HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
In the saddle: You don’t actually sit on a downhill bike, unless
you’re resting. We found that moving the saddle up and forward
helped to keep it from buzzing on the rear wheel on big hits. With
a long wheelbase and slack head angle, the front wheel looks
as if it’s a mile away, but this lends the S-Works Demo 8 tons of
confidence when it comes to hitting steep chutes and high-speed
Sprinting: Specialized’s FSR suspension is typically very supple
off the top end, which doesn’t lend itself to sprinting performance;
however, we were impressed right out of the gate with the Demo
8’s quick acceleration. The Ohlins shock is very supportive and
provides a nice pedaling platform that feels surprisingly efficient.
The relatively light and low-knobbed rear tire is also at its best with
its light rim and happily makes it up to speed without too much
Handling: The Demo 8 gives the rider tons of extra stability,
even at Mach 1 speeds and on nearly vertical chutes. It’s true that
27.5-inch wheels make trees on the course blur more than before;
however, the handling is every bit as confident at this breakneck
speed thanks to those big wheels. The new Demo has a glued-to-the-ground feel, but also isn’t afraid to get airborne a time or
two on most courses. This is a race bike first, but it also feels at
home on any park jump line so long as there’s a strong and skilled
pilot at the controls. Buyers should think twice before choosing a
size. You don’t have to get an “M” size because that’s what you
have always ridden. If your trails and speeds are slower than World
Cup stuff, you might want to recover some handling with a shorter
wheelbase. Note that we said “some handling.” There’s no way
you’re getting back to the quicker handling of a previous-genera-tion downhill bike.
Confidence built in: We felt
right at home on the Demo in
a surprisingly short amount
of time. The bike had us up
to our (not Gwin’s) race pace
in no time.
Classic FSR: The FSR suspension has been the go-to for all
of Specialized bikes for many years. The Demo is arguably
the most refined version of it yet.
Single sided speed: The unconventional-looking single sided
design will most certainly catch eyes on the trails.