PRO RIG - Jesse Thomas' Specialized Shiv

 Sep 8, 2012 article & images by Nick Salazar

  • Specialized S-Works Shiv frameset
  • Shimano Di2 component group
  • Rolf Prima TDF 60 wheelset, rear disc cover
  • Profile Design extensions
  • Specialized Romin saddle

It's been over a year since pro triathlete Jesse Thomas shocked the world at the 2011 edition of Wildflower, winning the race wearing a pair of gas-station-purchased aviator sunglasses. The cheap shades have become his signature, and he continues to wear them en route to some great finishes, including the successful defense of his Wildflower title back in May.

Thomas just got the brand new 2013 S-Works frameset, freshly built for the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada. We got an exclusive look around the bike just as the Specialized mechanic, who calles himself the "Spider Monkey," was finishing up the build.

Now, Thomas is definitely riding some very high-end equipment. The S-Works frameset module and Shimano Di2 component group will cost you almost $10,000. But interestingly, the rest of his bike is fairly economical. He uses two bottle cages (one BTA bottle and one off the back of the saddle), and both of them are just plain-jane Specialized Rib Cages (which work great, by the way). Instead of a disc, he's got a disc cover taped onto his Rolf Prima TDF60 rear wheel. His "flat kit" is just a can of Vittoria Pittstop taped to the seat tube. And as already mentioned, he rocks a pair of $10 sunglasses he found at a gas station.

Thomas' bike is mostly ultra-high-end kit with a couple low-budget pieces, like $10 bottle cages and a rear disc cover.

Thomas' bike is proof that not EVERYTHING in triathlon has to cost an arm and a leg. Of course, the core of his bike is built around one of the finest bikes we've ever reviewed, and the Di2 components are undoubtedly top-of-the-line. But there are definitely places on a triathlon rig where inexpensive solutions can work very well indeed. Not everything is done the same way I'd do it - in particular, I hate disc covers. But no two people are ever going to agree precisely on how their rides should be set up - that's the beauty of it. So much of a triathlon bike is modular, up to the user to decide what's going to work best. This particular constellation of parts represents the intersection of Jesse's sponsorships and his personal preferences. And clearly, the result has been working for him. Good luck out there, Jesse! Tomorrow is going to be a tough day against a pretty stacked field.

  • Jesse Thomas' 2013 Specialized S-Works Shiv, all ready to hit the desert in Vegas tomorrow.
  • Thomas primarily uses a BTA bottle up front, as well as the Shiv's integrated Fuelselage hydration system. Sadly, the Shiv isn't the cleanest bike when it comes to Di2 cables, but this is an area shielded by the arms and BTA bottle, so the aerodynamic impact is probably minimal. But I wish it looked cleaner.
  • Thomas keeps his CycleOps computer right up by his hands, along with the Fuelselage straw for easy access to hydration.
  • The rear solution is simple: a single saddle-mounted bottle acts as a fuel reserve, and a can of Vittoria Pittstop is ready for emergency flat repairs. Again, maybe it isn't the prettiest setup in the world, but it's built for function, not fashion.
  • Di2 components all around provide crisp, flawless shifting.
  • Thomas uses a high-hands position that works well for him. Beware, however, this kind of position requires a trip to the wind tunnel to make sure it's dialed in - get it wrong, and you could wind up being a lot slower. When in doubt, horizontal forearms are the ticket.
  • From the front, Thomas' cockpit looks lean, mean, and ready to fly.
  • The Specialized mechanic who worked on Thomas' bike calls himself the Spider Monkey, and brands each athlete's bike with his own little sticker, just for fun.
  • Despite the rest of the ultra-high-end gear on his rig, Jesse Thomas still uses a rear disc cover instead of a functional disc.
  • I really don't like disc covers, and you can see one of the reasons why in this photo: they tend to rub! That robs you of time, and is just plain ugly.
  • Thomas is one of a very few group of athletes who can ride Specialized's new S-Works MacLaren aero helmet.

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