Bike Check: Finn Iles' Custom Specialized Demo - Leogang World Cup 2021

Jun 11, 2021
by James Smurthwaite  


Specialized Gravity Republic are one of the teams best known for tinkering with setups and gear to eke out the most performance gains from their kit. They make use of telemetry at most World Cup rounds and who can forget Loic Bruni's mystery fork switch that he used at Lousa last year?

Well, Finn's bike is no exception. For his return to World Cup racing, his bike is toting a new prototype linkage in the rear end, some prototype internals in his fork and even his brake levers are one-off custom parts to help him against the clock. On top of all these custom gubbins, Finn also has a custom sparkling paint job for the 2021 season. In short, there's a lot to cover with this new bike. Let's dig into all the details below.

Finn Iles Specialized Demo - Leogang 2021
Finn has two bikes with him this weekend. The telemetry mule (front) and the race bike that we've focussed on here.
Specialized Demo Details
Frame: Specialized Demo
Shock: Ohlins TTX 22M
Fork: Ohlins DH 38 (prototype internals)
Wheels: DT Swiss EX471 on 240 hubs, mullet configuration
Tire pressures: 24 psi front, 26psi rear
Drivetrain: SRAM XO (36T chainring)
Brakes: Magura MT7, 203mm rotors (3D printed lever)
Cockpit: Renthal, 780mm bars/50mm stem
More info: specialized.com

Finn Iles Specialized Demo - Leogang 2021
The race number that all riders dread. Finn will be hoping to chop off the latter of those digits by the end of the weekend.

Finn Iles Specialized Demo - Leogang 2021
Finn Iles Specialized Demo - Leogang 2021
This raw linkage is a prototype part that makes the rear end of the Demo more progressive. It's apparently just one of many that Specialized have access to throughout the season to experiment with.

Finn Iles Specialized Demo - Leogang 2021

Finn Iles Specialized Demo - Leogang 2021
There are prototype parts for the front suspension too but unfortunately we can't see them as they're all internal to the DH38 fork.

Finn Iles Specialized Demo - Leogang 2021
Finn Iles Specialized Demo - Leogang 2021
Magura has printed Finn Iles a pair of custom HC3 levers to fit his hands better.

Finn Iles Specialized Demo - Leogang 2021
They operate a set of MT7 brakes with 203mm rotors.

Finn Iles Specialized Demo - Leogang 2021
Renthal provides the cockpit with bars cut down to 780mm with a 50mm stem.

Finn Iles Specialized Demo - Leogang 2021
Finn's custom Mudhugger mudguard will be worth its weight in gold this weekend.

Finn Iles Specialized Demo - Leogang 2021


Author Info:
jamessmurthwaite avatar

Member since Nov 14, 2018
1,770 articles

82 Comments
  • 87 6
 So alloy frames are fine for racing at the very top end of gravity mtb by one of the top brands who probably have the largest budget. Tuned up suspension if far more important. Noted Smile
  • 45 46
 Hilarious that carbon was originally intended to be used for racing and then the racers soon found out it was pretty useless for racing and now the mtb industry are stuck trying find reasons to manipulate us into buy cheap Chinese plastic made by children. 4130 for life, tike to rehire some welders. Wink
  • 38 10
 Heavy things roll down mountains faster... Who knew!?
  • 6 38
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Jun 11, 2021 at 5:09) (Below Threshold)
 Mud riding skills are what's really important. Maybe they figured there would be lots of crashes in the mud and didn't want to risk breaking the carbon frame. Smile
  • 44 2
 it's more likely the case that Specialized doesn't see a decent enough ROI for the cost of carbon molds on a category of bike that sees very little sales. They were one of the first brands to do a carbon frame in DH and if they see that it will be worth their time, effort, and money, I am sure they will make a carbon Demo again.
  • 4 1
 @ka-brap: Exactly.... Business case.....Big evil corporate manipulation to sell stuff.....
  • 5 1
 @ka-brap: I'd also say the current shortage of expert carbon builders in China has driven most of the bike brands back to aluminum. A good welder can complete a frame in 2-3 hours, while the carbon layup and curing takes far longer than that.
  • 6 19
flag thenotoriousmic (Jun 11, 2021 at 6:12) (Below Threshold)
 @ka-brap: Yeah there’s no benefits to plastic other than how much they can get away with charging your for it. If there was any performance benefits then their pro’s would demand it but the general consensus from the specialized team is that they prefer the ride quality of aluminium. So if aluminium is stronger, more robust and has a better ride quality then why are they still trying to sell us plastic?
  • 23 2
 @thenotoriousmic: no benefits in DH yes. Benefits in other disciplines of MTB absolutely.
  • 3 10
flag Mondbiker (Jun 11, 2021 at 6:21) (Below Threshold)
 @TheBearDen: Other disciplines means XC? Or do you count gravel as MTB discipline too?
  • 6 2
 @Mondbiker: XC, Endurance, EWS I mean I suppose you could add gravel racing to the mix.
--
And boy I can wait to be told you could do all these on aluminum bike. you are right you could. You could also do a marathon in a pair of shoes you got at your local Walmart.
  • 2 0
 Agreed. Custom tune all day every day. Most important upgrade besides tires.
  • 1 1
 @TheBearDen: Completely agree with you there.
  • 5 1
 @thenotoriousmic: I guess if you just make up your own facts it's easy to create an argument eh? Carbon is by far the stronger material if not compromised. Robust? There are many studies suggesting this is true as well, but empirical evidence suggests otherwise. So I agree that aluminum in more robust. Or at very least, a defect in Al doesn't render the frame useless like with carbon. (dent, gouge etc....)

