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Demo Mullet vs Demo 29: Specialized DH Bikes Head-to-Head 25

One of our fastest testers feels things out with several back-to-back rides and four mock race laps on two versions of the Specialized Demo. Where does each one shine? Which one is faster? Game on!

Demo Mullet vs Demo 29: Specialized DH Bikes Head-to-Head

If you've browsed Specialized's website recently, you'll see they still offer multiple versions of the Demo downhill bike, including the new Demo Race with its 27.5 x 29-inch "mullet" wheel setup and the Demo Race 29 with dual big wheels. In this video, we compare and race the bikes. Our goal was to see which is quicker on the Purgatory World Cup course near Durango, Colorado, and to get a feel for the moments on trail where each bike excels:

 

Specialized Demo Highlights

  • Dual 29" and 27.5 x 29" mullet models
  • 200mm (7.9-inches) front and rear travel
  • Downtube, chainstay, and seatstay guards
  • Full internal cable routing with the option for full external brake
  • BSA threaded bottom bracket with ISCG05 chain guide mounts
  • Boost 12x148mm rear axle
  • Trunnion mount 225x75mm coil shock
  • Oversized pivot cartridge bearings with sealed bolt heads
  • Rear shock guard
  • Sizes: S2, S3, S4
  • Lifetime frame warranty
  • MSRP: $6,500 USD (Race 29) or $6,800 (Race Mullet)

Officially introduced this summer, the mullet Race version features a new Horst pivot adjustment that allows for three geometry configurations. These settings adjust chainstay length and bottom bracket height—short, mid, and long.

  • SHORT - A dedicated 27.5-inch rear wheel setting allows for the most maneuverability making the bike more playful that’s ready to tackle tight, technical tracks.
  • MIDDLE - Compatible with both 27.5 and 29-inch wheels, the medium configuration offers a more stable wheelbase with a 27.5 wheel by lengthening the chainstay over the short setting. Or it can make for a more nimble setup with a 29-inch wheel by shortening the chainstay over the long setting.
  • LONG - A dedicated 29-inch rear wheel setting delivers stability for wide-open, high-speed downhill tracks.

Demo Race (Mullet)

Demo Race 29

Both bikes feature an M5 aluminum frame built up with a solid parts spec. Aside from the wheel size and geometry adjustment, some key differences include the suspension components, front tire size, and front rotor size. 

Demo Mullet Strengths vs Demo 29

Demo Mullet Weaknesses vs Demo 29

  • Easier to wrestle around on tight, technical sections
  • Easy flip-chip adjustment with multiple geometry configurations
  • Flexible wheel size frame design
  • More user friendly RockShox BoXXer fork and Super Deluxe coil shock compared to Öhlins DH 29 and TTX
  • Larger 220mm front disc brake rotor
  • The glossy brushed red paint finish is more drool-worthy
  • Decreased momentum carry through the roughest terrain
  • Short chainstay setting may not enhance the ride for 6-foot plus riders (it's a bit too short)
  • Narrower 2.3-inch front Butcher BLK DMND tire lacks bite of the 2.6-inch on Demo 29
  • Lack of independent high-speed compression damping on rear shock may equate to more bottom outs
  • $300 more expensive

Geometry

Photo

Brian's Bottom Line?

Although not an apples-to-apples comparison between the Demo Race and Race 29 models due to different suspension spec and tire combinations, it was interesting to see how my thoughts on both bikes evolved throughout the weekend. Immediately, I felt much more comfortable aboard the 29 as it handled higher speeds with greater stability thanks to the big wheels and more robust Öhlins DH 29 fork. No doubt a proper 2.6-inch Butcher tire up front allowed me to attack with more monster truck like tendencies.

I likened the mullet-equipped Race model as a bit “fidgety” in the short setting. The higher front end made weighting the front wheel difficult in tighter terrain, and at speed I was left hanging on above the bike instead of “in it.” The 2.3-inch front and rear Butcher tire combination also left me hanging on at times as I had to work harder to find traction control. Once I flipped the chip, extending the chainstays and lowering the bottom bracket, my confidence was renewed. The middle setting in mullet mode is where the Race truly shines. It was obvious that I was able to maneuver much more efficiently in the technical and steep last section of our test track. The 29 felt cumbersome on the same portion and much more labor was needed to get the same result the Race could achieve naturally utilizing its mullet maneuverability.

The Öhlins suspension performed well, but my body and hands much preferred the RockShox BoXXer Ultimate’s buttery nature when doing top to bottom runs. A 220mm front rotor is an under-appreciated luxury, but when navigating the steep woods at the end of our test track with full-on arm pump, it was very much appreciated.

When it comes down to it, the Race model just affords the rider more options. If the rider has the mental fortitude and a spare 29-inch wheel to utilize the multiple geo settings, then the mullet-equipped horse can adapt to any course.

Visit www.specialized.com for more details. You can also view the two bikes and their specs side-by-side in the Vital MTB Product Guide.


About The Tester

Brian Buell - Age: 33 // Years Riding: 25+ // Height: 6'1" (1.85m) // Weight: 180-pounds (81.6kg)

Brian is kind of like Uncle Rico – even though he has a titanium rod in his tibia and is continuously trying to avoid obtaining a dad bod, he delusionally daydreams of World Cup racing glory. That thought process transfers to the trail. Whether building trail, coaching on them, or just trying to recapture the glory days between the tape, he’s always in search of the racer line. Known for "Buelling" his bikes, Brian sometimes puts a serious hurt on parts pushing them to their limits. Although the Collegiate National Championship sweater vest jersey is collecting dust somewhere, whenever it’s time to race against the clock or perform for the camera you can bet he’s fully pinned putting it all on the line for you!

Video by Brandon Turman and Justin Schroth

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