http://groups.msn.com/MTBPhotos/shoebox.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=44 I read a few of the posts on here in the past week about the new Epic line from Specialized. I had seen them up close over the past few months at the bike shows, and even a few guys out on the trails with them too. Whenever I ask an Epic rider what he/she thinks of the bike, they always come back with some bullshit half-ass answer, which I found strange cause' most people will tell you exactly what they think of their ride 10 minutes after they hop on it for the first time. Mary wasn't feeling too well so we cancelled a long ride out in the country and opted for a local trail. I figured we may as well swing by the LBS and grab an Epic for a test ride. My guy in the shop was telling me how impressed he was with it, so it seemed like a good day to hop on one. They had a few on display but the Epic Comp was the only one he was willing to let me get dirty. It was built up fairly standard...LX front mech, XT rear, Mavic rims with a set of Roll X 2.0's. A pair of Avid rim brakes was already installed as well. Everything else was standard. Think the sticker was set at $3000 CDN. Instead of driving to the trailhead we decided to ride over on the bike path. I wanted to see how things were on pavement. Not much to tell there as you can imagine. When we got to the parking lot, Mary decided she wanted to get a little spin time in on the Epic to get a feel for it before hitting the trail. Good thing we did too because I discovered her pedals were in pretty rough shape...she neglected to tell me that they were not cleaned or lubed in ages. It was murder clipping in and out until I got them properly adjusted. Should have used the shop pedals.... The bike felt really stiff, especially when you hack away on it sprinting. I didn't feel any flex at all, and it turned fairly quickly. I adjusted the tires to about 40 PSI, I figured the trail would be somewhere between hardpack and mud because of the rain a few days ago. I would have prefered a 100MM fork instead of the 80MM Fox that was on it, and really....I can do with a good set of disc brakes. once I got the shock pressure and rebound dialed in, I headed unto the trail. Like the ads say...it's just like riding a hardtail. The frame was a large, but seemed a little smaller than the old FSR, and it was much lighter than I expected it to be too. The trail is full of roots, hills, and rolling flats...but mostly it's off-camber so I figured this was a good mix of challenges to test on. Yeah the brain worked as stated. Whenever I hit something significant it cycled into active mode, but I never quite knew when it was going to behave like a four-bar dualie, and when it was gonna stay HT, regardless, it hooked up on everything I threw at it. It even felt solid on the one or two airborne stunts I pulled. The fork could have been more plush IMO, the thing felt like I hit a wall everytime a root or rock got in the way. The rim brakes just don't do it for me....Maybe they weren't adjusted properly but I'm thinking two years of hydro discs have spoiled me for modulation and all out stopping power. My Magura's aren't the lightest, but they rock! I did everything from gouge-outs to steep climbs and shoots, the bike was very good all around, but then a Specialized rig is like that anyway. The long fireroad climb was bitchin' ! I remember the old HT days on that stretch of gravel, and the Epic was tight and fast. Downhilling was a little strange though, I couldn't pick lines that were adventurous because I never knew when the brain shock would kick in. Some of the bumps and braking grooves didn't activate the shock, and I had to get creative to keep things under control. Bottom line, the new Epic is nice, but I'm done with HT's, and if I wanted one, I sure wouldn't pay $2500 - $5000 for one to ride my local trails. This bike is a HT most of the time, unless you fool with the shock pressure. Furthermore, lighter bikes can be had if racing is your thing. In that case i would probably want a Giant NRS Air, it's a HT for all intent and purposes, cost less, and is lighter. I paid a little over $1600 for my Jamis Dakar Comp and I like it a whole lot better than the Epic. It's fast, solid and fully active all the time. Climbing and descending on it is sweet once you get the pressure and rebound dialed in. It soaks up everything on the trail and race courses with no prob, and leaves me with enough cheddar to blow on beer and gear.