Review: 2021 Specialized Demo Race - DH Bike Week

Feb 18, 2021
by Dan Roberts  






Way back before the 2019 race season, in what currently seems like a completely different world, the UCI updated the rule book to allow the use of mixed wheels in mountain bike competition.

We’d already had the onset of the 29” wheeled DH bikes on the race circuit and with the new rules it opened up racers to mixing their wheel sizes, often in frames that weren’t designed from the outset to run like that.

We’re now a couple of race seasons on and some brands have now brought out bikes specifically designed to run a mixed wheel setup.
Demo Race Details

Rear wheel travel: 205mm
Fork travel: 200mm
Wheel size: Full 29" or 29" F / 27.5" R
Material: Aluminum
Sizes: S2, S3 & S4 (tested)
Weight: 16.8kg / 37.04lbs (S4, w/o pedals)
Price: €7,999 / $6,800 USD
More info: specialized.com

The 2019 season saw Loïc Bruni achieve success aboard prototype bikes from Specialized, which then went into production bike in the form of the Demo Race shown here. But how does the Demo Race fare for anyone without rainbow stripes?







bigquotesThe Demo is an easy bike to jump on and just go. Something that all the testers commented on. It’s pretty inspiring to see your buddy go full tilt first run with confidence clearly visible in the riding position and commitment levels. Dan Roberts





Specialized Demo Race Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot
The aluminum construction competencies of Specialized are easy to see, with the many intricate forgings encompassing the shock.


Construction and Features

The Demo platform was given quite the revamp a couple of years ago with a drastic move away from the company’s old ideals of low progression and activeness being swept away with the onset of increased progression and combating of load transfer. It actually took me quite by surprise, as it was such a drastic change compared to their previous bikes and it’s something that’s carried through with the Enduro and now their current generations of bikes. Thumbs up Specialized.

The latest Demo Race takes the same layout that the drastically changed bike had in its full 29” guise, with the most noticeable change from afar being that smaller back wheel.

The Demo Race, and the whole Demo platform for that matter, is now a full aluminum construction. But focussing in a bit more, there’s adjustable chips on the Horst pivot that allow this Demo to accommodate either a dual 29" wheel setup, or the 29" front / 27.5" rear configuration.

While that makes for quite the geometry table, it’s also a pretty ambitious move from Specialized, with the difference in outside diameter of the wheels being as much as 40mm in some cases. A DH bike does have more in-built adjustability from the adjustable fork length granted by the dual crowns, but it’s still a lot for a single bike to achieve. The mullet setup, that the bike arrives with, has the chips set in the short position and that setup can also use the middle setting. Full 29” setups can only run the middle and long settings on the chips.

Jumping into more of the details, it’s clear to see that Specialized has been doing bikes for a long time, with lots of the small details being considered and pretty solid. Their frame protection is mostly bolt on, bar some small stick-on bits at either end of the chain stay and on the underside of the seat stay. That chain stay protector design, with its hollow protrusions, doing a fantastic job. It wraps tightly around the chain stay tube and even bolts to the pivot bolt on the chain stay. The down tube protector is a wide-coverage bolt on affair and there’s even an additional stick-on shuttle guard included that also works brilliantly for some bike park lifts.

Specialized Demo Race Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot
The little chips to change the whole bike are the key to adjusting the Demo Race to the various wheel size setups.
Specialized Demo Race Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot
Frame protection is plentiful, well secured, and protects the frame really effectively.

There are however, a few details missing that I didn’t realise how much I’d taken them for granted. It’s now commonplace to see integrated fork bumpers in the downhill frames, more often than not doubling up as the entry for the cables into the frame. But there are none on the Demo and I’d forgotten the woes of wrestling with them on the fork stanchions for fork swaps.

The frame itself is another showing of Specialized’s competencies - aluminum construction. That head tube being only a taster, as the heavily formed tubes in both the front and rear triangles are devoid of any sharp edges that would come into constant contact with the rider’s legs or shoes. And the forgings that go into making the belly of the bike are pretty damn intricate and engineered. It does make for a lot of overlapping frame parts, and the potential for mud collection spaces, but the underside of the bottom bracket does have a big opening to jettison crud as well as it can.

Those intricate forgings around the shock are pretty tight on space to the spring, so it might be worth checking before you change shocks by doing a quick test fit if you can.

Cable routing is internal out of the box, with Specialized using a more formed head tube to offer the cable entries. Cables pop out of the main frame at different points before entering the chain stays. The brake hosing runs on the outside of the frame, with the gear cable wiggling through the links. Interestingly, there are even provisions on the frame for external brake routing, and the small plastic bolt on parts required to accomplish this are included. It’s a nice touch, as without a doubt some people do prefer the practicality of external routing, while others appreciate the looks of internal.

There are a lot of pivots in the suspension layout that the Demo uses, something that we’ll go into later, and maybe this scared Specialized a bit as they went on to make many of them concentric with one another. It does cut down on the amount, and weight, of hardware though and a lovely touch is that each pivot is sealed with some proper lip seals on all the pivot bolts and washers. It’s nice to dismantle a bike to find the grease still there and clean.


Specialized Demo Race Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot
Many of the pivots are concentric, or use the same axis, in an effort to reduce the number, and weight, of the hardware that so many links can impose.
Specialized Demo Race Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot
Cable routing is internal from the factory, but there are provisions for an external brake hose with bolt on guides too.


There’s a big formed plastic fender between the wheel and links that does an amicable job of keeping the debris out of the frame but does favour skinny fingers for adjusting the shock rebound. There are, though, some traps on the frame that open up as the suspension is compressed and can trap pretty big pieces of trail in between the frame parts.

There’s an 83mm threaded BB on the Demo and some interesting choices in frame specification, with the use of a 148mm back wheel and 180mm post mount brake standard. While the narrow rear hub makes sense to reduce the overall width of the bike to slither through tight gaps, while also helping out in the spares department if you happened to own a fairly modern trail or enduro bike, the small brake rotor spec is a bit odd and needs fiddly adapters to get the caliper up to the more common 200mm rotors and now even bigger 220mm offerings.

