2018 Specialized Demo 8 S-Works Bike

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Review - Specialized Demo 8 from Vital MTB Test Sessions

The highly regarded Demo 8 offers immediate confidence and a smooth ride.

Rating: Vital Review

During the Vital MTB 27.5 DH Test Sessions, the Specialized Demo 8 went head-to-head with four other leading bikes. What follows are our thoughts specific to the Demo 8. Be sure to check out the main feature for an in-depth comparison video, timed testing results, and more.

Highlights

  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • Asymmetric carbon frame
  • 200mm (7.9-inches) front and rear travel
  • FSR suspension design with concentric main pivot/bottom bracket
  • Lipped and sealed cartridge pivot bearings
  • Integrated frame protection throughout // Additional paint protection included
  • Internal/external rear brake routing options
  • BB30 bottom bracket with ISCG 05 mount
  • 12x135mm rear axle with derailleur guard
  • Measured Weight: 35.3-pounds (16.0kg, stock tires, without pedals)
  • Size Tested: Long
  • Model Tested: S-Works
  • MSRP:

During the Vital MTB 27.5 DH Test Sessions, the Specialized Demo 8 went head-to-head with four other leading bikes. What follows are our thoughts specific to the Demo 8. Be sure to check out the main feature for an in-depth comparison video, timed testing results, and more.

Highlights

  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • Asymmetric carbon frame
  • 200mm (7.9-inches) front and rear travel
  • FSR suspension design with concentric main pivot/bottom bracket
  • Lipped and sealed cartridge pivot bearings
  • Integrated frame protection throughout // Additional paint protection included
  • Internal/external rear brake routing options
  • BB30 bottom bracket with ISCG 05 mount
  • 12x135mm rear axle with derailleur guard
  • Measured Weight: 35.3-pounds (16.0kg, stock tires, without pedals)
  • Size Tested: Long
  • Model Tested: S-Works
  • MSRP: $7,500 USD
  • More Info: www.specialized.com

Strengths

Sometimes things just click, as they did on our very first run with the Specialized Demo 8. Straight away after dropping in on our test track, there are three consecutive berms that propel you to pace in a jiffy. Commit to the first one, feel the acceleration out and it's game on. The Demo 8 is fleet of foot and was a breeze to get in and out of corners and tight terrain. It also enjoyed being nudged straight down the fall line. By the time Brian reached the end of Sector 1 of our test track, it was as if this bike had been made specifically for him. It inspired that much immediate confidence. This is a versatile performer with a smooth suspension feel.

One attribute that everyone enjoys and aspires to have is a quiet ride. The Demo 8 went about its business run after run without so much as a peep. This bike is a smooth operator as we've seen for the last two years beneath Loic Bruni and Finn Iles. Maybe it's the Ohlins coil rear suspension, but at the end of the day, you look at it with big cartoon-heart-shaped-bug eyes and drool a little bit at its beautifully painted, asymmetric, curvy chassis.

The bike's ample mud clearance, derailleur guard, included vinyl paint protection, and ability to route the rear brake both internally and externally are fine touches we greatly appreciate.

Weaknesses

First and foremost, the Demo 8 will likely arrive under-sprung. We had to acquire much firmer coil spring for our 175-pound test riders. Address that and it's game on.

Racing against the clock can be the most effective way to completely give a bike a proper shakedown. Only when the Demo 8 was on center stage did some attributes show themselves in a negative light. While really pushing the bike hard through berms at race pace, it presented a wallowing rear end feeling right at the corner's apex when the most force was applied. "Did we burp the tire? Did we puncture?" These thoughts stuck with us through the remaining segments. Upon further investigation, proper air pressure had been maintained, so what was to blame? The bike isn't very progressive and combined with the coil shock it wasn’t providing the desired end-stroke support. We found ourselves adding compression in the days leading up to the race, but perhaps not enough. Might the narrow 135mm rear end contribute? Questions remained.

Although this machine was a pleasure to throw around, it proved difficult to really find a balanced ride position at times. Possibly queue a size up, as the Demo 8's compact rear end makes it both incredibly fun but also a bit unpredictable coming out of big compressions. When speeds picked way up, confidence decreased. The Demo 8 had us hanging on at times instead of feeling composed within the bike.

Finally, at the end of our five-day test, the rear Roval alloy rim was smoked. It was 15mm out of true, sustained four major dents, and had to be re-tensioned multiple times through the week. Some may argue that a softer rim could prevent pinch flats and help damp the rig, creating that quieter, smoother ride, but the trade-offs are definitely not worth building a new wheel every weekend.

Suggested upgrades for a few hundred dollars: Assuming you have the proper rear spring rate, we suggest tire inserts to save your rims, a 200mm rear rotor, cushier grips, and/or a RockShox BoXXer upgrade kit.

Geometry

Suspension Analysis

Using the bike industry's leading linkage analysis software, André Santos was able to determine a close approximation of the Demo 8's kinematics for the purpose of this review. Though they don't always tell the full story, these charts provide great insight into several key factors that impact how it rides.

André's Observations:

  • The Specialized Demo 8 has a slightly progressive rear suspension at 26%, meaning that the travel is relatively linear and very usable. However, without a good amount of compression on the shock, you might experience some harsh bottom-outs on bigger impacts.
  • Very low pedaling efficiency with an average of 40% anti-squat in the pedaling zone. On tracks with more pedaling, you might need to increase low-speed compression on the shock to compensate.
  • Very low chain growth amount due to low anti-squat, meaning that the suspension is not affected by chain forces.
  • Very low anti-rise near 30%, meaning that the rear suspension is very independent of braking forces. However, due to inertia, the bike has the tendency to pitch slightly more forward during braking.
  • Overall, the Demo 8 has a slightly progressive linkage with low anti-squat, low chain growth, and low anti-rise.

