Aaron Gwin debuted the 2015 S-Works Demo 8 at the Mont Sainte Anne, Canada world cup where he finished fifth. Last weekend he rode the bike to a second place finish at the Windham, New York stop of the series. Photo courtesy of Specialized
When Specialized’s downhill duo of Aaron Gwin and Troy Brosnan showed up with new bikes at the Mont Sainte Anne, Canada stop of the downhill world cup a couple weeks ago, exactly zero people were surprised they rolled on 27.5-inch wheels. The new hoop size was a given, but a few significant design changes weren’t—in particular a radical asymmetric seat tube design and some significant tweaks to their vaunted FSR suspension configuration.
Now a few more weeks down the road and some world cup podium spots later, Specialized is officially filling in the blanks on the production 2015 Demo 8 bikes and framesets, which, unlike the team bikes, come with a new version of the Öhlins TTX that shipped with the bike last year.
Don’t call me Lefty: Demo’s seat tube is one-sided
Perhaps the most dramatic change to the Demo is the omission of its traditional pierced seat tube design in favor of an asymmetrical configuration with only a right-side frame member extending to the bottom bracket. The shock is also mounted slightly off-center to the left, helping to center the load. Specialized says while this did cost them a smidge of stiffness on the front end, it allowed them to simplify access to the shock and lower the bike’s center of gravity—something Gwin noted right away.
“The thing I noticed the most was how quick you can change directions and how hard you can slam it into turns,” said Gwin, the 2011 and 2012 world cup champion who struggled to get on terms with his Specialized in 2013. “It’s a really lively bike, but when you get it in the bumps it eats them up really good.”
Even before the new bike Gwin was having a good year, hovering in the top-3 for the overall. On the new Demo he’s finished second and fifth in two races—Windham and Mont Sainte Anne, respectively.
Specialized says the unique asymmetric seat tube on the new Demo Carbon makes the bike handle better and the shock easier to access.
Lighter, lower FSR layout
Complimenting the lively front end is an all-new FSR rear linkage, designed to be lighter, lower and more responsive. With a massive concentric main pivot that rotates around the bottom bracket, Specialized says it’s also stiffer, which nets out to an overall improvement from the old Demo despite what the new front end gives up. The Demo sports 200mm of rear travel and remains active under braking due to its floating seat stay. It also looks much cleaner than the previous Demo’s double linkage.
Side-by-side, the difference is dramatic.The 2015 Demo FSR (right) has only one linkage, while it’s predecessor had two, which looks kludgy and heavy by comparison.
Swedish shock is simple, adjustable
While Gwin runs FOX suspension and Brosnan is a RockShox man, the production Demos come stock with a new version of the Öhlins TTX twin tube rear shock they spec’d on some builds of the bike last year. Specialized claims the shock was made to work specifically with the new FSR build and that it has reduced mid-speed compression for control on initial hits and increased high-speed compression for better management of at-the-limit hits. They also describe its adjustability as wide-ranging yet simple. Like on last year’s bike, the shock uses a ball joint on the upper eyelet allowing it to float and reducing side loads.
DH S3 geometry emphasizes riding style and length
While the standover height of the bikes does increase slightly from size-to-size, Specialized focuses fit more in terms of the optimal top tube length for your riding style rather than rider height. Even the size naming convention—short, medium, long, x-long—speaks to the emphasis.
“The frame sizes are dependent on the rider’s style, not how tall they are,” says the company’s press materials. “With a low seat tube and standover height on all sizes, the rider should first consider if they prefer a shorter, snappier-handling top tube and wheelbase or a longer, more stable top tube and wheelbase.”
“Low” is a recurring theme for the 2015 Demo, and at 13.5-inches the bike’s bottom bracket was hung to carve. Combined with a 63.5-degree head tube angle and 16.9-inch chainstays, Specialized was clearly looking to keep things as low and tight as possible. The effective seat tube angle falls in the DH bike sweet spot at 76-degrees.
First look video of Aaron Gwin’s new World Cup DH bike. Go behind the scenes to secret R&D sessions that created the 2015 Specialized S-Works Demo DH bike.
Available in January, pricing not yet set
The new Demo comes as a complete bike in Specialized’s top-of-the-line S-Works kitting as well as a step=down version, and is also available as a frameset only. The bike should hit dealers in January and pricing has not yet been set.
For more information visit specialized.com.