I’m a huge fan of colour, as long as it’s black. But the Demo’s brushed red paint job certainly became a hit with a lot of testers and people. It’s a subjective point, I know, but it’s a good-looking bike.





Specialized Demo Race Geometry Faded
The Demo Race's geometry table is a big one, please click here for the full table.


Geometry & Sizing

While the new Stumpjumper Evo might have more sizes than you can shake a stick at, the Demo Race is only available in three. Which is a downside for taller people wanting to ride this bike. The S4, which we tested, is the biggest size and limits how many people, whether they're tall or simply prefer long bikes, can jump aboard the Demo Race.

With that adjustment at the Horst pivot, the whole bike geometry is altered resulting in a pretty crowded geometry table. But, Specialized have done a good job to make sure all the labels are on there for every geomtry measurement in each of the four bike settings. Those four coming from two different rear wheel sizes each with a high and low BB position.

It’s good to point out that the geometry table in the user manual and even the one in our First Look of the bike aren’t quite right. So it’s best to use the geometry table above, as this is the most up to date, hot off the press from Specialized.

Compared to the real bike that we 3D scanned, the geometry table is pretty damn spot on. Head angle, reach, stack, chainstay length, almost everything in there all line up within only a couple of millimeters or fractions of a degree. The only major difference we found being the BB drops and heights, which were between 7 and 8mm lower in real life. The culprit being that the 2D drawing specs of tyres are often stating a bigger outside diameter than the real world items. This is a common issue not just unique to Specialized and something to watch out for on many bikes.

That adjustment opportunity is definitely a good point, though. On the one hand it allows riders to exploit it to adapt the bike to rider preferences and terrain changes. On the other, it allows riders with less understanding to experiment and learn about how bike feel changes with geometry adjustments. For sure, some people are in the 'pick one geometry and just run it' camp. But not everyone is, and it’s definitely more in the descending focussed riders that we see that want and desire to adjust and tinker.





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Suspension Design

The four-bar layout of the Demo might seem like six. But those last two links are there to actuate the shock and don’t do anything to define the instant centre, and therefore the anti-squat and anti-rise, of the bike.

There’s a lot of talk from Specialized about the new Demo having a more rearward axle path. And while that is true in comparison to the old bike, with its concentric BB pivot, in comparison to some of the true high pivot bikes out there, one of which we have coming up, it’s more vertical and forwards than anything.

The links on the Demo are pretty damn long and as a result the suspension curves all follow very smoothly changing trajectories. But on a side note, maybe that length caught them by surprise as we saw some early prototypes having tubes overwrapped in carbon fiber to up the stiffness.

With its four possible bike settings, the Demo Race has quite a few suspension curves. We'll be going into much more detail on them in our upcoming Behind the Numbers series, but a quick overview has the Demo with close to 35% leverage ratio progression in all the settings, with starting ratios between 3.43 and 3.48.

There's always over 105% anti-squat at sag, with it staying high or even increasing through the travel and into harder gears. And there's around 53% anti-rise at sag too, with it being fairly constant at that throughout travel.





Specifications
Release Date 2021
Price $6800
Rear Shock RockShox SuperDeluxe Ultimate DH Coil
Fork RockShox Boxxer Ultimate
Cassette SRAM X01 DH, 7s
Crankarms SRAM X01 DH 34T
Chainguide MRP SXg
Bottom Bracket SRAM BSA Dub
Chain SRAM PC 1130
Rear Derailleur SRAM X01 DH
Shifter Pods SRAM X01 DH
Handlebar Roval Traverse SL Carbon 800mm / 6 up / 8 back
Stem Descendant 50mm length / 35mm clamp
Grips Deity Knuckleduster
Brakes SRAM Code RSC, 220 / 200mm rotors
Hubs DT Swiss 350
Spokes DT Swiss Competition
Rim Roval Aluminium
Tires Specialized Butcher BLCK DMND
Seat Specialized Henge DH 130mm
Seatpost Thomson


Specialized Demo Race Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot

There’s a distinct lack of Swedish gold on the Demo Race, with it having the top of the tree from RockShox and SRAM in the form of a Boxxer Ultimate fork, SuperDeluxe Coil shock, SRAM XO1 DH drivetrain and Code RSC brakes, with a 220mm front rotor and a 200mm rear. There’s an MRP full chain guide on there too.

The front wheel is a 28 spoke affair with a Specialized hub and Roval rim while the rear has a 32 spoke count and the same Roval rim, albeit a smaller diameter, laced to a DT Swiss 350 hub. Both 28mm internal width rims were wrapped in Specialized Butcher tires and setup tubeless.

Touchpoints are the Thompson Elite seat post and Specialized saddle that uses a cut-out in the rear to up clearance. A carbon fiber Roval bar, Truvativ stem and Deity grips round out the cockpit.

Our size S4 bike weighed in at 16.8kg or 37.04lbs.

The Demo Race retails for 7,999 EUR or $6,800 USD, which compared to some of the upcoming bikes with a pretty damn similar spec and even more exotic frame materials, is a big chunk more expensive.






Photographer Kifkat Shaperideshoot
RIDING THE
Specialized Demo Race
While you might see a lot of Öhlins in the action photography, we heavily tested the stock RockShox setup, while also using the Demo as one of test bikes for some upcoming suspension product reviews.


Bike Setup

Specialized does have a pretty inclusive manual accompanying the Demo Race, but unfortunately there’s little information on a recommended setup for the bike, especially for the suspension.

The S4 bike we tested came with a 450lbs spring and the Boxxer setup sticker suggested 115psi. Tyre pressures were set to 22psi front and 25psi rear, tubeless with no inserts.

As is quite often the case, a bike’s recommended settings usually err on the softer side of things, and quickly the Demo needed more spring all round. The 450lbs spring was swapped out to a 525lbs and the Boxxer was upped in pressure to 130psi and 3 tokens were installed.

