The Specialized Demo 8 has been an eye-turner since the original with its distinctive twin seatstays and spider web shock enclosure. The bike has gone through several redesigns since then, but none as transformative as what you see here. Despite its race-winning pedigree, the Demo 8 has always remained characteristically playful, making it one of the most popular park bikes. One glance at any lift-line in the world will prove this. The new bike was designed from the ground up as a thoroughbred race machine built for the speed and rigors of World Cup Downhill, and it shows with its clean, simple lines, aggressive stance and low center of gravity.
From the drive side, the bike looks pretty normal, but flipping it over reveals the rad. The seat-tube bridge that goes around the shock is one-sided. It seriously looks like a concept bike. Make no mistake though, it's real. The asymmetrical design allows for simpler, more consistent manufacturing because creating that hole for the shock to go through is very difficult to mold into carbon. It also makes the bike slimmer and lighter. In addition, it makes access to and removal of the shock a much simpler affair. There's no yoke blocking shock adjusters or complicating installation. While you and I may not need to swap shocks often, this bike was designed for the world's top athletes who swap shocks regularly.
Previous Demo platforms were designed as metal bikes and eventually made into carbon. This is the first bike that senior design engineer Jason Chamberlain has designed specifically for carbon only. There's no aluminum version, so the constraints of metal tubes didn't limit the possibilities of what he could do with the frame.
One of the main targets with the new bike was to lower the center of gravity as much as possible, so Chamberlain started with the idea of lowering all the pivots and linkages a few inches. This required the main pivot to move into the bottom bracket area, so he designed the chainstays to pivot around the bottom bracket shell itself. I'm looking forward taking one apart to see how it'll work. The current Demo 8 has the reputation of being one of the most reliable downhill bikes on the planet, so we're hoping this pivot will meet those high standards.
There are significant changes in sizing and geometry as well. Since seat-tube length is a fairly arbitrary number on downhill bikes, it makes more sense to size based on length. Not only that, but Specialized is putting the emphasis on sizing for riding style rather than rider height. As such, the bikes will be offered in four sizes, from short to extra long. The shorter two sizes share one seat-tube length, while the longer two share a 25-millimeter longer seat-tube. Most riders with average heights will likely find themselves choosing between two sizes based on personal preference.
To meet the needs of some of the world's fastest racers such as Aaron Gwin and Troy Brosnan, the Demo gains about 10 millimeters of length to both the chainstays and toptube. In addition, the headtube angle is slackened by a half degree to 63.5, which combined with the addition of 650b wheels, makes a significant change. Overall wheelbase lengthens quite a bit, the extra long being nearly 50 millimeters longer than a current large. The long will be 25 millimeters longer than the current large, and the medium 20 millimeters longer than the current medium.
Öhlins came on the scene last year with a shock that they custom developed for the Demo 8. The new TTX shock has been tweaked a bit to work with the new design, but it's essentially the same twin tube design with high- and low-speed compression adjustments in addition to rebound.
We're up in Whistler for the annual Crankworx festival, where we'll be taking hot laps on the new bike over the next couple days. Look out for first ride impressions soon.
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