The New Specialized Shiv

 Oct 4, 2011 article & images by Nick Salazar

The new front end is a unique combination of aerodynamics and conveniences. Integrated hydration and easy-to-adjust components.

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.

This new Shiv means business. And it certainly looks the part.
My gripe about the bars is how cables are routed - they're entirely external from the bars to the top tube, which is a step backwards from the old Shiv, and a departure from the trend the industry has been taking. But while I don't like the aesthetics of a jumble of cables behind the bars, Specialized made this move deliberately and with thought to the consequences. The reason they did so is to create a more usable, buildable bike for triathletes. One that's easier to travel with, take apart, and service when needed. This comes at the sacrifice of the bike's clean appearance, but according to aerodynamicist Mark Cote, this bike is basically as fast or faster then the previous Shiv at all yaw angles, despite the cable routing. Hidden cables would put this bike over the top for me. But I'd easily get used to them for the rest of the what this bike has to offer.

Going Forward

The best part is, this Shiv is ready to ship - NOW. No need to wait a half a year for products to roll out. They're here.

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!

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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