The right tool for the job, Volume 129


I absolutely love the feel of the demo. The slack angles and rear suspension feel perfect on the decents. However, the type of riding most available to me is more suited for an enduro sl or even a stumpjumper. The local trails here aren’t easily shuttled, and I’ve grown quite accustomed to getting out of the saddle and pedaling the demo up hill. I guess what I’m trying to get at is… I’m a one bike kind of guy. Is it worthwhile to have a bike like the demo when you’re doing mostly xc/all-mountain riding, or would it be more worthwhile to trade in my demo for something more practical?


Speaking of one do-all bike: Mark Weir, the original all-mountain warrior, used to ride his VP-Free (analogous to an SX Trail) everywhere, including his back yard. Now he rocks a Nomad (analogous to an Enduro) for XC, endurance DH and everything in between. He recently took 2nd at the Single Speed Worlds on a Nomad. From 2005: Hanging with Mark Weir

Hey Matt,

This is a popular theme, but an interesting one.

If you enjoy riding your Demo, then it’s a good bike for you. This applies to everyone on every bike. If you’re having fun, keep rocking.

If you are a downhill racer, and you can only have one bike, then definitely ride your Demo everywhere.

If you want to ride general trails — climb more easily and find easier flow — then there are more appropriate tools than a Demo.

All major bike companies offer a full quiver of bikes for every purpose. Simplified, from gnarliest to most efficient:

– Downhill
– Freeride
– All mountain
– Trail suspension
– XC race suspension
– XC hardtail

Here’s how that array applies to Specialized’s high end bikes:

– Demo 7 and 8
– SX Trail
– Enduro SL
– Stumpjumper FSR
– Epic
– Stumpjumper hardtail

Since you’re riding a Demo, any step “down” will provide more efficiency and easier handling on “normal” trails. How far you step down, if at all, is a personal call.

Me and my FOX-equipped Enduro SL in the Santa Cruz mountains. Photo by Jim Obi-Wan Norman. Jim ripping in 2000.

Based on what you’re saying, I’ll offer this:

A. If you want to rock trails in a generally braaapish fashion — climb well and descend like the champ you are — the Enduro SL will serve you very well. I’ve seen these bikes in action at Specialized’s proving grounds in Santa Cruz, and I can tell you that very few riders will ever outride an Enduro SL. (My opinion: The new models with the FOX forks will be efficient, plush and predicable — all good things.) The Pitch will also rock, at a lower price point.

B. If you still want the feel of a DH bike, but one that you can pedal a bit more easily, do an SX Trail.

C. If you want to cover trails with utmost efficiency and Kung Fu mastery, consider the new Stumpjumper. I’ve been riding my 2008 Stumpy Pro Carbon everywhere from road to XC trails to our craziest DH stuff, and that bike straight-up rules — especially on “normal” trails.

D. If you’re enjoying your Demo, and it meets your needs, keep rocking that guy.

Right on. I hope that helps.


— Lee

9 replies
  1. Tim says:


    My thoughts on option B…

    I rode a Demo 8 for a couple of years and loved it. I was mainly riding drops, gaps and jumps and like you I was riding it up most hills without question (I guess I was fitter then).

    I moved to a hillier area and as there were more hills to climb I switched to an Intense 6.6 which was no fun when compared to the Demo. I then got the SX Trail which turned out to be a good move. It is as much fun as the Demo but more responsive, lighter, less painfull on the climbs, but most importantly (to me) it descends as well.

    I miss the confidence the extra travel (mainly on the front) the Demo gave me from time to time but otherwise it is one of the best decisions I have made when it comes to buying bikes.

    There are faster bikes out there, but I doubt there are bikes that are more fun than the SX.



  2. Sean says:

    The more skill you accumulate, the less likely you need lots of travel. It’s fun to ride big bikes, but unless you are racing DH or riding Whistler every day, a big bike is bad for several reasons — it’s heavy, it’s designed only for descending, it’s long, it’s slow-handling at slow speeds, and it’s not efficient at anything except absorbing large bumps at high speeds, which means it’s a pain in the arse to pedal for any length of time. Remember, DH races are typically 5 mins or shorter. What feels efficient while pedaling 30-40% of a 5 min race course is totally different from what feels efficient on a 3 hour ride on trails.

