So, that is the second time I’ve written this essay/overview/appreciation of the Specialised Diverge journey bike. The primary time, I used to be so delicate to not ingesting the journey bike Kool-Help, I regarded to criticize wherever I may. It got here throughout as cynical, when in truth my emotions concerning the Diverge are the alternative of cynical: After by no means actually loving street bikes, after avoiding pavement in favor of dust, after making an attempt numerous cyclocross bikes and never falling in love, I threw a leg over the Diverge in October 2017 and my life modified for the higher from the very first journey. I rediscovered what I’d felt after I received my first mountain bike in 1982, even the sensation I received after I was given my first two-wheeler as a child: that sense of liberation and wide-open horizons.
Since getting the Diverge, I’ve put three,427 miles on it, in keeping with Strava, greater than I’ve ridden my mountain bike within the final three years mixed, and it’s made me see the world as one limitless place to journey: Pavement, dust, cobbles, hearth street, paved path, singletrack, to the Diverge it’s all the identical.
The Diverge and its cousins are like rally vehicles or twin sport bikes….multi-tools that open up the previous methods to new sorts of enjoyable.
Now, you could possibly make that argument about virtually any bike. However the Diverge is the primary bike I’ve ridden that’s comfy on each pavement and within the dust. For certain, using a dropbar bike on a rugged singletrack won’t ever examine to flowing on a dual-banger, however you are able to do it and do it smiling. What the Diverge permits is quicker miles, which equals extra miles, which equals a happier me. Not is the journey from home to trailhead a slog; not is the climb a balance-shifting dance to seek out probably the most environment friendly candy spot within the suspension. You’ll be able to blaze on pavement, you’ll be able to blaze within the dust.
It wouldn’t be correct to say that I’d grown tired of mountain biking, however I’d undoubtedly gotten in a rut, using the identical previous trails each day, largely due to time constraints. My native trails are epic, however while you’ve carried out the identical climb 100 occasions in a 12 months as a result of it’s the closest to your own home, even Stokey McStokester can be up for one thing new.
So, yeah, I used to be prepared for a unique type of motorcycle, for one thing to combine up the expertise, and that undoubtedly gives the context for the way I seen the Diverge. However bike firms are onto one thing with the journey bike and gravel grinder.
This isn’t simply deliberate obsolescence at work or the creation of a brand new class simply to generate some buzz. Smaller manufacturers have been constructing and proving the value of dropbar journey bikes for a very long time and greater firms like Specialised are actually devoting appreciable assets to them. The reason being that they’re legitimately completely different—manner, manner quicker on the street than a mountain bike, far more comfy on trails than a cross bike. It’s not simply hype—the Diverge and its cousins are like rally vehicles or twin sport bikes….multi-tools that open up the previous methods to new sorts of enjoyable.
For me, the Specialised Diverge is the proper mix of functionality, weight, velocity, nimbleness, and luxury. This has to do partially with its shock absorption and bigger tires, but additionally to its geometry.
When the Diverge first got here out, numerous manufacturers have been simply utilizing cross bikes and branding them gravel bikes. The reason being that it’s actually costly for a motorbike firm to spend money on a brand new mannequin and so they have been hedging to see the place this class went, enjoying it protected by repurposing an current mannequin earlier than going all in. And whereas a CX bike can be utilized as a gravel bike, it’s removed from optimum. Cross bike geometries are designed for tremendous tight, tremendous quick CX race programs. The steering is steeper and the wheelbase is shorter. With the Diverge, Specialised slackened the entrance finish, lengthened the wheelbase, and dropped the underside bracket 10mm. The result’s whole confidence on gravel descents—properly, as assured as I’ll ever be in free gravel.
Additionally vital is the Future Shock within the headset, which gives 20mm (.78 inch) of shock absorption and bump compliance. 20mm may not sound like a lot journey, and relative to a mountain bike fork it isn’t, but it surely turns a motorbike that might be kinda depressing off-road into one which’s pleasurable on most doubletracks and numerous singletracks and even makes sketchy descents attainable. Once I first constructed it up and confirmed it to a few of my bike store pals, we have been all skeptical that the Future Shock may make any distinction in any respect, but it surely seems to be night time and day. I don’t know if Southern California trails in any respect, however I’ve taken the Diverge down Silverado Motorway, the Luge, and Holy Jim and truly had enjoyable—on a hardtail, dropbar street bike. That’s nothing lower than a miracle.
Wider tires additionally vital. Whereas a cross bike might need tires which might be 33mm or 35mm vast, I first set the Diverge up with 700x42mm wheels. That was enjoyable, particularly in comparison with cross. However the enjoyable issue went manner, manner up after I switched to wider 650bx47mm hoops. The bike grew to become marginally slower on pavement however a thousand occasions higher within the dust. I simply want you could possibly go wider on the Specialised—numerous different gravel grinders will match 50mm. (Solely the primary and final images present the broader tire setup—I assume as soon as I switched, I used to be having an excessive amount of enjoyable using to cease and shoot footage.)
I’m using the Diverge Sport, which value $2,100 and seems like the discount of the century. That’s some huge cash by most measures besides bikes, the place it will be thought-about on the low finish. There have been seven (!!) Diverges priced larger than mine after I received it, all the best way as much as $10,000. At present the Diverge Sport prices $three,000 and the entry-level E5 Elite is $1,400. The closest analog to mine is the plain Diverge at $2,500, with a carbon body and hydraulic discs (mine are mechanical).
I haven’t ridden my full-suspension Yeti in two years. I’m both on the Diverge or my 27.5+ hardtail working three.zero tires. I acknowledge that a part of that stems from my want for novelty. However I wouldn’t have put three,400 miles on this bike if I didn’t like it. My stoke for using the Diverge prompted me to problem myself to journey each path and each important avenue or street within the southern half of my county, which took a 12 months and half and led me down practically 5,000 miles and a half-million ft of climb. The bike provides 90 p.c of the advantages of a street bike with 80 p.c of the advantages of a mountain bike. You cowl much more floor than you usually would. Sketchy sections are survivable or, as a result of the bike is so mild (20 kilos, give or take), simply walked by way of or round.
On paper, or to a non-discerning eye, it may not appear all that completely different than a street bike, or actually even all that completely different from these street bikes being retooled as gravel grinders. However it’s. I used to be anticipating the Diverge to be one other “okay bike,” one other dropbar machine that I didn’t fairly get, but it surely took only one journey to blow away these expectations and alter how, the place, and the way a lot I journey.
I’m not suggesting you purchase the Diverge. It’s not my place to do this, and you’ll have been there, carried out that, and moved on. Bike lovers maintain sturdy opinions, and that previous discussion board saying, your mileage could fluctuate, is very true right here. However in case you’re trying to jumpstart your using, in case you’re prepared for one thing new, if you wish to see the world of using in a brand new manner, go demo the Diverge or one thing prefer it. I believe you’ll be glad you probably did.