Those initial rides with the stock spring and recommended fork settings returned a lot of traction on account of the low spring rates, but also a lot of chassis movement, which in Champéry and Morgins really doesn’t help when you start to up the speeds with the bike not being supportive and efficient in its travel usage. If you prefer a softer setup then you’ll be OK, but if you prefer something a bit more controlled and composed then upping the spring rates is a good starting point.

Dan Roberts // Technical Editor
Age: 34
Location: Champéry, Switzerland
Height: 188cm (6'2”)
Weight: 75kg (165 lbs)
Industry affiliations / sponsors: Garage Bike Project, former engineer at Scott Sports
Instagram: @le_crusher
Test Locations: Champéry, Morgins, Bex, Dorenaz, Chatel, Morzine & Bernex


It did take a bit more tinkering on the Demo to get it into its happy window of operation. Once a bit more sprung, and with the rebound to suit and the compression dialled in too, the Demo is an easy bike to jump on and just go, something that all the testers commented on. It’s pretty inspiring to see your buddy go full tilt first run with confidence clearly visible in the riding position and commitment levels.

Specialized Demo Race Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot


Performance

The Demo can go really damn fast. But it doesn’t exude that absolute single minded focus on speed that some of the other bikes we tested clearly exhibit. If you ride it up at those speeds you do notice the window for error narrowing ever so slightly. It’s not the drastic difference between say a DH and enduro bike, but it is something that heightens your senses a little and requires you to take just a touch more attention to keep it at its best. Whereas some of the other bikes felt like you could get away with murder at the same speed and commitment, and you often did.

Some of that character is likely down to the geometry of the bike, namely its size. At 188cm, or 6’2”, I wouldn’t want to go any shorter with the reach. Lengthening the chainstay does bring a bit more composure, but be warned that, as recommended by Specialized, the long setting doesn’t really play well in the mullet setup. The BB drops too low and you start to encounter the ground all too often.

Specialized Demo Race Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot

This is a bike that clearly Specialized wanted to be adaptable, and with many a Boost spacing rear wheel floating around the workshop, it was easy to swap the disc and cassette, put the chip in the long setting and fit a 29" rear wheel.

I’m not going to hide the fact that I like 29” wheels, and with them front and rear the balance in feeling will be more in your favour if you’re a wagon wheel fan. Like this, it did feel more like it wanted to crack on and cover ground, which I like. But I could definitely notice the compromise and drop in the outright ability to just yank it round turns with the aggression that a Jack Russel can change direction chasing a tennis ball. The full 29” setup favours a slightly higher in and lean-the-bike style. Horses for courses, but like I said, if you know about this then it’s a tool and if you don’t then it’s a tool to learn by doing. The changes are subtle, but they are definitely there.

The Demo was a brilliant bike to have in the back of the van, ready to go in a variety of tracks be them known or not. That easy to ride character helped out when you didn’t know what was coming up first run, whether that was on man-made tracks with an abundance of jumps or features, or steep and rooty tracks that have you sliding every which way but straight. It’s in that character that the Demo works at its best; not quite at absolute breakneck speed and with a little more messing around as you go down. A manual here, a pull and pop there. It definitely was a more fun bike to ride in that respect on some of the more manicured trails that invite you to play more than get to the bottom as absolutely fast as you can.

Specialized Demo Race Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot

It's a bit odd to say a Jack of all trades, as a DH bike is a niche product, but that’s more of what it is. It can do a bit of everything pretty damn well. You can for sure race this bike without an issue, that is one of its trades. But it somehow lacks that undiluted pointy focus that some of the other bikes have in buckets.

And this is something we might see when we look to Loïc Bruni and his bike setup of the past season. It needed quite some geometry changes to get him to something he was happy with. The use of eccentric BBs and reach adjusting headsets highlighted the shift in lengthening the chain stay and reach while also adjusting the rider’s weight position in the bike to adjust the suspension feel. Along with some custom linkage to adjust the suspension characteristics.

If you’re a fan of a quiet bike, be that for racing focus or just quietness in general, then you might need to take advantage of the external brake routing that the Demo offers. It’s a rattly bike with everything internal and would also benefit from some foam over the gear cable to really shut it up. Starting by quieting the less stiff brake hose is a good start.





Maintenance

The overlapping nature of the Demo’s layout makes working on it a touch harder than some more open bikes. As mentioned, it does mean that as it compresses the space between the chainstay bridge and the lower link opens up and can trap some pretty hefty rocks, before crushing it all back together.

There are hex key interfaces all through the bike with varying sizes (3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm) depending on if it’s a pivot or small protector fixing bolt. All the tool interfaces are solid and there have been no broken bolts, pivots or issues in keeping the Demo running through a pretty damn long season of riding.

Some of the larger-legged testers did however manage to rub the paint off the upper pivot in only a couple of days of dry riding. I’ve got pencil legs and so avoided that problem.

It’s only really the complex and overlapping construction of the Demo that poses the problem. It’s a trap for mud and tricky to really get in and clean. So, the occasional direct blast with a hose helps to clean out the area round the shock. Thankfully the pivots are all sealed and even with some hefty hose pressure the grease from the factory is still there and clean.

There’s also a lot of bearings on the Demo, 20 in total. But Specialized’s user manual for the Demo is good in documenting which ones go where and also complete disassembly and assembly instruction for doing a full bearing change, bolt torque, grease and thread locker specs and also how to do the internal cable routing.





Technical Report

Specialized Demo Race Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot
The RockShox Boxxer Ultimate is a good performer, although it does have some very vivid character traits.
Specialized Demo Race Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot
We struggled with the spec Specialized tires and their thin casing.

RockShox Boxxer: As we’ll touch on with every Boxxer equipped bike in this test, it is a good fork. But it isn’t great. Constantly needing 15 – 25psi higher than recommended and with many more tokens than the bike came specced with. And still, it has the trait of using a lot of the travel a lot of the time, something that needs more natural suspension with your arms to compensate for. It’s also something we could never really fix to a point of not being there and just had to settle on a setup that reduced the dive and activeness to as little as possible.

