This article originally published on BikeRadar
BikeRadar has been profiling Aaron Gwin’s bikes since he first turned pro in 2008. The 25-year-old World Cup downhill racer first rode for Yeti aboard a 303 Factory DH, then for Trek on a Session 88 and 9.9.
Gwin has made some significant changes for the 2013 season, swapping Shimano for SRAM and leaving Trek for Specialized. We caught up with America's winningest male downhill racer in Boulder City, Nevada, following the first stop on USA Cycling Pro GRT.
New year, new team, new bike
Not surprisingly, Specialized’s top downhill racer is riding the company’s recently introduced flagship gravity bike, the S-Works Demo 8. New for 2013, it features a carbon front triangle mated to an aluminum rear end.
According to Specialized’s Sam Benedict, a carbon rear end is doable but the gains would be minimal and the price increase significant. “The gains you make in weight and stiffness are nowhere near that of the front triangle – we saved 500g on the front end alone,” he said of using carbon over aluminum.
The bike has short, 421mm chainstays and a low bottom bracket. An eccentric cam in the rear shock mount allows the rider to adjust the bottom bracket height from a low unsagged height of 338mm up to 353mm. The frame’s 1.5in head tube allows for AngleSet compatibility, should riders want to go slacker than the stock 64-degree head angle.
Like the rest of the Demo 8 line, the S-Works frame features a low slung, centrally mounted rear shock to keep the center of gravity low. The frame has 200mm of rear suspension travel via Specialized’s Horst Link.
The suspension arrangement looks more complicated than on the company’s other full suspension bikes. That’s due to the fact that the two pairs of 'seat stays' in the linkage have two very different roles: the upper stays and link control the axle path, while the lower stays drive the shock, controlling the spring rate. In addition to bolstering rear end stiffness, this setup allows Specialized’s engineers to tune spring rate and axle path independently of one another.
SRAM X0 – capable of more than XC and trail riding
In addition to switching bike brands, Gwin has swapped Shimano for SRAM. His bike was kitted out in full SRAM X0 in Nevada, with Renthal supplying the 36-tooth chainring and e*thireen’s LG1+ providing chain retention.
Gwin has also opted to run the lighter and still quite powerful X0 Trail brakes, rather than Avid’s downhill-specific Codes. The X0 Trail can be thought of as a scaled-down version of the Code; the four-piston calipers provide ample stopping power in a much lighter package.
Gwin still suspended by Fox
What hasn’t changed is Gwin’s suspension partner, Fox Racing Shox. Up front there’s what appears to be a prototype Fox 40 RAD (Racing Applications Development). We first spotted the air-sprung Fox 40 suspension forks last spring, at the first World Cup stop in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
The updated Fox 40 features a lighter chassis that, in conjunction with redesigned internals with a positive air cartridge, is said to be approximately a pound lighter than the 3.14kg (6.93lb) Fox 40 FIT RC2 fork.
At the rear it appears Gwin is running Fox’s RC4 coil shock.
The Demo family has evolved from a freeride platform to a collection of purebred World Cup race machines. We're interested to see how Gwin's input shapes the future of the range, as well as how his setup evolves throughout the 2013 season.