Ellsworth Epiphany Quick Bike Review – Interbike 2008


The Outdoor Demo is definitely the best part of the annual Interbike tradeshow. The ability to hop on any bike and take it for a spin is awesome. And, Bootleg Canyon provides an awesome setting with a wide variety of desert singletrack on which to ride. Though the trails aren’t exactly like the typical Utah trails I ride every day, it’s good enough to get a feel for any bike.

As my final ride of the two-day demo, the Ellsworth Epiphany had a little bit of a disadvantage because I completely bonked just before riding it. However, with the performance of the other bikes ridden at the demo stored in short-term memory, it ended up being a perfect opportunity to compare the Epiphany to them all. In the end, it stood out from the crowd.

2009 Ellsworth Epiphany Review

About the Ellsworth Epiphany

Introduced in 2005, the Epiphany is a 5.25-inch travel all-mountain slayer. Utilizing Ellsworth’s famed ICT suspension design, the Epiphany is built to climb just as well as the Truth, but descend nearly as well as the Moment. It’s the perfect 5 and 5 trailbike that can be the one bike to rule them all.

The Ellsworth Epiphany has received oodles of praises since its introduction as one of the finest all-around trailbikes. MTBR reviewers have rated it as “Best of MTBR” for several years. With an overwhelming 4.94 out of 5 rating via 51 user-submitted reviews, the Epiphany is definitely not a flash in the pan. Here are a few more specs on the Ellsworth Epiphany:

  • Travel: 5.25 inches
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, Large (tested) and X Large
  • Colors: Black, Nebula Blue, Project Pink and Smoke (all anodized)
  • Weight: 5.97 lbs (medium)
  • MSRP: $2395 (frame-only)

2009 Ellsworth Epiphany Review

Ellsworth Epiphany Review

As I mentioned above, this was my last bike of the day on day two of the Interbike 2008 Outdoor Demo.  So, needless to say, I was beat. The 100-degree temps without much shade had taken its toll. However, prior to slipping out on the Epiphany, I took my time in the cool shade of the Ellsworth tent to get the full scoop on all things Ellsworth. Let me say this… Tony Ellsworth and crew are some of the most down-to-earth folks in the industry. Opinionated, yes, but down-to-earth.

I’ve been eying the Epiphany for some time and thought it couldn’t be that much better than all the other 5 and 5 trailbikes on the market. After a long lap on the Epiphany, I was proven completely wrong. The Epiphany is definitely one of the best, if not the best, trailbikes on the market today. If you’re looking for a one-bike-quiver and don’t want to feel like you’ve got to upgrade every year, then step on Ellsworth’s “No Hooey” program.

The Epiphany climbs as well as every Ellsworth I’ve ridden. After having the Ellsworth Evolve for a month this summer, I was quickly sold on the efficiencies of the ICT suspension design. The Epiphany shows how efficient the ICT design can be in longer-travel applications. At 5.25 inches, it’s not a squish-machine, but it has found the sweet spot between climbing efficiency and descending prowess. Both technical, rocky climbs and fire road climbs were arrow-straight with no noticeable front-end wander. This tells me the angles are spot-on for climbing.

How about descending? Turning downhill, I was amazed how well it performed. This stiff and efficient climber transformed into a smooth and forgiving downhill performer (surprising for a 70-degree head angle). Rocks, drops, berms and jumps were all second-nature to the Epiphany. The suspension (Fox Float R rear shock and Fox TALAS 32 RLC fork) soaked up everything in its path and gave it a “point it and go” attitude. Even though I was a bit stretched-out with the Large frame (I’d go with a medium), I still felt like I could take on any trail without flinching.

The test bike was also equipped with Ellsworth’s new XC wheelset. I didn’t think too much about the wheels before taking them out, but after riding them, I was blown away by how well they tracked for a “cross country” wheelset.

Talking with Tony Ellsworth, he was quick to point out that his frame designs are simple with no unnecessary tube curves, etc. This not only provides a strong frame, but it also simplifies the build process–something that contributes to Ellsworth’s carbon neutral status. An added benefit of buying an Ellsworth!

