The New Specialized Shiv
article & images by Nick Salazar
Oct 4, 2011
Without a doubt, one of the biggest stories on the bike is its integrated hydration. Called the Fuelselage, it consists of a refillable bladder (much like a Camelbak bladder) that stuffs into the frame. The bladder itself has a rubber cap that blends seamlessly into the top tube of the frame, and can be opened and refilled while riding. The only thing that's visible once the system is installed is the straw, which can be tucked neatly onto your aerobar extensions using an integrated magnet system. Then it's easy on, easy off. The syste, will come with two end valves - one is a bite valve that keeps water right at your lips, but you have to bite to access it, and an open valve that means no biting, but you do have to suck the liquid all the way from the reservoir to your mouth. I tested out the bite valve, and while it worked well, I'd go for the open valve next time. Or maybe experiment with a Camelbak-brand bite valve that I've used elsewhere with success.
It's AWESOME to be able to store water on the bike this way. It keeps things very simple, hidden, and is something Triathletes have wanted for a long time. For short-course racing, it's the only hydration you'll need on the bike. For Half-Iron and longer, I'd add a BTA bottle up front, and use the downtube bosses to mount an aerobottle to be used as a flat kit. Or, on really hot days, stuff a flat kit under my saddle and use the downtube cage for extra liquid.
Why would you change the formula on one of the most successful bikes in triathlon? Specialized's answer is simple: to make it a better fit for the majority of triathletes. You see, while the original Shiv is an aerodynamic gem, its ultra-low stack made it a tricky fit for many. As you hay have seen on age-grouper bikes, many athletes had to resort to a large stack of pad spacers and a slammed-forward saddle to achieve their position. Basically, the original Shiv was designed around Fabian Cancellara, and triathletes had to make do. The new Shiv, on the other hand, is MUCH more flexible platform from a fit perspective.
To begin with, you can see there's a MUCH greater amount of frame stack on the new Shiv versus the original version. The head tube is quite a bit longer than the head tube on many similar bikes. For many triathletes, this makes much more sense than a super low base bar and a tower of risers for the arm cups. The drawback is that for those with fairly aggressive positions, the bikes may not get quite low enough with the stock aerobar. But these athletes can resort to other bars/stems to get themselves lower. I fall into this category. So for example, I'd probably chose a Medium Shiv, which matches my reach coordinate perfectly. But at its lowest setting, the bike would be 20mm too tall for me. So I'd have to use a different bar/stem combo. Alternatively, I could ride a size Small bike and get my exact stack measurement with the integrated aerobar, but then my bike would handle differently. I did ride a size Small for the test ride, and it handled fine, but I would have preferred my familiar bike for familiar handling.
The seat tube on the new Shiv telescopes at 77 degrees, and comes with two posts, both of which are flippable, to make positioning simple and easy. Effectively you get four different seatpost positions without ever having to adjust the post's head. The seatpost collar works just like on older Shiv models - a back cap with two bolts secures the post - easy as pie. It's a system that's been around for a long time, and works fine. In truth, I've come to prefer the one-bolt top-tube wedge systems (P4, Speed Concept, TM01), because one bolt is simpler to adjust than two. But to be fair, those systems can be problematic - both Trek and Cervelo have had to revise their wedges because the first-gen versions didn't work as expected. From Specialized's perspective, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? And not a bad path to take.
That's all about the bike's fit. Hit the jump for the full story on this bike's innovative new front-end.
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