Sign up for our newsletter


Specialized smashes the UCI rulebook with new S-Works Shiv

9 Oct 2018

The new S-Works Shiv is the most innovative and off-the-wall design from Specialized so far, claiming 're-definition of aero, fuel and fit'

The new Specialized S-Works Shiv Tri has broken cover at Ironman Kona. The disc brake equipped bike is a complete departure from the previous generation of Shiv and treads new ground in aerodynamics and integration.

The new Shiv is a considerable redesign of the brand's original time trial and triathlon series, which may not come as a surprise. Specialized’s Shiv module TT frame is a little old in the tooth, having been developed in 2010 and changing very little since then.

The triathlon series of Shiv bikes have enjoyed more regular rolling changes but never lived up to the aerodynamic performance of Specialized’s road line, developed holistically as aerodynamic bikes in Specialized’s Win Tunnel.

The newest S-Works Shiv Tri is developed with triathlon in mind and does not conform to UCI rules. The dropped seat stays, enormous rear-fairing and the integration of twin blade forks directly into the wing bar.


Specialized has claimed the bike is ‘the fastest bike Kona’s ever seen’ but has not claimed the bike as an overall fastest time trial design. This is likely because of the bike’s focus on wide yaw angles common in the Hawaii-based Ironman championships, and also its focus on storage for water, gels and food.

The storage options have brought about some interesting design features. The nose cone seen on the Shiv TT module, for instance, makes a reappearance for the first time since 2011 on this triathlon version. 

This nose cone allows for an ‘optimised cross-section shape’ around the headtube – essentially an aerodynamically efficient blunt mass in place of the draggy stem and handlebar assembly. The nose cone also conceals another hydration unit.

The dropped seatstays are mainly in place for aerodynamic efficiency, but the design of the dropouts does a very nice and subtle job of concealing the disc brake rotors from the wind. It’s matched by the astoundingly wide fork dropouts that conceal the front rotors too.

In terms of aerodynamics, Specialized has optimised the bike for wide yaw angles, with large airfoil shapes, rather than minimising the cross-section area of the bike from the front – which would favour narrower yaw angles.

‘For years, the team’s been testing revolutionary concepts and design with our athletes in the Win Tunnel, and what they’ve come up is a bike specifically designed for Kona with a revolutionary refocus on Aero, Fit, Fuel,’ says Mark Cote, global head of marketing for Specialized. ‘Beyond the product, however, this launch is an innovation in how we both connect with and serve our riders.'

Fit focus

While the Shiv’s obvious primary appeal is aerodynamics, the bike has been designed around Specialized’s renewed focus on fit, partly energised by the brand’s recent acquisition of the Retül system. 

The wing bar and pads offer millimetre adjustments to fit a perfect aerodynamic position, with up to 150mm overall range of movement and the entire front-end is designed around ease of assembly and adjustment. There are also three separate wing bar positions.

The assembly and dismantling of the wing bar for travel can be done in five minutes, with only five necessary bolts to change. 

Eager time trialists and triathletes will also be happy to hear that the packing and unpacking will not alter the overall fit – meaning that once pulled from the bike bag the Shiv is fully race-ready.

The overall design and geometry of the bike has ensured that the contact points fit easily within the most observed rider physiologies, as mapped out through Retül rider fit data.

At present, the S-Works Shiv Tri is only available in this spec and in this colourway. Of the six already produced, all have been reserved for Kona Ironman competitors sponsored by Specialized.

However, there will be a further production run of 500 bikes, which will be available for pre-order from October 31st, and will all be restricted to the same spec and paint scheme.


Read more about: