Tour de France Tech: Fabian Cancellara’s prologue-winning Specialized Shiv

Fabian Cancellara's prologue-winning Specialized Shiv

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

2010 Tour de France Tech: Cancellara's Specialized Shiv
Cancellara's Specialized Shiv

Stopping the clock in a perfect ten minutes, Fabian Cancellara crushed another Tour prologue Saturday. He did the work aboard a SRAM-equipped Specialized Shiv that’s similar to the one he used last year. And the only motor VeloNews detected anywhere near Fabian Cancellara’s Specialized Shiv was made from his own legs, heart and lungs.

Race fans will remember that the UCI prohibited Specialized’s original Shiv design back at the end of last season, after Cancellara had already ridden it to multiple wins, including the 2009 Tour prologue and the world championships. The original bike had a nosecone enclosing the front brake and supporting the stem, but in order to comply with the UCI, Specialized had to remove the nose cone and fit a different fork and front brake. Then at the Tour of Algarve in February, the UCI ruled that subtle aerodynamic extensions (or wings) on the downtube behind the fork were illegal, and once again, Specialized was forced to make changes to the bike.

“It’s an expense, for sure,” said marketing manager Nic Simms. “Luckily with molds you can fill in some parts.”

Molds for carbon bikes are like negatives of the frame shapes — concavities in the mold become convex shapes on the bike frame. So if a bike is too convex, or has extensions or protrusions that are too big, the concavities in the mold can be filled in to reduce the convexity or eliminate the protrusion. That’s essentially the situation Specialized faced in having to remove the wings under the down tube. So rather than having to cut new molds for the third edition of the Shiv, Specialized was able to modify the current molds relatively easily and therefore bring the bike into compliance.

The UCI-compliant bike that Cancellara rode isn’t available now at retail, but Specialized is selling the original Shiv as a module including the frame, fork, aerobar, brakeset, and seatpost. The original bike is legal for elite triathlon racing as well as most USA Cycling racing.

2010 Tour de France Tech: Cancellara's Specialized Shiv
Cancellara's custom-painted Bell.

Cancellara’s bike is equipped with SRAM Red, including R2C shifters and a special edition gold anodized 54-tooth chainring. The cranks are Specialized S-Works carbon. His SRAM Red rear derailleur is fitted with Berner oversized derailleur pulleys housed inside a carbon fiber cage. The large pulleys reduce the radius of the chain curvature as it snakes through the cage and therefore reduce friction. In the cockpit, he’s got Specialized’s own base bar and straight carbon extensions. Cancellara rides a Prologo Nago Evo TTR saddle, Speedplay Zero pedals, and Saturday he chose a Zipp Super 9 disc and a 1080 front wheel. Lastly, he sported a cool, custom painted version of Bell’s latest time trial helmet, an early version of which debuted at last year’s Tour.

If it seems a little, well, ordinary in terms of tech, it’s because it is. Aside from the Berner derailleur cages and the pro-only frameset (which is probably actually less aerodynamic that what you can buy from a Specialized dealer), Spartacus rides a bike and parts that you could easily go out and buy to ride yourself. The only thing missing would be the motor — not a little one inside the downtube, but the big one in rainbow stripes, sitting on the saddle and pushing the pedals.

Trending on Velo

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.