Specialized Tires: Big gripe. Getting fired off jump take offs at funny angles is not fun. And while ripping tires off in a corner might impress your mates it’s a pain in the arse. The Specialized Butchers might be OK for the lightest and most gentle of riders, since the compound and tread pattern were grippy when you tiptoed around. But heavier and more aggressive riders should swap them out right away for something with a proper DH casing. I ended up switching to Schwalbe Magic Marys or Dirty Dans depending on the conditions and was much, much happier.

Specialized Demo Race Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot
SRAM's X01 drivetrain worked brilliantly throughout the entire test. Only the occasional out-of-sync jockey wheel to report as an issue.
Specialized Demo Race Photo Kifcat Shaperideshoot
Getting the bike setup out of the box was a little less direct with the lack of setup guide.

SRAM X01 Drivetrain: The system worked like a dream throughout the entire test and through a whole range of conditions ranging from that fine dust that makes your whole bike creak to thick and sticky peanut butter. Occasionally the upper jockey wheel would jump out of sync with its narrow wide profile, but that’s the only issue we encountered.

Setup Guide: Some brands do a really spot-on job of helping the buyer get setup on their bike, knowing that a severely bad taste can be left from even the best bikes in the world if not setup properly. There wasn’t really much information from Specialized on where to start and a lot was left to the rider to figure out, which did result in it taking a bit to get comfy on the Demo. With such good examples from the likes of Norco, there should no longer be the situation of leaving the buyer to guess, knowing that your brand's image might be at stake.





Pros

+ Easy to jump on and go character
+ Lots of well thought out details
+ Adjustable geometry and wheel size
Cons

- Sizing is limited for tall people
- Specialized tires limit the bike
- Expensive considering spec and aluminum frame





Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesThe Demo is such an easy bike to just jump on and go in a variety of terrains and moods. That is, after potentially needing some time in dialling in the setup. It’s a good companion to have in the back of the van, ready to pull out and have a blast on at every ride.

While it doesn’t ooze all out speed from every pore it can still go damn fast, and with its built-in adjustability it can mold itself to many a wheel size and rider preference. Just pay attention if you’re particularly tall or prefer lengthy bikes, and that it isn’t the absolute best value out there. But if you’re after a pretty well-rounded DH bike, one that could turn its hand to some racing on while still being a hoot to chuck around the more sculpted trails, then the Demo is a serious contender.
Dan Roberts







171 Comments

  • 176 1
 This bike looks gorgeous, but come on !
€7,999 / $6,800 USD ? With an alloy frame, and now Rock shox components instead of previous Ohlins / Roval aluminium rims , DT 350 instead of 240 ?

I understand you have to pay Bruni and Finn but it hurts ...
  • 48 27
 And Guide brakes? Really?
  • 35 0
 @chakaping: no, Codes.
  • 11 1
 @FloImSchnee: That's strange, the spec list up there has changed now.
  • 17 1
 Predicting: In 2021 expect to watch racers come rattling down the hill on the same clapped out parts they’ve been running since the pre-season.
  • 9 0
 I was able to get the ohlins version, never had rockshox DH suspension but ohlins so far feels amazing.
  • 3 0
 @ripdogg1: poor things....
  • 1 2
 @chakaping: read again bud it has Code RSC
  • 5 1
 they smoked some strong shit with that price for sure
  • 6 0
 Is nobody going to point out the discrepancy between €7,999 / $6,800?

€7,999 = $9670.63
$6,800 = €5624.58

Must be a typo.
  • 1 0
 @Poirot: tariffs? It’s similar with motorcycles in Canada are sorta more affordable than in Murica
  • 13 0
 If you said 20 years ago that DH bikes in the future would have 28 hole rims, you would've been burned at the stake for apostasy, blasphemy and heresy.
  • 2 0
 @streetkvnt-kvlt: Easton Havoc UST 2012 was a DH- wheelset and had 24 spokes. The 12x150mm rear wheel was 28-spoke one. Smile
Still have them, still going strong!
  • 2 0
 @Poirot: Dollars price is exclusive of GST, whereas euro price is inclusive of VAT.
  • 72 1
 I really can't understand the price, in 2020 the full bike was cheaper with full ohlins suspensions, the frameset was 2.5k€ with ttx shock, and was a real good value for money. In one year it has become a too expensive bike
  • 34 3
 That's what you get when they can sell more stuff than they can manufacture and deliver during a global crisis...
  • 1 52
flag Mntneer (Feb 18, 2021 at 6:15) (Below Threshold)
 @Mac1987: global crisis has little to nothing to do with it. All about supply and demand
  • 5 6
 Basic supply vs. demand
  • 37 1
 @Mntneer: isn't the global covid crisis the reason why the industry is lacking in production capacity due to factories put to a stop, and amplified by how much normal people all of a sudden ran away from public transports and re discovered cycling ? That's the word that goes around at my work anyway but you're right it must not be correlated whatsoever ...
  • 19 0
 @Mntneer: the pandemic has greatly affected supply and demand...
  • 2 0
 @Balgaroth: I know in the music equipment world it’s a struggle even to get strings into a shop because of the slow down so I can only assume getting aluminum and components built is difficult for bike manufacturers
  • 7 2
 @pasteque51 The same with Intense. In 2019, the M29 was well lured, then in 2020 a Gwin surcharge was levied and now in 2021 the average price is being taken. At least with the prices for us Europeans.

