Luxury Bikes

In the test: 2024 Specialized Epic 8 EVO – The fun brother?

All good things come in twos. That’s why Specialized presents the new Epic 8 XC road bike along with the Epic 8 EVO, which is based on the same frame but features a longer travel fork, more robust components and different suspension. Can this concept work? And why do we still prefer the purebred Epic 8?

Specialized Epic 8 EVO Pro | 130/120 mm (v/h) | 12.1 kg in size L | €9,000 | Manufacturer’s website

Last year, the Specialized Epic EVO was the bike of choice for most Specialized XC team riders in World Cup races. In order to better cope with the increasingly demanding cross-country routes, both the Epic 8 and the Epic 8 EVO have been made significantly more powerful: The EVO version is now equipped with a 130 mm fork paired with 120 mm travel Equipped rear end. The Pro model in the test weighs 12.1 kg and can be purchased for €9,000. This is also the flagship model as there is no S-Works version of the new Specialized Epic 8 EVO. The only other option is the Comp model.

The new Specialized Epic 8 EVO in detail

Since both bikes have the same frame, there are many similarities between them Specialized Epic 8 and the Epic 8 EVO. However, the EVO has 10 mm more travel at the front and does without the electronically controlled RockShox Flight Attendant suspension and is instead equipped with FOX dampers. The fact that it is significantly more downhill-oriented is also reflected in the excellent GRIP2 damper in the fork, which performs excellently on the trail, although with a slight weight disadvantage. Specialized decided against a remote lockout lever on the handlebars. It’s a shame that there is no Magic Middle mode on the Epic 8 EVO, like on the Epic 8. The tire combination of a Specialized Purgatory at the front and Ground Control at the rear, both with the more robust GRID carcass and the softer rubber compound, are another indication its gravity orientation. To remove any doubts in this regard, Specialized has equipped the bike with SRAM CODE Silver Stealth brakes, paired with a large 200mm disc at the front and a 180mm version at the rear. There’s definitely no lack of braking power! The whole thing is rounded off by a wireless SRAM X0 Eagle AXS gear group and carbon Roval Control wheels.

The high-performance fork…
… and grippier, more robust tires put the Epic EVO’s focus clearly on the descents.
You won’t find a remote lockout for the suspension here.
The integrated storage compartment in the down tube is incredibly practical.

Just like the 2024 Specialized Epic 8, the Epic 8 EVO now features a SWAT storage compartment in the downtube. But even though the two bikes are based on the same frame, they differ in a few important ways. In particular, the front end of the Epic 8 EVO is about 4.5 cm higher than that of the Epic 8, which is due to the longer fork and the two-part cockpit. In addition, the flip chip on the Epic 8 EVO is shipped in the low position by default, while the Epic 8 is shipped in the high position. Both models are available in five frame sizes from XS to XL.

helmet FOX Speed ​​frame | glasses Oakley Sutro | jersey Pas Normal Studios Escapism Technical LS T-Shirt for Men | Shoes Specialized “S-Works Recon mountain bike shoes”

The new Specialized Epic 8 EVO in the test – more travel = more fun?

As expected, the riding position on the Specialized Epic 8 EVO 2024 is significantly more upright than its race-oriented brother. This makes it more comfortable on long days in the saddle and immediately feels less racy when you swing your leg over the saddle. Only the shock melody doesn’t quite fit. Instead of a three-stage locking, the new Epic 8 EVO only has a much firmer open mode – not wide open like the Epic 8 – or a closed mode. There is no Magic Middle setting. Yes, the Open mode hardly rocks and is very efficient, but on the trail it is not that sensitive and occasionally even feels like it wants to pull you out of the saddle. On long and uneven gravel roads, we would have preferred a softer suspension for a more comfortable ride (or just the Epic 8 with RockShox Flight Attendant). Not even the beautiful Chilean landscape overlooking the Pacific Ocean could distract us! For a trail bike like the Epic 8 EVO, we would have liked a wide open and a magic middle mode like the Epic 8. We see little need for the fully lock-out mode. The Epic 8 EVO isn’t the kind of bike you want to sprint with – it can’t keep up with the much livelier Epic 8 S-Works anyway.

When riding downhill, the Specialized Epic 8 EVO’s handling feels precise and agile, so you’ll quickly feel at home. Compared to the Epic 8, the higher front end and longer travel of the fork give noticeably more confidence, especially in rock gardens or when things get steep and rough. Thanks to the more aggressive and robust tires, you have significantly more grip and braking traction. Of course, this comes at the expense of the motorcycle’s liveliness and acceleration. The Epic 8 clearly sets the bar in this regard. Unfortunately, the rear suspension wasn’t entirely convincing even when going downhill. In our opinion, Open mode is too harsh for a trail bike that doesn’t prioritize pedaling efficiency, and while it offers significantly more grip and control on the trail than the Epic 8, it always feels underpowered compared to other trail bikes still pretty hard.

Specialized Epic 8 S-Works or Epic 8 EVO?

We thought the 2024 Specialized Epic 8 EVO would be our favorite, but if we had the choice, we’d go with the Epic 8 S-Works! Not just because it’s more expensive, but because it’s much closer to our definition of a fast, fun bike and is also very capable. It also has an adaptive chassis and is significantly livelier and accelerates faster. With the Epic 8 you feel like you’re on a racing bike, while with the Epic 8 EVO you’re stuck between two worlds: the open mode, which is too hard for a trail bike, and the lockout, which is unnecessary. We would have preferred a happy medium setup instead. But hey, with a different shock absorber or suspension setup the world will look completely different. The Epic 8 S-Works is our bike of choice for our home trails in Stuttgart!

Our conclusion on the Specialized Epic 8 EVO 2024

The 2024 Specialized Epic 8 EVO is neither here nor there. It features the same clean and elegant frame as the Epic 8, with a convenient storage compartment in the downtube and paired with a capable GRIP2 fork – a rarity on short-travel bikes. However, due to the tight damper tuning, there is a lack of comfort on flat land and sensitivity on descents. Although it conveys significantly more confidence than the Epic 8, it doesn’t quite live up to its ambitions of being a nimble trail bike.


  • more confidence than the Epic 8
  • Short-distance bike with integrated storage compartment


  • Shock melody
  • lack of comfort on uneven gravel roads

For more information, see Specialized website.

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Words: Simon Kohler, Robin Schmitt Photos: Etienne Schoemann, Robin Schmitt

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