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While it isn't regressive by any means, Ellsworth certainly doesn't feel compelled to follow the industry trends in frame and suspension tech. But when the brand decides that something is worth the hype it's generating, Ellsworth typically demonstrates the kind of innovative flexibility to incorporate that hype-worthy feature seamlessly into its own uncompromising designs. With the Epiphany 27.5+ XT 1x Complete Mountain Bike, the king-making brand officially gives its stamp of approval to the plush traction of plus-sized rubber and the simple efficiency of one-by drivetrains. Despite embracing elements of new tech, the Epiphany 27.5+ still centers around the Ellsworth's Instant Center Tracking (ICT) suspension design, which has been winning the brand a devoted following since the early '90s.
Ellsworth claims that the Epiphany's ICT suspension is the most advanced suspension platform in the world. As it moves through travel, ICT keeps the instant center (or virtual pivot created by ICT's four bar suspension) as close to the chain force line as possible. In on-trail terms, this maintains a steady pedaling platform so your power is always transferring into forward motion instead of lost to those two suspension gremlins, forward Jack and vertical Bob.
Furthermore, ICT doesn't require a lock-out, so you can always keep the FOX Float DPS shock's travel fully active, even while climbing. The addition of chain torque doesn't constrain the system's travel, the Achilles heel of so many otherwise efficient suspension designs, so pedaling and bump compliance aren't working against each other. The end result of ICT is a plush, less-fatiguing ride with greater control and responsiveness over all terrain.
Previous models of the Epiphany were available as XC or enduro models, with the difference being a few degrees of head tube angle. The current generation's 27.5in carbon model splits the difference at 69.8 degrees, which primes it for reckless abandon across moderately rocky trail terrain without sacrificing nimble agility on climbs and while dicing lines across gnarlier stuff. The Carbon Torsion Arch connecting the CNC machined aluminum rockers and chainstays complements the Boost rear axle for an even stiffer rear triangle, and the single 12 millimeter bolt needed for each pivot assemblage makes for a lighter, less complicated system.
The build kit lives up to the frame's potential, too, with a full complement of Shimano's reworked XT M8000 one-by groupset. This includes the crank and brakes, which are possibly our two favorite pieces of the new XT and usually the pieces that get omitted from manufacturer spec'd builds in favor of cheaper, inferior kit. The bike is finished with a full Thomson cockpit and a pair of mid-travel-specific Stan's NoTubes Flow wheels, both of which we'd expect on a custom build but are pleasantly surprised to see surface on Ellsworth's spec sheet. Finally, Ellsworth takes advantage of the frame's gaping clearance by shipping it with 3in Maxxis Chronicle tires.
- Item #ELS000O