Loic Bruni clinched his second Overall Title at the World Cup Downhill season finale in Snowshoe, West Virginia. He did so aboard his custom Specialized Demo, running some rather special prototype suspension from Öhlins. Wires spotted around the dual-crown fork’s uppers very much give the game away. Could this be Öhlins’ first attempt at active electronic suspension damping for mountain bikes?

Bruni’s Specialized Demo w/ Prototype Öhlins Active Suspension

loic bruni specialized demo ohlins prototype active mtb suspension

Photos: Jordan Villella/BikeRumor

Beneath the faux corroded veneer of Loic Bruni’s Specialized Demo is something that’s sure to pique the interest of the suspension nerds out there. At last weekend’s Downhill World Cup season finale, Bikerumor Editor Jordan Villella was lucky enough to get some spy shots of Öhlins’ prototype electronic suspension on Loic Bruni’s Specialized Demo.

loic bruni specialized demo ohlins prototype active mtb suspension

Neither Öhlins nor Specialized are giving anything away on this, so all we can share with you are the few details that can be gleaned from these images. Sat between the headtube and Bruni’s race plate are a collection of wires, one of which is led along the handlebar from the central hub of electronics to a remote which appears to have just one button on it. Also at the headtube, we can see a wire exiting the front triangle, having presumably come from the shock.

loic bruni specialized demo carbox box covering shock piggyback

Bruni’s Demo had a carbon cover above the upper shock mount, hiding most of the coil shock’s piggyback (and possible electronics module) from sight. Though the shock and fork don’t look especially new themselves (hard to tell with the rusty aesthetic of the fork), it’s clear that the shock at least isn’t the Specialized-specific TTX22M coil. It looks far more like the regular TTX22M with the extra-large piggyback. 

So, what do we think it does? Well, strictly speaking, this wouldn’t be Öhlins first attempt at electronic suspension. They’ve been running it for years with the TTX 36 EC shock absorber seen on high-end motorbikes such as the Ducati 1199 Panigale S and Multistrada 1200S. The TTX EC is coupled to a control unit with advanced software that continuously monitors riding behavior, how the bike responds to a certain riding style, as well as chosen power modes. Öhlins secret algorithms take that information and use it to change the setting of the shock absorber while the motorbike is being ridden.

loic bruni specialized demo ohlins ttx22m shock possible active suspension

It’s not impossible that what we see here, on Loic Bruni’s Specialized Demo, is a stripped-down version of that technology, that allows the fork and shock dampers to adapt the compression and rebound damping tune to the different sections of track; i.e. rough rock gardens versus smooth motorway sections with massive jumps. The presence of that remote does indicate its not fully automatic though, perhaps allowing Loic to turn it on and off mid-run.

loic bruni specialized demo ohlins suspension switch remote

We asked Öhlins for comment, to which they replied, ““Research and development is a strong focus for the Öhlins brand, and a huge part of what we do. We work closely with the Specialized Gravity team to not only provide the highest level of suspension performance, but also to continuously develop our technology throughout the racing calendar. At this stage, we’re unable to comment on specific details of the team’s suspension equipment or setup, but winning features will be integrated in our products in the future.”

Bruni’s Specialized Demo

There are lots of unique bits on Bruni’s custom Specialized Demo; First up, he runs wheel weights on his DT SWISS rims, said to help keep the bike stable in the air. Also noted were the Maxxis Minion DHR tires, which aren’t sponsor correct, but seem to be the only tire riders were running on the ultra-rocky West Virginia course.

If you’re Loic Bruni, and you want a specific tweak to a bike, you get it, and this custom-sized Specialized Demo is just that. It’s an aluminum frame designed just for Bruni. For those wondering, it slightly corresponds to the S4 size in Specialized’s sizing configurations.

loic bruni specialized demo ohlins prototype active mtb suspension

For the build, Bruni’s team went with Öhlins suspension, SRAM X01 DH groupset, Magura brakes, Renthal handlebars, and DT Swiss wheels. Much like the frame, not many things are stock on this bike. Bruni runs 3D-printed brake levers for his Maguras, and these are designed to fit his exact requirements, and his mechanic adds some skateboard grip tape to the levers/shifters to aid in grip and tactile feel.

The bike may look a bit off, and that’s because of the Mullet setup, that’s right, a 29″ wheel at the front and a smaller 27.5″ wheel at the rear. Bruni has been riding this for some time, and he feels it allows him to keep his a lower riding position and not get hit by the tire in the rear constantly when hip hinging movements are required.

loic bruni specialized demo bike check snowshoe 2021

Full Specs — Loic Bruni’s Custom Specialized Demo 

  • Frame: Specialized Demo
  • Fork: Öhlins DH38
  • Rear suspension: Öhlins TTX22m coil shock with some added spice*
  • 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

Stay tuned for more Pro Bike Checks from the Snowshoe World Cup

Specialized.com

3 comments

  1. marcus on

    I like the idea of a remote to control hsc/hsr rather than trusting a computer to know what’s coming up like fox’s live valve. Being able to switch from plush and fast for traction in rough sections, then push a button to firm it up and keep from being bounced on a fast flow section with jumps, that sounds very cool.

    Reply
  2. Steve H on

    Why do you trust your own ability to operate a manual switch over a computerised system that is more likely to be encredibly good at what it does and much more effective?

    Electronic suspension will be the future and it will be the next way race winning time will be found at high end races, the potential advantage of a well functioning electronic system is huge.

    Reply

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