Frame only incl. VAT:
2019: 2.499€ with RS
2020: 3.499€ with FOX
2021: 2.999€ with FOX

Come on...are we stupid?
  • 1 1
 @Dogsgomoo: of DH bikes!? C'mon..
  • 1 4
 @Balgaroth: demand has depleted supply. Factories in China are working at full capacity.
  • 4 0
 the best deal was the online sale on Specialized's website over Black Friday. Got a brand new 2020 Demo 29 race with the Ohlins for 40% off.
  • 1 0
 @pakleni: of production in the bike factories, they’re much more likely to prioritize higher profit models meaning fewer DH bike produced
  • 32 1
 Anyone also thinks that this bike looks like a giant grasshopper?
  • 7 1
 I see animals in every bike...
  • 49 0
 I like turtles
  • 20 0
 @giantwhip: I love lamp
  • 8 0
 @tgent: brick where'd you get a hand grenade?
  • 5 0
 @giantwhip: can you grout one smooth?
  • 26 0
 All the time we hear/read how Enduro bikes are getting better and better even refering to some of them as mini-DH bike. However this is an article where the difference can be quite big(expecially in room for error area). I would appreciate if at some point pinkbike readers get straight head-to-head battle of several dh bikes and several enduro bikes on differnt tracks( like flow, dh, sigle track). I will be also interested in time attacks between these two types of bike.
  • 8 0
 Another greener US based website had the comparison you are looking for, 4-5 29er enduro bikes mostly finishing within a few seconds of each other over a 2-3 minute DH track, full DH bike was like 6s ahead of the pack. (from memory so numbers might be slightly off)
  • 4 0
 I’m a pretty average rider. Speed difference isn’t huge between enduro and dh bikes most of the time. In the really steep double black scary (again I’m just average rider) stuff I’m more willing to try it blind on the dh bike or to just stay on the main line. For the faster more confident riders, the people on dh bikes tend to put in more laps as it’s not as tiring to let the big bike do more of the work. End of the day on dh bike I am tired but feeling good, on the enduro bike for the same number of laps I’m beat. This is based on Mountain Creek and Thunder, one is rocky af the other is more all around terrain.
  • 2 0
 I’d love to read this article... could you pass on a few more hints please! @Mugen:
  • 1 0
 @CambridgeO: vitalmtb dot com
  • 1 0
 That would be awesome
  • 14 0
 I have(the older one with 29er only wheels) one and I agree with the review. Im also not 100% sold on the Boxxer. The wheels and tires are absolute trash. I might save up some money and try to make it pedalable for the winter. It has an effective seat tube angle of around 78 degrees so it should be ok. I would recommend just buying the frameset.
  • 76 3
 If it doesn't have terrible wheels and tyres, is it even a specialized?!
  • 13 1
 I have an '18 Alu Enduro. Wheels and especially the rear hub were garbage. Front eventually got turned into a pretzel and rear hub chewed bearings. Who runs a 24 spoke front and 28 rear on an enduro bike? Butchers were rubbish run soft and bouncy run hard - and the sidewalls just fail. Exo casing Maxxis is tougher than Grid.
  • 3 1
 @headshot: Yeah I've got a 2019 one, at least the latest bikes aren't straight pull spokes anymore.
  • 4 1
 Yup. Have this version. Needs Fox suspension and new wheels/tires and good to go. Lol. Buy the frame I guess.
  • 1 0
 @headshot: at least new t7 and t9 looks good, most of the reviewers likes them hopefully we will going to see more bikes comes standart with them
  • 1 0
 I got the last of the S3 2020 Demo 29 Expert's. Kind of guessed I'd have to buy Maxxis to get down. After a single day at Windrock I spent so much time walking down.

If you buy this bike, just add DH tires to your purchase order from any other brand. I was reminded of the old days of 26" DH bikes BEFORE tubeless technology. They would ship with XC weight tires and tubes just to get the weight numbers to read less than 42lbs.

You just had to have DH tires and DH tubes waiting.
  • 1 0
 I like the idea of making it pedalable. At 16.8kg in a large aluminium with a coil shock the frame must be about the same weight as a lot of enduro frames if not lighter. I know everyone loves their enduro bikes but there’s still a gap vs a dual crown dh bike.
  • 1 0
 @Altron5000: my '17 alu enduro weighs 16.5, so demo is pretty damn light
  • 1 0
 @Noeserd: That.s heavy - my XL '18 27.5 is 15.25 with Exo tyres though.
  • 1 0
 @headshot: my wheels and tyres weighs around 4.6 4.7 i think
  • 1 0
 @Noeserd: Pretty sure my alloy 14 Enduro weighs 13.7kg. Small wheels are light!
  • 1 0
 @ChazzMichaelMichaels: smaller wheels don’t go over obstacles as easy as bigger wheels. But yeah, 29ers are too damn big and heavy in my view. 27.5 ftw!
  • 1 0
 @ChazzMichaelMichaels: mines aren't the biggest either, 27.5 Big Grin
  • 15 1
 Me walking into a bike shop. "Hi, I like a demo".
Shop Grom: "Certainly sir, which bike would you like to try?"
Me: Errr, I want a Demo"
Grom: "I know... sir... which of our bikes would you like to try out?"
Me: *Sigh*
  • 34 0
 'No a specialised demo...'
'We have disability bikes, monkey bikes, unicycles?'
  • 36 1
 @pbuser2299: "This one has a degree in medeival poetry of Britain"

"That is pretty specialised"
  • 10 0
 1,199 Euro more, in just the numbers, when the Euro has approx a 20% higher value?

Is there some sort of massive tax on a US branded bike, to create this discrepancy? It sure as hell can't be justified with freight costs.

I've noticed the same sort of significant 'upcharge' on many parts as well . It's a puzzler, that's for sure .
  • 5 0
 US-Prices are without tax. European price is with tax. (20% in Austria, for instance)

But still, there is usually a drastic upcharge for US-Bikes in Europe...
  • 12 0
 the main problem seems to be that people keep on buying it whatever the price is ... Just go to Morzine or Switzerland on summer, you barely see a bike that is more than 2 years old
  • 1 0
 @jpnbrider: Thats true, when you compare the bikes of the joeys in switzerland ( Davos is insane) and lac blanc the difference is insane
  • 3 2
 @jpnbrider: Fool's and their money are easily parted.
  • 11 0
 It really comes specced with the BlkDmnd tires? Wow those things are atrocious at best. I would hope for a $7k alloy bike you'd at least get the flashy new T9 rubbers.
  • 2 0
 Indeed. Terrible tires. 3 punctures on the first day. with maxxis or schwalbe or even kenda I never had a puncture...
  • 4 3
 Everyone trashes them but as a back tire theyre not bad. Traction on the sides is in between a dhr ii and a high roller ii
  • 1 0
 I got a 2020 demo expert and I put 4 holes in the rear tire. Its an OK trail tire with durability issues. Don't know why it was ever on a downhill bike.
  • 2 0
 @howejohn: My experience resembles yours. I spent too much time walking or slow rolling down the shuttle road at Windrock before I bought a rear DHR II.

