Somehow I can’t help but feel there’s a not so well–hidden message to Sam Hill in Specialized’s new ‘Get Sick Soon’ carbon Demo 8 advert. For a while they simply had it all – Hill in full flight picked up the 2009 World Cup series – then at the beginning of this decade disaster struck on the slopes of Fort William. Sam has been largely sick since then (in an under–par way) apart from the matter of a World Championships in 2010 – the first carbon bike to win a World Championships.
DIRT ISSUE 125 – JULY 2012
Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Steve Jones
At Val di Sole early in June I met up with the Specialized boys as they officially unveiled their plans for the new production bikes, missing the men’s World Cup finals to take in some runs on the new team replica bike.
You’ll find some damn fine detail in this new bike, one that’s pretty close to a full team replica. Black fork stanchions, Renthal cockpit, team saddle, seven speed 9–36 cassette sporting 32 tooth gearing up front. The compact drive gearing on a 135 hub is designed to give Hill some heel clearance. Caprio freehub allows this crazy small rear nine–tooth ring, whilst the 32 up front allows crazy low bottom bracket height without the collisions associated with bigger chain devices.
The frame itself comes equipped with some beautiful tech touches, the one–piece aluminium bottom bracket and head tube inserts of notable industry. More than that, rather than fit a carbon shield on the downtube Specialized have made a cushioned downtube protector to fully guard your frame from impacts.
With Trek offering four sizes of carbon Sessions at £7000 a piece, this Demo looks set to being the first five figure bike, but how can the Morgan hill boys justify that? In two words: with difficultly. When asked they point to the detail which is not available of the shelf, such as the wheelset (of which the rims still bend all too easily), black stanchions sporting what RockShox call ‘Black Gold’ if you subscribe to that kind of nonsense. Hill currently runs a new version of the Vivid rear shock with less hydraulic, more spring, so don’t think you’re getting full BlackBox here. Will they sell at five figures? Undoubtedly.
Jumping on the chairlift we passed over the thousands of spectators about to watch the carnage unfold in the men’s final. Within seconds I felt totally comfortable on this bike, quite definitely the most instinctive mountainbike I have ridden out of the box. I’d put this largely down to shape but also suspension planning that is smooth through the range without any pockets of weakness, over–movement in the chassis or steps found on some of the carbon competitor’s bikes. The Demo suspension design is in stunningly good health, but then it always has been.
More than anything is the easy of movement around this bike. Take a look at the position of the top tube to reveal the crazy advantage over the competition. The Demo is low, enabling incredible movement around the chassis, it feels liberating to ride the Demo. Specialized’s Brandon Sloane and his team know their numbers and angles and how to make a truly inspired downhill bike.
If you want any detail on the unidirectional carbon and mandrel technology then tuck in on the number of websites offering this story. If it’s strength, impact and ultrasonic testing then fill your boots, nearly every gravity website has the detail covered.
What they won’t tell you is how fighting–fit this Demo is. An inch lower than a Session in the bottom bracket, but offering two inches less in standover, the wheelbase and head angle combine to enhance further the brilliant ride dynamic on this bike. Rear suspension set–up advice is correct weight wise, as too the fork. They’ve moved the forward shock mount making it more progressive whilst running considerably lower than many bikes without collisions. It’s still a touch noisy, but they say it will come with the new Sram derailleur. Taller riders will miss an X–large version as on the Session, and there’s a spot of cable rattle to sort, but it’s pretty much there.
Oh and the advert looks and rides every bit as good in the flesh – fighting fit and fully sick x.