Our custom S-Works Demo 8 build is eye-wateringly – borderline ridiculously – expensive. But everything on this bike is production kit, so any privateer racer can go out and buy the carbon wheels, stem and bar, or get a loan and fork out for the frame and shock.
The Demo is available in frame-only options for £3,500/US$3,500/AU$3,999* – but this fantasy custom build takes the cost up to approx £9,305 all-in (a rough currency conversion gives you figures north of US$15,800/AU$16,800, though these are unlikely to translate 100 percent accurately and would also be affected by individual components’ pricing and availability). The big question is, will all these high-end parts make any difference to the time it takes you to get to the bottom of the hill?
Frame and equipment: custom designed shock, competition-geared kit
Specialized uses its FACT 11M carbon for the mainframe of the top-end Demo, along with a lightweight magnesium link and an alloy back end. The BB height is adjustable, with three settings from 338mm to 353mm. The FSR suspension design incorporates an odd-looking sub-seatstay that means the shock is driven from the chainstays rather than the seatstays, helping to tailor the leverage ratio and lower the bike’s centre of gravity.
Ride and handling: silent killer – provided you’re not too tall
The S-Works Demo 8 is silent, accurate and fast – a proper racer’s bike. There’s something a little eerie about the way it patters across the tops of braking bumps without any noise, but the lack of clatter does inspire confidence.
We’d have preferred a large frame to test rather than a medium because it doesn’t have a particularly long top tube – which begs the question, what are tall riders supposed to do? Still, the medium frame proved lively enough on the hill and the 1,200mm wheelbase and 63-degree head angle provided enough stability when we started trying to really motor.
Hammer into an ugly rock garden and the control is spectacular. Smaller chatter is soaked up without fuss and the big hits are dealt with in a controlled, just-focus-on-going-fast kind of way. This means you need to be looking way ahead into the next turn, because this thing covers ground rapidly. You can still feel the FSR back end hang up ever so slightly on occasion when you hit a harsh, square-edged compression seriously hard, but thanks to the impressive TTX damper, this is never really a worry.
Batter this derailleur against a rock and your wallet may be squealing in pain
So does the speed, control and handling justify the stratospheric price? In places, yes. The frame, shock and fork are certainly worth considering if you’re looking to compete seriously and are after that performance edge. There are other areas where we might think otherwise though. If we were racing, would we want to stick a rear derailleur this costly on our bikes? Probably not. Although the X01 DH works well, crashing in downhill is just part of the game and the occasional bent derailleur is almost inevitable.
|Name||S-Works Demo 8 Custom Build (14)|
|Description||Frame-only prices: £3500.0/US$3500/AU$3999|
|Rims||ENVE Composites M90 Ten|
|Spoke Type||Sapim CX-Ray|
|Shifters||SRAM X01 DH|
|Stem||ENVE Composites Direct Mount 50, 50mm|
|Rear Tyre||Maxxis Shorty 3C Maxx Grip 26x2.4in|
|Bottom Bracket Height (in)||13.58|
|Seat Tube (in)||16.73|
|Standover Height (in)||28.35|
|Top Tube (in)||22.84|
|Rear Wheel Weight||2600|
|Rear Shock||Öhlins TTX 22M, 200mm (7.9in) travel|
|Available Sizes||S M L|
|Frame Material||FACT 11M carbon|
|Bottom Bracket||SRAM PF30|
|Cassette||SRAM MINI BLOCK X-DOME, 10-24t|
|Cranks||SRAM X01 DH|
|Fork||RockShox Boxxer World Cup custom w/ Black Gold stanchion coating, 200mm (7.9in) travel|
|Front Hub||Chris King MTB|
|Rear Hub||Chris King MTB|
|Front Tyre||Maxxis Shorty 3C Maxx Grip 26x2.4in|
|Front Wheel Weight||2300|
|Handlebar||ENVE Composites DH, 800mm|
|Rear Derailleur||SRAM X01 DH 7-speed|
|Frame size tested||M|