We reported a while ago that Specialized were developing a new disc-equipped road bike going by the name of Diverge, and we thought it was due to be launched by now, but that hasn't happened. Instead, Specialized have quietly added the Diverge range to their 2015 early release website, so we definitely know this new bike is going to be available soon. When, and how much, we don't know yet.
While actual gravel riding and racing might not have travelled over the Atlantic, the hype certainly has. However, the increasing popularity of this sort of riding has spawned a whole load of new and very interesting road bikes that look to blend some of the attributes of a cyclo-cross bike with a regular road bike, with relaxed geometry, disc brakes and space for wide tyres the key features.
The Diverge looks to be a sort of cross between a Roubaix and Crux. It has the relaxed endurance focused geometry of the Roubaix (taller head tube, shorter top tube) with the bigger tyre clearance of the Crux, with space for up to 35mm tyres without mudguards, and 32mm with - Specialized will spec 30 and 32mm tyres across the range
“When the road less travelled is still too crowded there's Diverge. Featuring an optimized endurance geometry for long, all day rides as well as clearance for up to 35c tires, your ride is only limited by your imagination. Diverge goes anywhere you do and is always ready to adventure more,” says Specialized.
It’s clear then that the development of the Diverge is a response to this growing interest in mixing up a regular road ride with off-road trails. In the US they have great swathes of countryside accessible only by traffic-free gravel tracks, which is why that riding has become so popular. We might not have the expanse of gravel tracks, but we do have plenty of byways, bridleways, tow paths and the sort that these sorts of bikes are ideally suited.
Of course there’s nothing to stop you simply riding a modified cyclo-cross bike, but these new bikes, such as the GT Grade and this Diverge from Specialized, appear to owe more to their road cousins when you look at the numbers.
The Diverge also has mudguard and rack mounts, with discrete eyelets at the dropouts on the frame and fork. Just like the new GT Grade then, that offers a lot of versatility if you see this as the perfect bike for taking on the task of daily commuting or light touring, alongside everything else it is capable of doing.
It’s not clear how many Diverge models Specialized will offer in the UK, but they’re currently listing four models on the US 2015 early launch website. The four models include two carbon bikes at the top and two aluminium versions, one made from Specialized's A1 Premium aluminium and the other using an E5 Smartweld frame, similar to the top-flight Allez they introduced last year.
Each of these models uses a carbon fibre fork with a thru-axle, with the top models also using a thru-axle rear end. It looks like they might be using a conventional quick release rear axle on the lower models, but we can’t confirm that at this stage. It’s interesting that Specialized are using thru-axles when the recently launched Tarmac Disc (and the previous Roubaix Disc) use regular quick release axles. We presume Specialized have decided there are benefits from the thru-axles on the Diverge for the type of riding it is going to be used for, but not desirable on a road focused bike.
Specialized’s familiar Zertz inserts - used to provide more compliance - from the Roubaix make an appearance on the Diverge. Though they’re not used to nearly the same extent as the Roubaix so it’ll be interesting to hear Specialized’s claims. The top tube is more radically dropped than the Crux with a large bend ahead of the seat tube, something we might assume is designed to provide extra compliance. If that wasn’t enough, Specialized fit each model with their distinctive CG-R saddle.
This is the Diverge Expert Carbon, with thru-axles front and rear and that new carbon fork and a frame constructed from FACT 10r carbon fibre. Tyres are Specialized Roubaix Pro in 32mm width and fitted to Axis 4.0 Disc wheels. A Shimano Ultegra 11-speed groupset with Shimano’s 785 hydraulic disc brakes is specced.
The Diverge Comp Carbon gets the same frame and fork but is specced with a Shimano 105 groupset and the same 785 hydro disc brakes with IceTech rotors. Wheels are the same as are the tyres.
The top of the aluminium models, the Diverge Comp Smartweld packs a Shimano 105 groupset with 785 hydro disc brakes, Axis 3.0 Disc wheels and 32mm Specialized Roubaix Pro tyres.
Lastly, the Diverge Elite A1 combines a Tiagra 10-speed groupset with Tektro Spyre mechanical disc brakes, Axis Classic Disc wheels and 30mm Specialized Espoir Sport tyres.
That’s about everything we know about the Diverge ahead of its official launch. There are reports of Specialized having developed a short travel (35mm) height adjustable seatpost, which could be handy for tackling more adventurous off-road terrain. Height adjustable posts, or dropper posts as they’re commonly called, have become hugely popular in the mountain bike world in the last couple of years, to the point where they’re pretty much standard issue. Their attraction is lowering the saddle out of the way when going over, or down, very bumpy and technical terrain.
More details as and when we get them.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.