Haley Batten of the Specialized Factory Race Team rode to victory at the Shimano Supercup Massi Banyoles last weekend on what looks to be a new Specialized XC Race Bike. Bikerumor reader, Joe Curran, sent us a video of Haley motoring past on Lap 2, when Haley had already established a lead. Despite the muddy conditions, the video does reveal a frame sock hiding what is likely to be a rear shock that is, given the tight spacing, likely to be somewhat integrated into the top tube.
Is this the 2023 Specialized Epic XC Bike?
Specialized’s top tube sleeve reminds us very much of that time we spotted Jolanda Neff aboard a prototype Trek at the 2019 the Nové Město World Cup. It’s undeniable, there are stark similarities. Of course, any shock-frame integration implemented by Specialized will likely be quite different to Trek’s Iso Strut if only to ensure no patent infringement occurs. Without a glimpse underneath the cover, we are banished to the world of wild hypotheses.
Specialized’s current XC Race Bike is the Epic, a 100mm travel carbon frame benefiting from flexible seat stays; it was last updated in 2021. Our in-house XC expert, Jordan Villella, has spent a not-inconsiderable amount of time aboard the aforementioned, so his guesses are as good as anyone’s. Over to him!
The Specialized Epic has been my go-to race bike for many years, so I was excited to see what the newest model would give us. The updated Epic design we see in race shots from the Shimano Supercup Massi Banyoles looks jam-packed with new offerings from Specialized. The frame looks to be a shock, similar to the Trek SuperCaliber, so we’re guessing this bike could have anywhere from 65-80mm of rear travel.
Where’s the Brain? We’re thinking that the Specialized signature race feature could be hidden underneath the cover, and if so, it’s a much more compact design than in the past.
Why less travel than the current offering? The Epic EVO will still be in the Specialized lineup as an endurance or marathon bike. Christopher Blevins just posted an Instagram photo dropping off a gnarly rock on the Epic Evo with a Rock Shox SID remote fork and rear lockout…
If you look closely, you’ll notice some cool new Roval one-piece carbon bars. If you add in a super light mountain MTB-specific carbon seat post, that will round out Roval’s MTB offerings. If you look closer at the photo above, you’ll notice no brake hose lines are going into the frame externally. They look to track along or inside the new Roval one-piece bar and through the headtube. Will brake manufacturers have brakes designed specifically to route internally with one-piece bar/stem combos, as we saw on Lars Foresters World Cup race bike at Snow Shoe? Only time will tell, but we’re more excited than ever to see what’s coming from Specialized.
A look at Haley Batten’s Instagram shows us that the frame isn’t the only newness she was riding last weekend. Given the extra machining we can see on the RockShox SID fork crown, we’re willing to bet that’s a new, lighter model. Also, it’s pretty clear from our reader’s video that Haley’s bike is also benefiting from what looks to be that SRAM Eagle Direct Mount derailleur we uncovered details on last September.