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Bike Check: Russell Finsterwald’s Specialized Epic

Happy Riding

After riding Orbea bikes for 12 years, the Clif Pro Team have moved over to Specialized for the 2020 season. Returning as a team rider for 2020, Russell Finsterwald has just received his new bike for the upcoming race season with the 2021 Specialized Epic. The Epic was updated just last week and remains the brand’s flagship full suspension bike complete with a super-light frame and the proprietary BRAIN shock.

Russell Finsterwald has been racing professionally for over nine years and during this time he has secured five National Championships, a Pan American Games Championship and over 40 professional podiums. He was also featured in the US Olympic Long Team in 2016 and has ridden for the US at seven World Championships. For 2020, his new Specialized Epic race bike will be used at World Cup XC races and a number of marathon events as well as his main training bike while at home. Check out all the details about Russell’s brand new 2021 Specialized Epic race bike below.

What will this bike be used for?

Just about everything! The all new 2021 Specialized Epic will be my go to for nearly every race. It’s light enough to use on just about any XC course and for marathon races, a full suspension is typically the way to go. The Epic will also be my go to training bike at home for anything from intervals to long days in the high country.

Can you run us through your suspension setup?

Once I get my suspension set to my liking, I don’t make a ton of adjustments to it with the exception of a few race courses that are extra rough. For those, I might add a few PSI and play with the rebound a bit. I did make a big change on the newly designed Brain. I used to run the previous design on the “softest” mode but now I run it one click from firm.

Could you give us a few more specifics and numbers on clicks with pressures, rebound, etc…?

Fox 32 Step-Cast
-82 PSI
-2 Volume Spacers
-Rebound 6 clicks from closed

Specialized Brain
-150 PSI
-5 clicks from open
-Brain setting: one click out from “firm”

What does your cockpit setup look like?

I run my lockout lever for the front suspension on the left hand side and the dropper lever on the right hand side. I prefer having them on different sides, because at the crest of most hills, I use both at the same time. Additionally, I’ve come to really love my TOGS and can’t ride without them now. I always train with my Garmin as well for recording ride data (and sometimes finding my way home!)

What about tire setup?

Lately, I have been enjoying training on the Maxxis Rekon Race 2.35. The extra volume is nice on some of the rockier trails and being able to run them at lower pressure is great for the decomposed granite we have here in Colorado Springs. I run the Rekon Race at 19/20 PSI. For racing, however, I tend to use the Maxxis Aspen 2.25 170tpi and run those around 21/22 PSI.

Do you know the weight?

It is 10.3kg without pedals.

Is there anything custom on the bike?

On the Clif Pro Team, we’re fortunate enough to have our bikes built by the legendary Chris Mathis. Component wise, the bike doesn’t have anything custom, but Chris does put a few custom touches on the bike. Little things like heat shrinking some of the cables together create a really clean cockpit!

Do you have any personal setup tricks that are unique to you?

The only real personal setup trick I have, is running by brakes two fingers in from grip to brake mount. I’ve found this puts the levers right where I like them.

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