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Specialized Shiv time trial design possibly banned by UCI

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Giant's AeroDrive front end bears strong cosmetic resemblance to Specialized's Shiv and may see some changes in the near future.

Giant's AeroDrive front end bears strong cosmetic resemblance to Specialized's Shiv and may see some changes in the near future. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Giant Trinity Advanced SL was introduced last season and may also be impacted by the UCI's recent actions.

The Giant Trinity Advanced SL was introduced last season and may also be impacted by the UCI's recent actions. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Shiv's fully integrated front end makes for an incredibly clean frontal profile though recent steps by the UCI mean that it may never see actual production.

The Shiv's fully integrated front end makes for an incredibly clean frontal profile though recent steps by the UCI mean that it may never see actual production. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The additional nosecone effectively increased the aspect ratio of the head tube to greater than 3:1 for reduced drag and faster times.

The additional nosecone effectively increased the aspect ratio of the head tube to greater than 3:1 for reduced drag and faster times. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Specialized's Shiv was one of the most striking time trial introductions last year but now the UCI has banned its use in competition.

Specialized's Shiv was one of the most striking time trial introductions last year but now the UCI has banned its use in competition. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The key sticking point is the Shiv's nosecone, which the UCI feels is not a structural member of the bike and thus solely serves as an aerodynamic fairing.

The key sticking point is the Shiv's nosecone, which the UCI feels is not a structural member of the bike and thus solely serves as an aerodynamic fairing. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Specialized engineers contend that the 'carbon strap' joining the bottom of the nosecone to the fork crown is a key structural component, lending strength and stiffness to what is otherwise only a fairly minimally supported front end.

Specialized engineers contend that the 'carbon strap' joining the bottom of the nosecone to the fork crown is a key structural component, lending strength and stiffness to what is otherwise only a fairly minimally supported front end. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Astana reportedly will now have to scramble to build up older-style Transition frames for Sunday similar to this one.

Astana reportedly will now have to scramble to build up older-style Transition frames for Sunday similar to this one. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Though the frames themselves are ok, Astana team mechanics may have to remove the 'speed gussets' on the underside of the down tube before the riders can race on them.

Though the frames themselves are ok, Astana team mechanics may have to remove the 'speed gussets' on the underside of the down tube before the riders can race on them. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek introduced superficially similar design language on its Speed Concept though in this case, the extension in front of the head tube is directly molded in one piece with the rest of the fork.

Trek introduced superficially similar design language on its Speed Concept though in this case, the extension in front of the head tube is directly molded in one piece with the rest of the fork. (Image credit: James Huang)
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According to Trek team liaison Ben Coates - and our direct correspondence with UCI technical advisor Jean Wauthier - the Trek Speed Concept is legal for the team to use this season.

According to Trek team liaison Ben Coates - and our direct correspondence with UCI technical advisor Jean Wauthier - the Trek Speed Concept is legal for the team to use this season. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt's Bayonet was one of the first external-steerer fork designs of the modern era and is unaffected by the UCI ban on the Specialized Shiv according to our current information.

Felt's Bayonet was one of the first external-steerer fork designs of the modern era and is unaffected by the UCI ban on the Specialized Shiv according to our current information. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Felt DA also uses a fork with an external steerer tube but thus far has not been scrutinized by the UCI.

The Felt DA also uses a fork with an external steerer tube but thus far has not been scrutinized by the UCI. (Image credit: James Huang)

Astana team leader Alberto Contador received an unwelcome surprise just two days before the final time trial of the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal: according to a release sent out by press agent Jacinto Vidarte, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has banned his Specialized Shiv time trial bike for use in competition.

"Last night, I was told that I can not use the TT bike because the UCI has said it does not follow the rules, and in the end, I do not know what bike will ride on Sunday," said Contador in the press release. "That's what worries me.

"The bike has an insignificant piece that does not fulfill the regulations, and therefore I can not compete with the bike with which I have been training."

The focus of the issue is apparently the Shiv's aerodynamic nosecone, which is bolted on to the bottom of and extends below the stem, thus effectively increasing the aspect ratio of the head tube beyond the allowable 3:1 and reducing drag relative to a conventional head tube. Up until now, Specialized (and others such as Trek, Giant, Felt and Look) bicycle manufacturers have avoided reprimand from the UCI since the deeper section results from two structures instead of just one.

However, regulations also dictate that any aerodynamic frame section be a necessary structural member and for this reason Specialized designers mechanically joined the bottom of the nosecone to the fork crown via a 'carbon strap', saying the assembly was required to maintain adequate strength and stiffness to the otherwise minimally supported stem.

Apparently, the UCI feels differently.

Astana had earlier proposed to the UCI that it be allowed to race the bike without the nosecone section while a more permanent solution was developed but in light of this latest development, the team has now had to scramble with seven older-technology Transition framesets reportedly arriving at the team hotel earlier today – and all eight of them must be built, sized, tuned and fully race-ready by Sunday.

Even those frames, though, may require further modification before being allowed to enter the start house.

"Banned by the UCI, whose final communication was received yesterday evening, the Astana team and Specialized are planning to use the 'Transition' model in Sunday's time trial. Seven of those frames arrived today at the team hotel to be modified and assembled. On these bikes it is possible to cut the two small pieces that, according to the latest interpretation of the UCI, not fulfill 2010 rules even after making the necessary changes required in advance on the 2009 model, declared illegal for this season," continued the press release.

The press release does not explicitly state which "two small pieces" are to be removed by the team mechanics but the logical conclusion is the two small fins on the underside of the down tube, which are intended to smooth airflow coming off the back of the fork crown.

"The UCI has raised concerns regarding compliance of the Shiv and Transition bikes with rules pertaining to UCI sanctioned time trial competition," said Specialized global marketing manager Nic Sims. "This is a highly technical issue and in no way pertains to safety or performance of these bikes, so production and sales will continue.

Specialized may not be the only team equipment sponsor to be affected by the UCI's latest round of technical crackdowns, either. Although Trek team liaison Ben Coates confirmed that its Speed Concept had received explicit UCI approval, Giant global communications manager Andrew Juskaitis suggested that the Rabobank team's new Trinity Advanced SL design may also be impacted.

"We have not been contacted by the UCI in any sort of official manner," he said. "But we are looking into the possibility of making modifications to our bike to ensure [any future regulations."

Juskaitis declined to comment further on what, if any, changes might be made moving forward but according to the Contador press release, Specialized is now planning to build yet another new prototype for the upcoming Tour de France. Sims, however, later issued a statement to refute this, saying that that was incorrect and that plans for a new prototype are not currently underway.