Its time for another one of those posts that bike lovers mildly enjoy and non-cyclists struggle to stop their eyes from glazing over faster than a creme brûlée under a jet engine. Its Gear Rant time and more than a bit predictably, its about this crazy beast here – The Specialized S Works Demo 8 Carbon:
When I introduced the Dirty Demo, it was fresh post pick up and with zero KM’s on its clock, so totally a theoretical exercise in terms of ranting about it. Yes, I was able to wax on and off about its sweet lines, quality construction and overall bad assness, but it was all still conceptual. Well, #R14QT changed all that.
Its fair to say that I was a little hesitant about this bike given my last test ride on one of these at Whistler was rather underwhelming. However, contextually that was a flogged out rental with Fox/Boxxer suspension that had been banged harder than a Scot in a pace line, so probably not a good reference point. Its also fair to say that I was sceptical of going back to the Big S, but its hard to deny the popularity of this bike.
I’m aware that my reviews/rants are always a little one sided in terms of leaning heavily towards glowing reports of whichever product is being targeted. So, you can assume that I either buy good shit or am just rubbish when it comes to impartial reviews… The truth being somewhere in the middle I suspect. So, I will do my best to remain balanced as I rave like a crack fuelled trader in the Spearmint Rhino below. Main caveat is this was my first full DH bike and not some weird experimental hybrid:
What’s fucking awesome about this bike
- Its nimble – You need to rewire your brain with this bike… Its more nimble that I could have ever thought possible. It can change direction faster than a crazy girlfriend and every time I got a line wrong or entered a series of berms mixed up in qTown and was able to flick it back in a different direction, it blew my mind. I had to constantly reeducate my mind on what was possible
- Its silent – I can’t recall having an MTB as quiet as the Demo Carbon. Yes, the Carbon frame takes away a lot of the noise, but this thing is full stealth on the trails and its a beautiful thing to experience. No rattling, no pings, just going full gas straight forward
- Its playful – Perhaps not a tick in the box if you’re a racer, but for the rest of us looking to shuttle, shred and generally have fun on it you’ll be relieved to know that this thing is more playful than Mrs Cavendish. You can flick it, pop it, jump it and have a rad time on stuff that will usually make you shit your pants with ease. Warning – It make even make your trail bike feel like a sloth
- The trail is rough? – This is where the raving about the Ohlins rear shock starts… I have never ridden a rear shock like this. Yes, I know I said the same thing about the CCDB Air on the Nomad, but this thing is next level by a long way. Technically I can’t tell you how this thing works, but only 0.01% of the population give a fuck or get that (Herr Doktor being at the front of the queue), the only thing the rest of us needs to know is that this shock and therefore bike is going to manage pretty much any terrain you’re capable of riding, look at you and say “Fuck, is that it? You don’t want me to deal with more?”. Its engineering genius by the Swede’s and every bike should come with one of these – People would be infinitely happier if that were the case. The bike just eats up the rough stuff and eggs you on to go faster than you want, mainly thanks to this:
Buyer beware… Sort of:
- Its fast – Yes, this is an odd negative, but what I am getting at here is that the bike is probably going to be a lot more capable than most people that swing a leg over it. Again, like a crazy GF, its going to make you do things you may not want to do, which can be a good thing but can also end in tears. After all, this is the first bike I have ever had where the Shimano Saints were under the pump to slow it down at times, which felt weird. Be ready for the relationship this thing is going to get you into…
- Check them bolts – Its not the most straightforward rear end here, with more than a few bolts keeping that FSR rear end together. My advice is to check them after day 2 on your first trip, tighten that shit up and again towards the end of the trip.
- That rear shock – The negative here is that its SO good chances are you will need a new fork. Yes, this is the problem… I love my 888, but it couldn’t really keep up with the Ohlins. If you are really into your suspension tinkering then this may drive you nuts, so I suggest investing in the best fork your budget can stretch to in order to match this Super Swede rear shock
So, basically its crazy fast, awesome to ride and beautiful looking… A quick look at my other reviews will probably make you go “That’s what you always say cunt”, but there is a point in that. High end bikes are now generally all pretty well sorted, especially when you are buying something like a Demo. Its had multiple updates and design iterations, not to mention years of testing, so you can be confident that its going to be sweet out of the box. Warranty back up is full gas from the Big S and of course, being the ubiquitous Park Bike, spares are in abundance should you need them on a trip. Its not an accident this bike is so popular in the gravity world. Some final buying tips if you are on the fence:
- Saint vs Zee – I have an OCD about always buying the top end kit. So, I of course wanted Saint for this bike. However, now that I am on Team Hobo, Zee it was. Did I notice any difference at all? None… Save some cash, get Zee. Except for the brakes!
- Alu vs Carbon – Hmmm… tougher argument here. If you’re using this bike a few times a year, then I would say save the cash and get the Alu. I of course ignored that and got the carbon as its SO fucking cool. If you’e riding a lot (4 trips per annum or a month in Whistler) then get the Carbon is my advice. The benefits outweigh the downsides and the warranty will cover you. Either way make sure that you have the Ohlins shock no matter what you do
- Demo vs Boutique – I had my heart and soul set on a Santa Cruz V10c. Dream bike, had to have it. Turns out my heart and soul must be tiny or irrelevant as I couldn’t say no to the Carbon Demo. Do I regret it? Not in the slightest. Sure, they are not unique, but this bike is so well sorted and easy to set up that you can just get on with having fun without any worries. If you want to go boutique then you may be paying more for something that is painful to set up and again, won’t reach its limits unless you are in that small population that can really push a full DH bike to its limits. And, fuck me if it doesn’t look awesome with a set of Mavic DeeMax wheels on it!
- Deals will be coming – Rumour has it the new 27.5 cunt wheel size Demo is on the way… Which means the 26 inch wheeled ones will be on special. Viva la Resistance, grab one and go and have a shit load of fun instead of letting the bike industry fuck your brain with the latest way to get people to buy basically what they have with a slight variation.
Finally… It does look awesome in the wild… Strap on some Maxxis Minions and get busy with the good times: