My Racing Machine for the 2014 Grabouw XTERRA.


Image courtesy of Specialized .com

Somewhere on the Grabouw XTERRA MTB course.

Somewhere on the Grabouw XTERRA MTB course.

I had the pleasure of riding this bike for the 2014 FULL Grabouw XTERRA (1.5km swim, 27km mountain bike (on which i rode the S-works Epic) and a 12km trail run).

I cannot rave about this bike enough! Compared to my high spec, 2008 Merida Mission 3000-D, 26″ wheel diameter, full suspension bike, this bike is a Range Rover Sport to my Land Rover Defender 90.

The Brain suspension is unbelievable in how steady it keeps the bike over the bumps and under pedal pressure. The bike is almost impossible to bunny hop using shock compression to launch. The whole bike weighs next to nothing and the SRAM XX1 was a dream to ride, though a little above my current punching weight. The 95mm travel was plenty for me, I never had the feeling of needing more.

I had the pleasure of riding the medium though should have chosen a large if one was available for my 1.82m height. Even though the bike was slightly too small there is plenty of space in the cockpit. The shorter wheel base of the World Cup series and the smaller frame did catch me off guard a couple of times and the fact the bike weighs nothing means there is very little keeping it on the ground if you’re heading over the falls!

I kept thinking “I’m getting closer to the end of the ride, I don’t want this to stop”. The bike course is great, but on a machine like this, it is AWESOME!

My test bike didn’t have the S.W.A.T option to reduce as much weight as possible but is available as an optional extra. Harry, the mechanic who set me up on the bike said that the guys that race these machines at short course XC events have a mechanic in the pits with a spare set of everything, and can effect a change of equipment in double quick time, the rider therefore needs no tools on the course.

This is a race machine for those winning races or those wanting to win races, or those that can afford it.

Thank you Specialized for an opportunity to race a bike I would normally never have had the opportunity to ride!

Please read the official Specialized product info below (see if you can spot my pics in the mix).


After a decade of dominating XC mountain bike racing, the world championship and Olympic gold winning Epic breaks new ground. An array of innovations—lighter and stiffer frames, advanced suspension technology, new Roval wheels, SWAT storage systems, and more—make the fastest bike on the trail even faster.

To build the next generation of the Epic, the largest and most talented team of engineers, designers, product managers, and riders was assembled. Meet the people that brought the new Epic to life.

2014 Grabouw XTERRA S-Works Epic World Cup Edition

This was my ride for the 2014 Grabouw XTERRA.

PURPOSE-BUILT. XC racing has evolved. When the Epic was first launched, race formats were fairly consistent. Now, what’s described as “cross-country” can be anything from a one hour short track event, to week-long stage races like the Cape Epic. To make sure XC racers have the fastest bike possible for such diverse conditions, the Epic now has a fraternal twin: the Epic World Cup.

Image Courtesy of

FACT CARBON FRAME. It’s all about the fastest ride. The new Epic frame is lighter & stiffer, features better suspension action, and can carry everything you want right on the frame. An entire team of engineers and designers spent years squeezing every bit of performance and cutting every non-essential gram. What remains is a purpose-built race bike that looks the part not that looks matter.

Image courtesy of Specialized .com

SUSPENSION TECHNOLOGY. Naturally, all Epic bikes take advantage of FSR 4-bar linkage. This patented and proven system is fully active always able to respond to bumps and fully independent virtually unaffected by rider’s pedal input or braking forces. FSR is enhanced by an all-new and finely tuned Mini Brain rear shock. When a rider encounters a bump, an inertia valve disengages, allowing oil to flow and the shock to immediately transition from firm efficient to fully active compliant.

Image courtesy of

NEW ROVAL WHEELS. Apart from the frame, the most important component on any bike is the wheel. Many Epic models feature Roval carbon wheelsets that are lighter, stronger, and stiffer than their alloy counterparts. Weight is critical, not just in climbing performance, but also in how the bike handles. New technologies like Zero Bead Hook keep wheels in-true longer and make them better able to absorb impacts.

Image courtesy of

S.W.A.T. Storage. Water. Air. Tools. More than a clever acronym, every new Epic bike features some level stage of SWAT, allowing fully integrated transport of critical items that every rider needs before hitting the trail and can reduce/eliminate the need to wear a pack. The SWAT items are strategically placed to distribute weight and allow easy access. For example, a chain tool is securely tucked beneath the stem cap.NEW S-WORKS

Image courtesy of

CRANKS. We set out to shave every possible gram through integrated designs of frames and components. The completely new FACT carbon crankset sets the benchmark for stiffness and is sleeker and lighter than before, thanks to a new spider design that partners with either single or double chainring setups.2014 Epic Up-Close

Some additional photos from

The Brain

The “T” in S.W.A.T.

The “A” in S.W.A.T.

via Specialized Bicycle Components.

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