High End Bicycles: new Specialized S-Works Shiv Disc

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This week, we continue with our presentation of high end bicycles. This time, the new limited edition Specialized S-Works Shiv Disc bicycle.

This bicycle is presented to us by its owner, our friend James Martin Lim. This bicycle is perhaps a bit different from the others we have presented, as it is a complete bike from the manufacture. The other bicycles in our series on High End Bicycles and Rare Bicycles are built by the owners from a frame set, and combined with a selection of wheelset, group set and other components.

The subject bike is the Specialized S-Works Shiv Disc Limited Edition (500 pieces in total worldwide). Specialized is one of the larger bicycle makers in the world, based in California. The company has a 49% ownership by Merida Bicycles of Taiwan since 2001. Their carbon bicycles are thus made in Taiwan at the Merida facilities. Despite the equity from the Taiwanese giant, they do their own independent design specifications and quality control. Their products are highly respected in the industry, having been first movers to use wind tunnel technology to enable aerodynamically optimized designs. At the World Tour level, their bikes are used by sponsored teams Deceuninck–Quick-Step and Bora–Hansgrohe. Both these teams are prominent and currently competing in the 2021 edition of the Tour de France.

Can you tell the difference between this photograph and the one before this?

Specialized S-Works Shiv Disc Limited Editon

The bike being presented is the Shiv Disc, designed specifically for time trials and triathlon use. The design is non-UCI compliant. UCI is the governing body for cycling globally and thus the Shiv Disc as shown cannot be used in the races sanctioned by them. However, triathlon events are under the jurisdiction of UCI, this bike can be used for the bicycle leg of triathlons.

The bike and its owner: James Martin Lim.

The S-Works moniker signifies that this is a higher level than the standard Specialized version of the Shiv, with an attending price premium of about 50%.

S-Works Shiv frame

As mentioned, the frame is non-UCI compliant, and Specialized has turned this into a marketing story for being too fast for professional racing. They make a UCI compliant version called the S-Works Shiv TT used by their sponsored teams in UCI events like the Tour de France for time trial stages.

The frame is non-UCI compliant due to the additional wind cheating elements behind the seat tube to house the water reservoir, and on the down tube which houses a fuel compartment for food, gell and other small items.

This frame is sized as S (reach 386mm, stack 490mm), and made from what Specialized calls the FACT-11 carbon, which is the top of the line carbon offered by the company. Limited to only 500 individually numbered, limited-edition bikes, the bikes feature a special paintwork which has the effect of a multitude of different colours, depending on the light.

The limited edition number on the seat tube. This example is 213/500.

The colorway for this bike is called Sunset Five-O / Gloss White, and is a beautiful sheen, especially in the sunlight. The hue shifts with the angle of view from a dark green to a purple. And the paintwork is immaculate.

The bike is optimized in a wind tunnel for aerodynamics, paying particular attention to cross winds. And presents a very slim profile from the front, allowing it to cut through the wind.

Front and rear views of the S-Works Shiv. The profile is ultra slim.

Additional fairing components like the camtail shaped water reservoir, which Specialized calls the Hydration Fuel Cell is behind the seat tube and provides a guide to smoothen the airflow around the bike to re-attach with minimal wake turbulance.

The frame features ample storage. As mentioned the Hydration Fuel Cell is hidden behind the seat tube also functions as an aerodynamic appendage. A hydration hose delivers the liquids through the frame and brings it right to the front of the bike, through an opening in the cockpit for easy access to the rider. The rider can sip on fluids throughout his ride without having to reach out to a water bottle or to shift from his power position.

The triathlon / Time Trial style cockpit uses aerobars with generous adjustments for fore, aft, and pad width to be able to achieve either a more aggressive or more relaxed positions as desired. As can be seen, the hydration hose delivers liquids to near the rider’s head. As an added bonus, it easily unbolts from the frame, and the basebar folds down parallel to the fork. This makes packing the bike for travel easier.

In the down tube, there is a compartment which Specialized calls the Nutrition Fuel Cell. In this compartment, food, gels and other snacks can be stored and be easily accessible to the rider. Specialized quotes that the compartment is sufficient for 10-12 gels, 4-5 bars, or 5-6 chews fit with ease, and it can also be removed to easily access the Shimano Di2 A-Junction Box or a flat repair kit. All these are hidden from the wind, and thus aids with the aerodynamics.

