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.