mode (a flip-chip gives you two geo options), the Specialized Epic 8 combines a 450mm reach (medium) with a slack 65.9-degree angle and a short 435mm rear end. The seat angle is size-dependent ranging from 76.5 to 75.5 degrees over the five sizes, interestingly the bottom bracket drop is also size-dependent measuring at 52mm on an XS to 42 on an XL.

There is a lot of suspension wizardry going on with the Epic 8 and we aren't just talking about the new RockShox Flight Attendant equipped S-Works model either. 

The suspension itself features Specialized Ride Dynamics-developed custom valving as well to ensure the suspension is working at its optimum. the suspension features three positions, Wide Open, Sprint, and something Specialized has called the Magic Middle. 

Magic Middle is essentially a pedaling mode, although Specialized has played around with the tune so that has a firm initial breakaway to combat pedaling influence followed by digressive damping allowing more travel to be used on the same magnitude bumps,

Kinematics have also been tweaked and are claimed to give 20 percent less pedal bob than the Epic 7 EVO, whilst absorbing 12 percent more bump and vibration forces.

That all sounds pretty great on paper, Guy Kesteven was lucky enough to find out if all these changes added up on the trail when he tested the Specialized S-Works Epic 8 ahead of the launch. He summed up the new top spec XC bike as a "next-level technology and velocity benchmark that makes maximum speed easier than ever."

Specialized Epic 8 Evo in a field

Specialized Epic 8 Evo gets a burlier spec with a 130mm fork and bigger brakes (Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized Epic 8 Evo

Although downcountry orientated, the Epic 7 Evo had found itself being lined up at the most competitive cross-country races in the world. Now that the racey Epic has been radicalized, the Epic 8 Evo can get back to hustling trail bikes in the woods. The new Evo shares the same geometry, albeit a little slacker and taller as it's fitted with a 130mm fork, and features a two-stage, open or locked, custom Ride Dynamics tuned shock.

To meet the rowdier demands of downcountry and light trail riding, the Epic Evo gets a burlier Fox 34 fork and some enduro spec SRAM Codes with a 200mm rotor up front.

Guy Kesteven also got to swing a leg over the Specialized Epic 8 Evo and he thinks it has what it takes to be a downcountry champion, saying, the "Epic Evo Pro has muscled up a weight category, but punchy pedaling, welterweight agility and trail brawler spec make it a downcountry champ."

Pricing and specifications

The Specialized Epic 8 will come in Comp, Expert, Pro, and S-Works builds, it will also be available as a frame and fork option. The Evo edition will come in Comp and Pro specs or as a frame only. 

If you want to read more about the new Specialized Epic 8, head over to Specialized.com.

Specialized S-Works Epic 8

Specialized S-Works Epic 8

(Image credit: Specialized)
  • Frame: S-Works Fact 12m 
  • Fork: RockShox SID Ultimate Flight Attendant, 120mm 
  • Rear Shock: RockShox SIDLuxe Ultimate Flight Attendant, 120mm
  • Groupset: SRAM XX SL, T-Type AXS
  • Brakes: SRAM Level Ultimate Stealth
  • Wheels: Roval Control SL
  • Tires: Specialized Fast Trak T7, Specialized Renegade T5
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb AXS
  • Saddle: Specialized S-Works Power
  • Weight: 10.24kg (medium)
  • Price: $14,500 / £12,000 / €14,500

Specialized Epic 8 Pro

Specialized Epic 8 Pro

(Image credit: Specialized)
  • Frame: S-Works Fact 11m 
  • Fork: RockShox SID Ultimate, 120mm 
  • Rear Shock: RockShox SIDLuxe Ultimate, 120mm
  • Groupset: SRAM X0, T-Type AXS
  • Brakes: SRAM Level Silver Stealth
  • Wheels: Roval Control
  • Tires: Specialized Fast Trak T7, Specialized Renegade T5
  • Seatpost: Bike Yoke Divine SL
  • Saddle: Specialized Power Expert
  • Weight: 10.87kg (medium)
  • Price: $9,000 / £8,000 / €9500

Specialized Epic 8 Expert

Specialized Epic 8 Expert

(Image credit: Specialized)
  • Frame: S-Works Fact 11m 
  • Fork: RockShox SID Select+, 120mm 
  • Rear Shock: RockShox SIDLuxe Select+, 120mm
  • Groupset: SRAM GX, T-Type AXS
  • Brakes: SRAM Level Bronze Stealth
  • Wheels: Roval Control
  • Tires: Specialized Fast Trak T7, Specialized Renegade T5
  • Seatpost: Bike Yoke Divine SL
  • Saddle: Specialized Power Sport
  • Weight: 11.1kg (medium)
  • Price: $7,00 / £6,000 / €7500

Specialized Epic 8 Comp

Specialized Epic 8 Comp

(Image credit: Specialized)
  1. Frame: S-Works Fact 11m 
  2. Fork: RockShox SID Select, 120mm 
  3. Rear Shock: RockShox SIDLuxe Select+, 120mm
  4. Groupset: SRAM GX Eagle
  5. Brakes: SRAM Level Bronze Stealth
  6. Wheels: Specialized Alloy
  7. Tires: Specialized Fast Trak T7, Specialized Renegade T5
  8. Seatpost: X-Fusion Manic
  9. Saddle: Specialized Power Sport
  10. Weight: 11.7kg (medium)
  11. Price: $5,000 / £4,250 / €5,200

Specialized Epic 8 Evo Pro

Specialized Epic 8 Evo Pro

(Image credit: Specialized)
  • Frame: S-Works Fact 11m 
  • Fork: Fox 34 Factory Grip 2, 130mm 
  • Rear Shock: Fox Float Factory, 120mm
  • Groupset: SRAM X0, T-Type AXS
  • Brakes: SRAM Code Silver Stealth
  • Wheels: Roval Control on Industry Nine 1/1
  • Tires: Specialized Purgatory T9, Specialized Ground Control T7
  • Seatpost: Fox Transfer Factory
  • Saddle: Specialized Power Expert
  • Weight: 12.12kg (medium)
  • Price: $8,500 / £8,000 / €9,000

Specialized Epic 8 Evo Comp

Specialized Epic 8 EVO Comp

(Image credit: Specialized)
  • Frame: S-Works Fact 11m 
  • Fork: Fox 34 Performance, 130mm 
  • Rear Shock: Fox Float Performance, 120mm
  • Groupset: SRAM GX Eagle
  • Brakes: SRAM Code Bronze Stealth
  • Wheels: Specialized Alloy
  • Tires: Specialized Purgatory T9, Specialized Ground Control T7
  • Seatpost: X-Fusion Manic
  • Saddle: Specialized Power Sport
  • Weight: 12.61kg (medium)
  • Price: $5,000 / £4,250 / €5,200
Graham Cottingham
Senior reviews writer, Bike Perfect

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road, based in Edinburgh he has some of the best mountain biking and gravel riding in the UK on his doorstep. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro, and gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotland's wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes, or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect.


Rides: Cotic SolarisMax, Stooge MK4, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

Height: 177cm

Weight: 71kg