    Most men I know enjoy seeming “burly” or “tough” and therefore many like to ride “tough”-looking bikes. But I don’t know a single rider who chooses a bike because it looks tough, but can ride it on backcountry epics of 5-8 hours long. I know that people like Mark Weir exist, but unless you’re Mark Weir, a 35 lbs 6″ travel bike is also too much bike for most trail riding.

    I’ve done the whole bell curve of bikes. Started on a rigid forked hardtail, moved to a front suspension hardtail, got a 4″ travel FS, then a 7″ travel FS, then an 8″ travel FS, then back to 6″ travel, then to 5″ travel. Now I have a 5″ travel and a front suspension hardtail singlespeed. I’m surprised at how much stuff I can ride on the singlespeed, stuff that 4 years ago I thought I needed 7″ travel FS to ride.

    My view on riding is that you should try to be the best rider you can be — and not try to ride the coolest bike you can afford. Owning a cool bike is okay, I guess. But it’s nothing like having more skill. More skill means you can ride more stuff smoothly and quickly, with less bike. Less bike means you have more energy to do longer rides.

  3. leelikesbikes says:


    I’ve ridden with a lot of fast dudes over the years, and one of the original Tough Guys is still my friend Peter Smith. While I was stepping into 4- and 6-inch bikes, he was rocking his Bontrager hardtail with an original Rock Shox, 150mm stem, flat 20″ bars and a very high seat. Peter just plain ripped, and it didn’t matter what he rode.

    He’s well into his 40s and now on my old 2000 FSR Pro 4″ bike, and I promise he’s shocking a lot of Young Tough Guys up in Seattle … when he’s not taking care of his kids.

    Go Peter!

  4. Chris says:


    Here’s a cheap suggestion. If you are runing a big bike you might be running some big tires to match. You could easily knock some 5 pounds of the bike weight by switching from Minions to Larsens. Plus you’ll roll and climb easier.

    Though I agree with everyone else.

    A side-effect of the times when I ride a DH bike on XC rides was the mighty ache in my lower back. I don’t miss that.

  5. Robyn@VintageRedline says:

    I really enjoy riding my DH bike, formerly a Giant DH Team, now an Intense M6. TONS of fun. For downhill.

    But I ride my Giant Reign the most (6 & 6, like a Nomad). It is a do everything bike, everything but race XC. The more I pushed it, the more I rode it, the funner it got. There are shuttle runs in Grand Junction/Fruita that are a blast, more so on the Reign than the DH. And it pedals and climbs great.

    My Reign is a couple of years old. Giant’s new Reigns are lighter, better, and even more capable. I would buy one in a quick second.

    If I had to have just one bike, the Reign would be it. Fortuntately, I can have 30 bikes, but the Reign still gets the most use, by far : )

  6. Matt says:

    Hey all,

    While having a late meal with a couple friends, the idea of a slopestyle bike came up. How would something like an SX (non-trail) fit into the the mix? I appreciate all the input. I’ve ridden Downhill, XC bikes, and everything in between from Specialized, Trek, Yeti, etc. But as far as I remember, I’ve yet to ride a slopestyle bike on anything but a parking lot.

    I like the the feel of the demo enough to keep it. However, there’s this small voice in my head telling me to be more practical.

  7. leelikesbikes says:

    The SX is a fun bike, indeed. It’s slack and stiff enough for more aggressive riding, but it’s also very nimble.

    – Excellent for jumping and railing on natural terrain.

    – Unbeatable DS bike.

    – Lots of fun around town.

    – You can slay XC trails.

    The main limiter is the seat height adjustment. For it to be your only bike, you’d need a telescopic post.

    Look here:

    I’ve heard great things about the Blur 4X and Yeti 4X.

  8. Matt says:

    The idea of the SX has me pretty excited. I’ll definitely look into it more as the next season approaches.

  9. Christian says:


    I have a 2007 SX Trail with an adjustable travel fork and would definately say that it is a great do it all bike. I have 2 wheelsets though. One for when I am shuttling and another for when I will be using my own legs to go up and down. My SX Trail for Trail riding weighs 35lb and with my other wheelset and bigger tires weighs in at 37lb. You won’t win any XC races but you will have a lot of fun on an SX Trail.

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