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Specialized Diverge Sport - First Impressions

Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Specialized Diverge Sport - First Impressions

Old 04-15-19, 05:24 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Reno, NV
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Bikes: 2020 Specialized Roubaix Comp, 2019 Specialized Diverge Sport, 2018 Santa Cruz Bronson S Aluminum 27.5, 2014 Wabi Classic (Fixed)

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Specialized Diverge Sport - First Impressions

Now that I've settled my month-long debate over what gravel bike to get, and have now taken a couple rides on various terrain, I'm due for a report on my first impressions.

I'd considered everything from 650b adventure monster-machine to a CX racing bike, and so it really came down to what I'm planning on using the bike for most of the time: a lightweight, long-distance training machine that would open up new route combinations that my road bikes can't handle. I'm training for the Death Ride this year and will be getting bored of the major passes I can ride to from my house if I stick to paved roads. Gravel capability opens up so many more options for me here around Reno. I'm unlikely to do much bikepacking, have a great XC mountain bike, and want something perfectly appropriate for the occasional CX race and other series like the Mendo Hopper, etc.. In other words, basically needed something that was still a road bike at its core. I test rode the Diverge and Roubaix and knew right away they'd collectively comprise my new road quiver.

The Ride:
In a word, stiff. It rides like the carbon fiber road bike it is. In three words - stiff, comfortable, stable. Other than the audible hum coming from the Sawtooth tires, you really lose track of the fact you're on a gravel bike when on pavement. The bike accelerates easily, dives into turns, climbs just fine, and maintains speed not too differently than many road bikes I've had. It's a longer wheelbase than I've ridden and the provided stability really surprised me. The 38 mm tires have a really round profile, which paired with the 105 hydraulic discs had me rolling into turns a few MPH faster than I had on my Tarmac with 23's. The stack height, relatively shorter reach, and flared out bars make the ride so comfortable that I kept extending my ride further than planned. The bars are awesome - I really like the flare and low drop; I spent far more time in the drops than I ever would on most of my road bikes. At the same time, while being comfortable, it doesn't feel relaxed. The riding position is still fairly aggressive and powerful as compared to gravel bikes coming from a touring or MTB platform. I like the Sawtooth tires and will keep them around for a good all-rounder for dry conditions and for when set up to favor paved riding. I'll probably be picking up another wheelset to switch between a gravel and mud tire. The hydraulic 105 group really impresses me - and I'm used to Dura Ace 9000. The stopping power of the brakes is every bit as good as the Sram Avid setup on my Bronson. Again, very impressed.

My first real ride on the bike was 38 miles, 2600' gain, with about 20 on paved road, 10 along bumpy dirt canal path, and 8 on gravel fire roads from dry and loose to mud, then finally snow, up to a nearby summit and back. This was the perfect bike for this kind of ride. Any less and I could just use my road bike with 28's, any more and I'd want fatter tires and lower pressure. On road and offroad, it climbs beautifully. The only time on the ride I felt uncomfortable was descending at speed on gravel from the summit. It was really rocky, washboard, and with rutted rivers of snowmelt. I was trying to descend at 30+ mph and was afraid I was going to snap my steertube or pinch flat so I backed off. Limits of the future shock found. Oh yeah - the shock: No complaints and in fact I really like it. Not much more to say about it that hasn't been said on the thousand online reviews, except one thing: One reviewer said he found the shock to give the bike a squishy or disconnected feel when cornering on descents - I disagree wholeheartedly. As you can tell from my comments above, I think the bike descends and corners wonderfully. To me this bike feels planted to the road and plenty connected.

Bottom line: If you're looking for something with the soul of a mountain bike and want to all-out bomb 4x4 roads, rocky trails, and singletrack, you're under-biked on the Diverge. I'd be surprised if it can truly fit 42's and the gearing would be rather stiff for a bikepacking trip here in the Sierra Nevada. I wouldn't ride it across the country, but wouldn't hesitate to ride it across the county or even the state. It's perfect to back up the road bike, do all-day rides over unknown or mixed terrain, grind out 100k's on service roads, to sling over your shoulder and take handups on Wednesday nights. It's a gravel race bike by every measure - it's going to be the perfect steed for this year's Mendo Hopper. While I was being seduced by the sex appeal of lugged steel, or the romanticism of a bikepacking mule, this bike is objectively what I needed. While I want an Econoline Sportsmobile, I drive a Tacoma. My brain won over my heart and I have a bike that will be collecting far more dirt than dust.

Last edited by ridethetown; 04-15-19 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 04-15-19, 06:07 PM
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Very nice write up.
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Old 04-16-19, 06:26 AM
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Great review.
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Old 04-16-19, 10:09 AM
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Thanks ridethetown! Your review is well written and very informative. I appreciate that it is written by an actual rider and not a journalist riding a demo bike. Most of my riding is on pavement where I want to ride faster than I could on my mountain bike. It looks like I may have found what I want with the Diverge.
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Old 05-07-19, 06:45 PM
Join Date: Mar 2019
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Very helpful review - Many thanks!

I am going to ride about 900 miles over 3 weeks in Europe this summer along the Rhine or Danube River. You mentioned in your review that you would not ride cross-country on the Diverge. If so, why not and what would you ride? BTW, I will not be carrying my own baggage as I will have a SAG.
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