First Look: Specialized Diverge Comp 2018

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The Diverge has been in Specialized‘s line up for a few years now. It slots nicely into its range, somewhere between that ‘endurance road’ stalwart the Roubaix and ‘cross focussed Crux, or adventure ready Sequoia. There were hints that 2018 might bring something new though, and sure enough Specialized recruited Peter Sagan to launch the bike earlier this summer.

Hang on a second, though… strip away the rock track and the current road race World Champion tearing up the trails, what’s going on with the fork steerer? Specialized had introduced the Future Shock, with 20mm of buzz killing travel.


The Diverge Comp

Specialized Diverge
From commuting to shredding trails like Sagan, the Diverge should do it all

Let’s back things up a little though; suspension is rare on gravel bikes, but not exactly new. Also, the Diverge is more than just a bike with a spring in the head tube. Lets take a fuller look at the whole package. Accoring to Specialized:

“The Diverge Comp has been designed from the bottom-up to be a fully-fledged exploration machine. But now, it’s also equally adept at crushing dirt climbs as it is to cruising to the coffee shop or hopping into a local group ride. And while it might sound cliché in a landscape of bike claims chocked full with hyperbole, the Diverge Comp truly is one bike that does it all.”

The Diverge Comp retails at £2600 and sits above the Sport (£2000) and below the S-Works (£8000, yes, you read that right). The S-Works frameset –which utilises higher grade carbon than the Comp and Sport – is also available for £3350. A number of other Diverge models sit in the range, featuring both carbon and alloy models, but without the Future Shock.

Compact rear triangle

Chunky bottom bracket area promises stiffness where it matters

The Comp frame is Specialized FACT 9r carbon and uses their ‘open road’ geometry. Think relaxed road geometry with a nod to off-road stability and handling. The fork is again Specialized FACT carbon. Front (100mm) and rear (142mm) are both 12mm thru-axle. In-house Axis Elite Disc wheels keep the frame off the ground.
All the bottle bosses. The lower two are secure a SWAT tool box.

Specialized Diverge Comp Features

  • Specialized FACT 9r carbon, Open Road Geometry, 12x142mm thru-axle
  • Specialized FACT carbon, flat mount disc, 12x100mm thru-axle
  • Future Shock Progressive suspension, 20mm of travel
  • Clearance for 42c tyres
  • Full geometry here
  • BB386 bottom bracket
  • Flat mount disc brake
  • Internal routing routing for brake, gear cabling
  • Three waterbottle mounts
  • SWAT box mounting (SWAT not included)
  • Available sizes: 48, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61, 64cm
  • Price: £2600

The workhorse of the Shimano range. 105 will get on with business.

Chunky RS505 shifter contains the hydraulic brake reservoir

The majority of the stop and go duties are provided by the other big S. Shimano RS505 hydraulic brakes are married to 105 mechs. Shimano provide the 105 11-32t cassette, but Specialized has spec’d a Praxis Alba crankset, with off-road friendly 48/32t rings. It’s actually been a long time since I last rode a double off-road, so it will be interesting to see whether I miss single-ring simplicity or welcome the expanded range of gears for mixed-terrain duties.
Praxis Alba crankset with off-road friendly gearing

The tubeless-ready Specialized Trigger 38c tyres feature a shallow tread pattern, but a pronounced edge to them. They certainly look more suited to drier conditions, but we’ve been regularly surprised at how well ‘gravel’ tyres cope in more typical UK conditions.
Loads of clearance with the 38c Trigger. The Diverge will take up to a 42c.

As is the Specialized way, other finishing items are own-brand. The Comp Hover bars are notable for their funky rise, but otherwise have a relatively shallow drop and no flare. The Specialized FACT carbon CG-R seatpost features a zertz insert. The frame is also relatively compact, meaning a lot of the 27.2mm post is on display, adding more comfort through flex. Finally, a Specialized Phenom Comp body geometry saddle is a welcome sight. It’s one of those saddles I know my bum will get on with, allowing me to concentrate on other ride characteristics.
“Distinctive” bars, but first impressions are that they are comfortable.

Equally distinctive seatpost, but designed to absorb trail chatter.

Back to where we began and the elephant in the room that is the Future Shock. Specialized has crammed a simple suspension system into the Diverge’s fork steerer, offering 20mm of travel. It settled on a coil spring to take care of damping duties, as it found air not supple enough over such a small travel range. Why bother at all though? Well, Specialized argue that high volume tyres and flexing forks will only go so far. More so, by having the suspension above the frame, bob from pedalling should be minimal. There’s only way way to find out though, and that’s to hit the dirt. The Diverge will take on commuting and from-the-door exploration duties, mixing up farm tracks and woodland trails.
I’m optimistic that by the end of the test period I’ll not only have developed Sagan’s skills but also his legs. Anything less, and the Diverge is getting marked down. I’ll report back soon.
Bit o’bounce. The Future Shock sits inside the fork steerer.

Specialized Diverge Comp Specifications

  • Frame // Specialized FACT 9r carbon, Open Road Geometry, 12x142mm thru-axle
  • Fork // Specialized FACT carbon, flat mount disc, 12x100mm thru-axle
  • Suspension // Future Shock Progressive suspension, 20mm of travel
  • Wheels // Specialized Axis Elite Disc
  • Tyres // Specialized Trigger Pro, 60 TPI, 2Bliss Ready, folding bead, 700x38mm
  • Chainset // Praxis Alba 2D, BB386, 48/32t
  • Front Mech // Shimano 105 Ez, braze-on
  • Rear Mech // Shimano 105, 11-speed
  • Shifters // Shimano RS505 disc
  • Cassette // Shimano 105, 11-speed, 11-32t
  • Brakes // Shimano RS505, hydraulic disc w/ flat mount calipers & 160mm rotor
  • Stem // Specialized, 3D forged alloy, 4-bolt, 7-degree rise
  • Bars // Specialized Comp Hover Bar, 6061 alloy, 70x125mm w/ Di2 hole
  • Bar tape // S-Wrap w/ Sticky gel
  • Seatpost // Specialized CG-R, FACT carbon, single-bolt, 27.2mm
  • Saddle // Body Geometry Phenom Comp, Adaptive Edge design, Hollow Cr-Mo rails, 143mm
  • Size Tested // 56cm
  • Sizes available // 48, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61, 64cm
Time to get testing

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