Specialized Diverge 2021
Introducing the all-new Specialized Gravel Bike
With the latest version of the Specialized Diverge, the American manufacturer has further blurred the lines between gravel bikes and mountain bikes. The Diverge is now more capable and versatile than ever and the improved geometry and design give it greater ability on technical terrain without reducing its adventurous DNA.
Longer and slacker has been the clarion call of mountain bike design for a good few years now, and Specialized has integrated these concepts into the new Diverge, taking inspiration from their rapid Epic mountain bike in order to marry speed with control. The reach is longer and the headtube slacker, giving a more stable wheelbase and confidence-inspiring handling. A good gravel bike should still feel light and agile to ride though, so by increasing the fork offset but retaining the traditional trail the front end still feels quick on tight singletrack and the short chainstays mean that it is a lively and fun ride.
To put some numbers to the geometry changes, a 56cm bike now has a 13mm longer reach and a wheelbase increase of 38mm. The bottom bracket is 5mm higher than it was at 80mm, which is still plenty low enough for great stability and confidence but reduces pedal strike issues.
The chainstays are an area that has seen a big change: By using a slim but solid carbon blade design on the driveside, the Diverge has huge clearance for 47mm tyres on a 700c wheel and 2.1” on 650B whilst still giving the option to run a double chainring, allowing for the bike’s purpose and character to be quickly altered by just switching wheels. Race around lanes and trails on fast-rolling 700c semi-slicks or take on roots, rocks and rubble on wide, forgiving 650b rubber.
Specialized Future Shock 2.0 Suspension System
All the carbon models and some of the aluminium versions are equipped with Specialized’s Future Shock fork, giving 20mm of travel at the headset to massively reduce vibrations and their negative effects on handling and fatigue. First developed for their Paris-Roubaix race-winning Roubaix bikes, the Future Shock design has proved itself a very worthy addition to a wide range of models, giving a lightweight way to cosset the rider without affecting the efficiency or power transfer of the frame. The 2.0 version adds a hydraulic damper with compression and rebound damping to the already very effective 1.5 model, and has a damper control dial atop the steerer for easy on the move adjustments.
Although the Diverge models (bar the EVO) use identical geometry for consistent handling across the range, the frame material differs between models. With the S-Works FACT 11r carbon frame tipping the scales at less than 1,000 grams fully painted, it is highly competitive with many premium carbon road bikes, despite being robust enough for off-road use and having such generous tyre clearance. FACT 9r carbon adds just 100 grams to the frame weight whilst FACT 8r carbon is still only 300 grams heavier than the S-Works model, making it great value for money and a very cost-effective way to get aboard a carbon Diverge.
Further down the range the frame material changes to aluminium, but the bikes retain the characteristic handling and same attention to detail as the carbon models. All the Diverges have integrated fittings for mudguards, racks and extra bottle cages, so they can be loaded up for an adventure, kitted out for the commute or stripped back down for a singletrack blast.
Win Tunnel Tested
Specialized even visited their cunningly named Win Tunnel testing facility when developing the Diverge frame to ensure that it is more aerodynamic than its predecessor, as evidenced by the shaping of the fork and seatstays. This drag advantage occurs despite the fact that the new carbon frames have a downtube large enough to accommodate a SWAT compartment. This unique design allows essential gear to be stowed securely inside the frame underneath the downtube bottle cage mounts, keeping it well protected and giving the bike a lower centre of gravity than using a saddle bag would.
Specialized Diverge EVO Disc Gravel Bike
The final pieces in the 2021 Specialized Diverge range jigsaw are the EVO models, which swap the drop handlebar for a flat option, pushing it further into the realm of the mountain bike than ever before. On-road confidence and off-road control are enhanced by the flat handlebar, making the Diverge accessible to riders who might previously have not considered a gravel bike. To offset the flat bar, the EVO is the only version that strays from the Diverge geometry, with a longer reach and even slacker headtube. All the other range-defining characteristics remain, including the innovative chainstay solution, multiple mount options and Future Shock suspension.