The New Specialized Shiv
article & images by Nick Salazar
Oct 4, 2011
The aerobar system of the bike is brand new. And it looks like a totally integrated system - but it isn't. Not exactly. This is actually one of the finer points on the bike. The aerobar is proprietary, and ONLY fits on the new Shiv stem. But, the stem itself clamps to ANY standard steerer tube. So, just as you can put any standard stem on the new Shiv, you can also put the new Shiv stem/bar combo on any standard fork! In fact, Specialized will be selling its stem/bar combo in the aftermarket so you can do just that. And what is the new system? In short, it's very aerodynamic, very easy to adjust, and offers a wide range of fit. Sound like a familiar theme? Specialized is hoping it will by now.
The stem is sleek, and easy to wrench - just like a standard stem, it has a pair of pinch bolts in the back, and a single top cap/preload bolt. They adjust exactly like you'd expect. Four bolts on top secure the base bar, and an internal shim makes the stem adjustable - the flat basebar which bolts directly into the stem, in one of two positions, for an effective stem length of either 50mm or 90mm. Reach can be adjusted further at the pad level. On top of the bar are bolted pads (with spacers beneath them) and the extension clamping hardware which allows you to bolt on any extensions you like (a departure from the old Shiv) and rotates for 15 degrees of tilt up or down. It's VERY much like the bar of the Trek Speed Concept, except that, as noted, you can put this bar on any bike. And like the Speed Concept bar, this one has a lot of stack - 35mm at the lowest setting, so it's not ideal for athletes with very low positions. I might be tempted to do a custom machining project like before to help out these athletes.
The bars are raised on this bike by putting a pair of aero spacers beneath the bar system. There are two spacer sets, at 25mm and 50mm, both of which come stock with the Shiv, and collude to create a single, fluid shape. Specialized jokingly calls this system the "Tower of Power," or more formally, the Control Tower. It's a nice way to get that extra stack, and looks beautiful.
Prices and availability weren't available at the moment, but I do know that the S-Works level bikes are available NOW. The bike will be sold as a module with bars, cranks, brakes, seatposts, frame, and fork -- and also as a frameset only (without bars or cranks). Complete Shiv bikes will be available at the S-Works, Expert, Pro, and Comp levels, all the way down to a $3,000 bike that has all the features of its top-of-the-line cousin. Specialized is also releasing an all-new aluminum entry-level bike, that is the Shiv in name only, and otherwise a completely different bike.
What's so interesting about the new Shiv is that it's the first time that the usability of a bike has been the number one priority for a bike manufacturer whose aerodynamic development is also so high. The Shiv is super fast, to be sure. But its features never took precedence over its fit, usability, or the new hydration system. And I've gotta take my hat off to Spez for being so bold to buck the trend of aero first, usability second. It's a bold move, and can only mean good things for the future of tri bikes. Have a look at the gallery below for some more specifics on different parts of the bike, and stay tuned for a full review for this bike some time down the road. Until then, you'll see it under a couple blazing-fast triathletes at Saturday's World Championships right here in Kona!
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