Gravel bike dampers are nothing new for Specialized. The Diverge has offered its headset-mounted Future Shock since 2016. With gravel riders venturing onto more technical routes, Specialized’s product planners recognised the opportunity for an advanced Diverge, with additional damping in the middle and a progressive flex seatpost system.
The Future Shock rear is a hydraulic damper hidden in the top tube and linked to the Diverge STR’s seatpost with a tendon. The really clever bit is how the Diverge STR’s framepost flex works in conjunction with the shock.
Specialized Diverge STR rear Future Shock close up, by Specialized
Front and rear Future Shock suspension assembly
Specialized’s engineers have optimised the material properties and flex of the carbon-fibre seatpost design, to offer nine different lay-up options with the Diverge STR. Each frame ships with two seatposts, covering a broad spectrum of rider requirements.
This new Future Shock development offers 30mm of seatpost deflection, complementing the 20mm of handlebar movement, with the headset-mounted Future Shock. Unlike elastomer dampers, which are fixed, the Diverge STR’s Future Shock rear suspension is adjustable. Its three compression settings offer a wide range of rider mass compliance, from 110-275lbs.
How does the adjustment feature work if the Future Shock rear is hidden in a Diverge STR’s top tube? A tiny keyhole in the top tube allows hex tool access, which acts as the adjustment method.
Specialized Diverge STR rear Future Shock detail, by Specialized
No servicing required
As mountain bikers will attest, hydraulic dampers require maintenance, although encased suspension components are protected from environmental contaminants, such as mud and dust - take the new Scott Spark RC for example. What are the service intervals on a Diverge STR’s Future Shock rear? There aren’t any. Specialized has engineered it to last quite a while, and the STR’s Future Shock rear is considered a worn part, unfit for service. It is to be removed and replaced when required.
The STR version adds 100g of frame weight to a standard Diverge, which is quite a fair trade for its capability and ride comfort. The system’s potential to reduce long-distance seated riding fatigue on corrugated dirt roads is immense. Specialized benchmark testing recorded a 20% reduction in saddle movement over rough gravel riding surfaces between the standard Diverge and STR.
Frame details for the STR are similar to what Specialized gravel bike customers have come to expect from its Diverge range. Tyre clearance is generous, with 700x47c and 27.5x2.1in rubber rolling along in the STR frame and fork, without issue.
Bike weights? The total Future Shock rear suspension system, with its clever seatpost technology, adds 400g to any STR build, compared to a standard Diverge. That said, the three STR options that Specialized offers are all well under 10kg.
Specialized Diverge STR in action, by Specialized
Pricing and availability
At £13 000 / $14,000 / €15,000, Specialized offer the Diverge STR S-Works, weighing 8.4kg. Possibly the best blend of value and price, is the 8.9kg Diverge STR Pro, priced at £9,000 / $9,500/ €9,500. The most affordable version of Specialized’s most advanced gravel bike, is the £7,500 / $7,500/ €7,500 Expert, which weighs 9.5kg. Bikes are available now.
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