I'm just playing the devils advocate here. I prefer Al over carbon. In fact I switched back to Al from a carbon bike recently. Keep in mind though, the existence of carbon, will keep the price of Al bikes lower.
  • 4 11
flag thenotoriousmic (Jun 11, 2021 at 7:16) (Below Threshold)
 @Maestroman87: carbon might be stronger than aluminium but it’s hard to make a carbon frames as strong as an aluminium frames due to restrictions to how the carbon is layered into the mould. Alloy and carbon frames are roughly equal in strength and weight for that reason. Quite a lot of the roadie mags go into detail about this, I’ll find you a link so I’m not accused of making stuff up again Wink .
  • 8 0
 @thenotoriousmic: Sorry, man. I'm with you on being a fan of Aluminum but you're talking out of your ass. Please provide a link showing that carbon and Aluminum have the same strength to weight ratio in any metric. Torsional, tension, rigidity..... whichever metric you pick, carbon can be made to be stronger while being lighter.
  • 3 3
 @Maestroman87: "Carbon is by far the stronger material if not compromised." That´s pretty hard to achieve in sports where flying rocks tend to hit parts of the bike (or crashing the bike into pile of rocks is not that rare occurance either) isn´t it?
  • 1 2
 @Mondbiker: I agree 100%. Which is why I stick with Aluminum.
  • 2 0
 @Mondbiker: Actually, abrasion is carbon's worst enemy. Impact resistance can be engineered via the layup, but once any given carbon part starts sliding against any rocks or other abrasive surface, it gets damaged much faster than any metal, for obvious reasons.
  • 2 0
 @southoftheborder: it could be worst enemy just a lot less likely, even though with genius invention of superboost one never knows.
  • 4 0
 @southoftheborder: That's an interesting point, I noticed on my last carbon bike, I almost completely wore through a part of the frame from cable rub. I've also read numerous studies saying that proper carbon layup has greater impact resistance than 6 and 7XXX series Al, but my small sample size bias experience tells me otherwise. Almost every friend I know has cracked there carbon from, usually during a crash with a sturdy impact. Yet none with Al. I'm completely open minded on that topic but the data and experience is very disconnected at this point.
  • 2 0
 All about that sprung/unsprung weight ratio. The higher the ratio, the better your suspension's performance.
  • 1 0
 there's much more to stiffness weight and durability than just a broad material type!
  • 3 4
 @Maestroman87: it’s bullshit marketing. There’s an epidemic of broken carbon right now only last week a friends reserve wheel cracked on a nothing of a drop. Carbon is only strong in certain directions so you have to keep over lapping fibers to handle different loads and its a compromise you can’t ad an infinite amount of fibres because of weight so it’s always going to be in danger of breaking when loaded in a way the designers didn’t account for or cut a corner where aluminium is as strong in every direction so this isn’t an issue also strength is also compromised as in needs to fit current mtb standards hold bearings etc and it’s not just carbon a lot of the tube material is glue and take into account most mountain bikes are made from the lowest quality carbon where with alloy you’re getting high end materials on even the cheapest bikes.
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic:
Agree. Hambini has shown how badly some supposedly high end carbon frames are made,
  • 3 0
 @thenotoriousmic: I suggest watching Santa Cruz test both alloy and carbon bikes to failure. Carbon bikes can easily be double the strength. The issue is most companies are making their bikes too stiff. But again, try an SC carbon frame and tell if if you think their alloy counterpart rides better. For the 4bar link I think alloy works well. It's much easier to have accuracy with FEA analysis, therefore engineering during conception is easier.
  • 1 2
 @jomacba: that’s the fakest video ever. Watch it with headphones in and listen to that frame splintering. That frame was unridable well before it broke completely and go check out the comments before you came at me with that trash.
  • 4 0
 @thenotoriousmic: LOL, calm your tits big guy. I think we're gonna agree to disagree on this one. Speculation is not proof. A comment section is not irrefutable evidence. Your opinion, just as mine is just that... I have seen irrefutable evidence that carbon CAN be done with significant strength to that of a metal counterpart. I say can, because I've also seen many done worse. I am not pro carbon, but facts are facts.
  • 2 0
 @thenotoriousmic: lol no bullshit I've visited the Santa Cruz myself and got to try to break a V10 front triangle and even the biggest guy in the group had a hard time breaking it by smacking it on a concrete bloc! I have video to prove it if you want! We did the same weight drop on headtube but with their new test rig at new factory with more drop height and no fail! They did broke their old rig doind test on the V10.
  • 29 0
 That main pivot is aching to be higher, you can see it in its eyes.
  • 29 5
 Dear Magura, Instead of 3d printing dozens of custom lever blades, just go copy Shimano or SRAM lever blades. All of yours suck. Sincerely, People with human shaped hands
  • 22 0
 I’m curious to see if any Specialized team riders ever start using the new Specialized tires. I’m sure Specialized isn’t a fan of them using blacked out Maxxis.
  • 8 0
 Love that the current silhouette of the demo is a lot closer to the bike from the glory days of the Sam Hill specialized monster team bikes it finally looks like a modern evolution of that bike which always looked pretty wild even though they were common as hell for like 6 -7 years! We just need someone to make a 29er iron horse sunday with a 530mm reach now.
  • 8 0
 Can somenone explain to me, why the Dt Swiss EX471 (25mm internal) is still so popular for DH? Sure it is reliable and light at the same time, but I always wonder, why they are not using the EX511 (30mm), which can be found on a variety of Enduros for EWS rounds. So many Worldcupriders are running Maxxis WT tires, which are optimised for 30mm internal width (at least Maxxis is claiming that).

