Specialized’s 2018 Diverge: The Next Evolution in Gravel
SA EXCLUSIVE: Bigger tyres, headset shock and a dropper post… Is the 2018 Specialized Diverge the next evolution in gravel bikes? – by Oli Munnik, Bicycling Gear Editor
The Diverge is Specialized’s answer for those riders looking for a bike that is as quick on dirt as it is on the road. Following in the slipstream of Specialized’s Roubaix endurance bike, the Diverge – which we tested during the launch of Specialized’s 2018 range in the US recently – receives a makeover for 2018 making it a more capable all-round package. But with a progressive future shock, bigger tyre clearance, a lower BB and dropper post compatibility, Specialized have clearly focused on the Diverge’s off-road capabilities making it the perfect gravel grinder for South African conditions. The Diverge is now firmly a gravel bike as opposed to a road bike with extra tyre clearance.
Bigger Volume Tyres
Although probably the simplest to achieve, Bicycling feel the Diverge’s increased tyre clearance will make the most real world improvement to it’s off-road performance and capability.
All carbon models are built with capacity for 700x42C or 650bx47C tyres with the range-topping S-Works coming standard with a pair of Specialized’s 700x38C Trigger tyres. Alloy versions will take a maximum of 700x38C.
Future Shock and SWAT
Last year there was a lot of hype surrounding the 2017 Roubaix losing its iconic Zertz inserts in favour of Specialized’s new ‘Future Shock’ dampening system that is positioned between a rider’s stem and the top of the frame’s head tube.
In 2018, the Diverge get similar treatment, with its Future Shock’s elastomer claimed to offer a tune specifically engineered for mixed terrain riding with a progressive spring that irons out bigger hits than its road cousin.
Another update that we saw with the Roubaix last year is the S-Works Diverge’s SWAT box that takes the hassle out of storing your tubes, levers, CO2 cartridges and other spares. Keeping the extra weight low at the BB means handling isn’t sacrificed for the convenience of frame-mounted storage.
Mountain Meets Road
The Diverge is built with compatibility for 27.2mm dropper posts like Specialized’s 50mm Command Post XCP that will lower your centre of gravity on techie terrain.
Renowned for coming up with clever ways to solve problems, Specialized’s positioning of the dropper post lever is another example of their ingenuity. Located mid way through the curve of the drop, the lever is accessible from both the hoods and drops for immediate action.
The Diverge uses flat mount disc brakes front and rear
First Ride Impression
Specialized have made improvements to the Diverge where it counts, namely in front wheel traction, steering stability and of course tyre clearance which combine to create a truly inspiring gravel experience that is more capable and enjoyable to ride than the previous Diverge. Dropping the BB by 0.5mm and adding dropper post capability both help to keep your centre of gravity as low as possible for more stability and control in technical sections.
A quick lap through some flowing single track on America’s East Coast revealed a perfectly balanced machine that certainly takes care of business off-road without sacrificing efficiency and speed on road. While we’d need more time to gauge the mixed-terrain Future Shock’s performance, based on our experience the best thing about the new Diverge is its increased tyre clearance, which opens up more tyre choices. More volume equals more grip, more control, more comfort and ultimately, more fun!
The Diverge is set to hit South African shores mid-July. We’ll update you with the full range and pricing as soon as it becomes available.