2015 Specialized Carbon Demo: Details

Words Cam McRae
Photos Pete Roggeman
Date Aug 13, 2014

Yesterday we featured a sneak preview of the 2015 Specialized Carbon Demo as seen through Kaz’s lens. Today we are allowed to talk about the bike and have all the info, specs and details.

Everyone knows the Demo is a hucker’s bike. Sure it’s plush and it can take a hit but it isn’t fast. Except when it’s winning races. Sam Hill missed the entire World Cup season in 2010 and he was only fit in time to race World Champ’s at Mont Ste. Anne. Which he won. On the outgoing demo. Troy Brosnan won two Junior World Championships and a Junior World Cup overall on the previous Demo and was leading the series this year, albeit with 650b wheels, until he was eclipsed by Josh Bryceland last weekend. Aaron Gwin won on the previous bike as well (despite choosing the Enduro Evo 29er for some races and his rumoured dissatisfaction with the bike).

Specialized Carbon Demo 104

Troy Brsonan’s Monster Green Demo. Why did Specialized build the new Demo with a one-sided seat mast? Because they could. Using carbon allowed ample strength from just one member while reducing weight, improving access to the shock and allowing the use of virtually any 9.5″ x 3″ shock.

Specialized had to have known they had an image problem so they went shopping, buying 12 competitors’ bikes. They grabbed bikes from all the big players but also a few smaller brands like Zerode and Evil. After analyzing axle paths, sniffing, measuring, dissecting and riding the bikes thoroughly, Specialized came to the conclusion that the Demo platform was as strong or stronger than the others. When the project began everything was on the table and engineer Jason Chamberlain was keen to build something completely different, but in the end he realized the way forward was to continue the Demo’s evolutionary path. It would still be a Demo but they would be shooting for the next level.

Previously Specialized engineered link plates to be made from aluminum but this version started life with carbon in mind.

Previously Specialized engineered link plates to be made from aluminum, but this version started life with carbon in mind for optimized weight and stiffness.

Jason’s first step was to figure out how to lower the centre of gravity. When your COG gets closer to the ground your fork is pushed from a vector that makes it less likely to pitch forward when you hit something. Impact intensity is reduced and speed is increased. Cornering also improves when weight is lowered.

Specialized Carbon Demo 106

Troy and his size medium Demo currently sit in second place overall in the World Cup Overall, just ahead of Aaron Gwin.

Jason took the original demo and lowered every pivot by 3 inches and then reverse engineered the bike from there. The main pivot is now concentric with the bottom bracket and the seatstay pivot hangs well below the derailleur hanger. Previous versions of the Demo had an arch over the rear wheel connecting the upper stays, but a new square-ended rear axle adds enough stiffness to make that unnecessary.

Specialized Carbon Demo 107

The frame even looks good when the shock is removed.

Chamberlain also realized that, working with carbon, there was no need to have the seat supported by two members, and the righty was born. The unenclosed shock gives the bike a space age look but it also shaves weight and gives great access for changes or repairs. Unlike previous Demos, a proprietary yoke isn’t required to mount the shock so just about any 9.5” x 3” unit will now fit. The opening faces the drive side because most upcoming shocks from Rock Shox and Fox have controls that are accessed from the left when they are mounted with the reservoir up.

Specialized Carbon Demo 108

Hardware for the concentric main pivot. Proprietary bearings are press fit into the frame and the axle slides in and is secured by the black splined lockring (which can be tightened on the trail if necessary with the splined axle lock). Also shown is the square-ended 12mm axle. BB 30 bearings mount directly into this mechanism. Plastic cups are unnecessary because machining keeps the tolerances in check.

Aaron Gwin has been deeply involved with the development process, taking part in test sessions every three weeks during the off season. Brad Benedict, a former DH pro who now works as a liaison between Specialized athletes and engineers, rips test runs with Gwinner to measure how changes affect times. Benedict, who says he’s faster now than when he raced full time, is less than half a second behind Aaron on their 50 second test segment. Brad and Aaron start with one pedal stroke and then ride chainless-style on their test tracks to remove variables and make results repeatable.

Specialized Carbon Demo 109

The Öhlins rear shock is stock for both models. Öhlins makes springs available in 24 lb increments. Twin tube technology separates the rebound and compression circuits.

Both complete bikes come with an Öhlins TTX rear shock that has been tailored to the Demo. Adjustments, high and low speed compression and just one rebound dial, are kept to a minimum but springs come in 24lb increments.The shock uses Öhlins’ patented twin tube technology which separates compression and rebound. Brad Benedict’s personal bike had a Boxxer with an anodized top cap that matched the colour of the Öhlins shock perfectly – but we couldn’t get anybody to talk about that. For more on the Öhlins shock click here. 

Specialized Carbon Demo 110

The shock is offset toward the non-drive side to keep things sleek. If it was centred the one-sided seat mast would protrude further and who wants that?

Race Ready
Specialized has been playing around with fewer cogs and narrower rear ends on pro bikes for several years and now they are bringing these changes to market. You’ll find only 7 cogs (with 11 speed spacing) and a 135 x 12mm rear end for heel clearance, mated to an 83mm bottom bracket. Specialized tells us the new swingarm moves with one third less friction for better response. To clean things up Troy and Aaron asked for a solution to move cables and lines away from the frame, and the new internal routing prevents any contact. There’s no need to hold our breath as you bounce through rock gardens. Both the S-Works model and the Demo 8 1 have an integrated downtube protector.

Specialized Carbon Demo 112

The square-ended rear axle stiffens the rear end, eliminating the need for a bridge linking the upper stays.

