The winning rig - Craig Alexander's Specialized Shiv

 Oct 8, 2011 article & images by Nick Salazar

  • 2012 Specialized Shiv
  • Shimano Di2 drivetrain
  • Shimano Pro Missile EVO aerobars
  • Shimano Pro C50 wheelset

Craig Alexander has gotten some flak recently for riding what was perceived as an inferior aerodynamic setup. People criticized his Orbea Ordu for being an older design, and speculated that it may have cost him the victory last year at the Ironman World Championships in Kona. I have to say that it's hard to ignore the wind tunnel data. It suggests that given some changes to his setup, Crowie may have saved enough time to win the race, or at least improve on what became a 4th-place finish.

Of course, that's all just speculation. And anyway, it's all in the past. Because Crowie has a brand-spankin-new rig that is as fast as they come. He's on the all-new, 2012 Specialized Shiv, a ride born and bred for triathletes, with long-coursers explicitly in mind. Read my full report on the launch of this machine for a little more background.

Below is a video interview with Retul fitter Mat Steinmetz, who is also the High Performance Advisor to Craig Alexander. Mat is responsible for helping Craig on everything from his bike fit, to where to place his water bottles, to the size of chainrings he might be running. Mat gave me the low-down on Crowie's new rig, which is ready to do some serious damage on Saturday. Craig's Shiv essentially replicates his old bike's position, down to the millimeter, and slaps it onto a super advanced, ultra-slippery aero race machine.

Mostly, the bike is a very straightforward build with no crazy customizations. The one thing that's a bit special here is that the top cap on the headset has been removed to get Crowie low enough with the relatively high-stack EVO bars (which were dropped as low as they could go without slinging the extensions beneath the bar.

Crowie's Shiv is set up brilliantly - Mat recommended to Crowie one BTA bottle up front, and a supplementary cage, Lieto-style, in the back. I think that's a great idea. Those will be used to fill up the integrated bottle on the Shiv, which has a convenient straw system.

No fancy after-market products, no huge apparatus hanging out in the wind, just some zip ties, some standard cages, and a straw. Well, okay, the Specialized Fuelselage is pretty fancy. But the bike was built around it, and it's snazzy indeed.

  • Craig Alexander's 2011 Kona Rig is a brand new, beautifully-built Specialized Shiv.
  • Craig's cockpit is deceptively simple-looking, but quite involved - salt sticks, cycling computer, Fuelselage hydration system, and a BTA bottle all tucked cleanly away.
  • The hindquarters of Crowie's Shiv.
  • The Shimano Pro Missile Evo bar looks GREAT with the Shiv.  They were born to be together.
  • Even though I wish that brake was a centerpull, the frontal profile is beautiful.
  • Top shot of the cockpit - BTA duties go to Aerolab, though that bottle could easily be mounted with zip ties.
  • Though the Pro Missile Evo stem leaves a small gap in front of the Control Tower fairing on the Shiv, it's still a very clean setup.  Interesting tidbit - to achieve his position with the high-stack EVO bars, Crowie had to remove the top cap on his headset to get low enough.
  • This is all the exposed cable on the bike, and Mat Steinmetz tells me that he's going to clean it up even more before the race, to tuck even closer to the frame. Interesting tidbit - to achieve his position with the high-stack EVO bars, Crowie had to remove the top cap on his headset - you can see just the exposed bearing here, which is loaded directly by the stem and a split ring between it and the bearing.
  • Mat Steinmetz is Craig Alexander's High Performance Advisor, and gave us the low-down on specific choices he helped Crowie to make in order to optimize his bike setup for usability and aerodynamics.
  • A single Chris Lieto-style bottle cage in back reduces drag and simplifies Crowie's hydration setup. Especially with the extra water provided by the Fuelselage, he doesn't need excess bottles back there.
  • Crowie's sponsor Retul gets a plug on the seatpost.
  • The Shiv's downtube bulges behind the brake to fair it, and stiffen the front end.
  • Crowie rides Enduro Ceramic bearings.
  • Just training wheels - a set of 50mm Shimano C50 clinchers with 25mm Continental GPX 4000 tires.
  • Shimano Di2 front derailleur, and the stock chain catcher that comes with every S-Works Shiv.
  • That is one MEAN looking bike from the front.  I think Crowie is ready to take names on Saturday.
  • When not being ridden, the Shiv makes an excellent podium to lean on.

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