2012 Specialized Shiv Review
article & images by Nick Salazar
Jan 23, 2012  hits 366,690

The 2012 Specialized Shiv

Back in October when Specialized launched the new Shiv, I was there to cover all the launch details and provide a detailed account of the bike. In the months since then, I've had the chance to review the bike in depth, to really uncover what this bike is all about. At first, it was a puzzle: I didn't understand quite why Specialized had abandoned the highly-integrated platform of the previous Shiv in favor of this version. The 2012 Shiv uses more traditional methods of bike assembly, and although they certainly make the bike easier to use, they would at first blush seem to be a withdrawal from the "aero arms race" that most manufacturers seem to be in.

The answer to this puzzle, however, is not that Specialized has forgotten about aero. Far from it. Rather, the answer is that Specialized has brought to the forefront what many manufacturers have forgotten. To wit, they are focusing squarely on their actual, real-world customers. The 2012 Shiv represents a bike more conscious of its customers than perhaps any other on the market. There are pros and cons to this approach, just like any other, but I have to preface this entire review by applauding the engineers at Specialized. I've spoken with several of them at length, and even where I may disagree with their decisions, I can tell you that plenty of thought went into them. They know what audience they are serving, and what compromises they are making to get there. The upshot is a bike that's fast, functional, and will fit the actual positions that many athletes are riding.

Specialized's marketing slogan for the bike is "Aero, Fuel, Fit." And that's not a bad way to tackle the features on the bike. But I'm going to go over them in reverse order, because any discussion about this bike must begin with fit. This is a departure from the section-by-section coverage I put together in my first look at the bike, but makes a lot of sense given what this beast is. So hit the jump and let's get started.

Tags » frames,  shiv,  specialized
  • The 2012 Specialized Shiv, comin' atcha!
  • The massive, 11cm-deep downtube is a luxury available only to triathletes.  Thanks, Spez.
  • The 2012 Specialized Shiv.
  • I'm not very keen on how the front brake operates as a sidepull, I wish they'd kept the centerpull as on the Shiv TT and Transition.  However ...
  • ... you can tuck the cable in front of the head tube to improve aesthetics (and aerodynamics, perhaps?)
  • The rear brake is a sidepull, fed by a cable that pops out just forward of the bottom bracket.  It's a relatively clean solution, and very easy to servie.
  • The Shiv comes with TWO seatposts, one with more setback/forward than this one.  Both are flippable for a total of four seatpost positions.
  • Every Shiv comes complete with a chain catcher, which is a very nice touch.
  • One great thing about the Shiv is that it's compatible with both cabled AND Di2 drivetrains in the same frame.  If you want to upgrade one day from cabled to Di2, you'll have no problems doing so.
  • The S-Works crank is awesome, and I have absolutely no gripes about it.  It's based off of the Lightning crank that I've reviewed previously.
  • One minor gripe I have with the Shiv is that the cables don't look as clean as they could. Here, I'm using the Fuelselage cavity to hide as much Di2 ugliness as I can, but it still is messier than some other setups.
  • Most of the tubes on the 2012 Shiv end in blunt edges - a trend we're seeing all over the bike industry, which is aimed at improving crosswind performance.
  • A standard two-bolt seatpost clamp keeps things simple.
  • The TRP/Tektro brake up front isn't my favorite, but works just fine. I wish they'd kept it as a centerpull.
  • From this angle you can see how the head tube bulges to provide additional stiffness
  • From this angle you can see just how much the head tube bulges out.  The black cap on the top tube is the cover for where you'd normally place the Fuelselage. I'm using that cavity to hide my Di2 wires, and not using the Fuelselage in this shot.
  • The OSBB bottom bracket comes stock with Specialized's own S-Works crank, which is a fantastic piece of hardware.
  • The 2012 Specialized Shiv in all its glory.
  • Another angle on the 2012 Specialized Shiv.
  • The 2012 Shiv, size Small, with a Felt Devox Aerobar. Works for me!
  • The massive head tube cluster.
  • The S-Works aerobar is a pretty slick bar, much like that on the Trek Speed Concept.
  • The bar and stem are an integrated unit - each one must be used with the other
  • The stem on the S-Works bar offers two fore-aft positions, and will clamp to ANY 1-1/8 inch steer tube.
  • The Fuelselage straw stays in place via a small magnet attached to your aerobars.
  • The S-Works bar is highly adjustable, but that comes at the cost of some relatively high-stack hardware.
  • The Fuelselage bladder fits neatly inside the frame, and comes out for cleaning.
  • The top cap of the Fuelselage can be opened mid-ride for on-the-fly refilling.

Related Articles
Although Specialized has not introduced a new bike since the Shiv was launched in 2011, Tim Don's rig caught our eye getting its last-minute tuneup before tomorrow's race.
Tim Don is one of the most decorated athletes in the sport of triathlon. Here's his Specialized Shiv, finished up with a little love from TriRig.
This Shiv is my personal ride, dressed to the nines and built with the finest gear in the sport. Enjoy the detailed writeup and supersized gallery.
For 2013 I'm building up a brand new Shiv Pro from the bare frameset. This is a bike with tons to offer.
What happens when the top offerings from BMC, Specialized, Blue, Trek, and Felt go head-to-head? Let's find out.

comments powered by Disqus