Video: Built for Fabian, but slower than the one you can buy
Specialized’s original Shiv time trial bike has a world championship to its name, yet in 2010, it’s been deemed illegal in competition by the UCI. That Shiv frameset module (frame, fork, brakes, seatpost and aero bars) is still for sale for US$5,500, but Astana and Saxo Bank’s Shiv time trial bikes have been modified twice to comply with the UCI’s rules.
They say, third time is a charm, which is hopefully the case for Specialized and its teams.
“The bike came out last year at the tour, that’s where we debuted it,” said Nic Sims, Specialized’s global PR spokesman. “It debuted with good success, obviously, and has a world championship win as well, which was a good omen, but then the UCI notified us about the nosecone, so we redid it. That was the Shiv 2 where we eliminated the nose cone, changed the style of the fork and mounted the brake on the fork.”
Doing all of this required a new stem, fork and different front brake, which is actually the Transition time trial bike’s brake. You’ll remember that the original Shiv had its brake integrated into the nosecone. The Shiv 2 made it to February’s Tour of Algarve, before more trouble.
“Then we were notified that we needed to make more changes,” said Sims. “The last thing was to eliminate the wings on the downtube, the tabs, behind the fork. Even though we had to redesign this on the Shiv, we were able to fix the Transition quickly and easily [by just cutting its tabs off and we were still getting wins on that, which was nice because it showed that it is still a good fast bike.”
Specialized finished its third round of modifications to the Shiv just prior to the start of the Giro d’Italia. The teams received the new version in Italy and at the start of the Amgen Tour of California. Just past noon on the day before the ATOC’s time trial, Cancellara’s new bike had yet to be completely built.
Still a fast bike
Even without its nosecone, Sims says the frame is still extremely fast. First of he says that it’s ultimately narrow, which plays to its aerodynamic advantage; the frame barely widens from the stance of its narrow fork steerer until just a few centimeters before the rear dropouts.
“Sure we wanted it aerodynamic in a straight line, or the wind head on, but how often are we really racing when the wind is bang on straight,” said Sims. “When you bring the wind around to 10-, 15-degrees this thing really took off. Our engineers only expected single figure percentage gains, but they got double figure increases.”
The ProTour time trialers may appreciate the Shiv’s stiffness even more than its aerodynamics, which was one of its original goals: boost the stiffness over the Transition model. The frame achieves this through use of beefed up bottom bracket area, refined carbon layup and OSBB oversized bottom bracket system.
“With TT bikes stiffness is always an issue, but this is as stiff as an SL2,” said Sims. “With this bike you’ve got wind tunnel tested, great aerodynamics and road bike stiffness.
“We made some gains with the Transition,” said Sims. “But the big powerhouses like Fabian could get out of the saddle and still make the tire rub.
But not as fast as the original
Though the original Shiv is illegal for UCI competition it still tests faster than is latest version. Sims didn’t yet definitively know which way the manufacturer will go for future production, but he guessed that the original will stay in production for the time being, but be positioned for the multisport athlete. Specialized’s professional triathletes will continue to use the faster than ProTour allows production model.
“The production Shiv that’s still in stores is one of the few bikes that consumer can buy that’s aerodynamically faster than the team’s bikes,” said Sims. “The biggest market for us with this bike is triathlon and they don’t have the same rules so they can be all about maximum aerodynamics.”
The Shiv is available in four sizes and its proprietary aero handlebars and extensions offer roughly 6in of total height adjustment for the extensions and armrests.
The Shiv adheres to the X-Y style of fitment, in the sense that the stack and reach is adjustable, but not nearly as adjustable as the more conventional Transition frame design.
The base bar stays in the same position across the entire range of the four frame sizes and is not adjustable otherwise. This is part of the frame’s aerodynamic key. The fork has a 1in to 1 3/8in tapered steerer, headset and headtube configuration.
Of note, USA Cycling is allowing use of the production Shiv, with its aerodynamic nosecone, in all of its regional and national races in 2010.