Like this site? Help us to make it better.


Tour de France Bikes 2015: Tony Martin’s Specialized Shiv time trial bike

Could Tony Martin win the opening time trial and claim the first yellow jersey of the 2015 Tour de France?

Tony Martin is a hot favourite for the opening time trial of the 2015 Tour de France, a 13.8km dash around the streets of host city Utrecht, and this is the custom painted Specialized Shiv time trial bike he’ll be riding.

The Shiv has been around for a good few years now, first launched way back in 2010, but still looks pretty sharp despite its age. As is customary, it seems, for star riders, the frame has a rather special paint custom paint job, with an angry looking bull depicted on the the front of the frame.

In terms of aerodynamics, all the main tubes are aero profiled and the stem is integrated cleanly and smoothly into the top tube, reducing the frontal surface area. It also allows a very low position to be achieved, if desired, which Martin adopts on his bike.

The bike is equipped predominantly with a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, except for the FSA K-Force Light carbon fibre crankset and Power2Max power meter. There’s a huge FSA 58-tooth chainring fitted to the crankset, paired with a 44t inner chainring and 11-26t cassette. Interestingly, Martin has switched from the Vision aero crankset he has been seen using earlier in the season for the regular K-Force Light one.

Vision, a sub-brand of FSA, supplies the Metron 81 front wheel and Metron Disc. Conditions should be pretty good for Saturday’s time trial. I would imagine this combination of a disc and deep section front wheel will be a common sight, unless the wind really picks up. Roval, Specialized’s own wheel brand, is the standard choice on the Quickstep road bikes, but Roval doesn’t yet offer a disc wheel, which is why we’re seeing Vision wheels on this bike.

Tony Martin has been using clincher tyres in time trials for now, first with Continental and more recently with Specialized. Why? Lower rolling resistance are the claims and a difference Martin is clearly interested in enough to warrant changing from tubular tyres. These are Specialized Turbo Cotton tyres in a 26mm width.

While the majority of time trial bikes look very similar these days due to them all being designed in wind tunnels, there are still many different approaches to position and fit setup. Martin goes for a very low handlebar position, with the time trial extension bars almost inline with the top tube of the frame. It’s a position that requires good flexibility.

The saddle is Specialized’s own TTS, a time trial-specific model, with a short nose. It’s not quite standard, though, as under the tape you can see here is a grippy material intended to stop Martin sliding and shifting about when he’s in his time trial position. The tape is there so Martin doesn't wear out a pair of shorts every time he goes for a training ride.

The UCI has some strict rules on setting up the saddle on a time trial bike. It says the “seat tip [has to be] within 5cm behind the centre of the bottom bracket” which is why the mechanic has marked a line on the top tube, to ensure the saddle doesn’t foul the regulation.

Like we saw on Mark Cavendish’s new Venge, and probably where the idea came from actually, the Shimano Di2 junction box is mounted to the saddle base, so it’s well out of the airflow.

Keeping tabs on your power output or heart rate is critical in a time trial, where a finely balanced effort is required. Martin’s bike has a special little modification that the mechanics have devised to provide a place to mount his Garmin Edge 500 computer.

The brake lever bar pods are covered in a grippy material, the sort you get on the top of a skateboard.

The Shiv cuts a slim profile when viewed from the front and back. From the back, the seatstays travel close to the rear wheel, only splaying out around the cassette towards the dropouts. The seat tube and seatpost are very slender too, and the seatclamp bolts are positioned at the back, to minimise airflow disruption.

There’s no integrated front brake on the Shiv. Instead, there’s this centre pull brake calliper located on the front of the fork. There’s a real split of opinion, depending on who you speak to, as to whether the front brake calliper actually impacts the aerodynamic performance of a bicycle to the extent that some would have you believe. 

The rear brake, though, is hidden away down under the chainstay, a pretty standard location on time trial bikes.

More tech from the Tour de France 2015 soon.

David worked on the tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

Add new comment


stealth | 8 years ago

New Shiv for the World Champs allegedly...

Probably with a braking system very similar to the new Venge, which they are claiming adds no drag at all!

DavidC | 8 years ago

It's not a Garmin that I use, but when riding in a club TT I mount my computer in a very similar location on my left aero bar using duct tape, and it works very well. The gizmo is held securely and is readable at a glance when in the aero position.

bikecellar | 8 years ago

Nice pun, sharp/shiv, was it intended ?

jug_23 | 8 years ago

Didn't I hear somewhere that aero water bottles weren't allowed? Maybe my rules knowledge is out of date...

Must be Mad | 8 years ago

I'm surprised Specialized haven't brought a new version of the Shiv to the TdF this year

This is a new version of the Shiv is it not? Spesh have have certainly been tinkering and honing design over the years.


If not Sagan, then I'd guess somebody like Gallopin, Degenkolb, Kwiatkowski etc. The powerful, skillful types, rather than raw TT specialists.

Those are the names I am thinking of (and Cancellara to). I don't think the course is long enough for Martin to really show his stuff

therealsmallboy | 8 years ago

Nice bit of kit, he deserves a nice classy ride to do the job on. Love the Garmin mount, I might try to nick that idea for my TT bike.

I reckon Sagan is going to get it tomorrow though. It's not long enough to cause him any major stamina or aero problems and his bike control is insanely good- just the trick for a winding, fast city route. It looks like a crit circuit.

If not Sagan, then I'd guess somebody like Gallopin, Degenkolb, Kwiatkowski etc. The powerful, skillful types, rather than raw TT specialists.

RobD | 8 years ago

I'm surprised Specialized haven't brought a new version of the Shiv to the TdF this year, although I guess a lot of their R&D has been on getting the Venge ready. I hope TM does well in the TT, I think I'd like to see either him or Dowsett take the yellow jersey, although it sounds like a lot of people could be going full gas for it tomorrow.

Latest Comments