LAST UPDATED: 21 JANUARY 2019
When Specialized alerted us that their whole Diverge dirt road-capable road bike range was being radically upgraded for 2018 we were amazed. After all, the Diverge was launched as recently as 2015 when it was pretty universally hailed as a superb example of the ‘go anywhere bike’. The Diverge Comp Carbon 2016 a healthy 4.5/5 score. See review.
When a bike’s going this well, it’s tempting for the manufacturer to play safe and only make cosmetic changes, such as a new paint job, when they ‘refresh’ their bikes for a new model year. Ever the innovators, that’s not the Specialized way.
To give you an insider’s insight into the latest example of Specialized’s wizardry, we asked our bike buyer, Michael, to list the five most significant changes they have introduced to the Diverge range since it’s inception.
Tour de France-proven frame tubing
‘Even the entry level Diverge is now built with Specialized’s elite Tour de France-proven E5 alloy tubing. Thanks to its lighter weight, it rides even more like a proper road bike.’
‘As I’ve learned from mountain biking over the past 10 years, wheels built with wider through-axles offer a more secure, flex-resistant connection between frame/fork and wheels – especially if your bike has disc brakes (as is the case with every Diverge). It might sound like a small detail but through-axles make a real contribution to that tight, flex-resistant feel you expect from a road bike, matched with the confidence inspiring security required when you take the bike off the beaten track.’
Bigger volume tyres
‘I’m also sold on the notion that (within reason) a road bike can’t have too-wide tyres – as long as they’re lightweight and smooth rolling. That’s why I’m delighted to see every Diverge E5 model coming with 700×30 tyres, and the carbon models, such as the Diverge Comp, with even bigger volume 700×38 tyres.’
Takes full-length mudguards
‘Even with these wider tyres, every Diverge still has clearance for full SKS P-style mudguards. (If you’re looking at a photo of a Diverge and wondering how the guards fit, the frame and fork have eyelets for securing the stays; the front guard is bolted into the bottom of the threaded fork crown, and the bike comes supplied with a spare seat tube clamp to support the rear mudguard. If this sounds complicated, remember that if you order accessories such as mudguards with any new bike, we’ll waive our normal fitting charge.)’ If bigger volume tyres appeal to you more than fenders, it’s worth pointing out that if you don’t fit mudguards, the E5 Diverge has enough clearance to take tyres up to 38mm wide while a carbon Diverge takes up to 42mm.
‘Saving the best bit till last, I was amazed to discover that every Diverge, starting at £1,500, now comes with Specialized Future Shock suspension. Enclosed inside the top of the frame head tube, this subtle 20mm-travel suspension cartridge effectively isolates you, the rider, from shock when you ride over rough roads, gravel and tracks. The great thing about this suspension system is that as well as being night-and-day lighter weight, unlike a conventional suspension fork with bobbing legs, Future Shock won’t compromise the bike’s handling. Future Shock only made its debut on the 2017 Specialized Roubaix range, yet it was the key factor that persuaded Cycling Plus to crown it their 2017 Bike of the Year.
It’s to Specialized’s credit that such proven innovation is already available on more modestly priced bikes such as the Diverge E5 Comp.’
Specialized Diverge: Conclusion
‘Thanks to its inspired spec and its ‘Open Road’ geometry, this bike offers the agility and acceleration of any similarly priced road bike, while its fatter tyres and Future Shock gives you the confidence to diverge off the beaten track to explore dirt roads and cobbles. If you’ve been looking for The One – that is, the ultimate gravel / road bike that does it all this side of full-on MTB trail riding or road racing – I would recommend you give the Diverge serious consideration.
Better still, why not try one out? As with any bike on display in our shops, you can ask for a quick test ride on a Diverge and decide for yourself if it’s the bike for you. Just pop in and request a quick spin. I’m confident you’ll be impressed.’