Specialized Carbon Demo 113

The lower-priced Demo 8 1 is equipped with an aluminum link plate and lower stays, but comes with the same Öhlins rear shock as the S-Works.

S3 Geometry
This year there are four Demo sizes; short, medium, long and extra long. Team riders realized that, because of differences in riding style and body shape, there are riders the same height that suit bikes with different top tube lengths. Instead of three or four different seat tube lengths there are now only two. Short and medium share a 394 mm seat tube length and long and extra long are both 419 mm. The four top tube lengths are 495, 525, 545 and 560 millimetres. Mitch Ropelato (5’8”) and Troy Brosnan (5’7”) previously rode small frames but now both are on medium while Gwin (5’10”) rides a long. How did nobody think of this simple and elegant solution before?


After all that work the numbers don’t change much from the Demo 8s that have been adapted to 650b wheels.

Freeriding on Carbonium?
Darren Berrecloth, Matt Hunter and the Coastal Crew would all love to get their hands on the new Demo, but that may not happen. At least not for competition. In a race situation a frame is generally subjected to predictable impacts and the frames have been optimized for this by reducing wall thicknesses where possible. An aluminum tube will have consistent wall thickness all the way around. A little heavier but more durable in the face of randomness. At Rampage impacts are more difficult to anticipate and a carbon frame of this pedigree may not be suitable for somersaulting down a bony 50 metre chute. And as Jason Chamberlain added, a World Cup rider has a mechanic to comb the bike after every run, which may not happen in the Gobi Desert.

Specialized Carbon Demo 116

This one goes to 7.

Specialized Carbon Demo 117

Aaron Gwin’s Demo freshly unboxed after Windham.

Specialized Carbon Demo 119

Troy and Aaron apparently asked for a solution to keep their cables and lines from touching the frame. This does the job nicely, hushing an already quiet ride.

Specialized Carbon Demo 122

Aaron Gwin’s Fox RAD (Racing Application Development) rear shock.

The new S-Works Demo frame, without shock or protectors, weighs 7.6 lbs or 3.45 kg. Specialized had a bike on hand with a slightly lighter spec, and it yanked the scale down just 33.3 lbs or 15.1 kg.

Specialized Carbon Demo 123

I’d be smiling too. Aaron with his new bike. Aaron and Troy raced this bike at Angel Fire and here in B.C. at Silver Star before the big reveal at Windham.

S-Works and Demo 8 1 Carbon
The new frame is available in the all-carbon S-Works version and the slightly less expensive 1 Carbon, with aluminum lower stays and link plate. While an all-aluminum version may be in the works it won’t be seen until 2016 at the earliest. Until then the Demo aluminum will get 650b wheels and use the previous generation’s front end coupled with a new swingarm to accommodate the larger wheel.


Top of the line.


A half step down.


Frame only. Price TBA.


How does it ride?
I asked several of the pros and staff in attendance and everyone had a slightly different take. Jason Chamberlain called it more plush, Mitch Ropelato appreciated the light weight and the ability to tackle square edges without losing momentum while Brad Benedict praised the bike’s ability to stay higher in the travel for more cornering exit speed. I haven’t ridden the new Demo yet but a couple of us will get some Whistler Bike Park laps in in a few days. All we’ve seen so far has me a little excited to mount up.

Specialized Carbon Demo 114

The stealthy Demo 8 1 (pictured) will be priced below the S-Works but we have no information about how much either will set you back.

It sounds like you’ll be able to get one of the new S-Works Demos in January, and perhaps as early as October for the Demo 8 1 model. Pricing may depend on how well Troy and Aaron perform for the final round of the World Cup and World Championships.

Looking forward to riding some Whistler Bike Park on these bikes in a few days.
Do you love it so far?

Trending on NSMB


jesscy  - Sept. 9, 2015, 12:44 p.m.

Want to install a Fox X2 air shock but not sure what is the size of the mountings….anyone know? The bike is not with me so can't measure it……


jesscy  - Sept. 9, 2015, 12:40 p.m.

Anyone know what is the size of the shock mounting for this frame?


Kevin Johnstone  - Aug. 13, 2014, 3:05 p.m.

Is specialized doing that same sizing for the aluminum demo?


Cam McRae  - Aug. 14, 2014, 8:14 a.m.

I don't believe so Kever. But I'll try to confirm that.


Cam McRae  - Aug. 14, 2014, 8:40 p.m.

Confirmed that the new sizing is in fact available in the Aluminum bikes.


Tom  - Aug. 13, 2014, 2:28 p.m.

This bike lookes amazing and I want one, but it does annoy me when manufactures contradict themselves about carbon. One minute it's the strongest stiffest material out there, then you read that the alu model is more durable! I am after a new bike and I won't be competing in a WC DH race or Rampage. I just want a good reliable bike that is going to last a long time with no worries. So would the older style 650b alu model be the one to go for? I am still on the fence a bit with carbon and there are only a few company's that I would trust buying a carbon bike and Specialized is one of them. But I guess this black stuff will still continue to confuse me!


Cam McRae  - Aug. 13, 2014, 3:13 p.m.

It sounds like you need to sort your priorities Tom. If trick and light are on your list - as well as top performance - then carbon may be your ticket. If durability ranks higher, and you'd like to save some money, maybe the Al version makes more sense. Carbon is strong and stiff but that is a pound for pound measure. If you built a carbon bike that was as heavy as an aluminum bike it would be incredibly stiff and strong but, as mentioned in my article, optimized tube thicknesses aren't made to account for bike drops and tumbles.


boomforeal  - Aug. 13, 2014, 8:57 a.m.

impressive. lots of cool ideas here


Please log in to leave a comment.