Review: 2013 Specialized Shiv Pro
article and images by Nick Salazar •
Nov 7, 2012 •
The ultra-sleek, ultra-stealth Shiv Pro frameset is absolutely the coolest-looking stock frame on the market.
I've spent a lot of time with the Specialized Shiv. TriRig covered its original launch back in October 2011, we reviewed a complete S-Works bike, and we've seen it under countless pros over the last year. Just run a tag search for Shiv and you'll see the myriad articles I've written about these fine machines. But now I'm revisiting the bike, to use as the backbone of a special project build I have in mind. There are a couple manufacturing endeavors that we have in the works, which will be unveiled as 2013 rolls on. One of them I can tell you right now: we're building a Shiv-compatible version of our Omega brakes, so of course I need a Shiv to show that off when it's done. And the other projects we have in mind are top secret for now, but I can tell you that they'll also be Shiv-compatible hardware, and so the lovely frame you see in this article will get dressed up with those bits as well.
Oh, and one other spoiler. I'm basically going to eradicate all the complaints I had about the Shiv when I originally reviewed it. This bike is going to be an absolute monster when I'm done with it.
But that's all in the future. Right now, I just want to explore the merits of the frame at hand. As mentioned, I've already covered the Shiv from tip to tail, but I've never built one from scratch. The S-Works bike I reviewed in January 2012 was mostly built when I got it. I just swapped out the bar and saddle. And since that bike had Di2 on it, I didn't even have to recable the shifters – just the brakes, which were dead simple. This time, I'll be building from the ground up. And starting from the bare frameset was an eye-opening experience. I've built up quite a few frames in my day, and I can say that Specialized has done an absolutely fantastic job spec'ing the Shiv Pro. There is so much to like here that I barely know where to begin. As usual, I'll go from front to back, but before we get to the meat of the review, I have to comment on what is at once the most superficial, and maybe the most exciting thing about this frame.
Carbon, Carbon, Everywhere!
The Shiv Pro comes in an all-nude carbon finish, with a big decal set so you can finish it in whatever color(s) you like. Or leave it stealth. It's up to you, and it's VERY cool that Specialized gives you the option.
I've probably spent more words on this site talking about "nude carbon" than I have talking about frame geometry. And that tells you where my silly priorities are. What can I say? I absolutely love the look of a stealth bike, especially when it exposes the unparalleled beauty of raw carbon fiber layup. And especially when that layup is made of sheets of unidirectional fabric. The Shiv Pro frameset represents the boldest statement of any manufacturer on the market in terms of a willingness to fly the carbon flag.
The ENTIRE frame is left completely bare, covered only by a smoke clearcoat that makes the bike appear mostly black, but allows the carbon to shine through when the light hits it just right. For nuts like me, this is the most beautiful paint scheme a bicycle can have. There are a couple shots of the carbon layup in the gallery below.
Then, Specialized includes five different colors of decals, with enough copies of each to adorn both sides of your bike as well as the head tube. You can mix and match colors, or really get creative with them. For now, my frameset remains beautifully nude, and completely stealth. I love it.
Okay, now that I've completely geeked out about the nude carbon, let's talk about the actual features of this frame, and why I like it so much.