Inside Line: Get the scoop on Specialized’s radical new Demo 8

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I think it’s safe to say that Specialized has created an instant icon. Simply put, the new Demo 8 is unlike any downhill bike we’ve ever seen. While it retains the classic FSR suspension layout, the pivot points were all moved as far down as possible, with the main pivot finding itself concentric with the bottom bracket. With the pivots out of the way, the seat tube was really only there to support the seat, and since that doesn’t have the structural requirements of linkage, it could be pared away to its minimum. The resulting asymmetric frame design is something that could only be possible with modern carbon fiber technology.

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One advantage to the single-sided seat tube is the convenient access to the shock, something that might not be a normal consideration, but makes a huge difference to racers who are constantly making adjustments or even swapping out the shock entirely. It also uses common eye-to-eye measurements and standard mounting hardware, so riders can upgrade or switch to a shock of their choice.

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Not that there is much to upgrade from when you consider the Demo is shipping with the Ohlins TTX coil shock that pivots on sealed ball bearings. It is super tunable and different spring weights are available in 23-pound/inch (4 N/mm) increments, rather than the standard 50-pound/inch, to dial in performance just right.

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The shock controls a new layout for the FSR linkage, with 200mm of travel and a floating seatstay to isolate braking forces. It also retains the 135×12 rear axle of the previous S-Works Demo to increase heel clearance. A special square-shaped thru-axle was engineered to tie the two sides together, making up for the lack of a bridge, as seen on the previous model.

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Because of the standard downhill 83mm width of the bottom bracket, the chainline would not work with a standard 10-speed setup, but it works perfectly with a SRAM 7-speed XO1 DH group or a 10-speed group with three cogs removed. It does not use the microdrive hub system found on previous S-Works models.

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Moving up to the front, the frame is built around 27.5 wheels and comes in four sizes with Specialized’s new S3 geometry. Essentially the bikes don’t get taller as they get bigger, just longer in the front-center. The Short and Medium share a set tube height, while the Long and Extra Long is only one inch longer. Riders can choose a size based on the performance they desire—shorter and nimble or long and stable—depending on their desired characteristics. For example:

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  • Troy Brosnan (5’7, left) – rides a medium
  • Aaron Gwin (5’10, right) – rides a long as he likes the longer, more stable wheelbase
  • Mitch Ropelato (5’8) – rides a medium as he likes a tighter, whippy bike
  • Brad Benedict (6’1) – rides a long in the park and an X-Long for racing

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The S-Works frame is entirely carbon fiber, including the linkages and stays and tips the scales at a claimed 7.6 pounds (without shock). The standard Demo model uses an aluminum linkage and chainstays. No claimed weight was available for that version.

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Some other relevant numbers include a standard 1.5-inch head tube and 30.9mm seat tube. The S-Works Demo 8 pictured here will ship with a RockShox Boxxer Team with a coil spring, Roval rims with DT Swiss Star Ratchet hubs, and Specialized’s own Butcher DH and Slaughter DH tires. Pricing isn’t set just yet, but we were told to expect it to be expensive, likely approaching or tipping past five figures. It is available only in red, likely in January.

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The Demo 8 Carbon ships with a Boxxer RC fork, Roval rims laced to Hi Lo hubs, and the same Butcher/Slaughter tires. Expect it to still be expensive, but slightly less so than the S-Works. It is available in black/green or black on black by the end of the year.

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The Demo 8 Carbon will also be available as a frame and shock package, in black on black or black/yellow.

Watch for more

We will be out riding the S-Works Demo today and there are some other gravity products from Specialized to cover, but you’ll just have be patient for now. Check back soon!