The difference was ridiculous. It literally felt like I had changed the suspension and every other thing on the bike to some massive upgrade. It's crazy too because when Wyatt left Maxxis and went to Speshy, they had almost identical performance and reliability. He's been gone for several years and since then someone at Specialized has just steered their tire division into a muddy ditch at 3am in Louisiana.

Whoever tows their tire division out of that ditch is facing some serious damage control repairs. They're wrecked!!!.
  • 9 1
 I had the 2020 full 29 version demo last season- My experience with the ride quality completely agrees with this review. The Demo was very easy to ride right away and rode like a very capable Enduro bike. Which, at times is cool - but at super high speed it demanded a lot of the rider to get the most out. I can only imagine that the mullet version would be even more a handful as I found the full 29er to be the most nimble DH bike I have ever been on.

When I'm a DH sled I want a bike that makes me feel more capable then I would ever dare to be on an Enduro bike. That's not something I got from the Demo. You have be on your game to push at all times.

Was a frame up build so I can't comment on the components. What I can say is the fit and finish of the frame was avg at best which I was both surprised and disappointed by.

The frame hardware was too soft and delicate for DH bike and I had many issues with stripped threads both at the shock mounts and BB area. (Was built and serviced by Pro Mechanic) Specialized ended up warrantying the frame and shock which took a bit of time but they did cover everything in the end.

The stock Ohlins TTX was disappointing. I was bottoming the recommending spring rate on green trails and ended up having to go up 2 rates (heaviest spring I've ever run) to get the bottom out resistance I needed. It just seemed like that shock had no compression valving. It would just blow through. Considering the frame has over 30% progression I was pretty surprised how fast it used it's travel.

Ended up replacing the TTX with a DVO Jade and the rear end of the bike was transformed. Was able to go down 25lbs in spring rate and never hit the bottom. Plus, I had legit HSC compression adjustment instead of the 3 position setup on the ohlins shock which I simply don't understand for such a high end product.
  • 1 0
 What size DVO did you put on there? The metric to imperial thing is so confusing to me...
  • 1 0
 @MikeyMT: 225x75
  • 8 0
 On the shock point > it just does not fit thé 2021 Fox shocks because the rebound adjuster hits the linkage. I’ve had to get the linkage ground down slightly to fit. Pretty poor piece of design.
  • 9 0
 We need S5!
  • 2 1
 And an S6. Downhill bike geo really needs to catch up with the latest generation of enduro bikes. The largest size on this is equivalent to a S3 Specialized Enduro.
  • 3 0
 Yes but geo on a dh bike is very different because it’s only ridden pointes down. @willstevenson100:
  • 1 0
 @freeridejerk888: As an example the longest reach on the Canyon Sender is 510mm, this only goes to 465mm.
  • 1 0
 Yes that’s true but on a trail bike I like 470 but a dh ridge 440 feel perfect @willstevenson100:
  • 1 0
 @freeridejerk888: I've recently got a new enduro bike with reach of 515mm which as I'm 6ft3 feels awesome. Now my dh bike with reach of 460mm feels too small so when the time comes to upgrade, a Demo would not fit the bill for me.
  • 1 0
 Guess it more depends on the riding style. The demo fits my need to pop off stuff. I was on a large m29 5 ft 10ish and 440 reach and the s3 at 441 should feel at home. I’m also on a large Bronson and feel perfect at home on that but a slightly smaller dh bike feels better for jumps @willstevenson100:
  • 4 0
 Built frame up last season with fox 40, gx DH group, code rsc, Öhlins rear, DT FR560/I9 wheel set for less than $6800. Was able to pick up everything in the off-season for a decent discount, but it is an awesome bike definitely going to put many seasons on this one. As for the cable noise I called specialized for a set of “churros” (little foam tubes) and sent them out free of charge and now it is near silent. Only hear the slight zip of my I9 hub.
  • 5 0
 i get what you're saying about suspension set up guides, but chances are if you're buying a 5k+ dh bike you probably know how you like it ?
  • 2 0
 Interesting that you found the demo to not be as capable at speed as the other bikes you're testing. Would be curious to know if there's still a huge difference between specialized enduro and this. If the capabilities are close enough, it could be beneficial to some riders who are considering the demo, to get the enduro and "beef it up" so to speak by adding a longer fork and mulleting it. Of course, if your plan on racing DH and only ride park, a DH bike makes sense, but if it takes so much tuning to get this bike to feel good at speed (shown by how much Bruni has had to change on his bike) would it make more sense to get a "better" or "more capable" DH bike than this?
  • 2 0
 I was actually thinking about doing this, An enduro frame with 27.5 wheels and a dual crown. Ended up just going with a demo though. I just prefer 27.5 wheels on a Dh bike.
  • 3 0
 I have both of the bikes, and to me there is a very significant difference on the same trails. The Enduro is super capable for a bike you can pedal up, but nothing is the same as a full on DH rig for lift accessed trails.
  • 2 0
 I have both and there is a big difference in feel. The Demo is snappier and rides higher. I am not sure how close a mullet Enduro could feel but it is already a beefy bike/I would not make it beefier, that would make it a bad trail bike.
  • 5 0
 Dude, don't kid yourself than the enduro is anywhere close to Demo. Downhill bikes remain on another level. If you ride flatter, less aggressive trails than yeah and Enduro is faster, but when it comes to taming the gnar it is black and white.
  • 8 2
 20 bearings! Wonder how it would hold up to Scottish mud.
  • 4 0
 They're all very nicely sealed away with lip seals on the pivot bolts. They kind of needed so many with all the links. Pretty sure the Scottish mud would find its way into all the nooks and crannies though!
  • 2 0
 I think my 2009 vintage demo packs around 26 bearings its been ridden pretty regularly and has only had 2 bearing changes since new. So if its anything like mines pretty well is the answer
  • 5 0
 We want to see the Santa Cruz V10 MX review, 2021 Gambler Tuned, maybe something less mainstream too, Nicolai?
  • 7 3
 How come we ALL want (badly) at least one of these bikes even though nobody really needs one?
  • 7 0
 I needed one and now I have this bike. Great bike overall
  • 3 0
 If you don't care about pedalling then a DH makes more sense than an enduro bike.
  • 7 0
 No one NEEDS a mountain bike. If commuters are crossovers, mountain bikes are sports cars. I don't NEED a Dodge Viper but I sure as hell want one.
  • 5 0
 these reviews have been the highlight of PB articles this week!
  • 1 0
 @dan-roberts I'm curious how you calculated the spring rate or was it sort of just try a stiffer spring and see what happens? I'm 205lbs so based on your review I'm assuming the 450lb stock spring isn't even going to come close. Any thoughts on what spring rate I should look at?
  • 2 0
 Lol just for perspective I was running a 400lb spring at 145lbs. I'm also curious to see how Dan could calculate.

