The New Specialized Shiv
article & images by Nick Salazar
Oct 4, 2011  hits 368,583

Here it is, the brand new Specialized Shiv, built to make you faster.

There's a lot to say in this article, so I'll just get right to it. Specialized has released a brand new triathlon bike platform, still called the Shiv, and it's a stunner. It's a completely uci-illegal bike, built from the ground up just for triathletes. In broad strokes, it promises superbike aerodynamics, with road bike simplicity, practical adjustability, and integrated hydration that will make your jaw drop. Oh yeah, and the best part - it's available TODAY. The S-Works version of the new Shiv ships now, and the lower-spec'ed versions will unroll in the next month or two. So, um, that's the big news.

But believe it or not, it gets better - at least from an editorial standpoint. You see, when Specialized invited TriRig to the bike's official launch of the new bikes in Kona, they made it clear that this wasn't just going to be a show-and-tell presentation - Spez had brought a whole fleet of bikes was ready for up-close scrutiny, and a full-on two-hour test ride right on the Queen K. I've got all the details on the bike that Specialized thinks is the perfect amalgam of aerodynamics and usability. Here we go.

The Shiv's Encore

The new Shiv represents an easier-to-use version of Specialized's popular superbike.

With the overwhelming successes of the earlier Shiv model, which won the Ironman World Championship, the Tour de France, and the UCI Time Trial World Championships of 2009, 2010, and 2011, what could Specialized do to improve the model? Well, they decided to remake it from scratch. Instead of building it around UCI-legal airfoils, they decided to just make the fastest airfoils they could, because they weren't building this with the time trialists in mind. Those guys already have their bike in the Shiv TT. So the nosecone has returned, in a way. You see that ultra-deep front section of the frame is the exact same aero shape and size as the original Shiv's frame + nosecone. How cool is that? But where that version had all kinds of tricks to try and fit within the UCI rules, this one is just all-out fast. The downtube is a whopping 11cm deep, and optimized for high crosswind scenarios. Every tube shape on the bike has been reworked to make the bike a dream in the wind tunnel.

I was thoroughly concerned that crosswinds would be hell on this bike with so much surface area. But in truth, it wasn't really a problem. My test ride was right on the Queen K, the most notoriously windy stretch of road in our sport. And yes, I got hit with some real gusts, and the bike handled beautifully. It was really built to disappear in the crosswinds, and the science bears out. It's a joy to ride. Of course, if you increase the wind speed enough, sideforces can really add up even on a bike as slippery as the Shiv, but I think for regular riding it won't be a problem.

Integration + Ease

Specialized strangely swapped its centerpull front brake for a sidepull, but otherwise the frontal profile is very slim and beautiful.

With the original Shiv, Specialized showed what they could do in terms of integration. It was the first tri bike that really hid the front brake for a super-clean frontal profile. With the new Shiv, integration has been slotten down one peg on the totem pole. Instead, Specialized has prioritized ease of use in all areas of this bike. The front brake is now a sidepull model, and is identical to the rear brake. Actually, this is my biggest gripe with the bike - I think that the centerpull brake from the Transition and Shiv TT is much more aesthetically pleasing, and no harder to work on. Mark Cote said they switched to the sidepull for simplicity's sake - it's the same brake now up front and in back - and he insists that the exposed cable represents an insignificant increase in drag. He told me it costs just 0.5 Watts compared to a centerpull, but I have my doubts. Anyway, it's a wart on an otherwise beautiful bike. I'll bet that those who are hung up about it could find a way to rig up the Shiv TT's brake onto this bike - they use the same mounting posts. All you'd need to do is create a cable stop on the stem, which wouldn't be all that hard. Gives me an idea for a machining project.

But probably the coolest part about this bike is its integrated hydration - hit the jump to read all about it.