Good Epiphany

  • Awesome climber
  • “Point It” descender
  • Truly a “one bike to rule them all” kind of bike
  • Super light
  • Laterally stiff and stable in all terrain
  • Ellsworth XC wheelset was awesome on this bike
  • All this with a simple Fox Float R rear shock

Bad Epiphany

  • Pricey… $2395 for frame only is expensive, but you’re buying 100% American-made from an energy neutral company
  • Need more color options… not a fan of the Nebula and Smoke anodized color schemes
  • You may not find a demo ride at your local dealer

2009 Ellsworth Epiphany Review

The Bottom Line on the Ellsworth Epiphany

What can I say? This bike simply blew me away. The last bike of the day delivered the most fun and best-performing trailbike I’ve ridden. Now before I get too stoked, it was only an hour’s worth of riding, so take that into consideration. However, I can now understand why this bike has won so many awards. It is definitely in a class of its own as the trailbike to beat in the 5 and 5 category.

Buy Now: Visit Wrenchscience.com to Buy an Ellsworth

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.


  1. Nice article. Can you tell me how tall you are, and what inseam you have (jean length)? I’m wondering if a medium or large would be best (I’m 5’11’). Thx!

  2. I’m 5′ 11″ as well with a 31 inseam. I typically like to ride a bike with a 23.5″ top-tube and the Medium is just that. The top-tube on the Large is 24.25″ Do you know the top-tube length of your current bike? I’d make a decision based off that. Hope that helps!

  3. Interesting…..I’ve ridden a medium Truth fro 3 yrs now and feel like it fits perfect. Funny, exact same top tube length as the med. Epiphany. I’m a bit confused. Here’s why: A good friend LBS in LA and a guy I completley trust (he fitted me on the Truth) (and Tony E. who’s a friend) who is our same height, tells me that I’m DEFINITELY a medium. He said that the difference is wheel base alone from my Truth to a Large Epiphany is 2 inches, enough to make the large feel like i’m driving a truck, rather than a race car. His additional point is that already the difference b/n my Truth and Epi is 1 inch longer wheelbase which is significant. Now I live out east, and my new LBS (high end and completely respected bike builder), who’s our hight as well, said that he rides a large b/c he likes a shorter stem w/ no seat setback. Thoughts?

  4. It’s pretty common for people to have varying opinions on fit philosophy, you’re the one who has to ultimately decide for yourself.

    I’m of the train of thought that a smaller, flickable frame is way more fun and versatile. You can always slap on a longer stem to stretch things out, but you can only go so short before you end up jacking up your steering.

    If you like your Medium Truth, then a Medium Epiphany should be the one for you. The Large for me just felt too stretched out.

  5. I’m 5’10” with a 31″ inseam as well. I’m also 188lbs and have been riding the EPI for 2 yrs and am loving it. I also run the Fox Talas RLC with great results other than some bushing squeak that is being addressed. I’m running the OEM Fox R Ellsworth tuned rear shock. My question is….what shock/suspension settings were you running on your demo? I’m curious as I am trying to fine tune mine and want to do it right. I’m riding technical singletrack and like to climb. Please advise. Thanks.

  6. Have you contacted Ellsworth on the suggested sag settings? I must admit that I didn’t tinker with it, so I don’t know exactly. The Ellsworth crew at Interbike dialed in the rear shock (same as yours) for me in their booth and it just felt like money from the get-go.

    I’d reach out to them… I’m sure they have suggested shock settings they would be glad to provide you with.

  7. I noticed you also rode the Pivot Mach 5. How did these to compare in ride quality and pedaling efficency? I have narrowed my search to these two (I think). Thanks

  8. @Clark Jones…

    I did ride the Mach 5, but the shock wasn’t as dialed as it should have been. Everything seemed too soft. I remember liking it, but I honestly can’t recall much more than that. I’m on the docket to get a demo Mach 5 in the next couple of months, so I’ll let you know (but it may be too late).

    I can say that the Epiphany was the best trailbike I rode at the demo. It’s really a great bike, but it comes at a price.

