The Good: Almost everything.
The Bad: Almost nothing.
The Specialized marketing team has declared the Demo 8 “the world’s fastest downhill machine,” that “oozes premium downhill performance,” and by watching the likes of Sam Hill and Troy Brosnan shred the bike to pieces, Specialized has attempted to force you to believe that this bike is totally mega sictor awesome, is mean looking, will impress all of your friends, and make hot naked chicks shuttle you all because you and your bike are so rad. Unfortunately for Specialized, they didn’t drop the ever growing Sam Hill and pay the big bucks to America’s rock Jesus, Aaron Gwinn, who has now shown that the Trek is the only bike worth a damn.
To be put simply, this bike is almost what the Specialized marketing task force has spent so much money trying to make you believe. Will hot naked chicks shuttle you? No, the Ronald McDonald paint scheme drives them away because they think they will get fat (Possible connection to Sam Hill’s weight gain last season? It’s ironic at least). Will the bike make you finish races with the power and force that Viagra wishes they could achieve? Maybe. All in all, the bike does shred the crap out of almost anything, and it may even make you a faster rider. It is, in my opinion, one of the top DH frames for the money that you can buy.
Let’s start with the things that don’t suck about this bike. I will periodically compare the Demo to the current model Turner DHR, as both the bikes aren’t plow bikes and are highly regarded by downhill riders.
1) Cost: For $2650 you get a Demo 8 frame with a Double Barrel, FSA headset, and Thompson post. That is a darn good deal compared to offerings from other companies.
2) The ride. This should really take up number’s 2-X in the things that don’t suck category, but my college writing professor told me I suck at organizing things so I’m going to throw it all in here. Let’s start with the geometry. The Demo 8 boasts a 64-degree head angle (low setting), 13.5-inch bottom bracket (low setting), 16.57-inch chain stay, and 46. 89inch wheelbase (for a medium frame).
This combination equates to a very low, fast, playful, and light feeling bike that emits confidence to its rider. Coming off of a DW Turner DHR, to me, this bike feels lower. You will bash rocks with your pedals until you get used to it. This was surprising to me as I am used to riding very low bikes and I was still clipping pedals left and right.
This does, however, create an awesome cornering machine. Combined with the 64-degree head angle, the short chain stay, and the low BB height, you can really lay this bike over in a corner. The shortish chain stay also adds an element of flickability to the bike. The Demo is a fun bike to ride, whether you are railing corners and scrubbing jumps or mashing gnar east coast roxs.
As far as shock set up with the double barrel, I found Specialized’s base settings a very good starting point. I only changed the rebound settings from what they had to 1 click faster on low speed rebound. For those that don’t have them, the settings are HSC=2.75 revs, LSC=10 clicks, HSR=3 revs, LSR=9 clicks. All of these numbers are from full open (no clicks), meaning that the adjuster is turned as far counter clockwise as possible.
Once I got the shock dialed on the Demo (didn’t take long) I started to mash the bike as hard as I could down Tunnel in SB. Granted, I would not call the Demo a plow bike as per the v10, but it can definitely handle mashing over whatever is in front of you if you take a less than ideal line choice. The faster you go, the smoother the bike seemed to get. For a comparison, the Demo is noticeably smoother in the rough stuff than the DW DHR (in my opinion).
The Demo also has an ideal wheelbase at 46.89 inches (medium). It’s long enough that you can haul the mail down the wide open trails yet still get through tight corner’s with ease. The wheelbase is a safe middle ground between the two extremes.
The Demo also is able to pump and jump with ease, but this is one of the areas where I feel the DW DHR outperforms the Demo. I don’t think there is any bike out there that will accelerate faster out of corners, and pump better than the DHR, but the Demo is quite close to the performance of the DHR. If all you do is jump, pump and scrub your way down A-Line and Dirt Merchant, the DHR might be a good weapon of choice. But if you ride rocks, and some rougher trails, the Demo is the way to go.
The last thing to talk about is pedaling, the downhill bikes arch enemy. The Demo pedals very, very well. In fact, the Demo pedals better than probably 90 percent of all other downhill bikes. However, the DW DHR pedals better. This is just an observation from my time on the two bikes.
3) The black and red paint scheme looks sick, and the paint has yet to start chipping off. Specialized also puts clear bra on the down tube of the Demo from the factory so you don’t have to. But don’t get the Ronald McDonald version. You will auto-gain 15 pounds and ride like crap.
4) The Demo also comes with a bunch of neat features. The derailleur hanger protector is a nice added touch, and the adjustable geometry by flipping the shock bushing is so simple a hipster could not screw it up.
Now we can talk about the things that totally suck about the Demo 8:
In reality, nothing about this bike totally sucks, but I do have some pet peeves about the bike that make me want to start calling Specialized special-ED again. I really have nothing negative to say about how the bike rides. The only faults I could come up with I listed as a comparison to the DHR above.
1) The stupid BB30 crap. Kill it now. It’s stupid and is a pain in the butt. I had to waste money and buy new cranks. The plastic BB30 adapter that comes with the frame is self-extracting and creaks. My best advice if you get the frame is to get the e13 pf30 BB/crank combo. Then you will not hate your new bike.
2) The cable routing. Again, Specialized cannot make a simple cable routing system. They tried at least this time, but it’s such a tight fit to bolt the cable into the frame, that most allen keys won’t be able to do the job.
3) Fox 40 incompatibility. Yes, I used the spacer under the crown race, and put the “special” bumpers on the fork so I don’t crack my head tube, but you will still have about 3/4ths the turn radius of any other DH fork/frame combo on the market. It’s annoying, but I’m not buying a new fork.
4) The double barrel spring rubs on the shock body making a pleasant noise. Nothing you can do about this except to cut the black plastic protector off the double barrel shock body, or just ride the crap out of the bike until the spring rubs down the plastic protector.
That’s all I got. If you take any of my sarcastic jokes seriously I failed. The Demo is an awesome bike, and I’m going to be riding it until it breaks.
5/5BTW, I am 5’11 and ride a medium. I could have gone either way between a medium and a large and would have been happy with either.