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Downhill Bikes

Specialized S-Works Demo 8

The deep beat of hill thunder

The Demo is several things, many of which are different to all other bikes, but one of its most noteable characteristics is the hush. Silently gliding through the murdered ground, a re-assuring thud emitted from its well-damped and incredibly protected carbon chassis, as if the bike has a noise suppressor fitted. Unlike a huge proportion of downhill bikes on the market the Specialized S-Works Demo 8 has no distraction from clanging chainsets or suspect linkages. This might come across as insignificant to the untrained ear on a bike pushing seven grand and raced by the fastest downhill racer currently on the planet, a bike with only one side, sold in non-typical sizes, but it matters. A lot.

The Demo utilises not the Fox or RockShox used by its pro racers, or which comes as a stock part on the machinery of nearly all of its closest rivals, but a yellow coil from a Swedish company, Ohlins. The TTX damper is relatively simple in operation, without the complication of multiple dial settings, is easy to set-up and the performance of the very highest quality – as you’d expect from a company that utterly dominates Moto GP. It’s just one stunning aspect of this bike and a class pairing, one that we’re very surprised the pro’s don’t take advantage of.

The lowest

In fact World Cup winner Aaron Gwin uses a different linkage in his works bike with a custom Fox DHX2 air damper but whilst testing in the Alps we’d not choose any other set-up than the Ohlins which comes as stock. We actually felt the latest coil Fox DHX2 damper a shade weak on this bike in comparison.

But clearly it’s more than the damper on the Demo that leads us to consider it as one of the best production downhill bikes available. Low in the top tube, reasonably long on the wheelbase the Demo comes in four sizes with a killer component package. At 342mm on the bottom bracket the asymmetrical frame design is one of, if not the lowest bikes on the market, another aspect that leads to incredible handling.

“Silently gliding through the murdered ground, a re-assuring thud emitted from its well-damped and incredibly protected carbon chassis”

The custom Sram Guide RS levers paired with Code callipers, the Sram X0DH seven speed chainset which Specialized pioneered, the Demo has it all – there is no weak link on this bike – in fact the only part we would consider changing would be the fork as the 2016 Fox 40 has upped its game over the RockShox BoXXer.

The ride characteristic of the Demo is inspired, it builds in momentum, is ridiculously comfortable in bad ground, its precise and overall simply drives confidence upwards. OK its maybe not as lively as some but we put many riders on the Demo alongside other top bikes and the verdict was always the same. The Demo has the edge and in racing that’s all that matters.


Jason Chamberlain, Chief Designer of the Demo

The team was given an entire year solely for research, before the bike would move into the production cycle.  With that year, we purchased and measured every major DH bike made. We benchmarked every detail so we understood the strengths and weaknesses of the current landscape. We collected data and slow motion video capture to see how bikes reacted. What we found was that the FSR could still be configured to be the fastest bike of the bunch while not resorting to multiple linkages, chain redirections, multiple shocks (yes, we looked at that too). We are confident that we have one of the fastest bikes on the market that holds momentum and generates speed. Let the chainless win stand as witness to that.

The other thing I liked about the Demo was that we were able to explore every last detail – and it’s the small details that I really like. Here’s a few:-

It has the cleanest and best cable routing on the market and won’t rub your paint off anywhere or require extra zip ties. There are lightweight internal tubes which mean you don’t have to fish around internally to route your cables.

“The team was given an entire year solely for research before the bike would move into the production cycle.  With that year, we purchased and measured every major DH bike made”

We’ve also protected every square mm from chain strikes – it’s the best job we’ve ever done and that translates into the silent ride on the trail.

The rear axle locks against rotation into both the left and right dropouts, but only has 2 pinch bolts on one side. No other rear thru axle does that to my knowledge and the result is pinpoint precision handling.

One of our criteria is that you can tighten any bolt on the bike should it somehow rattle loose.  The main pivot, which is concentric with the BB is a 50 mm diameter axle. Rather than make some huge tool to be able to tighten that on the trail, I made a splined spacer ring that uses the ISCG bolts to keep the axle from ever moving. What’s better than being able to tighten a loose bolt?  One that never comes loose to begin with.

The tool to remove the main pivot axle is integrated into that splined spacer ring so you don’t have to buy a special tool.  (a picture would make that more clear if I’ve lost you)

Secondary seals on every bearing

Shock access that is second to none with the one sided design.  Mechanics love how easy to can access our shocks now and all the knobs and adjustments are super easy to get to.

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