My guess is you will be up in the 600+ lb range
  • 2 0
 I'm 190lbs and I run 450, did bottom out but never felt any harshness, I'm on the super deluxe though. Also it rides a bit higher than I liked, thinking about going for 425-490 progressive spring.
  • 1 0
 Spesh told me 502 for a 210 lbs so I got the 500. Let’s see in a few months how it is
  • 2 0
 Initially had a couple of stiffer springs to hand to try and also measure sag. But once we'd 3D scanned the bikes and had the accurate leverage ratio, I could calculated that with the 525lbs spring I'd get 21% sag, which lines up with the real world.

I've also had some experience with developing and riding bikes with very similar amounts of progression and leverage ratios, so knew that I probably would need to go higher in spring rate. But I thought to give the stock setting a try just to be complete with the testing.

If you'd like to run a little less sag, like I did at 21%, you'd need around a 625lbs spring. But the sag amount would also depend on your terrain, riding style and preferences.
  • 1 0
 I'm 185 lbs and running a 550 lbs spring on my 2021 Demo and sag is 22%. The factory suggestions for this bike seem bogus. I personally tried 50 lbs increments starting with a 400 lbs spring before riding felt right at the 550 lbs. I rode all season at Snow Summit's jumplines for trail/riding type reference.
  • 1 0
 I am 145lb and run a Ohlins with a 450-520 raceonlysprings on the demo29 and it is perfect! these bikes really benefit from the raceonlysprings
  • 1 0
 @dan-roberts: hey Dan. I appreciate the review and comments brotha! Im curious how you ended up with 21% sag on a DH rig. I think most companies will recommend somewhere between 28-33%. My commencal supreme for instance has a recc'd sag on 28%. TF tuned calculates a firm DH setup at 28 % as well. With the four bar linkage, TF tuned says I should run a 350 # spring at my riding weight of 165#. I found this to be about true on the demo in real life. I think i got 27% at 350.

I was wondering if you are running the higher spring rate because of your knowledge of the leverage ratio or if it is personal preference, overall bike feel, or something else. I know that a lot of bike setup is subjective but should I be re-considering a baseline setup of 27-28% on my DH bikes?

Sincerely, someone who honestly wants to know because maybe this would help me go faster.
  • 9 5
 Looks like a Canyon Sender
  • 2 0
 The suspension is near identical for sure
  • 4 0
 The red of the Boxxer and the red of the frame don't match!! how annoying.
  • 1 0
 The m29 did it 1st!
  • 3 0
 Demo used to be the bike for everyone but now it seems like if you have deep enough wallets...
  • 5 1
 The hobby/sport is moving in that direction. Sadly.
  • 3 0
 Wait, you guys didn't test these bikes with control tires? On bikes that easily reach the limits of grip, of any tire?!
  • 3 0
 Are their complaints about the boxxer a pretty common gripe among riders?I have never heard of this
  • 1 0
 Some people prefer the feeling of boxxer over fox. To me the boxxer just go through first 2/3 of stroke too fast and doesn't do much damping for that.
  • 2 0
 @knightmarerider: I'm intrigued on this as well since the Zeb and Lyrik have the same damper and are great forks or does the boxxer not have the new charger cartridge?
  • 2 0
 @azdog: Could be the spring that's not supportive enough mid stroke, it's the same charger 2.1 damper, that's why I'm waiting on the kit to convert the spring to 3 chambers like ohlins and manitou.
  • 2 0
 Would be interesting to drop a coil in there and see whether the lack of support is coming from the air spring or damper.
  • 1 0
 @azdog: my guess would be that for an extra 20-30mm in travel from the Boxxer to the Zeb there is another 120-130mm of air chamber (stanchion between the lower and upper crown) this increased air volume leads to a more linear stroke, hence the reported blast through the travel and the need for a lot more tokens.
  • 6 1
 DH bike week is the best
  • 1 1
 Gotta be frustrating to spend that kind of $$ on a complete bike, then have to buy additional pieces to get a functional suspension setup and basically scrap the wheels & tires to something more appropriate. If you bought a high end motorcycle and had to do the same thing it would be a death knell for that manufacturer.. it's fun to tinker and adjust to preference but not because it's necessary for expected performance. BTW, what happened to the "wider is better" rim width movement?
  • 4 0
 “The Demo is the do it all bike”
I think I found my new XC bike
  • 1 0
 That line about the prospect of rocks getting caught and cronched in the frame makes me kinda nervous. This is an expensive bike, and rocks aren't exactly rare to come across.
  • 1 0
 Regarding Bruni + gangs adjustment to his race bike geometry.; I believe the BB and reach changes resulted in only a longer CS, with the reach staying similar to production. Correct me if I am wrong.
  • 8 8
 Why should an aluminum frame not be expensive? There's no justification nowadays that a carbon frame is expensive but that's never complained about its just accepted. Should work both ways.
  • 3 2
 Because this aluminum frame is quite heavy.
  • 2 1
 @hmstuna: Actually they are not. If you have two equivalent specced bikes by same manufacturer, one aluminum and one plastic the plastic one would be about a 1 lb lighter. Which you wouldn't notice.
  • 2 1
 @MattP76: What? You are wrong on several counts. Carbon does not necessarily save you a pound over aluminum. It could save you nothing, there are carbon bikes out there that weigh more than similarly specced aluminum bikes. On the other hand there are carbon bikes that save pounds over aluminum. Compare the Trek Session to this bike. Similar part spec. The Demo has a coil, but the Session has dh casing tires so it about cancels out. That bike is 4lbs lighter.

