New Specialized Diverge – A Proper Modern Gravel Bike?

by Chipps 5

Specialized isn’t new to this gravel business, it would like you to know. Does anyone remember the ‘Rock Combo’ bike from 1989? We don’t blame you, it was only around for a year, but it featured drop handlebars and very knobbly tyres and was meant to go on and off road, wherever your fancy took you. Having established its credentials, the company now wants you to concentrate on this completely new 2020 Specialized Diverge model.

Ready for all sorts, with new geometry and a longer, more stable wheelbase

Billed as ‘the ultimate getaway vehicle’ the new Diverge has been completely redesigned from the ground up over several years. Peter Sagan won the 2018 Paris Roubaix on a prototype of the new Diverge, while in 2019 Gilbert was already riding a production frame.

‘Suspend the rider, not the bike’ reckons Specialized

It wasn’t just a ‘tweak and re-sticker’ job either. Specialized went through many different prototypes to get the right sort of geometry, including building this amazingly shonky looking mule which allowed the engineers to adjust the reach and head angle mid-ride(!) for instant feedback.

Wheelie this off a kerb then?
It’s not pretty, but it allows Specialized to make rideable bikes for testing.

With the ability to make full carbon frames at Specialized HQ it was relatively easy to try new geometries and fits in keeping with the rapidly changing world of gravel racing and adventure riding. The new Specialized Diverge has all-new geometry, with a longer wheelbase and a taller bottom bracket height. Reach has been increased by 20mm on a 56cm model and tyre clearance has increased from 42mm up to a chunky 47mm x 700C. The bike can take 27.5in wheels too and will run up to a 2.1in tyre. In order to fit double or single chainsets in there as well as big tyres, the drive side chainstay features a solid piece of carbon (instead of a tube) for some of its length in order to make for maximum clearance.

No dropped stays here, a solid carbon plate helps keep tyre clearance massive.

The new Specialized Diverge uses the Futureshock in-steerer suspension system that allows around an inch of damped travel between the stem and the head tube. It’s the same system as on the Roubaix and it appears to have been well received there. The idea is that the stem (and bars) effectively moves vertically on the steerer to give around an inch of suspension for the rider, while not messing with head tube angles or steering response. And when you’re not using it, you can lock it out.

Futureshock features an easy twist-on lockout
Subtle flares still let you pass for a roadie

There will be three carbon models available, plus two alloy framed models too. A carbon frame should come in at under a kilo.

With a nod to adventure racing and those epic long events where you need to carry all your gear, there are many, many bosses. There are two waterbottle bosses in the main triangle, two more on the sides of the forks, another under the downtube and a sixth ‘bento box’ pair on the top tube. There’s also the same SWAT door on the huge downtube as you’ll find on a Specialized mountain bike.

Massive room for massive gravel tyres
There’s a new 700 x 42C Specialized Rhombus tyre

Diverge EVO

And if you think that all looks good, but a little tame for you, how about the Diverge EVO? This is a flat bar model designed to be a little more rad than the norm, in the way that the Specialized EVO mountain bikes are always that bit burlier and slacker than the rest. The Diverge EVO comes in two models, both with a flat handlebar, longer reach than standard and one model comes with a dropper post too.

Diverge EVO – rah!

There will be a huge range of the new Specialized Diverge, starting at £949 for the most affordable alloy frame, or £2199 for the carbon and going up to near ten grand for the full-on carbon everything, wireless everything and fancy everything S-Works model. Needless to say, there’s a huge range of on-trend colours too.

Check out Specialized Bicycles for more details.


Comments (5)

    Not usually a Spesh Fan, but that looks good.

    I’d give that a try…

    Are they doing a frame only option that isn’t a silly money s-works one do you know?

    A rigid mountain bike with a really high top tube? Now that’s backwards evolution.

    Is this a typo? The new 2020 model that has been out since summer 2019? Surely you mean the new 2021 model Chipps? Or is this article really old and just being re-upped? But the comments are recent? And that flat bar ting wasn’t around last year, sorry I mean rigid 29er MTB with headset suspension??? It’s time for Trek or Giant to release a rear only suspension fixie, with a 26″ front wheel.

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