TECH NEWS

Specialized Diverge gravel bike range gets huge redesign

Extensive lineup now features Future Shock 2.0 front supension, re-jigged geometry, more tyre clearance, and storage inside the down tube

Specialized has revealed a completely updated Diverge gravel bike range that includes Future Shock 2.0 front-end supension, a re-jigged geometry, increased tyre clearance, and storage inside the down tube. There are even a couple of flat bar Diverge Evos in the range.

We had the chance to ride the new Diverge in Spain a few weeks ago – just before the lockdown – so check out our First Ride Review. But first, here are all the essential tech details.

Future Shock 2.0

You may be familiar with Future Shock already but, for those who have had other things on their mind, it essentially consists of a spring in a cartridge above the head tube. The stem and handlebar sit above the spring, the rest of the bike sits below it. 

2020 Specialized Diverge Pro - Futureshock.jpg

The idea is that when the front wheel hits irregular road surfaces, the bike moves up (compressing the spring), without the stem and handlebar – and therefore your hands – moving as much as they otherwise would. Simple enough.

Specialized is fond of pointing out that the fact that the system is fitted above the head tube means that Future Shock doesn't suspend the bike, it suspends the rider. The positioning also means that Future Shock isn't affected by your pedalling – there's no bobbing as you lay down the power.

Also, unlike a system that's positioned lower down, Future Shock doesn't affect a bike's wheelbase when it becomes active. Specialized says that this leads to extremely predictable handling.

Check out 22 of the best gravel bikes & adventure road bikes 2020

Specialized introduced Future Shock on its Roubaix endurance bike back in 2016, the idea being to take the sting out of the Paris-Roubaix cobbles or, more realistically for most, to keep us comfortable over pothole-strewn tarmac. Then it transferred the technology over to the Diverge gravel bike range. 

2020 Specialized Diverge Pro - Futureshock adjust.jpg

Now Specialized has introduced Future Shock 2.0 – again, first seen in its Roubaix range – to the S-Works, Pro, Expert and Comp Carbon Diverges. Future Shock 2.0 differs from its predecessor in featuring a hydraulic damper that provides both compression and rebound damping to control the spring movement, and a dial where the headset cap would usually be to adjust that damping. 

When Dave Arthur reviewed the Specialized S-Works Roubaix for road.cc he said, "The Future Shock works overtime to smooth out the wrinkles, cracks and holes that are abundant on my local roads, and which on a stiff race bike can lead to a bumpy ride.

2020 Specialized Diverge Pro Carbon  - Futureshock.jpg

"The 20mm of suspension is buttery smooth and quiet during use. You don't notice it, apart from the smoothness you're feeling through the handlebar and when you look down to see the protective rubber boot being constantly squashed."

2020 Specialized Diverge Expert - Futureshock.jpg

Specialized has imported the Future Shock 2.0 tech wholesale into the Diverge lineup. The design and specs are identical.

The previous generation Future Shock 1.5 is still found on the Comp E5, Sport and Base Carbon models while the Base E5 and Elite E5 do not have Future Shock.

Geometry

Specialized has made several changes to the Diverge's geometry. Let's go with a few bullet points to get you up to speed:

• Longer and slacker than previously
• Increased fork offset
• Raised bottom bracket
• Longer chainstays than before

Let's go through them...

2020 Specialized Diverge development frame - 1

Specialized says that it wanted to produce a bike that's stable at speed and confident on challenging terrain. With this in mind, the engineers in Morgan Hill, California built development bikes with adjustable geometries (above). These rideable test mules weren't pretty but they allowed Specialized to make tweaks and then immediately assess the effects on ride performance.

2020 Specialized Diverge Pro - fork.jpg

After going through many prototypes – and inspired by the Epic mountain bike – Specialized settled on a slacker head tube angle (by almost 1°), a longer reach, and a shorter cockpit to keep the Diverge stable (this is a broadly similar approach to the one Merida has taken with its Silex, for example). 

Here's how to use bike geometry tables and what it all means 

The reach (the horizontal distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) is 13mm longer than previously on the 56cm Diverge, and this extends the wheelbase for increased stability and reduced or eliminated toe overlap with the front wheel.

2020 Specialized Diverge Pro - Futureshock.jpg

To keep the saddle-to-handlebar distance similar to before, Specialized now fits shorter stems. 