The aluminum frame on this bike is on the heavier side compared to other bikes - even aluminum ones and that is why it seems overpriced.

Also I can definitely notice a pound of bike weight especially if I ride two bikes back to back. It doesn't make a difference in how fast I can ride but I can notice.
  • 2 0
 @hmstuna: You seriously notice a 1lb difference in a bike? Blimey you must feel well and truly weighed down just before you take a dump!
  • 2 0
 @MattP7: Are you not able to tell how full a milk jug is by lifting it? It is much easier to tell how heavy something is that is not yourself. That being said I can tell within a couple pounds how heavy I am when I do pull ups or hspus. Generally my weight fluctuation is from hydration and food not bowel movements.

This wasn't even the main point I was making - that this is a heavy aluminum frame and not worth lightweight frame prices.
  • 2 1
 @hmstuna: but it will outlast any pasticy carbon frame any day. Worthy of that investment
  • 2 1
 @MattP7: I get that you hate carbon, but aluminum is not necessarily better. The engineering and manufacturing of a material are the determining factors to things like durability or weight. I bet if specialized made a carbon frame as heavy as this one it would last just as long.
  • 3 1
 In the all important aesthetics dept, the Cube is still in the lead on this weeks reviews for me.
  • 3 2
 Pinkbike how in the world did you miss the weight on this. The expert build is 41 POUNDS! Also this bike is a maintence NIGHTMARE. 22 bearings?
  • 6 0
 Weight on a downhill bike = makes you faster?
  • 2 2
 41 lbs on a modern day dh rig is f*cked. Commencal supreme e doesn’t even weigh close to that much with same build kit. There’s such thing as too much and this is it. Ps the build I’m talking about had codes a boxxer and a super deluxe. Imagine when you start swapping out to fox parts or Shimano. @ryan77777:
  • 2 0
 @freeridejerk888: It's heavy, but at least the frame is solid and strong, without the flexible areas some DH bikes have, like the Canyon they reviewed the other day. Specialized pivots also hold up well in my experience.
  • 1 0
 I hope so. I just got one so we’ll see how it lasts. Looks super solid but with so many links I have my doubts. It was also the only dh frame I could get @DoubleCrownAddict:
  • 1 0
 $6800 for an alloy DH bike? For over $1000 less you can get a Commencal Supreme DH or Furious with as good of a spec if not better.
  • 2 0
 I prefer a more balanced DH bike, one that can corner as well as go fast. Looks like Spec. has done a good job!
  • 3 0
 Super comprehensive review
  • 1 0
 The largest size has a 460mm reach. That puts it equal to the medium canyon sender. I wonder if they're gonna make any larger frames?
  • 1 0
 Is it just me or do they use kind of the same philosophy for the kinematic as Knolly does?
  • 2 0
 Epic XC with rim 29mm and Demo DH with rim 28mm???
  • 2 1
 So the question is, Dorado on the new Enduro, or Mezzer on the Demo (insert your fork brand of choice).
  • 1 0
 @dan-roberts Wouldn't mind home swapping with you Dan! is that Dent du Midi in background the first pic?
  • 2 0
 Just poking through the clouds, yeah. Champery is a belter of a place.
  • 1 0
 @dan-roberts: Seems like you're making the most of it.
  • 1 0
 IMO the new Demo is not as visually impressive as the one it replaces and therefore seems like a downgrade.
  • 1 0
 Anyone know why the XO1 DH rear derailleurs jockey wheels get out of sync? Happens a lot.
  • 1 0
 Shame there is no S5 size. I demoed a 2020 demo but at 6'1" the largest size still feels so short...
  • 1 0
 "- Expensive considering spec and aluminum frame"

like every specialized bikes, isn't it ?
  • 2 0
 It’s no hyper DH rig
  • 1 0
 Reach numbers are too short! Need an S5 and S6!
  • 2 1
 No control tires on these bikes?! Pointless do these tests/reviews.
  • 1 0
 An amicable job encompassing many directions. Jump on and get fired!
  • 1 0
 should I buy sender cfr or this
  • 1 0
 Only bike left instock.... Better get three!
  • 1 0
 Palmers DH bike was specialized’s peak.
  • 1 1
 Looks like an Enduro bike
  • 1 1
 7000 USD for a DH rig that comes with a 28 spoke rim?
  • 1 0
 Needs a swat box.
  • 2 3
 ...it looks like a hastily put together prototype!?
  • 1 3
 Routing for rear brake caliper is Epic.
  • 4 6
 wow a really over priced banshee legend from 10 years ago
  • 4 0
 Imagine looking at the geo and suspension designs then saying that
  • 1 0
 @freeridejerk888:
it looks like the banshee all day i had one its crazy put a photo side by side geo is most def different but same frame an suspension set up
  • 1 0
 @ADKryder: its a different suspension system........
  • 1 0
 @pablo-b:
No it's not
Almost the same
More modern but almost a copy of the banshee
Specialized would sue the shit out of other bike brands for copyright all the time they suck over priced crap I know because I've had 3 of them
  • 1 0
 @ADKryder: Ok. Think whatever you want...
  • 1 3
 It’s to small !!!!!!!!!
  • 2 4
 Looks like a Sender ...
  • 1 3
 Looks like a Session...
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