Performance Tested in the Untamed

Along with the bikes featured in the Epic Series YouTube channel’s Bike Checks there were several other new machines being performance tested at the 2024 Absa Cape Epic. These include the new Specialized Epic 8, the new Cannondale Scalpel, the second edition Titan Racing Cypher, and the all-new Bulls Wild Edge Team.  There was also new gear on display, with numerous RockShox sponsored teams running Flight Attendant for the first time.

The Epic at the Epic

Specialized Bicycles are the most successful manufacturer in the history of the Absa Cape Epic. The Specialized Epic, in its various guises, has been piloted to 16 titles (including Matt Beers and Howard Grotts’ 2024 victory). The new Specialized Epic, dubbed the Epic 8, was launched just before the race and was then raced by the UCI Men’s and Aramex Women’s Toyota Specialized Ninety One squads as well as by the Toyota Specialized men’s team. The Epic 8 departs from Specialized’s proprietary Brain suspension lock-out system and now relies upon the RockShox Flight Attendant to ensure the platform is near rigid when riders are sprinting or climbing out of the saddle. (Read on to find out more about how the Flight Attendant performed at the Absa Cape Epic.) Read more about the S-Works Epic 8, as raced at the Absa Cape Epic, here.

The Sharpest of Blades

The Cannondale Scalpel has long been one of the go-to bikes for marathon and stage race mountain biking. Its blend of pedalling efficiency and superb capability on technical singletrack descents makes it a popular choice. Plus, the Lefty equipped machines unquestionably look great. The latest generation Scalpel represents a sharpening of the outgoing version, with 120 millimetres of travel, front and rear, helping to make the new bike even faster over the testing terrain the Absa Cape Epic infamous for. Candice Lill reported that the new bike is significantly faster downhill and South African fans will be eager to see it in World Cup action under Alan Hatherly this year too. Read more about the new Cannondale Scalpel here.

Decoding the Stage Racing Cypher

Titan Racing released the second generation of their full suspension marathon racing platform, the Cypher, during the Absa Cape Epic. Rossouw Bekker and Matthys Beukes, of Valley Electrical Titan Racing, were already putting the bikes to the ultimate test when the press release dropped and proved the efficiency of the new machines racing to a very credible twelfth position overall. Whereas the first generation Cypher made use of a horst-link suspension design the new Cypher uses flex in the seat stay to help provide 100 millimetres of rear wheel travel. It also boasts superb pedalling efficiency and a progressive, modern, geometry. Read all about the second generation Titan Racing Cypher here.

Wild Wild Country

While the three previously profiled bikes a visually similar to their predecessors the all-new Bulls Wild Edge Team is a complete departure from the out-going model. Gone is the shock mounted to the top tube and the pivot in the chainstay. The new version features, what appears to be, a single piece rear triangle which is mounted to a low pivot in an enlarged bottom bracket area. The rear shock and suspension linkage then transects the seat tube, while the front end of the shock mounts low on the down tube. The design allows for ample room for two bottle cages and keeps the weight of the rear suspension hardware exceptionally low down in the frame. Karl Platt, Urs Huber and Simon Schneller all enjoyed mechanical free rides at the 2024 Absa Cape Epic, so the new Wild Edge Team clearly performs well, even in the harshest of conditions. As yet, Bulls Bikes have said nothing about the new machine, aside from teasing it in an Instagram post, so beyond pointing you there, we can only tell you to wait and see…

Checking Your Boarding Pass

Electronic suspension dampening is hardly new to mountain biking, but Fox’s Live Valve and the SR Suntour TACT electric suspension systems have not been as widely adopted in racing as the RockShox Flight Attendant system. Along with the Specialized Epic 8’s, the system was also fitted to Nino Schurter’s SCOTT SPARK RC, Anne Terpstra and Nicole Koller’s Ghost Lector FS World Cup 30s, as well as Lukas Baum and Georg Eggers’ ORBEA Oiz bikes. By all accounts the Flight Attendant system worked superbly throughout the Absa Cape Epic, with none of the teams reporting any issues. Flight Attendant relies upon inputs from the complete SRAM AXS ecosystem, as well as feedback from the trail to firm or soften your suspension settings. One of its most useful features, particularly for professional athletes, is Adaptive Ride Dynamics. This allows you to either make use of RockShox’s algorithm to learn your riding style and tailor the suspension firmness accordingly, or to give you the personalisation abilities to programme the system to specific power zones. By communicating with SRAM’s Reverb AXS dropper seatpost, the SRAM AXS rear derailleur and the SRAM EAGLE AXS Power Meter Crankset, Flight Attendant can track all the forces interacting on the bike and tune the suspension accordingly. Find out more about how it works here.