"The shorter stem can also offset the slower steering effect of larger tyres and makes steering more lively overall," says Specialized.

All other things being equal, slackening the head angle would increase the trail, but Specialized didn't want to do that so it has changed the fork too.

"The Diverge's new fork has increased offset to ensure all that stability at speed never feels slow at the bars or 'floppy' at the front wheel," says Specialized.

2020 Specialized Diverge Pro - BB chainset.jpg

The new Diverge has a bottom bracket drop (the vertical distance that the BB sits below a horizontal line between the front and rear hubs) that's shorter than previously. It was a whopping 85mm; now it's a still considerable 80mm.

The idea of a large BB drop is that it helps provide stability but, on the downside, it also means that you're more likely to strike a pedal over rough terrain or while cornering, which is why Specialized has raised the BB a touch. An 80mm drop is still among the largest in the gravel sector, though.

Read our Specialized Diverge First Ride Review

Chainstay length ranged from 419mm to 421mm on previous Diverges; now it's 425mm across the board for greater tyre clearance (see below).

"The Diverge's chainstays keep the wheel tucked under the rider for lively acceleration and nimble handling, while perfectly balancing the bike for ultimate confidence," says Specialized.

Increased clearance

Specialized says that it wanted to increase the Diverge's tyre clearance (700c x 42mm or 650b x 47mm on the previous model) but that it didn't want to resort to long chainstays. That's tricky because there's just not that much space available. 

Other brands have opted for dropped or raised chainstay designs but Specialized didn't want to go down either route, feeling that those solutions aren't efficient and that the looks are... challenging.

2020 Specialized Diverge chainstay skinny - 1

The solution that Specialized developed in-house is a short section of solid beam that's incorporated into the chainstay. It's a 15mm-long flat section of carbon-fibre. Bet you weren't expecting that! This gives 5-6mm more clearance than would be possible with a tube.

2020 Specialized Diverge Pro - fork crown.jpg

All Diverges have the same amount of clearance. You can now fit a 700C x 47mm tyre, or a 650b x 2.1in, with 6mm of space around it.

 SWAT internal storage

The higher-end Diverges – the Comp, Expert, Pro and S-Works frames – feature an internal SWAT compartment in the down tube, SWAT standing for 'storage, water, air, tools'. 

2020 Specialized Diverge Pro Carbon  - SWAT.jpg

This tech, which has been imported from Specialized's mountain bikes, allows you to take stuff out of your pockets and squirrel it inside the frame instead, although sticking a big access port in a tube while retaining its integrity is a challenge in terms of engineering.

Specialized says that as well as freeing up pocket space for stuff you're likely to need on the fly, the fact that the weight sits lower helps improve handling when you’re loaded up, and it's protected from the rain, dust and dirt in there. 

2020 Specialized Diverge launch action  - 22.jpg

A trap door sits underneath the bottle cage bosses, and you flip it up without the need for any tools. You get a couple of SWAT pouches for storing things like your mini pump, multitool and so on.

The SWAT compartment runs the full length of the down tube so is big enough for storing an emergency waterproof jacket too. A Specialized SWAT jacket is designed to pack into its own chest pocket and fit in there.

In order to facilitate this, the down tube is an absolute whopper. Does this have a negative effect on aerodynamics? It does, according to Specialized, although the new Diverge is still more efficient overall than the previous incarnation. The US gravel scene is more focused on racing than it is over here, but Specialized still feels that practicality is more important than aero considerations. 

Other features

Diverge frames are compatible with most rear racks. The lower mounting points are just above the rear axle while the upper points mount to a special seat collar that's shipped with each model. You can fit a low rider rack up front.

2020 Specialized Diverge Pro Carbon Mats - rear derailleur.jpg

You get water bottle cage mounts on both the seat tube and the down tube, as usual, and additional mounts on the underside of the down tube. There are also bosses on the top tube (which can be used for a bento box), and you can use the fork mounts for bottle cages if you like. 

2020 Specialized S-Works Diverge - fork detail.jpg

If you want to fit mudguards, the mounts are discreet and you get a fender bridge that fixes between the seatstays.

Specialized says that you can fit a 700c x 42mm or 650b x 47mm tyre with mudguards (compared with 700c x 47mm or a 650b x 2.1in if you don't ride with mudguards).

