The New Specialized Shiv

The New Specialized Shiv

There's a lot to say in this article, so I'll just get right to it. Specialized has released a brand new triathlon bike platform, still called the Shiv, and it's a stunner. It's a completely uci-illegal bike, built from the ground up just for triathletes. In broad strokes, it promises superbike aerodynamics, with road bike simplicity, practical adjustability, and integrated hydration that will make your jaw drop. Oh yeah, and the best part - it's available TODAY. The S-Works version of the new Shiv ships now, and the lower-spec'ed versions will unroll in the next month or two. So, um, that's the big news.

But believe it or not, it gets better - at least from an editorial standpoint. You see, when Specialized invited TriRig to the bike's official launch of the new bikes in Kona, they made it clear that this wasn't just going to be a show-and-tell presentation - Spez had brought a whole fleet of bikes was ready for up-close scrutiny, and a full-on two-hour test ride right on the Queen K. I've got all the details on the bike that Specialized thinks is the perfect amalgam of aerodynamics and usability. Here we go.

The Shiv's Encore

With the overwhelming successes of the earlier Shiv model, which won the Ironman World Championship, the Tour de France, and the UCI Time Trial World Championships of 2009, 2010, and 2011, what could Specialized do to improve the model? Well, they decided to remake it from scratch. Instead of building it around UCI-legal airfoils, they decided to just make the fastest airfoils they could, because they weren't building this with the time trialists in mind. Those guys already have their bike in the Shiv TT. So the nosecone has returned, in a way. You see that ultra-deep front section of the frame is the exact same aero shape and size as the original Shiv's frame + nosecone. How cool is that? But where that version had all kinds of tricks to try and fit within the UCI rules, this one is just all-out fast. The downtube is a whopping 11cm deep, and optimized for high crosswind scenarios. Every tube shape on the bike has been reworked to make the bike a dream in the wind tunnel.

I was thoroughly concerned that crosswinds would be hell on this bike with so much surface area. But in truth, it wasn't really a problem. My test ride was right on the Queen K, the most notoriously windy stretch of road in our sport. And yes, I got hit with some real gusts, and the bike handled beautifully. It was really built to disappear in the crosswinds, and the science bears out. It's a joy to ride. Of course, if you increase the wind speed enough, sideforces can really add up even on a bike as slippery as the Shiv, but I think for regular riding it won't be a problem.

Integration + Ease

With the original Shiv, Specialized showed what they could do in terms of integration. It was the first tri bike that really hid the front brake for a super-clean frontal profile. With the new Shiv, integration has been slotten down one peg on the totem pole. Instead, Specialized has prioritized ease of use in all areas of this bike. The front brake is now a sidepull model, and is identical to the rear brake. Actually, this is my biggest gripe with the bike - I think that the centerpull brake from the Transition and Shiv TT is much more aesthetically pleasing, and no harder to work on. Mark Cote said they switched to the sidepull for simplicity's sake - it's the same brake now up front and in back - and he insists that the exposed cable represents an insignificant increase in drag. He told me it costs just 0.5 Watts compared to a centerpull, but I have my doubts. Anyway, it's a wart on an otherwise beautiful bike. I'll bet that those who are hung up about it could find a way to rig up the Shiv TT's brake onto this bike - they use the same mounting posts. All you'd need to do is create a cable stop on the stem, which wouldn't be all that hard. Gives me an idea for a machining project.

But probably the coolest part about this bike is its integrated hydration - hit the jump to read all about it.