Honest question! Is ist about the last grams for rotating mass? Is it more precise to get all these insane "sniper-lines" at mach chicken? Are they frequently riding on the outer knobs, that a more rounded profile is a benefit?
  • 7 0
 471 is stronger rim vertically(as narrower rims typically are) and rounder tire profile also feels more supple vs squared profile you get with wider rims.
  • 6 0
 A little bit of this and a little bit of that.
As many wc riders still ride 2.3 tyres that feel "more precise", 25 mm internal is considered enough.
Enduro riders (even the scary-fast ones) tend to deal with longer/multiple stages in a single day and many of them tend to appreciate the "more vague" but forgiving ride of a wider rim/high volume tyre (and reduced tyre pressure) provides
  • 2 3
 I'm convinced that narrower rims have a smaller risk of cutting/pinching the tire on the way down.
World cup downhill racers know how to corner, so they don't need the marginal traction benefits wider rims may provide. Wider rims don't help them get down the hill with air in their tires.
Pro-core or not, your not gonna win with a flat.
  • 2 0
 Stronger, better tyre profile, tyres hold the rim better. I've been running EX471's and the previous narrow DT rims (EX5.1's) for years on all my bikes. Prefect rim in my opinion, especially for racing.
  • 3 0
 So…
They dont „need“ 30mm and therefore dont choose heavier 30mm rims, which would be stiff as the ex471?

That would imply that the whole 30mm „standard“ for gravity is a good amount of marketing?

