Well, taking myself back a couple months I had the idea of upgrading my Tri bike at the end of the season.
I liked the look of a certain new superbike and had it in my mind that I'd upgrade and go for it.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with the Ridley, apart from the recent war wound Betsy is still a might fine Tri bike and certainly up there in terms of aerodynamics, and spec for that matter.
When I had the initial thoughts, I half thought of keeping the Ridley and upgrading the components to Di2 instead. That would have involved a number of changes - the Zipp Vuka Aero bars are incompatible with the Di2 brake levers for starters, and also it would have complications when it came to my next purchase (power meter), as I wanted a crank based one but had grown quite partial to the Zipp Vuma Crank on the Ridley.
So, betwixed and between really. And it was more of a thought in the back of my mind for the end of season as opposed to middle of it!
So how did the Shiv purchase come about?
Well, after the recent scar wound, I said I'd enquire at same time to see about prices, availability and how much damage we'd be talking exactly.
Moving my planned upgrade ahead of time was an option, so worth finding out availability etc as we all know some of these Tri bikes can be out of stock, out of size, awaiting next season's release etc etc!
Fortunately for me, Pulse Triathlon Club and Cycleways forged a Club 2 year Partnership at the start of this season and that meant a members discount amongst other benefits for the Club.
Our Pulse Cycleways Sprint Triathlon in Clogherhead should see some benefits also so get registering all! It's one I'd like to do myself!
Cycleways are the main Specialized Dealer to my knowledge and with the club discount I sent an email in and awaited the response...
After a bit of banter and a couple of visits I had my price in mind and managed to strike a deal with Gordon who made the process smooth and painless.
The total value and cost of said deal will remain nameless... And any figure I do disclose to anyone, will be Plus/Minus a grand or two for my own personal entertainment only :-) So ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies!
I had an option of swapping over my components but they are a few years old now and hey, if you're going to get a new bike you may as well go mad altogether.
So that's exactly what I did.
Happy to report that wifey gave her full support and if anything pushed me towards "go for it", "just do it" :-)
It seem's there's not many S-Works available, and I was lucky enough to have one in my size arrive in 7-10 days... Ok let's do it, and I wanted full Di2 on it.
I had toyed with waiting for the newer Di2, but the dura-ace is likely to be more expensive, there's still no sign of Ultegra TT shifters and with probable delays I just pushed the go button for it.
The Shiv comes with the high spec S-Works crank anyway so at least the pricey dura ace crank wasn't required.
I must give a quick mention and thanks to Rob at Wheelworx here for also providing some of the Di2 parts. I had read in Bryan McCrystal's previous blog about him needing Di2 cables and Rob saving the day there too, so I needed a couple of parts and Rob came to the rescue on these as well. Thanks for these!
So the Shiv arrived in no time, the Di2 parts were in and sourced last min for some and it was build and fit time.
I collected it over the weekend and we did the initial fit which settled very fast and easy for me.
- I'm back in for a second fit after I've put in some km's and have an idea of any tweaks I feel I may need. This will also give me the Specialized BG (Body Geometry) fit with frontal profile and track any movements also so I'm looking forward to this too once I've put in some hours.
Fit can be a personal thing and involve tweaks over time in my opinion so is an ongoing process in some ways.
There were a couple of magic tweaks that with just a slight adjustment felt much improved, and I got comfortable and in a pretty aggressive position from the off which is just what I want.
The range of fit on these bikes is extremely impressive.
There's a wide band of stack and reach measurements to fit in, and also I have a tray of spacers and control towers along with a second seat post such is the range of fit capable on this bike.
The Stem is also integrated on the Pro and S-Works model and enables adjustments for longer reach's as well as pad and extension movement. So the bars can be extended out as if putting on a longer stem.
I knew from my stack that I'd be at the lower end of the Aerobars with no spacers at all.
I took my fit from the Ridley and matched it as close as poss for the Shiv.
There was a possible issue I had in mind being the bars may not go low enough, and in this case I would need to swap out the shiv bars and replace with a lower stack aerobar/extension part.
An example of this is Craig Alexander, he went with a set of Shimano Pro Missile Aerobars to get a lower stack for his fit dialled in.
To be honest, I thought I'd need this. I wanted the standard bars to fit but suspected the extra 10mm or so may be required.
Just as an FYI, the reason the shiv doesn't cater for certain low stack's is as it's tailored for the majority of us triathletes out there. We can't ride uber aggressive like the pro's, and in many cases are better off with a bit of height (stack) for comfort etc.
The Shiv comes with a higher head tube and in that sense doesn't allow for really low heights unless you go the route of swapping out the aerobars.
Fortunately for me, the standard bars in their lowest position feels very very comfortable and I think just perfect. IT actually feels like my back and head are more aero as a result.