Vital's preferred suspension settings for a 175-pound rider on stock components: 30% sag with 434 lb/in spring // HSC position 2 // LSC 1-click from closed

What's The Bottom Line?

It's hard to argue against a bike that has donned the World Championship stripes multiple times. You cannot deny that the Specialized Demo 8 has strong race chops. With some more time dialing in suspension and sizing it could be a race winner, as it proved in the steepest portion of our test track. One thing is for sure, the Demo 8 is an easy rider and a blast to ride throughout the entire bike park.

Visit www.specialized.com and the Vital MTB 27.5 DH Test Sessions feature for more details.

Vital MTB Rating


About The Testers

Brian Buell - Age: 31 // 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 delusionaly 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!

Brandon Turman - Age: 32 // Years Riding: 17 // Height: 5'10" (1.78m) // Weight: 175-pounds (79.4kg)

"I like to have fun, pop off the bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when I feel in tune with a bike, and really mash on the pedals and open it up when pointed downhill." Formerly a mechanical engineer and Pro downhill racer, Brandon brings a unique perspective to the testing game as Vital MTB's resident product guy. He has on-trail familiarity with nearly every new innovation in our sport from the past several years and a really good feel for what’s what.


Test Sessions was made possible with the help of Angel Fire Bike Park, Maxxis, and LITPro. Tester gear provided by Troy Lee Designs, Fasthouse, and Five Ten.

Photos by Sean Horton // Videos by Jake VanHeel and Brandon Turman

Specifications

Product Specialized Demo 8 S-Works Bike
Model Year 2018
Riding Type Downhill
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
S, M, L, XL View Geometry
Size S M L XL
Top Tube Length 571mm 596mm 616mm 636mm
Head Tube Angle 63.5° 63.5° 63.5° 63.5°
Head Tube Length 105mm 105mm 105mm 105mm
Seat Tube Angle 74° 74° 74° 74°
Seat Tube Length 367mm 367mm 367mm 367mm
Bottom Bracket Height 342mm 342mm 342mm 342mm
Chainstay Length 430mm 430mm 430mm 430mm
Wheelbase 1183mm 1208mm 1228mm 1248mm
Standover 698mm 698mm 698mm 698mm
Reach 395mm 420mm 440mm 460mm
Stack 614mm 614mm 614mm 614mm
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b)
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details S-Works FACT 11m carbon front triangle and rear end, Team alloy link, FACT IS construction
Rear Travel 200mm
Rear Shock Custom Ohlins TTX, twin-tube design, high- and low-speed compression adjust, rebound adjust, 9.5" x 3"
Fork RockShox BoXXer WC, Charger damper, air spring, compression adjust, rebound adjust, alloy steerer, 48mm offset, Maxle Lite DH
Fork Travel 200mm
Head Tube Diameter
Headset
Handlebar Specialized DH, FACT carbon, 6° upsweep, 8° backsweep, 27mm rise, 800mm width, 31.8mm clamp
Stem Specialized Direct Mount DH, two-piece, forged alloy, 45mm length
Grips Specialized Sip Grip, half-waffle, S/M: regular thickness, L/XL: XL thickness
Brakes SRAM Guide RSC, hydraulic disc, metallic pads, 4-piston caliper, 200mm front rotor, 180mm rear rotor
Brake Levers SRAM Guide RSC, hydraulic
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters SRAM X0 DH, 7-speed, trigger
Front Derailleur N/A (1x-specific)
Rear Derailleur SRAM X01 DH, short cage, 7-speed
ISCG Tabs ISCG05
Chainguide Yes
Cranks SRAM X0 DH, carbon, 104mm BCD spider, 165mm crankarm, Gamut bashguard
Chainrings SRAM, 34 tooth
Bottom Bracket SRAM BB30, 83mm
Pedals Specialized Boomslang, 6061 alloy, sealed cartridge bearings
Chain SRAM PC1130, 11-speed, with PowerLink
Cassette SRAM X01 DH, 7-speed, 10-24 tooth
Rims Roval 27.5, alloy, 24mm internal width
Hubs Front: Specialized disc, alloy flange and disc mount, sealed cartridge bearings, 20mm thru-axle, 32 hole
Rear: Custom DT Swiss 350, 135mm spacing, SRAM XD driver, 54 tooth ratchet, 12mm thru-axle, 32 hole
Spokes DT Swiss Competition, stainless, black, 2.0x1.8x2.0
Tires Specialized Butcher, DH casing, 60 tpi, wire bead, 27.5" x 2.5" (front), 27.5" x 2.3" (rear)
Saddle Specialized Body Geometry Phenom Expert, Adaptive Edge design, hollow titanium rails, carbon fiber base, 143mm width
Seatpost Thomson, alloy, straight, 12-degree clamp
Seatpost Diameter 30.9mm
Seatpost Clamp Standard single bolt, alloy
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 135x12mm
Max. Tire Size
Bottle Cage Mounts No
Colors Gloss Blue Tint Carbon/Acid Mint/Cosmic Black
Warranty
Weight 35 lb 5.8 oz (16,040 g)
Miscellaneous FSR suspension
Full internal cable routing
Lipped and sealed cartridge bearing pivots
Price $7,500
More Info

www.specialized.com

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