It has taken Specialized a full seven years to launch the successor to its hugely popular and successful Shiv tri bike. This is it. The new bike carries on the Shiv's triple mantra of 'Aero, Fuel, Fit' and claims to prioritize functionality and aerodynamics to a greater degree than their competitors.
And the bike definitely improves on the functionality of its predecessor - the fit range has dramatically improved, finally offering a turnkey solution for athletes who need to go lower than the original Shiv tri bike allowed. And the fuel reservoir now features a straw that goes *all* the way through the frame, not exiting until the pads. The bike has really good solutions for both storage and hydration. On the other hand, it looks ... a little weird, in my opinion. And while disc brakes seem to be taking over, they are a lot more difficult to install, and require greater care and maintenance to remain in top condition and avoid rub.
See each of the sections below for our first impressions of this new flagship ride for Specialized.
See all of our Kona coverage right here.
From the side, the Shiv's aesthetics are mostly traditional, with a double-diamond construction and normal(ish) tube shapes. What's most noticeable is the large 1.5L water storage compartment behind the seat tube. Indeed, it is an untraditional look that's off-putting to many. But it's a clean and aero way to store a lot of liquid. The straw goes through the frame AND aeroars, finally poking out right between the arm cups.
I don't know what it is, but the bike just looks *off* to me for some reason. The huge water reservoir in the back is definitely something we haven't seen before, as is the front end (more on that in the next section). If the bike functions well, the form shouldn't be a big deal, but this bike has a very new look, and as far as aesthetics go, it's not my favorite.
Without a doubt, the most striking feature of the bike is its front end. The split fork presents three sections to the wind. The pads rise with a mono-spacer system that does not telescope - you swap out spacers and bolts for up to 115mm of stack above minimum. Unfortunately, there's no tilt adjustment except for a single 7-degree angled spacer, similar to what Canyon doesThis gives you *some* modicum of tilt, but no continuous adjustment. Just zero degrees or seven degrees. One nice feature is that the wings themselves hinge up or down, not in continuous fashion but with three fixed positions, as pictured. And for travel, they fold flat against the base bar. This is actually a nice and novel feature, and the hinges mean that you don't have to actually disassemble the bar completely in order to pack it.
So the bars do have a LOT of adjustability, and you can see the difference between the bars in their lowest position and highest position in the pictures below. But the whole setup does seem to have a little more frontal area than other directly-competitive systems like the P5X, which has a decidedly elegant aerobar. And the bars, at the extreme ends of their adjustment range, just look *weird* (to me). But honestly, as long as it's fast and usable, I suppose the aesthetics are merely a matter of taste.
However, the split fork and aerobar hardware do make me wonder how the aerodynamics of this bike actually compare to other flagship bikes in today's climate. One individual I spoke to at the expo contrasted this new bike and its triple fork to Canyon's new monoblock cockpit, saying that they went in opposite directions. That is, Canyon reduced their frontal columns from three to one, while Specialized went from one to three! (Of course, Canyon's move was related to aerobars, and Specialized's move related to the fork). Specialized claims this presents a real benefit in large crosswinds, but it does appear to add quite a bit of frontal area.
Specialized had a cool display frame that was CNC machined out of clear plastic, giving a nice view into how the little details work from the inside. And there was a prototype BTA mount which Specialized says is in the works, but not finished yet.