2015 Specialized S-Works Demo - Mont Sainte Anne World Cup
When the first images of Specialized's new S-Works Demo downhill bike were released earlier this week, it caught many by surprise. Sure, a 27.5" wheeled offering was almost a given, but the frame's futuristic, one sided design was radically different than what many riders had been expecting from the big S. Aluminum prototypes had been spotted last summer underneath Specialized test pilot Brad Benedict, but the general consensus seemed to be that the bike would be more of a park / mini DH bike rather than the full blown race machine that it has transformed into.
By all appearances the S-Works Demo will be situated at the very top tier of Specialized's gravity line, and will certainly require deep pockets to come by. Yes, it's true that you could buy a (insert name of an object that costs at least $10,000 here) for what this bike will retail for, but that's the norm when it comes to a newly released, carbon fiber machine designed to be raced at the uppermost level of the sport. Fans of the previous frame configuration needn't despair, as it looks like an aluminum 27.5” version that still uses the distinctive dual seat stay layout will be in the lineup for 2015. Although Specialized still hasn't officially released any concrete details about the bike, the new Demo supposedly has 200mm of travel and a slightly longer reach and chainstays than previous versions, which would make sense given the current bike geometry trends, and the fact that it has 27.5" wheels. We were able to snap a few photos of Troy Brosnan and Aaron Gwin's bikes as they prepared for the fifth round of the DH World Cup at Mont Sainte Anne - take a look at what they'll be rolling up to the starting line on when it's time for their race runs.
Troy Brosnan's Demo
With a win at Fort William and a 3rd place finish at Leogang, there's no doubt Troy Brosnan's eager to keep stepping onto the podium for the remainder of the season. A new bike will put the young Aussie under additional pressure to deliver a top result, but his performance in Scotland showed he can still keep his cool when the heat is on.
The new Demo's one sided frame design should make shock adjustments and spring swaps easier than ever, a welcome sight for any mechanic who has ever struggled to reach adjustment knobs hidden behind a linkage or heard the disheartening sound of spacers hitting the ground when removing a shock to install a different spring.
The bike is a full carbon affair, using a Horst link along with a concentric pivot that rotates around the bottom bracket. It appears that the derailleur hanger also serves to hold the rear wheel in place, and Specialized's derailleur guard has managed to find its way onto the new bike as well.
Rather than using two thinner carbon sections on each side of the shock, Specialized decided to do away with the left side altogether and create one extra wide carbon strut that joins the top tube to the bottom bracket area.
Aaron Gwin's Demo
After putting in one of the most amazing downhill runs ever on a flat tire, Aaron Gwin is hoping to cross the finish line this weekend with both tires fully inflated. He's still running FOX's RAD coil sprung rear shock, which offers independently adjustable low speed and high speed compression and rebound adjustments. It seems likely that the shock must be getting relatively close to being ready for production, considering that we first spotted it at the 2013 World Championships. The bike has internal cable routing, but the two empty holes on the down tube seem like they could be used to install a cable guide to run the housing externally, which would facilitate quick race day brake swaps.
The Demo's frame design should keep its center of gravity low, which will be helpful for the high speed cornering encountered on a World Cup race course. The frame weight has likely dropped from the previous version as well, especially without the secondary linkage.
The rear end of the bike uses 12 x 135mm spacing instead of the more common 12 x 150, a design feature that helps tuck the rear derailleur farther in and out of reach of the sharp rocks and stumps that can quickly end a race run.