He’s known as ‘Super Bruni’, but you only reach the dizzying heights of three-time downhill World Champion with a rigorous approach to everything from training to bike set up. And Loïc Bruni is notorious in his quest for bike perfection, with his brand new Specialized Demo downhill rig demonstrating just how far he’ll go to achieve it.
To begin, there’s the fact he’s been heavily involved in the evolution of this bike. “Specialized did a lot of work before they gave us the prototype so we didn’t do everything from scratch, but we changed quite a lot as soon as we had the new chassis. We started testing, we gave feedback,” Bruni explains.
A bike made for Bruni
The new Demo, as ridden by Bruni, is built around a custom-sized aluminium frame that's been designed just for him and roughly corresponds to the S4 size in Specialized’s own sizing system. It’s built up with Ohlins suspension, SRAM X01 DH groupset, Magura brakes, Renthal handlebars and DT Swiss wheels.
The paintwork is a sleek, subtle deep red with lighter red flecks and spatters, as well as a gloss finish. In addition to the custom frame, Bruni also has 3D printed brake levers designed to fit his exact requirements and of course the all-important grip tape on the gear shifters for added traction.
A shock shrouded in secrecy
A hell of a lot of work has gone into testing and tweaking the overall bike set-up, especially the Ohlins suspension. It takes months of testing to get the bike to where Bruni is satisfied with it and his approach - along with his mechanics - is methodical, scientific and data-driven.
There’s also an intriguing carbon cover over the shock area which Bruni was a little secretive about, except to say that it’s to do with something new he’s working on.
"We have this carbon thing to hide what the shock looks like because we are trying to develop a few things we need to race... but it’s not an ebike," exclaims Bruni.
“My mechanic taught me it was important to have a perfect bike set up in order to push your limits, so it doesn’t constrain your speed and the only limit is yourself. As soon as the off-season starts, I try to think about everything that bothered me and find a solution. Most of the time the off-season isn’t long enough to be completely happy or fully satisfied with the bike, but it’s still an improvement compared to the year before. There are always more things to do to be happy with it!”
All hail the mullet
Bruni’s demo has a mullet set-up, with a 29” wheel at the front and a smaller 27.5” wheel at the rear, which he favours because it allows him to keep his customary low riding position without getting hit on the rear by the tyre all the time.
“I also feel the bike is way more fun to ride because you still have that dynamism in the back that allows you to turn really quick and brings the bike to life. You have the advantage of the 29” front wheel which brings comfort, stability and grip," he adds.
That said, there are a few downsides to running a mullet set up, as Bruni explains: "You have less grip at the back with a 27.5” wheel and it can seem a little harsh compared to the front wheel. That's because the front will go over a bump or rock in a certain way and the rear will hit the same thing harsher because it’s smaller.”
- Frame: Specialized Demo
- Fork: Ohlins DH38
- Rear suspension: Ohlins TTX22m coil shock
- Bottom bracket: SRAM Dub
- Chain: SRAM X01 DH
- Crankset: eThirteen chainring with SRAM X01 cranks
- Cassette: SRAM X01 DH
- Rear derailleur: SRAM X01 DH
- Shifters: SRAM X01 DH
- Wheels: DT Swiss EX471 with DT Swiss 240 hubs
- Brakes: Magura MT7 with 203mm rotors
- Saddle: Specialized Phenom
- Seatpost: Thompson Elite
- Pedals: Crankbrothers Mallet
- Grips: Lizard Skin Charger Evo
- Handlebars: Renthal Fatbar, aluminium, 780mm, 30mm rise
- Mudguards: Mudhugger Evo