Specialized S-Works Demo 8 first ride review

One of the fastest just got even faster

GBP £7,000.00 RRP | USD $7,500.00
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The latest incarnation of the Specialized Demo has already proven itself on the DH World Cup scene, winning the overall title in 2015 under Aaron Gwin and enjoying further success this year thanks to Loïc Bruni, Loris Vergier and Finn Iles. What’s so special about it then? We hit the trails to find out.

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Specialized S-Works Demo 8 spec overview

  • Frame: ‘FACT 11m’ carbon fibre, 200mm (7.9mm) travel

  • Fork: RockShox Boxxer Team, 200mm (7.9mm) travel
  • Shock: Öhlins TTX custom
  • 
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 DH with SRAM X0 DH cranks and Gamut bashguard (1×7)
  • Wheelset: Roval rims on Specialized Hi Lo front and custom DT Swiss rear hubs, Specialized Butcher DH 27.5×2.5in (f) and Slaughter DH 27.5×2.3in (r) tyres
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide RS DH
  • Bar/stem: Specialized S-Works DH Carbon, 780mm/Specialized P.Series direct mount
  • Seatpost/saddle: Thomson (rigid) / Specialized Phenom Expert
  • Weight: 16.6kg (36.6lb), medium size, without pedals

Specialized S-Works Demo 8 frame and equipment

The single sided, asymmetrical Demo frame is a thing of beauty. This unusual design not only sheds some weight, it also makes accessing the shock much easier.

With nothing more than the click of the freewheel to let you know it’s coming, the Demo works through the terrain in stealth-like silence and at a blistering pace

In a bid to lower the all-important centre of gravity, Specialized has moved the Demo’s main pivot down so it’s concentric with the bottom bracket. While this new suspension layout may look radically different to the previous iteration, it’s still a four-bar FSR set-up, designed to behave similarly but with a touch more progression.

Controlling the 200mm of rear wheel travel is a custom Öhlins TTX shock. The latest Demo also sports a narrow-by-DH-standards 12x135mm rear axle and full internal cable routing. It’s available in four lengths, with two different seat tube lengths (one for the short and medium, one for the long and extra-long).

There’s almost nothing to pick holes in here, except for the fork choice. While the coil-sprung RockShox Boxxer Team is pretty good, there are better performers out there for a bike of this price and calibre. The SRAM Guide RS DH brakes are worth a mention though, using a Guide lever and Code calliper to deliver precise, controllable stopping power.

A custom Öhlins TTX shock takes care of rear damping duties
Steve Behr

Specialized S-Works Demo 8 ride impression

With nothing more than the click of the freewheel to let you know it’s coming, the Demo works through the terrain in stealth-like silence and at a blistering pace.

The momentum it carries is breathtaking. Thanks to the balance and poise of the suspension, coupled with the low 342mm bottom bracket, it’s easy to feel confident aboard the Demo and really attack through the turns. There’s more than enough support through the rear to let you properly load the bike and work the terrain, and it seems to turn the drive from every downslope or undulation into forward momentum. This gives the bike a nimble feel, letting you carve that bit harder and push for the trickier lines.

The asymmetric frame isn’t obvious from the driveside but it’s still a striking bike
Steve Behr

In steeper, more demanding terrain, things are dealt with with effortless efficiency, though when it’s wet the semi-slick Specialized Slaughter DH rear tyre would be best swapped for something with a little more bite under braking.

The Demo handles the rough stuff without hesitation too, though we can’t help think about just how good it could be with an even better fork bolted in out front. That’s not to say the Charger Damper-equipped Boxxer isn’t good, but we think there’s even more potential to be tapped into here.

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Specialized S-Works Demo 8 early verdict

A silent, agile, terrain-eating machine that covers ground with a serious amount of pace

Product Specifications

Product

Name S-Works Demo 8
Brand Specialized

Brakes SRAM Guide RS DH
Cranks SRAM X0 DH cranks and Gamut bashguard (1x7)
Fork RockShox Boxxer Team, 200mm (7.9mm) travel
Frame Material 'FACT 11m' carbon fibre, 200mm (7.9mm) travel
Front Tyre Specialized Butcher DH 27.5x2.5in
Handlebar Specialized S-Works DH Carbon, 780mm
Rear Shock Öhlins TTX custom
Rear Tyre Slaughter DH 27.5x2.3in
Saddle Specialized Phenom Expert
Seatpost Thomson (rigid)
Shifters SRAM X01 DH
Stem Specialized P.Series direct mount
Wheelset Roval rims on Specialized Hi Lo front and custom DT Swiss rear hubs