  9. Jason,
    I have noticed on other threads you are riding a Blur LT2. It is also on my list, but I have not got the chance to test one. I am gathering info, and opinion seem to favor the epiphany for climbing, and I was impressed with the way the epiphany tracked on the downhills. I love to ride in the rocks, with fast single track. What is your opinion on the differences in these two?

    • Hey Clark

      Thanks for reaching out to me. Yes, I did buy an LT2 at the end of last season and had a great time on it. I really like that bike a lot and feel it’s very versatile and loves to rally the downhill. However, the VPP design can sometimes feel numb to me on climbs.

      I was super-impressed with the Epiphany, but only rode it for an hour as opposed to 2-3 months on the LT2. So, I can’t really speak about the Epiphany as fully as I can the LT2. Both bikes are going to perform well. The Epiphany is a more fun climber with a little more solid climbing platform. But, it will also surprise you with its ability to power straight through the rough stuff.

      The LT2 will not be left behind on the downhill and ascends pretty darn well also… just not quite as efficiently as the Epiphany.

  10. am interested in your opinion, after riding the evolve, which you would choose if you could have only one? i’m torn between the evolve and the epiphany…..thanks so much for your time and commments.

  11. @Glen

    Tough call for sure! In the end, the Evolve and Epiphany are very different beasts. If you like more XC stuff, the Evolve will be money. For all-mountain, the Epiphany is one of the best all-around trailbikes on the market.

    The Evolve is a rocket while the Epiphany provides a tad more comfort and versatility. Hope that helps!

  12. Pingback: 2010 Ibis Mojo Mountain Bike Review - FeedTheHabit.com

  13. Leonard Mushtuk on

    I am torn between the Ellsworth Epiphany and the new 2010 Giant (carbon) Trance X Advanced SLO. My concerns are climbing efficiency and the downhill geometry of the bikes. Have you had the opportunity to compare the two bikes? Which would you choose if you could have only one Mountain Bike?


  14. Hey Len… sorry for the delayed response. I haven’t seen the new Giant Trance carbon, but it sounds sweet. The last Giant I’ve ridden at length is the 2005 Reign 1.

    I really like the Epiphany and if you are narrowing it down to that bike, you can’t go wrong. I would throw the Ibis Mojo into the mix or the Pivot Mach 5 (just to make things interesting).


  16. I just bought myself a Pivot Mach 5 and had been using a Scott Spark 10 previously. The difference between the Pivot (5.5 inch travel) versus the Scott (4 inch travel) is noticeable in the technical trails and on the climbs. I need to lockout the Spark else I will encounter pedal bob while the Pivot doesn’t have any in spite of the propedal being off.

    The Ellsworth suspension was invented several years ago and do you know if there has been any change to it all these years? How does the DW-Link compare to the ICT? Which one is better?


    • Nice work on getting the Mach 5… I know that is a killer bike and I love the DW-Link. As far as Ellsworth’s ICT goes, yes, it has been around for a long time (10+ years), but it’s built from the Specialized-owned Horst Link, actually. The ICT is is essence a dual-license of both the Horst and ICT. With the ICT, you get the horizontal “walking beam” rocker across the top of the suspension design. What it gives you is a more stable platform for pedaling while still providing excellent cush when needed.

      The DW and ICT are two very different beasts. The DW sits you in the middle range of the travel (more sag) and depends upon opposing forces to cancel out bob and maintain vertical compliance for both positive and negative travel (hence a bottomless, but efficient feel). The ICT can tend to feel more harsh initially, but is still a killer suspension design.

      Neither one is “better” per se… both are great designs and both are used on great bikes, IMO.

  17. I just got a medium Epiphany. I’m 5ft 9 tall. The standover hits a bit hard in the crotch. Anyone know if this is common? I was riding a Stumpjumper with less travel and of course had more clearence.

  18. Hi I’m planning to buy an Ellsworth Epiphany. I’m 5’6.5″ tall, just would like to ask what is the exact size of frame ideal for my height? Thank you very much.

    • Sizing is so hard to determine virtually. Lets start with this:

      What bike do you currently ride (year and model)?
      What size is that bike?
      Do you like the way it fits?
      What kind of riding do you like to do?

      Answering those few questions can at least get us in the right direction.

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