Unveiled a few weeks back, the all new Specialized Demo 8 arrived amidst wonder accompanied with many an ooh and aah. A week or so before that news was fanned across the web through the flames of social media, Steve took a trip to see the new bike under strict instructions any info was not be released, with the worm can blown open it’s time to share our thoughts on the bike.
Steve takes up the story from his visit to Specialized HQ.
Words and Photos: Steve Jones
During World Cup downhill’s summer hols, Specialized and their team riders did their best to pretend it was business as usual for the Demo.
Brosnan had many convinced with a tidy series of photos featuring him and his trusty aluminium thumper caning seven bells of shit through some whoops, whilst Gwin was sat around a pool (or was that a lake) saying that he could get used to it. Anyhow the story of the new bike was out as the team rolled into Quebec with a series lead to defend.
As the Spesh’ boys went from aluminium to carbon (Ed – Troy won Fort William on aa aluminium bike) it was the old man that dished out the riding lesson on an aluminium bike designed in Belfast. A hundred kitchen sinks wouldn’t have beaten Sam Hill on that fine day in Mt St Anne, the man who had gained more wins for the Morgan Hill brand than any other downhill racer. He even notched them up a set of rainbow stripes in 2010. Mont Sainte Anne 2014 was a timely win as both Specialized and Santa Cruz unveiled their new carbon mid-wheelers and a reminder to the big S that another World Cup series win was not yet in the bag.
The Demo had won only once at World Cup level and that was with Brosnan this season at Fort William. Before that Hill won Schladming and the series in 2009, the same year that Gwin gained his first podium. It probably is time for change.
The good news for the Demo in 2015 is that it still has two wheels, and it comes in four sizes, from Small to XL….ah shit sorry, I meant short, medium, long and extra long , the new ‘Style Specific Sizing’. Each size has benefitted from an increase in length for added stability and compatibility with the new wheel size. Specialized say that the new sizing is “dependant on a rider’s style, not how tall they are” and look at their team riders for inspiration. Brosnan 5′ 7″ rides medium whilst Gwin at 5’8″ rides long because “he likes the more stable wheelbase.”
So what about it? Well its very different, and a marked shift form the old design. Featuring a new lower pivot around the bottom bracket, the lighter simpler swingarm has lowered the centre of gravity at the rear end. Over the old style Demo there’s a straighter front triangle and a re-worked Ohlins damper which is way easier to access than the old model. Oh and its lost part of the frame in the name of weight saving and shock access but everyone knows it was simply to make the construction easier right? Of all the shocks that need frequent maintenance the Ohlins is the last damper on the list.
It’s a striking bike. It really is. Even if the Demo was still a charger in it’s old guise it had become quite dated and it was really time for a change. After all it had been ten years since they launched the Demo 8. My first impression when I saw the new bike about a month ago was, hell I wanted to ride the thing and secondly that it looked low, manoeuvrable and unique. I like it a lot.
Last year the Demo 8 was a clear winner in our carbon downhill bike test on the unforgiving San Romolo terrain, having the best suspension, best sizing in Large and the weight coming in at 36.1lbs. For the record we weighed this new bike in size medium at 37lb 13oz.
But that was then, and on one track, when the ground became tamer and shorter different bikes shone. The test concluded that it was possibly not “the ultimate race bike simply because the ultimate downhill series doesn’t exist.” The Demo was not one for 200m sprints across a field, that’s largely a power game, not a bike factor. This was something that came harshly into focus at the start of the 2014 season with a series of pedal infested tracks, Gwin took hold of an Enduro and raised his hands up to the air. The Demo is all about the down, first impressions are that it has stayed true to its heritage, a bike for steep dirty tech and holding a race line through corners. Meribel awaits.
UK Prices available from January 2015
Here’s the full geometry chart and some more photos below:
Full gallery here:
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