The front fork is the S-Works FACT 11r carbon, integrated Fit System, flat-mount disc, 12x100mm thru-axle, and feature very long aerofoil like design to aid air flow across the front of the bike.

The saddle is a rather snubbed nosed Sitero Pro on carbon rails. This shortened nose is typical in triathlon and time trial bikes.


The wheelset is from Specialized owned Roval brand. And is the Roval CLX 64 Disc rim, Roval AFD1. The wheel features a center lock rotor for 160mm rotors both front and back. The rims are tubeless ready, but in this bike, James has it configured with tubed Specialized Turbo Cotton, 320 TPI, 700x24mm tyres. These tyres ride very nicely as the high thread count and cotton side walls roll smoothly and compliant. The rubber features the GRIPTON® compound which promises good grip.

The Roval CLX64 wheels are wind tunnel engineered and feature DT Swiss 240 internals, with CeramicSpeed bearings. The wind tunnel testing and cross wind optimization means that the bike remains stable under cross wind conditions which is usually the Achilles heel of high profile rims. James tell us that the bike is very stable under all conditions, including high cross winds, and he does not feel the sail effect at all. The wind optimized 64mm profile also means that the wheels are aerodynamic, and once up to speed, they keep up the velocity easily.


Top of the line components are prescribed for this top of the line frame. The shifting duties are carried out with the top of the line 11 speed Shimano Dua-Ace D9150 Di2, with electronic shifting and hydraulic disc brakes.

The basebar with the hydraulic brake system and electronic shifting buttons. Also seen here is the Roval front wheel.

The front chainring is 52/36 on S-Works chainrings with their proprietary power meter built in. The cranks are S-Works specific and are 170mm length and run on CeramicSpeed bearings. Pedals are Shimano Dura-Ace carbon pedals.

The S-Works crank with power meter.

The left crank’s power meter pod which contain the strain gauge sensors is seen on the inner side of the crank in the photograph below. A similar pod is on the inside of the right crank measures the output of the right leg. The power meter reports both sides independently, allowing accurate assessment of power phases and left right balance. Both power readings and cycling dynamics are reported wirelessly via ANT+ to the Garmin Edge 1030 head unit mounted between the bar extensions on the cockpit. Cadence information is also relayed the same way.

The rear cassette is an 11-28 cogset, with 11 speeds. Shown below, we see the 11 speed rear Dura-Ace derailleur and the Shimano 11 speed Dura-Ace chain.

160mm Dura-Ace SM-RT900 Dura-Ace Ice-Tech Freeza Center Lock Disc Brake Rotors are used for both front and rear brakes. These are powerful and very easily to modulate disc brakes. I use these same brakes on my Pinarello Dogma F10 Disk, and know their capabilities very well. The only caution is that though brakes cools very effectively for good braking performance due their layer construction of a sandwich of steel and aluminum. This same sandwich construction also makes them easier to warp than an all steel disk. The brakes also squeal rather loudly in the wet. This occurs with metallic, resin or hybrid material brake pads, but this is not unusual for disc operated brakes on a bicycle.

Concluding thoughts

Needless to say, I was slightly overwhelmed by the beauty of this bicycle. Not only is it designed to have leading edge aerodynamics and optimized for cutting through the wind at the highest possible speed, it is a magnificent and beautiful beast on its own right. A thoroughbred steed. The bike looks menacing, and fast even when standing steel. Though I did not ride this bike, I have gathered the ride impressions from James. And he tells me that it is very comfortable to ride, as the TT position allows one to stretch out and relax on the elbow pads. This position also allows for maximum power to be delivered to the pedals.

Many thanks to James for allowing us to present his bike.

The bike weighs approximately 8kg without any fuel on board, which is very light for a triathlon/time trial bicycle, especially one on disc brakes. As a comparison, my Road Race Dogma F10 Disk weighs in at 7.7kg. The design of triathlon bikes are not for agility nor ultimate maneuverability, but for moving at the fastest possible speed, in a straight line. And to this goal, the S-Works Shiv Disc is an admirable weapon.

Photo Notes

All photographs were taken in-situ with the tiny Leica C.


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