All Diverge models have a 68mm BSA threaded bottom bracket – there's no press fit anywhere in the range – flat mount disc brakes, 12mm thru axles, and a fork that's designed around 160mm/180mm disc rotors.

2020 Specialized S-Works Diverge - chainstay protector.jpg

Down tube and chainstay protectors on the carbon Diverges are designed to prevent damage from rocks and chain slap. 

2020 Specialized S-Works Diverge - chainstay protection.jpg

Grades of carbon

Specialized uses what it calls FACT 8r carbon on its Base and Sport level Diverges. 

2020 Specialized Diverge Pro Carbon  - down tube.jpg

FACT 9r carbon is used for Comp, Expert and Pro level frames. These models all feature SWAT technology (see above) and are about 200g lighter than the FACT 8r frames.

The top-level S-Works Diverge frame is made from FACT 11r carbon. It is about 100g lighter than the FACT 9r and offers the same level of stiffness. Specialized says the S-Works frame hits the scales at under 1,000g fully painted.

Diverge Evo

The Diverge Evo is a new aluminium model that's designed from the ground up as a flat bar bike – so it has a longer top tube and reach than a standard Diverge (by about 30mm), a slacker 70° head tube angle, and a bottom bracket that's 5mm lower. It is also 1x-specific. 

Specialized Diverge Evo - 2

Each of the two Diverge Evo models has Future Shock 1.5 suspension and a dropper seatpost. They don't fit neatly inside any current genre, really, although Specialized clearly expects them to be ridden over challenging terrain. It'll be interesting to see how they do in the marketplace.

The Diverge Evos will be available in the UK from late June.

Models and prices

Here are details of the various Diverge models:

2020 Specialized S-Works Diverge - complete.jpg

Specialized S-Works Diverge £8,899 (above)
Frameset FACT 11r carbon, SWAT storage, Future Shock 2.0
Groupset SRAM Red eTap AXS 1x
Wheels Roval Terra CLX
Extras X-Fusion Manic Dropper seatpost

2020 Specialized Diverge Pro - complete on green.jpg

Specialized Diverge Pro Carbon £5,999 (above)
Frameset FACT 9r carbon, SWAT storage, Future Shock 2.0
Groupset SRAM Force eTap AXS 1x
Wheels Roval Terra CL

Specialized Diverge Expert Carbon £4,499 (below)
Frameset FACT 9r carbon, SWAT storage, Future Shock 2.0
Groupset Shimano GRX RX800 1x, electronic shifting
Wheels DT Swiss G540 rims, Specialized hubs

2020 Specialized Diverge Expert - complete bike.jpg

Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon £3,399
Frameset FACT 9r carbon, SWAT storage, Future Shock 2.0
Groupset Shimano GRX RX800 2x (mechanical shifting)
Wheels DT Swiss G540 rims, Specialized hubs

Specialized Diverge Base Carbon £2,199
Frameset Fact 8r carbon, Future Shock 1.5
Groupset SRAM Apex 1x
Wheels Axis Elite Disc

Specialized Diverge Comp E5 £1,999
Frameset E5 Premium Aluminium, Future Shock 1.5
Groupset Shimano GRX RX600 1x
Wheels Axis Elite Disc

Specialized Diverge Elite E5 £1,599
Frameset E5 Premium Aluminium
Groupset Shimano GRX RX400 2x
Wheels Axis Elite Disc

Specialized Diverge Base E5 £949
Frameset E5 Premium Aluminium
Groupset Shimano Claris 2x, Tektro Mira mechanical disc brakes
Wheels Axis Elite Disc

Diverge E5 Expert Evo ​(flat bar) £2,399 
Frameset E5 Premium Aluminium, Future Shock 1.5 
Groupset Shimano XT 1x, Magura MT4 hydraulic disc brakes
Wheels DT Swiss G540 rims, Specialized hubs
Extras X-Fusion Manic dropper seatpost

Diverge Comp E5 Evo £1,599 (flat bar)
Frameset E5 Premium Aluminium, Future Shock 1.5
Groupset SRAM NX 1x, Tektro HD-R290 hydraulic disc brakes
Wheels Axis Elite Disc

Specialized S-Works Diverge frameset £3,499

Get more info over at www.specialized.com.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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