Well, I’m a believer now.
I remember when I first saw images of the Shiv Tri come out and saw all the media about Craig Alexander riding one to victory in Kona. Most of my thoughts were along the lines of “Uhhh…?” or “Ugh.” Super-deep down tube… internal hydration bladder… tall headtube… this thing looked to me like a heavy, endurance (read: slow), tank of a bike that Crowie must have been paid a ton to ride to victory in spite of it rather than because of it.
Somehow I ended up on a Shiv. Out of all the lean, sexy bikes at Tri Pacific, I was to try out the beefier-lookin’ Shiv and see what I thought.
Im not a picky rider. As long as I can get my contact points (cranks, seat, arm pads and extensions) dialed, Im usually pretty happy. A bike’s a bike, right? *(wrong, kinda…more on that later)* I’m more of a short-course triathlon racer these days, with a history of some Half-Iron distance racing, but soon enough will make my way back to the longer events. I needed a bike and the Shiv was at the right place, right time. Why not?
I received my gloss-black, no logos Shiv Pro Frameset and set up with some nice, Team OPQS Blue SPECIALIZED logos (this is optional), my favorite Zipp handlebars, Sram Rival 170mm cranks and some new Ultegra build kit. No major mechanical hassle to get the bike cabled up nor to get the proprietary aero brakes on and adjusted. I also got the chance to throw on the new Specialized Sitero for a much-needed try. I dressed the Shiv up with some Zipp 808′s for some pictures slapped on my Powertap training wheelset for, well, training. I sorted out my fit contact points and was ready to find out just how close this bike actually came to its marketing buzz, if at all.
The fit set-up was quite easy. Not-so-surprisingly, the taller headtube was spot on for me. Using none of the optional steerer spacers, a -17deg, 110mm stem and no stack on the aerobars/pads, I was squared away. I have to be frank: I’m not flexible. Im learning to accept that and work on it. Yoga is an exercise in humility more so than flexibility for me. If you’re like me and can honestly not quite touch your toes with HONESTLY straight legs then this bike will likely work out very well for you. If you’ve got the flexibility of Cancellara, Wiggins, or Gabby Douglas then this bike may be too tall of a geometry for you.
First ride out was a Tri Pacific Tuesday morning ride. Let me describe the ride and I’ll get to the Shiv in a bit. At one point, I got dropped from the group due to helping out some new riders get to their turnaround – wich was totally ok and great to have new people out – and had to chase a good bit to regroup. The ride back with the group was a nice tempo with a strong fast effort through Bolsa Chica.
- Good handing in our small group on the way out. Turns well. Check.
- After some simple tension adjustments, brakes stop as needed. Check.
- Very smooth. The engineers really did their homework because the carbon frame really does its job of smoothing the ride out and does it well. Kind of surprising for such an aero frame. Check, Plus.
- Closing the gap back to the group: This bike is a Go-Getter. You tell it to go, and it gets it. I was surprised at how well this bike holds speed. Very Aero, Very Fast, and all that marketing that’s been said. I was straight-up surprised at how quickly I caught back up. If you know the area, I started to chase just before HB pier expecting to catch as early as before Brookhurst or just inside Newport. I caught the group just past Beach – thats about half of the expected distance I was ready to be chasing for. Maybe they hit a light that I did not, but sure enough they were as surprised as I was to catch back on so soon. I was hauling at 31mph at an effort that I would have expected 27-29. This thing is fast. Check, Plus-Plus.
- Hydration: I chose to use a regular water bottle on the frame. I prefer to keep things simple and opted out of using the “Fuelselage” hydration bladder. I really like that this is an option and will likely use it on race day. Check.
- Saddle: The jury is still out. I’m a tough customer when it comes to saddles. I have yet to find a favorite saddle, but I have a good feeling about this one. Enough to return the demo and purchase one of my own. I’ve had good luck with Specialized saddles and hopefully this will continue on that trend.
Overall, I’m stoked. I can’t wait to race this bike and am confident that it will be an asset come Nationals and a few other races that I am targeting. It will be really interesting to compare my times at the Long Beach Triathlon over the last few years as each year I’ve used a different bike. Training is going great and I am diggin’ the bike. I used to really be about the “bike is a bike” mentality but this bike really is different. Specialized went no-holds-barred with this bike. It’s not UCI-legal, meaning pro cyclists aren’t allowed to race it due to it breaking a couple of “bicycle design” rules for the sake of Triathlon-specificity. With this bike Specialized showed that it is a company that takes its Triathletes – pro and amateur clientele – seriously. I appreciate that.