The Monster Energy-Specialized team debuted a surprise at the opening round of the UCI World Cup: a carbon fiber version of Specialized's Demo downhill racer. Team officials wouldn't allow us to photograph it in the pits nor would they answer any questions but we managed a few snaps anyway. While we don't have official details to share just yet, it looks like it'll be a hot machine indeed.
Specialized builds the all-new front triangles with the company's top-end FACT 11m carbon composite construction if the stealthy labeling is to be taken at face value. Based on our experience with Specialized's similar road frames, we thus expect the new main frames to be substantially lighter and more rigid than the current alloy version.
Admittedly, consumers don't often associate those attributes with gravity racing but even downhill bikes can benefit from reduced mass by virtue of shorter stopping distances and a nimbler feel. On Pietermaritzburg's unusually pedaling-intensive course, that lighter weight might also help Sam Hill and his teammates accelerate to clear the track's extraordinarily long jumps, too.
The Monster Energy-Specialized mechanic wouldn’t allow us to shoot pictures of Sam Hill's new Demo Carbon - so we had to hide behind a trailer and make use of our zoom lens
At this point, changes are limited exclusively to the new front triangle with the Horst Link four-bar rear end still constructed of TIG-welded aluminum. Whether Specialized will eventually release a consumer version with full carbon construction remains to be seen.
Also spotted in the Monster Energy-Specialized camp on Troy Brosnan's rig were a new RockShoxBoxxer fork with DLC-coated stanchions for smoother operation and an air-sprung version of the company's Vivid downhill rear shock. We'll bring you more information on those items shortly.
Specialized: Hill and Brosnan from Perth, Australia (courtesy: Specialized Bicycle)