Specialized brings mullet wheels to the masses with 2020 Demo downhill bike

Demo downhill race rig gets the mixed wheel size treatment for 2020, plus a host of other updates

Specialized Demo 2020 downhill mountain bike

The 2020 Specialized Demo builds on the company’s 2019 model with adjustable geometry flip chips and improved suspension kinematics.

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The flip chips make the new 2020 Specialized Demo compatible with both 29in and 27.5in wheels, and its updated suspension kinematics were engineered using rider feedback from 2019 downhill World Champion Loic Bruni and young-gun shredder Finn Iles.

What is a mullet bike?

A mullet bike combines a 27.5in rear wheel with a 29in front wheel. Proponents of the mullet bike claim that it gives the same or better nippy handling as a 27.5in wheeled bike with the rollover, bump-eating capabilities of the 29er.

The Big S’s flagship downhill bike, the Demo, was last updated in July 2019 with 29in wheels, a new silhouette, geometry and suspension kinematic.

But during the 2019 race season, we saw World Cup DH riders start to play with mixed wheel sizes once the UCI relaxed the rules around mixing wheel diameters.

The mixing of 27.5in and 29in wheels proved popular for those who appeared to be completely opposed to full front and back wagon wheels, such as Specialized’s Loic Bruni, who was among the most vocal to chastise the 29er.

Although last year’s 29er Demo wasn’t mullet compatible, the Specialized team continued using mixed wheel sizes throughout the 2019 race season, with its riders racking up some impressive results.

Specialized’s move to offer an official mullet option of its latest DH rig seems like a logical step, then.

2020 Specialized Demo adjustable geometry

Size S2 S3 S4
Stack height (mm) 632 632 632
Reach (mm) 426 446 466
Head tube length (mm) 105 105 105
Head tube angle (degrees) 62.8 62.8 62.8
BB height (mm) 350 350 350
BB drop (mm) 25 25 25
Front centre (mm) 801 821 841
Chainstay (mm) 448 448 448
Wheelbase (mm) 1,239 1,259 1,279
Seat tube length (mm) 394 420 420
Seat tube angle (degrees) 78.2 76.8 76.8

*Geometry figures quoted in short setting with 27.5in rear wheel fitted.

Instead of making two different frames dedicated to specific wheel sizes, Specialized has added an adjustable flip chip to the bike’s Horst-link pivot — the pivot that sits directly in front of the rear axle.

This flip-chip has three settings: short, middle and long. It essentially changes the length of the chainstay, extending it from 438mm for the short setting to 443mm for the middle setting and finally out to 448mm for the long setting.

The different positions affect other parts of the bike’s geometry, too. The stack, reach, head-tube angle, bottom-bracket height and wheelbase all alter with each geometry setting and differing wheel size.

Specialized Demo 2020 downhill mountain bike
There’s no denying how attractive the new Demo looks.
Specialized

Its shortest setting is dedicated to the 27.5in wheel and Specialized claims this gives the bike its most playful characteristics.

The middle setting can be used with both 27.5in and 29in wheels and should create a more stable feeling 27.5in-wheeled bike or a slightly snappier and poppier 29in wheel bike.

While the long setting, Specialized says, is for 29in wheels only and is claimed to give the bike its most stable setting for high-speed descents.

The 2020 bike’s stock geometry figures (short setting with 27.5in rear wheel) are almost identical to the outgoing 29er-only model, varying by 1mm across all measurements and sizes.

2020 Specialized Demo suspension changes

Specialized Demo 2020 downhill mountain bike
Modified suspension kinematics should make the Demo ride even better.
Specialized

Although the geometry remains relatively unchanged in the base setting, Specialized claims its done quite a bit of work on the bike’s suspension.

One of those changes focuses on giving it a more reward axle path “in key stages of its travel”, which should help improve the Demo’s ability to eat up square-edged bumps that are notorious for slowing down riders.

It would be fairly safe to assume the rearward portion of the bike’s axle path will be early on in its travel, where the suspension is doing most of the work absorbing all of the smaller bumps. Specialized hasn’t yet provided an axle path chart to support this, though.

Bikes such as Commencal’s Supreme DH – which has a rearward arcing axle path thanks to a high main pivot – have been designed with the same goals in mind and ridden to great success by Loic Bruni’s main competitor Amaury Pierron.

