Specialized Demo 8 FSR II - First ride £4199

Off-the peg downhill racer

BikeRadar score 4/5

Specialized launched the Demo as a big-hitting freeride bike. Subsequently it was pressed into service as a downhill racer under Sam Hill, and has had geometry tweaks and other changes to boost performance. For 2011 there have been more changes based on feedback from Hill and Brendan Fairclough, making the new Demo an uncompromised downhill race bike.

Ride & handling: Built for speed and pushing your limits

A low bottom bracket means you won’t be pedalling through much gnarl, but that’s not really the point of the Demo – it’s built for corners and carrying speed. That’s not to say it’s not snappy out of turns, you just need to choose where to put the power down.

You’ll find yourself accelerating into rocky sections, confident the bike will see you through – the limit is your own bravery. A 1.5in head tube keeps things nice and stiff up front, while the Fox rear shock offers plenty of adjustment and a smooth ride.

The influence of Hill and Fairclough is clear – this is a real racer’s bike. The whole package comes in at under 38lb and there’s nothing we’d change straight away. The Demo 8 is ready to race now.

Frame: Redesigned with input from pro riders

The 2011 frame retains the Demo's trademark double rear triangle – it’s a conventional four-bar back end, but the shock is driven directly off the chainstay, so Specialized can mount the 3in stroke Fox DHX shock low in the frame, which allows the whole frame to be built lower. The top tube has dropped compared to 2010 and the whole back end has a lower profile.

Specialized have also smoothed out the previously angular lines of the Demo to eliminate as many mud traps as possible. At Hill and Fairclough’s request, the back end has been narrowed to improve clearance for chunky flat pedal shoes. The frame still takes a 150 x 12mm rear hub. It has a 1.5in head tube, a Pressfit 30 bottom bracket shell and ISCG05 chainguide mounts.

Equipment: Race-ready straight off the shop floor

Speccing off-the-peg downhill bikes is always a challenge – racers tend to know what they like and like what they know. Specialized have gone for a pretty safe selection for the Demo, starting with a RockShox Boxxer World Cup fork, which has low- and high-speed compression adjustment, rebound adjustment and bottom-out control.

The fork has a 1.125in steerer, opening up the possibility of tweaking the geometry with a Cane Creek Angleset headset or similar. There’s more tuning potential at the back – the Fox DHX RC4 shock has the same adjustment options as the fork. The transmission includes a custom SRAM Descendant chainset with a 36t ring and Gamut chain device matched to a close-ratio nine-speed 12-26 cassette.

Brakes are a lightly customised pair of Avid Code XO brakes with 203mm (8in) front and 150mm (6in) rear rotors. The wheels are Specialized hubs laced to 30mm DT Swiss F550 rims. They’re shod with Specialized Butcher DH tyres, which are fine, but you might prefer something you’re familiar with.

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