An Epic bike for an epic race

Our head wheelbuilder Gavin takes his events and races incredibly seriously.  Gav has completed the Karapoti 23 times, the Whaka 100 a staggering 9 times, and has done literally thousands of other races and events.
Gavin has never DNF’d a race.
Just take a second to think about how impressive that is.
Gav’s 8 year old Specialized Epic was due for replacement so rather than rush out and buy something off the shelf, he spent hours and hours poring over every detail to get the perfect (for him) new bike. 

He’s had a couple of test rides on it but this weekend’s Whaka 100 will be it’s race debut. You should check out Gavin’s tips for riding the Whaka 100 and the deep dive on the new TrailBerd wheels shown in the photos.
 Let’s catch up with Gav and see why he chose these specs
“My last Epic did so well over it’s 8 years.  I really like the Brain and how I don’t have to lock-out the rear suspension.”

“I built this bike with three criteria: weight, aesthetics, and performance.  Sometimes aesthetics won, other times I chose performance or weight.”
“I’ve been a RockShox fan for 30 years.  I’ve had every generation of SID fork so had to get the latest model.  I’m a big fan of over-forking the front of a full suspension bike slightly as I find it mellows out the handling and really lets me attack the downhills.”

Jake at Suspension Works re-sized the bushings and gave it a custom tune for me.”

“These custom decals were made on the CNC vinyl cutter I use for all our wheel decals.  They took me ages to make but I think they really tie in with the rest of the bike.”
“AXS because no one wants cables!  How good is a clean cockpit?  I went full gas on the Garbaruk website upgrading the derailleur cage and oversized pulley wheels, as well using one of their super light weight aluminium cassettes and chainrings.”

“The AXS seatpost is so incredibly fast and the digital push-button lever is great to use.  The only used bit on this bike is my early-2000s Selle Italia SLR roadie saddle which I find really comfortable on the mountain bike and it’s way lighter than the stock saddle.”
“I use SRAM brakes on all my bikes.  There is no real reason for this other than I’ve got all the spare brakepads I could ever need.”

“I upgraded every other bolt on the bike including all the seat clamp, stem, shifter, derailleur limit screws, and bottle cage bolts with matching oil slick titanium bolts from J.A.B. Titanium Bolts for the #matchymatchy.  They only save about 5 grams but look sick.”
“One-piece bar/stem combos are super cool.  They keep a clean cockpit and save some weight.  This Bontrager was the lightest and best-looking one I could find without spending a stupid amount of money”