Thanks for the fast replys. I think its quite an interesting topic.
  • 1 0
 EX471 very strong. That's why I use it too
  • 1 0
 @DerBastian: I think for a normal rider, a more durable rim is worth it. Typically world cup racers might go through a rim per lap! I think specifically Finn is known for being rough on rims as well. I've also read articles where mechanics mention keeping the spoke tension loose for more compliance and ruining rims extremely fast.
  • 1 0
 I'll take an against the grain cut here.
I did a test with a 28, 30, and 35mm rim
Funnily I cut a dh case on a 28 when I haven't cut a dd in 2 years on the 35mm.

I found the 28 to ride harsher than the 35.
I'm willing to bet that top dudes riding 471 do so to stay light while running a cush core......

Also the profile thing sure the unlaiden profile is round.
What happens to both the tire when you put 100,150,180lbs over the rear tire? The tread is flat on the ground wether it's 25mm, 30mm, or 35mm..... ain't round no mo....https://reviews.mtbr.com/tech-why-wider-rims-will-improve-your-ride/wide-rim-drawing
  • 3 0
 @englertracing: Dang dude! If only all the world cup pro's knew what you know...
  • 1 0
 @WheeliemanPDX:
That is described in this part
"they run 471 to stay light with an insert"
Wink

To further elaborate, When an insert is forcing the sidewalls out it doesn't matter as much were the beads are anchored....

I'm sure you know far more than I or any WC mechanics based on your comment tho.

Have a look at the graphic I posted, if you hit a rock with a semi rolled casing your more likely to pinch the bead on the narrow rim.
  • 2 0
 @WheeliemanPDX: ps
You act like nobody has ever won anything on an a 30mm rim... ex511 or fr560
  • 7 1
 I don't understand why Specialized don't turn to more progressive rear suspension, especially with their Stumpjumper line. Cascade seems to have figured out how to do it for them with their custom linkages.
  • 1 0
 You also don't understand what all the engineers know.
  • 10 2
 The perfect timing for the return of @Protour...
  • 9 1
 No high pivot and only 4-bar, this is so 2020...
  • 2 0
 2010
  • 3 8
flag zyoungson (Jun 11, 2021 at 4:01) (Below Threshold)
 Its 6 bar, and the pivot is moved way far forward just incase you missed it.
  • 4 4
 @zyoungson: Too bad you are wrong though, it´s four bar as only pivots that dictate axle path count, not ones that only operate shock.
  • 4 1
 @zyoungson: No it's 4 bar.
  • 6 0
 Hrm, does anyone recognize those tires? They don't look like anything in Specialized's lineup. Must be prototypes? Confused
  • 7 0
 That tire has been around for over decade lol, just don´t look up for it in specialized catalog.
  • 4 1
 @Mondbiker: Yes, that's the joke
  • 3 0
 I wish there was a way to get my hands on those tires without the ugly yellow maxxis logos.
  • 2 0
 The maple leafs are a nice touch. Something about aluminum . Especially raw aluminum . So industrial, looks strong instead of like shiny plastic.
  • 4 1
 Number 13 plate should be placed upsidedown
  • 3 0
 Nah, it's the luckiest number!
  • 3 0
 Ex471's may be the best rims ever made for mtb's...
  • 3 1
 Not sure he will have that Minion on the front in the rain!
  • 1 2
 Meh just swap it for a DHR it'll be fine
  • 2 0
 is that grip-tape on the cranks ?
  • 1 0
 Mudhugger worth approximately 60usd per weight in gold. Assuming he’d place the value higher for this race.
  • 1 0
 Honestly one of the most beautiful bikes on the hill. It's stealthy and not too flashy!
  • 1 0
 you can see the sharpie on those minions. specialized needs to get there shit together in the tire department.
  • 1 0
 Sweet looking ride. Hopefully Finn can keep the right side down this weekend.
  • 1 0
 This bike is so long I thought it was the grim doughnut
  • 1 0
 Does anyone know what brand the bike stand is?
  • 1 0
 O fusion. Oops.. No they are better.
  • 5 8
 @jamessmurthwaite the hc3 lever would be operating the mt7 brake
  • 3 0
 Yeah was going to say this, they are HC3 levers on MT7 brakes
  • 3 0
 Good catch!
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