Tags » hawaii2011,  shiv,  specialized
  • This was my test ride bike - a size Small in Project Black with Di2 and Zipp 404 Firecrest wheels.  Not a bad way to get acquainted with the new Shiv.
  • Here's the lovely front end on the new Shiv, with the 25mm spacer stack in place. I ended up removing the spacer to match my position, even though this is a size Small.  Down the road, I'd rather ride a size Medium, and put on a low-stack bar like the Easton Attack TT or the Felt Devox. Because the Shiv supports standard stems and bars natively, this will be an easy thing to do.
  • The rear half of the bike, including my trusty Dash Tri.7 Saddle.
  • The top-level Shiv bikes feature the phenomenal S-Works crankset, and all of the Shiv bikes feature OSBB (basically BB30).
  • The Project Black paint scheme features a lot of nude carbon - bravo, Spez!
  • Specialized now stocks many bikes with a chain catcher for convenience.  Great idea.
  • This is the top cap for the Fuelselage hydration system, it easily opens up for on-the-fly refilling, and works very well indeed.
  • Here's the stem cluster of the bike, with the Fuelselage and straw coming out of it.
  • The svelte frontal profile of the bike.  Although I complained about exposed cables, those things will disappear behind your arms, leaving the bike very clean indeed.  I also complained about the sidepull brake, but Mark Cote says it adds almost no drag.  Hmm, maybe I could rig this as a centerpull...
  • Because the bikes are ready to ship now, Specialized had a large fleet of bikes out, and available for test ride. This was only about a third of them.
  • The new Shiv in its native environment.
  • Above all, Specialized wants the bike to be easy to wrench, and it is -- a 4mm or 5mm hex wrench takes care of most of the bike's adjustment points.
  • Specialized wanted to show exactly how serious they are about the triathlon market, and brought their entire complement of sponsored triathletes to the launch, including powerhouse Rasmus Henning and two-time World Champion Chris McCormack.  And that's ITU star Simon Whitfield in the background.
  • There's Javier Gomez, Paula Findlay, and Ben Hoffman in the back.  Seriously, this room was FULL of talent.
  • Specialized Aerodynamicist Mark Cote was on hand explaining the philosophy behind the bike, and its unique set of features.
  • Does that front end look like a nosecone?  Well, it's exactly the same size and shape, but without the hassle of the original multi-part system.
  • This is a money shot of sorts - the 2012 Shiv is almost exactly as aerodynamic as its nosecone predecessor, but WAY easier to use.
  • Little features like the seatstays have been thoroughly thought-about. It features a flat outer wall and a rounded inner to create lift the same way as an airplane wing.
  • The new Fuelselage integrates hydration into the frame for easier drinking.
  • The Control Tower front end allows easy stack adjustment while maintaining superlative aerodynamics.
  • Mark unveiled a prototype gel holder + computer mount that isn't available yet, but will be on Rasmus Henning's bike for Kona.
  • The pod slides between the bars to create a great fit without adding drag.
  • The new Shiv is available at price points all the way down to the $3,000 Comp, with the same frame and features, with Sram Apex components.
  • Like the earlier Shiv, the rear brake is under the bottom bracket, and fed by a cable coming out of the downtube.
  • Two flippable seatposts provide a wide range of adjustment.
  • The semi-integrated stem bolts on with four countersunk bolts on top.
  • The stem has two fore-aft positions that put the stem at 60mm or 90mm in length, effectively.
  • Specialized had a cool cutaway frame showing how the Fuelselage bladder fits into the frame.
  • Another shot of the bar/stem/front-end combo, sans pads.
  • This is the Control Tower with 25mm spacer and fairing in back.  It keeps the look nice and clean.
  • The SRAM Red version of the bike comes with this sweet nude carbon + neon red paint scheme.
  • I dislike the idea of a sidepull brake, and think centerpulls look better, but it doesn't stick out all that much.
  • Because the fork has a regular steerer, you can actually bolt on any stem you like.
  • The integrated bar allows you to use any extension, and control its tilt, reach, and roll independently of the base bar. However, if you'd rather use your favorite aerobar, you can swap out the Shiv bar system, since it uses a standard fork - just bolt on your own stem and bars, and you're good to go.
  • The clever bladder system stays in the frame on its own, and locks in place with a little magnet on the under-side.
  • Another magnet holds the straw to your extensions, making it easy to use and then put back.
  • Shadow graphics on the seatpost make it easy to tell where your saddle height is.
  • The S-Works level bike comes in this insanely gorgeous nude carbon paint scheme.
  • Specialized had all these sweet cutaway sections of the bike to demonstrate how it works (this is their wind tunnel prototype).
  • The Control Tower with its tallest 50mm riser.

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