The Specialized Diverge is a gravel bike, a road bike and a commuting machine all rolled into one courtesy of 'Open Road' geometry and a 'Future Shock'. We've got an aluminium women's version of the bike in for testing, the Diverge E5 Comp and couldn't resist taking a first look before this little number hits the fire roads of Wales.
The Diverge is a bike that sits in an area between endurance road bikes and cyclocross racers, they are fit for road and gravel alike – Spesh say this bike is all about exploring new roads, commuting and getting lost on gravel or fire roads.
This is the top spec women’s bike from the Diverge range for the UK and costs £1,500. The 'E5' in the title means this is an aluminium bike with a carbon fork and the 'Comp' gives a hint at the spec level. The UK won't receive any women's bikes with a carbon frame so if are more partial to a full carbon frame you’ll have to look at the men’s bike with its identical geometry instead.
Open Road geometry is, Specialized says, is an adapted road version of modern trail bike geometry made to provide playful handling and predictable steering for gravel bikes. Compared to other gravel bikes out there, the Diverge sports some quite conservative numbers, a 1004mm wheelbase and a 71 degree head angle on this 52cm model, it’s certainly not going long low and slack in trail bike terms but it is about bang on for gravel bikes albeit not as long as some, this seems to stem from the short chainstays on the Diverge - 419mm on this 52cm bike. Spesh say the bottom bracket is over 5mm lower than last year, the head angle is slacker and the chainstays are shorter for better performance in the dirt.
The geometry of the men's and women's model is identical, the women's model just differs in handlebar width, size specific cranks and different stem lengths relative to the riders and size of bike. For example this 52cm model has a 400mm wide bar where the equivalently specced mens bike get a 420mm wide bar.
One of the really exciting things about this Diverge is the inclusion of the Future Shock – a suspension system inside the fork steerer. A cartridge inside the fork steerer houses a progressive coil spring with 20mm of travel to take care of front end damping duties. I’ve used one of these recently on a Specialized Ruby road bike and found it soaked up small bumps in the road with ease. The Ruby offered a less progressive spring so it will be interesting to take this spring off-road on the Diverge and see how the technology and set up performs over larger holes and more rutted paths.
2018 also sees other updates in terms of tyre and rim compatibility. The bike gets more room for wider tyres, our test bike comes with a 700c x 35mm wheel/tyre combo but you can also fit up to 42mm tyres on 700c rims or 650B x 45mm tyres. There are the usual mounts for water bottles (three in total), both front and rear mudguards and racks, as you’d expect on a bike with these long mileage intentions.
The Diverge E5 comp gets a Shimano 105, 11 speed drivetrain with a fairly low gearing of 48/32t chainrings. Stopping comes by way of Tektro Spyre mechanical disc brakes and Axis Elite Disc wheels paired with some roadie Espoir Sport tyres rather than the more gravel focused Trigger tyres specced on other bikes in the range. And, because this is a Women’s model we get a wider female specific Myth saddle and narrower handlebars.
Rachael is just moving to a place in the country where there are many more gravel roads to explore and she's looking forward to some long Spring rides and coffee shop detours aboard the Diverge. She'll be back soon with a full review, until then check out Dave's review of the super spendy S-Works Diverge.
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