If you’ve ever gone to a car trade show you’ll see prototype cars that will never make it onto the highway. Known as “concept cars,” these are a rolling laboratory for ideas that might dribble down to other projects. They are also great for marketing as it shows to the public that they are always designing “the next best thing.”
If you’ve ever visited Specialized you might have ridden their famous lunch ride – an under one-hour training ride that is balls out from the gun. Several years ago I participated in his daily ride on a Transition time trial bike. At the time I thought that with a few modifications you could turn the Transition into a road bike. Of course the UCI, with their 3:1 aerodynamic ratio rule, have other ideas about how a frame should be designed, so that would be a non-starter in the real world.
However, as I was wasting time…errr….doing some research on Facebook, I stumbled upon this concept bike that has been underneath the company’s creative director, Robert Egger. It’s the Shiv module re-purposed as a road bike and the Big S is saying it’s a one-off.
The frame itself doesn’t appear modified, but I wonder about the angles of the frame. Obviously the Shiv, and time trial bikes, are designed to be stable at high speeds with the rider in an aerodynamic position. This means the head tube angles can’t be “nervous” or “twitchy.” Perhaps this road Shiv’s head angles were altered, but I can imagine that would be an expensive proposition to make a one-off road Shiv. But, if Specialized was serious about bringing some of the Shiv’s features to the road market, it would be a worthwhile investment.
Visually the Shiv fork doesn’t seem changed, but of course that would be hard to definitively ascertain from a photo. Maybe they made a road angled fork for this project?
One feature I’m digging, that isn’t a standard option on the Shiv, is the front brake caliper wind faring. It barely misses rubbing on the front tire. Very tricky and I’m sure you gain a one-watt advantage over your competition. I’m guessing that a rock or pebble of any significant size that got caught up underneath the faring would snap it clean off – which would be a good thing.
So how would this bike ride? A couple of years ago I was part of a press junket that was launching Specialized’s 2010 product line and the Shiv was featured. I was able to take the bike for a very short roll around the parking lot of the Cliff Lodge, perched at the top of Snowbird in Utah. For what it was designed to do the Shiv was stable and fast. I’ve ridden the Transition enough times to get the same opinion – stable and fast in a time trial.
Supposing that the angles of the road Shiv’s are unmodified from the time trial Shiv I would say that the bike’s road characteristics are unchanged – it handles like a TT bike. However, in contrast to a road bike with typical road angles, it wouldn’t be as responsive cornering or making quick changes in direction. Think Cadillac versus a Ferrari.
The seat angle on the Shiv can be changed from a classic triathlon angle to a more traditional road time trial (and UCI allowed) angle. Even with those changes it still recruits a slightly different set of leg muscles – that’s why you read of pros spending significant time training on their TT bikes so they will be efficient in either a road or time trial position. I never did any significant amount of time climbing on a TT bike but I can’t imagine that the Shiv’s seat angles (which put the rider in a forward position) are conducive to an extended ascent.
Regardless, it’s cool to see these one-off projects hit the roads. And who knows, maybe some of these features will be incorporated into a road bike design.
Also, If anyone from Specialized can give me more 411 than what they posted on Facebook I’d love to hear it.