Time will tell but I'm very happy with current fit.
So today I headed out for my first outdoor trip.
Before I did so, I fitted my fuelselage (bladder drinks system), new garmin cadence sensor and race wheels. I had a bottle on the downtube but I won't need this for racing as the bladder more than caters for my hydration needs up to Olympic anyway.
I had read reports of the bite valve on the straw being a bitch to get liquid out.
Many of the USA folk over on slowtwitch have swapped out to a camelback system due to these issues...
Now the fuelselage comes with 2 bite valves. One which is upturned and always open - so simply suck.
And the bite valve which you have a grip for your teeth and it then opens the valve as you suck.
Sounds hard but is incredibly easy and well designed. From the first attempt I was "sucking diesel"..! Ok, it was water but you get my drift. I can't understand those that have swapped at all!
Lucky for me, on first attempt the fuelselage fitted straight into position also. Specialized have made up a video of how to fit it again for those that struggled, maybe I was just lucky who knows.
So out the door I go. I've a mini lapped route up my area with a couple of uphill and downhills as well as fast turns to test out any changes I make so I set off in the sunshine.
First impressions - very very impressed. With everything about it!
It's hard to explain, but it feels like it handles like a road bike. The fuelselage system is awesome. I usually fail to consume much fluids on races, and even training for that matter when out on road. But with the straw right beside my arm I drank the lot over the ride and found the system excellent.
The magnet worked perfectly and didn't get knocked at all - again something I had read.
I can imagine on real bad bumps it could slip loose and so I'd have to put it back or else get a stronger magnet as backup so I may do this if so.
The Di2... well.... I popped into a recent Phoenix Park duathlon to watch fellow Pulser Joe Lynch battle it out with Bryan McCrystal. Bryan is rocking a Trek 9.9 (I think) fitted with Di2 and I had asked what he thought of it. Class, but perhaps not worth the full price!
I can't argue here, the system is excellent, seamless and so easy. Shifting in the brake position is so nice on a tri bike - not that we're in that position much but for those little times you are, it's there :-)
The gear shifts on bar ends are comfy, fast and you get used to it quick.
Just about the only possible complaint is not knowing what gear you're in unless you have it in your head. With manual, we all know down is obviously high for rear cassette etc. With Di2, you just have to know on feel or number of shifts done. Again you get used to it fast and to be honest it doesn't make a difference, if you are going hard enough that you want another gear and shift and nothing happens, well, just pedal faster same as manual system! :-)
The Shiv is so easy to turn, so comfortable in both aero and up positions, brakes are an improvement and very good, it's not twitchy and for me perhaps most of all, I'm very comfortable in the aero bars and if anything feel more powerful from it!
On the Ridley, I had noticed myself tending towards front of saddle (I was maxed aggressive wise at around 78-79 degree's angle) and whilst I was comfortable, the Shiv just feels even more so.
I'm not shifting back or forth on the elbow pads, I'm centre of saddle and for me it feels perfect.
There's only one way to know for sure, and that's by comparing bike splits over a race or two against those I can track from previous races etc.
So initial impressions are wow, what a bike. I can see what all the hype is about and I can also see these bikes being very popular on the tri scene. Their UCI illegal with the massive head tube depth and the aero benefits are supposedly quite beneficial in the drag and wind conditions most experienced by triathletes. With the range of fit, the range of spec and price range there is a model for everyone.
I've seen a few club-mates out there on them and we are all very happy.
It really does feel designed for triathletes.
For the weight weenies out there, in the spec below with full bottle on downtube, bladder and Garmin fitted it's a bit under 8.5kg. With 404's, Sram Red and no bottles I'd imagine you'd be close on nailing 8kg if you were that way inclined!
My Ridley with was just under that with no bottles so it's quite light for a tri bike. But we all know aero trumps weight anyway!
I don't expect this bike to give me any free time, I bought this because it's my dream bike and an opportunity came up at a price I could accept and I went for it.
I have 2 GPS systems on route to trial and it is insured to it's gills as well!
I'll throw up a review of the GPS system once done also. It's a tiny device that can be hidden in many many places and in my opinion anyone with a valuable bike should look into it. Stay tuned for upcoming review.
So, a couple of photo's for now...
The colour is FAST, has to be seen to be appreciated more and didn't come out as well in pics imo. Looks even better in the flesh.
It's a very Deep Red and I know already it's at least 0.5kmh faster than any other colour out there.... :-)
Obviously, my continued theme of Black, Red, White continues...
Athlone will see me use 3 new things.... This is the 1st, and clearly the most impressive!
I can't say that any of them will give me any extra speed, but the Shiv has got the best chance of them all of that!
Sorry for the long review!!