It looks like Finn Iles will be racing the Lenzerheide DH World Cup on a prototype frame that's strikingly different from the current Specialized Demo. The bike first broke cover at Crankworx Innsbruck, but it was kept hidden well enough that clear photos were difficult to come by. Even now, the guts of the new machine are under wraps, which means that it's still not possible to say for sure what lies underneath that neoprene shroud, opening the doors for all sorts of speculation.
What is visible is a lugged carbon frame that's bristling with data acquisition equipment, a similar construction method to what Atherton Bikes are using, although there's no guarantee that the production version will look anything like this. Specialized have their own in-house carbon layup facility and machine shop, which means it's possible they went this route in order to try different geometry configurations without needing to create multiple carbon molds.
The shock looks to be tucked as low in the frame as possible, and the machined chainstays are extremely thick, with just a few millimeters of room between the chain and the chainslap protector. How that shock is actuated is still unknown – there are bearings on the chainstays, but despite my best zooming and enhancing attempts I'm still scratching my head as to the specifics of the design. The seatube is positioned pretty far forward of the bottom bracket, and I wouldn't be surprised if thres a split in that tube for the shock to pass through, occupying a similar position to the current Demo.
For now, we'll just have to see how Finn fares on his new ride this weekend and wait until Specialized are willing to take the mask of the new downhill machine.