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Pro bikes, May 2, 2006

Liam Killeen's Specialized S-Works Epic

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Photos ©:Steve Medcroft/Cyclingnews

I swear, it's pink for a reason

By Steve Medcroft

Shaving a few grams
Photo ©: Steve Medcroft
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Killeen says the plastic caps
Photo ©: Steve Medcroft
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Laim Killeen's cockpit
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Killeen blacked out the logos
Photo ©: Steve Medcroft
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At the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California, Specialized Factory team racers Christoph Sauser, Alban Lakata, Sabine Spitz and Liam Killeen rolled out to the time trial start on pink S-Works Epic frames. Identical to their team-issue bikes, the frames were coloured to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first mass-produced mountain-bike; the Specialized Stumpjumper. “The very first [team-issue] Stumpjumper was pink,” said Kevin Franks of Specialized. “We're using them here at Sea Otter and then at the Garda Festival in Italy later this month. After that, they're going into the Specialized museum.”

The S-Works Epic is, of course, Specialized's top-end full-suspension cross-country race bike. The front triangle and main rear pivot links are built from company-branded Fact 10m carbon, the shock extensions are magnesium, and the brake bosses and sealed cartridge-bearing pivots are all titanium – which all puts a fully-built production bike in the sub-25-pound weight range. The FSR alloy rear triangle offers 100 millimeters of travel using Specialized's exclusive Brain shock technology, a Fox-backed initiative designed to give solid pedal performance on smoother trail along with active absorption in rough terrain.

Each of the pink frames at Sea Otter was built up with its rider's regular race-bike kit. We got a closer look at Killeen's Epic in the team's pit and found that the weight conscious Commonwealth Games and Sea Otter cross country winner is very liberal about mixing the stock build with his own personal choices in components.

Killeen sticks with the stock-issued 2006 XTR Hollowtech crankset, for example, but has it built to a 2x9 configuration. He runs the stock SRAM X.0 carbon-caged rear derailleur but uses a front derailleur from Shimano's Dura Ace road group. He'll even swap out his usual SRAM MTB cassette for the tighter gearing of a road cassette if the course favors it.

The tweaking of component mixes doesn't stop at the drivetrain either. Killeen ditches the production XTR rotors for Stan's NoTubes Coated Aluminum Rotors which, at only 57 grams for the 160mm front rotor, feature a compound coating over aircraft-grade aluminum that allows the use of normal-width semi-metallic pads from pretty much any of the top brake companies.

Killeen isn't running the production bike's Mavic CrossMax SL wheels either, opting instead for a special pair of wheels made by NoTubes that use American Classic hubs laced into custom made NoTubes ZTR 355 rims with Wheelsmith XL15 spokes. You can't easily identify the logo-free rims, but NoTubes' Mike Bush filled in the details for us, adding, "They are taped air tight with our yellow spoke tape for tubeless use and weigh only ... let's just say they are really light."

Black tape also hid the logo on Killeen's fork but it was obviously made by Pace (rather than the Fox F100RLT that comes with the production bike). Since the British manufacturer recently announced that it would offer an 80mm version to go along with its popular 100mm RC39XC cross-country fork, we presume Killeen was riding a pre-release model. And with carbon fork legs and magnesium drop-outs, the final product may be even lighter than the 1400-gram 2006 version.

Although there is a lot of personal expression on Liam Killeen's racing rig, he toes the party line when it comes to rubber. Killeen ran Specialized Storm Pro 2Bliss tires for Sea Otter's muddy 1.5-mile time trial (the day we shot these photos) but normally wraps his wheels in S-Works FasTrak Tubeless tires for cross-country races. With one modification of course; Specialized shaves half the tread off the FasTrak's for its team riders, who say they prefer the handling of the shallower profile.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Steve Medcroft/Cyclingnews.com

  • To commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of its first team-issued bike – a pink Stumpjumper - Specialized pimped out its pros with pink S-Works Epic’s at Sea Otter
  • Shaving a few grams in the suspension linkage, Specialized fabricates its rear link from branded FACT carbon.
  • Killeen says the plastic caps usually hanging off the rear of his Specialized Toupe Ti saddle irritated him while riding so he had his mechanics trim it off.
  • Laim Killeen's Cockpit SRAM X.0 Twist Shifters, Titec carbon bar ends and a carbon flat bar from German manufacturer Syntace.
  • Killeen blacked out the logos on his Pace fork at Sea Otter. It’s probably a pre-production version of the British manufacturer’s upgraded RCX39C, which the company will offer in both 100mm and 80mm setups. Killeen’s fork had carbon fork legs and magnesium bases.
  • Killeen runs a 2x9 setup with a Dura Ace front derailleur and SRAM’s X.0 rear derailleur with the medium-length carbon cage.
  • Killeen’s XTR Hollowtech cranks are fitted with a 44/32 chainrings that have clearly seen plenty of use.
  • The weight conscious Killeen uses Stan’s Aluminum Composite rotors under Magura hydraulic disc brakes. The 160mm front rotor weighs only 57g.
  • Stans makes a 140mm rear-wheel version of their Aluminum Composite rotor too.
  • The heart of the S-Works Epic’s suspension is the Fox Brain Fade adjustable shock.

Full specification

Frame: Az1 FACT carbon front triangle, M5 alloy rear triangle, FACT carbon link, magnesium shock extension, 100mm travel, full cartridge bearing pivots, disc only, replaceable derailleur hanger

Rear shock: Specialized Fox Brain Fade shock, air spring, rebound adjust, 11.7" X 1.875"
Fork: Pace (unidentified model), carbon fork legs and magnesium dropouts.

Handlebar: Syntace Duraflite Carbon
Headset: Specialized integrated 1 1/8" threadless
Brakes: Magura Marta SL hydraulic disc
Rotors: Stan's Coated Aluminum rotor, 160mm front, 140mm rear
Brake Levers: Magura Marta SL hydraulic disc brake levers


Crankset: Shimano M-960 XTR, Hollowtech II arms
Chainrings: XTR M960, 44, 32
Chain: Shimano CN-7701 XTR
Cassette: SRAM PG-990, 11-32

Rear Derailleur: SRAM X.0, medium length cage
Front Derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace 7800 series, banded version

Tires: Specialized Storm Pro 2Bliss
Hubs: American Classic
Rims: Custom made NoTubes ZTR 355
Spokes: Wheelsmith XL15
Bottom Bracket: Shimano M-960 XTR
Saddle: Specialized Toupe Ti 143 (with the rear plastic inserts cut out)
Seat Post: Specialized S-Works carbon