Next up, Specialized has identified and addressed the need for increased anti-rise. Anti-rise is the force exerted into the bike’s suspension system under braking that either compresses or extends the suspension.

As the term anti-rise suggests, Specialized has tuned the bike to better resist the suspension extending under braking. This should, in theory, help maintain the bike’s stability by better preserving geometry under braking.

Bikes that use the Horst-link suspension system are renowned for having low anti-rise values, so it’s good to see Specialized listening to rider feedback and making changes.

It’s also increased its anti-squat to help improve pedalling efficiency. Specialized claims this should help the bike to move forward rather than “bobbing around uncontrollably”.

Like the outgoing bike, the 2020 Demo has a low centre of gravity thanks to the shock and linkage placement. Specialized claims this helps make the Demo feel planted and confidence-inspiring on the trail.

2020 Specialized Demo frame details

Specialized Demo 2020 downhill mountain bike
We can’t wait to test the new Demo.
Specialized

The 2020 Demo is built from Specialized’s M5 alloy and uses a trunnion-mounted rear shock with 200mm of travel.

It has full internal cable routing with the option to externally route brake cables. This should make changing the back brake a much easier, bleed-free affair for those who do it regularly.

It uses 148mm rear axle spacing and comes in three sizes.

2020 Specialized Demo models and specifications

The 2020 Demo is sold in three models: a £4,999 Expert full-build bike, a £6,999 Race full-build bike and a £2,999 Race frameset.

2020 Specialized Demo Expert full bike

Specialized Demo 2020 downhill mountain bike
The Demo Expert is Specialized’s ‘budget’ Demo.
Specialized
  • Frame: M5 alloy, Horst-pivot flip chip, BSA threaded bottom bracket, 148mm axle spacing
  • Rear shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select Coil
  • Fork: RockShox Boxxer Select 29 DebonAir, 56mm offset
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX DH 7-speed
  • Cranks: SRAM Descendant, 34t chainring
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RS 220mm disc (f), 200mm disc (r)
  • Wheels: Roval Alloy DH 29in front, 27.5in rear
  • Hubs: Unbranded
  • Tyres: Specialized Butcher BLCKDMND 29 x 2.3in (f), Specialized Butcher BLCKDMND 27.5 x 2.3in (r)
  • Bar: Specialized 7050 alloy 800mm wide, 27mm rise
  • Stem: Specialized Direct Mount alloy 45mm
  • Grips: Specialized Trail Grips
  • Seatpost: Specialized 6061 alloy
  • Saddle: Specialized Body Geometry Henge DH Cro-Mo rails
  • Price: £4,999

2020 Specialized Demo Race full bike

Specialized Demo 2020 downhill mountain bike
The top-tier Race is ready to tackle the toughest DH tracks.
Specialized
  • Frame: M5 alloy, Horst-pivot flip chip, BSA threaded bottom bracket, 148mm axle spacing
  • Rear shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate DH Coil
  • Fork: RockShox Boxxer Ultimate 29, Charger 2.1 damper DH DebonAir, 56mm offset
  • Drivetrain: SRAM X01 DH 7-speed
  • Cranks: SRAM X01 DH, 34t chainring
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC 220mm disc (f), 200mm disc (r)
  • Wheels: Roval Alloy DH 29in front, 27.5in rear
  • Hubs: DT Swiss 350
  • Tyres: Specialized Butcher BLCKDMND 29 x 2.3in (f), Specialized Butcher BLCKDMND 27.5 x 2.3in (r)
  • Bar: Roval Traverse SL Carbon 800mm wide, 30mm rise
  • Stem: SRAM Descendant 35mm direct mount 50mm
  • Grips: Deity Knuckleduster
  • Seatpost: Thomson alloy
  • Saddle: Specialized Body Geometry Henge DH Ti rails
  • Price: £6,999

2020 Specialized Demo Race frameset

Specialized Demo 2020 downhill mountain bike
Build your own dream Demo.
Specialized
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  • Frame: M5 alloy, Horst-pivot flip chip, BSA threaded bottom bracket, 148mm axle spacing
  • Rear shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate DH Coil
  • Seatpost: Thomson alloy
  • Saddle: Specialized Body Geometry Henge DH Ti rails
  • Price: £2,999